Qualitative Analysis Of Conditioning

Junior high and high school coaches often are primarily responsible for developing conditioning programs for their athletes. Coaches must carefully monitor the exercise technique of their athletes to maximize conditioning effects and reduce risk of injury. Suppose you are a junior high basketball coach who has his players perform passing drills with a small medicine ball. The technique points and biomechanical principles you are interested in are listed in Table 10.3. One of your players shows the technique depicted in Figure 10.3. What biomechanical principles are strengths or weaknesses of their performance, and diagnose the situation to set up intervention.

The weaknesses in this player's exercise technique are related to stride, arm action, and angle of release. The relevant biome-chanical principles for these technique points are Inertia, Range of Motion, Coordination, and Optimal Projection. While a variety of passing techniques are used in basketball, the one-handed flip with little weight shift that this player used is not the most desirable technique for high-speed passing. It is hard to judge from the timing information in the figure caption, so we will assume that the athlete used good effort and speed in executing the pass. Motivation clearly affects performance, so the

Figure 10.3. A junior high school basketball player throwing a medicine ball. Time between images is 0.12 s.

weaknesses in some athlete's exercise technique are more related to effort than to neuromuscular errors. The pass will likely have poor speed to the target since only the right arm contributes to the horizontal speed of the pass.

The coach must next diagnose these weaknesses and decide on the best intervention to help this player improve. A good coach would likely focus the player's attention on the correct arm action using both arms (Coordination). The primary reason for this diagnosis is safety, because the use of one arm and trunk twist to propel a heavy object may not be safe loads for poorly trained adolescents. There is also less research on upper body plyometrics than there has been on lower body plyometric exercises (Newton et al., 1997), so what loads and movements are safe is not clear. Cues given for this technique point may also correct the angle of release, increase the speed of the pass, and enhance control of the ball. You decide to work on the stride later for safety reasons. Focusing intervention on the stride does not increase ball speed or decrease the distance (and therefore time) of the pass as much as good coordination with both arms would.

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