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Movement Psychology

In the 1960s Rudolf Laban introduced the concept and teachings of movement analysis. He’s determined that every movement is controlled by a sub-conscious state and that movement causes a desired emotion. His concept is very important for dancers, actors or the Tai Chi students but what about athletes. Laban’s concepts go deep into the emotion and attitude of movement in regards to dancers and actors, but what about the emotion and attitude expressed through movement in sports almost everyday. He explains that without emotions behind the movements, there is no true expression and fails to communicate those emotions to the audiences. Lets apply this concept to athletics.

Before any game, match or meet you can find an athlete doing two things. They’re either sitting alone, maybe listening to music or they’re with their team talking about the upcoming battle. Now, the person sitting alone isn’t doing less to prepare himself for the upcoming events but focusing their energy and emotions on preparation. Many times athletes will visualize themselves doing movements to help with coordination or movement comprehension. Laban describes that the mental factors (sensing, thinking, intuiting and feeling) work together with motion factors (weight, space, time and flow). For example, time is the rhythmic motion that expresses the mental intuiting. Or feeling is expressed in the movement as flow.

During the game, match or meet it seems that every factor comes into play. However, the one factor that is only mentioned in regards to Tai Chi in Laban’s concepts and theories is inner attitude or intention. While an athlete is in process of movement during competition, their emotions are sometimes unrecognizable but their intentions are clear. Attitude can be the difference between a thoughtful play with precision and execution or an impromptu reaction that is emotion driven. Transversely, emotion effects movement equally if not more so than inverse. Rudolf Laban applies movement to dance and Tai Chi but these occurrences of feeling flow and sensing space are best understood by athletes but are rarely studied or applied in the field.

By Japheth Cato 2017 US Gold Medalist - Indoor Heptathlon

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