A dive into the application of changing technique with sport practitioners in high performance settings


Technique change, where existing behavioural solutions to a goal are permanently adapted for safety, efficiency or effectiveness, is common among sport practitioners. However, we know little about how this change is achieved in practical settings. The technique change empirical literature is sparse in terms of quality evidence regarding best solutions. There are various suggested approaches; some based on exaggerating errors, some based on explicit correction and others based on contrasting of old and new ways. Our aims in this study were to review current methods and identify shared or different elements then evaluate if, when and how these methods are applied in adult, high-performance sports. We interviewed 15 individuals involved in technique change (5 = sport coaches, 5 = strength & conditioning coaches, 5 = therapists). Based on initial thematic analysis, there were some common elements which matched some of the recommended methods. These included: raising awareness to the error or undesired technique, technique-focused feedback (directing attention both internally and externally) and direct instruction concerning a desired technique. There was little evidence that practitioners required their athletes to practice or exaggerate errors, or contrast between old and new ways. Therapists noted safety concerns and other groups viewed it to be counterproductive. Practitioners often reported using video feedback, part-practice and slowing things down when changing technique. Based on these data, we hope to determine what and how methods are being applied in sport, develop a survey tool to probe a larger sample and conduct empirical, efficacy-based research.

Acknowledgments: This research was supported by a Discovery NSERC grant awarded to NJH