Play of the Week – Week 3

As part of something I want to do for the blog throughout the NFL season, I will be selecting one play each week where I felt as though special movement was displayed. In the post I will then breakdown some things that I felt contributed to the movement performance. In my normal fashion, I will also be very likely to make note of things that maybe could’ve been done differently, as well.

Game: Bears at Steelers

Play: Antonio Brown layin out to try and keep the Steelers in the game

Brown catch 1

What makes this the BTS Play of the Week?
This week’s play is less about sheer athleticism, movement ability, or power characteristics. Instead, it centers on an equally important but often overlooked quality discussed when people investigate on-field movement at the highest levels of mastery & qualification; kinesthetic sense & awareness. Kinesthetic sense is typically very misunderstood and under-challenged in training plans but is integral to success for optimal execution on any given Sunday. Simply put, it is your body’s way to taking in sensory information and adjusting its movement based on the conditions of that given situation. Your body works through proprioception all the time during every movement through its communication between its hardware (i.e. the muscles, joints, tendons) and its software (i.e. the aspects of the central nervous and neuromuscular system).

There are many working applications of kinesthetic sense that occur on each and every play that often go underappreciated by the average fan and coach. When conditions change, the variables obviously do so as well which in turn can have a drastic impact on the demands of the movement. This occurs both from a movement standpoint (such as a sharper cut) or tactical skill standpoint (such as increased difficulty of a catch) that will integrate together to increase the overall difficulty of the conditions occurring in the particular play. This play will be one of the most challenging plays you will see all year and smoothest control of very difficult conditions.

What happened movement-wise on the play?
For each game, I am lucky enough to have access to multiple camera views so I am able to breakdown the intricacies of each play if I do desire. In the end zone view, we could truly investigate Brown’s quick burst and his movement behavior into and out of his break that allows him to get separation from one of the best in the game. However, that is video that I am unable to provide to my readers of the blog. Thus, from the view I can give you from the NFL, we are going only going to get a brief snippet of the entirety of the play and look into the kinesthetic demands we discussed above instead. Unfortunately, we won’t even get to break down Brown’s movement skills unless we want to evaluate his not-so-Dancing with the Stars-like endzone jig after he scored.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to say that when you add tactical demands to an off-setting/unrelated movement skill it adds significant difficulty. For example; if you can juggle while standing stationary; try walking while doing it. Oh, you can still do that? Now, try jogging…then running…then sprinting…then jumping…all the while someone has their hand in your face. Can’t juggle quite the same anymore? Yeah; didn’t think so. You get the picture.

It’s quite obvious the difficulty of Brown’s circus-act catch from start to finish and it’s quite possible that at the end of the ’13 season it would be one a short list for best overall grabs of the year. As you can see from the replay, Brown has a few steps on All-Pro/All-World DB, Charles Tillman, which gave Big Ben enough room to even throw the ball to the back of the endzone at a place most people would think at first glance would still be slightly out of reach for Brown. However, his ability to track the ball and then time his extension to reach it at the point in the air that it is going to be at is extraordinary especially considering the close proximity of the white line signifying the back of the boundaries. From the moment he lays his first hand on the ball, his eyes have to quickly look the ball in while adjusting his other arm from a running position to one where it can help him control the ball to make a complete reception.

Brown catch 2

After he gets both hands on the ball only half of his job is over! To start, of course, he has to make sure that he carries out full control of the ball all the way to the ground. But more importantly, he then has to ensure that he is able to get a second foot or a knee down before anything else touches the boundary line (this ain’t college football anymore boys & girls!). Thus, his attention must then quickly shift to involuntarily processing all of the aspects of his external environment (where he is) and how it must adjust his internal environment (his neuromuscular control of how he is positioned). This, to me, is the most impressive piece of the play. Keep in mind this is all happening in fractions of a second…not in the slow motion replay that occurs over and over. He wasn’t just falling uncontrollably and inadvertently just happened to land in the endzone. He made sure he was going to be in and he knew it the second his knee touched down. Now, spend even brief moments with any man who has ever played receiver at a higher level and they will tell you that they made every catch that was ever in their hands even if they had both feet down in the white. But Brown knows that he could get embarrassed real easily on national TV when every scoring play is under further review…thus, he proves…when you know you just balled out…show it!

Did all of that sound complicating? Well it is! Oh how fascinating the human body is!

Here is the play that should WOW you again & again.


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