Optimizing the Process towards Perfecting On-Field Movement
The process of movement perfection that I employ can be summarized quite easily by the following umbrella statements that I have adopted and modified slightly from the approaches taken by two individuals of high influence to me; Yuri and Natalia Verkhoshansky. These directions include:
1. Increasing the athlete’s motor potential. We must look to develop the physical preparedness/motor abilities exactly the way they will be executed in the competition movements (i.e. specific work capacity). This is P on the graph below (from various Soviet texts written by Verkhoshansky through the years).
2. Improving the capacity to use that motor potential during the performance of the competition activity. This is the essence of technical mastery. Many NFL players are blessed with or have developed high levels of motor potential (namely maximum force) but fail to use it completely in their movements on the field. This is T on the graph below.
3. The correct integration of the two above direction aims during the training process. This can be depicted by the training intensity specific to the yearly cycle of the sport. This is R on the graph below.
NOTE: S on the graph below relates to the Sporting Result.
According to Yuri Verkhoshansky (Fundamentals of SST in Sport, pg 48), “the continual perfecting of the sport technical mastery is the key variant of training.” The degree of completeness of the technical mastery will be the full utilization of the motor potential in the execution of the competition exercise (i.e. the common movements the individual is required to perform on-field). Because of how closely knit each of these factors are to one another, the utilization of the motor potential in a specific fashion displayed in the competition movement is the main criterion of effectiveness of the entire training process of an elite level athlete. Thus, it is of utmost importance to me as the person in charge of their physical preparation.
Developing the Training Means Direction based on Specific Sport Movement Action
Knowing that information is fine and dandy, but it obviously needs to be elaborated upon. As it has been stated by Verkhoshansky, and further proven in my own personal studies, the attainment of specific motor potential (very different from that of general motor potential and motor abilities) is of utmost importance to the high level athlete. Of greater importance yet, however, is the actual display of that available motor potential in the specific execution of the common sport actions. Great strength (or any strength quality) without technical execution, coordination, and mastery is of little value.
Because of this, with the NFL athlete, the direction of the training stimuli must be very specific and goal-directed. I repeat…an athlete at this level will not see gains on the field from the inclusion of any general physical preparation means (i.e. exercises or drills directed towards non-specific physical qualities). These types of exercises will simply serve to increase the foundation that will be required to enhance the specific motor potential down the road along with minimizing the risk of injury while going through the more specific, movement perfection process. To assist me in this, I follow a flowchart of ideas where I attempt to answer questions pertaining to the movement in a 3-step fashion.
Steps Modified from Special Strength Training Manual for Coaches by Verkhoshansky, 2011
Step 1: Analyze the competition activity (movement actions common to the sport) and identify the specific technical parameters which will assure the increase in performance of that movement.
Step 2: Analyze each of those technical parameters and identify the physical/physiological factors that will assure the increase in their improvement relative to the movement.
Step 3: Select training means and methods that have been proven to enhance those physical/physiological factors accordingly. Note to coaches: In later stages of Special Physical Preparation (closing in on competition time), it is imperative that these training means are chosen based on the principle of dynamic correspondence.
One of my main purposes with this entire blog is to help assist you with those steps (particularly Step 1 and 2) and give you applicable ideas to think about for your particular setting.
A few additional notes for consideration:
-It must be remembered that because motor potential is always changing (in the Soviet context, this current form is related to one’s ‘Specialized Morpho-Functional Structure’ which is a fancy way of saying ‘level of preparedness at that moment in time’) the technical execution of a sport movement is never constant either. Our job in training is when developing the motor skill of a specific movement action is to constantly strive to utilize the ever-changing motor potential out on the field.
-Contrary to popular belief, we cannot forget that there is no one optimal technical execution of a sport movement that will apply to all athletes. There is, however, only one optimal technique that is right for that particular individual based on countless qualities such as anthropometric features, current preparedness level, trainability, and the biomechanical and neuromuscular efficiency of the athlete.
-When selecting exercises for the elite NFL athlete, we must look beyond the actual exercises themselves and begin to look at sequential and progressive implementation of exercise sequences. Furthermore, training systems with specific sequences of exercises must be done at the right place and at the right time (in the plan) for the right athlete (only those athletes who are at the appropriate stage in their development and current preparedness).
That sums up Part 2 for today. Tomorrow we will explore some of the questions that I ask myself when analyzing the displayed movement.
If you are interested in picking up Special Strength Training Manual for Coaches by Yuri & Natalia Verkhoshansky, I would highly recommend it for its practical approach to applying the science of high-level athlete preparation. You can do so here: