Every good strength and conditioning coach and professional trainer understands the importance of having body awareness. This is undoubtedly a lacking skill in today’s society. If you don’t believe me then simply go take a stroll through your local mall or grocery store and observe just how many people are quick to walk into you or your space on a constant basis. It is a cool fact here in Atlanta that they are filming the new TV series The Walking Dead, but sometimes it is hard for me to distinguish between who the zombies are and just flat out oblivious people.
Proprioception and Kinesthetic Learning…
Proprioception: The ability to sense the location, position, orientation, and movement of the body and its parts.
Kinesthetic Learning: This is a style of learning in which a student or individual learns by feeling or doing a task rather than reading, watching, or hearing about it in a lecture or purely in observation.
I just recently had a discussion with one of my best friends and head strength and conditioning coach for Athens Academy High School Bryan Pulliam. Both Bryan and myself come from the same school of thought. He’s a hell of a strength coach and trainer and I know this because we grew up together and have worked together through school and during our time at UGA. Because of Bryan Athens Academy was just recently awarded the Strength of America award which recognizes that the school’s strength and conditioning program is of “gold standard” quality and less than a handful of these bad boys are given out annually to high school programs nationwide. This is a true testament to Bryan’s expertise in the field. Check out more on this here on the Athens Academy Press Release.
To get back on track I was just saying that we often like to catch up and bounce ideas off of each other when it comes to various strength and conditioning tactics and what a lot of coaches and trainers tend to overlook. One of the things that we spoke about was how each of us integrated the use of kettlebells into the scope of our strength and conditioning programs. Now the topic of kettlebell training is obviously not uncommon with us, but the premise of the conversation derived from the discussion about how athletes and people that are good kinesthetic learners tend to do better with kettlebells. As stated at the beginning of this article kinesthetic learning is a form of learning by doing rather than any other means.
This style of learning requires “feel” and this is also where my rant comes into play about the other term concerning proprioception. In both the real world and the world of strength and fitness proprioception involves having the sense of your body’s location in space along with the rest of your body parts. In terms of athletic competition this can be seen directly in the example of a defensive back in football having to back pedal and direct his body while also keeping his eyes on the receiver that he is covering.
In this example he just knows where he is going and can feel his way around the field without actually having to turn and look. It’s as if he has “eyes in the back of his head.” Believe it or not this is something that is a natural human ability. A good example of this is that “in tune” people generally have a sense of what is going on around them without them actually having to turn and look to see it with their own eyes. This ability comes from the sharp development of proprioceptors which are found within your muscles, tendons, and joints.
My rant about all of this is that several people have lost a lot of this ability in today’s society. It seems that a lot of folks don’t pay attention as to where they are going when they are in public and just aren’t “in tune” with their surroundings. More accidents occur as a result of this and people’s loss of focus has diminished this particular ability. My argument is that this ” lost sense of awareness” has a lot to do with a lack of physical fitness within our communities. It is a fact that people are less fit and they certainly don’t have “eyes in the back of their heads,” because in a lot of cases “the eyes in front” aren’t even enough to keep them out of your personal space these days, especially in heavily populated areas.
In my opinion this annoyance can be corrected by practicing the act of not being LAZY!!! The key to smart strength and conditioning and fitness is making sure that you engage in movements and lifts that involve concentration! This connection of the mind and body is something that should be synonymous and not be such a “grand canyon gap of a disconnect.” You see if you practice movements and drills that stimulate your mind and body together then you should kinesthetically learn better body control and improve overall awareness. In essence you improve your proprioception. This can be seen in many of the athletic performance (speed and agility) type drills that both Bryan and myself put our athletes through. Like the defensive back being able to back pedal, certain footwork and agility drills allows an athlete to execute movements better with complete coordination and awareness.
This is something that I am always doing with my clients and athletes at many different levels. Kettlebell training is one method and footwork drills are another when it comes to improving your proprioceptive sense. Don’t allow yourself to be compared to one of the zombies of The Walking Dead. If you are tired of people cursing at you under their breath because you are always in the way then put an end to it now. Even if you aren’t this bad off, but are wanting to improve your athletic skills then sign up to join my emailing list here for FREE. Remember that most anyone can train hard, but only the best train smart my friend!