ST 1 /  tct 1 /    Technique and its Training


Seirul-lo Vargas, F. (1987). La Técnica y su Entrenamiento.
Apunts Medicina de l'Esport, 24 (93), 189-199.

Translated and adapted by David Ribera-Nebot

1.  Introduction to the Concept of Technique
2.  Analysis of the Technical Ability
3.  The Meaning of Technique in Different Sports
4.  Technical Assessment
5.  Technical Training
6.  Stages of the Technical Learning

Francisco Seirul-lo Vargas
Barcelona University
National Institute of Physical Education of Catalunya, Barcelona.

Technique and its Training

1. Introduction to the Concept of Technique

            Technique is a concept with varied applications and a great diversity of contents.

            In contrast with other human technical activities, in sport activities all human capacities are involved and evaluated immediately. For this reason, there is a need for a more specific approach to the concept of technique.         

Ozolín, N. (1970) defines technique as the most rational and effective form to perform exercises.

            Grosser, M. (1982) defines technique as the ideal model of a movement relative to a  specific sport activity. For team sports; Mechling (1983) defines technique as that movements or part of movements that permit to perform attack and defense actions with a concrete game purpose, and with a quite good execution quality  (good with reference to an ideal model). It follows from these definitions that the sportsman, in order to obtain performance in his particular sport, must have learned a group of movements, following ideal models, result of different research, which will facilitate to execute precise actions to improve his motor skills. Therefore, when a person possess this or that movement within his motor repertory, it is said that he has this or that ability; that is why, the group of movements of different sport specialties are called sport technical abilities. Harre, D.(1979), Grosser, M. (1982), Roth (1983). Consequently, an sportsman will possess a good technical ability the best he adjust his movement to the ideal model, in addition to the best he can control it to obtain maximal performance during real competition. The aptitude of a person to acquire these abilities is understood as capacity (Thiess, 1980). Thus, an individual with a better learning capacity, will have the possibility to have a major number of technical abilities to apply to sport executions (Hortz, 1983). We should point out, in passing, that to apply correctly a technical ability during competition not only depends of this capacity, but also on tactical capacities which are not the motive of this article.

            But, how this ideal technical model is established? It is the product of research that proposes a concrete movement to be performed as the most effective. However, the ideal model changes, and the ideal now is not that ideal after a period of time, when science and experience of coaches improve. Therefore, we think that does not exist an ideal model, but the ideal model for each sportsman, which will depend upon his ability to perform during real competitive situations with reference to his possibilities to solve efficiently the situations proposed in that moment. We neither agree with the term style as the personal interpretation that a person does of a determined ideal technical model, because his execution is a personal model acquired through practice and which is the ideal for him in that moment. Who can say that the ideal technical model of a person 15 years old must be the same than his ideal technical model when hi be 25 years old, when changes as corporal dimensions, weight, strength, concept of movement, contents, tactics, have occurred. The ideal model is transitory, thus the most important is to create a personal model that be adjusted to the game rules and facilitates maximal performance during competition at each stage of the sport life.



2. Analysis of the Technical Ability

            Donsk (1962), Ozolín (1970), Grosse (1982), Verjoshanskij (1987), pointed out the need to examine the conditions in which the technique is executed. Each one proposes different options that are the base for the development of a particular analysis.

            All technical abilities are performed by precise segmentary and/or global  movements. Such precision makes the segmentary body parts to perform meticulous paths on the space. Also, that spatial trajectory must spend a certain period of time. All spatial and temporal aspects of a technical skill are easily observable and can be studied from different perspectives. They can be differenced from other called internal or structural aspects which will generate that external values manifested during sport practices of the athlete.





External factors are evident during the execution of each movement and they can even be observable by a non-specialist, while structural factors are of more complex assessment.

 - Description of the Spatial-Temporal Aspects.




The number of factors proposed for each analysis is obviously open for including new elements, depending on the knowledge of the specialist.

  • Cinematic studies allow to know both segmentary and global speeds, accelerations, etc. External biomechanics is the science that develops these studies, which are often used for the description of technical skills.
  • The medical-kinesiological observation is focused on the determination of technical conditions to prevent from deterioration of the human locomotor skeleton. A technical defect or a postural or muscular tone control defect, based on a kinesiological-postural criterion, might be very prejudicial for a future sport life.
  • Technical skills may be externally assessed by a temporal criterion. Several qualitative factors (continuity, adequateness, anticipation, etc) are relevant for an effective execution of a technical movement.
  • Many aesthetic factors of a technical skill could be assessed; as many as personal criteria of the aesthetic value of movement or things of nature (amplitude, symmetry, beauty, plasticity, expressiveness of skill, etc). We should not forget that the word technique comes from the Greek “tekhè” which most approximate meaning is “art”. Unfortunately this value is marginalized by several coaches, except in those sport disciplines in which this concept is evaluated as part of performance.

In subsequent parts we will see how each of these factors is generated by one or several internal factors, from which they are their external manifestation. The best way of summing up this initial study is to state that all these spatial-temporal aspects (constituents of the external form of movement) are consequence of a correct coordination, and are the representation of an intention that generates movement.


- Description of the Structural Aspects.





Fundaments of the structuralism theory (Saussure, Köhler, Wertheimer, Kofka,...) assert that exists a close interaction among all internal factors influencing the execution of technical abilities. For instance, concentration allows to choose adequately the type of movement and the possibility of being executed under a determined strength condition (qualities from different categories). The interrelation is so that a single factor modify all others; and external aspects are the manifestation of all of them together. 

  • The dynamic study of a technique allows to know the muscular work conditions (forces, momentums, ...) that bring about the observed movement. The “internal” biomechanics conducts these analyses and can explain many errors of the technical skills or their efficacy.

  • There also exist the informative assessment of the conditions in which a specific sport technique is performed. For instance, pertinence to select a technique which is more or less compatible with the external conditions, progressive self-regulation capacity to adjust movements to competition needs, or the variability of a technical model in order to adequate it to an opponent.

  • Psychological observations of a technical skill offer us a knowledge of the psychological factors added to that technique. Concentration, agressivity, persistence, ... are some features which can be observed during the execution of a technical skill and they produce typical personalities for each competitive situation. 

As we mentioned, spatial-temporal aspects (external) are consequence of structural aspects (internal). It is evident that cinematic conditions are the result of force production (internal dynamic study). Temporal assessment depends a great deal on informative factors. Thus, aesthetic and medical-kinesiological factors depend in part on psychological contents of movement, but also on dynamic components. It seems clear that both external and internal assessments are necessary for the understanding of performance of a technical skill. Therefore, we can explain how various subjets who execute “the same” technical ability obtain very different values in some of these internal and external components and consequently perform, from a technical point of view, at a different level (Ratov, 1987). For example, physical conditioning preparation, which is responsible of force application conditions (internal factor), can determine the outcome of a confrontation between two players of similar technical levels. Similarly, an appropriate tactical decision (that affects both internal and external factors) can be relevant in many cases.

All described factors will have differential influence in each sport specialty. By analysing the technical abilities of a particular sport in the way it has been proposed, we will be able to define in a more precise way the technical training goals for this sport specialty and, in addition, to propose a more individualized technical learning.



3. The Meaning of Technique in Different Sports

            The concept “technique” does not have the same meaning in all sports. The factors previously studied play a different role for every sport.

            In order to determine the different meaning of a technical concept, it is necessary to analyse each sport specialty independently.

Verjoshanskij (1985) develop different meanings of technique even within the same sport (athletics). For explosive strength specialties, he states that the technique must guarantee the capacity of producing a strong and concentrated impulse just at the determinant phase of execution.

            Neumeier (1981) also states that at this determinant phase of execution the role of the technique is to reach maximal acceleration. We can see, then, that there is a clear concurrence of concepts (dynamic-cinematic).

            While for endurance events the technique is efficacy or performing a skill economically (temporal and kinesiologic factors are the most relevant). Thus, their techniques must be learnt differently.

            For sports practiced with an opponent, Gulinelli (1986) understands technique as the possibility to solve variable competitive situations. On the other, Djatschkov (1977) states that technique must develop precise strength and speed executions to the maximal extend. In this case internal-informative and external-temporal values are the most determinant. Therefore, such factors must be taught preferentially in order to develop technical skills adequated to the competitive needs.

            Gulinelli (1986) holds that in artistics sports the technique have to increase the precision and expressivity of movement (external-aesthetic assessment, and internal-informative and psychological assessments are the most important). Evidently, it is necessary to understand the meaning of technique before the selection of a training model. The proposed analysis allows the coach to design very efficiently the learning objectives of a concrete technique, the first step of any learning plan.



4. Technical Assessment

            The observation of a technique can be assessed from a formal and a real point of view.

            The formal assessment consist of an analysis of the similarity between a technical execution and its scientific ideal model. It is an objective assessment. In some sports (gymnastics, figure skating, etc) the athlete’s performance is evaluated with such formal criterion. A judge, trained to observe, give an score that assesses the execution of this type of technical skill. In other words, there exist a direct concurrence technique-result; therefore, such formal assessment is equivalent to a real assessment of the result.

            Real assessment is based on the result, independently from the similarity between a technical execution and its ideal model. An athlete can perform scoring many goals and having a poor model of the throwing technique. Thus, it is an indirect measurement or assessment of technique. On the other hand, in some athletics specialities to have a technique similar to a model is a guarantee to perform at high level. An athlete who does not know the jumping hurdles technique cannot obtain a good result in those specialities, although the technique is not evaluated, but the time (an indirect assessment of technique). Therefore, the indirect assessment conditions of a technique permit to classify sports, at least, in these two cited groups. What it is really relevant is to know how technique is evaluated in our sport specialty in order to plan learning and training goals depending on the real demands of that speciality.

            By doing that, different technical factors will be emphasized for each learning stage.


5. Technical Training

            By the technical analysis (section 2) we have the knowledge of all factors that can be taught in order to improve the technical skill of a particular athlete. Knowing the meaning of technique allow us to classify the importance of all these factors and, therefore, to clearly define the goals. Finally, with the evaluation of the technical skill in different sports, we can fix its relative importance and plan in sequence the learning goals during the athlete’s sport life. It is now time to discuss how to improve a technical skill; however, it is impossible to describe all the training process of all different sports, due to the nature of this article. We are going to tackle the questions of the influential aspects in acquiring a sport technique and the proposal of a model based on learning stages.

To learn technical abilities, besides motor learning, requires also another learning that permits to adjust an athlete’s motor activity to the predominant circumstances of a sport competition (Lorenz, 1969; Higgins, 1977). Technical training requires a more complex improvement of various capacities. Thus, it is not only necessary to achieve a motor learning, but also a perceptual and decisional learning in order to achieve all learning needs which are required for a high level sport practice (Arnold, 1980). These three type of learning must grow up homogeneously to perform in different sports; however, in each sport they will be emphasized particularly. For instance, Mandoni (1985) proposes the following learning that must be reached in beginner basketball players:

·         Learning of signals (stimulus-answer).

·         Learning of connections (stimulus-answer, without linking)

·         Linking of various stimulus-answers.

·         Learning of concepts.

·         Learning of rules.

In this proposal perceptual and decisional learning are more emphasized than motor learning, while in other type of sports may happen the contrary.

            All in all, there is a group of factors (figure 3) that will influence when learning new sport techniques of any speciality (Reider, 1985): 





           On the other hand, technical training is a more complex process that affects the improvement of all technical factors, and it includes among them the motor learning as well as all other components set out (figure 4).





- The training that is performed by execution of movements is the most meaningful in a training practice. This body motion can be aim toward the perfecting of movement, by improving its execution, or it also can be aim toward the acquisition of conditioning factors which improve the performance of a skill. In other words, to increase the value of both coordination and conditioning capacities of the athlete.

  • In order to improve coordination capacities Manno (1984) proposes motor execution goals in conditions that assure the participation of all coordination capacities and specially the predominant coordination capacities in a concrete sport speciality. He makes a proposal, shown in figure 5, about the coordination of a desired motor act. A specific orientation of the objectives and the achievement of several trials under certain conditions, allow the learning of a particular movement, the learning of a concrete sport technique. Matveev (1982) asserts that “as soon as a movement is becoming usual, by a big increase in the amount of repetitions, this exercise no longer has any influence on the coordination capacities” and proposes a “systematic renewal of motor experiences” for constantly influence on coordination capacities. Added to that, motor learning is a part of training of the coordination capacities.





  • The improvement of conditioning capacities is another facet of the motor participation training. It is done by the application of concrete systems which improve these factors. There exist well known systems to improve strength, speed or endurance, as well as flexibility and relaxation. We want to point out the importance of having an homogeneity in these two options of motor participation goals, which provides a balance of the technical behaviour and a continuous possibility of progress throughout the sport carrier of an athlete.

- The technical training of cognitive-affective participation is commonly underestimated, supposing that the simple participation of such values in any physical practice means already its training. It is not really like that and Duran (1985) systematize all required operations to plan a motor answer that makes evident the need to improve these type of capacities in which it is not necessary a motor participation for its training.





              After these “mental practices” the motor execution is performed, under conditions similar to the designed proposals in the preceding plan. Once the movement has been executed, it is necessary to evaluate it, taking again value cognitive-affective capacities for being able to perform the following operations proposed by Duran on the figure.





            In such type of mental operations become apparent, both during training practices and during competitions, that the participations of cognitive capacities allows a technical execution be adjusted to the activity purpose of an athlete; and if the planning has bigger cognitive participation, the answer has both cognitive and affective values





Volpert (1976) proposes different possibilities of technical training without motor activity, therefore it permits to improve certain cognitive capacities. Figure 9 is a representation of such training systems. Based on Volpert, Reider (1985) define the following cognitive objectives to practice:

·         To improve the representation capacity of movement.

·         To improve anticipation processes.

·         Conscious perception of each information type (kinestesic, visual, tactile, acoustic).

·         To improve observation capacities.

·         To improve the capacity to compare the expected result with the real one.

·         Motor schemes with attention focus.

·         To improve the concentration capacity.





            The achievement of such goals allows to develop more specific training methods so as to avoid execution mistakes which are based on the athlete’s comprehension (cognition) of his own technical performance. For instance, Pöhlmann (1977), based on the called “principle of discrimination or clarification”, proposes attempts with artifacts of different weights in order to solve, by kinestesic differentiation, determined execution problems in relation, basically, to the application of forces.

There also exist options based on mistakes, proposed by Korengerg (1980), for knowing the real origin of errors during the execution of technical skills. Added to that, based on Meinel & Schnabel (1977), the cognitive processes attain great stability in the sportsman with reference to motor execution of technique for reaching his high performance in any circumstance (called “constancy of movement”). Cognitive processes have also an important participation in eliminating the called “speed’s barrier” or “speed’s block” (Ozolín, 1980 and Hollmann-Hettinger, 1980); in addition to other applications during training and competition.

            Therefore, during the process of technical training is necessary to apply skills of motor participation as well as skill of cognitive-affective participation, which make its application more complex and extend it to, practically, a person’s sport life. It would be necessary to use different methods depending on what an athlete needs to improve his technique. Evidently, each of these training options are more or less effective to reach some or others technical goals that must be achieved during the course of different formation stages of the technical ability.



6. Stages of the Technical Learnig

            This training process will allow the learning of technical abilities  after years of uninterrupted experiences. On the one hand, Fitts (1964) proposes three stages for these acquisitions: cognitive stage, associative stage and autonomous stage. Gentile (1972) only define two stages, while Meinel (1977) develops also three levels of dominion: beginner, advanced and high dominion. Martin (1977) adds a fourth level. Both Ozolín (1970) and Matveev (1977) observe two moments: learning and advanced. More recently, Nadori (1985) define three levels under the following epigraphs: non-specific, semi-specific and specific stage for the technical ability acquisition. Most authors agree with the idea of defining a first moment in which it must be reached a basic “technical model”, understanding the conditions of the skill as well as recognizing and interpreting environmental characteristics in which the technical movement must be performed and adapted.

In a second technical stage, the sportsman must perfects his movements by eliminating unnecessary movements (Harre, 1976). He also must obtain an enough  degree of stability and regularity, as well as perfect decisional processes, identifying the integrated environmental characteristics, predict events, and he also must rank answers that might be applied to determined competitive situations.

Some authors define, in a third level, phenomenon of constancy and availability that permits high levels of technical execution in any environmental situation.

            While others, which only propose two stages, include these achievements in the second like a final consequence of a well done training process. We believe that there is lack of a third or fourth stage of technical training. Stage in which the sportsman, owner of his technique, is able to create new ability forms, identifying them as something personal and, simultaneously, such new skills are as an additional stimulus to stay many years practicing sport. There exist sport specialities in which this process is more difficult, and it can even be interfered with the specific rules. Anyway, there cannot be any doubt that the person’s sport life must be divided by stages in order to adjust the biological maturing processes with the  development of technical abilities and others. Our proposal for team sports and sports of similar characteristics is:

A)  Stage of multipurpose general conditioning (8-10 year-old).

B)  Stage of oriented multilateral preparation (10-12 year-old).

C)  Stage of specific initiation (12-16 year-old).

D)  Stage of specialization (16-20 year-old).

E)  Stage of perfecting (20-24 year-old).

F)  Stage of high stability of performance (more than 24 year-old).

            For each stage we will define the differential criteria for the formation of the technical ability, as a consequence of an organized training under the parameters we have mentioned.

            A) At this stage the training of motor participation must develop all coordination capacities; with non-specific orientation, with constant modifications of environmental conditions of the practitioner. It is founded, therefore, on motor experimentation of all movement capacities. All areas of conditional capacities are developed in equilibrium to coordination capacities.

            With reference to the training of cognitive participation,  it should be focused on the understanding of movement as a human capacity, as well as the self-conscience of the individual during this movement.

At this stage there is no difference among the training of different individuals; thus, all of             them will after be able to practice all type of sports. Coaches should observe the areas of movements and cognitions in which each subject learn faster or is outstanding in comparison with his partners, in order to be able to develop next step correctly.

            B)  When the athlete and coach are conscious of the best efficacy at executing a concrete spectrum of movements, this second stage of oriented multilateral preparation begins. The training of technical abilities is focused on the improvement of  non-specific coordination of the group of movements in which the individual is talented, and in which they will be able to apply afterwards to some sport specialty. As much as the coach knows the selected sport he will propose an elementary orientation towards the practice of the technical actions of such specialty and to the complementary skills, based on his experience. At this moment it is of great importance to analyse the technique in order to propose the predominant space-temporal and structural aspects of that sport specialty that will be the fundamentals of posterior technical acquisitions in that specific ability.

            At this stage begins the first differentiation of training of technical skills and the cognitive participation practices. This will allow, in addition to the observation of the biological development, to determine, with less errors, a future sport specialty which is initiated in a specific manner immediately.

            C) At this moment, all technical training is focused on reaching and developing the self-execution model of the specific movements of a concrete sport specialty. We could talk about an adaptation of abilities to specific skills with participation of cognitive processes so as they can be assimilated by the motor repertoire. These cognitive processes have now their main role during competition, place to test each technique achieved during training practices. The meaning of technique in the chosen sport specialty will determine the adjustment of achievements to the competition. The role of the coach is fundamental in identifying these meanings and presenting them to the athlete under simplified conditions during the practices.

            Conditional capacities training is focused on that specific facets of the initiated specialty, but considering the degree of biological maturing of the subject. It is evident, at this stage, that the athlete is already a player or competitor of a determined athletic specialty.

            D)  Talent personal qualities are basic at this specialization stage. Morphological development, facility in technical learning and its fixing, efficacy in taking decisions, adaptability to competitive conditions, are among others, factors which will allow both the athlete and the coach to make sure that their choice was right. All external factors, space-temporal, must be solve with efficacy. Specific technical evaluation will define this efficacy  and will permit to adjust structural factors progressively to needs required at this level. Methods of cognitive training must reach a profound knowledge of the sport and sport specialty, or of the specific position to which the athlete must adapt all the achieved skills. This stage is termed “stage of profound specialization” by Tschiene (1985), with reference to athletics (track and field) in order to point out the importance of specific training methods.

            The dynamic study and temporal assessment are the elements that allow the proposal of preferable goals for technical training at this level. Higgins (1977) proposes that the athlete must adapt and transfer his ability to the predominant conditions of environment. Differentially, in the next stage, the athlete will have to adapt his ability to unusual or varied situations.

            E)  At this moment the sportsman has a dominion of all technical abilities and the purpose is its perfecting. That means that space-temporal and structural aspects must be in total concordance in order to obtain this perfection in competitive situations. The variability of these situations tests cognitive and specific conditional capacities which must be continuously trained to reach that perfection of the technical ability. It is fundamental to reproduce variable conditions of competition in a global form, even to increase them during training practices in order to never block the progress of the technical execution (Pöhlmann, 1977).

            If these conditions of training are maintained, this perfection can be extended indefinitely; if also competitive conditions bring to the sportsman enough new stimulus that avoid periods of stagnation.

            F) The stage of high stability of performance. This is a consequence of the previous stage. The difference is that now, the possible motor solutions to competitive situations must be, in most of the cases, a product of personal elaboration of the athlete and his creative capacity. The athlete has a high level of technical stability, its technical capacity is consolidated in such a way that permits him to perform in all competitive conditions and, moreover, can create movement solutions which even allow him to be more effective. This success will permit him to stay during a longer period of time competing with a high level of motivation to do that. We believe this is possible through an appropriate distribution of the goals in the different stages proposed and by giving attention to the training of cognitive capacities over the different phases of technical training.

            Finally, it only remains to point out that the technical training proposed is senseless if it is not done in concordance with the tactical training which has been systematically ignored due to the nature of this article.








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© 1987 Francisco Seirul-lo Vargas  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


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