I grew up in the era that produced the STAR WARS movies. As a kid STAR WARS was everything. By the time the third movie of the series came around (RETURN OF THE JEDI) we finally got a detailed understanding of the entity known as the FORCE from Jedi Master Yoda. As an eager young fan I ate up the idea that the FORCE interacted with everything and was all around us, and that it could be used for good or evil.
Fast forward a decade and I was up to my eyeballs studying Sport Science at university and pursuing a fledgling rugby career that had me introduced to some great speed & strength coaches. At the time I didn't notice it, but there was a distinct dichotomy at play…one stream of education was teaching me a physiological basis for performance, while a second was teaching me a mechanical or FORCE orientated basis for performance.
Jump forward another 20 or so years and here I am having coached professional Rugby and AFL at the highest levels with what I feel is a clear "training model" for how I see athletic development for these and similar sports (Soccer, Rugby league, field hockey etc). The overview of my training model is simple…every training modality exists on a continuum of FORCE production. Just as Jedi Master Yoda said all those years ago, "the FORCE interacts with everything and is all around us".
For me, FORCE is integrally related to the three key elements of field sports (previously described here).
COMBAT - requires high absolute FORCE and high Rate of FORCE Development to overcome opponents and "blast" through traffic and compete for possession.
CRITICAL RUNNING - requires high absolute FORCE and high Rate of FORCE Development to be agile; accelerating and decelerating quickly, then at greater ranges requires high anti-rotation and stabilising FORCES to support dynamic Impulse (high speed FORCE development) during maximum velocity running.
TRANSITION RUNNING - requires high Strength Endurance (repeated moderate level FORCE development) to support efficient running between COMBAT and CRITICAL RUNNING elements of play.
The idea of a FORCE continuum (otherwise noted as a Strength-Speed continuum) is not a new concept and certainly not one I am trying to reconfigure as my own. My observation is that too often the traditional Strength-Speed continuum is taught in a manner that leaves the student thinking that the continuum refers only to exercises conducted in the gym and in specialist running sessions. This is often the result of education programs based primarily on energy system function (physiological basis for performance).
My contention is that EVERYTHING exists on the FORCE continuum. By everything I mean team training sessions, skill sessions, VO2 max running sessions…everything! For me the FORCE continuum not only includes the energetics and kinetics of performance (force, power, RFD) but also the kinematic (skill) elements of performance.
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