The Building Blocks of a Program: Structure, Supports, and Coaching

May 28, 2013
Tagged with: The Building Blocks of a Program: Structure, Supports, and Coaching

 

Foreword:

When I started working with my Movement Specialist, I had never heard of a 4 x 4 matrix.  I was not familiar with the concepts or complexities of Functional Movement.  I had never heard of Gray Cook, Charlie Weingroff, or other professionals James frequently cites.  It is only recently that I have come to appreciate the knowledge beyond the names, and their expertise.

From my work with James, I have learned the basic concept that “nerves and muscles work as a unit” and that movement is an “integrated system of body patterns”.[i]  I also know and have shared that Spastic Cerebral Palsy disrupts my “integrated system of body patterns”.   I have written about how the process of trying to learn new movement patterns is sometimes like trying to unscramble a scrambled egg.  The analogy aptly describes the difficulty I can and do encounter in the work to learn to walk device-free.

I am relying on James, as my Movement Specialist, to use his professional expertise to build an individualized and effective program for me.  I want James to use the principles and practices he has learned from Mr. Cook and other experts to build a fitness and walking program that serves my immediate needs.  I also want a program that is progressively sequenced to support me to achieve my longer-term objectives.  In this article, James provides a brief overview of periodization as it applies to our work and the methods he employs to develop and support me in my fitness and walking program.

—Kerry A. Wiley

Building the Program Foundations: Structure and Supports

By: James R. House, III

For Kerry and other clients I work with, the training and activities that we do have structure, have gradual progression, sequences, and incorporate tools and supports which accommodate individual needs.

I use a periodization framework in my work with Kerry.  Periodization is a structure that divides training into phases.[ii]  The intent is to avoid plateaus and overtraining.[iii]   Periodization varies the volume and the intensity of training to increase skill development.[iv]

Without getting overly technical in this piece, I use a 4×4 matrix for our session progressions and regressions. A table follows for reference.

UNLOADED:
1) Pattern Assisted, 2. No Resistance, 3. With Resistance Pattern Assisted, 4. Fully Loaded Resistance
2) QUADRUPED:
1) Pattern Assisted, 2. No Resistance, 3. With Resistance Pattern Assisted, 4. Fully Loaded Resistance
3) KNEELING:
1) Pattern Assisted, 2. No Resistance, 3. With Resistance Pattern Assisted, 4. Fully Loaded Resistance
4) STANDING:
1) Pattern Assisted, 2. No Resistance, 3. With Resistance Pattern Assisted, 4. Fully Loaded Resistance

 

Before any new work begins, I have to prepare Kerry for the work ahead.  In my role as her Movement Specialist and coach, I have to inform Kerry about the intent of an activity and the potential effects that will result after the activity is performed.

I have to prepare Kerry to perform.  Our goal might be to execute a certain skill in 3 or 4 attempts.  I have to show Kerry what is expected.  I also have to monitor her through the attempts.  My specific exercise selections are determined by Kerry’s overall strength, stamina, and ability to demonstrate proficiency.

We use different supports and equipment in Kerry’s program such as bands, blocks, wedges, bolsters, and foam rollers to help Kerry get into precise body positions.  The use of the blocks, wedges, and bolsters also allows for proprioceptive feedback.  Sometimes Kerry has a negative reaction to the stimulus.  When a negative reaction occurs, my role as her coach becomes more significant.  Kerry is resilient and is willing to work through discomfort, yet I have to support Kerry where I can to become accustomed to the new physiological responses.

I assist Kerry to identify the origin of sensations –e.g. where she feels the reactions on her body.  I explain what triggered the response and give Kerry a sense of “the bigger picture” – how the hardware and software are supposed to work.

As Kerry’s coach, I support her to develop new skills.   I monitor her responses.  I support her through difficulty.  I offer information, motivation, and positive reinforcement.   I want Kerry to be aware of the changes that result from our work.  I want Kerry and all of the clients I work with to feel a sense of accomplishment and experience growth as we go through the planned phases of a program.

—James R. House, III



[i] Cook G. Athletic Body In Balance: Optimal Movement Skills and Conditioning for Performance. Human Kinetics; 2003.

[ii] Bompa, T. (1999). Periodization: Theory and methodology of training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

[iii] Street, Chris. “The proof is in the periodization.” Joe Weider’s Muscle & Fitness. Weider Publications LLC. 2000.

[iv] Hoiliday, B., Burton, D., Sun, G, Hammermeister, J., Naylor, S., & Freigang, D. (2008). Building the better mental training mousetrap: Is periodization a more systematic approach to promoting performance excellence? Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 20, 199-219.

Author: Kerry