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5.10.2024

Psychomotor Skills

A man running

Psychomotor skills represent activities that are primarily movement-oriented.The complex psychomotor skill of running is much like the skills of bike riding, typing on a computer keyboard and writing with a pen or pencil. These skills are carried out with little or no conscious thought. When we type, our fingers must react to our thoughts and spell them out in the same way our words flow from a pen or when we balance while pedaling a bike. Each skill is acquired through prolonged and intensive practice and continued across many years. 

When we sprint, our skeletal and muscular system must work precisely to maximize the energy delivery of each movement  to propel us forward. Sprinting as fast as possible and consciously thinking about your mechanics can not coexist; it is not dissimilar to the skill of trying to type as fast as possible and having to hunt for the letters on the keyboard, you just haven’t the time to hunt and peck.

Understandably, the most fluent performances are achieved by the athlete who is able to leave the execution of the skill to the unconscious self, “Don’t think too much”, the coach will say.

Running at top speed is complex and requires teaching, education, coaching and practice to enhance performance. Practicing skill at various speeds, seeing film, having a slide presentation, a demonstration, handouts and a quiz can all be part of the learning process to enhance performance.

A man running

The following is an example of a handout and quiz that can be used to help improve the ability of an athlete to increase the speed of movement.

Handout

I. The Hands and Arms – The faster arms go the faster the legs go.

A. Relax your hands

1. If the hands are relaxed the chances are good the arms and shoulders will be relaxed

2. The index finger and thumb should slightly touch or the hand should remain in a natural position 

3. Start with your lower arm at a right angle to the upper arm  

4. Powerfully drive your hand forward no higher than your shoulder

5. Keep the right angle while vigorously pumping your arms

B. The rear action of the arm is responsible for higher knee lift

1. The thumb should almost brush your thigh on the descent of your arm

2. The downward moving hand should clear the buttocks

3. Keep the arm at a right angle during the stroke allowing the elbow to open slightly at the end of the stroke

4. Your upper arm should become almost parallel to the ground

5. Always assure that there isn’t excessive swinging of the lower arm during running maintaining the right angle of the lower and upper arm

C. Proper movement of the arms insures unnecessary rotation of the lower torso

1. While pumping your arms keep your shoulders square

2. While pumping your arms do not rotate your hips

II. Head, Neck and Shoulders – position and relaxation allows for faster movement, a more powerful stroke and greater knee lift

A. Relax muscles of the face

1. Breath through your mouth and nose

2. Relax your mouth

3. Eyes should be focused at an object at eye level straight ahead – not at your feet or upward

4. The head should always remain in a normal postural position

5. Never allow the head to rock from side to side or move up or down

B. Relax your shoulders

1. Keep your shoulders down while pumping your arms

2. Do not shrug your shoulders towards your ears

3. Relaxed shoulders allow you to pump your arms faster

4. Keep your shoulders square

III. Legs, Foot and Torso – knee lift must be without improper body rotation and the avoidance of exaggerated movements

A. The torso should be upright

1. When running the trunk should be slightly forward of vertical

2. Do not allow torso rotation

3. Do not allow bending in the middle of the torso – crunching

4. Do not allow bending backwards

5. Run tall

B. High knee lift is desirable and completion of the drive stroke or drive leg is desirable

1. Lift your knee high with a powerful stroke

2. The drive must take place wholly behind the body’s vertical line with the drive leg

3. At no time should there be an attempt to reach out with the lifted foot

4. The lifted foot should be slightly cocked or dorsiflexed

5. The returning lifted foot will land slightly ahead of the body and then will be used to drive forward

Quiz

Fill in:

1. In running the faster the arms go the faster the ____________go.

2. The proper rear action of the arms is responsible for___________________________.

3. When pumping your arms your shoulders should remain________________________.

4. Proper movement of the arms insures unnecessary rotation of the_________________.

5. How should your head , in relation to your torso, remain when running with proper form?

______________________________________________________________________.

True or False:

6. You should run tall?___________.

7. You should not reach out with your lifted foot when running_____________.

8. You should not bend or crunch in the torso when running________________.

9. You should not shrug your shoulders when running_____________________.

10. You should relax your head, neck and shoulders when running____________.

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