Movement Is Your Weapon

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Movement is your Weapon

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pepKr4xvlU

When you step on to the field of play your sport specific skills and your movement skills are your weapons to defend and attack against the opposition. Do you want to go to war with one weapon or an array of different weapons with different functions that are fit for different purposes? Carlin Isles (USA Rugby 7’s) is a man with an abundance of movement skills at his disposal (and ridiculous pace to boot!) that he can call up on and utilise to suit different scenarios such as the one in the video above.

A lot of young people I have worked with have spent many years practising and honing their sport specific skills but few have been exposed to really high quality movement training. When they arrive with us they often do not have a broad selection of movement skills to utilise. Many favour one or two specific movements often to a favoured side of the body making them more predictable.

Building the arsenal

U.S. Army soldiers and its M2A2 Bradley fighting vehicles take part in the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercise against possible attacks by North Korea, at a shooting range near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju

As a coach it’s important to develop a knowledge of all the basic movement patterns that an athlete will need in their tool box, and then systematically work through them teaching the athlete the correct way to execute them.

I’m a big fan of Ian Jeffreys’ 3 categories of target movements for developing locomotive agility:

INITIATION MOVEMENTS – i.e. starting or changing direction 

Example movements include the hip turn, drop step, speed cut, power/sharp cut, directional step, acceleration pattern.

TRANSITION MOVEMENTS – i.e. waiting to react, in motion or deceleration

Example movements include the athletic positions (static & dynamic), jockeying, controlled running, side shuffle, back pedal, plant/chop to athletic position (deceleration)

ACTUALISATION MOVEMENTS – i.e. acceleration, max speed or curved running

I want my athletes to be able to perform all of these movements effectively. This would initially be under closed conditions then progressing to patterned closed conditions before challenging them under progressively more random, open and reactive situations that mirror the demands, patterns and stimuli they will have to react to in their sports.

“Position, Pattern, Power”

ebarc-main-pyramid-113012An athlete’s ability to execute each agility movement properly is not only down to their knowledge and understanding of the movement their problems/errors/faults could be caused by a number of different factors in the same way that their linear running mechanics can be effected.

Listening to Nick Winkelman of EXOS at the UKSCA conference he shared various elements of the EXOS system, one of which was – Position, Pattern, Power.

This is a great way of looking at the key factors that will impact on the execution of a movement.

  1. Does the athlete have the flexibility, mobility and stability to get into the optimal position to execute the movement skill effectively?
  2. Does the athlete have the co-ordination to produce the optimal technique for each movement consistently?
  3. Does the athlete have the strength and power qualities to produce and reduce force in a manner than allows them to accelerate, decelerate and re-accelerate effectively?

It could be any combination of these factors holding them back and with a comprehensive athlete profiling system in place you should be able to identify the areas that need to be addressed.

Find the Challenge Point

In my experience as we progress the complexity of speed and agility tasks (closed > patterned > open > reactive) there comes a point for each athlete where their execution of the skill will break down as the task is beyond their current capabilities. We do not want to reinforce bad movement patterns so we need to find the point at which they are being optimally challenged.

At the optimal point you will most likely see a mixture of success and failure, with the execution of the movement appearing inconsistent, sometimes great other times not so. It is tempting when you see the inconsistencies to try and intervene all the time and provide feedback. I’ve definitely been guilty of over coaching and overloading the athletes with too much information in the past and I now limit the detail and frequency of feedback, with a preference toward external cueing of movements and allowing athletes to have a go without me interrupting!

Optimising Learning through Language

What we say as coaches and how we instruct has been shown through research to effect how well  people learn and retain movement skills.

External cues have been shown to be more effective in helping athletes learn motor skills than internal focused cues.

External cues take the direct the athletes attention away from specific body positions, preventing paralysis by over analysis of their own movement and position/co-ordination of limbs.

Here’s an example of the differences for teaching the Athletic Position (credit to Lee Taft for some of these – if you’ve not checked out his DVDs you should!)

andrusathleticposition

External Internal
“Get in the tunnel” or “Imagine you’re in a room with a very low ceiling” “Bend at your ankles, knees and hips”
“I should be able to slide my credit card under your heels” “Weight on forefoot, heels slightly raised off the floor”
“Show me the logo on your t shirt” “Back straight, chest up, spine in neutral”
“Get your feet on the train tracks” “Feet between hip and shoulder width”

 

When selecting the external cues that you utilize it’s important to consider your audience, for example if you are using analogies then make sure they are relevant. If you want to learn more about external cueing I’d recommend checking out this book – Attention and Motor Skill Learning by Gabriele Wulf it’s not cheap but definitely worth the investment.

To help coaches further develop their knowledge and ability to deliver high quality agility training we are also running a speed, agility and change of direction clinic with Nick Grantham on Sunday Feb 22nd 2015. 

In this practical 0.5-day clinic Nick will explore key topics in speed, agility and change of direction training, including: The difference between agility and change of direction, the sub-qualities of speed, physical preparation strategies for speed, agility and change of direction, programmed and random decision making agility training and CHAOS training.

This is an essential workshop for all students of strength and conditioning or exercise science, as well as any coach or trainer working with to improve their athletes speed, agility and change of direction.

>>BOOK NOW<<

 

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