Dialogue I frequently hear in the gym and clinic typically go like this:
"Okay, watch me. This is how you do it." (coach performs movement perfectly)
"Like this? (Incorrectly performs movement)
"No. Not like that. Like this."
"This?" (again incorrectly performs movement)
"No. Here, stop. Watch me....Never mind, let's just try something else."
As physical therapists, personal trainers, coaches, or any profession that's involved with teaching someone a skill or movement, what we say (or don't say) can have a tremendous impact on how quickly a skill or movement is acquired. Not to mention how well that skill or movement can be performed after a time away from the activity (motor learning vs. motor performance!)
An area of focus for me lately, when interacting with my St. Aug Fitness, LLC clients, is doing a better job introducing and teaching various movements in the gym. Each time I introduce a new movement to new client (cognitive stage of motor learning), I am sure to provide visual feedback of them performing the movement by videoing them with my iPad. This technique has definitely improved the ability of my clients to understand how to perform a movement.
My interest in motor learning initially developed from my involvement as a strength coach at Lexington Christian Academy High School during my days as an exercise physiology master's student at Kentucky. I've since gotten away from being very meticulous in my coaching feedback and cues, but was reminded of their importance during a recent motor learning unit course in my doctor of physical therapy curriculum.
After completing the motor learning unit, I decided to create a brief document highlighting the key concepts and takeaways from the motor learning unit. Additionally, I had some notes from two articles on the National Strength and Conditioning Association website written by Nick Winkelman on motor learning/coaching strategies.
Click "read more" to check out the document (you won't see the document if you're viewing this page on "mobile" setting. Scroll to the bottom to choose "web.") -->
Hopefully you found a few pieces of information to take with you into your next practice or training session. The process of teaching a skill or movement seems so intuitive that we often overlook its importance. Take the time to understand the stages and principles of motor learning; it will improve your teaching/coaching performance significantly!
Make it happen.