GCSE/A’Level PE – Tips and Tricks for Understanding the Movement Components

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Recently I went into a school to assist the A’Level students in their understanding of the movement component part of their exam. In doing so I saw first-hand the difficulty some of the students have in translating what they feel in their bodies on the sports field or in the gym (which they love) to the page and the conceptual understanding of the same.

For example – you may love to cartwheel, but how do you describe it in terms of biomechanical language? How can you easily understand the planes of movement or axis about which the movement occurs?

Traditional teaching methods keep the conceptual theories apart from the experience of movement. However, most kids who wish to do GCSE or A level PE do so because they love moving! There is a disconnect here.

What if you get to stand up, roll your arms forward and physically adopt the movements in your body, as if you are a wheel? That is the sagittal plane, the wheel plane. Now do your cartwheel, is it rolling forwards like a wheel? No – it goes sideways.

Bend your body sideways with your hands in front of you as if you are wiping your hands across a door. That is the door plane or frontal plane (think front door). Now go back to your cartwheel, does that move like a wheel or as if you are wiping your hands across a door? Door! So, the cartwheel moves in the frontal plane.

Another common confusion is over whether a muscle action is concentric or eccentric – I describe this as a fight – who is winning, who is losing. We act it out using a band, then there is a visual example of what is happening. It gives the students the ability to then work out any question through understanding the forces rather than guess work or having to have seen the exact question before.

It sounds so simple, but I have studied anatomy over and over, for the last 25 years, first as a personal trainer (PT), then as a pilates teacher and again for Franklin Method®. It was only once I studied the Franklin Method® that I truly understood how to match the movements in space with how to describe them.

If a student is struggling with this element, they could be missing really simple marks that could help take them up a grade. I would love to help and could offer zoom tutorials on whatever movement questions they might be struggling with. By making the learning physical or by using sticky tape stuck on our own bodies to highlight a muscle and how it works we can get to the misconception that is preventing full understanding of the concepts.

Please bear in mind, I am not a teacher, but rather my day-to-day work as a movement coach involves understanding these concepts and using them daily to benefit my clients and I too remember how hard they are initially to wrap your head around!

If you’d like my help, send me your questions using the contact me form on this website. If enough people have the same questions, then I will run a zoom class on that topic. Otherwise, I would be happy to do half hour individual sessions for £30 per session. (fee accurate for 2023).

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Please note I am NOT a medical practitioner, nor can I diagnose conditions.