Movement Quality Training (MQT)
“Development of gross athleticism and coordinated skilful movements”
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past couple of months speaking to coaches about the importance of developing a comprehensive programme of physical preparation for young athletes. The same starting point for any physical preparation programme is to develop gross athleticism through movement quality training (MQT) so that your athletes can produce coordinated and skilful movements.
Your athletes (old or young) need to be able to perform a wide and varied range of activities. Their body needs to be able to function as a whole. Sports share common movement patterns that need to be developed – squat, hinge, pull (vertical and horizontal), push (vertical and horizontal), lunge, carry, reach, lift, accelerate, and decelerate – but most programmes fall well short of the mark when it comes to improving movement quality.
Think about movement in terms of vocabulary (a set of words that are familiar to you). Your vocabulary usually develops as you get older, and is a fundamental tool for communication. If you have a limited vocabulary, it’s going to be pretty tough for you to communicate effectively. Just look at an 18-month-old baby trying to tell you they are hungry – chances are you have no idea what they are asking for, it could be anything from food, pooh, sleep etc etc! Acquiring an extensive vocabulary is a challenge but it is fundamental to effective communication. The building blocks of vocabulary are words and the building blocks of words are the letters of the alphabet. We need to understand the alphabet to build words and develop an extensive vocabulary.
Movement is something that should also develop and improve as we get older. As we grow we learn to roll, crawl, sit, stand, hop, skip, jump, walk and run, and these fundamental movements are the movement equivalent of the letters of the alphabet. If we have good fundamental movement patterns (letters of the alphabet), we can link them together to produce more complex and challenging movements (words) and develop an extensive ‘movement vocabulary’ that we can use in day-to-day and sporting activities.
The most successful athletes are the ones with the largest movement vocabulary. If your atheltes only have movements A–D, their movement vocabulary is going to be pretty limited. Your athletes are a highly complex organisms and our role as coaches is to reinforce the correct postures and positions of the body during movement in order to allow for effective transfer and expression of force and power. If you want to be capable of delivering fluid, athletic movements, you need to spend time on MQT and develop your atheltes gross athleticism.
My final workshop covering this topic before I take a break for the summer will be in London in April – hosted by the LTA at the National Training Centre in Roehampton. Come along for the season finale!