Coaching beginners

Discussion in 'General Fitness' started by Robert Grumbine, Sep 16, 2003.

  1. As threatened, here's my new thread on coaching beginners.

    In writing my other note, I almost started this notion, which I think is worth a separate thread.
    Suggestions on additional approaches to be taking with my group are welcome. My particular bunch
    is liable to be mostly women, but not all, and ranging in age from teens to sixties, some with
    prior running experience, some whose sports ended with the jr. high gym teacher telling them they
    were too slow.

    One of the things I try to do in coaching is develop my runners' proprioception -- body awareness.
    Common advice around here being to 'listen to your body'. It's good advice, but totally useless
    when people don't have much proprioception. So, in addition to, say, advising fairly upright
    posture and witness that they do it, I also ask them how it feels. A blanket question like that,
    however, is useless until they've developed the proprioception. Instead, and my approach to
    helping develop it, I ask some focussed questions one on one as we're jogging: "How does your back
    feel? Are your arms swinging easily? Is your breathing easier? etc."

    I think a coach should be listening to his athletes, and this gives me a chance to do it.
    Sometimes the answer is one that I'll have further comment for. Sometimes not -- but regardless of
    what they say, in order to answer they have to start interrogating their body. Doing this
    routinely seems to lead to a big improvement in their proprioception. This is a big plus because
    after 2-3 months, we start doing some running that is more (potentially) stressful. I want my
    runners to know the difference between a virtuous effort (which the legs/lungs are trying to wimp
    out of) and courting injury before we start cranking up speed.

    A different element of my questions (and I mention this) is to help them fix in their minds what
    good form feels like, so that they'll be able to continue it without the coach being around.

    The proprioception issue was brought home by one person who figured if she wasn't in the hospital,
    she wasn't injured. (Ouch!) Lot of work there on recognizing signals before hospitalization.

    Other thoughts? Thoughts on better ways to do this?

    --
    Robert Grumbine http://www.radix.net/~bobg/ Science faqs and amateur activities notes and links.
    Sagredo (Galileo Galilei) "You present these recondite matters with too much evidence and ease; this
    great facility makes them less appreciated than they would be had they been presented in a more
    abstruse manner." Two New Sciences
     
    Tags:


  2. Lyndon

    Lyndon Guest

    Robert Grumbine wrote:

    >As threatened, here's my new thread on coaching beginners.
    >
    > In writing my other note, I almost started this notion, which I think is worth a separate thread.
    > Suggestions on additional approaches to be taking with my group are welcome. My particular bunch
    > is liable to be mostly women, but not all, and ranging in age from teens to sixties, some with
    > prior running experience, some whose sports ended with the jr. high gym teacher telling them they
    > were too slow.
    >
    > One of the things I try to do in coaching is develop my runners' proprioception -- body
    > awareness. Common advice around here being to 'listen to your body'. It's good advice, but
    > totally useless when people don't have much proprioception. So, in addition to, say, advising
    > fairly upright posture and witness that they do it, I also ask them how it feels. A blanket
    > question like that, however, is useless until they've developed the proprioception. Instead, and
    > my approach to helping develop it, I ask some focussed questions one on one as we're jogging:
    > "How does your back feel? Are your arms swinging easily? Is your breathing easier? etc."
    >
    > I think a coach should be listening to his athletes, and this gives me a chance to do it.
    > Sometimes the answer is one that I'll have further comment for. Sometimes not -- but regardless
    > of what they say, in order to answer they have to start interrogating their body. Doing this
    > routinely seems to lead to a big improvement in their proprioception. This is a big plus because
    > after 2-3 months, we start doing some running that is more (potentially) stressful. I want my
    > runners to know the difference between a virtuous effort (which the legs/lungs are trying to wimp
    > out of) and courting injury before we start cranking up speed.
    >
    > A different element of my questions (and I mention this) is to help them fix in their minds what
    > good form feels like, so that they'll be able to continue it without the coach being around.
    >
    > The proprioception issue was brought home by one person who figured if she wasn't in the
    > hospital, she wasn't injured. (Ouch!) Lot of work there on recognizing signals before
    > hospitalization.
    >
    >
    > Other thoughts? Thoughts on better ways to do this?
    >

    I don't have any experience coaching people that have been labelled "too slow": since I coach
    sprints/relays/hurdles in high school, my experience is exactly the opposite, although first-year
    sprinters and hurdlers are still literally beginners. And you might not have the resources for this.
    But, especially in the beginning stages, I make quite a bit of use of video techniques.

    One type of video technique is to have athletes look at proper technique being demonstrated. This
    would be videos such as (for sprinters) Loren Seagrave's "Speed Dynamics" series, and others for
    hurdles and also other technical events like shot put. Distance videos are not as popular, but there
    are some, such as Frank Gagliano's cross country video. Particularly for new sprinters and hurdlers,
    it is VERY helpful to see correct technique for all the drills and workouts being demonstrated.

    The other video technique is video analysis of the athlete's running/racing form. Sprint coaches
    routinely use the same equipment used for finish line analysis (FAT) to determine both stride
    frequency and stride length for every athlete, but this probably goes way beyond what is needed in
    distance running (where a difference of 0.1 second is not "quite" so important). I would imagine
    that it is helpful--particularly to beginners--to actually see their running form, and the equipment
    really needed here is simply a portable video camera. Sprinters and not exactly known for having a
    lack of self confidence (so for me, team sessions work well) but with a different type of athlete,
    you probably have to be mindful of the confidence level

    Lyndon "Speed Kills...It kills those that don't have it!" --US Olympic Track Coach Brooks Johnson
     
  3. Since I'm one of those *slow* persons, here's my 2 cents--

    I think many beginning female runners, especially those who never participated in sports in school
    have little idea what the physical exertion of running more than a few yards feels like. Multiply
    this in spades if the person in question was (or still is) overweight. If the other folks in the
    running group are *elitist* and look down on the slower ( and fatter) runners, it's likely that the
    slower and larger beginners begin to drift away from the group and don't return--and as a result
    fall back to their sedentary lifestyle.

    The beginners also need to be told about what kind of aches and pains they can expect as they begin
    their running regime, and what kind of aches and pains are simply the body adjusting to working out,
    and what's a developing injury. Many beginners equate any sort of pain as an injury and therefore
    are scared to continue their workout program. They're simply not aware of how their bodies are
    supposed to feel under stress, and how the body adapts to an exercise program.

    It's also essential that the group, to include the coach/helpers be as welcoming and helpful to the
    slower beginners as well as those who are still beginners, though more gifted, and who will
    progress faster than the *slow beginners*.

    Jean in VA

    "Lyndon" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Robert Grumbine wrote:
    >
    > >As threatened, here's my new thread on coaching beginners.
    > >
    > > In writing my other note, I almost started this notion, which I think is worth a separate
    > > thread. Suggestions on additional approaches to be taking with my group are welcome. My
    > > particular bunch is liable to be mostly women, but not all, and ranging in age from teens to
    > > sixties, some with prior running experience, some whose sports ended with the jr. high gym
    > > teacher telling them they were too slow.
    > >
    > > One of the things I try to do in coaching is develop my runners' proprioception -- body
    > > awareness. Common advice around here being to 'listen to your body'. It's good advice, but
    > > totally useless when people don't have much proprioception. So, in addition to, say, advising
    > > fairly upright posture and witness that they do it, I also ask them how it feels. A blanket
    > > question like that, however, is useless until they've developed the proprioception. Instead,
    > > and my approach to helping
    develop
    > >it, I ask some focussed questions one on one as we're jogging: "How does your back feel? Are your
    > >arms swinging easily? Is your breathing easier? etc."
    > >
    > > I think a coach should be listening to his athletes, and this gives me a chance to do it.
    > > Sometimes the answer is one that I'll have further comment for. Sometimes not -- but regardless
    > > of what they say, in order to answer they have to start interrogating their body. Doing this
    > > routinely seems to lead to a big improvement in their proprioception. This is a big plus
    > > because after 2-3 months, we start doing some running that is more (potentially) stressful. I
    > > want my runners to know the difference between a virtuous effort (which the legs/lungs are
    > > trying to wimp out of) and courting injury before we start cranking up speed.
    > >
    > > A different element of my questions (and I mention this) is to help
    > > them fix in their minds what good form feels like, so that they'll be
    able
    > >to continue it without the coach being around.
    > >
    > > The proprioception issue was brought home by one person who figured if she wasn't in the
    > > hospital, she wasn't injured. (Ouch!) Lot of work
    there
    > >on recognizing signals before hospitalization.
    > >
    > >
    > > Other thoughts? Thoughts on better ways to do this?
    > >
    >
    > I don't have any experience coaching people that have been labelled "too
    slow":
    > since I coach sprints/relays/hurdles in high school, my experience is
    exactly
    > the opposite, although first-year sprinters and hurdlers are still
    literally
    > beginners. And you might not have the resources for this. But,
    especially in
    > the beginning stages, I make quite a bit of use of video techniques.
    >
    > One type of video technique is to have athletes look at proper technique
    being
    > demonstrated. This would be videos such as (for sprinters) Loren
    Seagrave's
    > "Speed Dynamics" series, and others for hurdles and also other technical
    events
    > like shot put. Distance videos are not as popular, but there are some,
    such as
    > Frank Gagliano's cross country video. Particularly for new sprinters and hurdlers, it is VERY
    > helpful to see correct technique for all the drills
    and
    > workouts being demonstrated.
    >
    > The other video technique is video analysis of the athlete's
    running/racing
    > form. Sprint coaches routinely use the same equipment used for finish
    line
    > analysis (FAT) to determine both stride frequency and stride length for
    every
    > athlete, but this probably goes way beyond what is needed in distance
    running
    > (where a difference of 0.1 second is not "quite" so important). I would imagine that it is
    > helpful--particularly to beginners--to actually see
    their
    > running form, and the equipment really needed here is simply a portable
    video
    > camera. Sprinters and not exactly known for having a lack of self
    confidence
    > (so for me, team sessions work well) but with a different type of athlete,
    you
    > probably have to be mindful of the confidence level
    >
    > Lyndon "Speed Kills...It kills those that don't have it!" --US Olympic Track
    Coach
    > Brooks Johnson
     
  4. In article <[email protected]>, Lyndon <[email protected]> wrote:

    [snip]

    >I don't have any experience coaching people that have been labelled "too slow": since I coach
    >sprints/relays/hurdles in high school, my experience is exactly the opposite, although first-year
    >sprinters and hurdlers are still literally beginners. And you might not have the resources for
    >this. But, especially in the beginning stages, I make quite a bit of use of video techniques.

    Good point. I've made some use of live demos from some of the better forms in the club. And that
    has had some positive results. A couple of beginners said they started running much more easily/
    efficiently after keeping the mental image of one of our demonstrators in mind.

    But we've been talking about getting a video camera already, so ...

    [snippage]

    >Sprinters and not exactly known for having a lack of self confidence (so for me, team sessions
    >work well)

    :) Yes, bashful types don't seem to hang around there.

    >but with a different type of athlete, you probably have to be mindful of the confidence level

    Yep. Extremely so. That's a reason I do a lot of running back and forth through the group -- to be
    one on one with them.

    --
    Robert Grumbine http://www.radix.net/~bobg/ Science faqs and amateur activities notes and links.
    Sagredo (Galileo Galilei) "You present these recondite matters with too much evidence and ease; this
    great facility makes them less appreciated than they would be had they been presented in a more
    abstruse manner." Two New Sciences
     
  5. In article <[email protected]>, Jean S. Barto <[email protected]> wrote:
    >Since I'm one of those *slow* persons, here's my 2 cents--

    A *slow* person ... gasp, horrors!

    One of my assistants was at an RRCA seminar, in which dismissive comment was made about '10 minute
    milers'. She said "Some of us _aspire_ to 10 minute miles."

    >I think many beginning female runners, especially those who never participated in sports in school
    >have little idea what the physical exertion of running more than a few yards feels like. Multiply
    >this in spades if the person in question was (or still is) overweight. If the other folks in the
    >running group are *elitist* and look down on the slower ( and fatter) runners, it's likely that the
    >slower and larger beginners begin to drift away from the group and don't return--and as a result
    >fall back to their sedentary lifestyle.

    Definitely. One of the things I know I have to work against with my beginners is that I'm a
    slender male. (Some have even accused me of being a gazelle, though that doesn't persist after one
    of our real gazelles goes flashing past.) The fact that I spent 15 years not exercising before
    coming back seems to be very reassuring to many.

    >The beginners also need to be told about what kind of aches and pains they can expect as they begin
    >their running regime, and what kind of aches and pains are simply the body adjusting to working
    >out, and what's a developing injury. Many beginners equate any sort of pain as an injury and
    >therefore are scared to continue their workout program. They're simply not aware of how their
    >bodies are supposed to feel under stress, and how the body adapts to an exercise program.

    That's the other side. I seem to have more folks who consider anything short of bones sticking out
    sideways as being ignorable. But I'll try to remember that there are the opposite groups.

    > It's also essential that the group, to include the coach/helpers be as welcoming and helpful to
    > the slower beginners as well as those who are still beginners, though more gifted, and who will
    > progress faster than the *slow beginners*.
    >
    >Jean in VA

    Gee, which part? Want to start making side trips to MD and help keep me in line as you run with
    our group?

    --
    Robert Grumbine http://www.radix.net/~bobg/ Science faqs and amateur activities notes and links.
    Sagredo (Galileo Galilei) "You present these recondite matters with too much evidence and ease; this
    great facility makes them less appreciated than they would be had they been presented in a more
    abstruse manner." Two New Sciences
     
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