The correct motor programs employed in for an athlete’s training protocol are critical to the success of the athlete on the playing field. There are certain skills that require instantaneous response by the athlete without having to think. This can only be brought about by training the body and mind in concert with the tasks at hand. These motor skills are essential for an athlete to acquire, for this aspect enables them to automatically accomplish one task while devoting their focus on other movements that are more dynamic in nature. This developed, instantaneous response or instinctive technique (IT) enables an individual to respond in an automatic fashion when a stimulus is presented (Ross, 2016. p 292).
A perfect example of developing a set of core movements in one sport that transfer to another are the combination of wrestling and football, especially for interior linemen. Other sports such as hockey, track, basketball and soccer can help, but wrestling contributes the most due the development of the directly transferable skills of tackling, hand fighting, leverage and footwork (Boyer, 2015). Picture a defensive tackle hand fighting, shifting his body weight to attain the best leverage against the blocker; all while moving toward the quarterback in hopes of gaining a sack or a blocked pass. If the defensive lineman had to consciously be occupied with his balance and stance, how would he be able to keep his eye on the quarterback?
In our previous forum we discussed distracted drivers and how cell phones, the radio, speaking with a passenger, etc...all reduced their level of focus on the task at hand. In my estimation, how is working out any different? I must digress and state that it’s no wonder that the treadmills and steppers with the televisions and the exercise bikes with the computer graphics and such are so popular; people like being distracted. Many people would not work out is they couldn’t read a magazine or watch television, but is this the most effective means of pursuing fitness? Listening to certain types of music can actually be beneficial, but the more serious athletes pay attention to what’s happening in their bodies while training. The outside stimuli interfere with their ability to focus and improve performance (Weed, 2010).
For many individuals, it’s attractive to have the ability to work out in a relatively mindlessly fashion on an elliptical trainer or exercise bike. This ability is enabled by the generalized motor program (GMP) (Schmidt & Lee, 2011, p 208). However, it’s not recommended that people read or engage in other significantly distractive activities when on a treadmill. It’s just not a safe practice. More people are injured while walking and talking on their cell phones than in car accidents for the same behavior (Stevens, 2017). The potential of rapid steps on a moving object are far more difficult to perform than keeping your feet and/or body in a stationary position while exercising.
The central pattern generator allows the spinal cord, through spinal preparations, the ability to function without input from the higher centers or the brain (Schmidt & Lee, 2011, p 182). When movement does is not a concern of higher brain function, the automatic, repetitive motions are addressed by the spinal cord. This frees up the conscious mind to address more complicated tasks. An example of this might be a wide receiver running downfield to catch a deep pass. For this trained athlete, the act of running fast does not require a great deal of active thought, thus freeing the receiver up to focus on catching the ball.
The combination of the GMP and the central power generator enable humans to accomplish more than one physical task simultaneously. For a practiced athlete, this provides advantages in the field of play. However, I question whether or not it’s beneficial for the general public to use while working out. Present day humans are distracted more and more, it may be better to focus on the task at hand for better performance and a means to “disconnect” from the world and become attuned to our bodies as well as our cognitions.
Boyer, T. (Nov. 5, 2015). The link between football and wrestling. https://www.hudl.com/blog/the-link-between-football-and-wrestling
Ross, P. (2016). Survival strong: A guide to street survival and strength. Bloomington, IN: Xlibris.
Schmidt, R. A., & Lee, T. D. (2011). Motor control and learning: A behavioral emphasis (5th ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Stevens, E. (Jul 4, 2017). Distracted exercise: Why it can be bad for you and how to avoid It. https://www.wholelifechallenge.com/distracted-exercise/
Weed, J. (Mar 16, 2010).Concentrate on the workout? No, thanks. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/18/fashion/18FITNESS.html