The essence of efficient movement in everyday life and sport is the ability to make effective and appropriate shapes for the activity. From a sport performance perspective making shapes and changing shapes is a central objective in training. It is a perspective to view movement with new eyes.
In training shapes, I have borrowed liberally from gymnastics, dance, and elementary physical education – these are the foundations on which to build shapes demanded by the sport. The actual physical preparation for making better shapes and changing shapes demands a combination of strengthening, lengthening and body awareness work that helps the athletes eliminate any weak links limiting the ability to make the desired shapes.
Shape work can be done away from the pool, track, field or court to help prepare the body to make the necessary shapes and get into shapes beyond the normal. Training shapes is another step toward building more robust athletes. I now try to schedule some shape work every training session and I am continually pointing out to the athlete how an exercise we are doing will help make them better at the required shapes in their sport. Learning to speak the language of shapes and shape-shifting will make you a more effective coach and develop better athletes.