Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Communication. Most coaches you ask will tell it is they are critical.

Many are also terrible at it.

One of the places this shows up is in the terms we use to describe sport and training. Don’t believe it. Go look at many arguments in sports performance or coaching forums online and you’ll see there is a lot of mis-use and disagreement about terms.

A recent series of forum posts on helped point out a common one in coaching speed. Coaches readily jump into discussions and arguments about mechanics, but often, are not talking about the same thing and can’t give the same definition of mechanics.

Mechanics (Greek Μηχανική) is the branch of physics concerned with the behaviour of physical bodies when subjected to forces or displacements, and the subsequent effect of the bodies on their environment.

me•chan•ics (m -k n ks) n.
1. (used with a sing. verb) The branch of physics that is concerned with the analysis of the action of forces on matter or material systems.

Pronunciation: \mi-ˈka-niks\ Function: noun plural but singular or plural in construction Date: 1612
1 : a branch of physical science that deals with energy and forces and their effect on bodies

One of the clear things from these definitions is the connections between forces and their effect on objects (in our case humans). It involves both the kinetics and the kinematics.

When a lot of coaches talk mechanics or technique, WHAT they are really focused on is kinematics. The positions and motions observable to their eyes. Its easy to see how this happens; after all, your eyes are the tool you always have with and use while coaching. Early on it was easy to start using still sequence photos to analyze “mechanics”, then film, and now access to video is instant and everywhere.

Don’t forget however, that there are forces acting that create the motion and motion that is creating forces. They are there, if you don't have a force plate with you. They go together and true “mechanics” involves both. If you are only thinking about one or the other, you’re only half coaching your athlete.