Mastering the fundamentals – ‘Where the magic happens’
Ahhhh, I can hear some of you already, “Fundamentals, how boring!”.
As I am predominantly known as a movement specialist in the sports performance world, I have always believed that you need to master the movements first. Maybe I’m bias, but no matter what the sport may be, be it holding a bat, swinging a club or racquet, the body needs to master the movement patterns, technique and fundamentals first to progress.
Part of my philosophy has always been about building the athlete before the player. Hence, the importance of developing as many athletic skills as possible at a young age, so that the individual has a broader range of skills and ability to withstand more physical stress later. A better athlete will be less injured and have a better all round game IQ and awareness.
So many times, I have witnessed elite and professional players be thwarted and held back through injury due to their poor history of being good athletes.
What do I mean here? They simply focused more on playing their specific sport when they were younger and spent less attention on developing their athleticism.
Believe me, it’s hard to ‘fix’ a world class 22 year old player who has a limited physical capacity and history of injuries. There is no guarantees and it be a lengthy and arduous process.
In my method of training and coaching, almost everything I do stays close to the fundamentals. For example in our warm ups, It provides me with a perfect opportunity to monitor the athletes perform their routines and look to correct basic movements. Anyone who has worked with me will tell you that practice starts as you walk onto the court, field or track, and NOT only when the first ball is thrown or hit.
Each and every practice I run through a checklist that involves checking on basic run technique, lateral movement, change of direction, acceleration and deceleration skills, as well as body posture. We use the warm up’s as movement rehearsal, which enables us to stay close to the fundamentals.
Another example, is that before any drill, I expect the athlete to be in the athletic stance position for example. I will not lie that it can be hard for a new athlete who joins my program to adapt to the fundamentals, but they understand that, its through these basics, that a better athlete is developed.
In all my experience of having worked with world class athletes, as well as being around other coaches who have done the same, the commonality is that they all mastered the basics and withstood the time and discipline of sticking to them. They were the best at mastering the mundane and handling purposeful repetition. 99% of the time they had coaches who were disciplined and loyal to the fundamentals.
Poor coaching to me has always been a lack of attention to detail and straying away from the fundamentals. What we see is a lot of the time is coaches who get bored with the routine and mundane fundamental drills. They become impatient and look for something more ‘exciting’.
My philosophy and method focuses more on the constant rehearsal and practice of the fundamentals, using simple to complex and slow to fast progressions. However, regardless of the level of athlete, youth to professional, they still perform the movement patterns of their chosen sport at slow to medium speed. By doing this, they are in control of their body and are consciously focusing on executing the proper movement skills and control of their body. When an athlete is performing a specific movement with a club, ball or racquet in hand, I call these ‘M.I. Skills’.
‘M.I. Skills’ stands for ‘Movement Imagery Skills’. Through these movement imagery skills, they are able to focus on integrating the technique and movements at a slow speed. The attention to detail and ability to not let standards slip is the key to bigger results.
I have always believed that a great coach understands that the fundamentals of any movement system prime the body for longevity instead of just focus on short-term performance.
Again, the fundamentals may not be sexy, but they sure produce the results.