Calling it an experience is not meant as marketing hype or hyperbole. It is truly an experience in learning and discovery. It all starts with the faculty. From the inception of GAIN I have worked to have a faculty who are the best at what they do, who not only talk the talk but also walk the walk. They are not self-promoters and all over the Internet but they know their stuff and have produced results. I select faculty who are willing to share and can teach. Read more
Over the years I have used this blog to discuss the work of coaches, athletes, psychologists, physiologists, biomechanists, and economists. But I have not once discussed the work of a philosopher. Since I have my bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, I have to take the opportunity once it arises. In a New York Times Online piece earlier this month, philosophy professor Barbara Gail Montero dissects the widespread view that thinking about what you are doing while doing it interferes with performance. There are few philosophical topics which relate more directly to hammer throwing.
In many areas, thinking about an action can make its execution worse. As Montero notes, “Start thinking about just how to carry a full glass of water without spilling, and you’ll end up drenched.” But this isn’t the case for all actions. Ordinary actions like carrying water will be easier when you do them without thinking about it. But when you start looking at the actions of experts, or hammer throwers, the just do it approach doesn’t always hold. And, for Montero, this is the area that interests her since she has a forthcoming book on thought and effort in expert action.
To correct running mechanics it is best to use Fault/Reason/Correction Paradigm. First identify the fault in the mechanics. Then find the reason for the flaw and then correct the flaw. Look at the big things first in the context of the PAL Paradigm. Get a sense of the flow of the action, before looking at specific considerations. Focus in on smaller pieces of the puzzle only after global considerations have been addressed. This is in concert with the whole/part/whole concept of motor learning, start with the whole action in this case running, then look at the parts. Decide what parts need attention. Design task oriented drills or movements that will reinforce the correction of those parts. Rather than focus on the fault you are trying to correct, give the athlete a task to achieve that will correct the fault. Above all coach the correction, don’t coach the flaw. Allow the runner to explore and solve the movement equation, then, as soon as possible relate the drill back to the whole action. Read more
Many of you have asked what the GAIN program looks like. This is time schedule and the topics for 2013 GAIN. You can see it is a total immersion program and quite comprehensive in it’s approach. Not a moment is wasted, every opportunity for learning is used. In another post I will talk about the faculty. Read more
The starting point for running mechanics is a basic technical model. That technical model is what man must do sprint at top speed. Therefore in teaching to improve running mechanics we must start with sound sprint mechanics and extend those concepts out to longer distances. Even in distance running, ultimately the person who runs the fastest is the person who can maintain the greatest percentage of their maximum speed the longest. Running skill is a motor task! Like any motor task it is teachable and trainable. As with any motor task a systematic approach toward improving running mechanics will yield optimum results. The system that I have evolved to improve running mechanics is call the PAL System™. PAL is an acronym that stands for Posture, Arm Action, and Leg Action. Those are the three areas of emphasis in running. The objectives of the system are fourfold. The first objective is to provide a context to analyze movement. Secondly the PAL System™ is a systematic step-by-step teaching progression. The third aspect is that it provides a context to direct training based on the needs established in the past two steps. Lastly it provides a rehab context by establishing a criterion based progressive approach toward getting someone back to normal gait pattern after an injury. Read more
Running is a fundamental locomotor skill. It is a very natural activity. Unfortunately because of our sedentary lifestyle and activity deprived society this natural skill rapidly erodes in accordance with the law of reversibility. As with any skill if is not used it is quickly lost. Generally, young children run naturally with fundamentally sound running mechanics. We need to insure that this natural activity is reinforced through activity and play during childhood, so that in adolescence and latter all that is necessary is to reawaken those childhood movement patterns. If the skill has been lost through disuse it is tough to reacquire. Read more
I am in the midst of GAIN withdrawal syndrome. What is that? Well it is actually pretty simple, after you spend five days with highly motivated coaches, therapists and teachers who are hungry to learn and willing to share and you leave there is a very empty feeling. It is so stimulating and uplifting to be in that environment that it is difficult to return to the daily routine. Only 12 more months until GAIN 2014! Read more
Question: Is it better to train the implements that the athlete throws best or to train the implements that the athlete struggles with? Try to improve where the athlete already throws well and improve that or attack the weak points (or balls that the athlete does not perform best with)? -Frederick Hannie
I began responding to this question last week by discussing the specific question of whether a throw should focus on throwing implements they are good at, or ones they are bad at. The short answer is that rather than making the decisions based on what hammers they are good at, they should instead focus on what hammers will help them throw further.
But after I finished the question I left open the bigger question: should training focus on strengths or weaknesses. It would be nice to focus on eliminating weaknesses and focusing on strengths, but athletes have limited time and energy and coaches must often make a tough decision between the two. In addition, strengths and weaknesses come into play not just in the training plan, but also in technique where there also might not be the choice of pursuing both paths simultaneously. My approach is to look at the problems in steps by focusing on eliminating liabilities, focusing on the transfer, and then creating your own individual mold that capitalizes on your strengths and uses creative thinking.
I have signed a contract with Human Kinetics to write a new book tentatively titled “Developing Athletes.” In many ways it is a follow-up and update on Athletic Development – The Art & Science of Functional Sports Conditioning. The goal is to take a long hard hard look at the theory and practice of long term athlete development. I intend to seperate fact from fiction and look closely at model programs that have successfully developed athletes with an emphasis on why. It is going to be a big job; I plan on starting writing in earnest as soon as I return from GAIN. It should be published in late 2014. Any ideas or input you might have would be appreciated. The following is the introduction book that I wrote in my book proposal. Read more
All movement is functional; it is just to what degree is it functional. Function is integrated multi-directional movement. Functional movement is meaningful movement that is part of a chain reaction, not an isolated event. Movement occurs on a continuum of function. Some movements are more functional than other based on the end object of the training. Read more