I have a couple athletes preparing for a summer meet.
Since I’m competing in the same meet, I agreed to
meet up with them at the track since I had to work
out any way.
Both kids are inexperienced, having never been taught
anything about sprinting before this year.
They’re both at the second level of skill
acquisition – Conscious Incompetence (they understand
what they’re supposed to do, they’re just not very
good at it).
Since my body no longer recovers like it used to,
they finished their entire session in the time
it took me to do my warm up.
As a teaching tool and for my own benefit, I told
them to critique me as I was running a few 40s
out of blocks on the turn.
The first thing they said to me was:
‘You run completely different than we do!’
I smiled and asked them to explain.
‘You do all the things you tell us to do, but that
we can’t actually do. You tell us to explode out of
the blocks, but you cover more ground in 5 steps
than we do in 7 or 8’.
‘You say sprinting is like bounding (not the entire
truth, but in the context of our conversation it
was an accurate statement), but when you
run I can see how you apply force through the ground
and how much faster it is and how much more distance
‘You tell us to ‘crack the egg’ (a cue for faster
heel recovery, reducing backside mechanics and
allowing for greater force application) but you
actually do it and then actually step over, drive
‘You talk about being patient and shifting gears
as you get to full speed, but I can actually see
you shifting gears instead of just running as
fast as you can from the start’.
There were a few more examples, but it was an
important moment for me as a coach and for them
I was proud I had taught them enough that they
could make such distinctions. A year ago, before
I arrived, when they were at the first level of
skill acquisition – Unconscious Incompetence (you
don’t even know that you don’t know), they wouldn’t
have had anything valuable to say.
But watching me run (relatively) correctly provided
the missing link between conceptually understanding
what they were supposed to do and actually *knowing*
what it looked like so they could make adaptations
to their own running to imitate mine.
Now, before you non-track coaches roll your eyes
and dismiss this as being entirely different than
training for (insert your sport here) and therefore
irrelevant, you’re missing the point.
This experience reinforced just how critical
it is that you SHOW your athletes how to perform
certain skills…not just TELL them what to do,
but now HOW to do it.
You can have a million and one cues for everything
from speed drills to agility to plyos and
weight training. But if you don’t actually SHOW
your athletes how to do it correctly, then they’re
not going to be able to maximize their potential.
You can’t pull one drill from youtube, then grab
another drill or two from a training Newsletter
or regurgitate a workout from some website and
then expect to actually get consistent results
from your athletes.
You need a unified system of movement skill
progressions that are demonstrated and explained
correctly so you can actually TEACH your athletes
how to do them correctly.
Otherwise it’s not really coaching, it’s babysitting.
If you’re not currently doing that
I understand why you aren’t. Maybe you don’t want
to buy an expensive program or don’t believe the
information will work. Maybe you used to be a
pretty good athlete and don’t think you need an
Believe me I’ve heard all the reasons and I don’t
fault anyone for any of them.
But newsletters, sample workouts and video clips
are best served as a supplement to your base training
program. They just don’t work as the answer to
your current questions.
To get lasting, long term results for your athletes
you need a program that covers it all – all the
drills and exercises your athletes need to do,
specific cues for teaching them and video progressions
of them being done correctly. So you can learn them
yourself or so you can have film sessions showing
your athletes what it *should* look like.
Where do you find such a program?
You know what I’m going to say…