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Communication key when teaching

Seth Daughters
Seth Daughters

There’s no substitute for hands-on instruction, especially when it comes to learning proper technique and form in a very hands-on course like strength and conditioning.

But when that’s not an option, you make the best of the situation. That is exactly what Seth Daughters’ health and human performance class did during the second half of the spring 2020 semester when the COVID-19 pandemic closed the classroom doors.

“Students were bummed knowing they were missing out on a large chunk of the practical learning. (But) they adapted to the situation and made the most of every aspect,” said Daughters '13/'15 M.S., who has taught the 300-level course six times in the last six years.

“The course objectives are to gain factual knowledge in the physiology of health, fitness and performance as it pertains to strength and conditioning, resistance training and program design. Students typically learn through a combination of lecture classes that are accompanied by a hands-on lab to learn how to apply course material and develop the skills necessary to implement strength and conditioning programs to a variety of populations,” Daughters said.

The lectures were easy enough for Daughters to give via Zoom and included PowerPoint presentations and video demonstrations.

Broomsticks for barbells
“However, the hands-on portion was completely absent. Students typically are coaching and learning through demonstration and practice of resistance-training movements in the weight room but had to adapt to solely relying on virtual communication and implementation with whatever tools they may have had available at home.

“For example, some students were able to use broomsticks to mimic a traditional barbell for some movements. Students shifted their focus to virtual coaching, most of which requires great verbal communication skills,” Daughters said.

For their concluding project, “students created a coaching presence by recording themselves virtually coaching a client. They demonstrated the workouts, coached exercise technique and implemented their coaching strategies,” he said.

Long-range benefits
Daughters believes the experience could have long-range benefits for the exercise science majors.

“Over the past few years, there has been an increasing need for strength and conditioning, fitness and other exercise science-related fields to adapt to online platforms via telehealth. From a physical therapist needing to reach out to a patient who is hours away to an athlete who may have limited strength training options in rural areas, exercise science is seeing a rise in these mobile platforms. This pandemic has especially put demands on that area.

“I was pleasantly surprised with the students’ willingness to work on their coaching abilities through verbal and visual means only. Making the most out of the situation and seeing the need to effectively communicate through these differing platforms will only increase their coaching ability in the future,” Daughters said.

A student teaching proper form in the deadlift is available on YouTube.