Aug 15, 2016
Philosophy & Biomechanics
Rich Zawack

Philosophy literally means the love of wisdom. The study of physiology provides us with insights to how the human body works. These insights can lead us to discovery of essential patterns that, when used properly, can turn an average person into an athlete.

The philosophy of athletic development is based upon physiology applied to real life. The human body is amazingly adaptable if you understand its physiology and mechanics

I believe it was Archimedes who said with a large enough lever, one could move the world. Basic mechanics properly applied will allow the athlete to move the athletic world.

Today I will give you one simple example of biomechanics that, when properly applied, can raise any person’s game.

Most people sit down by lowering themselves with their back and their quadriceps. We actually don’t start life out that way. Most little children raise and lower themselves with their hamstrings and glutes. But as we age we cease to use our hips. Our hamstrings and glutes get tight and deactivated and we fall into a pattern of supporting ourselves that is biomechanically inefficient.

Millions, yes millions, of people suffer with aching backs because they use the weak muscles of the lower back to raise and lower themselves.

Sitting should be a process of engaging the core, the hips and the glutes. They are the strong supportive muscles.

We either learn one process or the other.

For the athlete the inability to be able to control his hips and glutes results in instability. That instability ties right into the hamstrings.

This severely limits one’s ability to run jump, cut, stop, and start. You can see it in awkward looking athletic performance. It is also evident in the ability to counter movement jump.

Sprinting efficiently requires hip engagement and rotation. It requires the ability to contract and push with the glutes and hamstrings.

Running is nothing more than a series of jumps dependent on proper mechanics.

If you can’t sit down you probably won’t be able to run.

If you understand the makeup of the body and how it is organized based on simple physics you can teach a person how to run and jump efficiently. Most children are not taught how to use their hips and engage their musculature so they don’t run very fast or jump very high. Most people lose this process and need to relearn it. Those who know how are better athletes and lead more functional lives.

Rich Zawack, BS, MA, CSCS-D, has served as president of Athletic Development Corporation for the last 10 years. Prior to that he was a high school teacher and coach for 36 years at Strongsville (Ohio) High School. He has coached 17 state champions, one NCAA champion, 18 NFL football players, and one NBA basketball player.

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