In a presentation last year I used the concept of yin and yang to describe the inter-relationship between physical and technical in track and field athletics. In essence, yin and yang describes how opposing elements (light and dark, fire and water) paradoxically serve to complement and ultimately define each other. Much the same applies when considering simplicity versus complexity. There are many instances where each of these elements apply in the realms of coaching and various facets of practice in elite sport. In this post we will explore the paradoxical - or yin and yang - relationship between simplicity versus complexity in the fields of coaching, physical preparation and sports injury.
Providing learning opportunities and mentoring to coaches and practitioners has been a recurring theme throughout my career. Indeed a large part of my present role involves mentoring young coaches and practitioners in the early stages of their career working with athletes. These interactions frequently prompt me to reflect on my own journey and what I have learned on the way. This post is a collection of those critical lessons - essentially what would have been useful to have been told starting out.
Aside from serving as the point of weight-bearing for all activities performed in standing, the foot represents the terminal link in the kinetic chain where forces generated by the athlete are transmitted to the ground beneath them. The action of the foot is integral to all modes of gait, from walking to sprinting. During sprinting, for example, the athlete's technical proficiency in how they apply force during each foot contact is recognised as paramount. Despite the integral role of the foot in locomotion and a host of athletic activities common to the majority of sports, training to develop this critical link is often overlooked in the physical preparation undertaken by athletes. This post examines the role of the different muscle groups involved in the dynamic function of the foot. We will explore different training modalities to develop the respective muscle groups, and also discuss the applications of this form of training, from both sports injury and performance perspectives.
In a previous post we have spoken about the art of coaching and the power of well-chosen words. Regardless of what discipline a practitioner is working in (physical preparation, sports injury, coaching) there will be an element of coaching the athlete to perform movement - for the purposes of training, rehab, or for the sport itself. An understanding of how best to guide the process of acquiring a movement skill is typically something practitioners develop over time; certainly it is not extensively taught - if at all, depending on the discipline concerned. Clearly this is a major omission given that these factors will affect how well the athlete not only acquires movement skills in the first instance, but also how robust these skills will prove over time and under pressure.
During my recent trip to AltisWorld I was invited to present to the coaches and practitioners attending the 5-day coaching clinic known as the Apprentice Coach Programme. My chosen topic was the interaction and relationship between the physical preparation undertaken with athletes (in this case track and field) and their technical development. The message I sought to convey was that the elements of physical and technical are so inter-related and dependent upon each other as to be inseparable; this brought to mind the notion of Yin and Yang.