Book Review: Athletic Movement Skills

Post date: 05-Mar-2017 07:51:48

When it comes to Strength & Conditioning books, Human Kinetics has been on good form recently with Mike Boyle’s updated Functional Training For Sport, Nick Tumminello’s Building Muscle and Performance, and Brad Schoenfeld’s Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy all finding a place on my shelf next to Dan Lewindon and David Joyce’s 2014 title, High-Performance Training for Sports (see my review here). It seems that they still have more to give though as this month sees the release of another title to add to this list in Clive Brewer’s Athletic Movement Skills: Training for Sports Performance, a book that sets out to “present proven protocols for evaluating, correcting, training and translating athletic movement to athletic dominance”.With over 400 pages, it's the biggest of the books mentioned above but is still great value CPD at just over £20. It contains many practical examples and activities that can be used by coaches at all levels and there are some informative tables and figures that I can see myself using to help my students develop programs for their own clients (see below: p321) (I included this as I found some of the excerpts on the HK website somewhat uninspiring).

There’s a great panel in Mike Boyle’s new version of Functional Training that’s titled “There’s a reason there’s a box” [p58] and in it he recommends constraining the use of out-of-the-box thinking in emerging professionals, at least until they start to know what’s in the box in the first place. In this way Brewer’s book will help in allowing both new and established coaches to soak up some of the hard won knowledge of the experienced coach/author.

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It took me a few minutes to get over the slightly self-indulgent foreword of Loren Seagrave and there are a few sections in the first half of the book that made me wonder who the book was designed for. Sections on motor units, levers and muscle structure can be found in many intro texts and although fundamental to the work of a coach I would imagine many readers flicking past those sections having already covered this content elsewhere. Beyond those sections the book has lots of good practical session content and guiding principles to consider. Brewer’s knowledge of platform based Strength & Conditioning work is evident throughout but is very much balanced with other areas of conditioning and coaching work appropriately illustrating the need for a more blurred line approach to the coach-conditioner job roles.

I felt like I was gaining more novel insights as the book progressed and the last two chapters, “Developing functional strength progressions”, and “Applying principles in practice” contained many good schematics and guiding principles that I’ll be using myself or recommending to students.

Brewer returns to the principle of “training the movement rather than the specific muscles” throughout, echoing Verkoshansky at one point in emphasising that the fundamental phenomenon central to all sporting tasks is movement. With that in mind, this new book should be of great use to those involved in the physical preparation of athletes by helping to bridge the gap between the areas of strength & conditioning and sports coaching, two areas that are often treated as being more exclusive to each other than they should be.

BJ - 5/3/17