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Alex Kirkup: Head Coach of Fitter, Faster, Stronger at Elite Fitness

Jun 29

Written by:
29/06/2014 19:11  RssIcon

As a child growing up, I would spend hour after hour outside playing. Desperately trying to be like those sporting heroes I would see on the T.V.  I would spend what must have seemed to an outsider an absurd amount of time trying to “bend the ball like Beckham” or hit a back-hand like Roger Federer. Fiercely determined to mimic those individuals I considered masters of movement, people who moved with such control and precision it had looked magical. This, I suppose, is how I first became interested in the way in which people move, and its importance to all of us.

In spite of my never-dwindling enjoyment and subsequent further education in sport, health and exercise, it wasn’t until college that I began to consider the possibility that this life-long interest could be a genuine potential career path. As I continued to progress through levels of education, finally culminating  in the completion of an MSc in Performance Coaching,  I was fortunate enough to be provided with the opportunity to work with Cardiff City FC Academy during my time at University.

Working with the University of South Wales and Cardiff City FC, I undertook a research project to measure the movement competency of players within the development phase (age 12-16) of the Academy, hoping to provide support to my observations and optimistically try to place movement competency towards the forefront of the academies thinking. However, the overall competency levels found, left me in no doubt that what I had seen subjectively day-to-day within movement and conditioning sessions was a very real and evident issue with the sports specialized population as the pie chart above illustrates, there was a widespread, non-competency in the simplest of movement patterns and skills.  This is a real issue if you then want toimprove a player’s condition -  maybe talent has got that player this far but now how do you increase their strength and speed if their basic movement patterns are poor?

With the conclusion of this project, I began questioning further how far this non-competency spread. If young, highly skilled youngsters within a multi-million pound Football academy lacked the basic movement competency required to play the sport they specialized in, would this be evident within any individuals’ general movement patterns.

Taking into account the widely accepted premise that childhood is a vital time in the development o fundamental movement skills, I once again began the process of assessing movement competency as part of my final MSc project, within the general adolescent population. This time however, on a larger, more varied scale, assessing the movement competency of over 250, 11-12yr old school children, using a basic movement assessment tool assessing seven movement competencies.

The results of which provide a truly bleak view of movement competency within the adolescent population (examples shown below). Yet this is by no means considered an isolated concern, studies into movement competency and fundamental movement skill finding similar results in the sporting and general adolescent population.

Competent

Near Competent

Non Competent

Percentage

Percentage

Percentage

Squat

2.8

16.3

80.9

Lunge

2.1

8.5

89.4

Push Up

0.7

6.4

92.9

















This research and study has culminated in my current position at Elite Fitness as a Strength and Conditioning Coach, an exciting opportunity to learn from likeminded individuals with a wealth of knowledge and experience to tap into. In my short time so far at Elite Fitness, it is easy to see why this is considered one of the most innovative and unique gyms within not just Wales but the UK.

Every day we genuinely strive to provide the best possible service to anyone that walks through our door, no matter what your circumstance or exercise history, there is a level service we offer that cannot be matched in terms of understanding you as an individual, your goals and your specific needs, and I am grateful to now have the opportunity to be part of that service.

I look forward to seeing you around the gym.

Alex

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