Reductionist Thinking – Painting Yourself into a Corner


skeletonMy basic premise is that the body is very intelligent and self organizing. It instinctively knows what to do, how to do and when to do it. Daily life activities and sport activities happen way to fast to think about some of the things people try to teach the body to do – proper lifting technique to prevent back injury comes to mind- you can bend your knees in a sterile environment when you have time to think about it, but under stress you do what you have to do. Firing the glute is another example; let’s get real, if you are standing on one foot or two the glute is firing! Why all this mumbo jumbo about glute firing, if the glute were not firing you would end up in a heap on the floor. Unless I am missing something muscles do not fire in predetermined patterns, if they did we would all be robots. That is why people that train to think about firing certain muscles move like robots. Let’s get real and use good common sense and science to recognize the wisdom of the body. Muscles work together in synergistic patterns to produce efficient movement, if they do not it is because of diseases like Polio, Parkinson’s or Muscular Dystrophy. That being said it is interesting to go back and study the work of Dr Kabat and Knott and Voss the originators and early practitioners of Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF), a treatment system designed to rehabilitate polio patients suffering from varying degrees of paralysis. They had it right; they stressed neurological patterns that emphasized muscle synergys using aggregate muscle action. It worked then and it works now. Most of their exercises were in prone and supine positions with some seated because their patients were paralyzed, but the principles can be adapted to other postures and work equally well with a healthy athlete. To the best of my knowledge I have tried to adapt my strength training exercises and routines based on my understanding of the principles of PNF since I was first exposed to it in the early 1970’s. I think this is why Frans Bosch’s definition of strength training resonated with me. He defines strength training as coordination training with resistance. I take it one step farther and define it as coordination training with appropriate resistance in multiple planes appropriate for the movement or sport. There are is another message here that is a recurrent theme for me- everything old is new again! Training and rehabilitation did not start in 1998, we all stand on the shoulder of giants who did not have of the analysis tools that we have available to us today. They had to heighten their powers of observation and hone their skills to produce visible and measurable results.
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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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