More on Progression


It is not where your start that counts, it is where you finish. That cliché’ underscores the need for progression. There is a mistaken notion that everyone needs to start at step one in a progression. That is a mistake I have made and see people to continue to make. You need to determine where the individual athlete starts based on their ability and their physical competency. Some will have to start at step one and others can start at step four on a ten-step progression. That being said everyone does not and cannot progress at the same rate. There are fast adaptors and slow adaptors as well as fast learners and slow learners. The differing pace of progression is easy to accommodate in an individual sport but that presents a dilemma in a team sport. The most efficient way to handle this in a team setting is to group by level of accomplishment in regard the progress on the skill or activity. After you have determined the steps in the progression the most important task is to determine the criteria for progression. What criteria determine mastery of the present step? The criteria should be both measurable and observable. It is important to have a clear picture of the desired goal at the culmination of the progression. The athlete must also have a clear vision of this goal so that they can understand the need for mastery of the steps toward that goal. As a coach I probably spend more planning and preparation time thinking through progressions and devising the criteria for mastery than I do on any other area. Sometimes I question the necessity of this time commitment and the intellectual investment, but then I remind myself of the consequences of not doing this. Failure to understand and apply proper progression can have dire consequences both in terms of poor performance and as a cause of injury.
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Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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