HMMR Podcast Episode 282: Skills session planning (with Kevin Becker)

A lot of information is out there about session planning for strength training. But that is only part of the equation for athletes and coaches. A bigger question is how can we better plan skills training to enhance motor learning? On this week‘s episode Professor Kevin Becker joins us again to brainstorm how we can rethink traditional session plans to help athletes acquire and improve skills.

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Notes and quotes

Kevin Becker is an Associate Professor of Sport Psychology and Motor Behavior at the University of Tennessee. In a former life he set the NCAA Division III record in the weight throw, competed at the 2008 and 2012 US Olympic Trials, and continued as a world-ranked Highland Games athlete.

  • 0:00 – Introduction.
  • 2:45 – Nick’s ideas on skills session design and how he integrates skills and drills.
  • 7:00 – Non-linear sequencing ideas.
  • 10:45 – Rethinking training session design: “Athletes have an idea of what practice is supposed to look like. If you think too far outside the box you might lose them.“
  • 12:45 – Modular session design: “One way to start is to break your practice into modules. First block: traditional training. Second block: try to destabilize the technique. Final block: can you come back and find it again.”
  • 15:45 – Traditional training session design.
  • 17:45 – Lessons from Highland Games training.
  • 21:00 – Using the start of the throw as a variable, and other variables available for throwers.
  • 28:00 – Constraint-led approach vs. differential learning: “With constraints you choose an implement because you think it will lead to a specific change. With differential learning you are just trying to explore something without a specific goal.”
  • 29:30 – Med ball day and the value of non-specific throwing: “The further you get from the competition implement, the less likely you are to think about specific technical cues and the more likely you are to think about how you can just throw this thing. You are just getting reps in accelerating an implement.”
  • 34:15 – How to periodize differential learning vs. constraints.
  • 36:30 – The value of doing things you’d never do in a competition, i.e. the learning effect of feeling what not to do.
  • 38:00 – Exploring different levels.
  • 41:15 – Final thoughts on training setup.

To hear more on these topics, listen to the full episode above. Also be sure to subscribe to our podcast and review it on iTunes.

Further reading