A Functional Path Manifesto


My journey on the Functional Path began many years ago as a search for secrets, just like any young coach I was looking for that 2% that would give me the edge. After traveling down many one way dead end streets I began to realize that there were no secrets, no one answer. I realized that I must take care of the first 98% in order to be able to do anything with the last 2%. When I discovered the Functional Path approach I realized that this was a path well traveled. I was quickly able to stand on the shoulder of many giants who had traveled the road before with great success.
The road on the path begins with a definition of function as integrated, multidimensional movement. With that as foundation functional training is defined as training that incorporates a full spectrum of training methods, designed to elicit optimum adaptive response appropriate for the sport or active being trained for. A spectrum incorporates a broad range of related values, qualities, ideas and activities. Just as with the spectrum of light certain training methods are visible and other invisible.
The characteristics of Functional Path™ training are:

  • No system of the body is emphasized to exclusion of another, all systems of the body work together synergistically to produce smooth efficient movement.
  • No one method or physical quality becomes an end unto itself.
  • Each athlete is a case study of one; each athlete brings something unique to the table.

In order to be considered functional, an exercise or training method must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Multiple Plane
  • Multiple Joint
  • High Proprioceptive Demand
  • The Work Must Be Mindful

The goal of all this process is to develop Athleticism. Athleticism is the ability to execute athletic movements (run, jump, throw) at optimum speed with precision, style, and grace in the context of the sport or movement being trained for.
Effective Functional Path Training™ respects that there are three movement constants that are continually manipulated. Those constants are the body, gravity and the ground. In order to optimize the function of the body we must recognize muscle synergies and train movements not muscles. We must recognize that we are training connectivity through unity in movement that is integrated not isolated.
The ultimate goal is build athletes that are adaptable to any athletic demand they face in training or competition, not athletes that are adapted to one method of technique. In order to achieve this we must give the athlete increasingly difficult movement problems to solve. Obviously this is contingent on mastery of fundamental movements. Without a sound foundation of fundamental movement skills it will be impossible for the athlete to progress to more advanced sport skills without greater risk of injury and performance errors.
Traveling the functional path is a very challenging endeavor, you must constantly think about why you are doing what you are doing, and when you are doing it. Be sure to have your destination clearly in sight at all times. Focus on the need to do activities that will produce results. Always be aware of where you are spending your time. Is what you are doing sport appropriate, is it preparing your athletes for optimum results in competition?
I am looking forward to having you join me on this journey on the Functional Path. There is much territory still to be explored and challenges to be met.
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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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