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Principles of Athletic Movement – Watching Players

Are We Learning From The Right People

By Lee Taft

I bet you are wondering where I am going with this one. This article is on a topic I have written and spoken about often. We need to use our athletes as our guiding light. They are trying to tell us; we just have to listen.

One of my favorite things to do when I watch a ball game live or on television is to watch how athletes move in every situation. I actually drive myself nuts with this at time. I miss a lot of action because I am so focused on how athletes are moving their feet and what their hips and shoulders doing and so on. But what this has done for me over the years is allow me to recognize quickly when athletes are off balance due to a body position. I can now make immediate adjustments because I have seen it for so long.

For example, when a football cornerback gets beat when a receiver makes a quick fake cut inside and goes outside or vice versa, I can tell if the corner back is making a mistake just by how he is positioned before the cut. Because I understand the basic principles of movement and how the center of mass is easily affected by shoulder position, hip position, and leg and foot action, I am able to make the right call most of the time.

My point is I base my learning off what the athletes are telling me with their movements. If they move well, my senses don’t pick up anything. But if they are consistently moving poorly, the athletes are trying to tell me something with their body language.

This is why I consistently preach to coaches and trainers to become good at understanding the principles of athletic movement. This allows you to make quick adjustment to fix poor movement. Let me give you an example of something really simple to evaluate, skipping. When you see an athlete skip incorrectly it is easy to recognize. But can you fix it? Do you understand how to cue the athlete to correctly coordinate the arms and leg to properly perform a skip? If you understand the principles of hopping and stepping, opposition of arm and leg movement, and proper body posture, you should be able to quickly cue an athlete to correct their skipping pattern.

The real test is when an athlete must perform a quick opening of the hips, or maybe a deceleration move and another acceleration move, or a combination of lateral and linear movements. Things happen quickly. You must understand how the athlete should be positioned even before they make a move. I know where the shoulders should be when an athlete is retreating, so I can quickly analyze what was good or bad with their movement.

Without going into great depth regarding training techniques, the point is you need to be good at receiving the messages your athletes are sending you. They will tell you what is wrong and never say a word. They use their body language. So get good at reading it.

Yours in Speed,

Lee – Speed Training Drills

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