30 January 2014

Why should people play sport?

When it comes to sport, we have to think about a powerful influence: most athletes love winning. Love it. Winning is sometimes the only thing on the radar.

There is an organisation in the US which has a goal to make youth sport a positive experience, that builds strong character. It says there is more than one thing you need on your radar.

Jim Thompson from the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) talks about how youth sport needs to talk about its goals: competition and personal development. It can't be only about winning.

Participating in sport is different from watching sports entertainment. Entertainment can have good moral choices or poor moral choices - either type of drama will bring in the ratings and sponsor dollars.

But when everyday people participate in sport, especially youth, we want them to learn to make admirable decisions. Win or lose.

Ultimate obviously has some of this culture built into our sport already. While the PCA talks about Honoring the Game, ultimate talks about Spirit of the Game.

Can we take a leadership role among sports? Is ultimate's approach to sportsmanship robust enough to handle internal and external changes? Do ultimate players view their sport as an activity that develops personal skills such as humility, resilience and respect? Or is it viewed just as a fun community that helps you stay fit?

22 January 2014

We're now understanding how to create athletes

The last few years have seen athletic development really take off.

Coaches of strength and conditioning are learning about their athlete's and how to improve their athleticism, in ways that really advance on old ideas.

Here is a great example: read about Shannon Turley and how he turned Stanford's conditioning program around for the football team. 

I am confident there were other factors that improve Stanford's win total, but I am also confident that Turley's approaches were significant.

Keeping players injury free is being recognised as critical for athletic coaches. It is most important way they can help their athletes.

Lastly, it is great to see the arrival of better assessment tools, so athleticism (and not just power or speed) can be measured. Here is the Function Movement Screen which Turley uses.

9 January 2014

What the elbow does in a forehand throw

The elbow of an expert thrower does two things during a forehand throw.

1. The elbow moves forward.

2. The elbow straightens.

And it happens in that order. Poor throwers generally struggle because they are leaving one of these steps out.

Why does the elbow have to do these two things?

Firstly, the elbow moves forward to give momentum to the arm, by rotation at the shoulder joint. So the elbow has to start behind the body. This is easier if the disc is upside down.

Once the elbow has moved as far forward as it can, the hand needs to move forward. This is done by straightening the elbow.

The last steps are wrist snap and finger snap.

The momentum is transferred to the disc late in the motion. It is at the end of the chain.

Another way of thinking of the motion is: shoulder, then elbow, then wrist, then finger. The snap of a good forehand involves the whole arm chain, with all joints used in a particular order.

Matt Dowle is a good example to watch.