There is a particular body motion in almost every sport or physical activity that a gifted athlete performs intuitively. They know it by ‘feel’, or as being ‘in the zone’. People call them a ‘natural athlete’. But this specific body motion goes completely unseen by those of us watching. Even many coaches, trainers, and instructors can’t identify it.
But the athletes’ entire body is engaged in the most efficient, fluid, and seamless flow of motion, resulting in what appears to be effortless power, control, and grace. This unseen dynamic motion and balance is what makes the greatest athletes stand out from the rest.
However, this unique motion is NOT exclusive to top athletes. It can be learned by virtually anyone. And it can be seen in all graceful or natural motion – from a dancer or martial artist, to a waving flag, or a cracking whip. In fact, even a baby uses this same motion to roll over, or when learning to crawl.
Inspired by the works of 20th century scientist and mathematician Rudolf Steiner, it became apparent to Jack Broudy, and his colleague Paul Mayberry, that this particular motion is the ‘mother-form’ of all natural movement, and in particular all ‘natural’ athletes. They also realized it can be learned by anyone.
So, let’s take a look at what this ‘dynamic motion’ is all about.
To start, whether throwing or kicking a ball, swinging a bat, swinging a racquet, a golf club, etc., most good athletes know that a tremendous amount of speed and power can be generated without ever having to move their arms or legs. They do it through simple core-body rotation, which in turn creates coordinated centrifugal force and inertia. This works much the way an Olympic athlete throws a discus. The power and swing is initiated from the core.
Just as a record on a record player moves exponentially faster at the outer rim as compared to the inner, or a water-skier at the end of a tow-rope can go much faster than the boat, so can an athlete generate power and speed just by rotating his body, hips, and shoulders – while their arms or legs remain relatively relaxed.
However, the ‘gifted’ or ‘natural’ athlete, whether they realize it or not, rotates their core quite differently from a ‘good’ athlete, thus causing a noticeably different motion throughout the entire body. Which, in turn, also causes them to move their arms and legs differently as well.
Unlike the simple semi-circle hip or core rotation, the exceptional athlete rotates his hips in a slow, yet continuous figure 8 path – an infinity sign. This motion causes the arms and legs to be pulled, creating a coil effect that is continuously expanding, and intensifying in energy, from the body’s core out to the apex of the throw, the hit, or even a kick.
This dynamic motion of the body, arms and/or legs is similar to that of a bullwhip, continuously and rapidly gaining speed. And when you consider that while the hand may only be traveling at 30-40 mph, the tip of the whip is actually breaking the sound barrier at over 600 mph, you will be well on your way to understanding how top athletes generate the speed and power they do. You are starting to understand ‘dynamic balance’ and the geometric principles of ‘non-linear motion.’
Whether it’s throwing or hitting a baseball, throwing or kicking a football, hitting a tennis forehand, backhand or serve, serving or spiking a volleyball, or even driving a golf ball, this same non-linear motion can be seen in every one of these movements. And it’s the same motion that can and will enhance any athletes’ performance.
Once the sports world realizes this geometric phenomenon exists, sports will once again be truly elevated to a higher pursuit of excellence: the pursuit of being ‘great’ rather than just being ‘good’.
‘As this pertains to tennis specifically, let’s look at the real difference between the forehands of both Andy Roddick and Roger Federer. It is obvious that while Andy’s forehand stroke is good, Federer’s is a level up, and great. Andy’s forehand stroke consists of a big, wide swing that is relatively the same speed throughout, whereas Federer’s stroke is much smaller and slower in the beginning, with all the speed happening at contact. And no matter how fast Roddick swings at the ball he cannot produce the same racket head speed as Roger. Remember, you can’t possibly ice skate in a circle nearly as fast as you can by being pulled by someone, as in a “chain” – nor can you skate in as perfect a circle.
Unbeknownst to both players, Federer uses the slow, continuous, “whip-like” motion initiated from his hips, whereas Roddick simply swings fast (more by strength and will, primarily from his upper body) in a semi-circle type path. The difference between their forehands is in the geometry of the strokes, and it is tantamount to what separates the two players, good from great.’ –Jack Broudy
(Jack Broudy and Paul Mayberry are co-developers of the ‘8-Board’, a training device designed to enhance learning and using the non-linear figure-eight motion.)