Jan 29, 2015
Living With Functional Flaws

By Vern Gambetta

When examining mechanical flaws in an athlete’s movement skills, it’s important to also identify their signature movements and recognize what it is that gives them their athletic identity. When weighing how to improve their efficiency and performance, the question becomes: What should you coach and what should you leave alone?

Each individual has a unique individual way that they solve movement problems. Whether it’s something simple like running gait or complex like pitching a baseball, individuals can achieve the same result while looking quite different doing it.

These days, I am not as quick to intervene or to try to change a movement pattern as I was earlier in my coaching career. I learned the hard way that cloning movements created robots, took away instincts, and didn’t allow the athlete to solve movement problems effectively.

Instead, I have progressions that I use to teach movement skills. These progressions have evolved and are adaptable to the situation and the athlete. They go from programmed and rehearsed and progress to random and chaotic. The steps in the progression are based on observation as to how they solve the increasingly complex problems I present to them.

Different athletes progress at different rates and they look different doing it. That is the art of coaching. I coach what I need to coach to help the athlete achieve proficiency and enhance their physical literacy.

If it looks connected and coordinated then it is right for that athlete. As coaches we need to give the athletes the tools to express their athleticism and then let them go with it.

Vern Gambetta, MA, is President of Gambetta Sports Training Systems in Sarasota, Fla. The former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox, he has also worked extensively with basketball, soccer, and track and field athletes. He is a frequent contributor to Training & Conditioning. Vern also maintains his own blog.

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