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|July 9- July15, 2009
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by Emilie Le Beau
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Two sports are better than one
Cross training helps expand your
athletic range of motion
by Wina Sturgeon
No sport movement is unique. There are similarities between mountain biking and skateboarding, between skiing and BMX, between swimming and basketball. If all you ever do is stick to one sport, and work out just for that sport, you are missing a lot of valuable sport-specific conditioning. Every elite athlete cross trains; you should, too.
But cross training isn’t just doing some other sport, any old sport. True cross training involves moving your body in ways that simulate your main sport. The movements don’t have to be exact. It is their difference that helps expand your athletic range of motion. For example, the putting in golf and the stick handling in hockey have a lot of similarities. Yes, golf is calm and hockey is über-active, but both train your hand-eye coordination for the amount of force required to hit the ball or the puck exactly where you want it to go. The different wrist angles used in each of those sports will serve to “educate” your wrist when it comes to hitting something from the end of a stick or club.
It may take some creative thinking to find out which sport will work well for cross training. Take road cycling, for example. Many novice riders have trouble with the peleton; they are intimidated by the pack of riders, afraid to move in and go fast, so they fall behind.
Cross train to overcome uneasiness about the pack: go ice skating. There’s some similarity between skating and pedaling, but there’s a lot of similarity to moving fast through a crowd of unpredictable skaters and riding fast through a peleton of racing cyclists. You can also use skating as cross training to get more comfortable while moving in a crowd. Skating around the curve is also good cross training for riding a bike around a turn.
Tennis players can get great cross training playing volleyball. Shoving a large ball may not seem at all like returning a shot with a racquet, but analyze the movements. In volleyball, your arms may be up, or you may have to throw them out to the side to get the ball. You have to instantly adjust your posture and where you stand, just as you do in tennis. In volleyball, your position is limited, while in tennis you have your whole side of the court, but both sports use similar movements when it comes to getting to the ball and returning the shot.
If you’re a basketball player who wants to improve your defense, swimming is perfect cross training. By working on propelling yourself fast through water, you improve your speed when it comes to propelling yourself through air.
When deciding on which sport to use for cross training, it helps to know about your proprioceptors. This is part of your nervous system, made up of “sensors” that basically tell you where your body is in the space around you. Any repeated movement trains your proprioceptors, which is why athletes get better with practice. It’s also why a warmup is a good thing before a competition; it wakes up the proprioceptors and makes your movements more accurate.
Cross training is one of the best ways to train your proprioceptors. A slightly different range of motion from the one you use in your sport expands the range of these sensory organs, so instead of having, say, 100 angles of movement in your athletic repertoire, you now have 150 to draw from to accomplish a particular athletic goal.
Think about how you use your body in your sport. Take time to think of another sport that will make you move your body in similar ways, working your shoulders or your core or your legs. You will expand your range of movement and your range as an athlete as well.
For the latest in adventure sports and physical conditioning, visit Adventure Sports Weekly at adventuresportsweekly.com.
—(c) 2009, Adventure Sports Weekly (adventuresportsweekly.com) / MCT
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