The Human Body – A complex system


The body is a complex system that is always self-organizing. The reductionist ideas that break the body into separate distinct parts and systems is old school thinking. Segmenting body the body into isolated muscles is convenient; it works in the anatomy book but not in real life. The same is true with separating out the various systems of the body, good in the textbook and the college course catalog, not true in real life. Muscles do not work in isolation; they work in synergistic patterns that adapt to the movement situation that is required. The systems of the body all work together at all times to allow the body to continually adapt to varying stresses placed upon it. This viewpoint of the body is based in complexity science, the study of systems that are composed of many varied parts that interact in complex and nonlinear ways. In complexity science systems cannot be understood simply by understanding the parts, it is the interactions among the parts and the consequences of these interactions that are equally significant. I have found that this paradigm answers many questions but also raises many more. I have reconciled this by coming to the understanding that human movement is about constant problem solving. As coaches we force adaptation by giving the body increasingly different and difficult movement problems that demand muscles to connect more efficiently and systems to operate more synergistically. No mystery here, no guruism, just teaching and observing and seeing movement with different eyes. Take what we know from conventional wisdom and reframe how we look at and interact with the body. We are not programming a computer, we are guiding the system to allow it keep adapting. To many of you this may represent heretical thinking; to others it will seem revolutionary, I see it as neither, it is a necessary paradigm shift to move us forward. Conventional reductionist thinking in regards to the body has taken us to a dead end where injuries are more frequent and severe than ever before and performances are unstable because we have failed to arrive at a solution to address the changing requirements of sports and the people who are participating in them. This approach is certainly not the answer, but it is a step toward multiple solutions. Make connections. Look for connections where you never thought they existed, integrate and innovate. Take a step back and see the big picture and remember that simplicity yields complexity. It all comes down to combinations of running, jumping, throwing, moving and learning.

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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