It isn’t rocket science or a strange secret society, functional movement, functional training, you do functional movement everyday without thinking about it.

The term functional training was coined when trainers happened upon a concept used by Physiotherapists and rehabilitation trainers was used by them to describe and retrain people to go about or improve their daily tasks/lives. Since then it has evolved in many ways and forms and be used in every aspect of the fitness industry from personal trainers to strength coaches. The various forms are vast and varied and who is to say what or which one is right or wrong, the common denominator is that all methods agree on the improvement of a person or athlete in or on all planes of human movement; whether this be the retraining of a stroke victim to walk or an athlete to re balance instabilities in a movement the goal is the same FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT improves all aspects of movement (if trained correctly)

The dictionary defines functional training for sport as

Functional training for sports

Functional training may lead to better muscular balance and joint stability, possibly decreasing the number of injuries sustained in an individual’s performance in a sport The benefits may arise from the use of training that emphasizes the body’s natural ability to move in six degrees of freedom. In comparison, though machines appear to be safer to use, they restrict movements to a single plane of motion, which is an unnatural form of movement for the body and may potentially lead to faulty movement patterns or injury.

In 2009 Spennewyn conducted research, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research which compared functional training to fixed variable training techniques; this was considered the first research of its type comparing the two methods of strength training. Results of the study showed very substantial gains and benefits in the functional training group over fixed training equipment. Functional users had a 58% greater increase in strength over the fixed-form group. Their improvements in balance were 196% higher over fixed and reported an overall decrease in joint pain by 30%.

In addition, a recent study of the effectiveness of sandbag training on athletic conditioning, found that training with a variable load has significant cardiovascular benefits over conventional methods. The study compared subjects doing exercise with a sandbag, a kettlebell and battle ropes for 5:44 seconds each. The study concluded that sandbag training burned 24% more calories over the other methods.

Consideration when implementing a functional programme This can go either way dependent on many factors inclusive of your experience, knowledge and understanding of the concept. One key factor to consider when implementing a programme for an athlete or the general public is every session is an EVALUATION, from the minute they walk through the door to the minute they disappear from view.

Other key factors for consideration are

• Plan

• Management timing in relation to the plan

• Liaison with other agencies involved with the athlete

• Define objectives

• Clearly defined executions of delivery for said objectives

• Always work efficiently and effectively (quality before quantity)

• Workouts should be creative and challenging

• EDIPP principle is paramount in delivery

• Both athlete and coach must be prepared for the long haul

• Consistency within the programme (one step at a time) e.g each session should concentrate on one aim not multiple goals

• Play as you train, train as you play, remember competition is the outcome of training

other factors can affect your plan and also need to be considered especially in relation to performance factors.

Sports performance factors

1. Power

2. Strength

3. Speed

4. Coordination

5. Flexibility

6. Quickness

7. Muscular endurance

8. Cardio capacity and endurance

However firstly it is important that you understand the needs of the sport, you may not be familiar with a sport or at least not all of the demands for the sport. Most sports can be broken down into four basic categories

• Sprint

• Intermittent sprint

• Transitional

• Endurance

Thereafter you need to look at the athlete

o Understand their position within the sport

o Analyse the qualities of the athlete

o Understand the most common injuries to the sport

o Impact factors on the athlete and injuries

Hopefully this article will allow you to understand a little more about the need for sports functionality.


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