This is the third part of my Pyramid of Successful Movement series (Read More: Pain-Free, Strength/Power). In this series I will discuss each of the fundamentals in order of increasing complexity. At the end I will give a hypothetical case study, and address the movement program design for this individual if he were my client.
If you have optimized your muscle sequencing so that you are pain-free and have developed sufficient levels of strength/power to excel in your sport, serious congratulations are in order because very few athletes reach this seemingly "low" level of competency. Without doing this essential groundwork sustainable athletic excellence will always elude you.
So now that you are moving on to learn the appropriate skills and motor patterns to excel in your sport, it is important to work smart as well as hard. This is the part where the vast majority of coaches mess up and confuse skill learning and conditioning. Doing so will not only decrease learning (if any occurs at all), but also increase the risk of injury.
The process of skill learning is a neuromuscular process, and should NOT be combined or confused with conditioning. It is a deliberate and extremely mentally taxing process where you are systematically refining your skill in a particular area. It requires your complete attention on the task at hand, and a mechanism to provide feedback. You should not be physically pushing yourself or reaching muscular fatigue during this process. Usually, improvements in this area are almost impossible without a coach because they can provide invaluable feedback. However, when you are choosing a teacher to guide you along your journey of athletic mastery, you MUST not pick the coach who is the slickest marketer but the coach that is obsessed with learning and teaching. It takes time to figure out who the best coach is, but it will be well worth the investment.
If you can’t sustain it, it’s not worth it.