Here are recent (2019) recommended readings as they pertain to some of the factors surrounding the ecological approach to motor learning. Likewise, we’ve developed a basic schematic to help your basic understanding of how psychology has evolved. By no means is this a complete picture.
– what does the research state on strength training and injury?
– what are some fundamental resistance exercises that an adolescent athlete should be introduced to and perform?
– what is a proper way to regress / progress a strength exercise?
Let’s dive in…
In my opinion, the introduction of sports into a youth’s life should coincide with an introduction to strength training. You may be thinking, “my (insert age) child should be lifting weights? Isn’t that dangerous?” It’s actually quite the opposite. Under proper supervision, a strength training program may offer an adolescent athlete a multitude of physical, emotional, and psychological benefits (Faigenbaum, 2009). Overall, it appears that 8-12 weeks of resistance training can improve overall strength by 30-50% in youth athletes (Dehab & McCambridge, 2009).
For the sake of scope, let’s focus our attention on the effects of strength training for reducing injury risk in this population. So what does the research tell us? One of the earliest studies completed on strength training and injury rate was by Hejna (1982). High school athletes were divided into three groups: weight training during the pre-season and in-season, weight training year-round, and a control, non-strength training group. The researchers found that athletes who participated in weight training had an injury rate of 26.2%, while the control group’s injury rate was 72.4%. If an injury were to occur, the control group took approximately 2.4 times longer to rehabilitate from injury compared to their strength training counterparts.
After 8 weeks of resistance and plyometric training, 27 female high school athletes demonstrated improvements in neuromuscular and biomechanical movement qualities that suggest these athletes were at less risk for ACL injury (Lephart, 2005). Specifically, the athletes demonstrated increases in quadriceps strength during dynamometer testing and greater muscular activity in the gluteus medius bilateral vertical jump (Lephart, 2005). Additionally, athletes displayed increased hip and knee flexion during the jump-landing maneuver (Lephart, 2005). In a meta-analysis by Sugimoto (2015), across 14 reviewed studies, strength interventions reduced the risk of ACL injury by 68% in youth female athletes. A larger meta-analysis by Lauersen, Bertelsen, & Andersen (2014) provide additional evidence for strength training to reduce injury risk, as “strength training reduced sports injuries to less than 1/3 and overuse injuries could be almost halved”. So the question becomes, what specific strength exercises should youth athletes complete? From multiple investigations, it appears that even the addition of bodyweight exercises can have a significant impact on injury risk. Keep in mind that bodyweight exercises are a form of resistance training! Walden (2012) incorporated unilateral/bilateral squats, glute bridges, lunges, planks, and jump-landings, resulting in a 64% reduction in ACL injury. Similar exercises were incorporated into a warm-up for female youth soccer athletes, resulting in a 77% reduction in knee injury rate (Kiani, 2010).
The basis of strength training for adolescent athletes is mastering basic movement patterns that are transferable to a multitude of more complex resistance exercises. We want to ensure that our athletes are not adding strength to dysfunction, which can lead to many future issues. A requisite for every adolescent (and any athlete for that matter) is demonstrating proper form in the following “fundamental” exercises: hip-hinge / Romanian deadlift, body-weight squat, forward/backward lunge, push-up, pull-up/inverted row, and over-head press.
In addition to form, proper exercise progression is a must for younger athletes, as these motor patterns are very much malleable and quickly receptive to adaptation, for better or worse. Here’s an example of a squat exercise progression that I have found quite successful with youth athletes:
2) body-weight squat (may add box behind athlete)
3) squat with a PVC pipe
4) goblet and/or resistance band squat
5) unloaded barbell back/front squat
6) loaded barbell back/front squat
Again, I cannot stress the following enough: do not add strength to dysfunction. If your athlete cannot adequately perform a barbell squat, there is no benefit to adding further load to this movement. Similar progressions can be made for any upper or lower body compound exercise. Sometimes that will include the use of resistance bands or partners (e.g. assisted pull-ups), TRX equipment (single-leg squats, inverted rows), or the training center itself (wall assisted push-ups). To reap the most benefits of strength training program, youth athletes should be participating in a strength program at twice per week at a minimum (Behm, 2008). It is beyond the scope of this post to discuss the physiological adaptations to resistance training, but athletes need to be consistent in their training to obtain build resiliency within the musculoskeletal system. Loading the system in a sensible and progressive manner throughout our young athletes’ sporting careers will provide the opportunity for maximal performance, but more importantly, will keep them on the field.
If you’re looking to dive deeper into the literature regarding strength training for adolescent athletes, I highly recommend these position papers:
Behm, D. G., Faigenbaum, A. D., Falk, B., & Klentrou, P. (2008). Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology position paper: resistance training in children and adolescents. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 33(3), 547-561.
Dahab, K. S., & McCambridge, T. M. (2009). Strength training in children and adolescents: raising the bar for young athletes?. Sports Health, 1(3), 223-226.
Faigenbaum, A. D., Kraemer, W. J., Blimkie, C. J., Jeffreys, I., Micheli, L. J., Nitka, M., & Rowland, T. W. (2009). Youth Resistance Training: Updated Position Statement Paper From the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,23(Supplement 5), S60-S79. doi:10.1519/jsc.0b013e31819df407
Hejna, W. F., Rosenberg, A., Buturusis, D. J., & Krieger, A. (1982). The Prevention of Sports Injuries in High School Students Through Strength Training. National Strength Coaches Association Journal,4(1), 28-31. doi:10.1519/0199-610x(1982)0042.3.co;2
Kiani, A. (2010). Prevention of Soccer-Related Knee Injuries in Teenaged Girls. Archives of Internal Medicine,170(1), 43-49. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2009.289
Lauersen, J. B., Bertelsen, D. M., & Andersen, L. B. (2014). The effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48(11), 871-877.
Lephart, S. M., Abt, J. P., Ferris, C. M., Sell, T. C., Nagai, T., Myers, J. B., & Irrgang, J. J. (2005). Neuromuscular and biomechanical characteristic changes in high school athletes: a plyometric versus basic resistance program. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 39(12), 932-938.
Sugimoto, D., Myer, G. D., Foss, K. D., & Hewett, T. E. (2015). Specific exercise effects of preventive neuromuscular training intervention on anterior cruciate ligament injury risk reduction in young females: Meta-analysis and subgroup analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine,49(5), 282-289. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2014-093461
Walden, M., Atroshi, I., Magnusson, H., Wagner, P., & Hagglund, M. (2012). Prevention of acute knee injuries in adolescent female football players: Cluster randomised controlled trial. BMJ,May 3(344). doi:10.1136/bmj.e3042
At coaching clinics, the pens whip out when the speaker demonstrates a new drill. Everyone is anxious to write down that drill that will make the big difference.
Countless times, high level coaches are asked, “What drill can we do to fix our …”
Doug Beal and Russ Rose have been asked about what drills they use. In similar answers, both profess to use only a few drills with many variations.
What are the magic drills that make those teams so good?
Big secret; it’s not the drills. There is no magic.
If simply running the drills made you great, everyone could buy Al Scates drill book (like I did once upon a time) and we’d all be awesome, because his teams were awesome. Blindly running Coach Scates’ drills didn’t make a difference for my team. If his drills didn’t work, whose would?
Looking at it another way; two great teams run different drills, and they end up playing each other in the championship. How can different drills work in attaining the same goal?
Certainly athletes make a difference. Some years you have superior athletes and you win. Some years you have great players yet you lose to superior talent. Let’s set talent aside for a bit, despite that having superior players is likely the most important ingredient to winning matches.
If it’s not the drills, what is it?
Probably a mix of a few common principles, applied to everything in the program. A few to start with;
Understanding. The players learn to understand why they are using a skill, running a drill, doing things in a specific way. I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.
Specificity. Hundreds of top coaches say this repeatedly; you need to practice what you want to do. EXACTLY what you want to do. Coaches don’t toss in games; players don’t hit under the net; there are very few perfect passes. When game-time comes, you will have to pass, set, hit, dig and block every odd thing that comes your way. So it must be practiced that way; randomly.
Flexibility. Sometimes, you might win with serving. Sometimes with defense. Maybe with outside hitting. Playing to your strengths (whether your favorite skill or not) is your best strategy. Also flexibility within a drill; one drill with many options is better than 20 drills with no options. They already know the drill, you’ve just tweaked it to work on the thing you need most. Finally, flexibility with a system. You may not have the players to run the system you like; you need to run the system that suits the players.
Continuous learning. Mick Haley chose to speed up USC’s offense. Russ Rose chose to swing block (and then didn’t, and then did again.) He is reportedly an avid reader. John Dunning shuffled his lineup and changed systems after losing a key player. If those guys are still learning, can’t we all?
Most importantly, we need our teammates on the same page. Good teams have a system for siding out, playing in transition, serving, defense, and for being out-of-system. They work together. And they understand what their teammates are going to do in each of those playing systems. When you have common ground and understanding of everyone else’s role, your role makes sense, and you can perform it, or change it to fit what the opponent is throwing at you. Drills might guide teams toward working on a specific skill; the team’s common ground lends to success in any drill.
There are certainly drills that are better than others. Specific and game-like and random are a good start. Great teams can get better in any drill with those ingredients, because they have taken the time to learn the “whys”, and to understand.
Why does this work
How can I know something sooner
Why does this happen after that happened
Why do I need to be here, not there
Carl McGown liked to say, teach them where to look, and teach them how to move. Shortly after, if not woven into those tasks, you have to learn why. If you know why it works, you likely already have the drills you need to succeed.
Random IMPACT is a bi-monthly education column in the Badger Beacon, an award-winning newsletter published by the Badger Region.
BJ LeRoy is a CAP Cadre member, board member and coach from the Badger Region. He also helps administer the Facebook group Volleyball Coaches and Trainers. You can reach BJ at email@example.com.
Hope you all enjoy this one. We’ve got plenty more lined up, stay tuned. Once again, if you’d like to write for our blog, feel free to email either one of us. If you have any comments, suggestions, or concerns, please feel free to contact us. Thanks!
Here’s a list of five accessible articles we thought are a good start, must read, and of course are classics within the Biomechanics and Motor Learning literature. Throughout the year, we’ll continue to share articles grouped within themes that are applicable to all.
When we started the Rebel Movement, we wanted to use it as an avenue to write, share, dialogue, and most importantly, engage the world around us through a different form of media. In fact, we also saw it as a way to make mistakes. The fact is that we all have opinions, ideas, and thoughts, but struggle to find the medium to share such expressions within a post that is barred by character limitations.
This is an open call to anyone interested in writing. Please get in touch! Let’s truly harness the interdisciplinary nature of this art.
Here are some blog posts we have written for other great platforms.
General Idea: Is there an underlying commonality between all theoretical approaches?
Opinion Piece : Harjiv Singh
There seems to be a clear divide amongst different theoretical and practical approaches to motor learning and performance. The field of motor behavior itself has become extremely interesting in the past few years. Information processing theorists have transitioned from task oriented approaches to more global motor learning theories whereas those from ecological psychology perspective have transitioned from affordances being opportunities for action to affordances being opportunities during action under a set of conditions or constraints. Both perspectives would agree that perception is believed to scale the world to reflect one’s own capabilities for action. Nonetheless, enhancing motor learning and performance is still dominated and rooted by practice conditions that make problem solving or information processing more difficult and effortful. While we remain stuck linearizing a non-linear central nervous system, the concern now shifts to not “what” but “how” to bring about coordinated or skilled control of complex movement, where movement execution is of primary concern. It’s not a coincidence that motivation, movement, and motor all share the same Latin root (movere, to move). The only way we learn new skills, adapt to differing constraints, and ultimately improve performance is through this idea of expectations, where we actively anticipate rewarding properties of significance to fulfill organismic needs and desires. Think about it, our situational specific confidence allows us to take advantage of hitting high hands even after we just completely shanked the ball (volleyball example). It is common knowledge that lack of confidence disrupts fluidity, but it’s also true that circumstances which enhance expectations may also potentate even more success, improvement, and learning. In fact, confidence has been recognized as a predictor of performance. Whether you follow an information processing or ecological psychology perspective, the common language we share is this idea of forward directed anticipatory cognitions about what is to occur which not only decreases self-focus but facilitates self efficacy and goal oriented motor performance. Recent work has shed light on autonomy supportive coaching, but we’re still light years behind engaging in such an idea. While both autonomy support and enhanced expectancy fall under the category of motivation, I think it is true that enhanced expectancy incorporates this idea of autonomy support. Thus, the question here is how can we enhance expectancies in practice and during competition?
I try to keep it nice and short and too the point. I’m always willing to discuss further and dig deeper into the philosophy and science, just shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
(Adapted from Wulf and Lewthwaite, 2016)
Pictured above is a pseudo motivational model that I will dig into through a psycholinguistic lens.There have been numerous excellent motivational models for coaches in the past, but almost all view it through a practice condition lens. As much as we’re concerned with skill acquisition and practice conditions, words are more powerful and meaningful. Think about it, when your coach tells you something along the lines of, “I know you can do it” there is a sense of control that you assume because you’re no longer worried about pleasing your coach in the moment. Now, this may be the farthest we’ve gone in terms of enhancing expectancies. There is more to it and I hope to dig deeper into it below. For reference purposes, Psycholinguistics is the psychology of language. It is the study concerned with psychological and neurobiological factors that enable humans to acquire, use, comprehend, and produce language.
The bottom line here is that along with the typical organismic, task, and environmental constraints within the dynamical systems perspective, comprehension of language also serves as a constraint. Despite the ideology you follow, affordances are solutions of confidence and general motor programs are strategic constraints based on linguistic perceptions.
An under appreciated function of feedback is its influence on an athlete’s motivational state. The research has clearly indicated that we want feedback on what we did good, not bad. Now, not saying if an athlete asks you for feedback on what they’re doing wrong you don’t give it. This very well maybe a way for the individual to enhance their own expectations. The feedback you do give though should be externally directed because it allows the athlete to focus primarily on the task goal. There are motivational characteristics to feedback. Reason being, an external focus primes the motor system to focus on the task goal, making it a performance criterion to accomplish that is attainable. At the same time, feedback should be instructional. When we start talking, it’s crucial to understand that our athlete will be thinking about what they did right, so a “nice job” vs. “nice job, I loved the way you flew like superman after that set” allows them to again, prime the motor system. You may be thinking that there are times where this external focus related feedback may not work especially during the cognitive stages of skill learning. After you’ve exhausted the distance effect (proximal and distal EF), it’s totally ok to go internal here, but the usage of action verbs is another way to offset the effects of the constrained action hypothesis. Research has clearly shown that the motor system is recruited during verb perception in the developing brain. The only caveat here is that your athlete needs to know what the verb actually means. So instead of telling your setter to “transfer the weight from your back foot to your front” you can easily say “push the ball towards the (target).” So clearly, theres more to positive feedback.
Conception of ability
An athlete’s view of their own ability as reflected by a fixed capacity versus being amenable to change with practice can affect their motivation but also influence their performance and learning. Conception of ability is a directly correlated to the influence of task instructions or performance feedback. When we give feedback and say “you’re an excellent server” vs saying “those serves were very good” you’re telling your athlete that what he/she just did was good (working memory) and that what was good, were the serves. Now, the athlete can go back and monitor what happened during those serves, why where they so good? what did I feel? what did I do differently? etc. Let’s put it into context. If as a coach I tell you prior to a serve that you are a great server, there maybe a sense of nervousness which has been shown in the literature. This is also combined with a more internal focus because now if you miss, its no longer an amenable skill but a fixed capacity.
Practice should accompany positive affect. Anticipation of positive affect is a form of enhanced expectancy. But outside representative design, positive affect can be influenced by what we say. Research has documented numerous times that with positive affect, there seems to be a sense of cognitive flexibility and creativity. It’s this conviction that one is doing well and the confidence in being able to perform well in the future that drives the “wanting” of rewards. Going back to the two predominant theoretical approaches, an affordance may just be a sense of confidence. We have all these opportunities for action yet we chose what we chose. However, the instruction or feedback evidently guides this. If as a coach, my athlete accomplishes the task goal differently then I wanted, my negative feedback towards him/her negates and positive affect. And the research seems pretty convincible that for instance, an external focus allows for more goal directed behavior as measured through the UCM approach. But, even then, to create this positive affect, you need to buy into an autonomy supportive style of coaching. Avoid the “you have to” “I need you to” “do this” “be quicker” etc. Stop demanding your player and start suggesting. Simple words like “can you” “let’s try” “how about” or articles such as “the” instead of “my” can elicit less controlling behaviors and less self focus.
Self modeling is great because almost all coaches do it. There are several ways to this including editing videos of your athletes best performances which by the way are also subjective. Nonetheless, another way is to actually self model in real time. However, again, coaches fall into this rut of talking too much and giving very self focused cues. The cues you give during self modeling need to be similar to those you give when instructing/providing feedback. There needs to be direction, description, and even distance. The idea here is to increase intrinsic motivation. Most teams nowadays use a video playback system but again when analyzing, they give vastly different cues than they do during the acquisition and performance phase. Also, providing too much “feedback” via self modeling is not good. What I want to stress mostly is that the verbiage
should be defined and similar across all tasks.
Perceived Task Difficulty
Setting criteria that purportedly indicate good performance but can also be reached easily can also raise expectancies. You want to challenge your outside hitter to hit more line? great, what are the smaller victories in between? perhaps, a tip down the line by the ten foot line. Using a point system can also guide this effect where you don’t constrain your server to hit the gap between 5/6, but add more passers so that they have to figure it out within the provided solution space. This gives them autonomy. Lastly, providing them choices is probably the most easiest to do during practice. The word “or” goes a long way. Provide them with choices that they feel confident in, after all, its their affordance, not yours. For example, “drive the ball to the end line, or push it to the right side of the court.” When you challenge, make sure it’s attainable, in which case the environment matters.
To conclude, expectancies affect attention and cognition. It influences working memory, long term memory, all biased towards expected stimuli. By doing so, athletes pay more attention to task error cues, increase reaction times, and increase pre-movement excitation, to name just a few. My intention here was to give you a little insight on the possibility that all of these theoretical approaches may just be underlined by this concept of enhanced expectancy and that there is more to practice conditions. It still intrigues me that words affect how we move, and words have an emotional component to them which affects confidence or expectancy. As coaches and clinicians, we need to go beyond simple motor programs. As an introduction my own research efforts, I hope to eventually take this and study the motivational characteristics of language as it related to motor learning and performance.