If a player does not develop general movement skills in their early formative years (before their teenage years) then they may be exposed to injury later in the sporting lives and also may not be able to perform to the best of their ability. Today we are going to look at the importance of developing a broad range of movement skills – regardless of the age of the player or athlete.
Frequently young players concentrate on training specific sport skills when they go to practice. They may not have a choice because their coach has limited time with them in a jam packed week. Further if a young player calculates how many hours he or she spends in their sport practice (for example practising the game skills with the ball or playing in small sided or full sided games) they will find that the majority of the time is spent in this sport specific practice. Experts in movement training tell us that a significant amount of time should be spent in general movement development which is not specific to any one sport.
While sport specific practice is very important and must occur often it is to the neglect of general movement practice. By general movement we mean the basic movements of squatting, lunging, accelerating, stopping, turning, twisting, jumping and dodging and weaving. These are general movement skills that are common to all of our popular field and court sports such as Gaelic football, hurling, hockey, Rugby, Basketball to mention but a few of the main sports played in Ireland.
The findings of a recent study are of interest to us here and they show that if you add general movement exercises and drills to your warm-up you can still get fitter and you will be better able to move and ultimately be better prepared for your sport – regardless of what you sport is.
The study by a group of researchers in the USA looked at the effects of introducing general movement exercises into warm-up routines. The study showed that over 4 weeks if a dynamic warm-up was completed then fitness and performance would improve dramatically. The additional warm-up exercises included exercises such as lunging, squatting, vertical jumping, press-up and a variety of acceleration runs – accelerating forwards, backwards, sideways and changing direction, skipping and shuttle running. These skills are just basic movement skills. The warm-up movement routine took no more than 30 minutes each time. So look at your warm-up – can you make it more varied – it’s well worth the effort.
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