Before diving into the revolutionary works of Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk and his transfer of training method we need to first define the transfer of learning. Transfer of learning is the foundation of raising a child and training an athlete. Like a child learning to crawl then to walk the skill must become more advanced as the child matures for their survival. The same happens to an athlete as he or she matures and survives the game. In the transfer of learning the transfer is either positive or negative (Magill, & Anderson, 2017). A positive transfer is when a previous experience or skill supports the learning of a new skill. A negative transfer is when a previous experience or skill hinders learning of a new skill. The athlete can also have a neutral transfer which is when a previous experience has no effect on the learning of a new skill.
The benefits to understanding how the transfer of learning can affect an athlete like a child is when a coach has a positive influence on the athlete like a parent to a child. For example, if an athlete is having a hard time playing baseball when they are good at lacrosse the coach can help them better transfer the learning to baseball by training them to associate catching the lacrosse ball with a stick to catching the baseball with a glove. In a more advanced case, they can use Gentile’s Taxonomy of Motor Skills to transfer more general skills similar to baseball into more advanced baseball skill specific movements.
Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk Transfer of Training Method
My favorite approach to using the transfer of learning model for developing elite athletes is Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk’s Transfer of Training Principles (Bondarchuk, & Yessis, 2010). He breaks down all training into 4 categories.
- General preparatory exercises – this would include exercises that use different muscle and different energy pathways than what is specific to the event.
- Specific preparatory exercises - this would include exercises that use similar muscle groups and energy pathways as in the event.
- Specific developmental exercises – this would include using the same muscles and energy pathways along with parts of the competitive movement.
- Competitive exercise – this would include the event itself and some variations.
In my personal practice, I use a similar approach. I use Gentile’s Taxonomy of Motor Skills of 3X Training for Pitchers when implementing Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk’s Transfer of Training Principles in category 3 called specific development exercises. Before this, I program training that falls into category 1 and 2 to build the foundation for the specific development exercises. This programming would include general strength and conditioning and more specific strength and conditioning exercises that are similar to the energy pathways and the planes of movement in the elite pitching delivery.
The brilliance of Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk’s Transfer of Training Principles is the coaches can use any exercises they want; they just have to understand the skill they are developing and the athlete they are developing it for. This way they will not spend more time on an exercise that is far from the competition movement. This helps create a priority of training exercises that will help their athlete become more elite in his skill.
Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk also highly recommends weekly to daily movement assessments to help the athlete understand how well his training is transferring to either the key principles of the skill or the actual skill. This way the athlete can avoid plateaus and negative transfers of training. I am also a big proponent of these frequent assessments because those athletes that I have complaining about not making gains are those who rarely ever asses their training progression.
Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk Transfer of Training Programming
Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk uses a more complex periodization model of all 4 categories of training in a specific period. He does spend more time in the competitive exercises and specific development exercises categories. The athlete will be performing around 10 exercises per session and 7-8 of those exercises will change the next period. A session is usually in 4-8 week cycles. The only variation in the current period is usually weight. The sets and reps will remain the same for the period. The reason is so the athlete can learn how well his body is adapting to the period using an assessment of its performance enhancement. If the athlete isn’t improving in the session, then the program will change to find better exercises for the athlete.
The assessments are usually daily to monitor the training adaption of the athlete. These are called Athlete-Dependent Changes to periodization. There are 3 categories defining these changes.
- Gradual growth in results
- Initial dip in results followed by gradual growth
- Initial plateau in results, followed by a dip, then gradual growth
If an athlete has seen a gradual growth in results, then the athlete is starting to see personal records and peaks. At this moment, it is important for the athlete to change because he has adapted to the stimuli of the current period. If the athlete is experiencing the other two adaption categories, then the next period should work to find better exercises to create a more positive adaption or transfer of training.
Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk Reference
Bondarchuk, A., & Yessis, M. (2010). Transfer of training in sports II. Michigan: Ultimate Athlete Concepts.
Magill, R., & Anderson, D. I. (2017). Motor learning and control: concepts and applications (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.