We gotta stick to the basics”…

We gotta go back to the basics”…

We never leave the basics”…

Honestly, we all hear the argument for “the basics” so much it can be quite exhausting.

Oftentimes, when I hear it or see it these days, at least across social media and in most coaching circles, and particularly as it pertains to movement skill, it just equates to: A). blocked, rote repetition, B). the execution of isolated movement patterns in decontextualized fashions, and C). a coach wanting to feel as though they have control of their athletes by seeing a training setting where the athletes look a certain way to outside observers.

And, ultimately, within all of this manifests a learning environment which is ripe for creating a bunch of robots, who get further and further away from being or becoming authentic movement problem-solvers prepared to excel in the context of real sport.

In my opinion, these types of learning environments, where these purported basics are continually emphasized, are actually doing quite the opposite – they are completely abandoning the real basics!

Let’s actually think logically about what the basics truly entail, at least in the context of most sports.

1. An athlete-environment relationship which is a mutual, reciprocal one.

2. Alive movement problems which are unpredictable, dynamic, and complex.

3. The athlete needing to solve said alive movement problems, through the perception of deep and rich information about it, while making emergent decisions on the fly, and acting in adaptive fashions to carry out a functional movement solution (through the peculiar affordances/opportunities within the world).

These are the very basics – the real basics – that we should all stick to…go back to…and never leave.

You see, the basics in sport movement skill go way beyond hitting certain and determinate positions, or executing a given range or combination of movement patterns.

The basics of movement behavior in sport are that the movements themselves are coordinated, controlled, and organized in relation to, and in interaction with, an environment with alive movement problems.

Keep that in mind the next time you find yourself emphasizing the basics in your training or practice environment. 

Shawn is the Co-Director of Education & Co-Founder of Emergence. He developed content for the educational brand, Movement Mastery, from 2014 till the formation of Emergence, with the sole purpose of helping to enable a deeper understanding of the processes involved in the acquisition of more masterful movement for athletes in sport. Shawn has served primarily as a Personal Performance Advisor & Movement Skill Acquisition Coach for National Football League (NFL) players since 2008, working with approximately 12 players each year.