I thought it would be fun to share with you all what my play and focused practice has looked like of late. Think of this as a snapshot into my brain, and a way to draw some inspiration for games to play and ways explore your own practice. Plus I’ll try to throw some training and coaching gems in there for you. If you like these let me know and I’ll do more!
My Play (Part 1/2): Recently, my play has really been inspired by Star Wars (go figure, right?) However you feel about the movies, I’ve always wanted to be a Jedi. When I was a kid I lived out these “heroes journeys” in all manner of ways – books, movies, storytelling. What I didn’t let myself do as much was act it out in person, at least that I remember. So for Christmas this year I got myself one present: a lightsaber from the Disney store. It’s the first one I’ve ever owned. I’ve been dancing, slashing, spinning, and practicing my skills ever since. It’s also resulted in some really fun Ninja Academy Games (which I’ll share below), and getting some coaching from my wife! FreeFit Gal used to be in the Color Guard. It was such a cool experience for me to be a student again. Before I went from an “exercise” paradigm to a “play” paradigm, I might never have asked her to show me! Had an awesome time learning moves like spinning a PVC pipe in the air, or doing the “witches brew”. And now on to the games!
Force Push: Set up some mats or a safe fall area. One person stands in front of the other and uses their best “force push” (no contact, just awesome make believe) – the other person falls/jumps/flies backwards and lands and rolls on the mats.
Deflection: Using a lightsaber (PVC pipe) attempt to deflect incoming laser beams (Rhino Skin Dodgeballs) in a variety of different ways.
Moving Giant Lightsaber Zen Archer: I first learned Zen Archer through an Ido Portal video. Here’s a variation we’ve been playing with. The goal is to neither hit nor be hit, but to challenge the person with your attack and counterattack. The first person moves slowly, using the lightsaber to allow the other person to move/dodge around. You can switch roles and have the other person be a “dodger”, or go 2v1 with the goal of the 1 to line the other 2 up so their attacks are much less effective, etc. So many variations of this one!
Jedi Dodgeball: Also called Medic dodgeball. Like normal dodgeball but one person on each team is a medic and can heal others (though I never remember Yoda doing that?) Adds an extra element to the game. You can also play “light side” vs “dark side” and whenever someone is hit they have to change sides and act the part
My Movement (Part 2/2): The other part of my training/play has been focused around regaining my bottom squat position. As in being able to sit butt to heels with feet flat comfortably. Eat there, work there, and move from there. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but never clearly set my INTENTIONS to match. Now, this is my primary training goal with a focus on developing the requisite flexibility and motor control at each joint involved in the squat (especially ankle dorsiflexion and hip flexion). I rotate through exercises every couple of weeks but try to keep things with a similar focus (same but different), take notes in my training log, etc. I’ll lay out a couple of the routines I’m going through now below, inspired by #frc.
Here’s the thing: my training is much different now with my responsibilities as a dad, husband, and coach. I get maybe 5-10 minute stints 2-3x throughout the day, especially at night when everyone’s gone to bed. And that’s OK with me. I think spreading your mobility work out throughout the day can be really helpful. However, this is NOT an excuse to disobey the 3 Laws of Adaptation.
1) Progressive Overload – in order to see changes in the tissues/nervous system, you have to vary the training load over time to prevent accommodation and also push into new ranges of motion and develop strength and control there. Consistency and time IS a factor – so doing the same thing for a while isn’t a bad thing. Just need to remember that each session you should be trying to work to the utmost of your ability and to change the factors when change no longer occurs.
2) Specificity – this one encapsulates a lot of things for me. The 2 biggest ones are change happens where you ask tissues to adapt, and not elsewhere. That means you need to apply specific loads and neurological demands that will create the change you seek. Second, your body is adapting, all the time. So it’s not just the 1% of the day I’m focused on mobility that matters, it’s the whole of the day taken into account. You need to start integrating these changes into your lifestyle (so for me, that means squatting more throughout the day).
3) Intention – I have never seen a program work, no matter how good, if the mind isn’t in it to win it. This means engaging in deep practice, paying attention to mistakes and making adjustments, and also believing you will succeed in your goal.
Ankle Dorsiflexion Drills:
- Ankle CARs – draw the biggest ankle circles you can
- Wall Squat – laying on my back, walking my feet down the wall into a squat position, focus on pressing heels to the wall and getting into as much dorsiflexion as possible.
- Dorsiflexion Lift Offs – Pull my toes off the wall towards me, making sure I’m near end range so I can only slightly lift of the wall.
Hip Flexion Drills:
- Quadruped Hip CARs – from the hands and knees, draw one knee into the chest without letting the back change position, then rotate it to the outside as high and wide as you can, again without changing position.
- Wall Squat – laying on my back, walking my feet down the wall into a squat position, focus and drawing myself down with the front of my hips and holding there.
- Hip Flexion Lift Offs – Foot on a box, try to lift the whole foot off the box in one motion, making sure I’m near end range so I can only slightly lift off and it is a challenge.
- Rockbacks and Baby Crawls focusing on hip and ankle position, and then just flowing.