Teaching to the Test

Is this happening to your athlete?

 

Parents and Coaches,

Over the last 9 years of running TAT and communicating with youth and high school coaches and parents, the following topic has come up enough times that I feel compelled to write…I feel compelled to educate.

“Teaching to the Test”

In the academic world this denotes the practice of using the test to dictate the teaching process, usually to the detriment of real learning.  This practice is unfortunately common in our system of standardized testing where teachers and administrators are feeling the pressure of “creating” high test scores. 

But I’m not talking about teaching to the test in the academic arena, it’s an analogy to get your mind pointed the right direction.  I’m speaking about teaching to the test in the athletic arena.  Specifically in the testing of speed and agility….here is what I mean:

When I hear about coaches having athletes run 40’s with the purpose of running those 40’s being to get faster at running 40’s…it is teaching to the test!  Or you can substitute the 5-10-5 shuttle, L-Drill, or a 60 yard run for the baseball crowd.  The premise is the same:  When you perform the actual drill as the main means of improving on the drill, you are teaching to the test!  There is an initial small improvement that comes from getting familiar with the motions, but then an abrupt diminishing return on all your efforts when it comes to real improved performance.  This diminished return is the parallel of what occurs in the classroom where using the test to dictate the teaching process diminishes real learning.

Now I understand that most of this “teaching to the test” is done on purpose to get athletes ready for testing at camps, combines, and tryouts.  I understand that many times getting a minimum score on a test is all but necessary for making a team.  I know the hoops we are making our athletes jump through in the name of speed and agility testing.

But I also know there is a much better way to maximally develop those speed and agility abilities!

When an athlete is properly trained across the entire biomotor spectrum of athletics skills and abilities (Balance, Coordination, Body Awareness, Speed, Agility, Strength, Power, Flexibility, Work Capacity) then they become MORE ATHLETIC.  A more athletic athlete then has a maximized foundation upon which to learn and practice a specific drill.

 

But most importantly…this is what you really have to grasp…

 

That same maximized athletic foundation will serve also to support and enhance the athlete’s actual sport-specific skills and abilities resulting in enhanced sport performance!  So when you are training at TAT to become a better athlete, your improved ability to do some combine drill simply becomes a nice side effect!

 

Or Put Another Way…

 

Enhancing overall athletic ability will have carry-over to enhanced sport performance AND the ability to perform to one’s true maximum on speed and agility tests.

Conversely, enhancing one’s ability to do a speed or agility test by simply performing reps of that speed or agility test will only get the athlete slightly better at that speed or agility test.

 



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