All coaches are aware of the concept of progression – the step by step paths we use to teach a skill, or progress through a family of skills. Most commonly we work through what is known as a “vertical” progression that incrementally increases the difficulty of the skill.
A common example of this could be for a forward roll and its related skills:
- rocking back and forth on the floor,
- forward roll on an incline mat,
- forward roll on the floor,
- scale stand to forward roll,
- handstand forward roll,
- dive forward roll,
- dive roll up onto a stack of mats, etc.
Each step becomes progressively more difficult and is a “stepping stone” to more difficult skills in the same family. (The above progression eventually leads to a front salto.)
However, there is also a concept known as a “horizontal progression” (1), using roughly the same skill, but changing aspects of it to reinforce the basic movement without a substantial increase in its difficulty.
One example of this would be a forward roll starting in the same position each time, such as a squat, but finishing in a variety of positions – squat, straddle, “wolf”, step-out, etc.
Starting position Ending Position
Tuck roll to a straddled finish
pike pike (sitting or standing)
This gives you a possible 16 combinations. The tuck start position can finish four ways; same for each of the others. (You could make it a game of a sort.) This is especially useful for beginners first learning a movement. It gives them a variety of skills to work without getting a bit “boring” – and also aids in learning the basic movement better to boot by reinforcing it with repetition. (In old East German literature, (pre-glastnost) this was often referred to as “stabilization”.)
Another variation of this is demonstrated by using a cartwheel (CW):
Forward CW with a side CW finish — side CW — side CW to a forward finish
You can also perform from a kneeling position as they get stronger – any variation of the basic movement without a major change in the level of difficulty.
- 1) 1) I learned this concept from Dave Feigley,Ph.D. and from a PE teacher I used to coach with, Tim Slothower. I have been unable to find a reference for it in the PE literature I have, so I give credit to those who first introduced it to me.
John Wojtczuk, ENA