This article discusses the importance of drills to athletes.
Firstly, a Skill is your ability to choose and perform the right technique at the right time, effectively and efficiently.
A Technique is simply the most efficient way of solving a physical task or problem within the rules of the sport.
Drills are a set of sequential movements designed to specifically reinforce or fixate parts of a Skill.
For example, in the action of running each leg goes through a series of phases: Front support phase (leg lands in front of body), Drive phase (leg extends behind body), Recovery phase ( heel passes close to butt) and Front swing phase (knee lifts and lower leg swings forward to contact ground).
There are drills designed to target each of these phases separately (breaking down the whole into parts) and can be done in marching, skipping and running modes.
Front support phase – straight leg bounding drill
Drive phase – bounding/leaping drills
Recovery phase – Heel flick drill (butt kicks)
Front swing phase – knee lifts drill with clawing/pawing of the feet downward/backwards
After drills for the separate parts are worked on, the whole movement is then put back together and practiced. This happens automatically without conscious thought.
Many different drills can be used to improve one’s skill, however, one need to be aware of the following:
The brain records actions in a sequential order, stores it and reproduces it when ever it is needed, hence the reason why the skills has to be practiced correctly and regularly.
It is imperative that skills are learnt correctly from the beginning as the brain usually records and stores it in memory!! When the need arises for specific movement to be used the brain simply “plays” the recorded info.
However, the old adage “Practice makes perfect” is not totally correct!!
Instead, “Only perfect practice makes perfect and permanent” so it is important that you practice perfectly as much as is humanly possible.
If you have acquired (learned) a skill incorrectly you will have to spend a great deal of time learning the new skill and this could take several weeks or months depending on the learner and the complexity of the skill to be learnt.
The optimal age for skill learning is between 8-12yrs old.
An individual goes through 3 stages of learning when acquiring a skill.
(1) The thinking and understanding stage – working out what to do
The individual must know and understand clearly what it is they are trying to achieve.
(2) The practicing stage – developing the technique
Practice allows the athlete to develop the technique, provided the practice is focused on building on what is correct while identifying what may need to be corrected.
(3) The skilled or advanced stage – Performing the skill
The control of movement becomes more automatic, the athlete can learn to attend to choosing what to do and when to do it, rather than how to do it.
Remember the purpose of drills (Techniques); they are the basic building blocks of a skilled performance!!!!!