At what point does the cue of “falling” continue to help runners and coaches and at what point does it impede our thinking on what’s really going on? For me, I’ve put falling to bed. Its dead to me, and I don’t use it anymore as a cue.
Now let me tell you why….
Before we talk about this cue, let’s talk about cues generally. Coaches use cues to simply and concisely communicate a complex message. It is way easier to say a few words, “Get tight”, rather than give a five minute lecture on posture and abdominal bracing each time an athlete loses tension for example.
We see the use of cues in running all the time. The cue of “falling” and “leaning” are used to help athletes understand how to displace their center of mass (COM) over their base of support (BOS), i.e. shift their hips forward and take advantage of gravity! “Falling” captures this complex notion of physics in a way that resonates with most athletes.
However, Athletes who focus on falling too much tend to take this notion too literally, and go from one extreme to another of bending over at the waist or chest.
But is falling the best cue? In every movement we displace our COM over our BOS, and we don’t need to think about “falling” out of a squat or “falling” while we walk. Rather than focus on the cue, let’s observe runners. If we do this, we’ll notice that runners are not straight PVC pipes. Rather they’re in varying degrees of global hip-driven extension! The hips are driving (pushing, bowing) forward, while the chest remains relatively upright, and the leg extended (at times) out the back.
If we see this extension in running, we deepen our understanding of running as coaches and better communicate to our athletes what we want them to do and how to do it. We can better connect movements in the gym that will translate to better running. And skill transfer for better running is the name of the game!