Posts

Progressing to contact in training

No matter how we train, contact sports such as rugby will always have an inherent amount of injury risk. That’s part of the business when people run into each other at speed. As coaches we might not be able to eliminate that risk, but we can minimize it. This article offers a few ideas of how we can help mitigate many needless head, shoulder, and wrist injuries that occur during tackling practice and games by teaching players how to move better.

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What coaches can learn from watching kids throw

Recently James Marshall wrote about the need to develop general throwing skills before specific throwing skills. The topic of general throwing skills is worth diving more into. Thankfully this is a task that GAIN faculty member and award-winning physical education teacher Greg Thompson has to deal with every day at the primary school level. Watching his teaching progressions can help coaches of all levels in several areas. Below I show two key lessons we can take from Thompson: how advanced coaches can improve their understanding of movement by breaking it down to its basics, and how to balance constraints and cues in teaching movement.

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Teaching general and specific throwing skills

Somehow the way we learned basic movements became reversed over the last few decades. Kids used to learn movement through play, then apply it to sport. Now, more often than not, kids learn movement through sports clubs. We’re not going to turn back time, but understanding the evolution of youth physical education and activity (or lack thereof) can help us improve our teaching skills going forward.

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Balance first, individualization second

As a high school athletic development coach one of the first questions I always get when talking to a parent is if I individualize the program or do sport specific programs. It is also one of the most irritating questions. Just like the terms “activation” or “posterior chain” the terms “sport specific” or “individualization” have become buzz words the last number of years. I am not sure of the reason why. Maybe because the person I am talking to wants to sound smart on the subject or maybe it’s just because they heard others refer to the style of training they are doing. Regardless, I do not think individualization should be the first thing on an athlete’s mind when it comes to start a new training plan or working with a new coach. 

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Coaching speed for children

Most people assume genetics are the factor that determines sprinting. As the cliche goes: sprinters are born while marathoners are made. That may be accurate if your goal is to become a world-class sprinter. However, if you are an average human being and your goal is to run faster, then environment and coaching become important factors too. This is especially important with children.

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Using mini workouts to improve physical intelligence

Look back in time and the everyday demands of the world automatically traditionally created a physically intelligent person. To be physically connected to the natural world through the body and culture used to be vital for survival. Then came industrialization and the information economy. Now we don’t have to be physically sophisticated to eat, survive, or earn a living. That’s great to some extent, but the byproduct is that most of us have become more alienated from our deconditioned and objectified bodies.

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July 2020 in review: physical education

Our focus in July has been physical education. Physical education has long defined society’s foundation of movement, and there is a lot that coaches in all areas can learn from it. Below is a summary of all the new resources we’ve put together on the topic, including 2 new videos, 2 new podcasts, and 7 new articles. Read more

The warmup: where PE and athletic development meet

The typical warm-up lasts around 10 minutes and starts most training sessions or classes. It is either a garden blooming with possibility or a wasteland of lost potential. Unfortunately, it usually the latter, a perfunctory prelude rather than training with specific long term adaptive and educational goals. Read more

Physical education is movement education

Children learn to walk and talk without a teacher. They understand the world through movement exploration. So, what is the problem with leaving movement training up to a natural process as well? Unfortunately, we don’t have to look far to see we have a problem. Children often can’t skip, roll, or throw. Adults struggle to get out of a chair and find no joy in physical activity. Read more

The value of controlled chaos

Different types of coaches frame training in different ways. Skills coaches often think in terms of time: a 20-minute block spent on passing and 10-minutes on defensive positioning. Strength coaches, on the other hand, tend to frame training in sets and reps. Each frame has its place in training, but depending on the task one can be better than the other. Read more