Training Wheels

An interesting article about the effectiveness of training wheels.  What are some other examples in youth sports where the training methods contradict what we know about specificity?  The first one that comes to my mind is T-Ball?

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4 comments on Training Wheels

  1. Brett says:

    Hitting a volleyball suspended from a strap?

  2. Jacky says:

    What’s wrong with hitting off of a tee? Professional baseball players practice/tweak their swings all the time off of a tee. I’m guessing this article is about the Part v. Whole argument? I’m a huge fan of a lot of GMS teachings, but still fight over that aspect…

  3. cjmcgown says:


    This gets to be a pretty long discussion, but goes to the heart of our principles here at GMS – that motor programs are highly specific. Hitting off a tee is a tradition that is deeply rooted in baseball training culture, but motor learning experts (and neurologists, and brain scientists and anyone else current with modern research) will tell you that you can’t “tweak” your swing using a tee when ulitmately you’ll be hitting against live pitching. All those pros are mis-using their time, and would be much better served finding somebody to throw at them. The motor program to hit off a tee is different than the motor program to hit live pitching. So if you are going to tweak your swing, you need to do it against live pitching This gets to be difficult if the pitcher is throwing hard, so now we get into the area of appropriately regulatory stimuli and all that (how fast does the pitching need to be when I am tweaking my swing, etc.).

    Marv Dunphy puts it this way: “you get good at what you spend your time doing”. And bear in mind that there is a high degree of specificity here (very little transfer from one variation of a skill to another variation of the same skill), so if you spend your time practicing off a tee, you’ll get good at hitting off a tee, and the swing changes you make there will only be good for when you are hitting off a tee – there won’t be much transfer to when you are hitting live pitching.

    Basically what we are advocating is practicing the sport under conditions that are as much like the actual game as possible, becuase that is how our brains are wired to learn. This idea certainly flies in the face of a lot of what has been done traditionally in althletic training across almost all sports, but if you’ll get your teams training this way you’ll have a big advantage over your competitors. All we are after is that 2%, right? And this is an easy way to get it.

  4. Sheri says:

    As an avid biker, I wanted my girls to ride early! We used a tiny little bike that did not have training wheels, but was so small that the girls could just stand up when they got nervous! It saved me alot of chasing in really awkward positions when they actually tried to ride without training wheels…and they didn’t get “high-centered” like they did the couple of times that we used training wheels. This little, pink bike made the rounds of several families as we all taught our kids to ride – without using training wheels!

    My girls also learned to ski at a very young age…by playing follow the leader with me…and learning how to mimic the correct stance!

    We try to have our VB eams do as many drills as possible that resemble game-like scenarios…cause that seems to work best!

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