Over a year ago, I began collecting data in the form of videos, Functional Threshold Power testing, and client/patient feedback. I have posted several blogs in this time, outlining my hypotheses and observations over the past year. At this point, I would like to further explain what the data means in the videos and how my work translates to improved athletic performance. In my work, I have found that my high-level professional athlete population has outstanding agility, a hallmark I hypothesize is what we see as “talent” in a person.
In the attached video, you can see the participant is struggling to stand on the wobble pad. As a solid athlete, this person was surprised when he could not balance with ease. The balance board is moving in all directions, and he is having difficulty getting it under control. This is a test of agility just as much as it is a test of balance because the two are related! When balance is pushed to the extreme, agility comes into play; agility is defined as the ability to react to changing directions. In other words, the quicker and more efficiently a person can adapt and change directions on command or when unexpectedly thrown off course, the better his agility.
As seen in the After portion of the video for each his left and right sides, when agility is corrected and the ability to react to changing directions is restored, balance automatically improves as well. In the Performance Lab, agility is corrected extremely quickly, as can be seen by the time elapsed between the Before and After parts of the videos.
What are we seeing in each of the Performance Lab videos?
- Unstable board
- Unstable body posture
- Flailing limbs
- Poor reaction time compared to the speed of the board
- Inability to change directions as quickly as the board
- Controlled, stable board
- Controlled, comfortable body posture and form
- Relaxed limbs
- Quick reaction time and agility
- Task appears to be completed with ease
You may be curious how improvements in reaction time and agility translate to real world athletic performance. If you play any field sports such as soccer, basketball, or football, you will be able to cut (reaction time and agility) and accelerate (reaction time) faster. Skiing, snowboarding, trail running will be smoother. If you mountain bike, you will be more reactive to the constant changing directions of a trail, so when the root throws you left unexpectedly, your body reacts quickly before any damage can be done. For more on specific changes mountain bikers experience, check out the review Sicklines.com wrote on The Performance Lab. As most sports have a significant emphasis on the ability to quickly change direction, one can begin to infer the impact of correcting agility and improving reaction time and how this correction leads to athletic success.
Dr. Steve Noble