Saturday, March 13, 2010

Multi-Directional Movements: Base Positions

As I have been outlining my Hierarchy of Coaching Success, we have started with the big picture and keep delving deeper.  As we got to outlining the strategy, I categorized multi-directional movements.

The "base" category really isn't movement, it's the exact opposite. It's important however because athletes are moving into and out of this position .  Many movements are initaited from a static or quasi-static base position.

Many coaches use the term athletic base to describe the common, closed stance, hip/knee bent, "ready" position.  You can see it through-out many different sports.  In this position we find that the athlete is standing with the feet, hips and shoulder in-line, and they are generally facing the action.  They usually have obtuse angles at the knee and hip with the shoulder slighty anterior to the knee depending on sport and relative body segment lengths.  Their weight is distributed to the ball of the foot and they are in a balanced position to react in any direction.

This isn't the only "athletic base" position however.  In many cases, setting up in an "open" or "split" position is advantageous to that sport or the next action needed.

The split athletic base is often used defensively when the athlete either wants to direct the movement and/or is likely to move in a certain direction.  Its also common as seen in the photos above as a position thats moved into to execute a sporting action.
So from a training perspecive this means a couple of things when I have analyzed a sport and know we need this.
Train to be in the position.  This means the athlete needs the range of motion, joint stability, and muscle strength to be the proper position for efficeint movement.  Mobility and strength work come into play.  Exercises like squats and lunges have a place in developing this.
Train to get into this position.  If the athlete is moving and has to get into a base position, there is the deceleration load on the body.  Training for the eccentric strength and stability demands can have a big impact on an athlete's performance.  We will do this through progressively demanding drills that use speed, assistance, reaction, and external loads.

Train to get out of this position.  Athlete's also need to get to the next demand and usually want to do it quickly.  Here we need to make sure they can generate a high rate of force development from the position with weight training, medicine balls, plypmetrics.  We also want movement efficiecny, so I will execute movement drills from these positions and may use; resistance, weight vests, and reactive conditions if appropriate.

Base positions don't seem exciting or sexy to train, but it's critical.  Many one on one battles are won and lost when an athlete can get into or out of a base position faster than another.  What base positions are your athletes in?  How do they get into and out of them?  Are they still doing it well near the end of the game?  These questions, and addressing the training needs will help your athlete.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hierarchy of Success - STRATEGY

You have the overall attitude you bring to the table, you've developed a series of beliefs for your overall apporach to development, so now its time to talk about STRATEGY.  What do you want to work on?


It's important here to differentiate strategy from tactics.  Strategy is WHAT you want to accomplish, tactics are HOW you are going to do that.  Using a sporting example, the overall goal is to win the game against the next opponent.  The strategy for that game then might be to stretch the field with longer passes because this team is strong against the run.  A specific tactic used in this strategy may be plays from a 4 wide receiver set with the tight end and running block having blocking assignments.  Strategy is the what, tactics are the how.

Talking in terms of coaching athletic movement, we need to define what we are going to try and do.  In developing the APPROACH, I talked about training movement, and using a  "guided discovery" approach.  In addition to training movement, I also want to develop the appropriate physical qualities.  The question now on both of those areas is; FOR WHAT?

To answer that I need to break down how athletes move.  In the broad picture, I'm going to focus on a universal approach for sports.
  1. Analyze GROUND BASED sports
  2. This does not apply to;
  • Acrobatic
  • Riding (cycling, snowboarding, etc...)
  • Aquatic
  • Combat Sports

Looking at most team sports as well as some individual sports we see more commonalities than differences in movement strategies.  Yes, there are specifics that depend on the sport, but there are only so many ways of moving the human body with our feet on the ground.

These are my categorizations of movement strategies.  This is what is going to drive how we train an athlete.  We look at the athlete, sports and position.  Consider the demands in these categories.  Then determine what it is that we should work on. 

We've developed this system over the years and were driven by by training athletes in a group setting.  Having a mix of athletes in a group, as well trying to follow some systemic approach to programing, made it essential to be able to work on categories as a whole, but differentiate aspects for specific athletes once they have basic proficiency.  Bottomline, its a system that allows us to train athletes with some degree of specificity when appropriate, in a group setting.

In upcoming posts, I will detail each category and go over examples.