Everyone is looking for ways to increase their athletic ability. This has led many to enroll in rigorous programs to enhance their level of fitness and strength. The added exercises have made you stronger, faster, quicker, and more balance. These are also the same exercises that many others are engaging in which is elevating the quality of the field.
The question is, how are you going to get an edge that others, your competition, are not?
This brings us to bottom-up, and top-down training. When you think about the training you have done it is all based off of making your muscles stronger; leading to more power, speed, and endurance. You have worked on recovery, balance, and diet. This is a very vital part of your training, but it is a bottom-up approach. When I say this, it is because everything you do is based off of musculoskeletal function without thinking about what controls it. This is what leads us to top-down training.
When you think about it, everything you do is controlled by the brain. For example, let’s imagine you are dribbling a basketball down the court. You have your teammates in position to run a play. You have to process how open each one is, how far they are from you, or is there an open lane to the basket. Your ability to process this information accurately and quickly will dictate how quick of a decision you make. It is this split second which leads to someone being open or not. Let us focus on a few things that will allow you to elevate your performance.
First, your visual system is key. This is not about your eye sight, but about your ability to focus on a target. Different parts of your brain take the visual information you have received to identify what you saw, how fast it is moving, and where it is. This allows for you to have the accuracy you need and the ability to make decisions quicker. This is very important in any sport you play. The same areas of the brain also allow for better execution of movements.
Second is your balance, not only does it aid in your ability to perform, but also decreases the risk for injury. A top down approach to balance would work on integrating the main systems you use for balance such as your visual, proprioceptive, and vestibular. These should all work together to give you the best balance, but most balance therapies focus only on proprioceptive work using mainly ankle stability exercises. While this is very important it is only one part of the information that your brain uses to give you balance. Your vestibular system is a reflexive system that responds to gravity and any movement you make. The information you receive through your eyes is very heavily used to achieve balance. When one of these systems is not at its optimal level due to an injury or environment change then the others need to adapt so there isn’t a change in balance.
Every sport or activity needs individualized training, and it is not possible to create one program for everyone.
Every person needs a specific plan tailored to their needs that will allow them to have optimal performance abilities.
Han, J., Anson, J., Waddington, G., Adams, R., & Liu, Y. (2015). The role of ankle proprioception for balance control in relation to
sports performance and injury. BioMed Research International, 2015, 842804. doi:10.1155/2015/842804
Miller, B. T., & Clapp, W. C. (2011). From vision to decision: The role of visual attention in elite sports performance. Eye & Contact