Why rhythmic progressions are key to muscle memory, effectiveness, & reducing injury in the NFL

Proproioception of Movement
Proproioception of Movement

Athletic skill, like that necessary for everyday movement, is based on muscle memory, also known as “proprioception.” We ultimately achieve optimal muscle memory thru “rhythmic progression” of the patterns that are needed in an activity. I also discuss proprioception and movement in my blog on basketball.

Drumming for Basketball.ball drills1
Drumming for Basketball.ball drills1

Sports Science vs Brain Science of Basketball: Where does the Shot come from?

With newer limits on NFL workouts in the pre-season, there have been an increase in non-contact injuries. Why? Because of faded memories of the prioception of the movements innvolved. Too offset this, you need to do more rhythmic progression work to re-establish muscle memory of the required athletic movements. The Examine story below points to some of the problems.

Mysterious Non-Contact Injuries Plague NFL Teams

With the big increase of non-contact related football injuries felt related to not enough pre-season drills and such, I sensed the cause was due to insufficient rhythmic progression work this pre-season. These are the fine motor movements and timing needed in running and defending routes and such on the field. These need constant mental and physical re-connecting, especially 4-5 months off the field.

And I speak from not only having played and coached athletics, but also from my research and work with drumming, and in rehabing from a 1992 brain  injury. In the latter, I came to personally realize how important rhythmic movements are in everyday life.

Stephen Dolle speaking on drumming and rhythm at Wright State University
Stephen Dolle speaking on drumming and rhythm at Wright State University

Since 2004, I’ve been involved in drumming and have studied rhythm and movement, sensory processing and cognition, and mobile mHealth apps. I found drums & rhythm particularly beneficial in movement, balance, and coordination. I eventually created exercises with bells, shakers, and clave to help with sophisticated movements.

In 2008, I began incorporating basketball into my rhythm & movement work, and noted ways it helped body movement and spatial awareness, beyond drumming. I then began to use basketball “free throws” and outside shooting as “applied kinesiology” or AK in stress management and mental focus. AK is what chiropractors use in evaluations, and is also used by psychiatrists and psychotherapists in helping clients to overcome emotional trauma. At its core, AK is a “truth test,” as negative thoughts weaken you physically, and distract you mentally from an activity.

Drumming for basbetball workshops aid movement, timing, and on court communications
Drumming for basbetball workshops aid movement, timing, and on court communications

When you examine athletic preparation in sports from football to baseball, basketball, tennis, soccer, and the like, the one constant pre-game work-out is rhythmic progression and repetition of the movements of that sport. Repetition helps to put the movements back into muscle memory, while making it easier to execute without “thinking.”

Drum circle beats helps players with timing, stress management, and symptoms associated with concussion.
Drum circle beats helps players with timing, stress management, and symptoms associated with concussion.

My advice to those involved in athletics is to never cheat on your rhythmic progression warm-ups. These warm-ups and AK methods also help prepare your mind so you play more effectively, using more of the mind more for strategy, and muscle memory for execution. Being in a clear mental state does the rest.

Whatever your athletic requirements or movement needs, never forget the importance of preparation with rhythmic progressions. Best way to reach me is by email.

Stephen Dolle
(949) 642-4592
contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com
Dolle Communications

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2 thoughts on “Why rhythmic progressions are key to muscle memory, effectiveness, & reducing injury in the NFL

  1. If you read my discussion closely, you will see that I have UNCOVERED one of the biggest mysteries in sports like basketball, baseball, football, and even golf, that is, “Where does the shot come from?” Or, how do you prepare yourself each game day to make a high percentage of great shots? The answer lies in getting into the Mind/Body zone thru rhythmic progressions, where movement/sports action becomes autonomous via muscle memory….. That place in your consciousness where you don’t have to THINK, but BE & DO!

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  2. Also, the mechanism in the brain why rhythmic exercises are so key in athletics is simple: movement & related skills are very much rooted in their origins in the brainstem, or primal brain. Yet, most of our everyday activities are controlled by the frontal lobe, and this overuse leads to stress. Where athletics must also involve the frontal lobe in strategy, it is to your advantage to fully engage the brainstem in movement & reps warmups. EEG research has also shown that rhythmic activities helps to balance brain waves between the frontal lobe & brain stem, and as such reduces stress. All this sounds good, but– I shot baskets yesterday in the afternoon when I was tired and had a poorer shooting percentage despite the rhythm work I undertook. I think my tiredness made my time/space orientation & read of the basket more difficult. Often times I make shots w/o hardly looking at the hoop, where I believe there are more complex time/space orientation mechanisms at work, than mere visual of the hoop target. I think the same would hold true for golf and many others sports where you take a read on a target.

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