When learning a new skill, it’s important to master the basics.

Introduction

When learning a new or advanced movement skill, there are often two trains of thought: either we want to learn the skill ‘right now’; or we think we’ll never be able to do it. When we watch athletes and performance artists moving skillfully, we often forget the time, effort, and patience they’ve put into that skill. While it doesn’t look like it, they’ve all put time into learning ‘the basics’ – the fundamental building blocks of the skill. What’s more interesting is that the basic building blocks are universal to all skill.

Movement building blocks

The basics are more than beginner exercises – they’re the essential building blocks for higher level skills. From an early age, we had to master the simple movements of lifting our heads, rolling, sitting, crawling and standing, before we could progress to walking, jumping and running (high level skills).

Skill is made up of three key building blocks:

  • Strength – the ability to exert force
  • Mobility – the ability to move without restriction
  • Control – the ability to activate and coordinate movement

Every movement or skill is made up of these building blocks, and no matter how challenging a movement is for you, it can be broken down in this way. The key is to find out your weakest block and focus on it.

Breaking it down – an example

Let’s use the handstand as an example – a common movement that many find challenging to fully master. Consider some of the basics:

  • Wrist strength and mobility – often overlooked in handstand training, the wrists need to be mobile and strong enough to support the body
  • Upper body strength – balancing on your hands requires a base level of strength in the shoulders, arms and upper back. Without this strength, your ability to get into position and hold it will always be limited
  • Shoulder control – coordination at the shoulder joint and scapula will allow you to achieve a straight position. Weakness here often manifests in a ‘banana’ shaped handstand because the shoulder cannot fully flex. This also increases the demands of balance.
  • Midline strength and control – keeping a tight midline (core) maintains balance and optimal alignment. Weakness in the core can also create a bent handstand as the back arches

While the handstand is an advanced skill, the above breakdown can be applied to any level skill.

Building it up

Once you break down and understand the basic building blocks of any skill, you can begin to focus on where the deficits or weaknesses are. This is the key to mastery at any level. Building block movements should be practiced as part of a warm up for the main skill, and can even be practiced as a standalone training session away from the actual skill itself.

Use the EVO app

The EVO app is a great way to stay motivated with the basics. Don’t be fooled by the ‘Beginner Workouts’ – while the intensity level may be lower, they focus on the building blocks for the advanced workouts. The warm ups are also useful and specific containing many basic movements that will positively impact all movement.

Whether you’re new to EVO or a seasoned pro, the basics are always important. Make them a regular part of your training to become efficient and injury-free.