The big picture


This blog was stimulated by a phone conversation that I had yesterday with Jim Radcliffe, the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach at University of Oregon. Jim is one of the few DI Strength and Conditioning coaches who actually works with all sports, not just football. He also trains the total athlete. He related to me a situation that recently occurred. Some young people, new to the field were observing a workout where he was demonstrating a drop step. One of the people asked Jim if it was hip abduction or hip adduction, another chimed in that he thought it was internal rotation. Jim paused for a second and answered that it did not matter, his job was to coach the movement to make them better. As he and I discussed this we both came to the conclusion that this is the problem today with people entering the field. They are not getting the big picture, they are not seeing the forest for the trees. It comes back to the “guru” syndrome, in order to sell a product it must be complicated or people will not buy it. We are also caught up in making it scientific in order to justify inclusion in an academic curriculum. This started in the late sixties when Physical Education became Kinesiology and Movement Science. (Incidentally this was just the time when Physical Education began to be eliminated from the schools.) Believe me the foundation of everything we do must be scientific, but when we get out on the field or in the clinic we must get the job done. That requires common sense and good observation skills to translate the knowledge into more efficient movement.

The majority of problems in training and rehab can be solved by making them simpler. Do not overlook the obvious. Simple is not simplistic. Simple is not stupid, in fact it is brilliant. Remember the body has an inherent wisdom in regard to movement, our job as coaches and therapists is to tap into that wisdom and bring it out. We do that by giving the body movement problems to solve. Start with simple problems and move to more complex movements as mastery occurs. Movement should not be cognitive, it should be instinctive. We can move and think about individual muscles and how they must fire. In Zen the transmission of wisdom from the teacher to the student there is nothing that is transmitted. The student already has what the teacher has. The student is already the teacher. Because of this all that is necessary is to awaken in the student that knowledge. This is also true in movement. Each athlete has it within them, it just must be awakened. The best way to do this is to allow them the joy of discovery. Never lose sight of the big picture.

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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