Monthly Archives: January 2010

Skill Acquisition

Well this blog is a little later than I had hoped but work is very busy at the moment, more about that in another blog.

Over the xmas and new year period I had to do quite a lot of marking. One of the modules I was marking was skill acquisition and students had to make a DVD of them coaching a session and explain using a commentary what they were doing and why.

Most students logically developed their chosen techniques, normally from a closed environment to a more open environment, many approached feedback using specific learning styles for specific athletes and most created a structured and progressive learning environment.

Some that struck me though was how some sports seem to have some standard practices relating to skill acquisition and this made me question what judo’s practices are. Here are some the students did:

One student was teaching sprint starts, she is a level 2 athletics coach. When she started her session she asked the athletes to keep their feet on a line and lean as far forward as possible. The foot they put forward first was their preferred or dominant foot. This made me think, I wouldn’t know the dominant foot of my athletes, they do the judo techniques the way they’re taught and based upon whether they are left or right handed. Is this correct?

Another student taught golf. When his athlete moved off balance during the swing he placed his hand on his head. When judo players turn in for a technique and go off balance we tend to adjust their shoulders or their weight distribution in some way, interestingly when we teach kuzushi will tell tori to control the head…..

The same student had a system for teaching the athlete to correct himself (encouraging intrinsic feedback is good) and I wondered how judo coaches do this. For some coaches say that when creating kuzushi and you hikite hand pulls you should ‘look at your watch’ this is a way of getting players to self check.

A final one was a swimming coach teach front crawl or freestyle. I didn’t know that when you do this stroke one of the key points is to lift as high as possible with your elbow when your arm comes out of the water. A small technical point a none swimmer or beginner might find hard and I think we have many of these in judo – point your toes in O Soto, straight sweeping leg in ashi waza etc. What she told her athlete to do was have his thumb touch his armpit as he lifted his arm out of the water.

So my question is this – what do we do in judo? I remember being taught O Uchi Gari and being told to imagine a piece of chalk between my toes drawing a circle so that I kept my toes close to the floor and I still find myself saying this when I coach O Uchi Gari. What do other people say?

The second question is why don’t we have a list? Surely a list that is distributed on coaching course would help young coaches?

Please add some comments, ideas below.

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Filed under Anglia Ruskin Sports Coaching & Physical Education degree, Coaching Judo, EJU level 4 & 5 coaching awards, Judo