A movement skill idol of mine, Bruce Lee, once stated, “Man, the living creature, the creating individual, is always more important than any established style or system.”
This is why Lee prioritized using no way as way and having no limitation as limitation as key tenets of his interpretation of martial arts, Jeet Kune Do (JKD).
The quote and associated thoughts highlight the belief of JKD, as well as myself and the team at Emergence, that movement variability, creativity, and authenticity are important aspects of adaptive, skillful movement behavior (Button et al., 2021), helping the performer to satisfy dynamically changing constraints and conditions.
Additionally, within the organization of many movement skills, there will be a wide bandwidth of execution that a performer could adhere to which could still be deemed functional (Orth et al., 2017).
This is why an individual becoming the most honest and authentic mover they can be is a highly worthwhile endeavor to chase in the pursuit of skillful movement behavior.
These types of individualized and creative movement behaviors, according to Orth and colleagues (2017), could be viewed as functional movement patterns (and integrated movement solutions from my perspective) which are new to the individual and/or group to satisfy the constraints of the problem at-hand.
Let’s think about where this concept may show itself over the years in the emergence and expression of creative or novel movement solutions, anecdotally, in the real-world of high-level sport performance.
You may picture a basketball player resorting to a behind the back pass to a teammate. Or maybe a right-handed quarterback in American football (think Patrick Mahomes), electing to throw with his left hand, due to being unable to pass the ball normally for some reason.
Sometimes, this type of emergent movement behavior can change the landscape of that particular sport discipline forever as other performers mimic and adapt the skill to their own version, such as what unfolded with the Fosbury Flop in track & field, the Cruyff Turn in soccer, and the Ollie in skateboarding.
Of course, these are just a few of the many examples we could utilize, across sports, where performers have pushed some of the boundaries of the typical ways of behaving, as they searched for the most functional movement solution available to them at that peculiar moment in time.
Thought experiment as a call to action for sport movement practitioners:
In the sport you predominantly coach, study, or work within, choose a specific position, task, and/or discipline, and;
- Look at the common movement problems which are presented to the athlete for solving (it may help to list out the typical constraints at-hand)
- Think of a specific individual you’re aware of and how they typically go about solving those common movement problems
- How does their individualized movement problem-solving process (e.g., perceptions, intentions, and actions) differ from their counterparts?
- Within the rules of the game/sport (e.g., task constraints), what nuances of this process could they change and how could they potentially change them, in order to add abundance/degeneracy, variability, and functional adaptability to their movement solutions?
- Ask yourself: (a). what are the possible benefits of the individual branching out into these changes; (b). what are the potential negative consequences of them doing so; (c). What could be stopping and/or limiting them for exploring these changes; and (d). what could you change in their learning environment to facilitate their exploration and search for these types of movement solutions?
For more information check out:
Button, C., Seifert, L., Chow, J.Y., Araujo, D., & Davids, K. (2021). Dynamics of Skill Acquisition: An Ecological Dynamics Approach. Human Kinetics.
Orth, D., van der Kemp, J., Memmert, D., and Savelsbergh, G. (2017). Creative Motor Actions as Emerging from Movement Variability. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01903/full
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.