Multidirectional training: Teaching the language of movement
Agility has long been defined as an athlete’s ability to brake, change direction, and accelerate. For those of us who are tasked with improving others’ agility, this definition has remained stable over the years, whereas the methods used to train multidirectional ability have varied wildly. This variation is due largely to the vast expansion of the sports performance field, and the subsequent specialisation that has occurred among coaches. On the subject of specialising within coaching, Steven Plisk has often said that: ‘To be a better specialist, you have to be a better generalist.’ If one comes to more fully understand the general subject matters that make up the field – biomechanics, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, as well as programming and planning – one can become a better specialist in the process by understanding performance from a macroscopic perspective. In applying this generalist model to movement, one must simplify the concept: there is acceleration, deceleration, and there are frontal and transverse plane movements. Understanding these movement patterns is the key to becoming an effective agility coach. In my experience as a practitioner, utilising a generalist approach has revealed the importance of training the neuromuscular system to both produce and control force, emphasising the ability to withstand the different types of force the joints will endure in multidirectional movement.
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