Through both my articles and seminar series, I discuss the Art of Coaching quite frequently. The Art of Coaching infers that it is not what you know as a coach that matters its how you can relay it to young athletes.

This is a common concern I see, especially with younger coaches just out of college and still looking to impress people with high intellects and advanced vocabularies. In fact, our industry is littered with coaches who talk a great game, seek out as much PR and notoriety as they can but dont truly have any degree of experience or ability when it comes to effectively applying training strategies to athletes in unique and varying settings.

In that, I want to discuss a coaching strategy that I have used that truly enables young athletes to master a given technique.

 

Rewrite Strategies

If you have ever been driving in a car with a small group of teenagers and had a familiar song come on the radio, you have already experienced in practicality the essence of a rewrite strategy. By most contemporary definitions, a rewrite strategy is simply a teaching strategy designed to help students explore content area topics using music. For the purposes of sport and training, it involves using common musical tunes to both learn and support the retention of a given set of instructions.

Once they hear that familiar song, those teenagers in the car all begin to sing along, word for word. That is the point. We all tend to remember the lyrics of our favorite songs. Even if 20 years have passed, we can still sing the words or hum the tune of a given song because of musics innate ability to stay within the long-term memory of our brains.

 

Training Application

I am a strong proponent of teaching young athletes the skill set of a given exercise, being a four-point instruction series on how to set up their bodies prior to initiating movement (primary skill set) followed by a one or two brief instructions, which define the movement (secondary skill set).

Lets take the basic squat for example. My secondary skill set is as follows:

 

·         Hips back to ensure that the athlete is driving into hip flexion/extension and using the powerful muscles of the hip to execute rather than the anterior thigh.

·         In-steps off to protect against valgus knee motions and further elicit a kinetic chain that runs outside heel to glute medius.

 

Although the young athletes are taught this sequence and have it reinforced constantly, some youngsters may still fail to execute session to session.

 

The Art of Coaching

Many times in my career, I have used rewrite strategies to force these basic instructions into the vernacular of my young athletes brain. I challenge them to take the words of my skill set and place them into the tune of a favorite song or catchy jingle that they can recount at will. Once in the form of a common tune, the skill set comes alive to the young athlete, and they can communicate it immediately. I even have them repeat the song in their heads as they perform the movement.

One young athlete I trained comes to mind as I am writing this article. Her name was Mary, and she couldnt seem to get her hips back during the eccentric phase of a squat. Moreover, her heels kept coming off the ground as she descended. Her solution:

 

Mary wants to learn to squat

Learn to squat

Learn to squat

Mary wants to learn to squat

Hips back, in-steps off

 

Say those words aloud to yourself. Now sing them to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb. But beware rewrite strategies work, and this little jingle may stay with you for some time!

Brian Grasso currently serves as Executive Director for the International Youth Conditioning Association and is a sought-after expert in the realm of young athlete development and youth fitness worldwide. He presents educational seminars to personal trainers and coaches throughout North America, Europe and the Pacific Rim. For more information, check out Brians groundbreaking Free Resource Center at www.DevelopingAthletics.com.

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