Cues: Turning on a Light Bulb or Blowing a Fuse


Funny thing happened to me the other day. I’m currently in the midst of undergoing physical therapy to help get over an injury I did to myself trying to train through a sinus infection (I’m sure that’s another blog unto itself!). During my last session my PT was attempting to get me to go through a movement that for whatever reason, I just couldn’t do. She kept using the same prompts over and over and we were both starting to get a bit frustrated. I finally stopped and said, “Look I think I know what you’re asking me to do, but I’m obviously not doing it. Is there any other way to explain it?” She actually was a little stumped at first. A moment later should found another explanation/prompt and BOOM! It clicked! An “ahhh HAAA!!” moment if you will.

If you can’t relate to this in any capacity in coaching, then you haven’t been doing it long enough. Cues are a powerful tool. One of the most powerful in any coaches inventory. They can go both ways in development of learning movement skills. The key I’ve found is there is no magic or absolute cue for any specific movement or skill. By definition, cues are simply words or actions used to illicit a specific response in performance. The real magic of it all is finding the right cue at the right time at the right place in training for the right person or group of people. Keep in mind your cues and prompts are limited only to the experience and imagination of the athlete. Telling a high jumper that the plant at takeoff is just like kicking a football when they’ve never set foot on a field or are even a fan of the game will likely leave you with a PAT (Poor Attempt and Trouble).

Bring it back to the beginning, if you’re using the same prompt and your athlete seems to “just not get it,” take a step back, maybe it’s you that doesn’t get it.
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Gabe Sanders

Gabe Sanders

Track & Field Coach at Boston University
Gabe Sanders enters his fourth season as an assistant coach with the Boston University track and field programs in 2011-12 as the program's sprints, long hurdles and sprint relays coach and recruiting coordinator. Since joining the Terriers, Sanders' event areas have not only become a dominant force both at the America East and regional levels but at the national level as well. Sanders earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in kinesiology with a major in sport management and communication from the University of Michigan in December 2005. He is currently pursing a master's degree in physical education and coaching from BU and is a USA Track and Field Level I and II certified coach in the sprints, hurdles, relays and jumping events. Sanders is also certified to teach USATF Level I curriculum by the USATF ITC.
Gabe Sanders


Director of XC AND T&F - Boston University
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