A quick post on sport technique coaching-
Improving / correcting technique is a tricky task, especially in experienced athletes. “Experienced” can mean high performance athletes or simply athletes who have been training a long time. Either way they have built up habits and motor patterns.
If we think about “good” technique being;
- minimal risk of injuries; to the athlete from overuse and other sources
- optimal stability; both within the athlete and the athlete relative to the environment
- optimal efficacy; it does the intended task whether moving through water, on land, on a bike, in a kayak, etc.
- optimal efficiency; energy consumed to work performed
- optimal for the integrations of other required elements; starts, turns and navigation in swimming, drafting and pacing on a bike, surfing in a surfski, etc.)
Very often a technical problem has a cause that may not be apparent. A skilled technical coach addresses the cause of the problem, not just the symptoms.
I was taught by a very skilled technical coach in canoe that to source out a technical problem you often have to look two or more joints closer to the core.
Where things get complicated is that a technical problem may have multiple compensations in other joints and movements to mimic “good technique“. If we were to use algebra to express this;
A is good technique
A’ is a copy of good technique that has a technique problem B needing compensations C, D and E
To an unskilled coach it may appears by fixing problem B, or A’-B becomes A
Where in reality A’-B= C + D + E
So by fixing one problem, the coach and athlete are left dealing with compensations C, D and E.
Part of the art of coaching is seeing the good technique, identifying the underlying problems AND the compensations in place then planning and implementing a successful intervention that promotes learning.