Speed, agility, and quickness (SAQ) training is something that tends to become a topic of heated discussion. Many coaches feel that the effort put forth while practicing the sport is sufficient to improve these motor skills.Their theory is that you cannot get any more sport specific than performing the sport itself.
Therefore, by training that sport, you are developing the set of athletic skills specifically related to that sport and not wasting time on unnecessary activities.By participating in your sport at game intensity, you will learn and develop Jumping and landing mechanics, acceleration, deceleration, and cutting mechanics, increase foot speed, and develop everything else that goes into well rounded athleticism.The other school of coaching tends to believe that component training, or breaking complex skills down into trainable pieces, is the best way to go about athletic enhancement. They think that working on each motor skill independently of the sport and than introducing the corrected skill back into the sport is much more efficient.
Without question, dynamic human movement is extremely complex. The simple act of walking involves very in-depth motor programming that functions on a subconscious reflexive level.By subconscious reflexive I mean that you do not have to think to execute complex motor skills. If you had to think about every muscles action while you walked it would take you days to get from the couch to the.
refrigerator and your movements would look very robotic. This reflexive motor programming starts to develop as an infant. You learn to do very basic skills, and as you mature, the programming becomes more complicated as does the movement.
As the programming becomes more complicated, it becomes increasing more resilient to change.The problem is that a child is typically never truly guided through the earlier stages of development. As infants they learn to move by trail and error.
Walking, standing, sitting, reaching, rolling over, and all the other things that are being learned and developed are all self taught.In North America, as children age and enter preadolescents, they are typically steered away from programs that focus on physical development. These children now start to build more complex programming on top of already faulty self instructed programming.Developmentally, it is at this age when children are the most "plastic". Unfortunately it is also at this age that that the introduction to structured practice results in them repetitiously ingraining incorrect movement mechanics.As a result, we start to see more and more non contact injuries at younger and younger ages.
We also find that correcting these reflexive problems becomes increasing more difficult.These types of kids typically face more developmental problems as they get older. Motor learning research tells us that you go through progressive stages of learning as you acquire new skill. Some skills are similar to others, so we are able to skip various initial stages along the way.
When issues exist within theses skipped stages, the latter stages of Development will be negatively affected. When this happens, time must then be spent fixing the foundational issues, before efficient motor programming can continue to occur.As I mentioned earlier, most motor skills are designed to function without cognitive control.
Once again you do not have to think to walk or run. Your body will automate the process dependant upon its programming regardless of right or wrong.My question than becomes?If your body is running off of reflexive automated motor programming, how are you going to fix these developmental issues by playing your sport?.
The average human brain does not possess the capacity to multi-task and efficiently refine or learn distinct foreign skills. Most individuals are not and can not think about improving a specific motor skill while they are in a confrontation situation (which is truly the essence of most sport).If you asked most athletes what they were thinking during such a confrontational activity (such as being guarded during a lay up)they would more than likely say, I don't really remember thinking of anything. I just did what was natural.
They functioned on preprogrammed information. They functioned reflexively, maybe not efficiently, but definitely reflexively. Did this athlete actually develop or correct any specific motor skill during this situation?.He may have learned how to better cope with the psychological stresses involved in confrontation.
He may have developed a greater efficiency in coordinating multiple motor skills, which is important if the components are sound, but he undoubtedly did not improve an individual motor skill.If the athlete depended on trial and error as a process of learning movement motor skills throughout his whole life, he probably didn't know that a problem existed. If this is the case, than there was definitely no effort made for correction.By using SAQ drills, we can isolate problems and try to fine tune erroneous preprogrammed information while we increase their overall warehouse of skills. We can break down gross movement skills into components that allow an athlete to cognitively address issues that tend to be combined into complex reflexive compound skills.
Each motor skill should than be optimized before the athlete progresses. If they lack the coordination or ability to perform certain motor skills as an isolated component, which is many times the case, they lack the ability to perform them when they are integrated into chaotic confrontational sporting situation.Fixing these erroneous motor skills may require 1 repetition or 1000 repetitions depending on the skill and the athlete. Once the athlete demonstrates proficiency for each individual motor skill, the skills can than combined into motor skill clusters, or small subsets of motor skills.When the athlete demonstrates proficiency for coordination of skills within a subset, subsets can be combined and the process continued.
Part II of this series will deal with the actual neural acceleration (quickness) elements I utilize in my protocols. I will be discussing how and why I utilize the specific drills within each workout.*This article is an excerpt from my upcoming book "The Progressive Method" For More Information on our training and training products check out www.pssathletics.com.
Copyright ©2004 www.PssAthletics.com Progressive Sporting Systems Inc., 4610 South Lost Street, Terre Haute, IN 47802 Ph: 812-230-2831, Info@PssAthletics.com..Tony Reynolds, MS, CSCS, YCS Level II
President-Progressive Sporting Systems
COO- International Youth Conditioning Association
By: Tony Reynolds