Everybody (hopefully) knows that the most important concept in motor learning is specificity. That is, skills and techniques are learnt quicker and more effectively when the learning environment very closely replicates the conditions of the game. This is something that we have learnt over the years and many (good) coaches have adjusted their practices accordingly. Certainly since I was learning to play volleyball there has been a massive sea change. I can remember week long training camps where we maybe got a chance to play a game on the fifth (of five) day. The rest of time was spent diving, as I recall. Over things, under things, around things, with a run up, without a run up and always, always without a mat. I am (ok, was) very good at diving.
I have heard many coaches say that junior players today are not physically ready to play. They can’t handle the training loads of players in the past and need special weight training to get them ready to play. In earlier times players didn’t get the injuries they get now. It must be because kids are less active than they used to be.
Einstein was quoted as saying;
“The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
With that in mind we are obligated (only if we want to improve) to look at our problems from a different perspective. Consider the possibility that players become injured precisely because skill training is specific rather than despite. Consider the possibility that all of the silly, non-specific technical training we used to do was actually specific strength training.
By subtly changing our perspective, a few things possibly make more sense.
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