Stef Bradford : The Coaching Eye Stef Bradford : The Coaching Eye

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Thread: Stef Bradford : The Coaching Eye

  1. #1
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    Default Stef Bradford : The Coaching Eye

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    The development of the "coaching eye" -- the observational and analytical skills necessary to evaluate athletic performance -- is a essential part of becoming an effective coach. This presentation discusses the interaction of experience from multiple sources that combine to build this critical ability.

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    Video from the Starting Strength Coaches Association Conference, October 2012.

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    Pretty tremendous stuff here.

    I have to say that the perception/action model you drew up is just stupendous.

    The thing that I find really interesting about it is the role of gestalt understanding vs. more "modular" understanding. I think that's one reason why very often talented individuals are poor coaches/teachers. They rapidly develop a gestalt understanding that moves into the realm of automation and intuition very quickly, and they are then unable to verbalize that understanding, because their model was never developed to same extent as someone who had to wrestle with the movement or material.

    This is one reason I like teaching (and arguing), as it forces me to develop models more fully than I might otherwise. So even though we seek to have a visual gestalt of the squat so that we can see instantly what someone is doing wrong, we also need a thorough model that can be transmitted through the various modes of communication to the lifter, to help refine their internal model of the squat (which is what we're really doing, to some extent).

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    Excellent, Stef, thankyou. It's like you made it especially to prepare those of us going to SS Seminars.

    Just 20 minutes in now, I'm especially intrigued by the talk of the interaction of coaching others and your own lifting. I find myself thinking of an S&C coach I know who says male personal trainers should not be allowed to graduate until they have squatted 3+ plates a side - they don't have to be able to do it every day, but should have done it at some point in their lives. Wherever you might set the standards, there's some virtue to the idea.

  4. #4
    Ryan Long Guest

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    Stef,

    This was a great lecture. When I was pursuing a masters of education in kinesiology I took a course in called Qualitative Analysis of Motor Patterns in which we spent three weeks watching videos of people doing normal locomotor and object manipulation skills with the goal of saying how they performed the skills correctly or incorrectly. One of the difficulties of the course was telling people that they were doing things incorrectly, as if it were a moral judgment. Your simple demonstration of analyzing moving dots would have added a lot to that class by divorcing motor performance from such a loaded evaluation. After I graduated and put these skills to work, as a teacher I naturally deferred to looking for joint centers and angles, just as Rip teaches. Had this technique been deliberately taught in that original class I imagine the class would have been much more straightforward and saved me a year of self-development.

    Also, your discussion of motor neurons reminds me of the inevitable fault of the graduate student, to apply every theory to themselves as a sample set of one. If as a coach, I attempt to teach every athlete based on my own experiences as a lifter then I am likely to lead them astray. I think this demonstrates the difference from coaching from a physiology or engineering background as opposed to a pedagogical background. Even if I've squatted wrong a million times and right a million times, I've done it right and wrong my way which is likely very different from your right/wrong way. (seeing particular errors, to my favorite errors, to 200,000 errors...until you taper it down to one error). As a teacher I have to understand how what I say and do is uniquely interpreted by each athlete in each given environment and I need to be able to anticipate how that lifter will interpret my cues and what they will do in order to be an effective coach. I've watched both you and Rip do this with incredible proficiency as I stood by unable to cue a lifter and coach into performing the model correctly.

    All that being said, I'm grinning along with you because I think you were meant to be a teacher, not a scientist. As you said, learning to be a better teacher/coach makes you a better person. This is exactly how I think teaching and the SS experience has impacted my leadership ability in the Army. Teaching/coaching has informed my ability to effectively communicate with people so as to positively impact their performance. This is leadership in its purest form and I'm certain I've become a better leader for being involved in this community.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tertius View Post
    The thing that I find really interesting about it is the role of gestalt understanding vs. more "modular" understanding. I think that's one reason why very often talented individuals are poor coaches/teachers. They rapidly develop a gestalt understanding that moves into the realm of automation and intuition very quickly, and they are then unable to verbalize that understanding, because their model was never developed to same extent as someone who had to wrestle with the movement or material.
    I think it has more to do with approaching things systematically and analytically, than the ease of understanding. Some people do this at every level of development, but most do not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kyle Aaron View Post
    Just 20 minutes in now, I'm especially intrigued by the talk of the interaction of coaching others and your own lifting. I find myself thinking of an S&C coach I know who says male personal trainers should not be allowed to graduate until they have squatted 3+ plates a side - they don't have to be able to do it every day, but should have done it at some point in their lives. Wherever you might set the standards, there's some virtue to the idea.
    I could see requiring a standard of development -- moving into middle-intermediate + competitive experience would be a reasonable place.

  7. #7
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    Stef,
    Thank you for your presentation on the coaching eye. Your comments on coaches interpreting their observations through their personal issues/filters are something many of us need to be reminded of often. The SSCA Conference continues to provide easily accessible resources to the community.
    Regards,
    John

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    After taking my time to study the video there is one thing that really drew my interest. It was mentioned that coaches that have engaged in the lifts they are coaching (action) have a different viewpoint of what they are coaching (receptive, sound, visual, etc).

    I have noticed that coaches, trainers, etc. with a long history of lifting coach and cue differently and often more effectively and efficiently than those who have very little experience even when they have a good base of knowledge. This provides a possible answer on why some coaches are light years better than others.

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    Just saw this, excellent video.

    Definitely puts into words some of the roadblocks I have had into trying to make others see deviations in technique, whether it be weightlifting or swimming. It's something I am constantly trying to develop in those I coach, is that discerning eye. I know I still have much to learn on it.

  10. #10
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    starting strength coach development program
    Elgar, I hope you and others will disseminate this video widely. The ideas expressed in this lecture are incredibly important. And I hope Stef will consider writing it up for publication.

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