It is amazing, how if you are receptive to different perspectives you can find inspiration in unexpected places. I was watching ‘Mythbusters’ this week and was fascinated by part of their ‘Gunslinger’ special where they tested the theory the in an Old Western stand-off, pistols at ten paces sort of thing, that the shooter who draws second (the Sheriff usually) is quicker to the draw that the villain who draws first. It suits the Hollywood script for that to be the case- but is it in reality?
Of the three Mythbusters that took part, two were significantly quicker when shooting in reaction to a timing light than when they were shooting in their own time. Yes 2/3 is a pretty small sample size but it does suggest some merit to the myth.
It has been postulated that the reactor would be quicker than the instigator, as their movements are much less cognitive and are therefore less mechanical and rigid resulting in a greater fluency of movement. This has served as a useful analogy for me to justify to my clients why my language has become increasigly more about ‘feel’ for the movement rather than the more familiar dot-point style of exercise description.
The artist in me says that movement looks best when it is done with fluidity. Flowing movement implies minimal stress and strain onto the system resulting in tremendous efficiency. I guide all of my clients to move in this way, as you probably do too. But for a long time I employed a very direct, precise and sequential style of cueing. The result of such cueing is often very tense, rigid, robotic movement. This type of movement is happening against the contrived strain resultant from thinking about the movement too much, which is bound to be the case when people are trying to follow-by-rote a series of bullet-point instructions.
A few tips that may be helpful to improve your client’s ‘feel’ for an exercise are:
- Encouarge breathing- not necessariy in the typical ‘out-on-concentric, in-on-eccentric’ but just to relax the breathing if the movement feels restricted. Often in this instance the client will be holding their breath.
- This is tricky to describe, but try describing the ‘shape’ of the movement. An example would be a simple single-arm cable row. I describe the movement of the arm as it extends as a spiral. This often results in a smooth rotation of the thumb into the midline and a gradual progression into thoracic rotation.
- Use one cue at a time! Give them one important thing to feel for then let them move and feel it.
- Respect the client’s cues. I have been given some beauties by my clients in the past many of which I still don’t get. But I never try to correct them if it results in the type of movement I wanted them to experience. If it works for them, it’s a great cue!
- Oh and yes I did pick up on the irony of using bullet-points in this blog!