Take Steve Nash. He is currently the NBA’s all-time leading free-throw shooter at 90.4%. Nash is also famous for taking two or three imaginary practice shots before he shoots the real free-throw. This is clearly not a coincidence. But why? What’s the connection?
It’s not a secret that one key to developing great athletes (and basketball players) is the promotion and implementation of Fundamental Movement Skills and Physical Literacy. One of the biggest challenges is how you, as a coach, might go about implementing these concepts. The answer? Repetition-Based Learning, and Knowledge of Results.
There are two essential pieces in promoting a physical literacy environment in programs: Repetition-Based Learning, and Knowledge of Results. But what do these things mean?
Let’s go back to our Steve Nash case study. Every time he takes his “practice” free-throw, he is giving his brain and muscles a chance to warm-up and focus on what he is about to execute. He is also able to learn on every “practice” attempt. Because of these extra reps, where most players only get two free-throw repetitions, Nash essentially gets six. And of course on top of that, there are the tens of thousands of free-throws Nash has made in practice. This is Repetition-Based Learning.
The other factor is being able to understand and comprehend whether or not the shot was taken correctly. Nash will take feedback from the process, both external (from coaches, video, etc.) and internal (his body position, breathing, motion pattern, etc.), and analyse how it affected the end result. This is Knowledge of Results.
Combine the two concepts together, and you create an athlete who not only understands what he needs to do, how they can make corrections when the end result is not achieved. And this is all without their coach having to provide them with corrections. This is physical literacy at its most effective.
In Steve Nash Youth Basketball or other youth development environments, the implementation of these concepts resembles the following:
- Provide your athletes with enough opportunities to make mistakes and become comfortable with the skill and/or movement (remember the LTAD principle that Excellence Takes Time).
- Give athletes the ability to understand whether or not they are performing the skill correctly, and what corrections might help achieve the intended result.
Eventually, your program will develop an environment where kids are repeating skills but can simultaneously self-monitor to know if they are doing it correctly (and why or why not).
Check out the Canadian Sport for Life video below for more information on Repetition-Based Learning with Knowledge of Results.
And be sure to let us know how you promote physical literacy in your programs in the comment section below!
Brandon Brock is currently pursuing a degree in Honours Recreation & Sports Business (Co-op) at the University of Waterloo. A current intern at Canada Basketball, Brandon’s basketball passion lies in coaching – he is also an Assistant Coach with the University of Waterloo Men’s Basketball Team.