Posts Tagged ‘Training’

I am very excited about writing this article as it has enhanced my coaching philosophy and approach ten fold.  I will try to explain the process and the reasoning as I go.

This evening  (Monday 20th Feb 2012) I took the protoype Response System to my coaching to see what the reaction (ha) would be to the system from a player perspective and also to see how my coaching would / could alter.

I set the system up for a 20 second work period, set up a square about 2×2 metres and explained that the light would come on and that they (the player) are to move to the corresponding dot.  Then they were to look for the next light and move to that dot and onward.  I also used the other features to stimulate, engage and challenge the players.

The first thing I noticed was that the players movement was really stretched by this implied reactive pressure.  The intensity level was through the roof and the enjoyment was great to see and they applied themselves really well to solving the movement puzzles presented by the system.

I trained 4 players in 3 different sessions and the differences between them were very interesting.

Physical competency played a part in the measured output of the players.  It was evident that from an anatomical / functional point of view that better posture and movement capability in all planes resulted in better scores.  I think this is quite accepted but probably missing from many coaching sessions, particularly sport specific coaching sessions (I am working on a series of articles to address this).

Most sports require some reaction to a stimulus and then to move and execute some action.  This reaction to the stimulus is of interest.  In most, “reaction” trainers that I have seen there is no requirement to move from position A to position B.  In this case, the reaction trainer, for me, has been a difficult concept.  With Response however, there is a requirement to move and this requirement can be as big or as small as desired.

The pressured style of movement that was observed suggested that the message from the reaction to the muscle groups was delayed and/or confused.  Interestingly, the players who could play tennis at higher tempos and more consistently were observed to move more fluidly in response to lights changing.   Over the part of the session I used the Response, I altered drill patterns and distances, exercises, the position of the lights (moved the system to the other end of the court) and created movement puzzles for the players.  This seemed to be very engaging and the work rate was fantastic.   Improvements were made with some confusions within the drills popping in and movement mistakes being made.

This provoked my thought process to consider the possibility that players thoughts were clouded when performing the sport and the focus was not on simply playing.  The idea of working with the subconscious is a concept that I was recently presented at Anatomy in Motions level 3 (Gary Ward).   Tennis is a busy sport and there is all manner of possible things players can be thinking about when performing drills, points etc that may have either effect on their outcome, i.e. positive/negative.    Thoughts associated with thing like where they are hitting, how they are hitting, does the ball have spin, oh no I missed etc.

When players observed a new light they automatically performed a split step and this was very prominent during the activities with response. However, when playing/drilling in tennis this step is sometimes missing,  maybe due to drifts in focus, time delays in the stimulus, relief after sending the ball back.  They likened a new light to the contact point of the opponent  and decided that they would shout the word “GO” as loud as possible in their head as they saw/heard the contact. The aim of this was to fill their head with the word and it’s noise thus impeding other thoughts to enter their mind.

The impact of this was that the movement and court coverage was drastically improved and I was able to really pressure them with the feeding.  Taking it a step further, I wanted to reduce the thoughts whilst hitting so we chose words such as “Bang” “hit” linked with breathing out through their own contact.  The words were again shouted to fill their head and when I asked what it was like, they said that the words took as long as the breathing out, BaaannnGG for example.  The aim of this was to allow the body to just do as it knows best.

Results again were good and the players had a really positive response to the work. We had stronger strokes, higher rally tempo, increased consistency not to mention more fun.


There is a place for reaction training and its impact and linkage to coaching and performance is great

Reaction is one thing but body function is a limiting factor where required to move and execute.  This means that, as a prerequisite or in conjunction with, there must be attention to the body requirements (in 3D).

Using stimulus as focus points, allows clearer thought and the body to simply do as it knows best.  It almost simplifies the messages from the brain to the body to more like “red light – body go” as opposed to ” red light – panic – pull levers – wait not that one – what about this one – ok that will do – come on – made it – dam it there’s another one”

It allows the players to just do and correct (attacking the subconscious effectively).

The Response is a great tool to engage players, make training useful and linked to the sport, provide significant challenge and aid in making performance related improvements.

It was a lot of FUN!


Due to a few conversations this week the theme of “exploring the game” has been bought up quite a lot in regards to players on court performance and development.

When a player is learning a new skill should the player be exploring this skill’s usage within the game?  In my opinion yes they should otherwise the skill is not worth having.  For example in learning to contact the ball on the forehand the overriding theme is contact.  There are many ways to contact the ball that will result in the ball being sent in different directions, with different flight paths and with different spins.  For a player to fully master the skill they have to experience all of the possibilities (3D).

Exploring will teach the player what currently works, what did work and surprised the player, what didn’t work but might in the future, what I am confident with and so on giving the player a full view of the game that is at their disposal.  In doing this and experimenting will in the end be priceless to the player as they will understand what they do best and when and how.  They will have stamped their personality on the game and be able to deal with situations that occur however demanding.

This isn’t as rosy as it first appears.  What an ideal development approach this is and wouldn’t it be fantastic if all players did this.  Well they can, it’s just that there will be obstacles in the way that we as coaches will have to deal with as they present themselves.

As an example there is a boy at the club who is a magnet for the net and he loves to get there.  He is sometimes successful and sometimes not but he is learning when it is appropriate for him and what shot’s he needs in order to be successful approaching and playing at the net.  He is happy to try this in matches too and is sometimes the reason for losing perhaps when other options are better suited.  Is this really a problem?  I think that is up for debate really as I quite like to see the exploring but where the result is important it’s not great.

In other scenarios players who can explore the game a lot due to high skill levels may end up trying things that again cost them matches or points.  Is this really a problem?  Depends on age, experience and goals maybe?

I think my approach is to constantly encourage players to explore the game in a variety of situations and pressures.  Something I have not really done is guide them to understand what works when and allow the player to construct an individual game plan.  I have tried to be as open and encouraging of individual style and personality as possible but I think there is still a need to define tactics and decisions in terms of educating the player (what works, could work, why that didn’t work).

Thoughts are much appreciated.  I know this post is a bit flaky but could be interesting…

Speak soon,


Emergencies and Opportunities

3 Movement Concepts

Association Training

Enjoy x

Welcome to the second contribution to 3D Training Concept.  This time it is with great pleasure that I can present Kelvin Giles, a world class and well renowned trainer/coach/author/presenter.  Kelvin is the top of his field and works with some serious customers in the sporting and training world.  You can access Kelvin’s work at Movement Dynamics.

Here is what Kelvin had to say…

Re: Hotspot – I have done a fair amount of brainstorming with my friend Vern Gambetta (Vern’s Site) about Hotspot and there can be no doubt that it offers a means to measure the outcome of that foundation of training – Movement Efficiency .

I have been concentrating on Movement Efficiency over the last few years and in the case of the Field & Court athlete the translation of that primary commodity to agility is a key issue. Hotspot allows you to monitor progress and challenge the complexity of movement. Getting improved movement efficiency is worthless unless you can apply it and for the Field & Court athlete multi-directional movement patters are a cornerstone.

Hotspot is certainly a very worthwhile component of this journey.

I am working hard to get coaches to ensure that the athletes have adequate movement efficiency (multi-joint, mult-plane. multi-directional) so that this can be more effectively driven into agility work. We often by-pass the foundation movement efficiency in the quest for agility. For example if an athlete cannot triple-flex / extend efficiently they cannot land efficienctly and therefore will not be able to execute or survive agility loads. You want to change direction? You have to ‘stop’ first. Can’t squat – can’t stop.


I am sure you agree that this is straight to the point and makes logical sense.  In our approach to Hotspot Training we consider the building blocks of the “agility” drill/exercise or in fact the pattern of movement (In pattern I mean the A-B nature of the drill)  of the game and we use the measurement of the drill as guidance.  In an attempt to be more clear we will consider where gains can be made in terms of the drills measurement’s from a “movement efficiency” perspective.   For example is there a lack of ability to absorb force, control Centre of mass in a change and can we utilise exercises to facilitate development.  Ultimately does this intervention impact the agility drill in a positive manner and therefore making improvements in the field/court.

I would like to thank Kelvin for his contribution and lets go and make our athletes better..and know it!

Make It Count

I have been asked this on many occasions from friends and colleagues and so I am going to share it with readers of this blog.

I was lucky enough to play college tennis in the USA and the experience was incredible.  If playing college sport is in the grasp of anyone I recommend it!  I went to Stony Brook University under Coach Glassman and played and trained among some fine people.

It was all a bit of a shock to me when I arrived there as players had much more experience than I and the expectations from coaches was much higher and dare I say more professional than what I was used to in the U.K.  For the first time I entered a weight room with a proper program.  Gladly this seems to be more common in the U.K now.

I improved drastically in the USA due to the program that I was following, however, there were still some issues.  In doing conditioning work (speed, agility, plyometrics etc)   there was no way of knowing improvement.  There was the obvious in racing others and the “feeling” of working hard but nothing tangible.  There was also the questions of accuracy, repeatability and cheating!

I was studying electronics and had worked a bit in Motorsport.  I had seen and worked on systems for other sports that were in fact trying to get data on certain things that were deemed important.  The thing was products of this type were expensive and in a lot of cases hard to work with practically and also spat out almost to much data.

This is what was needed in our tennis program.  A way of knowing if individuals were improving, preventing cheating and added motivation and enthusiasm for conditioning training. The other thing that was in my mind was that this system must be simple and affordable to all in sport.  There is the added problem that was added in that it is very difficult to measure multi directional movement drills as we cannot guarantee where athletes are in space and have to added in things such as cones and lines to achieve the accuracy and precision.

Post university I played a few “futures” events in Europe and during this time I was in hotels and on trains or planes when not competing and so had plenty of time to think.  I drew and wrote and the idea of simple trigger points started to formulate.  On my return home I spent any spare moment designing the simple system that is today the Hotspot.

The system consists of Wi-Fi dots that simply send a “I have been hit” message to a base unit that controls simple timing and counting.   The dots or “Hotspot’s” can be positioned where ever to create drills and interestingly have a positive effect on how one moves to touch a dot and the added control forced as athletes know they must touch the dots in order for the drill to count.  With this forced control requirement it becomes increasingly obvious to see areas that can be improved.

Anyway…that is pretty much where the idea came from.  The system remains simple and easy to use but the applications and training options continue to grow.  We are starting to see an increase in specificity in  designing drills etc and the hotspot makes for the perfect tool to monitor these drills.  There is evidence to suggest that by doing this the complete exercise program (strength, power, flexibility, speed etc) can be seen to work and directly influence the overall sporting performance of the athlete.

See the Hotspot System website and the Hotspot in Action

The Performance Enhancement tool kit is a simple and effective way to personalise training.  Whether it be for a specific game style in an individual sport, a certain position or improving certain muscle groups this approach will get you on the dot faster.

Again there is a 360 degree approach to this and it is important to consider options and potential solutions from many angles.  For example a right back in football will have certain things in common with the vast majority of right backs but with deeper investigation there could be slight variances due to the manager setting the team up differently or a certain style of play and also not to forget the individual flare and personality.

Moving through the process the movement patterns and variations that can be applied must be set and of course every thing linked back to game day.  What can we expect the player to do on the field and for what reasons?

Within each movement pattern there will be physical obstacles to over come.  These could be in the form of muscles not functioning as well as they could or technique at certain points within the movement pattern.  This could be down to the brain having not been educated, a strength issue or some other issue.  The point is that we can find it fix it and work with it all the time in and out of the movement patterns.

With this approach we have a detailed overview of the actual requirements from all angles. We have designed specific patterns and drill variations to enhance the players performance.  We have given the body a well rounded view of what we want and how to get better and finally we monitor every time and all the time.

In monitoring we build up players confidence with the movements (maybe after and injury), we demonstrate the point relevant to the tactics so we get buy in and we have a much better handle on whether the drill, activity works within the game played at the weekend.

Simple really but very effective

Example case coming soon…

Make it count x

Tennis  Movement Training – Phase 1 – Vector Training

Download Phase 1 Simple Tennis Movement 


Tennis is a dynamic sport requiring a host of skills in order to play the game well.  Alongside techniques of strokes, tactical understanding and mental abilities is that of movement and footwork.  These would come under the heading “physical” but is more than simply going to the gym and crunching weights or running on a treadmill.  Tennis movement is specific and in phase 1 the aim is to introduce you to simple movement concepts that you can improve and that will also double up to improve your fitness.

3 Vectors

Movement in tennis can be broken down into 3 vectors.

  1. Forward & Backward
  2. Lateral
  3. Diagonal

Vectors must have direction and a magnitude.  In this case we look at direction and 2 “magnitudes,” distance and speed. 

Movement Steps

Tennis movement can be simply broken down into 3 or 4 distinct types.

  1. Side steps / shuffles
  2. Cross over steps (X overs)
  3. Running (fwd/bwd)
  4. Dynamic Cross overs (combination of X over / side step)

Within the game you will be required to use all of these either in isolation or in a complex combination.  Within phase 1 of Tennis Movement Training there will be drills to develop and enhance all vectors and movements

Download Phase 1 Simple Tennis Movement 

Hotspot System Setup

To know if you are improving you need to measure the drills. Hotspot can help you do that and provide accuracy and repeatability so that you have the confidence that you are improving.

To use the Hotspot system with the drills outlined is simple.

  1. Use the mode button to select “COUNT” mode (Press start to confirm)
  2. Set the number of dot’s to be hit in your drill
    1. Remember if you use the “0” start mode the first dot starts the timer and is not included in the total count
    2. You can return to dots after 0.5s, be sure to include all of the hits in the drill
    3. Press start to confirm and use the mode button again to select the “0” remote start
    4. Press start and go!

Download Phase 1 Simple Tennis Movement