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             Coordination 調和

Generally, coordination refers to the human ability to perform simple and complex movements. Speed, precision, rhythm, fluency and economy of execution of the different motions are very important elements of the evaluation of coordination. Coordination takes on different forms and levels depending on these elements.

From the sport specific requirements we can observe three distinctive types of coordination, based on the way each movement, that must be performed to be successful:

1.Precisely executed simple and complex movements.
2.Precisely executed motions which are performed as fast as possible or in a timely fashion
3.Precisely executed simple and complex skills which are performed as fast as possible or/and in a timely fashion in a continuously changing environment or in the presence of an opponent.

In the first case, there is coordination where the tasks are very precise and the speed of execution is not important. The range of the movements are from quite simple, done by one group of muscles, to complex, full body motions. This type of coordination can be quite easily measured by its precision or deviation from the model. Golf, shooting and pool are based on coordination of precise movements, which include alignment of the body in relation to the target and can be measured by angles. In simple terms, this type of the coordination involves the ability to move the whole body or parts of it to a very precise position or angle, in some cases without the opportunity to use visual control. Sports like gymnastics and figure skating are examples where the evaluation of coordination is based on comparison to the model execution of the motion. This coordination is an ability to reproduce exercises or complex sequences of movements as close as possible to perfect model of that motion.

There are individuals, who can reproduce even the most complex motion with high precision as long as there is no time restriction. However, when the skill has to be performed as fast as possible or with required speed to be effective, they can not do it. This type of coordination is very important for sports like throws (shot put, javelin, etc.), jumps (high and long jump, etc.) weight lifting, or diving. In this case, the ability to finish each segment of the motion will have direct impact on final result. In throws or jumps,  precise skill performance in a timely manner will decide about length or height achieved. In young athletes, this type of coordination can be evaluated by the time of execution of combined movements in an obstacle course, which might include running, jumping over barriers, and doing simple acrobatics such as summersaults.

The last type of coordination is needed for all team sports, fighting sports like wrestling, judo or boxing, tennis etc. In this case, precise movements have to be, not only fast and timely, but also adjusted to changing situations during the contest. Soccer, hockey or basketball players player receiving a ball or puck during a game must quickly choose, depending on the situation and position on the field, what to do, how to do it and how this will effect the play. There are a lot of players who, during training or staged plays can precisely kick, pass, dribble, run with the ball and execute tactical elements. However, during game situations, with changing environments, they have trouble using their skills. This is usually due to their inability to adapt and modify them to ever changing situations. Most coaches assume that the athlete is "choking" in the game situation, when in fact, the problem is most likely due to lack of proper coordination. Measuring this type of coordination is quite difficult. Observation of actual performance is probably the best source of information. During training, reaction of an athlete to the introduction of surprise may be a good indicator of what can happen in an actual game.

A well-developed sense of motion is important to good coordination. This sense, in cooperation with vision and sound, allows the athlete to get information about the position of different parts of the body, tension and action of different muscles, as well as the body's spatial position and dynamics of movement (e.g. speed). Athletes with a well developed sense of motion can make corrections during the execution of movements and are able to imagine and visualize each element of very complex activities.

Coordination is influenced by the genetic make up of individual, as well as the individual's imagination, acquired skills and experience. During human development, coordination improves along with the state of nervous system. Kids learn simple motions early on and later build complex responses, which can be performed precisely, fast and in different situations. Coordination consists of many elements, which I won't categorize here. However, it is important for coaches and parents to know basic elements so they can evaluate the development of coordination in kids and use them for teaching, observing or testing purposes.

Some of the basic elements are:

• Balance 
 both static and in motion (standing, running), or with use of equipment (e.g. cycling, skiing, skating,   balance beam etc.)

• Speed of reaction
 from movement of parts of the body to reaction in motion like starting, turning, stopping, and accelerating

Spatial orientation
  which is awareness of changing environment in relation to your own movements or position
•Ability to differentiate movements by feeling, like applying the right amount   of required pressure or tension, speed, etc.

• Jumping ability
Precision, fluency and control of rhythm

• Concentration and perception of time and distance

Very often the evaluation of coordination may involve more complex abilities, where additional exercises are built on simple coordination (e.g. rotating the body in the air).
Coordination, like all other abilities, can be general and specific, related to precise skills or movements. There is no doubt that a high level of general coordination makes it easier to learn specific coordination. However, there is no such a relation in opposite direction. So, if somebody acquires perfect swimming technique, without developing general coordination, they will still have a harder time learning skiing, games, gymnastics and other sports than an athlete with well developed general coordination (assuming that their genetic heritage is not far apart).

Most sports techniques are complex movements which athletes learn based on previously established simple skills and coordination. An athlete with a high level of general coordination and many skills will learn new technique faster, by "assembling" smaller elements together. As well, in sports where technique has to be executed in the presence of an opponent and in a changing environment, the athlete's technique will be more versatile and universal. Let's take a soccer player who, in childhood, reached a high level of general coordination and mastered basic skills like elements of gymnastics, acrobatics, balance, jumping agility, tactical and technical knowledge of other games, basic skills from track & filed like sprinting, jumping, throwing and etc. Compare him to somebody who spent this time playing soccer. Who do you think will learn technical and tactical aspects of the game quicker and more effectively? Who will be more creative in changing situations? Who will be able to react faster, turn quicker, throw farther, kick with different parts of leg and hit with the head in all directions and with a variety of speeds? I think you get the point. In all my years of coaching, I have consistently found that athletes with great general coordination, regardless of age, learn new techniques and correct mistakes faster and better than those, who only focus on specific coordination.

The only way to improve coordination is by learning new skills and performing those you already know in a continuously changing environment.

In learning coordination, the first step is for the athlete to master motions in a stable environment, without time restrictions, focusing on improvement of precision. After the skill becomes formed, they can move to learning to do it fast while maintaining correct form and adapting to different situations and environments. In the annual cycle, in early stages of accumulation (early stage of preparatory period), even highly advanced athletes should try to acquire new skills, before focusing on specialized movements.

                                                                                                                 Sport is Life / Joern Grosskopf / Wu Pei-Ling, 1.2001

Working together:
Working together causes,

that totally usual people achieve totally unusual results.

同心協力會發展出: 全是普通的人,卻能達成所有不簡單的成果