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Kelvin Giles
Talent and Performance Improving Physical Ability Coach Developer

The Journey So Far (Part 1)

CEO of Movement Dynamics, Kelvin Giles pens the first of his expert opinions dedicated to the development of physical competence in athletes

I guess it all started nearly 20 years ago, when a few of us coaches in the elite performance layers realised that many of the talented athletes, who were negotiating their final steps of transition to elite senior ranks, were displaying certain limitations. They had a decent track record in their relevant age-group performances and were highly ranked in terms of their competitive ability and although they had been anointed as the next generation of international level athletes, they appeared to be limited in a range of areas, particularly in all-round movement efficiency.

For some reason they had survived a development journey where a large percentage of their time was taken up with technical and tactical work coupled with an ever increasing intensity and volume of training. Many were struggling with this final layer of adaptation and this struggle was illustrated by (a) a greater injury frequency and (b) a lesser ability to advance their technical model and physical ability under pressure. With lots of screening and investigation it became apparent that they were bereft of a wide and deep movement vocabulary that should have been acting as a buffer to the increasing loads being placed on them.

As the years unfolded, more and more observations were made into the general fitness and ‘physicality’ of the generations of the 21st century. More sedentary lifestyles of the younger generations, coupled with the decline of physical education stimulated many observers and researchers to examine the plight of with physical well-being in children as they tried to advance to adulthood, knowing that the future elite performers were part of this generation stimulated many governing bodies of sport to question their talent and development programmes – but with little effect.

Over the last 20 years, I have been asked to speak to a range of governing bodies of sport and other sporting organisations to find the answers to the physical literacy problem and its detrimental effect on the many talent development structures they have in place. While I honestly accept that I do not have all the answers, I have been honoured to accept the invitation of these organisations to set out some of the rationale and background to their quest to link movement efficiency into the technical and tactical journey of their developing athletes.

But what are the key questions:

  • What are the foundation movements?
  • Where are they seen in sports-specific actions and postures?
  • How to measure physical competence in these foundation movements formally and informally?
  • What is movement efficiency, consistency and resilience?
    • Their relationship to injury.
    • Their relationship to learning.
    • The tools you need to weave ‘movement’ into the session.
    • The construction of the session to integrate ‘movement’.
  • How the maturation process changes things – and what to do?
  • How to progress and regress exercises for the individual?

… and to be able to build the athlete from the ground up by developing a wide and deep movement vocabulary from which the required sports-specific actions and postures can be better developed.

When working with a governing body if sport a familiar problem is often faced: How to create an appropriate scheme of work (pathway) that would arm all their coaches with the information and the resources to actually deliver this far more appropriate programme? 

The need to ensure that the ability to teach across four major pillars in every session is essential in the development of a holistic athlete:

  • Physical (movement efficiency, consistency and resilience).
  • Technical, and Tactical (they've already experienced plenty of this).
  • Behavioural (the means to develop attitude, commitment, discipline, perseverance).

Working with many organisations there is a need to make a significant shift in the ways or working, win over hearts and minds to enable the system to look at things differently.

Related Resources

  • The Journey So Far (Part 2)

  • Key Movement Cue Cards

  • How to RAMP it up as a Talented Athlete


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Kelvin Giles