Sunday, January 24, 2016

Athletic Performance Models - The White Stuff

Have yourself a good look at the
image above. What do you see ?

The RED muscles jump right out
at you. If you have any education
about the muscles, your mind
starts to piece together how the
muscle groups actuate and move
the bones using the joints as
fulcrums and levers.

But MUSCLE-BOUND does not
denote "bounding with muscle,"
or even "muscular and strong."
Muscle-Bound means "having the
muscles large, overstrained, and
inelastic, as by overexercise; it
means tied up with one's own
muscles. The overdeveloped muscles
actually inhibit range of motion.
The fastest sprinters never look
like power lifters, and neither
do figure skaters or ballerinas.

This is what I like to call the
"Nose Plumb," and I want you
to adopt this idea for yourself.
From a side view draw an
imaginary line from anyone's
nose straight down to the floor.

If the nose-plumb line lands
out in front of the feet, or even
on the toes, it indicates a real
tendency to lean forward--
and a real ignorance of the
White Stuff, or connective

This is commonly termed the
"athletic stance," or a return
to a state of correctness. But
you don't have to think hard as
to whether or not this body
position is balanced sagittally--
or front to back. This guy
is forward, and he ain't going

And it's nearly ubiquitous.

Weight is on the toes.

Even this guy--

What if I told you that a real
parallel universe exists where
the red muscles in this image are
not the important parts. What if
I said, "focus on the white parts.
They are the most important."

After all, if the tendons do not
function correctly the muscles
do not matter.

Did I lose you ?

Did you say, "Yeah, tendons.
Okay, so what ?"

If you did, you're going to have
to stretch out your mind now
and use your imagination.

Old Shaolin illustration attempting

to explain the spirals of the tendons

So, imagine the ability to rest
your weight comfortably on
your system of tendons. Imagine
relaxing deeply and expending
very little energy in maintaining
an upright position, or even an
athletic stance with your knees

The iliotibial bands (that wrap
helically around your legs)
stretch and suspend your weight
the way a hammock does.

Your spine is straight and bears
the weight of the upper body

Your muscles relax deeply--
except those wrapped around
your pelvis.

Your weight is on your heels.

With a little imagination (and Photochop)
this is the same guy back to back
with his exact doppleganger--
but the one on the right has some
of the skills to correctly take
advantage of the White Stuff:

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Athletic Performance Models - Overview

Now I'd like to take a short detour
and create a series aimed at discussing
optimum athletic performance.

To start, I want to explain a concept
called athletic performance models.
You see, athletic coaches and trainers
work with athletes to develop them
from point A to point Z. First the
trainers work to hone basic skills;
then they integrate exercises to gain
physical capabilities such as strength,
flexibility, or cardiovascular endurance.

As athletes improve, trainers teach
theory and sports-specific movements
to help the athletes help themselves.
There is an adage that goes something
like, "Teach the athlete the concept
and let her (or him) figure it out for herself."

For example, let's say one trainer tries
to work up a 14 year old boy to become
a football player; while another trainer
invests time in a 14 year old girl to
become a figure skater. Like an artist
creating a beautiful sculpture, each
trainer has an image in his or her mind.
This image is the athletic performance
model. It is a vision of what the coach
wants to catalyze the athlete to become.

The football trainer might imagine a
physically strong yet graceful man who is
tough, coordinated, explosively fast, and
intellectually savvy to react to various
strategic plays on the field with finesse.
Of course coach may well imagine many
more goals on his training wish list
depending on the specific position.

The skating trainer might imagine a
graceful, flexible, fluid young lady
who is also coordinated and explosively
powerful, yet as soft and resilient as
a tender, new blade of grass.

What do the two different performance
models have in common ? Both
trainers imagine their young athlete
becoming strong, coordinated, healthy--
and having rehearsed ability to return
to a balanced position. But the major
point I want to make is that even
though the coaches include stretching
they will both focus their training on
muscular development and strength.
After all, it's the muscles that make
the movement.

(more text after photos...)

The World's Greatest Athlete is
the title bestowed on the athlete who
wins the Olympic decathlon--
which is a multi-disciplinary event
involving running, jumping and
various feats of strength. The all-
around requirements of the event
typically demand that this "word's
greatest athlete" is proportionally
muscular, and also flexible, toned
(meaning relaxed-- not trim and fit),
and highly efficient in movement.