I was recently intrigued by a post regarding the use of “incorrect terminology” in regards to describing a plyometric action within a research article.
In an attempt to soften the blow I suggested that perhaps it’s okay for them to use the term they used as long as the reader can fathom what the methodology was (after all science is about replication of methodologies and those reading it can probably figure it out). To some, however, this is problematic. In which case this called for a discussion on better standardized terminology and a resulting failure to the sports performance field (OH THE DRAMA).
There is nothing more riveting than a semantic discussion about strength and conditioning nomenclature and what better topic than various plyometrics (an area that no one can truly agree on it seems). With our need for classification of these exercises we have an extensive list of terms that can be pretty intensive when trying to figure out what is meant by them.
This is not entirely unto our own fault, but largely a reason why is because certain words can be used to describe the same thing in the English language (mind blowing right). So of course there is going to be some crossover when it comes to describing an exercise movement/action – but perhaps that’s too simplistic of a view. Afterall we are scientific and we want standardization, right?
In this discussion Mike Boyle provided his simple standardized list of describing various plyometric actions. I respect what Mike has done for the field and this is a list that makes sense to me (and one I have used in certain environments). But I have also been a part of different organizations which have tried to tackle this “issue” in an attempt to create collective terminology, all of which (you guessed it) had different ideas. Even locally we found it a challenge to agree amongst the same staff in an organization, due to differing backgrounds, cultures and philosophies, but ultimately we had to decide on one, because standardization is important right? So how do we expect globally for this to occur?
SO THE PROBLEM HEREIN LIES…
What if other people don’t agree with your standardized list when they also have their own?
Does that make them wrong or you?
Is it the list of terms that is a problem?
Potentially none (if you wish to not acknowledge it as a problem in the first place).
This is the famed view of perspective (for some reason as S&C we just don’t grasp this).
For some reason S&C seems to be in the place of being so obsessed with being right that we have to make another thing absolutely wrong (even when it has a solid rationale for being right too).
This reminds me of an example from some of the teachings by the Arbinger Institute I was involved in a few years ago. I’m adapting here to make it relatable to this specific scenario…
Let’s take the example where we have two S&C coaches…
Both of them live in their respective S&C boxes. One S&C coach believes that the standardized term for 1 to 1 plyo action is a hop. The other in their box believes the standardized terminology is a single leg jump. Being in each of their respective boxes each S&C believes the other is wrong (because all they know is their respective box). Neither person wants to get outside their box. They are steadfast that their way is correct and should be the “standardized” approach.
Enter a third S&C who is outside the boxes and sees both the other coaches boxes for what they are. This person understands the other two coaches definitions, rationales and is able to replicate both plyometric actions as required.
So the question becomes which coach is right/wrong?
To the wise coach both are equally right (or wrong depending on your level of pessimism). Both outline a method that is repeatable and makes sense. But for some reason this is not okay, because for the purist there can only be one (why?)
There’s no doubt both coaches want to progress their field and think their method is the correct way to do it. Each of the coaches can likely find mutual ground that standardized terminology is important, but both coaches can’t agree which one should be the term to use as the universal standardized term. So where is the REAL problem? (I’ll let you decide this answer).
f one coach jumps out of their box and agrees with the other, does that make them wrong? Nope. If the other hops out of their box and agrees with the other, are they wrong? Nope.
Both are right depending on the perception you take, It ultimately means there is a need to be open to perspective. They may not even use the other coaches term at all, but they will respect that it means the same thing that they happen to call something else and ultimately that is okay. After all we are talking about an exercise and not a high grade medical procedure or something that is a harmful matter.
So what really matters is when they read it in the next research publication or post, they are able to figure out exactly what it is.
SO WHERE DOES THE CONFUSION COME IN?
When I look at the reason why the authors from the original article called it a double leg hop it is seemingly in relation to the amplitude and frequency of the action that the person was performing. They were actually using hopping to differentiate these qualities from more traditional jumping which may be perceived as a higher amplitude less frequent action (like a countermovement jump). Their instructions wanted minimal knee bend and a quick ground contact. Is this the correct term to use? Maybe not, but do we as an S&C community know what the authors did (we should) – so why the big commotion? Does it sound more scientific if they said pogo jumps instead?
Again this is by no means me saying this is the correct term that is generally used, nor may it be the most frequent term used for that action. But it’s certainly one that could be used if described well enough to replicate the movement. We are acting like this was described as 2 leg flying stiff knee springy feet hop or something to that degree of nonsense.
MY SUGGESTION IS SIMPLE…
In the face of uncertainty logic must prevail.
In building my own exercise terminology library I start by thinking what exercise name is descriptive enough so that a person who has never heard of it before can replicate the movement correctly. The best translated scientific evidence is that in which the lay person should be able to understand it. So that’s what guides my set of principles (important to acknowledge this won’t be a universally shared opinion). The S&C community (the professed most knowledgeable) should be able to then figure it out if the novice can, viola a standardized term is born.
For example using a simple thought experiment – if each of us go out and ask 100 people to perform the following:
a single leg jump
How many people perform a 1 to 1 action?
If I had to bet I would say B would have a higher probability than A of the correct action being performed, with A being more prone to errors due to a person’s understanding of what a hop is (just like the authors in the paper). I think some people would do a little double leg stifder knee bounce for a hop. A single leg jump leaves less room for confusion in this scenario and gets you where you want to be. (If someone does this please share the data lol).
So in the presence of uncertainty logic prevails, the logical standardized term would therefore be a single leg jump in this example.
BUT WHY WON’T THIS EVER BE THE CASE?
Because a strong argument can also be made for a hop. Or even a single leg hop to make it more descriptive. In whichever case it’s the single leg that is the primary descriptor and hop and jump could be easily used Interchangeably without altering the exercise execution (and we can easily figure that out).
However we still have a problem…. Right?
Unfortunately we still have 1 issue, in that we can perform the same sort of action in multiple different ways, which then is becomes potentially even more confusing….
Per the above videos, by one set of naming convention rules they are all 1 to 1 foot actions. Therefore each is a hop. However each action is inherently different. So which one is just a hop. Which is the OG so to speak of hopping actions. By another set of naming conventions these are all single leg jumps. I hope you see where Im going with this. It’s purely subjective.
Therefore we need further descriptors to compliment the naming convention. As such now we fall into the realms of cuing which we know people respond to different cues, so they are likely going to respond to different names associated to exercises when the action is being described. So how would we ever create a standardized term when people respond to different descriptors and this would become specific to the environment you’re in and how you want the exercise performed.
Is it a pogo hop to describe a low amplitude high frequency single leg action? Then what is the next form of this when this action is performed with a higher amplitude – a hop? How are we differentiating these actions
Nevertheless despite what descriptor is used we can likely still use jump or hop interchangeably with the presence of enough descriptive classifiers for a person to figure out what is meant by the exercise.
So again… which is wrong and which is right? (the majority must decide!)
Personally if I had to pick only one I am inclined to go with jump. As hop can be confused with the low amplitude actions which you may or may not want in your exercise outcome.
Jump can be conventional for 2 legged actions with 1 legged actions being differentiated as single leg or 1-leg, therefore everything is a jump with a description of how you want that jump to be performed (pogo, vertical, forward/backward, repeated etc…). But that’s my opinion.
Coaches, practitioners and researchers should use the term that makes most sense to their environment and the people you’re delivering the information to (i.e. providing enough context surrounding the methodology to make it make sense). This is after all an exercise we are talking about we should be able to figure it out.
One thing I’m not a fan of is my way or the highway approach. I defined it so it must be right mentally is the ultimate problem in S&C (when there are valid contrary opinions). I think multiple exercise names that have the same meaning are okay. We can use our logical brains and figure out what is meant by it. When we can’t we can highlight a problem with the terminology and amend it and standardize it so it becomes more commonly adapted.
So perhaps the solution is recognizing the problem isn’t the naming convention, or the actual need for standardization, but the opinions of those who are tied to their process and being unwilling to hop out of their box.
We must accept it’s okay for multiple terms to be applied to an exercise and mean the same thing as long as it’s descriptive enough to understand.
Ultimately universal acceptance of a word like hop that can easily be replaced with another word (jump) and still provide the same meaning for the same thing will never be globally adopted (in my opinion) and ultimately why should it?
After all it’s just an exercise name which is subjective to the user!