Thinking Not In Terms of Just Skills, But Movement, Too…
Physical therapist Gray Cook and his partner, Lee Burton, have designed a seven-movement screen based on neural-developmental patterns that exist from birth. Commercially, this is known as the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). The basic premise of the screen is to identify asymmetries in basic movement patterns as these are an indication of either poor mobility or poor stability. Originally produced for athletes, this is now being used in other settings as well. The end goal is to identify those who might be at risk for injury and to work towards correcting the poor movement quality.
The research on the FMS is rather limited. But, from what little is out there, it shows promise. Now, I’m not writing to endorse this product. If you’re interested in it, then go check it out.
So, why am I discussing the FMS? Well, I want to apply the same concept to gymnastics. While we teach “skills,” essentially we’re truly movement specialists. Thus, if it is possible to have poor movement quality with innate movement patterns that have existed since birth, then imagine the wreckage that we can create when we develop poor fundamental gymnastics movements.
While poor gymnastics movement may not be a potential pre-cursor to injury, it can certainly be debilitating in the sense that your gymnast cannot move forward in their skill development. As Gray Cook likes to often point out in his seminars, if those fundamental movement patterns are not corrected in general athletes, then they are continuing to build poor movement habits on top of already poor movement habits. Or, I think I have heard him comment that “you” are building dysfunction on top of dysfunction.
So, what am I trying to say with all of this rambling? Simply put, if you do not spend the time teaching very good fundamental movement skills (i.e. the basics…basic handstand, rolls, glide swings, hip circles, walking on the beam, etc.), then you will continue to build dysfunction on top of dysfunction and your gymnast will most likely hit a lot of frustrating obstacles in his/her skill development. Sure, they may still get the skill that they are pursuing, but it may take longer and it may be far more frustrating than it should have been. Why not spend the extra time and develop the proper movement patterns? Or, if you get an athlete from another club, go back and fix/correct those poor movement patterns before moving forward.
Lastly, I challenge all to keep in mind that we’re not just gymnastics coaches. We’re movement experts. Forget the idea of a “skill” and think in broader terms as you are developing your gymnast. Consider how the patterns of movement that you’re allowing are going to affect future patterns of movement that you are hoping to achieve.