Power Athlete’s definition of athleticism is “The ability to seamlessly and effortlessly combine primal movement patterns through space and time to perform known and novel task.”
The underlying component of this complex interaction all comes down to learning new movements and then using movement for problem solving. We accomplish this by attacking the primal movement patterns in our training with the mantra Persistent Pursuit of Perfection to develop long term skill acquisition. In doing so, we increase our athletes athletic biomechanical vocabulary that they can then use to express their athleticism and solve problems.
Raphael Ruiz talks about this in PA Radio Episode 132. He gives an analogy about trying to imagine carrying on a conversation without being able to use the letter A. How effectively do you think you would be able to communicate? The same can be said about athleticism
When trying to break down complex sport movements, it can seem like a daunting task; there can be a number of moving parts to executing a task. The way we attack this task is through the chunking method. When looking at movement, chunking is the act of breaking down complex movements into their most basic components, attacking those components, and then reassembling those parts to complete the whole. When looking to perfect motor patterns we can chunk the mechanisms of movements into three different levels: kinematic pair, kinematic chain, and kinematic system. This allows us to look at the different properties of the body’s mechanisms and how they affect the overall task.
First, we start at the kinematic pair level. Think of this as a single joint like the elbow, hip, and ankle.When looking to perfect movement at the kinematic pair level it all depends on identifying the link’s purpose, creating the ability to produce greater forces and with high speed. From this zoomed in position we can break down the specific joint movements involved, understand their role in the overall movement, and identify any problem areas of specific joints. With each joint there is going to be a specific angle that corresponds to its optimal position to create max external force (Verkhoshansky, p.103).
With the recent release of Power Athlete’s Speed Program let’s look at sprinting and the role of the ankle. We know that the most optimal position for the ankle to be in to produce maximal force into the ground across the vertical and horizontal vector is in dorsiflexion. An example of isolating and training this kinematic pair is through Cocky Walks.
Zooming out, we can now look at the kinematic chain. The body’s movements are created from a system of links throughout the kinematic chain working together. The kinematic chain is simply a combination of kinematic pairs, in their optimal positions, and their interactions with each other to produce maximal force. Sticking with the sprint, we can now focus our attention on the entire lower half of the body. To produce optimal force the kinematic pairs of the hip, knee, and ankle all need to be in their optimal position to produce larger motor force (Verkhoshansky, p.103). An example of isolating and training this kinematic chain is through wall drill.
Zooming out even farther to the big picture of the kinematic system, perfecting movement is about uniting all of the kinematic chains in the body to create one single working system. This is all of the kinematic pairs and chains in the body working together in unison to execute a single task (Verkhoshansky, p.105).
The efficiency of sprinting is related to the interaction of the legs connected to the shoulder girdle and its extremities through the trunk. Speed is a product of posture; we need a rigid trunk to go fast otherwise you cannot connect the legs to the arms. This organization of these mechanisms is referred to as the kinesiological pattern, which is basic framework of movement. “Kinesiological pattern of a specific sport exercise is an extremely important condition for successfully solving the problem of special strength training” (Verkhoshansky, p.105).
In other words, use the S.A.I.D Principle to determine the specificity of training to ensure the best transfer of training. Simply selecting movements at random may work for the average person looking to increase their health, but this is of very little use to an athlete. When selecting movements coaches should choose them in a manner that the movements not only alter the body but also have an effect on the neuromuscular system and the way they are performed. A coach needs to make sure that the specific training increases the athlete’s ability to express whatever factors are necessary for their sport.
The way we perfect motor patterns is a multi-layered approach:
1) Warm ups are where we break down primal movement patterns to build competency.
2) We can challenge primal movement patterns with external loads via the strength .
3) We create the opportunity for total pattern coordination through sprinting, plyometrics, conditioning, and sports skill while applying the concept of overload (aka “stress to progress”) for muscular development and an athlete’s primal movement coordination.
The end goal: to gain technical mastery of primal movement patterns to increase the level of athleticism.
Verkhoshansky, Y., & Siff, M. C. (2009). Supertraining. Verkhoshansky.
Carl Case has been an athlete his whole life, playing both football and rugby in high school. After high school, he directed his focus to rugby where he went on to become a collegiate Midwest All Star. Carl continues to play rugby on a mens team near South Bend, and was part of a National Runner Up team. He found CrossFit and then Power Athlete as a way to fuel his rugby performance. He has been following the Power Athlete methodology since it’s launch in 2009 and attended his first CrossFit Football seminar in August of 2009.
After an introduction to CrossFit in 2007, Carl became a certified coach in 2009 and co-owner of CrossFit South Bend in 2011. In addition to coaching CrossFit and Power Athlete inspired classes at the gym, Carl has been coaching high school rugby since 2009. He uses the CrossFit Football and Power Athlete concepts to help his young athletes identify their goals and provides pointed instruction to help achieve those goals.
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