#1 How does a Coach choose what, when, how to train you? Principles of ‘individuality’ and ‘adaptation’

(Written by Nefeli Tsiouti)

A coach has the difficult job of choosing what is best in order to fulfill their trainee’s demands. Based on what the customer asks for, the training programme that the coach will shape, will vary. Exercise science is based on the research of training principles, which originate from scientific research on sports, human movement and human performance.

A doctor performs certain procedure tests on the patients, before eliminating some initial causes, and then moves on to using their expertise and judgement (which is based on years of studies, research and experience), in order to either conduct more tests that are adapted on the patient’s needs or to provide diagnosis. A similar procedure occurs with a coach, or maybe it is more appropriate to say, with a good coach. They listen to the client and what their goals are, and the coach is responsible to choose and adapt a training programme, based on their individual demands.

What is the Breakalign Method? The Breakalign Method is a conditioning programme, based on the physiological and biomechanical analysis of the demands in the artform of Breaking (or ‘Breakdance’, as known by the media). Project Breakalign received funding to create the Breakalign Method from the Centre National de la Danse (2015-2016), which was researched and put together by a team of specialists that double major between dance (mostly Breaking) and a scientific discipline such as medicine, physiotherapy, sports science, dance science, human performance and more.

How does the Breakalign Method differ from other conditioning techniques? The way the Breakalign Method – as a conditioning programme – differs from other conditioning programmes, is that it has been created using those same training principles from human performance, to create a specific methodology, which consists of the principles of ‘adaptation’ and ‘individuality’ within the methodology. What this means is that, the methodology stages and exercises have been set, but based on the person/people that the Breakalign coach has in front of them when teaching it, they will ‘adapt’ it to the ‘individual’. Each individual may have certain needs, injuries, fears, skills, lack of skills, and the list goes on. The Breakalign Method is there to address this individuality and offer a solution to it, even in a group setting, not just in a private session. Therefore, this creates a distance between the Breakalign Method and other methodologies, because it works in a more specific way to the person, regardless of the needs.

How does the Breakalign Method apply ‘individuality’ and ‘adaptation’ throughout the course? The Breakalign Method was created with the goal to, first and foremost, prevent injuries for dancers. A necessary component for prevention of injuries is safe practice, which basically means, to eliminate as many potential causes of injury as possible; which also means to identify all the possible causes of injury, intrinsically in the body but also externally in the environment. It is a very long process, but thankfully exercise science has evolved throughout the years and it has provided scientists with research that answers those questions to a high degree. It is important to remind you here that, the Breakalign Method is based on the analysis of Breaking as a movement form, and if you are not very familiar with Breaking, it is an artform which allows its practitioners to use their individuality and their strengths to the best of their ability, in order to excel in one or more aspects of Breaking.

Coming back to the principles of ‘individuality’ and ‘adaptation’, in order for the coach to recognise the needs of the person, there are a couple of ways to do this. One way can be that the person itself informs the coach about any injuries, impairments, or anything that they have recognised or been diagnosed to have an issue with in their movement. Another way is that the coach himself/herself, has been trained to view and recognise any potential issues in the movement patterns of their trainees. The Breakalign Method coaches have the ability and expertise to view these and act, by applying the principles on which the Method has been based upon. The methodology is comprised of ‘indicator exercises’ which consist of indicator movement patterns to identify strengths, weaknesses of the participants, not only in their movement pathways, but also in the motor skills necessary to complete certain movements. The science behind the methodology is immense, but the application of it is even more useful for its participants.

What does the coach do if the trainee cannot pull through the indicator exercise? In the instance that the trainee is unable to complete the indicator exercise and ‘pass’ the test successfully, the indicator exercise is made in such a way that it consists of the baseline level (or foundation) exercise for the trainee to use that exercise to acquire the skill. The safety and preventative nature behind this approach is inevitable, as it helps the trainee to psychologically get acquainted with a new movement pattern, as well as to slowly acquire intrinsic strengthening (due to the simple version of the exercise), as well as gain the foundational strength and endurance required, in order to move to the next levels of difficulty of the movement pattern. At the end of this phase, the trainee has passed the entry level of that movement pattern.

How do I use these principles in my own practice? There are a few answers to this question. You can start listening to your body and to what it tells you when it sends you signals of pain for example. Pain is a signal and most of the times it is a protective mechanism your body sends to your brain which does not want to be ignored. You can also ask for help from an exercise prescription specialist or a dance/sports scientist, but they have to take the time to ‘adapt’ the information to your ‘individuality’, which realistically, looking around me, not everyone does nowadays. But what you can do in practice, and as an investment to yourself and your future, is to become a Breakalign Method ambassador, by completing the Breakalign Method training programme, which will give you all the necessary tools to be able to not only help others, but also help yourself stay injury-free with a conditioned body. The programme will be available from the summer of 2019.

The Breakalign Method Audio-visual research content:

In English :

Research phase 1: https://youtu.be/FRjiaR-ZcMc

Research phase 2: https://youtu.be/zJjSoo6WAic

Research phase 3: https://youtu.be/M6S-mWfntT0

With French subtitles :

Phase de recherche 1: https://youtu.be/roEPL6dbw5c

Phase de recherche 2: https://youtu.be/xL-lnMpgDbw

Phase de recherche 3: https://youtu.be/bG8uRIPp0NI

For more information check: www.projectbreakalign.com

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