Movement Quality- Defining the Art


When I hear movement quality I always ask what characteristics make up movement quality as that term is used between a lot of great coaches and therapists and those that hid behind vague concepts. Like Art, the key with the word choice is defining what is good movement quality and bad movement quality. The Museum of Bad Art or MOBA, has a collection of just poor taste or talent. So how do we define what is good? I believe the key in movement quality is measured quality, as a world without concrete comparison is lost in a sea of voodoo training theory. Movement quality is a great concept, but let’s drill down to see the best ways to evaluate movement quality. If I was doing a educational piece I would have

Performance- Movement quality without a platform of athletic development is like a car with no engine. The alignment and handling may be perfect, but without conditioning and power you are just a show room vehicle. When I see rehab programs showing restored range of motion and symmetry in slow motion I tell them we are not preparing for a Yoga DVD we are getting ready for sports war. Lasting effect is a term that is similar to transfer, but it’s more related to how long it sticks. So many times I see athletes having a great offseason on paper because they are preparing well for a performance enhancement environment, but not a team sport with the realities of conditioning and durability. For example, one program trained 3 days a week for a football player and charted is power and muscle mass gain. When I told the agent the player was doomed he was shocked. The athlete loss nearly all the weight gained because he wasn’t use to training two times a day with conditioning. Every other day the athlete was doing regeneration, meaning he was lying getting massages and laser treatments instead of doing light conditioning. Within 4 weeks of camp he was injured and exhausted during a contract year. This wasn’t predicted analytics with big data, it was the obvious demands of the sport were underestimated by a coach who only lived in the weight room. While the youtubes show great freaks in the weight room in the US, we hardly see any yo yo test highlights or 300y shuttle montages.

Efficiency- Similar to skill but unique enough to have it’s own category, efficiency focuses on conservation of forces and minimizing real force leaks. Energy leaks drive me nuts as we still don’t know how much oil leaked out of the BP Oil Spill after months of speculation. How do we know how much leaking is going on with human bodies moving around? Also efficiency without effectiveness is useless, as solar powered cars are great for distance races in the desert, but most sports are about drag racing, and nobody looks at fuel efficiency (V02 max) of shot-put throwers! When I look at efficiency I look at what one is getting with the global power of the body and the ability to apply it in there respective sport.

Skilled- Skilled players are often efficient, meaning they are using only what is needed with great coordination, but without skill, the general movement qualities are a spine without a neuromuscular system. So many times we talk about competence but we need to ensure people can do the sport tasks. Skill Kills, and often doing well in a movement screen has no bearing in if they will do well in the sport they play. Re-engineering the sport may or may not work, but finding out the limiting factors of skills and what builds them up is the most important. No matter how much one is great in the weight room or on the field during conditioning, you need to experiment with things to see the transfer. Keep it clear. If you need run faster, run faster. Sometimes having a wide foundation is confused with a deep foundation. You only need to hold up the highest floor, not build a pyramid.

Low Risk- Last but not least general and sports specific movements need to be safe and without elements of risk. Asymmetry, poor mechanics, restrictions, weaknesses, and motor control are nice, but risk isn’t about percent of muscle recruitment or degrees only, it’s how big the buffer is with the entire process and system. Some coaches belief if you are fit, things work out. True, as some sports are slower, but when I see soccer players on a fast surface with spikes to do overspeed they tend to get close to injury because they are pushing the envelope instead of living under the speed limit of fatigue and the ball. How much balance of general (global speed and power) and specific (tactical and technical with the ball) makes a great player, but not pushing the abilities is a contract of committing to the slow death of abilities. Low risk is a big picture, and new methods of screening and monitoring with gait and physiological tools is keeping accountability high with organizations.
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Carl Valle

Carl Valle

Track & Field Coach
Carl is an expert coach who has produced champions in swimming, track and numerous other sports. He is one of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and restoration.
Carl Valle

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