Skill Development is the Key Ingredient that Education Companies won’t Share!

Skill is the ability to perform a task, the level of your skill is often measured in consistency, accuracy, speed of recall or total power output.  It could be a combination of these as well.

In fitness, we are taught to be the expert and then we get to teach our clients how to move better. This is a self-serving policy for Fitness Guru’s because they can then be a bigger authority than you, and then you can big a bigger authority than your client.  Sales are then built on fear, and coaching for skills become strict, not optimal.

However, if you know about Pain, Injury, Performance and Fatigue management, then you will know that fear and a lack of skill level (measured against the skill recall and appropriate power output) c0mbine to slow down your clients progress. There is too much in that statement to go directly into the science and reasoning but in the courses and the FASTER philosophy we do this in more detail.

Exercise Generators, Clusters and Skill Development

According to the research (I have listed the papers below, rather than finding one paper per statement to confirm my bias), then developing skill appears to be a set of complicated and messy looking movements, following a simple structured format.

The format

  • Describe the motion you want using internal cueing (so speak about body parts and motions)
  • Coach the client with an external target and allow themselves to find their great movement (offer feedback, but limit the amount of times you offer it)
  • When the client has identified a way of performing the task that they feel is good (it will be individual to the client, so let them go with it) then it is time to improve their skill by testing it in multiple different environments

The key in a Skill development session is that the client appears clumsy and struggles to overcome the tasks that you set them.  It is here where the learning happens.  In a Performance session, it is obviously different because in those sessions it is very specifically trying to increase the power output from the skill.


Exercise Generators, Clusters and Your Personal Development

At FASTER we are experts in developing talented Personal Trainers, Therapists and other movement specialists. This is achieved using the same techniques of learning as we apply to our clients when developing skill.

With clients we execute the following skills –
1 – HMAC Eyes (FASTER Level 3 Specialist Course Skill)
2 – Coach for Performance (FASTER Level 2 Assess Coach Train Skill)
3 – Application of the Exercise Generator (FASTER Level 1 Functional Circuits)
4 – Continual adaptation and development of the movements (FASTER all levels)

In order to give our trainers all these skills, then we get them to go through our levels of training aimed at empowering the trainer, not brainwashing them into following our guru!


How to become a Great Trainer

Many people will tell you that you need experience and to make mistakes, but most won’t give you the space to do this, or the encouragement you need to continue after.  Also, mistakes and experience need to be focussed in a certain way, even though they may look a little off target when you watch.

This means we make it really easy to make mistakes in our training.  We do this online and end up on a famous skype training call (or watching a support emailed video whiteboard). We do this live 1-1 and get to laugh as things seem difficult as you find yourself making many mistakes in front of your mentor, or if you do this in a group, you get to get this wrong together in a group of people learning.

The point is that in our education process, it will feel like you are learning and getting to experience getting better through the experience of finding your limits and being wrong in the right way!  It won’t feel like you have sat and had to listen to a guru who’s levels seem unachievable!


Exercise Clusters

When building exercises for clients, we use an exercise generator which is built around seeing the essentials of the skill, and applying new ways of using that skill. In the following videos we did this for the golf back swing.

Golf Follow Through Cluster with Jon Ship

This is a cluster of movements in one video to improve hands landing and prone strength

A Skill Cluster for Acceleration

A Skill Cluster for fast feet using the CMT to drive someone off balance

References / Further Reading

(A selection of the papers, all reviewed fully in our FTE invite only course, email to find out about next year!)

Vincent S. Huang, Reza Shadmehr and Jörn Diedrichsen “Active Learning: Learning a Motor Skill Without a Coach” J Neurophysiol 100:879-887, 2008. First published 28 May 2008; doi:10.1152/jn.01095.2007

Esmaeel Saemii, Jared PorterS Gabriele Wulf, Ahmad Ghotbi-Varzaneh^ and Sabah Bakhtiari’ “Adopting an external focus of attention facilitates motor learning in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder” Kinesiology 45(2013) 1:179-18

Wing Kai Lam, Jon P. Maxwell, and Richard Masters “Analogy Learning and the Performance of Motor Skills Under Pressure” Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 2009, 31, 337-357 © 2009 Human Kinetics, Inc.

Gabriele Wulf (2007) “Attention and Motor Skill Learning” Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching Volume 2 · Number 3 · 2007

Sharon Jalene and Gabriele Wulf (2014) “Brief Hypnotic Intervention Increases Throwing Accuracy” International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching Volume 9 · Number 1 · 2014

Nebojsa Randelovic, Nenad Zivanovic, Dánica Pirsl, Veroljub Stankovic “Determination of the Essence of Concepts Motor Learning, Motor Skill, Motor Habit, Motor Stereotype” Scientific Journal of Education, Sports, and Health No- 1′ Vol. Xlll/201

Mohsen ShafIzadeh Terry McMorris and John Sprouie “Effect Of Different External Attention of Focus Instruction on learning of golf Putting SkIll” Perceptual and Motor Skills, 2011, 113, 2, 662-670.

thiago a.c. oliveira*, renata a. denardi, go tani, umberto c. corrêa “Effects of internal and External attentional foci on motor skill learning: testing the automation hypothesis” HUMAN MOVEMENT 2013, vol. 14 (3), 194–199

Katherine M. Keetch, Timothy D. Lee, and Richard A. Schmidt “Especial Skills: Specificity Embedded Within Generality” Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 2008, 30, 723-736

Arnaud Badets, Yannick Blandin “Feedback Schedules for Motor-Skill Learning: The Similarities and Differences between Physical and Observational Practice” Journal of Motor Behavior, Vol. 42, No. 4, 2010

Lior Shmuelof, John W. Krakauer, and Pietro Mazzoni “How is a motor skill learned? Change and invariance at the levels of task success and trajectory control” J Neurophysiol 108: 578–594, 2012.

Anne Pankhurst “How tennis players learn motor skills: Some considerations” ITF Coaching and Sport Science Review 2013; 60 (21): 6 – 7

Denis Francesconi “Implicit and Explicit Learning in Motor Cognition: Issues for Movement Education”, Faculty of Cognitive Science, Italy

Bert Steenbergen, John Van Der Kamp, Marion Verneau, Marjolein Jongbloed-Pereboom & Rich S. W. Masters “Implicit and explicit learning: applications from basic research to sports for individuals with impaired movement dynamics” Disability and Rehabilitation, 2010; 32(18): 1509–1516

Ben Sidaway, Justin Bates, Barbara Occhiogrosso, Jessica Schlagenhaufer, Delany Wilkes “Interaction of Feedback Frequency and Task Difficulty in Children’s Motor Skill Learning” Volume 92 Number 7 Physical Therapy f 949 July 2012

M. Felice Ghilardi, Clara Moisello, Giulia Silvestri, Claude Ghez, and John W. Krakauer “Learning of a Sequential Motor Skill Comprises Explicit and Implicit Components That Consolidate Differently” J Neurophysiol 101: 2218– 2229, 2009

Alessandra di Cagno, Claudia Battaglia, Giovanni Fiorilli, Marina Piazza, Arrigo Giombini, Federica Fagnani , Paolo Borrione , Giuseppe Calcagno and Fabio Pigozzi “Motor Learning as Young Gymnast’s Talent Indicator” Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2014) 13, 767-773

Anita Haudum, Jürgen Birklbauer, Kröll Josef, Erich Müller “Motor Learning of Gross-Motor Skills Under Variable Practice Conditions” UGDYMAS • KÛNO KULTÛRA • SPORTAS Nr. 1 (80); 2011; 22—28; SOCIALINIAI MOKSLAI

Gabriele Wulf, Charles Shea & Rebecca Lewthwaite “Motor skill learning and performance: a review of influential factors” Medical Education 2010: 44: 75–84