As coaches we want high-level movers on our teams, and we are all in the pursuit of how to develop more adaptable, creative movers. While research is still being done to find more definitive answers, we at Emergence believe movement abundance should be considered as being a foundation to expert movement. Before an athlete can show adaptable, creative, dexterous movement, they must first experience and possess an abundance of movement skills. In fact, this aspect of human movement has been deemed the “Bliss of Motor Abundance” (Latash, 2012).

An abundant movement system has the capability to deal with secondary tasks and unexpected perturbations (Latash, 2012). To be an adaptable mover who can deal with the complex, dynamic, and ever-changing sporting environment, one must have the capabilities (abundance) of moving with freedom.

Here at Emergence, we believe:

  • Movement abundance enhances specific movement skill
  • Movement abundance improves adaptability and creativity

This thought process contests traditional models that typically support the idea of building “fundamental” movement skills in athletes. These models have encouraged coaches to follow a checklist (as seen in the graphic below) of “fundamental” movements, and viola, better moving athletes will appear. We can’t refute the importance of these skills; however, we believe that traditional models are far too reductionist in their approach to teaching movement skill.


We do want to be clear, we believe there is no magic checklist of movement skills or specific progressions that athletes need to progress through in order to become high-level movers. As coaches, we need to focus on the idea of movement abundance NOT fundamental movement skills.

So what is movement abundance and how can a coach go about encouraging it? 

It starts with designing an environment that promotes exploration, an environment that is rich in opportunities for athletes to be creative, and an environment in which the coach isn’t prescribing movements but rather facilitating and encouraging athletes to explore and discover movement skills. Strafford et al (2018) proposed Parkour as a possible method to enhance movement abundance by building “live” environments that enhance the athlete’s ability to make decisions, assess risks, take chances, and transition between movements/obstacles. 

The videos below are a couple examples of what these “live” environments could look like. Space, obstacles, other athletes, and instructions (or lack thereof) are set-up to encourage the exploration of authentic movement solutions and expand upon movement abundance. 

This concept of movement abundance involves more than just the pursuit of expert movers in sport; it is a lifelong endeavor. As we age, movement abundance becomes more restricted and it results in frozen degrees of freedom (capabilities of the human system), which leads to less adaptable and less functional movement skills (Hsu et al. 2014). This adds more reason to believing that movement abundance underpins expert movement, no matter one’s age or sporting environment. 

Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some things that we at Emergence are trying to do to assist you in this growth journey right now, as well. As you look for better understanding in this topic we encourage you dive into our content and courses.  Underpinnings and Ecological Dynamics for Dummies are closing soon so we wanted to extend an offer of 25% OFF till August 21st, 2020. To take us up on this offer just use the code “ActNow″ when checking out.

Good luck in your pursuit of movement abundance!

Michael Zweifel 

Educational Lead

For further reading:

  1. Hsu, W. L., Lin, K. H., Yang, R. S., & Cheng, C. H. (2014). Use of motor abundance in old adults in the regulation of a narrow-based stance. European journal of applied physiology, 114(2), 261-271.
  2. Latash, M. L. (2012). The bliss (not the problem) of motor abundance (not redundancy). Experimental brain research,217(1), 1-5.
  3. Strafford, B. W., Van Der Steen, P., Davids, K., & Stone, J. A. (2018). Parkour as a donor sport for athletic development in youth team sports: insights through an ecological dynamics lens. Sports medicine-open, 4(1), 21.