It use to be exercises would activate muscles and turn cringer to battle cat, but now words are being shared as magical with internal and external cues being tweeted every minute. Just because you say it or even if the athlete repeats it, the magic is in the program. Some cues will be dramatic, some dangerous, and some nothing. Sometimes reps are needed. Sometimes a sit down and discussion with video helps. Sometimes the athlete needs a wake-up call. Sometimes, it just takes time. I am a fan of minimalism because I remember what it was like to be coached, and hate cross coaching because even two great things in isolation (two coaches) may not combine well. Too many cooks spoiling the pot? Overdosing on the same problem may not work, but sometimes a change is necessary and I often give an outline to another coach if traveling and let them coach it. I find more danger in changing the workout than the coaching as it seems words are not a strong as the mondo and the iron. It hurts not to feel that one is involved with the process, but coaching is guiding not puppet work. Here are some wise words I learned this past weekend from a few people.
Tasks are drills that force the athlete to do it. Any time an athlete fails is experience and learning technically, but removing unnecessary delays or poor habits is better than struggling. A good workout teaches the athlete as most of the actions in sport are milliseconds. Does anyone think that Phil Jackson told Jordan to go left handed while he was in mid air?
More is More and Less is More- Track athletes are not students of the sport and need to be doing more homework. Give me youtube in High School! We are so spoiled by media that I think athletes take great athletes for granted as much of the technique and event mechanics can be seen online. Smartphones are being used more and more but I see too much stuff during class and not enough homework. Slow motion is also a danger, as athletes perceive they can do things with such narrow time frames. I find myself coaching with an emphasis on doing things faster or with more training aspects to keep athlete’s from the paralysis from analysis.
Repetition- With so many people worried that breathing and volumes are too high, we simply do too much junk and not enough repeat sessions. Exposing athletes to volumes will remove the self protection mechanisms of the body and allow for better switch times. Now I see microdoses of volumes because people are afraid to train, and athletes are simply out of shape and not having enough opportunities to learn. Massive volumes will create fatigue, so good notes are needed to see what is safe and effective.
Progression- Skipping steps can be dangerous and can be essential. When in doubt regress and purge the demons with a good exorcism of fundamental movement patterns and good technique of simple actions. Sometimes learning comes from breakthroughs such as Freddie dropping the fastest time in the nation with a good pep talk from wise advise. When something click, don’t disturb the grave!
Words matter, but it’s best to use them when necessary in practice and review more outside of it. Communication isn’t about lecturing or dropping knowledge, it’s doing what is necessary to help guide people, not turn them into robots.