Resource developed by Paul Perkins Participation Manager Boxing Australia Limited (Ltd) PhD Scholar University of Canberra Research Institute for Sport and Exercise (UCRISE) & Professor Allan Hahn Queensland Academy of Sport Centre of Excellence for Applied Sport Science Research University of Canberra Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Griffith University School of Engineering
Overview and structure
CHAPTER ONE: AN OVERVIEW OF MODBOX
Summary of ModBox
Tactical appreciations and technical aspects
A new approach to boxing
Positioning ModBox as a sport-based development initiative
Suggestions for implementing a ModBox SBDP
A model for the implementation of a ModBox SBDP
Establishing competencies within a ModBox setting
CHAPTER TWO: COACHING
What is coaching?
Insight into coaching
Characteristics of effective coaching
The role of a ModBox coach
Coaching the 5Cs
Additional suggestions for developing the 5Cs
Developing people and athletes
An example of holistic coaching within a ModBox setting
A philosophy for coaching
Dealing with difficult situations
Safety issues and concerns
Strategies for minimising the potential for risk
Helpful online resources
Key points for reducing risk
CHAPTER THREE: TEACHING SKILLS
An understanding of skill development
The stages of learning
Dave's psychomotor domain taxonomy
Simpson’s psychomotor taxonomy
The conscious competence-learning model
Fitts and Posner’s multi-stage learning process
Summarising the stages of learning
Motor learning and development
Adams’ closed-loop theory
Schmidt’s schema theory
Dynamical systems theory
Applying theory to practice
Theories of learning
Bandura’s social learning theory
Kolb's experiential learning
Information processing theory
Information processing during the performance of skill
Factors that may affect the learning process
A continuum for the degree of difficulty
Suggestions for the effective coaching of skills
A traditional approach for the coaching of skill
The Game Sense approach for skill development
CHAPTER FOUR: COACHING MODBOX-SPECIFIC SKILLS
The stance and guard
Suggestions for coaching the stance and guard
Common faults with the stance and guard
Types of movement patterns
Moving forward and backwards
Common faults when moving forward and backwards
Lateral movement patterns
Common faults with lateral movement patterns
Common faults with pivoting
Common faults with push-away
The sway back
Common faults with trunk defence
Hand and arm defence
Common faults with hand and arm defence
The straight lead hand strike
The straight backhand strike
Common faults with straight-arm strikes
The hooking action
Common faults that can occur with the lead hand hook
The underhand striking action
Common faults with the underhand striking action
Using games for skill development
A list of suitable games and activities
CHAPTER FIVE: DEVELOPING PHYSICAL QUALITIES
Principles of physical training
Volume: How much?
Intensity: How hard?
Frequency: How often?
Training equipment Hand wraps
A method for keeping time
Dumbbells and barbells
Strength and conditioning training drills
Step and strike
Striking and jumping
Hopping with strikes
Around the world
Medicine ball throws
Side steps with punches
Punch bag specific training
CHAPTER SIX: CONDUCTING A TRAINING SESSION
Planning for a session
Factors that will affect a training session
Purpose of a session
Delivery of a session
Evaluation of the session
Components of a training session
Insights for an effective strength and condition training session
Example training session 1
Example training session 2
Example training session 3
Example training session 4
Example training session 5
Group training with punch bags
Conducting an effective skill development training session
Combining two approaches for the development of skill
Suggestions for staging longer periods of training
An example of a 3-day a week training schedule
An example of a 2-day a week training schedule
CHAPTER SEVEN: STAGING A PUBLIC PERFORMANCE
Suggestions for structuring a ModBox public performance
Potential roles within a Modbox public performance
The ‘bout’ component of public performances
Preferred attacking and defensive actions
The essence of performance
Performance rating system
The individual’s responsibility
References and further reading
Summary The ModBox Information Guide has been prepared to assist with the implementation and delivery of community-based, low-risk modified boxing programs and covers such important topics as athlete safety, coaching, skill development and planning. However, it is intended to assist coaches with the construction of programs appropriate to their specific situations rather than being prescriptive. The guide also contains information aimed at assisting with the positive growth and development of young people, and provides a number of suggestions and examples of how personal and social skills could be developed through the provision of positive sporting experiences. Intended use This resource has been structured in a way that enables readers to navigate to the most relevant topic and should be used as a reference tool to locate specific information within a particular chapter, rather than being read cover-to-cover. Acknowledgements Professor Keith Lyons and Dr Richard Keegan of the University of Canberra Research Institute for Sport and Exercise provided advice and support in the development of this resource. Additional assistance was provided by Mr Bodo Andreass (former Head Coach of Boxing Australia) and Mr Hamilton Lee (Australian Institute of Sport Physiology Department). Disclaimer Every attempt has been made to ensure that the information contained in this guide is technically accurate and that suggested exercises are safe to perform. However, the authors and other persons involved with the development of this resource cannot be held responsible and/or liable for any injury that occurs as a result of its use.
Overview and Structure The ModBox Information Guide has seven chapters: Chapter One introduces readers to the concept of ModBox and presents information aimed at assisting with the implementation of future programs for the purpose of achieving social outcomes. Chapter Two provides an overview of the coaching role, summarises the key factors required to be an effective coach, provides suggestions to assist with the positive growth and development of young people and contains information intended to support coaches with their daily roles. Chapter Three presents a detailed summary of the different phases involved with the development of a new skill, provides an extensive review of the theories that underpin the learning process and discusses the two main approaches for the teaching of skill. Chapter Four contains suggestions aimed at supporting the coaching and development of ModBox specific skills and covers such important topics as the stance and guard, movement patterns, defensive manoeuvres and actions attacking. Chapter Five presents information intended to enhance the delivery of fitness-specific ModBox training sessions and includes photos, descriptions and links to practical demonstrations explaining how each exercise should be performed. Chapter Six highlights the factors that can affect a training session, provides suggestions to assist with the planning and delivery of safe and effective ModBox sessions and contains information to help with the implementation of longer periods of training (training programs). Chapter Seven provides a general overview of the public performance concept and contains suggestions aimed at assisting with the staging of safe, fun and enjoyable events.
Resource shared under a creative commons license
‘Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play’. - Mike Singletary ‘One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than 50 preaching it’. - Knute Rockne
Tips and Suggestions Readers are encouraged to explore all of the content presented within this chapter, including the additional information contained within the links.
Summary of ModBox ModBox – short for modified boxing - is a sport for development initiative that uses a modified, low-risk form of boxing as a vehicle to assist with the positive growth and development of participants and to encourage community engagement. It was developed over a 5-year period and emerged from an extensive research project where members of the project team worked in direct collaboration with program participants to create the concept, rules and training content. General overview ModBox programs are geared toward regular ‘end-of-term’ public performances that are designed to provide opportunities for participants to demonstrate their concept of the sport and current skill level in encouraging and supportive environments. Preparation for these events entails not only the development of boxing-related technical proficiency but also engagement in a range of activities intended to help build critical life skills and improve the health and physical literacy of participants. Aims ModBox programs are based on a ‘sport for all concept’ and strive to provide a place of belonging for all participants while giving a sense of purpose for the training. Values ModBox is underpinned by five core values: • Safety • Continuous learning • Fair play • Inclusiveness • Respectfulness Training/learning environments ModBox training/learning environments should provide opportunities for personal growth, learning and development for both the athletes and the coaches.
Training content To develop the physical qualities required for public performances, ModBox programs should include exercises aimed at improving: • • • • •
Coordination Muscle and speed endurance Reactive power Aerobic capacity Injury resistance
Training drills directed specifically toward the development of technical skills and tactical awareness should also be included. To encourage the development of these qualities, extensive use of the Game Sense approach should be used so that athletes can learn and develop ModBox specific skills in a fun and supportive context without excessive explicit instruction from the coach. Tactical appreciations and technical aspects Similar to boxing, a skilled performance in ModBox requires athletes to correctly interpret the presented information, make appropriate responses and decisions, show high-levels of muscle control and repeatedly use a number of highly developed boxing-related techniques. These skills are highlighted in the text below and demonstrated in this short video. • • • • •
Maintaining a balanced stance that minimises the target area Good feet positioning when guarding and moving Good arm positioning when attacking or defending Coordinated movement patterns Use of appropriate defensive actions against different strikes
A new approach to boxing While the previous information highlights some of the similarities between ModBox and conventional boxing, there are a number of significant differences between the two forms of the sports. These differences are summarised in the table below. Conventional boxing
The head is used as a target area.
Contact to the head is not permitted.
A series of the same punch or a combination of multiple punches is used in competition to dominate opponents and win contests.
A ‘strike and assess’ approach involving light striking actions is used in public performances that are designed to display current competency.
Standard boxing gloves are used.
Specially constructed low-impact gloves that have been shown to significantly reduce peak forces are used for all public performances.
Appeals mostly to participants who engage with sport for the purpose of winning at the highest possiblelevel.
Appeals mostly to participants who gain enjoyment from skill development and the challenge of surpassing their previous performances.
Engages mostly with people who have elected to follow a highperformance sport trajectory.
Engages mostly with people who chose to participate in sport for reasons associated with personal wellbeing, including social and health benefits.
Win/loss records are considered important.
Long-term adherence and continuous learning are celebrated and valued.
Has raised certain medical concerns resulting in calls for the sport to be banned.
Is a practical exemplar of recommendations made by the American Medical Association and other medical authorities.
Positioning ModBox as a sport-based development initiative Sport for Development (S4D) programs aim to achieve positive social outcomes through the use of sport, play and physical activity . Within this broad framework, S4D initiatives can be divided into the following two approaches: •
Sport Plus: Promoting and developing the sport is the primary focus of a program. Attempting to assist with broader social issues is a secondary concern .
Plus Sport: The development of the social outcomes, and not the sport itself is the central focus of a program .
ModBox is positioned somewhere between these two approaches and should be thought of as a Sport-Based Development Initiative (SBDI) focused on the promotion of social good rather than a pathway into conventional boxing. Sport Plus Primary focus is the development of the sport, coaches, and athlete pathways, while social outcomes are considered secondary outcomes.
Plus Sport Sport is used to attract participants, but then the main objective of the program is not sport-based.
A continuum for Sport-based development initiatives. ModBox is positioned somewhere in the middle of this spectrum.
Implementing a ModBox Sport-Based Development Program The following suggestions are aimed at assisting with the implementation of ModBox Sport-Based Development Programs for the purpose of achieving social outcomes. Coaches will need to consider these points when developing their own programs: Necessary conditions: There needs to be participation in an appealing sport or activity [3-5]. The non-threating manner in which ModBox programs operate has proven to be popular with a wide range of participants, including hard-to-reach population segments such as teenage girls and mature-aged athletes.
Supportive conditions: These are the conditions that maximise the potential for achieving the desired outcomes [3-5]. Factors most likely to be supportive for achieving the aims of ModBox include: Enthusiastic, dedicated and community-minded coaches Crucial to the success of ModBox programs are the coaches, and of particular importance is the ability to foster positive relationships with the participants and their families [6,7]. Positive influences An important requirement for the positive development of young people is the existence of long-term, meaningful relationships with people who have an ability to positively influence their lives . ModBox programs are ideal settings for the development of such relationships, which could be achieved through regular and positive peer-coach interactions. Long-term adherence The length of time participants spend within a ModBox program is not only crucial for the development of sporting and social skills, but the changing of attitudes and behaviour . Access to suitable facilities To be effective, ModBox programs should be delivered in settings that are easily accessible and well known to community members. Part of this responsibility is to ensure that suitable measures are in place so that more vulnerable groups like single parents, children and the disabled have ready access. Venue features that would enhance program delivery and should be considered include: • Adequate floor space that is free of any potential trip hazards. • Change rooms and toilets. • Breakout spaces to encourage athlete interactions. • Storage space to house training equipment and other necessary items. Conducive conditions The venue features that are most likely to facilitate positive youth outcomes are detailed in Chapter two. In summary, ModBox programs should strive to provide environments where athletes feel safe, are able to express themselves, and are provided with supportive adult relationships and opportunities to belong [10,11].
Additional suggestions Coaches should consider the following supplementary points when planning their programs. •
Programs should be implemented with an understanding that a direct relationship between sport and development is hard to prove , and that it is not sport per se that provides possible positive or negative outcomes, but the way in which programs are provided and experienced .
Programs should be designed and run in such ways that not only enhances sporting skills but also promote and reward positive behaviour .
Programs should be implemented through collaborative efforts involving organsiations that are supportive of S4D initiatives and have the expertise necessary to support with the running, monitoring and evaluation of programs [3,12].
Programs should be focused on developing intermediate positive outcomes, such as increased social interactions, the building of life skills and the promotion of community engagement, which in turn may assist in achieving lager overarching developmental goals  such as Positive Youth Development (PYD) and gender equality.
Critical factors • The moment of truth – The critical moments within a S4D setting that create the potential for change to occur . •
External influences – These are the uncontrollable factors that can lead to dropout. These may include family and/or peer pressure, competing interests, work commitments, a change in family circumstance, or an inability to attend a program .
A model for the implementation of a ModBox SBDI A model outlining how the above factors could be implemented into a ModBox community-based sport program is presented below. The model outlines the conditions required for achieving positive outcomes, highlights the importance of a dedicated and passionate coach and illustrates the advantages of a collaborative approach to youth development.
Desire and motivation A dedicated, passionate and accredited coach decides to run a ModBox program to assist with the positive growth and development of young people. Â Necessary conditions The coach plans a ModBox sport-based development program that should appeal to a wide-range of participants and is available to all members of the local community. Supportive conditions The program is implemented through a collaborative effort involving a local school where the staff and Principle are supportive of the initiative and have agreed to assist with the running, monitoring and evaluation of program. In addition to the above, the program aims to provide: Positive and supportive coaching Positive social experiences Positive role modeling Meaningful relationships A sense of belonging
Moments of truth Intermediate positive outcomes Improved health and fitness Development of sport, social and psychological skills A better understanding of positive social behavior and values Creation of new friendship groups Increased self-esteem and confidence Leadership development Greater community interaction with school
Overarching development goals The program may assist in contributing to the development of broader overarching outcomes such as gender equality and happier and healthier communities if additional support is provided through Government-funded initiatives and the expertise of organisations that specifically cater to the development of such outcomes.
Model adapted from Sport for Development: The Potential Value and Next Steps. Review of Policy, Programs and Academic Research 1998-2013.
Establishing competencies within a ModBox setting A list of competencies that could be developed through participation in a ModBox SBDP is presented below. Coaches may be interested in investigating the possibility of having these competencies linked to a school curriculum.
Situation where competency is learnt
Participation in all training activities.
This competency could be demonstrated through active participation in group and coach-athlete discussions.
Participation in skill development sessions, group discussions, and peer interactions involving game-based activities.
This competency could be demonstrated by an ability to identify problems and successfully implement solutions.
Prolonged engagement with the program.
This competency could be demonstrated by an ability to plan and organise oneself, and through an ability to positively contribute to the programâ€™s planned outcomes.
Participation in all training activities, including group discussions.
This competency could be demonstrated by an understanding and acceptance of different cultural backgrounds and beliefs.
Leadership could be developed by assisting with the planning and setting up of training sessions, the mentoring of peers and assisting with the staging of public performances.
This competency could be demonstrated through displays of initiatives that not only assist with the development of the program but the development of other program members.
I have come to a frightening conclusion. I am the decisive element in the training environment. It is my approach that will affect the outcomes. It is my behavior that will set the mood. As the coach, I can make the lives of my athletes miserable or joyous. I can be a tool for resentment or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor; hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether an issue will escalate or de-escalate and if a person is humanised or de-humanised - Adapted from the work of Dr.Haim Ginott
Tips and Suggestions The information contained within the first section of this chapter (pages 22-34) is intended to provide readers with a clear understanding of the prime objective of a ModBox coach, while the remaining content (pages 35-39) is provided to assist with the day-to-day demands of the role.
What is coaching? Sport coaching is a complex, challenging and multi-faceted role that involves many responsibilities and requires a variety of skills to be effective [14,15]. It can be thought of as both a social activity and pedagogical endeavour [16,17] and categorised as either participation focussed or performance orientated . The key points of both categories are summarised below. Participation coaching usually takes place in settings where it would be inappropriate for coaches to treat competition and winning as the prime objectives. Instead, the aim of a participation coach is to provide opportunities for athletes to have fun, learn new skills, develop confidence, interact with friends and compete socially . Performance coaching is much more focused on preparing athletes for competition . The role entails design and implementation of highly structured yearly training programs, overseeing competition schedules and analysing performance. Participation focussed coaching
Performance orientated coaching
Has little or no focus on winning.
Is directed primary at improving the sport performance of athletes.
Promotes fun and enjoyment. Targets competition and winning. Provides opportunity for playful competition. Makes extensive use of games and activities.
Implements highly structured training sessions and yearly training schedules. Emphasises development of sportspecific skills.
Works mostly at community level. Adopts an holistic approach to the development of athletes (A = Agility + Attitude) (B = Balance + Behaviour) (C = Coordination + Confidence)
Works mostly at the pre-elite level and in high-performance sporting environments.
ModBox coaching is very much focussed on working with participants who have elected not to pursue a high-performance sport trajectory and attention should be focussed on providing positive and transformational experiences, rather than an emphasis on competing and winning.
Insights into coaching The following quotes might provide more insights into coaching. However, coaches wanting more information, might find reading Peak Performance beneficial. This book is described as ‘a one-stop text for coaches, athletes and students of sports science who want to improve their knowledge and sporting performance by the application of scientific training principles’. ‘So much coaching is hit and miss, coaches giving you sessions without knowing why. Everything should have a reason, a scientific base. Every time I went out the door, the session had a purpose, a means to an end. That is where so many get it wrong’ Wendy Smith-Sly, 1984 Olympic 3,000 metre silver medallist ‘Training must be systematic, which means it must be thorough, regular and organised’ Connie Carpenter-Phinney, 1984 Olympic cycling road race champion ‘The thinking must be done first, before training begins’ Peter Coe, Coach and Father of Lord Sebastian Coe, two-time Olympic Champion and Gold Medallist (1980 and 1984)
Clipart avalable at clipartpanda.com
Coaching styles Most coaches develop their own unique style based on their personality, level of experience and knowledge of the sport [18,19]. While it is important that coaches retain their individuality, they must also maintain a flexible approach during periods of training to ensure the coaching style is appropriate to the situation and meets the needs of the individuals within their charge [18,20]. The tables below provide an overview of the most commonly identified coaching styles and suggestions for their use. Autocratic (Bossy)
Autocratic coaches like to be in control and generally make all the decisions.
Coaches of this style will guide athletes toward achieving their goals and involve them in the decision-making process.
A casual coach makes few decisions and allows the athletes to take ownership of the practice and make the decisions.
Coaches provide direct instructions and mostly dictate.
Coaches let athletes take some responsibility for their learning.
Problem solving style Athletes solve tasks that are set by the coach.
Guided discovery Athletes are encouraged to explore options and decide for themselves what works best.
The information presented in the above tables was adapted from Applying psychology to sport
Characteristics of effective coaching The characteristics that define effective sports coaching are similar for community-based and high-performances coaches [21-23]. Having an understanding of these traits may not only assist ModBox coaches with the delivery of their training sessions but could help to improve the overall standard of their coaching. Effective coaches are passionate about their role Effective coaches are inspiring people, who are passionate about helping others and like to see people succeed .
Dr Alcides Sagarra Carón Cuban Boxing Team Head Coach 1964-2001. 32 Olympic Gold medals and 63 Senior World Championship Gold medals.
Effective coaches inspire others Effective coaches motivate people to achieve more than they thought they could by constantly challenging the limits of their beliefs . Effective coaches lead by example Effective coaches model the attitudes and behaviours they want their athletes to adopt, and expect the same from their assistants . Effective coaches make activities fun Effective coaches constantly find new and creative ways to integrate fun into their training sessions and understand that athletes who enjoy themselves tend to perform better .
Something all coaches should remember Great coaches are not born - they are made. Beginner coaches become accomplished coaches, and skilled coaches become great coaches, by thinking hard about their coaching and discovering new ways to improve it. - Adapted from: Becoming A Reflective Mathematics Teacher: A Guide for Observations and Selfassessment 1st Edition
Effective coaches develop people Effective coaches focus on the personal development of their athletes by combining the teaching of life skills with the coaching of sport skills . Effective coaches are great communicators Effective coaches know that communication involves not only conveying a message but also active listening so that the person sharing the information is aware that they have been fully heard and understood . Effective coaches understand the individual differences in their athletes Effective coaches understand that every athlete is different in terms of attitude, personality and sensitivity, and they spend time getting to know these individual differences . Effective coaches, then individualise instructions, cueing and behaviour to better suit the needs of the individual. Effective coaches individualise the learning process Effective coaches understand that individuals perceive and process information in different ways [30,31]. They therefore implement a range of strategies to cater for the different learning styles within a group.
Top 3 characteristics of a phenomenal coach 61% Developing the whole person 55% Strong communication skills and the ability to teach 53% Constantly looking for ways, techniques and tools to improve performance
2008 Coach Survey Summary Results: Evolution of the Athlete Conference. The figures shown for each point represent the percentage of coaches who identified the characteristic as important.
Inclusive coaching Research undertaken by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) has revealed that people with a disability are 15% less likely to participate in sport than their able-bodied counterparts and of those that do participate 75% are unsatisfied with the activity . These figures highlight that more needs to be done to ensure that people with a disability are provided the same opportunities to enjoy the physical, mental and social benefits of sports participation as those who do not have a disability [33,34]. ModBox coaches can assist this process by adapting their coaching practices, training sessions and activities in such ways as to ensure that every participant - regardless of age, gender, religious/cultural belief or level of functionality - is given the opportunity to participate in ModBox training sessions and public performances. Additional information that may help ModBox coaches with the development of inclusive training environments can be found in the resources below.
Play by the rules free interactive disability-inclusion training
Confédération Sportive Internationale Travailliste et Amateur
Commit to inclusion guidelines
‘Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers’. -Nelson Mandela
The role of a ModBox coach A lot has been written about the role of the coach. In fact, you can read almost any publication on sport coaching and there will be a section on the role of the coach. In most cases, however, the focus is on the skills that are required to be an effective coach and not the primary role of the coach . For example, being able to manage complex situations, plan thoroughly, communicate effectively and provide leadership could be described as highly valued skills but none of these abilities accurately describe the role of a coach . Below are some questions about the possible roles of a ModBox coach. These questions might help stimulate more ideas concerning the essence of the coaching role. •
Is it the role of a ModBox coach to develop safe, fun, friendly, inclusive, positive and exciting training/learning environments?
Should ModBox coaches be concerned more about developing strong coach/athlete relationships that focus on the personal development of the individual rather than promoting a win-atall-costs attitude?
Developing welcoming training environments that provide opportunities for personal growth, learning and development for athletes and coaches is perhaps the main role of ModBox coach.
Coaching the 5Cs Research focused on Positive Youth Development (PYD) has shown that low exposure to the 5Cs: Competence, Confidence, Connection, Character and Compassion during childhood and adolescence is likely to lead to antisocial behaviour and other behavioural problems. Also, young people who experience higher levels of the 5Cs tend to transition more successfully into adulthood [37-39]. UK Sport has adapted this research to sport and developed a specific approach to coaching that is primarily focused on the development of the above traits. Known as ‘The five Cs for coaching’, this approach aims to develop a wide range of personal capabilities through positive sporting experiences. The table below is based on this approach and provides suggestions that could be adopted and implemented by ModBox coaches in an attempt to assist with the development of the 5Cs.
ModBox coaches can assist with the development of this trait through the provision of age and developmentally appropriate training activities, creating opportunities for continuous learning and the implementation of task-orientated learning environments.
Confidence is more likely to be developed through participation in ModBox when coaches use a progressive approach for the development of skill, provide positive encouragement and focus on improvement and persistence rather than outcomes and results.
Strong friendship groups, positive and supportive coach-athlete relationships and a sense of belonging are examples of how connection can be developed through ModBox.
Character & Compassion
Participation in ModBox is more likely to support the development of these important traits when the coaches and training environments clearly value, model and reward them.
Creativity can be promoted in ModBox programs through the use of an athlete-centered, inquiry-based approach to learning that encourages athletes to think for themselves and promotes and rewards self-expression.
Central to the 5Cs approach to coaching is the view that all young people have the potential for positive growth and development [40,41], and should be regarded as a valuable resource to be developed rather than a problem to be managed .
Additional suggestions for developing the 5Cs Features of the training setting that are important in developing the 5Cs, thereby contributing to positive youth development, include the following [10,11,43]: Physical and psychological safety Physical safety refers to the level of safety and security a setting provides its participants [44,45]. Providing training environments that are free from distractions and potential hazards, and provide health-promoting practices are examples of how ModBox coaches can create this setting feature. In the present context, psychological safety refers to the quality of interactions between the coach and participants [44,45]. ModBox coaches can promote a sense of psychological safety by ensuring interactions are respectful, caring, and appropriate to the specific needs of each athlete. Appropriate structure This setting feature is concerned with the existence of clear and consistent expectations regarding rules, values and training structure [44,45]. Providing training sessions that are carefully planned, properly structured and are supportive of the values that underpin ModBox is a way in which this setting feature could be realised. Supportive relationships ModBox coaches can ensure that supportive relationships become a central component of their programs through enabling supportive, caring and respectful coach-athlete interactions that offer guidance and support to all. Opportunities to belong This setting feature highlights the importance of providing training environments that appreciate individual differences and strive to provide a place of belonging for all participants, regardless of age, gender or level of functionality [44,45]. ‘Sport has been dominated by a system in which the needs and interests of the coach overtake those of the athletes. A system structured and ruled by adults, also known as the professional model of coaching, is one in which the coaches have the power to make all the important decisions and are mostly devoted to product outcomes, rather than the process of developing people’ p.171.
Positive social norms Maintaining high expectations of athletes, as well as encouraging, modeling and rewarding such desirable values as fair play, cooperation, responsibility and empathy [44,45], are examples of how this setting feature can be promoted within a ModBox program. Support of efficacy and mattering This setting feature can be promoted through the use of an autonomy-supportive approach to coaching that not only values individual expression and opinion, but encourages athletes to openly share their ideas [44,45]. Opportunities for skill building This setting feature promotes the importance of providing opportunities for continuous learning and the development of not only sport skills but personal and social skills [44,45]. ModBox coaches can implement this setting feature by focusing on developing the whole person and not just an athlete. Integration of family, school, and community efforts ModBox coaches can support the development of this setting feature by promoting values that are consistent with other learning environments, such as schools, family and community organisations, and by actively networking and collaborating with these groups [44,45].
‘Good habits formed at youth make all the difference’. - Aristotle
Developing people and athletes As the primary focus of a ModBox coach is to assist with the positive growth and development of young people, coaches will need to underpin the coaching of sport skills with the teaching of life skills [18,27,47]. Suggestions aimed at assisting with this holistic approach to athlete development are presented below.
Coaches should build trust -‘To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved’. - George MacDonald
Coaches should always motivate – ‘Relationships are about helping motivate each other to be all that you can be’. - David Archuleta
Coach should show they care – ‘Nobody cares about how much you know, until they know you how much you care’. - Theodore Roosevelt
Coaches should be able to relate – ‘It’s a weird thing, that people have the ability to help one another just by relating’. – Natasha Lyonne
Coaches should measure their success by the quality and strength of the relationships they develop with the athletes and their families and not be concerned with winning [47,48].
Coaches should not only focus on improving the athletic qualities and technical proficiency of their athletes, but assist with their overall personal development [24,49].
Coaches should use a deliberate and systematic approach to the development of life skills .
Coaches should not just talk about life skills, but make sure they are demonstrated and rewarded .
Coaches should take advantage of teachable moments when they present themselves and provide examples of situations in which the demonstrated skill/behaviour can be transferred to other areas of a young person’s life .
An example of holistic coaching within a ModBox setting The example below demonstrates how an holistic approach for athlete development could be used within a ModBox training setting. In this example, the coach deliberately utilised a teachable moment (which also has the potential to be a moment of truth, refer to page 18) to not only congratulate the athlete for her performance but to provide an example of how the demonstrated behaviour could be transferred to other areas of her life. From the perspective of the athlete, leadership was demonstrated by a willingness to volunteer and assist with the development of the newer members, which in turn could promote additional positive outcomes for not only the athlete but also the program. The discussion takes place at the end of a training session when the coach acknowledges the significance of the moment: ‘Well done Sara, you were excellent today’. – Coach. ‘Thanks coach, I was trying really hard’. – athlete. Coach engages further: ‘I could tell. I thought it was your best performance to date. Congratulations on an outstanding display’. – Coach. ‘Thank you, coach’ – athlete. ‘You’re welcome, Sara. I’d also like to thank you for demonstrating the type of behaviour, attitude and determination that our program values’. – coach. ‘It’s not a big deal’, – athlete. This is when the coach attempts to link the behavior to a known skill, in this case leadership: ‘It certainly is a big deal, Sara. Great leaders demonstrate the type of behavior they wish to see in others and that’s exactly what you’ve been doing here’. – coach. ‘Really, I’ve never thought of myself as a leader. That’s kinda cool’. – athlete. ’Well, I think you’ve got the potential to be a great leader and was hoping you would consider helping me by working with some of the newer members’. – Coach. ‘If you think I would be of some help, I’d love to be more involved. Thanks coach’. – athlete. This is where the coach attempts to link the skill to other areas of the athlete’s life: ‘I think you’ll be great Sara, just like I bet you are at home and at school’. – Coach.
A philosophy for coaching Coaching philosophies should reflect the values and personal beliefs of the coach, provide a framework for current work practices and help to clarify what a coach expects from him/herself and others. It should be considered a work-in-progress that will evolve over time, and be shaped by new experiences and the complexity of the environments [49,51]. To create meaningful and worthwhile coaching philosophies, some researchers [49,51] suggest coaches begin by carefully addressing the questions below: • • •
What do I believe is the nature of coaching? Why do I think that? Why are the athletes participating?
Cassidy et al  believe that once the above points have been a considered, the following more practical questions should then be addressed so that the philosophy becomes a functional and useful tool. • • • •
Is my approach appropriate? Can I justify my actions? Is there a better way of doing things? How do I introduce and follow my coaching philosophy?
Why am I coaching?
Who am I coaching?
What do I want to achieve?
‘Understanding your reasons for coaching and your beliefs about the coaching process is an essential beginning for your journey as a coach’ - John Buchanan
Dealing with difficult situations It is unfortunate but almost inevitable that at some stage of their careers most coaches will be required to deal with a difficult situation. Whether it is negotiating with overzealous parents or dealing with bullies it is important that coaches resolve the matter with professionalism and respect so the incident does not escalate or negatively influence the training environment. When dealing with difficult situations, coaches should use the trust and rapport they have developed to assist in resolving any issue in a way that is both respectful and helpful to everyone involved. Coaches are encouraged to use the information contained in the links below to better prepare themselves for some of the challenging and difficult situations they may encounter. •
Dealing with difficult people in sport
Dealing with pushy parents
Overzealous parents behaving badly
‘Conflict cannot survive without your participation’. - Dr Wayne Dyer
Safety issues and concerns ModBox coaches should always consider the safety and welfare of the participants by ensuring that the potential for risk is suitably managed before, during and after training sessions. Below are some suggestions that may assist in minimising the potential for risk and help to satisfy specific legal requirements. Strategies for minimising the potential for risk • Ensure that all athletes complete an introduction and screening process. • Have a referral strategy for any health and/or medical concerns that may arise from the screening process. • Use participant waivers and image release forms. • Provide participants with substantive information about the risks, benefits and expectations of the program so they can make an informed decision about their participation. • Have a qualified first aid person and first aid kit on site. • Ensure the training space is free from any hazards. • Take time to plan each training session. • Identify desired training outcomes. • Start training sessions with an effective and specific warm-up. • Provide clear instructions. • Be alert for any potential problems during training sessions. • Ensure work/rest ratios are appropriate. • End training sessions with a suitable cool-down period.
More information about sport safety is available from stop sports injuries
Helpful online resources The following links contain a number of free resources that could be helpful for reducing risk. Coaches may find the templates in the Play by the rules link particularly helpful for developing and implementing their own safety guidelines. •
Play by the rules (Free templates)
The Fitness Australia risk management plan
Keeping things safe (The Australian Sports Commission)
Key points for reducing risk Reducing the likelihood of accidents and managing the safety of participants is an extremely important issue [52,53]. Some key points for reducing risk in a community-based sporting activity could include: Ø Having a dedicated person or committee take responsibility for reducing risks. Ø Promoting a safe culture by encouraging members, coaches and volunteers to be vigilant for potential hazards and risks. Ø Implementing systems to support risk management practices (e.g. reporting of potential risks and hazards, incident reports, emergency evacuation plan)
Image available for free from this site
Common injuries Injuries in sport can occur when training or competing. Some injuries are the result of accidents, while others are the result of poor training practices and/or the use of faulty equipment. In regard to boxing-related training the most common injuries associated with participation are sprains, tears and fractures [54,55]. These types of injuries are normally the result of improper technique being used in activities such as punch bag drills and generally occur to the hands and wrists. For example, ligaments can be severely damaged and in some cases completely torn if a fist is in a flexed or hyper-extended position when a punch is incorrectly delivered to an object such as a punch bag [55,56]. These types of injuries are often quite painful but do not usually require casting – nevertheless, medical advice should still be sought. In more severe cases, incorrect punching can result in a fracture of the carpals or metacarpals. These are not only very painful injuries but in most cases the injured area will have to be set in a cast and require complete rest to heal [57,58]. The above highlights the importance of good technique and the need to protect the hands whenever punch bag drills are going to be included in a ModBox training session. One proven method for reducing the potential for risk to the hands and wrists is the use of hand wraps. When applying hand wraps it is important that the key points below are addressed. Attention to these points will not only help to strengthen and support the hands and wrists but will reduce the risk of injury. Coaches should ensure that: • The wrist joint is supported. • Knuckles have plenty of coverage. • Base of thumb is secured. • Hand wraps are not too tight.
Treating injuries Sports injuries can be classified as either: • •
Acute: An injury that occurs suddenly, such as a sprained ankle. Chronic: An injury that is caused by repeated overuse of muscle groups or joints. Improper technique and individual abnormalities can contribute to the development of chronic injuries [58,59].
The appropriate treatment for an injury will depend on the type and severity. However, in most cases the RICER method (see illustration below) is recommended and athletes should be referred to a trained medical professional for diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible . Additional information for the treatment of injuries can be found in the links below. These resources have been prepared by industry experts and outline a number of strategies for the prevention and treatment of sport-specific injuries. •
Sports Medicine Australia injury fact sheets
Stop sport injuries
Helping players cope with the stress of injury
An illustration of the RICER approach for treatment of injuries. In addition to using this approach, coaches should try to provide emotional support to injured athletes during periods of rehabilitation and where possible continue to involve them in the program.
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”. - Benjamin Franklin Tips and Suggestions Readers are encouraged to begin with pages 41-48 (the stages of learning and motor learning and development) before turning their attention to pages 67-75 (factors that can affect the learning process, degrees of difficulty and approaches for the coaching of skill). The remaining information (theories of learning and information processing during the performance of skill) on pages 49-66 should be referred to periodically once coaches have commenced their roles and want to enhance their understanding of these particular topics.
An understanding of skill development In a sporting context, the term skill development refers to the learning process athletes go through to become competent and proficient in a specific task. The process involves athletes transitioning through various stages of learning and progressing from one level of competency to another [61,62]. However, the transition between the stages is not clearly defined and often one phase of development will blend into the next. Coaches, therefore need to have an understanding of the stages of learning and the various phases athletes move through when acquiring a new skill or refining an existing one. The stages of learning Vygotsky [63,64], believed that learning occurs in an area known as the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). According to Vygotsky, new knowledge is generated in the ZPD when a More Knowledgeable Other (MKO) – ‘anyone who has a better understanding or a higher ability level than the learner’ provides the appropriate assistance required to complete the task [63,64]. Used mostly to explain social cognitive development, Vygotsky’s learning model also could be applied to motor skill acquisition as it helps to demonstrate how athletes can develop into independent, competent performers when provided with the appropriate level of support.
Learners cannot do
The zone of proximal development Learners can do with support and guidance from a MKO
Learners can do independently
An illustration of Vygotsky’s learning theory. The diagram highlights the importance of an MKO for skill development and raises an important question. Does a MKO have to be a coach?
Dave's psychomotor domain taxonomy Psychomotor learning refers to the relationship between cognitive functions and physical movement and is demonstrated by physical skills such as movement, coordination, dexterity, strength and speed . Dave's psychomotor taxonomy  emerged from early work on educational goals and highlights how athletes are able to progress from guided responders (athletes doing what they are told to do) to independent responders (athletes not having to think about what they’re doing) . Stage of learning
Observable behaviour and actions
Athletes attempt to copy what was observed. The actions will mostly be crude and imperfect, and performed with little neuromuscular coordination.
Athletes try to correct faults from verbal instruction. However, actions performed at this stage are still awkward and appear a little clumsy.
Athletes are able to execute the action reliably and independently with reasonable control and minimal errors.
Athletes can now perform the action accurately with control, speed and timing.
Athletes are able to perform the action automatically and spontaneously with the minimal expenditure of energy.
An overview of Dave's taxonomy of psychomotor learning. This five-stage learning model helps to demonstrate how athletes are able to transition from observers of a task through to mastery performers of that task.
Simpson’s psychomotor taxonomy Simpson’s psychomotor taxonomy  is a multi-staged learning model that highlights the requirements for the successful completion of a task at each stage of the learning process.
Coaches should be mindful that visual and verbal sensory cues are used to guide motor activity during the learning process.
Coaches should note that an individual’s mental, physical, and emotional dispositions will affect the way he/she responds to instructions and attempts new task.
Guided response Initial stages of learning
Learning involves a trial and error approach and is usually accompanied by imitation.
Mechanism Intermediate stages of learning
Attempts are made to convert the learnt responses to habitual patterns of movement. These movements are usually performed with a medium level of proficiency and at times will appear a little awkward.
Complex overt response Advance stages of learning
Complex tasks are now possible and can be performed with a minimum of wasted effort and a high level of assurance they will be successful.
Adaptation Independent performer
Physical actions can be performed independently and are developed to such an extent that modifications can be made to the original task and applied to other situations.
Origination Expert performer
Tasks can be consistently demonstrated that are mostly free of errors and require minimal energy expenditure. At this level, new skills can be created from the learnt action.
The conscious competence-learning model Below, is another learning model that ModBox coaches might find helpful. This model proposes that individuals progress through four stages of learning when developing a new skill.
Unconscious incompetence During the initial stages of development there is very little, or no understanding of the task.
Conscious incompetence Throughout the second stage of this process, a recognition of faults and mistakes occurs and an understanding how to improve begins to develop.
Conscious competence An improvement in performance occurs during the third stage of this learning process. However, a conscious effort is still required to execute an action.
Unconscious competence The final phase is similar to the autonomous phase of Fitts and Posner’s learning process; a natural and automatic action occurs that results in higher levels of performance.
Although the origins of this learning model are not known, Noel Burch – an employee of GordonTraining International - has been credited as the original author.
Fitts and Posner’s multi-stage learning process Fitts and Posner’s multi-stage learning process  is perhaps the best known and most used learning model in skill acquisition, and is helpful for illustrating how athletes move from being unskilled performers who make a lot of mistakes to skilled performers who make only minor errors . Stage of Learning
Mostly slow, inefficient and inconsistent movements. Considerable cognitive activity is required from participant.
Much of the movement needs to be consciously controlled.
Movements are more fluid, reliable, and efficient. Less cognitive activity is required but it is still needed.
Parts of the movement are still consciously controlled and some are automatically produced.
Accurate, consistent, and efficient movements. Little or no cognitive activity is required.
Movement is mostly controlled automatically.
A summary of Fitts and Posner’s multi-stage learning process. Information for the above table was retrived from: Attention and Motor Skill Learning
Summarising the stages of learning The above theories have broken down the various stages of learning and outlined the different phases athletes move through in the process of developing a new skill. ModBox coaches could usefully base their teaching of skills on any one of the theories, according to individual preference, since the theories have the common element of a progressive transition from high mental involvement in performance of a skill to an ability to execute with little or no conscious thought. However, coaches should keep in mind that learning is an individual process and the rate of progression often varies from one athlete to another. Therefore to achieve optimum results, coaches should attempt to individualise the learning process by attempting to meet the needs of each individual within the group.
Motor learning and development Motor learning is a field of study aimed at understanding the ways in which people learn, develop and perform motor/movement skills . Although no single theory has been able to explain the process in its entirety , research focussing on the learning of motor skills has been greatly influenced by two different but complementary points-of-view. The first perspective - ‘information processing’, suggests motor skills are acquired at a conscious level and developed through a process of sensory error detection and correction [70,71]. The second point-of-view involves a non-linear ‘dynamical systems’ approach that proposes motor learning occurs subconsciously and is the result of interactions between the person, task and environment [72-74]. Both models have made important contributions to the current body of knowledge, which is reflected in the following theories: Adams’ closed-loop theory – Information processing Adams  suggests that two different types of memory are necessary for the successful completion of a skilled movement memory trace and perceptual trace. Memory trace is involved with the initiation of the movement and regulates the earlier stages of the action, while perceptual trace is used to guide the action to the correct end position. Successful completion of the movement is achieved by a constant comparison of (afferent/incoming and efferent outgoing information) and prior knowledge obtained through previous experiences. In the event an error does occur, adjustments are made until the movement is able to achieve its’ intended purpose. The closed-loop theory  implies that repeated practice of the same movement results in an improvement of that particular action. However, research  has since shown that skill development is possible without sensory feedback and that variety in practice may be superior for the promotion of motor learning .
Schmidt’s schema theory – motor programming Schmidt  argued that the closed-loop theory of Adams  did not adequately explain how motor programs are stored and that existing research [70,78,79] was limited to the explanation of slow movements. In an attempt to address these concerns, Schmidt proposed the schema theory . This concept allows for a variety of movements to be produced by the same motor program, and for successful completion of additional tasks that are similar to those of the original action. According to Schmidt , when an attempt is made to perform a task, a recall schema containing the information required to initiate the action engages a Generalised Motor Program (GMP). The GMP uses this information and prepares a ‘blueprint’ for the completion of the task. Once the action is initiated, the recognition schema then evaluates the movement and relays any errors back to the recall schema, where any necessary adjustments are made. When the action is completed the new information is stored in an area of the memory Schmidt refers to as the ‘motor memory schema’ and is used by the recall schema to generate a revised GMP containing the new parameters for the completion of the task . Dynamical systems theory – A non-linear pedagogy Unlike the theories of Adams  and Schmidt  that emphasise the use of the nervous system for motor learning, the concept of the dynamical systems model proposes that motor/movement skills are developed through the interactions of three major systems; the individual; the conditions/environment; and the task [80-82]. These major systems consist of a number of subsystems that come together to produce the most efficient movement solution for the completion of the task. With practice and experience the efficient movement patterns, known as ‘attractor states’ are formed and used for the completion of future tasks [72,80].
Applying theory to practice The three theories summarised above have dominated the literature on motor learning and are useful for helping coaches understand the various ways in which motor skills are aquired and developed. The information below provides suggestions for the use of each approach and demonstrates how all three theories could be successfully applied to ModBox training/learning environments. Adams’ closed-loop theory The concept of sensory feedback and constant comparison proposed in Adams’ closed-loop theory  could be applied to ModBox training situations when the tasks are self-paced, follow set patterns of movement and have a clear beginning and end-point. For example, the approach could be used in the coaching of strength and conditioning exercises such as stepping and striking, dipping or shoulder pressing through the repeated teaching of the individual movements required for the successful completion of the task. Schmidt’s schema theory Schmidt’s schema theory  could be used as a basis for introducing sport-specific training drills that encourage high degrees of movement variability and entail learning situations that require multi-tasking. For example, athletes might be asked to respond to an external cue such as a whistle blast by making an attacking action of their choice, whilst practicing movement patterns before and after the cueing. Skill development within this context can be thought of as a practice-dependent process aimed at reducing errors through the use of external cueing, guided direction from the coach and athlete self-correction. Dynamical systems approach Applying a non-linear dynamical systems approach to a ModBox training setting could be achieved through the use of realistic training situations that encourage athletes to explore and discover the most appropriate actions to use . Within this framework, skill development can be thought of an adaptive and emerging process that occurs through dynamic interactions involving the constraints of the task, environment, and performer .
Theories of learning Learning theories attempt to explain the various ways in which knowledge can be generated, processed and recalled [85,86]. Having an understanding of these dynamic and multi-dimensional processes can assist with the design and implementation of training activities that not only take the principles of learning into account but are more likely to be effective for the development of skill. To assist with the understanding of these complex processes this section provides an overview of the three basic theories of learning and examples of how each of these concepts could be successfully adapted and applied to ModBox training settings. Features
View of knowledge
Knowledge is developed through behavioural responses to environmental stimuli.
Knowledge consists of cognitive structures developed by the learners and not simply due to external stimuli.
Knowledge is socially constructed through interactions with a community or group.
View of learning
Learning occurs through the passive absorption of a predefined body of knowledge.
Learning is an ongoing process whereby new information is linked to existing knowledge.
Learners create their own interpretation of reality.
Approach to coaching
Information for the successful completion of a task is passed on by the coach and absorbed by the athletes.
Coaches use a guided discovery approach in an attempt to positively influence the learning process.
Coaches encourage and promote selfdirected learning.
An overview of the three basic theories of learning and the coaching methods that would be promoted by the use of each approach. (The information contained in the above table was adapted from comparison learning theories and learning theories.com).
Classical conditioning - Behaviourism Classical conditioning is an automatic type of learning in which a stimulus from the environment evokes a behavioural response from the learner . Russian physiologist, Ivan Pavlov accidentally discovered this stimulus-response approach to learning through his Nobel prize-winning research on digestion . At the time, Pavlov was working with dogs and developed a procedure that enabled him to measure saliva levels outside of the dog’s body. Over time Pavlov began to notice that the dogs would start to salivate whenever they saw their handler, even when these interactions occurred outside of feeding times. Keen to learn more, Pavlov introduced a neutral stimulus (a bell) that was rung shortly before the dogs were fed. After a few repetitions, the bell was used alone and the dogs responded by salivating at the sound of the ringing bell in the absence of any food. Pavlov concluded that the dogs had learnt an association existed between the ringing of the bell and the issuing of the food, which developed into a new behaviour. Although limited to the response of dogs, Pavlov’s research  demonstrated how stimulus–response bonds are formed and are able to produce involuntary responses through the repeated use of the following process . •
The Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS) is the object or event that originally produces a natural response. In Pavlov’s experiment the UCS would have been the food. The response to this is called the Unconditioned Response (UCR). In Pavlov’s experiment the UCR would have been the salivation. The Neutral Stimulus (NS) is a new stimulus that does not produce a response. In Pavlov’s experiment the NS would have been the bell. Once the neutral stimulus (the bell) becomes associated with the unconditioned stimulus (the food), it becomes a Conditioned Stimulus (CS) - The sound of the bell = Getting fed. The Conditioned Response (CR) is the response to the conditioned stimulus. – Salivation in response to hearing the bell.
Applying classical conditioning to ModBox The table below provides an example of how a classical conditioning approach could be adopted and applied to a ModBox training situation. In this example, the association between the neutral stimulus (a positive and supportive training environment) and attending a ModBox training session (the unconditioned stimulus) results in a positive shift in thinking (the conditioned response). The conditioned response, in this case feeling excited and confident about attending training sessions increases the probability that participation in the program is sustained enabling the time required for not only the development of sport skills but critical life skills. Element
Unconditioned Stimulus. (UCS)
Attending a ModBox training session. A young person attending his/her first week of training.
Unconditioned Response. (UCR)
Feelings. Feeling apprehensive, anxious and daunted as a result of a previous negative sporting experience.
Neutral Stimulus. (NS)
Ringing the bell.
Training environment. A positive, fun and nonjudgmental training environment with kind, considerate and caring athletes and coaches.
Conditioned Stimulus. (CS)
Sound of the bell. Over time an association is made between the sound of the bell and being fed.
Attending a ModBox training session. Over time an association is made between attending the training sessions and feeling good, having fun and being accepted.
Conditioned Response. (CR)
Salivation. In response to hearing the bell.
Positive feelings. Feeling excited, happy and confident about attending training sessions.
Operant conditioning – Behaviourism Developed by influential behaviourist B.F. Skinner, operant conditioning is a theory of learning based on the idea that behaviour can be modified through the use of positive and negative reinforcement and/or punishment . Unlike Pavlov’s classical conditioning theory  that demonstrated associative learning, operant conditioning helps to explain how the consequences of people's actions influences their behaviour . The key concepts of this reinforcement approach to learning are summarised below. Different types of behaviours According to Skinner , there are two different types of behaviours: • •
Respondent behaviours (those that occur automatically) and, Operant behaviours (those that are consciously controlled)
Skinner  maintains that regardless of how the behaviour occurs it is the consequences of those actions that determine whether or not the same behaviour is repeated. Reinforcement In the context of operant conditioning reinforcement can be both positive and negative. Nevertheless, in both cases its use increases the likelihood that a behaviour will continue  .
Positive reinforcement involves the use of rewards and is usually given after a demonstration of the desired behaviour to increase the probability that the same behaviour will be repeated in the future . In a ModBox setting this may include giving praise to athletes for trying hard and being considerate of others.
Negative reinforcement is the removal of something that is perceived to be unappealing after a demonstration of the desired behaviour . For example, if athletes have performed well at the first part of a hard fitness training session a coach could announce that the remainder of the session will be allocated to the playing of games. In this situation the appropriate response is strengthened as something that is considered negative is removed.
Punishment In operant conditioning punishments are used in an attempt to decrease the probability that undesirable or inappropriate behaviour reoccuring . •
Positive punishment involves the use of a negative consequence delivered immediately after the display of the undesirable behaviour . Reprimanding an athlete for being late for training or for behaving aggressively are examples of positive punishment.
Negative punishment is the removal of something that is valued after an undesired behaviour is exhibited . For example, if an athlete who really enjoys training acts inappropriately, negative punishment can be applied by making that person sit out the remainder of the session.
Issues and concerns Although it has been repeatedly demonstrated that punishment can be an effective tool for controlling behaviour [91,92] its use has raised a number of concerns, as evident from the list below. •
Punished behaviour is not forgotten, it is suppressed and often the original behaviour returns when the punishment is no longer present . Punishment can create fear that can be generalised to other undesirable patterns of behaviours. For example, fear of the coach, aggressiveness toward others, decreased levels of motivation, lack of confidence and feelings of social exclusion may result . Punishment does not necessarily lead toward positive behavioural changes .
Conclusion Taking the above into account and remembering that reinforcement increases the likelihood that the behaviour will continue and punishment is only effective for telling someone what not to do , perhaps the best approach for the promotion of positive behaviour is for coaches to model the type of behaviour they wish to see displayed. The use of this approach is discussed next.
Bandura’s social learning theory – Behaviourism/Cognitivism Underpinned by the three core concepts below, Bandura’s social learning theory  is helpful for explaining how individuals are able to learn and develop new behaviours through the observation of others and the interpretation of those actions. 1. People can learn through observation The first concept of Bandura’s theory  is the view that observational learning is dependent on information processing, which occurs between observing the behaviour (stimulus) and deciding to imitate it or not (response). Bandura and his colleagues demonstrated this point with their famous bobo doll experiment . The study involved 72 pre-school aged children (36 males/36 females) observing an adult acting aggressively toward a bobo doll (a soft inflatable doll) and included the following conditions: 1. The model-reward condition: children observed a second adult give the aggressive model praise and a treat for a ‘great performance’. 2. The model-punished condition: children observe a second adult reprimand the model for the aggressive behaviour. 3. The no-consequence condition: children simply saw the model behave aggressively. Later when each child was left alone in a room with the bobo doll and the props used by the adult, the subjects imitated the actions that they had witnessed. For example, the children who witnessed the model-reward and no-consequence conditions were more willing to imitate the aggressive acts than those who witnessed the modelpunished condition. From this study Bandura , concluded that the motivational factors were responsible for the different behaviours and noted three different forms of observational learning can occur: • • •
Live modeling: An individual actually observes a particular type of behavior. Verbal instructional modeling: An individual is verbally supplied with a description or explanation about behavior. Symbolic modeling: An individual observes the behavior displayed by real or fictional characters in books and films.
2. Internal mental states are important to learning Described by Bandura  as ‘intrinsic reinforcement’, the second concept of his social learning theory implies that an internal reward such as satisfaction or pride must be present for learning to be effective. 3. Learning does not necessarily lead to a change in behavior The final concept of Bandura’s theory proposes that not all observed behaviors are effectively learned. According to Bandura , certain factors influence the success of social learning and a number of requirements must be followed to ensure new learning is achieved. These requirements are described in the table below, along with examples of how they could be applied to a ModBox training situation.
The individual notices something in the environment.
A new athlete observes the behaviour and attitude of other more experienced athletes and the coach.
The individual remembers what was noticed.
Confidence Determination Passion
The individual produces an action that is a copy of what was noticed.
The new athlete adopts these values and attempts to apply them at future training sessions.
The environment delivers a consequence that enhances the probability the behaviour will occur again.
Positive reinforcement and encouragement from coaches and athletes.
Kolb's experiential learning cycle – Constructivism Kolb's experiential learning model  proposes a four-stage learning cycle that is grounded in reflection and continuously modified by new experiences . According to Kolb , new knowledge is generated when a learner successfully transitions through the four stages below and although learning can begin at any stage of the cycle, no single stage can be considered as an effective learning experience on its own. Concrete Experience (CE) Experiencing
Active Experimentation (AE) Testing/Acting
Reflective Observation (RO) Reflecting
Abstract Conceptualisation (AC) Thinking
Concrete Experience: New learning is experienced.
Reflective Observation: Critical reflection occurs.
Abstract Conceptualisation: Reflection enables a new idea to emerge, or the modification of an existing concept.
Active Experimentation: New knowledge is applied to subsequent tasks. When participation in active experimentation creates a new concrete experience the learning process enters new cycles .
Applying Kolb’s learning model to ModBox The table below provides an example of how Kolb’s experiential learning model could be applied to a ModBox skill-specific training drill. Coaches could use this example to design and implement additional training activities that ensure athletes transition through the whole learning process in the preferred sequence. Mode of learning
New experience, or reinterpretation of a previous one.
Athletes participate in a modified game that has a number of constraints.
Athletes can only use their non-dominate hand when making their attacking actions and must use leg defence for their defensive manoeuvres.
Critical reflection of own experience and/or observation of others.
At the end of the game the coach and athletes discuss the experience and time is allocated for personal reflection.
To aid the learning process, athletes are also shown video footage of the game.
Development of a new idea, or the modification of an exiting concept.
Sufficient time is provided so that new ideas can be developed.
Positive encouragement from coach to try out new ideas.
New knowledge is tested.
Opportunities to apply new concept through further involvement in playful games.
Additional coach/athlete discussions with video footage are held to develop a deeper understanding of the situation.
Cognitive apprenticeship – Cognitive/Constructivism Cognitive apprenticeship [97,98] is a social and collaborative learning process whereby knowledge is acquired and contextually tied to the settings and situations in which it is learnt [99,100]. Learning in this context is guided by the expertise of a More Knowledgeable Other (MKO) , who encourages and challenges learners to solve problems with critical thinking and kinesthetic ability - similar to the way in which an apprentice learns a trade under the supervision of a master trades person [101,102]. The model below illustrates the four dimensions that underpin this approach to learning, while the six teaching methods that are considered necessary for the development of domain-specific expertise are summarised on the following page.
• Modelling • Coaching • Scaffolding • Articulation • Reflection • Exploration
• Situated learning • Intrinstic motivation • Collabration
• Incresing complexity • Increasing diversity Method
The approach used to develop expertise
The order in which activities are introduced
The social characteristics of the environment
The knowledge required for the development of expertise
• Domain knowledge • Learning strategies
Model adapted from: Collins, A., Brown, J. S., & Newman, S. E. (1987). Cognitive apprenticeship: Teaching the craft of reading, writing and mathematics (Technical Report No. 403). BBN Laboratories, Cambridge, MA. Centre for the Study of Reading, University of Illinois.
Teaching/Coaching methods The methods summarised below are an integral part of the cognitive apprenticeship model and are used to develop the critical thinking skills required for the successful completion of complex tasks [97,98]. Modelling Modelling is the process whereby learners build a conceptual model of the task after observing an expert demonstration . For example, a coach using explicit instructions while demonstrating how to make a ModBox stance and guard would be confirming his/her domain knowledge to the learners. Coaching Coaching refers to the provision of instructions, suggestions, hints and prompts on how a task should be correctly completed . Scaffolding Under the cognitive apprenticeship model, scaffolding is the level of support offered to learners when they are developing their skills . For example, coaches may need to provide additional assistance with a particular aspect of a task during the early stages of development. Articulation Articulation is the process of having athletes verbalise their knowledge, reasoning, or problem-solving skills . The process should include coaches and peers asking questions, which enables athletes to refine their thinking while facilitating opportunities for collaborative learning . Reflection Reflection is an integral part of the learning process and provides an opportunity for learners to analyse their own performance and identify areas of improvement that models the behaviour of the expert . Exploration Exploration is an advanced stage of the learning process and occurs when athletes are able to correctly identify problems for themselves . However to be effective, coaches need to withdraw their support gradually, while still assisting where needed.
Information processing theory - Cognitivism In contrast to the behaviourist approach to learning, information processing is concerned with understanding the mechanisms through which learning occurs [108-110]. This perception of learning supports the idea that the human mind operates in a similar way to a computer, in as much as they both receive input, have mechanisms for the processing of information and are both capable of delivering an output. A demonstration of how the information processing system works can be viewed here while the key features that underpin this system are illustrated below and summarised in the subsequent text.
Discarded or forgotten information
Information transfer and retrieval
Discarded or forgotten information
An illustration of the information processing theory that demonstrates how information gathered from the senses (input), is stored and (processed) by the brain for the purpose of producing a behavioural response (output).
Key features of information processing • Information processing is a highly sophisticated process that is responsible for the development of such important cognitive functions as decision-making, reasoning and perception . •
Information processing involves the encoding and retrieval of various forms of memory through the input of physical stimuli (touch, sight and sound) .
Retrieved physical stimuli are transformed into electrochemical signals through a process known as transduction .
Electrochemical signals (information) in the sensory memory can only last for very short periods of time, less than 1 second for visual and 3 seconds for sound .
Selective attention filters sensory memories by recognising what is familiar or important and deliberately ignoring what is unnecessary. Only the perceived useful information is progressed to the working memory .
The electrochemical signals (information) transferred to the working memory generally last for 20-30 seconds unless the process is constantly repeated (maintenance rehearsal/practice) at which point it can be available for up to 20 minutes .
Previous experience and the demands of the task can affect the processing of information in the working memory .
A limiting factor with information processing is the number of units that can be processed at any one time. Miller , proposed 7+2 for this number, but research now suggests the number may be closer to 5+2 [115,116].
Long-term memory is the part of the brain where learnt information is stored and includes mental images (imagery), procedural knowledge (how to do something) and declarative memory (information we can talk about) [115,116].
Pairing semantic memories (general knowledge of how to complete a task) with episodic memories (personal experience associated with the task) facilitates opportunities for effective learning .
Information processing during the performance of skill Presented below is an overview of the different cognitive functions that are involved with the performance of a skilled movement. Sensory input As highlighted in the previous section, sensory input refers to the receiving of information through the 5 sensory systems . In a ModBox context, this process would generally be limited to observing demonstrations (sight), listening to instruction (hearing) and participating in training activities and public performances (touch). Perception Perception occurs in the short-term memory and is the process by which sensory input is given meaning. This process involves the correct interpretation of the presented information through the use of the following sequence .
Dectection The brain identifies a stimulus
Comparison The brain processes the information by comparing it to a previous experience
Recognition A match is found within the memory of a similar stimulus/experience
Sensor identification The information is now percieved
The above illustration provides a simple but effective representation of the complex, action-specific perceptual system . This process helps to explain how an individual's perception of a task will change as their abilities develop.
Attention Attention is the amount of information that can be processed and utilised by the brain at any one time. Since most people have an attention capacity, athletes must develop the ability to distinguish between essential and non-essential information . Known as selective attention, this trait can be accommodated by limiting the amount of information beginners have to process when developing their skills . In a ModBox training setting this could be achieved by placing constraints on some of the training drills. For example, coaches could limit the numbers of attacking and defensive actions athletes can use when playing a game. Memory As discussed earlier, memory can be broken down into the following three stages. •
Sensory memory: The area of the brain that filters the incoming information through selective attention .
Short-term/working memory: The section of the brain where perceived useful information is primarily used for problem solving and decision making activities .
Long-term memory: The part of the brain where the learnt information is stored and used to effect permanent change .
Decision-making Decision-making explains why certain choices are made . For example the greater the perceptual ability of an athlete, the greater the probability that the presented information will be correctly interpreted and the most appropriate decision will be made . Reaction time Reaction time is the period between a stimulus and the first movement initiated in response to that stimulus . However, in a ModBox setting, coaches would be more concerned with the development of choice reaction time - reacting to a number of stimuli that each require a different response, than simple reaction time - a known stimulus that requires only one response [122,123].
Movement time Movement time refers to the amount of time it takes to complete a physical action [122,123]. For example, an athlete making a ModBox attacking or defensive action. Response time Response time is the time it takes an athlete to complete the entire action once presented with a stimulus [122,123]. A ModBox example would be an athlete reacting to an opponent’s attack with an appropriate defensive action, and then recovering back to a balanced on-guard position.
Reaction time An athlete reacting to an incoming strike.
Movement time An athlete making the most appropriate defensive action and then recovering back to the on-guard position.
Response time The total time taken for the athlete to respond to a stimulus.
Reaction time + movement time = Response time Anticipation An athlete’s ability to correctly predict their opponent’s next action is known as anticipation . Therefore, ModBox athletes who are able to correctly interpret cues provided by the kinematics of their opponents will have a distinct time advantage. Factors that can influence reaction time and decision-making A list of factors that can influence an athlete’s reaction time and their decision-making ability are highlighted below. •
Choices: The more choices that have to be made, the more information to be processed, which results in a slow-down of information-processing ability and leads to an increase in reaction time . Psychological Refractory Period (PRP): This is the time taken once an athlete has realised that he/she has made an incorrect decision and wants to change the response .
Age: Reaction times tend to slow down with age .
Gender: Males generally have quicker reaction times than females .
Experience: Athletes who are more experienced at a particular skill tend to be quicker than less experienced athletes .
Errors: Accusing athletes of making an error slows down their ability to process information .
Stress: Punishing or simply making an athlete feel anxious about a performance increases reaction time .
Fitness: Fitter athletes generally react quicker than unfit athletes [131,132].
Improving response time The illustration below provides an overview of the factors that have been shown to improve response times [131,132]. Coaches will need to consider how these factors can be developed when planning their own training sessions.
Warming up (mentally and physically)
Coaching tip: Make sessions as exciting as possible as this makes them more memorable which may increase the probability that the information will make it to the long-term memory where it can be recalled and used to enhance the decision-making process.
A model for the conversion of sensor information Developed by Welford , who was one of the first researchers to apply the information processing approach to skill acquisition, the model below is useful for demonstrating how information received from external sources can be converted into muscular activity.
Muscular system Effector mechanism Responses
Display – The actions that occur in the environment of the performer. Perceptual mechanism – The perception of the situation (via sight, sound and touch). Decision mechanism - Makes the decisions. The effector mechanism - Sends messages to the parts of the body that carry out the required task. Intrinsic feedback - Occurs via the proprioceptors that informs the brain about balance, muscle tensions, limb positions, etc. Extrinsic feedback - Is the response of the actions that provides feedback as part of the on-going display.
Factors that may affect the learning process A summary of the main factors that have been shown to influence athlete learning appears below [134-137]. These factors will need to be considered when coaches are planning their own training sessions. Athletes learn when they are motivated Because athletes tend to learn better when they have a reason for learning , coaches should provide a sense of purpose for the training by explaining both the aims and beneifits of each activity. Athletes learn when they are challenged Superior outcomes are often achieved when athletes are required to perform at the upper end of their capability . Coaches should therefore focus on encouraging athletes to overcome the most challenging aspects of a session to take them to the next level of development.
Many factors influence the learning process but perhaps positive coach/athlete relationships and supportive training environments are the two most vital factors for athlete development.
Athletes can learn by modelling others Athletes are able to learn through observation and will quite often try to emulate the behaviour of others . Therefore, good demonstrations and opportunities for self-modelling are considered vital for continued learning and development. Athletes can construct their own knowledge Athletes can learn also by using previous knowledge and are able to recall existing knowledge learnt from an earlier experience when attempting to develop a new skill . Coaches, should therefore develop stratgeies to encourage and promote this type of learning. Athletes learn by setting goals Because an important element of the learning process is having a clear understanding of the intended outcomes , coaches should encourage athletes to identify the goals they hope to achieve from their participation and encourage self-montitoring of progress.
‘I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel’. - Maya Angelou
Task complexity Many coaches use specially designed training activities that focus on cognitive and perceptual development to develop technical/tactical skills and improve decision-making capability. Quite often, these exercises and training activities are classified as being either: •
A simple task that requires low levels of information processing, decision-making and cognitive demands, or
A complex task requiring high levels of perceptual ability and concentration .
However factors such as the quality of instruction, current levels of competency and prior experience makes classifying a training drill extremely difficult . A more appropriate and accurate way for coaches to think about the complexity of a particular task might be in terms of a continuum. In this context, the degree of difficulty would be based on the perception of the individual rather than on a preconceived assumption .
Very easy to complete
Difficult to complete
An illustration representing the perceived degree of difficulty for the completion of a task.
A continuum for the degree of difficulty Below, is an example of a continuum that is concerned with the level of complexity involved in completing a task such as jumping forward and backwards while extending and retracting both arms. At one end of this spectrum an athlete considers the activity relatively easy to perform and requires only low levels of cognitive and perceptual effort to be successful. At the other end of the spectrum, the same task performed by another athlete is considered extremely challenging and requires high levels of concentration and significant perceptual and cognitive effort just to be completed. When conducting their own training sessions coaches will need to be mindful that an activity considered easy by one athlete could be The use of a task continuum is helpful for extremely challenging for illustrating how the difficulty of the same another. task can vary significantly from one athlete to another.
Everything is hard before it is easy - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Suggestions for the effective coaching of skill A list of suggestions that may assist with the coaching of sportspecific skills and other training activities is provided below [145,146]. ModBox coaches will need to consider these points when assisting athletes to learn a new skill. • Learn the skill yourself. • Use your own experience in learning the skill to develop the steps and games for teaching it. • Identify the abilities and personality traits of the individual and consider how these will affect your teaching of the skill. • Try not to interfere or interrupt the learning process unless there is a potential safety concern. • Use only constructive prompts and positive suggestions when dealing with corrections. • Provide constant encouragement. • Pair up more experienced athletes with beginners. • Celebrate all milestones.
“The interesting thing about coaching is that you have to trouble the comfortable, and comfort the troubled”. – Ric Charlesworth
A traditional approach for the coaching of skill The traditional approach for the coaching of skill breaks down the individual components of a sport and teaches these skills in isolation from any game context and prior to any actual participation [147,148]. Coaches who ascribe to this approach place great importance on the biomechanical correctness of the physical actions and support a progressive approach for the development of skill [149,150]. The IDEA acronym The acronym below may be helpful for when teaching new skills with a traditional approach. I – Introduce D – Demonstrate E – Explain A – Address/Assist Introduce the Skill Most athletes like to know what they are learning and why they are learning it . Coaches should therefore undertake the following procedures when a new activity is being introduced: 1. Name the skill that is to be taught. 2. Provide reasons and benefits for its use. Demonstrate the skill Good demonstrations often assist with the processing of new information by providing a visual representation of the required task . Therefore, the following points should be taken into account whenever a new skill is being demonstrated: • Demonstrate the skill several times. • Demonstrate the skill at various speeds. • Demonstrate the skill from various angles. • If unable to perform the skill correctly ask someone who is more skilled to perform the demonstration.
Explain the skill Because most people tend to learn more effectively when an explanation accompanies a demonstration , coaches should use both verbal and visual cues when introducing a new training drill. However when explaining how to perform an activity, coaches should limit the amount of information to only a few key points and if possible relate what is currently being taught to a previously experience. Address any concerns Athletes learn and improve at different rates and some will need additional help with their initial attempts to become confident . It is therefore important that only constructive and positive advice is given when correcting errors as any negative information may influence an individual’s motivation to practice and improve.
Coaches may consider using a feed forward approach when developing skill by explaining to athletes what you would like them to achieve, instead of telling them what you don’t want them to do.
The Games Sense approach for skill development The Game Sense approach to coaching is a sport-specific variation of Bunker and Thorpe’s Teaching Games for Understanding (TGFU) model [150,155]. It was developed in Australia during the mid1990s and uses modified games and game-specific situations to promote opportunities for learning [156,157]. This approach to skill development is quite different from the traditional method as is evident from the points below. Features of Game Sense training • It is athlete-centered. • It employs an inquiry-based approach to learning through provision of problem solving activities and games. • It promotes implicit learning. • It provides opportunities for reflection for coaches and athletes. • It encourages peer/peer and peer/coach discussions instead of direct instruction. Suggestions for conducting game-based training Below are some suggestions for conducting training session with a Game Sense approach . These suggestions may help coaches to develop more ideas in regard to the staging of game-based training activities for the purpose of developing skill. • Have a purpose for each game and provide an explanation of what outcomes are to be achieved. • Use scenarios that frequently occur in competition settings. • Ensure that time limits allow for learning outcomes to be achieved. • Place constraints on athletes. • Develop open-ended questions to assist the learning process. • Constantly evaluate activities whilst observing (Is this game going to achieve the outcomes? Does the game need to be further modified?). • Stop games/activities at appropriate ‘learning moments’ to ask critical questions (What would you do differently next time?) or to demonstrate a particular point. • Encourage athlete dialogue and provide time for reflection.
Asking questions Questioning is a key component of the Game Sense approach and is used to help establish learning outcomes . ModBox coaches are encouraged to structure their questions around the themes below when engaging in athlete/coach dialogue. 1. Time –Did you have enough time to react to your opponent’s actions? Why? Why not? 2. Space – How much of the target area was exposed when you were in front of your opponent? Were you too close to the opponent? Where you operating from your optimum distance? 3. Risk – Were your actions/responses the most appropriate to use? Why? 4. Execution – Were the actions/responses successful? How? Evaluate games and activities Coaches should take time at the end of each session to evaluate the effectiveness of the activities and identify areas of possible improvement. When evaluating the effectiveness of an activity or game, coaches should address the following points: • Did the activity/game achieve the desired outcome? How/why not? • How could the game/activity be modified to address any issues? • Were the athletes engaged? • Were the right questions asked? • Can the game be further progressed?
‘You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation’. - Plato
‘All that is worth seeing in good boxing can best be witnessed in a contest with soft gloves. Every value is called out: quickness, precision, foresight, readiness, pluck, and endurance. With these, the rowdy and 'rough' are not satisfied’. - John Boyle O’Reilly
Tips and Suggestions To assist with the coaching and development of ModBoxspecific skills, readers are encouraged to make use of the hyperlinks that appear throughout this chapter and if possible work with a friend to not only learn how to perform the different skills but to develop the strategies for the safe and effective teaching of them.
Overview When performing, ModBox athletes will be required to demonstrate technical skills similar to those of a conventional boxer. The following information will assist with the development of these skills and covers such important topics as the stance and guard, attacking and defensive actions and movement patterns. The stance and guard The two stances that need to be developed in ModBox are the orthodox and southpaw stances. An athlete with an orthodox stance is someone who is naturally right-handed and stands with the left hand and left foot to the front. Conversely, a left-handed athlete, known as a southpaw, will normally stand with the right hand and right foot to the front. To prevent confusion among orthodox and southpaw athletes the terms ‘lead hand’ and ‘back hand’ should be used. For an orthodox athlete the lead hand will be the left hand, while the backhand will be the right hand. The opposite will apply to a southpaw athlete meaning that the right hand will be the lead hand and the left hand will be the backhand.
Australian boxing champion Caitlin Parker demonstrating her interpretation of a ModBox stance and guard.
Suggestions for coaching the stance and guard Please click here to watch how Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist Shelley Watts makes her stance and guard. Although this stance and guard would be used in traditional boxing it is also ideal for use in ModBox as it provides a strong, athletic and balanced platform to operate from, promotes mobility, agility and stability and minimises the target area. Common Faults with the Stance The most common faults associated with a stance include: Feet too wide apart: Prevents optimum movement Feet too close together: Causes loss of balance Flat feet: Delays leg actions and hinders footwork Legs too straight: Reduces balance and ability to strike effectively
Athletes demonstrating their interpretation of a suitable and appropriate ModBox stance and guard. Orthodox stance, Southpaw stance.
Movement patterns When performing ModBox athletes are required to make explosive attacking actions and evasive defensive manoeuvres resembling those of a traditional boxer. Therefore, the coaching of movement patterns and the development of footwork should be considered just as important as it is for traditional boxers. Types of movement patterns There are a number of different movement patterns used in conventional boxing that are ideal also for ModBox. These manoeuvres are highlighted below and described in detail in the subsequent text. • Moving forward and backwards • Lateral movement patterns • Pivoting
ModBox athletes developing their movement patterns and footwork through a game of follow the leader.
Moving forward and backwards Moving forward and backwards - also referred to as ‘moving in and out’ - is perhaps the most common move used in both boxing and ModBox. Athletes use this action constantly throughout a bout to get close to an opponent for the purpose of applying their own attack before quickly moving out of range from a counter attack. When coaching this skill different verbal cues can be used. For example, a coach could use numbers (1 for forward and 2 for backwards), or words such as: ‘forward and backwards’, or ‘in and out’. The steps below are provided to assist with the effective coaching of this skill. However, in an attempt to enhance the learning process, coaches can click here to watch a demonstration of moving forward and backwards, or watch this short video to see how the same drill is performed at a normal pace. 1. Athlete adopts a suitable boxing stance and guard. 2. The lead foot is slightly elevated. 3. The athlete pushes forward with energy that is transferred from the rear foot. 4. The mid-foot area of the lead foot touches the floor. 5. The rear foot is slid forward. 6. The forward step is completed and the athlete returns to the stance position. Once the athlete has advanced forward the second part of this drill can be implemented. This involves a backward movement by simply reversing the above steps. Common faults when moving forward and backwards The 5 common faults that have been identified with stepping forward and backwards are highlighted below. Watching out for these faults is necessary when coaching this skill. • Feet not taking the same size step. • Stepping with flat feet. • Stepping with heel first. • Narrowing and widening of distance between feet after stepping.
Lateral movement patterns The ability to move from side to side is another essential skill that both traditional and ModBox athletes need to develop. Lateral movement patterns are usually taught in conjunction with stepping forward and backwards through use of the same cueing. For example, if numbers are used then the following sequence would apply (1 for forward, 2 for backwards, 3 for the lead side and 4 for the rear side). However, if words are used then the terms ‘forward, backwards, lead and rear‘ would be appropriate. Alternatively the words ‘in, out, lead, rear’ could be used. The points below outline the steps needed to make an effective move to the left. Orthodox stance 1. Athletes begin this drill from a ModBox stance. 2. The lead foot is slightly elevated. 3. The body is pushed to the left side by energy that is transferred from the rear foot. 4. The toes of the front foot touch the floor. 5. The rear foot covers the same distance as it moves to the left. 6. The left step is completed and the athlete returns to original the on-guard position. Southpaw stance 1. Athletes begin this drill from a ModBox stance. 2. The rear foot is slightly elevated. 3. The body is pushed to the left side by energy that is transferred from the lead foot. 4. The toes of the rear foot touch the floor. 5. The lead foot moves to the left covering the same distance. 6. The left step is completed and the athlete returns to the onguard position.
The steps below may assist with a move to the right. Orthodox stance 1. Start in a suitable ModBox stance. 2. The rear foot is slightly elevated. 3. The body is pushed to the right side by energy that is transferred from the lead foot. 4. The toes of the rear foot touch the floor. 5. The lead foot moves towards the right covering the same distance. 6. The right step is completed and the athlete is back to an onguard position. Southpaw stance 1. Start in a suitable ModBox stance. 2. The lead foot is slightly elevated 3. The body is pushed to the right side by energy that is transferred from the rear foot. 4. The toes of the front foot touch the floor. 5. The rear foot slides towards the right covering the same distance. 6. The right step is completed and the athlete is back to an onguard position. Common faults with lateral movement patterns The same 5 common faults associated with moving forward and backwards are also applicable when stepping to the side. Attention therefore should be given to ensuring that the feet take the same size steps, body weight is evenly distributed and both feet remain in a strong mid-foot position (balls of the feet) throughout the movements. A video of an athlete in an orthodox stance moving left and right can be viewed here. Another clip demonstrates the same movement pattern performed from a southpaw stance. However, lateral movement patterns are usually performed at a much faster pace as can be seen in this video.
The pivot ModBox athletes should use the pivot to rapidly change the position of their body when evading an opponent’s attack while remaining at the optimum distance to launch their own attack (a counter-attack). The suggestions below are included to assist with the technical development of this skill. Pivoting to the Left and right 1. Athletes begin in a ModBox stance position. 2. The heel of the lead foot is slightly elevated and the knee of the lead leg is semi flexed. 3. The front foot pivots on the spot enabling the rear leg to be swung in the intended direction. 4. Rear foot is grounded. 5. Minor adjustment of stance may occur. Common faults associated with the pivot The following concerns have been identified as the most salient for this particular manoeuvre. 1. Dipping of the lead shoulder. 2. Hands being lowered. 3. Narrowing of the stance. 4. Over rotation of the rear leg. 5. Loss of balance.
Please click here to watch how National Champion Kristy Harris performs her pivot.
Defensive actions The defensive actions used in conventional boxing and ModBox can be categorised into the following three groups: • Leg defence – Used to make and oncoming strike miss the intended target. • Trunk defence – Used to evade an oncoming strike. • Hand and arm defence – Used to disrupt an oncoming strike from its original path. Leg defence As the name implies, leg defence is a defensive manoeuvre made by the use of the legs with little or no involvement of the upper body. Leg defences can be made with the movement patterns outlined earlier in this chapter such as the backward step, stepping to the side and pivoting, and also by the push-away. The push-away This defensive action is quite similar to the backwards step as it requires athletes to push off the front foot to avoid an oncoming strike. The push-away is a very skilful move that requires high levels of reactive power and coordination to be successful. Common faults with the push-away The most common faults with this move are listed below. Coaches will need to watch for these faults when introducing the push-away into a training session. • Leaning back with the torso. • Stepping too far. • Standing on the heel of the rear foot. • Narrowing or widening of stance after stepping.
Please click here to watch a video clip of the push-away.
Trunk defence Trunk defence is the name given to the group of defensive actions that are made by the upper body with little or no leg movement. In competitive boxing, athletes use a number of different trunk actions to effectively evade an opponent’s attack. However, the ‘sway back’ and the ‘slip’ are perhaps the more suitable for ModBox training and public performances. The sway back When coaching the sway back the following technical points need to be considered: • Athletes need to maintain a high guard throughout the movement. • Stepping is not required. • Body weight needs to be transferred to the rear leg. • Only the upper body is moved (by leaning back). • Athletes return to the on-guard position in time with the retraction of the opponent’s arm.
The sway back in action In this photo the athlete on the right is using the sway back to evade the opponent’s on coming strike.
The slip Slipping requires incredibly fast reactions, quick reflexes and a complete evasion of the incoming strike to be effective. Adhering to the following points should assist with the coaching of this highly skilful action: • A high guard needs to be maintained throughout the entire movement. • Hips and shoulders need to rotate away from the on coming strike. • A high state of readiness and anticipation is needed to be successful. • Very small movements need to be produced. • A demonstration of slipping can be viewed here.
In this photo the red athlete is making a single attack using a straight lead hand (SLH) to the upper-arm target of the opponent. The blue athlete is avoiding the incoming strike by ‘slipping’ it.
Common faults with trunk defence Attention to the common faults below should assist with the coaching and development of these important and highly skilful defensive actions. • Excessive movements of the upper body. • Lowering of the head (not watching the opponent). • Incorrect hand positioning (low guard). • Slow return to stance.
Hand and arm defence The term hand and arm defence refers to the group of defensive actions that are made with the gloves, forearms and elbows. These actions are primarily used against straight-arm attacks to the upper-arm target and underhand attacks to the torso region. The parry The parry is perhaps the most used defensive action in ModBox and can be applied in an upward or downward manner. However, the downward parry is a more appropriate action, as its use will limit the risk of the incoming strike being deflected to the head. The following points should assist coaches with the development of the downward parry. • Athletes need to stay alert and anticipate their opponent’s attack. • As the strike approaches the defending athlete should engage with the lead hand, making a downward-knocking action to disrupt the strike from its original path. • Athlete should return to the original ‘on guard’ position as quickly as possible.
In this photo the red athlete is making a single attack using a straight lead hand (SLH) to the upper-arm target of the opponent. The blue athlete is applying a ‘downward parry to disrupt the incoming strike from the original course.
Blocking Blocking can be performed with the use of the gloves, forearms and the elbows. Blocking with the gloves is suitable against straight-arm and hooking strikes to the upper-arm region, while forearm and elbow blocking is more suited to preventing straight-arm and under-arm strikes to the torso. The following suggestions will need to be considered when coaching this defensive action. • Athletes need to remain relaxed, while anticipating their opponent’s attack. • As the strike approaches the defending athlete needs to bend the knees, lower the rear foot and rotate the torso away from the incoming strike. • Athletes need to coordinate the bending of the knees with the rotation of the upper body.
In this photo the red athlete is making a single attack using a lead hand hook (LLH) to the upper-arm target of the opponent. The blue athlete is applying a ‘lead hand block’ to prevent the incoming strike from reaching the target.
Common faults with hand and arm defence • Loss of eye contact with opponent. • Defensive action performed too early, or too late. • Defensive action performed with stiff movement. • Not returning to ‘on-guard’ position after making the action.
Attacking actions There are a number of technical and biomechanical differences between the attacking actions used in ModBox and those used in conventional boxing. These technical and biomechanical differences are related to the requirement to reduce force production in ModBox and are highlighted below. For ModBox: • Greater emphasis is placed on the ‘retraction phase’ of the strike. • Minimal torso rotation is used. • Kinetic chain is not activated. • A ‘strike and assess’ approach must be used. • Striking can be made whilst moving. The straight lead hand strike The straight lead hand strike is delivered by the non-dominant hand and is primarily used to maintain the optimum distance, distract an opponent or, to regain the initiative. The straight lead hand strike can also be applied to defensive situations and is often used to disengage with an opponent whilst quickly changing direction.
The straight backhand strike The straight backhand strike is delivered by an extension of the dominant arm. Unlike the lead hand strike though, the straight backhand strike should be used with caution, as greater target area will be exposed when it is delivered.
A biomechanical breakdown of the straight-arm strikes When applying a striking action the upper and lower body movements occur fairly simultaneously. However, adhering to the suggestions below will assist with the development and coaching of the straight lead hand and backhand striking actions. 1. Athlete starts in a stable, balanced and relaxed stance with a high guard (opportunity to reinforce these key points). 2. The appropriate foot and the trunk is turned slightly inwards. 3. The arm that is being used extends in a forward direction and rotates inwards, while the shoulder is slightly elevated to generate more reach. 4. The arm is quickly returned to the guard position. 5. The trunk and foot return to their original positions. Common faults with the straight-arm strikes The most common errors associated with the straight-arm strikes are: • Elbows are raised laterally during the extension of the arm. • Arms are kept in the extended position for too long. • Hand is dropped during the retraction phase. • Trying to hit too hard.
Please click here to watch a demonstration of the lead hand and backhand straight-arm striking actions.
The hooking action This strike is generally made by the lead hand and uses a rotating arm action with the elbow bent at an angle of approximately 90 degrees and the arm kept horizontal to the ground. Similar to the straight strikes, the physical actions required to perform the hook occur fairly simultaneously. However, to assist with the coaching of the hooking action the whole movement has been broken into the following steps. A biomechanical breakdown of the lead hand hook 1. Athletes begin in a stable, balanced and relaxed stance. 2. The heel of the lead foot is slightly elevated and pivoted inwards. 3. The trunk of the lead side also slightly rotates in an inwards direction. 4. A swinging action of the lead arm is used to propel the lead hand in the direction of the target (arm is kept in a bent position). 5. After making contact with the target, the arm is quickly retracted back to the on-guard position and Please click here to watch a the body returns to the demonstration of the hook. original position. When coaching the backhand hook the same process is applied, except of course it is the dominant side that is used. In this case, the rear foot pivots inwards, and the backhand rather than the lead hand is used to make the swinging action. Common faults that can occur with the hook The most common faults with the hook are: • Looping of the hand and dropping the elbow. • Over-rotation of the trunk and hips. • Slow return to boxing stance.
The under hand striking action Unlike the straight-arm strikes and the hooking action, the under hand strikes are vertical striking actions that travel in an upward direction toward the intended target. Similar to the other attacking actions, under hand strikes can be delivered by either the lead or backhand, making them ideal to use in a space-invading sport such as ModBox. A biomechanical breakdown of the under hand strike using the lead hand The movement has been broken down into the following steps to assist with the coaching and development of this skill. 1. Athletes start in correct position (balanced stance with good guard). 2. Lead foot is slightly elevated and turned inwards. 3. The trunk also rotates inwards. 4. The lead arm is extended vertically toward the target. 5. Once contact has been made, the lead hand is retracted to the on-guard position. Common faults with the underhand striking action • Lead hand dropping too early before use. • Delay in returning the hand to the guard position.
Please click here to watch a short demonstration of the under hand strike.
Using games to coach the fundamentals The information on the previous pages illustrates how a suitable ModBox stance, fluent movement patterns, coordinated defensive manoeuvres and well-timed striking actions can be developed using a traditional approach for skill development. However, coaches should also consider using the Game Sense approach for the coaching of skill. This approach encourages athletes to explore, experiment and solve a range of tactical problems by actively participating in game-based activities [148,150].
‘It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them’. - Leo F. Buscaglia ‘Whoever wants to understand much must play much’. - Gottfried Benn ‘The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct’. - Carl Jung
A list of suitable games and activities Below is a list of suitable game-based activities that are consistent with research indicating that guided discovery through games can offer many advantages in the process of skill acquisition. •
Bounce the ball – This game requires athletes to continually bounce a tennis ball with alternate hands while constantly changing directions.
Fetch – In this activity, one athlete drops a boxing glove on the ground while the other athlete must continue to pick it up and return it for a predetermined period of time. Please note roles should be reversed after an appropriate period of rest.
Follow the leader – This activity is designed to assist with the development of movement patterns and attacking actions.
Peg boxing – In this activity, each partner attempts to snatch clothes pegs affixed to the other’s vest. The game encourages development of tactical and movement skills resembling those required in ModBox.
Toe the line - In this drill, athletes may only engage with a single strike when part of the lead foot of either athlete is over the line (drawn with chalk, or with the use of training cones). When one of the athletes applies an attacking action the other must try to apply the most appropriate defensive action.
The chaser – In this game one athlete uses a strike and assess approach to make the attacking actions while, the other person must try to make the most appropriate defensive actions.
Hit and miss – Athletes in this game can only use their lead hands for the attacking actions and leg defence for the defensive manoeuvres.
Change it around – Athletes have to adopt a reverse stance for this game - for example orthodox to a southpaw and must adhere to the same constraints highlighted in hit and miss.