Progression (For all those Primary School Teachers at the latest Workshop)

Thanks to all who turned up the other day to have a look at building the movement vocabulary. It seems that you and your colleagues in High School are part of the accountability for the development of Physical Literacy in the younger generations. As we discussed in the workshop it is tough to have this accountability when you only spent a short number of hours in your Teacher training doing the PE stuff which was nearly all about competitive Games. Your enthusiasm to learn was infectious and I thought I should follow-up with a little more detail and some reminders on one of the elements we covered in that all-to-brief 2 hours – Progressing the movement experience.

The teachers PE toolbox should contain a variety of tools that allow you to select and teach an appropriate type and level of exercise to the individual in the class. Unfortunately, too many coaches and teachers have only three tools in their possession – 1. Volume (lots and lots of mindless repetitions that just get the kids tired) 2. External resistance (a Barbell a Dumbbell or Medicine Ball or Sand-Sack) 3. Volume and External Resistance together. No doubt that there will be some adaptation to these methods but they are limited when put into the context of most individual and team field, court and flotation sports and the physical competence they will need to do them. In many sporting situations they will have to execute the movement pattern in various directions, at various speeds, at various amplitudes, in multiple planes while doing other actions like lifting, reaching, carrying, catching, passing, jumping, kicking, pulling, pushing, etc. Sometimes they will have to do all these movements while reacting to opposition or to a ball in flight. If this is the world they will have to live in then it is up to us to give them a vocabulary of movement experiences that prepare them for this environment.

To illustrate some of these tools let us look at the Squat movement where the athlete conducts the ‘triple-flexion’ movement (sitting on a chair) and ‘triple-extension’ movement (standing up from the chair). It would be remiss to think that this single plane (sitting and standing) movement pattern will be sufficient to aid the athlete along the pathway to what they will face in the sports-performance setting (apart from Power-lifting athletes).

By all means start the journey with the conventional Double-Leg Squat to parallel where the following will be seen.

1. Head up, Chest up
2. Back straight and parallel to Shins
3. Feet Shoulder width apart, Heels down
4. Thighs parallel to the floor.
5. Ankle, Knee and Hip aligned

It is suggested that before you start to reach for the volume and external resistance tools you might want to consider the following:

Change the Amplitude of the movement –

Shallow; Deep – and all stations in-between.

Change the Speed of the movement –

Static; Slow; Fast – and all stations in-between

All the above – Change the position of the Feet –

Wide stance; Wide stance Toes out; Wide stance Toes in; Wide stance one Foot ahead (L&R); All the above – to Toes.
Narrow stance; Narrow stance one Foot ahead (L&R); All the above to Toes

All the above – change the Trunk position –

Bend; Rotate; Bend and Rotate
With Broomsticks
With Medicine Balls

All the above – change Arm position / action

Hands behind Head
Hands ahead
Hands overhead
Hands across Chest
Catch an object
Catch and throw / pass an object
Bounce a ball
Juggle a ball
With wide Arms
With tight to body Arms
Push an object up; out
Pull an object or an elastic rope high to low; low to high; diagonally low to high

All the above – change how they arrive in and leave the position

Land from a small jump (Forwards, Backwards, Sideways (L&R), Restart in all directions e.g. Jump forwards x 2 and jump backwards once to the Squat landing
Land from a small Hop
Land from a small Leap
Land off a box
Land on a box
Jog, brake and stop into a Squat – in multiple directions
Run, brake and stop into a Squat – in multiple directions
Land going up-hill
Land going down-hill

All the above followed by a jump –

For height
For distance
With 90 Rotation
With 180 Rotation
With 360 Rotation

The coach will not have to always show them all these variations or coach them robotically. Challenge the athlete to change a body part or shape or speed and applaud their creativity. Let them observe another athlete’s solution – they have great observation and mimicking skills that help create the vocabulary.

“Can you be taller in shape?”
“Pretend to sit in a chair”
“Can you be smaller in shape?”
“Can you change the position of your Arms?”
“How many can you do in 5 secs?”
“Can you land quietly?”
“Can you land with a loud noise?”
“Who can do this in s-l-o-w motion?”
“What happens if you close your eyes?”
“In pairs, copy what your partner does”
“Do the movement to this music”

With all these puzzles to solve the athlete will amass a wide and deep movement vocabulary from which their developed proprioception (knowing and controlling where they are in time and space), balance, coordination in this Squat pattern will be available to them. Whatever you find helpful here for the Squat movement can be applied to the other foundation movement of Lunge, Pull, Push, Brace, Rotate, Hinge and landing. You will have noticed that even though the Squat was the centre of attention in this document you can see many of the other foundations movements involved. You can also see some of the Running, Jumping, Throwing and Catching elements being integrated. This is the beauty of a movement curriculum, it links so many things together. Whether you offer these journeys in the Classroom with the ‘movement breaks’ we spoke about and / or in the formal PE lessons where they can learn and apply the movements in a variety of settings, all these tools are there for you to create an imaginative and varied series of learning opportunities. Have a go!