Sexyloops - A question of movement

A question of movement

A question of movement

Paul Arden | Wednesday, 15 June 2022

Recently I’ve been reading some coaching books only for the reason that I found myself being asked questions by instructors that I couldn’t answer using the same language. Actually I read one book, not many :) “The Language of Coaching” by Nick Winkelman and a few academic papers.

Arguably Nick’s book covers two areas one being internal vs external cues, internal being something like “move you arm this way”, external being something like “imagine you are wielding a meat cleaver”. External is also divided into close external (see previous example) and long external eg “imagine you are throwing the line over the horizon”. The other area covered is analogies and wording them. I’ve often used my students to discover new analogies or find them for themselves, I think they are more lasting and more personal this way. Throwing a potato off the rod tip has long been a personal favourite of mine. “Dunking a basketball” “pushing a button” has come from others.

I’ve always used a mix of internal and external cues (when I look back I can certainly say that I’ve favoured external “throw over the horizon”, “cast through a tunnel” “move the rod tip up a wall” and so on) but I am playing with ways of turning some of my internal cues (read: weight shift) into external ones to assess the results. Fly casting coaching for me has always been an exploration, which is what has kept me interested all these years!!!

Incidentally one coaching analysis model I really enjoyed was “the 3Ps”. Position, power and pattern. Position being the body position – something which is often overlooked in flycasting – and pattern being what I would call technique or coordination.  Power in flycasting, well obviously it’s there but of less importance in my opinion. I think that would be particularly useful analysis for instructors who don’t have a competition background because, while central to what we do in competition, on the whole it’s often left to the students to organise this stuff for themselves. That I think is a mistake.

Anyway that’s not what I want to talk about. I only mention it to explain what’s on my mind and why.

What I actually want to talk about is what is our main focus when teaching. For some I think that it might be the loop. And that’s fair enough but for me I can tell you this is not the case. I am far more interested in what the body does and using the above methodology I am interested mostly in Position and Pattern, which prior to this I would have called stance and technique. In other words: body movement.

The way I look at this is that the loop is an outcome of how the caster moves his body to move the rod. When someone comes to a lesson often I hear that they “want to learn to do it properly” which tells me in their minds they have an idea that there is a “proper technique” that they can learn. I also believe there is too and in particular it is based around a throwing action, starting at the core and finishing with the hand. Relatively easy to do on the forward cast, very difficult to do on the backcast because that’s an alien technique for most people.

So the question is how do you/I do that? As a coach, when someone stands in front of you and casts, what next?

Here is what I do. Firstly I allow them to cast.  I have probably set the environment. Whether that’s casting into a target, Roll Casting or throwing distance. I don’t even watch the loop; I study body movement. I have in my head a body movement filter of what I would like to see, that I apply over the movement that I am seeing.  Yes indeed, so in my opinion there is a “proper way” to cast, and it’s in my filter, a sort of motion silhouette between me and what the caster is doing. It’s a specific filter for a specific technique of course, for example Closed Accuracy, Open Stance Distance, 170 and so on. Each technique has its own action filter.

And then the fun begins. Because I try to take what I’m seeing to what I want to see, one step at a time. That’s where you use analogies. That’s where you come up with your cues. My personal sequence on this is usually to start from the ground and work upwards. But not always. However if I’m unsure then I’ll definitely go that way.

What I don’t do is look for the biggest errors and try to fix them in turn! I’m sure I used to do this in my teaching. No doubt that’s how many of us start. It works but I think there is a better way and that’s to analyse and shape movement.

That to me is really what flycasting coaching is about. Making these changes to body movement to give someone a better ie more efficient and/or effective cast. And then finding practise exercises and analogies to cement the changes. And once the changes are natural and ingrained, then we do it all over again and get them just that little bit closer to the “ideal” movement. In other words we are continually working on technique (pattern), which is why we practise. And then, as we continually move forwards, the loop tells us if we have done the right thing. In other words I steer the body to steer the rod to steer the loop. I don’t steer the loop to steer the rod to steer the body. Making it different from “The Six Steps” model.

There is a caveat to this of course and it’s very important.  While we are changing body movement we are not doing it by telling them how to move their body. We are instead using external cues and analogies. That’s the game! “Imagine you are hooking the rod butt over the tree in front”, “reach you hands to full extent like aeroplane wings”, “draw a line down from the clouds to the horizon with the rod tip”, “wind up like a pitcher” and so on. Fun fun fun :)))

Gotta run. Have a great day!

Cheers, Paul