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  1. #1
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    Default Problem-Specific versus Non-Specific "Holistic" Training

    Hello everyone! In making up my training program, I was wondering what are some people's opinions on problem-specific versus holistic drills/exercises. I define them as following:

    - Problem-Specific Training : Giving a particular emphasis on specific weaknesses or shots, such as improving the backhand, increasing power with the smash, serve.. etc. In the case of working on a shot only that shot is practised, or in the case of practising movement only a certain direction is practised (for that specific drill).

    - Holistic (or Non-Specific) Training : A more general program that divides skills more broadly such that drills would be classified as "offence" or "defence" or "running-around-chasing-the-bird-on-the-singles-court." In such cases, the person practising would be practising many shots and movements at a time.

    The way I see it, problem-specific training is useful for beginner-intermediate that are still learning the game. These types of drills often reduce complicated techniques into simpler variations, allowing the person to focus on the key parts of the techniques they are practising. Also, players can do these types of exercises to make their game more "well-rounded" by eliminating relative weaknesses in their game.

    Conversely, holistic would be useful for advanced-competive players, since these exercises would require a decent existing repertoire of shots, and would instead work at using combinations of these shots in game-like situations. This would train some skills like vision, decision-making, deception, and the making of shots under less than ideal situations.

    The issue becomes more complicated when you consider the benefits of holistic training in beginner-level training situations. I read some e-books at the http://books.nap.edu national academy press website which discuss the general effects of specific versus non-specific training on learning and retention. They essentially show that while initial gains are more significant for specific exercises, final overall retention of a learned skill is higher for non-specific exercises. What consequences might this have in coaching where students expect improvements and might think non-specific exercises are too "laissez-faire" to be worth their investment in coaching sessions?

    Anyways, I'm interested in seeing what other badminton players think about these interesting (and pertinent) issues in training.

  2. #2
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    I think you've answered your own question really, with the use of predominantly closed (specific) practices for specific shots/techniques for the beginner and at the other end for the elite player the use of predominantly open practice involving random feeding and shot selection on the part of the player in game like situations .

    There still may be a role for a closed practice with an elite player, not necessarily because they have a weakness or need to change a particular technique but just as a matter of focus. If you play jump drops from one corner to one place continuosly for 3 mins then you are really focussing on the shot production and the result. If you do all court attack with choice of drop / smash etc from anywhere on the court you are not really focusing on how you play the shot or the accuracy/consistency but more on when or where you play the drop. Sometimes it is still vauable to break things down to improve the overall.

    Of course the most non-specific / open kind of practice is games, which by extension may lead us to decide that actually playing games is of little value to lower level players in terms of their ultimate development, perhaps why we see so many poor club players.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by stumblingfeet
    They essentially show that while initial gains are more significant for specific exercises, final overall retention of a learned skill is higher for non-specific exercises.
    This part is important.
    I read somewhere else (I forget where) that this result had been found in another experiment.
    This experiment had 2 groups of people who practised a certain motor-control task.
    Group A only practised the exact task, nothing else.
    Group B practised the exact task, and 2 similar tasks.

    Shortly after practising, Group A showed the most improvement.
    A longer time after the practise period, they were tested again. Both groups were not as good as shortly after the practise, but Group B had retained more of their improvement.


    So, if you spend a whole session practising just one thing, you should show great improvement initially, but your body will forget it quicker.

  4. #4
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    I think basically you gotta combine both to get maximum benefits.
    Practice each specific skill and then put into practice during global training and then games.
    I think its important to get the basics right, the footwork right

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    Holism is defined as "the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts".
    Ultimately, how well you perform is how well you combine the various parts of your game. In modern times, it is possible for anyone to train and practise like a world champion - given the limiting effect of your own prejudices or background. Holism is therefore underpinned by "attitude".
    Even in world champions, all human frailties are visible and the defining characteristic tends to be speed.
    Ensure you have a reserve of speed by training fast enough and we enter a new ball game!
    Jo.

  6. #6
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    i think if you're learning a new skill, then specific training will probably be better, as it focuses and isolates on what you need to work on. however, once you have learnt that ability, it's best to mix it up and do non-specific training, as this allows you to work on more things at the same time, so everything can flow well when you need it to.

    for example, if you want to teach or learn the cross-court net shot, the you'd stack up lots of shuttles and feed them. but once you've gotten the hang of it, it might be better to set up a drill, where one person hits it to the two rear corners, and one front corner (e.g. forehand). the other person has to play to the same corner, their backhand. this way, you end up with the person doing the running having to play both cross and straight drop shots from the rear court, and cross-court net shots from their forehand. by allowing the feeder to play to which ever corner he feels like, it introduces variety into the drill, so they person being worked on isn't falling into a routine. this gives a more game-type situation. in a game, you come into the net at different angles, different speeds, play the shuttle at different heights. i had that problem. i could do good cross-court net shots when being feed shuttles. but in a game, i couldn't integrate my movement into the shot.

    however, i think specific training still has it's use. even at the most advanced levels, there may be times when the player finds a certain portion of his game lacking, e.g. his cross-court drops shots when moving back towards the forehand corner is weaker, then he may need to use specific drills to overcome this. but generally, non-specific allows a player to learn to adapt. even changing training partners changes a lot. and in badminton, being able to adapt is crucial.

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    i think problem specific will help greatly in a small area, holistic will help in all areas, but not greatly

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