For the last couple of months I have been devouring the teachings of movement coach, Ido Portal.  (If you haven’t heard of Portal yet, do yourself a favor and learn more him here.) His teachings on movement are pretty fascinating, yet incredibly simple and organic.

Whether you are a athlete looking to make it to the Games, or a recovering couch potato desiring to shed some fat and stay injury free, Portal’s teachings are essential and can help us transcend our given sports by remembering the old movement patterns we explored as children.

Basic Planes of Motion

In sports like , weightlifting, or powerlifting, movement is, on average, restricted to one plane of movement:  the sagittal plane.

Not only that, but in all three sports, a grounded rigidity is essential for being safe and expressing power whether on a barbell or through one’s body during a gymnastics movement.

But how often are we given the chance to perform movements with few restrictions?  How often are we allowed to move however we want, not bound by rules?  How are often are we allowed to move with graceful fluidity?   Why is moving in this manner so essential for us as athletes and human beings?   Lastly, what is a really simple way to explore all of these notions?

Do you have a buddy and a stick?  Keep on reading.

Improving Movement with Portal’s “Stick Drill”

The stick drill is fun, demands little technique, but can still be incredibly challenging.

How to perform it:  You’ll need two people for this drill.  One person directs the movement of the stick.  The other person receives the stick as low to the ground as possible and then returns it back to the director.

There are three movement patterns we explored with this drill:

  • Squatting
  • Lunging
  • Bending

These movement patterns are not only essential for sport, but simple everyday living.  The level of dynamic movement demanded can be scaled up or down depending on the participants.

We broke 15 minutes up into three 5 minute intervals.  For the first 5 minutes, participants were asked to catch the stick in the bottom of a squat.  The next 5 minute interval required the stick to be caught in the bottom of a lunge.  Finally the last 5 minute interval saw athletes catching the stick by bending only the hips, not the knees.

What the Stick Drill Can Teach Us About Movement

Watching my athletes perform this drill was not only really fun, but also led me to some conclusions.

  1.  Catching the stick low to the ground whether squatting, lunging, or bending requires some good hand-eye coordination.   does not ask us to move and catch things with precision very often.
  2. Reaction time to stimuli is important.   teaches us how to develop and transmit power into objects, like a barbell, but we rarely get the chance to move our bodies quickly in different directions in the blink of an eye.
  3. Our bodies are more resilient than we think.  Under no external load, we can squat down on our toes, or twist and bend our spines in a number of directions.  Instinctually, our bodies know how to move and still be safe.   It’s just that we have reduced opportunities for allowing our bodies to move as they should; we have forgotten how to play as adults.

Now, in no way am I bashing , or weightlifting, or powerlifting.  These are sports with incredibly specific demands of movement and as such training should reflect those demands.  However, if we are looking at movement patterns and the health that they engender, developing or rediscovering these ways of moving become incredibly important towards long term resiliency and vitality.

If you have any questions regarding or getting your body healthy, we want to hear from you. Call us or fill out the form and we will get in touch with you within 24 hours.