When the lockdown began 15 weeks ago I started filming physical education videos for the local Willand Primary School. What initially started out as a short, 3-week project to help the teachers provide content for pupils to do at home eventually turned into a large archive of lesson plans. As our local schools just closed for summer break, it is a good time to reflect on the project.
About James Marshall
James Marshall is the head coach at Excelsior Athletic Development Club in England.
Entries by James Marshall
As sport starts to return to training coaches will need to monitor social distancing, sterilization of equipment and the wearing of protective clothing. This is in addition to all their usual planning, booking, managing, communicating, reflecting and, somewhere along the line, coaching. Whereas team building and social identity could previously be built through normal sports training and extra-curricular activities, the new rules of social distancing means that players may well feel emotionally as well as physically detached from their team mates.
Agility training is often perceived to be conducted in two dimensions. Whether programmed, random, game or task orientated, it usually consists of change of directions on a left –right and forward –backward continuum. Yet movement rarely takes place in just two dimensions: subtle and not so subtle changes of height and depth also take place. A boxer bobbing and weaving or a gymnast doing a double front somersault both have to move their centre of gravity up and down as well as sideways and forwards respectively.
Never sacrifice movement for load. That mantra forms the foundation of my approach to training. This is a ‘hot topic’ in some coaching circles. Coaches, especially those in gyms, like big numbers. Lifting heavier weights each week shows progress and is easily measured. But at what cost?
In modern coaching, all kinds of modes of exercises are paraded around, often to the exclusion of others. Bodyweight exercise is one mode of training that is making a comeback, even before the onset of the recent pandemic.
If young people coming into your environment are inefficient or incompetent movers, how can you help them? Movement has become a catch-all esoteric phrase. Because it is a vast topic, it can be intimidating. It can also be the refuge of the rogue or charlatan peddling myths. Where do you start?
As young people go through their growth spurts their bones become longer. In the short term this can be detrimental to skill and strength as they become accustomed to their longer levers. They have become long, but not strong. Imagine rolling modeling clay out on a table. You start off with a solid ball and watch as it gradually gets longer and thinner. You pick it up and it flops around, useful for shaping, but more likely to fall apart.
There is a tendency within the education and scientific world to measure things. We benchmark things or test things, create an intervention, and then measure again to see if progress has been made. As the human body is immensely complex, we can’t measure everything, so this process requires us to isolate and reduce to simple measurements. What starts out as in innocent project can quickly become a dogmatic approach to training or education, where we “teach to the test” and lose sight of what our original aim was.
Finding the right time for reflective coaching is critical, as I wrote about last week. But reflecting will not bring your coaching forward if you do not have the right information. In order to properly reflect, you need to search out the best information.
Plan, do, and review. That’s the basic outline of the coaching process. Most coaches love the doing part, some are good at planning, but what about the review? In my experience this is the poor, neglected child of coaching; an afterthought that might be brought up once a year in a formal evaluation setting. It is a bit like a cool down in the training environment, everyone knows it is important, but most are too busy or too tired to do it properly.