Skill & Application

Posted: October 27, 2011 in Coaching Concepts, Teaching & Learning
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Skill vs. Application Training

So having discussed the performance factors and there networked relationship we have discovered that an association between them and the activities we ask of our players.  There is an overall goal of the work, whether a single session or a block and that there must be drills and exercises that relate to and are part of the overall goal in terms of the factors.

In coaching there are discussions and theories that have been shown to work and this is not to dissimilar.  For example in teaching a skill one can break the skill down into a number of parts that progress from the isolated simple through to the complete and complex.  Along the way players add more and more to the skill until it is complete or satisfactory.  In another model a skill is taught as a complete whole execution and then areas are identified to improve and then put back into the whole motion.  This is referred to as the “whole, part, whole” approach.

In this approach I use some of both (I think).  The method is simply broken into two distinct areas, skill training and application training.  As I mentioned in the performance factors article there are activities that are useful to develop one or more of the factors and that the association is important in the understanding of the player.  Here I take the notion of learning a skill or set of skills that impact the overall desired outcome.  For example in learning the forehand to achieve over an in at high quality one must have a variety of skills including physical strength and coordination, body manipulation, footwork and movement capability, racket control both backswing, forward swing and through contact and an appreciation of court position and aspects of the received/sent ball such as spin, flight and pace.  This is a whole host of requirements but as we have seen from our endeavours on court not out of reach.

Simply put I have created these areas (skill / application) that implies building a skill set that can be isolated such as footwork, functional body movements (related to technical requirements), ball control that are tools for use.  Progressing through drills and activities that move closer and closer to play encourage use of the appropriate tools and of course mastery of the skill set.  Each tool that is provided in skill training has its use in open play and drills in between are there to further encourage the use of the correct tool.

In an attempt to be clearer a drill may have emphasis on footwork and that this is the primary learning objective.  Attempts are made to improve footwork or the skill and that the rest is of lesser importance.  In the same drill the emphasis could be on racket control to generate certain spins and flights.  This time the footwork is of lesser importance.  It is important for the player to understand the focus and whether the goal is skill based or application based.  If application based the payer is requirement to focus on outcome i.e. depth or number of balls in for example and that the tools the player has must be recruited in the best way possible.  The coach may notice that certain tools are weaker or are not functioning as well as they should and create a skill exercise to target that.  Of course these activities are interlinked with the performance factors and associated with the overall desired outcome.


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