If you watch enough football, soccer, baseball, or basketball, you might reach the following conclusion:  faster/quicker athletes have a better chance of winning games.

However, for a batter in baseball, a running back in American football, or a goalie in soccer, speed expresses itself in different ways.

Speed isn’t just about running fast.

Athletic movement executed efficiently and effectively allows an athlete to move faster regardless of sport.  Alas, speed does not begin with fast movement. While speed is expressed differently in each sport, one truth exists:  each player’s speed starts with his or her ability to perceive stimuli and then select the appropriate intention of movement which will drive action.

If we look at athletic preparation through the lens of “perception-intention-action”, getting stronger/faster is only one part of a three part puzzle.  So how can you build your “perception-intention” skill set?  (Before you end up like Scott Sterling….HA!)

Open v. Closed Drills

Action on the field is a chaotic, ever changing, free-flowing environment.  Building athletes who are capable of adapting to a variety of scenarios becomes incredibly important to a successful outcome.

This is largely acquired through both open and closed system drills.  Open drills are very athlete driven and involve more open expressions of movement in response to a variety of modulating stimuli; they mimic the more organic nature of a sporting contest and so the athlete must be able to read the environment and react accordingly with the more appropriate intentions.

You’ll see some examples of more Open Style drills in the video below.

Closed Drills are also important for their ability to build a movement inventory from which skill can be expressed.  Change of direction drills involving cones, ladders, hurdles are all examples of closed drills.  These drills do not usually involve a stimulus against which the athlete must react, but rather an athlete moving quickly through a prearranged pattern of movement.  This allows for certain body positions and patterns of movement to be rehearsed in a less chaotic environment and are more suited towards the first step in the movement skill adaption process.

The use of open and closed system drills is a great place to start building your ability to perceive and create a repertoire of movement schemes to solve a variety of athletic environments you will encounter on the field of play.

Stay tuned to future posts as we explore the concept of movement skill adaption.

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