Sports Coaching - Modelling & Simulation
When teaching new skills to players or reinforcing current ones a coach is recommended to show a perfect model of how that skill is executed, depending on the skill at hand it may be difficult for the coach to perform the skill themselves to the standard of a perfect model, often this is the case as they may be retired and are experiencing degradation of their components of fitness since their days as a player, or it simply may be the coach has never been able to replicate a perfect model of the skill, as is likely to be the case with a coach that never actually represented their sport at proffessional levels, such as Real Madrid’s head coach ‘Jose Mourihno’, but this is not to say they are unable to provide modelling of a skill, they just have to use another player who is capable enough to demonstrate or a recorded visualisation of the skill being executed, depending on the sophistication of the coaching and resources of the club this method may vary from crude drawings with a paper and pen, to still digital images and video footage.
This is a particularly effective method for those players of a visual disposition, it gives all the players a standard to meet and visual cues on how to achieve the skill or technique.
There is computer software which can aid coaches in their delivery of modelling such as ‘Dartfish’, they key components of which is the ability to slow an action down so that it is slow enough for anybody watching to comprehend what the athlete is actually doing and take notes on the various stages of the skill and desirable alignments of the body. This is better enabled in a feature within Dartfish which shows a ghost trail of the action, capturing pictures of the athlete at several different stages within the action and displaying them on the same picture so the full motion can be observed, furthermore two separe executions of the action can be displayed at once allowing comparison. This features gives the coach the option to either show the players on a laptop or presentation on a projector or print it off onto paper for players to see, this also allows the players to take a copy with them away from training sessions to study it.
In accordance with the key principle of training ‘Specificity’ the most effective way to improve at a sport or particular skill is to that exact same thing your wanting to better at. However this can be problematic as it is quite possible for a striker within football to go throughout a whole game with 0 attempts on goal (Shots) either on or off target, this is a concern as he/she has been unable to work upon their shooting ability within game, it is probable that they have been completely isolated from the game and have done little more than the occasional run for the ball and holding position. If the coach wants to focus on improving the strikers ability to as the name suggest ‘strike’ the ball, they will need to simulate situations within a match in their training programe.
I would sugest the following strategy;
1. Allow the striker to take shots on an empty net from close range
2. Once profficient at that move the ball progressively further out, still with no opposing Goalkeeper
3. Move the striker back to close range but this time introduce a goalkeeper
4. Once profficient move the back progressively back, this time in the presence of the opposition Goalkeeper.
5. Allow the striker to shoot from close range again but have a midfield player play them a through ball pass to run onto instead of kicking the ball from a standing start as before, for greater simulation of an actual event that could occur during a competitive match.
6. Play the same ball in but from progressively further distance from the goal
7. Now include an oppositon defender, to simulate the pressure the striker will be under in an actual match scenario
Likewise a hockey coach may wish to set up a training drill that is essentially attack vs defense, a recognised method is to begin the drill in favor of the attacking team by giving them more players, this will give them a greater success rate giving them more enouragement and a sense of fulfillment, the coach can then add another defender balancing things out, giving probably a more realistic scenario of being matched one man to a man (Man marking strategy).
Simulation may also be in the form of simulating an atmosphere or environment, in most competitive sports there will be a crowd of spectators watching the game, this will obviously depend on the sport and the level it is played at. It is speculated that some players are unable to replicate what they can do on the training ground in match situations due to the pressure placed upon them by the crowd, or their very presence being a distraction, in addiction to employing a sports Psychologist to attempt to overcome it the coach may wish to bring crowds to training sessions so that the individual can become accustomed to their presence. Alternatively it may the desire to simulate the level of altitude the competition will be played at, this was evident in England’s preparation for the 2010 World cup in South Africa where head coach Fabio Capello had his player train at altitudes simillar to that they would be experiencing in the competition itself.
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