Principles of Motor Learning and Transfer: Training Coordination & Technique



The SAID Principle stands for:
Adaptation to the
Essentially stating that the human body will get better (read as more efficient or more effective) at whatever you practice.

This principle may just be the most under-rated in exercise prescription. Strength is position and direction specific. For example, isometric contractions have been shown to improve strength in the position you are loading, as well as a few degrees either side of that position (approx. 15 degrees). Therefore just because we have strengthened a muscle in a specific position, doesn't mean it is strong through range.

Therefore we need to consider this specificity in our exercise prescription. If we want to improve an athlete's ability to produce force in a specific pattern of movement or direction, then we should be providing an exercise that overloads that specific variable in order to create that adaptation. If we want to improve segmental stability then we should be providing some sort of challenge that the segment has to stabilise.

Further to this, consider the body builder attempting to play sport, or even just jump or sprint. Aside from the conversations around body mass being an issue, their ability to control and apply force through the specific athletic movement patterns that are required make it very difficult for them to be successful at these activities because that's not what they train.

We should be designing our exercise programs based on the exact outcome or adaptation we want to see. Too often we see people program an exercise because they have seen someone else do it and think it looks cool/good. Similarly we have had many a discussion around why an exercise isn't appropriate without knowing the background. Understanding the context behind an exercise and why it is programmed is the basis of understanding programming. The key is in the application based on what you are trying to achieve.

A bicep curl might be an awesome exercise for getting big biceps, but it can also be used to show a low level patient how to stabilise their scapula while flexing their elbow under load, or alternating bicep curls may provide a perturbation challenge for a patient working on their balance.

Similarly, we need to consider the SAID principle within an athletic development environment. Of particular note, if we are working on speed or acceleration, the old "train fast be fast, train slow be slow" saying is relevant. Ensuring drills/ exercises are completed with the appropriate intensity is another key factor to success.

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