Body Coordination for Sport Fitness

Body coordination is a performance-related fitness component that describes the smooth, efficient movement patterns that are parts of sport skills and tasks. Your stage of learning influences how well you can perform these component movements of a skill.

Developing smooth movements is important for completing everyday tasks. If you are an athlete, how quickly you can develop movements and sport skills means the difference between winning or losing. If you know how to speed up the learning process, you will breeze past your competition.



Definition: The ability to use the senses and body parts to perform tasks smoothly, efficiently, and accurately.

If you are coordinated, you can make your muscles work together at just the right time to produce the exact amount of force you need to accomplish a skill smoothly.

Examples: Specific to the movement patterns of motor skills, such as a well executed lay up shot, platform dive, or a gymnastics routine.

Movement efficiency may involve gross motor skills (using larger muscles, such as running) or fine motor skills (such a keyboarding). Hand-eye coordination is required for skills such as catching a ball. Precision describes the accuracy of movement.

How to Develop: With practice, specific skills improve. Earlier in learning when you are trying to understand what is required to perform a skill, opposing muscles tend to contract simultaneously--essentially, they work against each other to produce jerky, uncoordinated movements. Later in practice, muscles work together, body coordination is smoother, and you use less energy to complete the skill. See Stages of Learning

How to Measure: Sport-specific skill tests and fitness assessments that indicate the levels of body coordination. EMG (electromyographic) activity (muscle activity) can be detected by special devices that measure firing (contracting) patterns of muscle cells.

For example, the muscle fibers (cells) of skilled Olympic lifters work together in greater unison than those of less skilled and novice lifters. This means that coordination, or skill, is developed by perfecting explosive weightlifting movements.

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Sources:

Hamill, J. & Knutzen, K.M. (2006). Mechanical basis of human movement (2nd ed.). Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Kroll, W. (1974). Neuro-motor aspects of strength. Proceedings of the National Strength Research Symposium, Montclair State University, NJ.

Schmidt, R.A. & Wrisberg, C.A. (2000). Motor learning and performance: A problem-based learning approach (2nd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

United States Department of Health and Human Services, President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. (2000, March). Definitions: Health, fitness, and physical activity. Retrieved August 29, 2008, from http://www.fitness.gov/digest_mar2000.

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