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  • Jérome Simian

Of physical qualities

After 17 years of a practice where professional survival was dependent on results, it is a bit hard for me to suscribe to the commonly accepted notion of physical qualities. I am talking about strength, speed, endurance mentioned in another article, these qualities are extremely context specific. The best cyclists make poor marathon runners even though they have similar VO2 max and both use their lower body in their respective sport.

I often make the argument that running skaters in order to increase their "endurance" and capacity to skate the required 4minutes is doing them a disservice. Even though, it has been observed that the best skaters displayed the best VO2max on skates. That practice is however still rampant.

Why not run?

Pierre Jean Vazel, a few years ago brought to my knowledge the following definition from Kurt Meinel:

The fundamental structure of movement is made of specific rythm coupled to the qualities of fluidity, precision, constance, intensity, velocity and range of motion..

Kurt Meinel

This definiton expressed my thoughts more eloquently that I could.

Movement quality is central to all other qualities. These so called qualities are always measured within the confines of specific movement and cannot be generalized. Strength is almost always measured on an apparatus providing resistance. But if one keeps in mind the above mentioned definition one can easily see the different influences on strength that maybe overlooked.

Range of motion for example may result in more or less force production. A longer path of movement may result in more time for force application and consequently a higher peak.

Specific rythm is the intermuscular coordination that allow for better leverage at the right time. Thus shorter limb athletes are at an advantage in the lab but not so on the field with full body movement unless it is an weightlifting platform.

Movement quality is much more complex and multifactorial. It determines performance. Endurance is only repetition of force production within a movement, not just a cellular quality by itself. One can easily understand that good quality movement is energetically efficient.

Somewhat counter intuitively, it is my observation that movement quality allows or accepts the mobilisation of higher metabolic power. I have observed on very short events such as the throws huge differences in heart rate between throwers of different qualification. The best athletes dispalying the best technique see their heart rate rise much higher during their throw than the less qualified ones. Thinking that there is a inhibition / uninhibition relationship between movement quality and the expression of the said physical quality is a leap that I have made quite some time ago.

If we get back to our skaters, the lesser qualified ones are so because their skating skills / patterns inhibit their power production. Rather than running them into shape, helping them would mean to improve the limiting factors in their skating pattern. This leads to better performance everytime, better 'endurance' on the ice, better ease at the end of the program. I cannot provide any scientific validation for such claims but my athletes and their coaches will confirm that fact. I might also mention that this is not limited to skating.

I share my experience and that requires a bit of trust from the part of the reader or to try for themselves because there is no scientific validation for it. A coach, if he must have a rational mind, does not have the time for science. Training is what causes progress right now.

You win it here!

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