Unmasking The Realities
Here are 3 broad hacks to assist coaches to overcome the constraints faced by wearing a face mask for coaching.
1. External cues
Coaching athletes with short sentences through cues may assist the coach to facilitate an S&C session with few, but impactful instructions. The goal of cueing is to narrow the athlete’s attention to focus on the most relevant feature of a movement being learned (e.g. Triple extension in a horizontal broad jump).
External cues (as opposed to internal cues) are often used to encourage the athlete to focus their attention on the movement outcome. Research has shown that an external focus of attention (through the manipulation of distance, direction and description strategies) promotes greater movement velocity, force, endurance, and efficiency (Benz, 2016; Winkelman, 2018). In the long run, the athlete will perform better during the context of practice, while encouraging the retention and transfer of the practised motor skill.
To illustrate the application of the external cue strategy, consider a coach asking his athlete to ace the horizontal broad jump
– Internal cue: “Focus on extending through the hips, knees and ankles”
– External cue: “Explode over a bed of hot coals”
Once the athlete has heard a cue like this one or twice, it can be even further abbreviated to a buzz word such as “COALS!” to trigger an image and action in the athlete’s mind to achieve the outcome intended by the coach.