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By Tom Colwill BSc

Sports Therapist | Strength & Conditioning Coach

RockDoc and ROCKTAPE Ambassador

The University of Bath was the location for the introduction weekend for the British Keelboat Academy. 36 sailors from around the country all meeting up to develop their understanding of what it takes to be a top level, professional sailor. The content was delivered by different lecturers focusing on Nutrition for sport, the Psychological demands of a team, calendar synchronisation, the financial demands as an athlete, then there was my segment, ‘Fitness testing and an introduction to movement and mobility’.

The fitness testing section came first and we asked the sailors to complete as many “correct” air squats as possible in a minute, as many “correct” Pushups as possible in a minute followed by a 1K run around the track. We recorded all the athletes completing the squats and pushups on video, so that their movement can be reviewed individually and common movement faults can be identified.

This was followed by a Movement and Mobility session aimed at addressing common movements that the sailors would need to perform regularly in their sport and to help them understand how to correctly execute them. We reviewed the squat and the pushup as a group and then gave out different mobility exercises to different sailors depending on their needs. We added in the sit-and-reach test which they performed, we mobilised the hamstrings, they performed again and were able to see the instant change. Instant change, that’s a concept that is quite nice. It definitely made a difference to position and movement, and it definitely caused a few gasps around the group when we saw how much the shoulder range had increased in around 45 seconds of work.

Sailors require lots of pushing and pulling in their sport, along with being able to manoeuvre on an unstable service and over/under objects. By testing the squat and pushup we found common issues with range and strength in both the hips and shoulders. Being able to review the videos in the New Year will give me a chance to focus on the individuals and recommend which movement, mobility and strength exercises to prescribe for them.

I was hoping to get some questions from the sailors at the end of the session or day but I ended up getting questions from the sailors, other coaches, and the University of Bath representative about how these exercises could help the other academy athletes AND coaches. Maybe this movement and mobility “stuff” has value for everyone. Maybe the instant change is what people want to see. Maybe as Sports Therapists AND S&C Coaches, we can provide athletes AND other coaches with effective self-mobilization techniques. If my goal as a Sports Therapist is to help each individual that I encounter improve their physical condition/situation in a health or performance perspective, then I would say with confidence that the movement and mobility combination ALWAYS does the job!