Training: Foundations

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Movement is the Foundation of Training


By: James “The Thinker” Smith
Portuguese Rugby Federation | Senior National Team Physical Preparation Coach

The word athletic is used far too liberally in sports discussion. Most will accept that an athlete is someone who competes in a sport discipline; however, not all athletes are athletic.

Coaches and appreciators of sport alike are often mislead into thinking that an athlete is athletic based upon high outputs in sprints, jumps, throws, or weights. In reality, being athletic has less to do with high outputs in those domains and more to do with movement efficiency.

Often, when the word athletic IS used correctly, the individual is demonstrating high levels of movement efficiency which make what they are doing appear smooth and effortless.

Ironically, in sport, many athletes are not athletic; however, they possess output abilities (speed, power, strength) that allow them to compensate for a lack in movement efficiency.

Track Coach Pierre Jean Vazel has noted Kurt Meinel’s motor quality framework which effectively describes the abilities which constitute movement efficiency via the rhythm and coupling of:

• Fluidity
• Precision
• Consistency
• Intensity
• Speed
• Amplitude

It is the demonstration of these qualities that allows one to appear athletic in their movements.

Movement efficiency must serve as the foundation to all training. The lack of it yields a greater and greater cost the more the movement is intensified. In this way, one may think of the heightened stress yielded to an automobile that is driven at greater speeds with it’s wheels out of alignment. Or the increased stress yielded to a sprinter’s legs, hips, and low back if he is wearing a construction boot on one foot and spikes on the either. In both cases an overload is yielded to the structure as a result of the
intensification of an inefficient system.

It should come as no surprise then when injuries erupt in sports training because individuals are intensifying inefficient movements regardless of whether it occurs in the gym, on the track , court, field, or on the ice.

In life, everything comes at a price and the question is what can the person afford. In movement, the price is paid by the body, the price itself is determined by the intensity and efficiency of the movement, and one’s ability to afford the cost is individual to their durability and tolerance.

Don’t buy what you can’t afford. Dan Pfaff, Center Director for UK Athletics, who coached the likes of Donovan Bailey, Obadele Thompson, Bruny Surin, and recent coach of 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist Long Jumper Greg Rutherford states that movement efficiency drives the bus. What drives yours?

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