Auditory cuing, switch words, and a 14 year-old girl who can probably do more chin-ups than you…

I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of coordinating and teaching some strength and conditioning drills at the George Mason University Baseball and Softball summer camps throughout the week.  It’s been a welcomed challenge attempting to coordinate 60-70 baseball and softball players through 45 minutes of drills in about 100 degree heat.  As with any coaching scenario I immerse myself in, it is always my goal to elicit a positive response in the athlete that I’m coaching; in short, when they leave my guidance I want them to have learned something, and I want them to have gotten better, no matter the circumstances. Now, 100 degree heat, 7-7min stations of 10, 8-12 year-olds, may not be the most conducive situation, or my most comfortable setting, for eliciting the responses I’ve mentioned above.  However, that just meant I had to get a little more creative, concise, and entertaining with my delivery.  What I found to be most helpful was the usage of auditory cuing and switch words (I learned these techniques from Brian Grasso, so there, I’m not passing these ideas off as my own). 

Auditory cuing is helpful for many reasons.  One, it forces everyone in the group to be quite and attentive as they listen for the cue (a moment of solace amongst a pack of 10 year old girls is hard to come by).  Two, it excites the athlete as it becomes a game to see who can react to the cue the fastest, thus yielding a more focused athlete.

Switch words come in handy as you try to elicit the effort in which you want the drill executed.  Remember, 100 degree heat…who really wants to jump high or run fast.  Switch words, and I’ll quote Brian Grasso, “are one-word declarations that enable the subconscious minds to literally “flip a switch’ thereby causing a particular behavior pattern or thought process to ensue.” 

Below is how I ran a drill the other afternoon, auditory cues and switch words are labeled:

“Ladies, good afternoon, when I clap twice, I need you to clap twice and give me your attention.  (Practice the clap response, and BAM you have their undivided attention).

Our first drill will begin on our stomach, when I say ‘ready’ (cue/switch) we’ll get to the half-kneeling position as fast as we can.  When I say ‘hit’ (switch) you’ll run as fast as you can through me (repeat ‘hit’ loudly as they run to elicit the effort you want).  Let me hear you clap twice if you understand the drill.”

These simple little techniques will allow your message to be less muddled and better received amongst your younger athletes.  Being creative, but concise, with your instructions will make a world of difference.

And now, I give you a 14 year old girl that’s probably stronger than you…she could barely do one of these when she first started with us about 19-weeks ago…

When you see the word "click," the next time in this sentence, click it and you'll be on your way to getting stronger...clap twice if you hear me.