Optimum vs maximum

02/11/2023

Published by David Genest - Motor Preferences Expert


After a short post on social media, I had the chance to have constructive and non-aggressive exchanges (what is becoming rare nowadays!) with a coach about the notion of maximum and optimum.

Let's start with the definitions:

Maximum: The highest degree reached by or that this thing can reach.

Optimum: State, degree of development of something deemed most favorable in view of given circumstances.

The current biomechanical approach to baseball is based on the notions of maximum and global averages.

Specialists make measurements on the different mechanical or muscular strength abilities and deduce from them 'weaknesses'' which had to be corrected to improve performance.

For example, I recently saw a video on social media of a young pitcher who has a maximum 60-degree torso rotation capability, but who produces a 25-degree one when he throws. While the average for good pitchers of his category is 35 degrees range. The specialist then recommends him to work to increase his X-factor (hip/shoulder separation).

Mechanically speaking, it makes sense, we know the maximum capacity, the current range is small, the player can therefore increase this rotation, without the risk of injury. The closer this player's angle is to 35 degrees, the faster he should pitch.

This vision is based on the though that the imperfection of body must be corrected for it to perform better.

As part of a mechanical model without a brain & CNS, I totally agree.

Except we have a brain and a CNS who want 3 things permanently:

  • Be effective
  • Be efficient
  • Saving energy

Based on this, you can understand that the body has developped its own coordination to assure that it optimize its survival in the environment. So what some see as weaknesses are not at all. They are the proper imbalance of the body in order to produce movement.

So I ask the question: What if the X-factor of this player was not a weakness but a strength, a skill of his body: his own motor coordination?

The motor coordination creates moves, no one can argue that! Without motor coordination, no movement is possible (no performance either). A bone, a few bones, a joint can't create moves. They are structural and serve as support and leverage for muscles.

So first thing to remember is that motor coordination is the key to perform. Let's get back to that young pitcher. So let's imagine that his small X-factor is a natural coordination. How can he increase his velocity respecting this preference?

His small X-factor is a detail into a global motion. Maybe such a detail could impact the global move, but the motion is not only done by this small detail. A lot of other specific moves are executed by the body to create the global motion. So in order to increase his velocity, we must build a conditioning program, adjust mechanics and mental approach, all aligned with his motor profile. Doing this will provide an alignement of all the capacities of the body, making it more coordinated, efficient and more powerful.

Your profile determinates your motion, not the opposite! Body is not plasticine.


Now, can you list me all the muscles that you are using into each throwing motion, with the intensity they have been contracted and how they were coordinated!? NOBODY can do that because our move are mostly managed unconsciously.

So our young pitcher has a small X-factor. It is unconscious. His body is doing this move because it respects the 3 rules of living mentioned above. But there are also a lot of another unconscious moves in his motion and the first one is his natural balance. Yes ''being balance'' are moves, very fine, but our body is not motionless. The brain plays a decisive role in maintaining balance by acting as an information selector. The spinal cord, cerebellum and cerebral cortex respectively contribute to maintaining balance by executing the controls, coordinating the movements and intervening in the control end of the gesture. You are not conscious of it, but our body is consistently fighting gravity!

''If the brain is primarily used to manage the relationship to balance, then, when the stakes rise, it likes to lose a minimum ENERGY to this task. This in order to be able to fully devote to what is happening around him to better influence on...'' (Quote: Matthieu Toulza)

By respecting Motor Preferences, the conscious frees itself from the control of the movement and can concentrate on his objective.

But what role should biomechanical data play?

First of all, I love biomechanics, know it! But I love it for what it can do: individual measures. Yes biomechanics can give trends! But the trend of a group is not that of an individual and vice versa. In other words: Justin Verlander's motion belongs to Justin Verlander and no one else! His motion can be inspiring if your motor profile matches his, but it can't just be cut and paste on anyone! The motion is created by his own motor coordination. And there is only one Justin Verlander in the world! You are not a clone of anybody else! Data from biomechanics could be used to monitor the evolution of measures after implementation of Motor Preferences. They can also be used, of course, for rehab monitoring.

Individualization of athlete management is key.

We need to stop to rule baseball mechanics with:

1. To generate stability and then push into the legs, thus being able to generate strength from the ground. The right way to ensure this strength production is to bend the legs and then extend them. Stability and impulse are the product of a bending followed by an extension. It could also be said that no one can expand without first folding.

2. Extend the launch path. With an identical engine, we can expect a car that has 200m to accelerate, to reach a higher speed than if we limit its acceleration distance to 100m. One may think that the same is true for the body. When it comes to sending an object forward, it will initially be brought farther back. We find the preparation behind and the action in front, in other words the lengthening of the path of launch of the object. This is why in the sports of throwing, the shoulders are asked to dissociate themselves from the pelvis, in order to gain in length the path of expression of strength.


WE NEED TO START TO BELIEVE INTO THE BODY INTELLIGENCE!

Volodalen copyrights

Our priority should be to put at the center of our approach, the desire to ALL collaborate with the athlete to bring him to his optimum performance respecting his own motor coordination!

It's all start with: ''-What is my player motor profile?''