Optimising speed and agility development using target classifications and motor control principles: Part Two

Ian Jeffreys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Part one of this article outlined the need for selecting drills that develop the key target mechanics associated with a given movement. Once selected, the way in which they are arranged can also influence skill development. Random practice, where different drills are carried out on successive trials is the most effective way of enhancing the long term development of skills. 5,6,10 This is believed to be due to the fact that during a random practice, athletes must retrieve a motor program and parameterize it before each movement, as they are producing different movements from one practice attempt to another. 10 Random practice is the preferred method of drill distribution within a session, apart from with complete beginners, where blocked practice (where all the reps of a single drill are performed successively) can be effective. 9 To utilise this advantage, drills should be randomly arranged wherever possible. Figure 1 outlines how three attempts of four drills (sideshuffle, cutting, backpedal and cross-step) can be arranged in a blocked arrangement and a random arrangement. Variability in practice, where the drill is varied on successive trials, is another excellent tool for the coach, and can enhance error detection capacity, 4 which can further contribute to an ideal learning environment. All drills can be varied in terms of direction, distance, or movement combinations e.g. a sideshuffle drill can be over varied distances, and can be followed by a sprint away in multiple directions. By varying each drill as often as possible, what is developed is a general capability to produce many different versions of a class of actions, a general rule for movement, rather than just the capability of producing one action, in other words a schema. 7 This is especially effective for developing skills in open situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-17
JournalProfessional Strength and Conditioning
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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