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PAWEŁ KRÓTKI. phystiotherapist & performance Coach.

PAWEŁ KRÓTKI. phystiotherapist & performance Coach.

physiotherapist & performance coach.

  • Writer's picturePawel Krotki-Borowicki

Language of Motion.

Updated: Jun 21

“Language makes infinite use of finite media” – Alexander von Humboldt.

It is impossible to become literate without a firm grasp of grammar. This truth holds equally for the field of human movement. In this specific domain the concepts of 'grammar' and 'literacy' go hand in hand.

Each concept offers a unique perspective and contributes to an integrated and wholeistic approach to performance training. Each facet of this approach cannot stand on its own. Standalone grammar, in its isolation, merely amounts to a collection of rules and random words devoid of structure fail to convey meaning.

These elements, although seemingly distinct, are in fact interconnected, aligning beautifully under the dual prism of science and art. In this context, 'science' predominantly enriches the 'grammar' of training, whereas 'art' infuses the aesthetic dimension into the language of exercise.

Movement Literacy.

Let's start by exploring the framework of physical literacy.

In essence, movement literacy provides us with the vocabulary of human motion, encoding the broad repertoire of actions that our bodies can perform. These 'words' of movement — walking, running, jumping, pivoting, squatting, lunging, twisting, reaching, punching and so on — are the fundamental units that allow us to 'read' and 'write' within the language of physical activity.

From the viewpoint of training applied both to sport and rehabilitation, physical literacy underlines the necessity of mastering the extensive array of movements as an integral part of enhancing performance, ensuring safety and accelerating recovery.

Training Grammar.

On the other side of the equation lies the grammar of training — the scientific basis of programming, or perhaps more accurately described, the analytical foundation of it. This involves the selection and sequencing of suitable sets, reps, load parameters, ranges of movement and variability level of a given method.

Above all, it includes the intensity and specificity of selected exercises.

These elements serve as the 'syntax' and 'rules' that govern the language of human motor behaviour. They also point towards the suitable level of mechanical and cognitive stress required to ensure long-term learning and retention of movement skills.

Harmony of Two.

While each pillar stands tall in its own right, they resonate more powerfully when harmonised — much like the union of melody and rhythm in a bouncy tune. Behind every stellar musical performance, not only lies the fundamental understanding of music theory, but also the artistic skill to weave it all together.

In a similar way every single training program should be adjusted adequately to a bigger picture, called composition, which unveils the right meaning of sporting demands. Whenever when we look at successful and expert coaches more often we get inspired by the humanistic attitude, beauty and emotions that speaks through the modalities they use, than by the numbers behind it.

Literacy and grammar as fundamental aspects for meaningful communication.

When this analogy is translated into the field of human movement science, it may help to seek more balanced, individualised and context-driven approach to sports rehabilitation and performance training.

The scientific part is more evident in the grammar of training. It ensures a systematic, data-driven approach, which aids in the precise quantification and manipulation of the training process. This approach underscores the importance of empirical evidence and rigorous testing to guide training decisions and ensure athlete safety and effectiveness.

Simultaneously, the artistic dimension, embodied by the literacy of physical activity, acknowledges the individual nuances of each athlete and their unique symphony of motion. It appreciates the fluidity, variability and expressiveness of human movement and it recognises that each athlete has a distinct 'style' or 'handwriting' of his or her athletic motion.


The fusion of these two elements transcends the conventional boundaries of training practices.

This individualisation opens up a world of possibilities for customisation and refinement, lending an artistic creativity to the otherwise strictly scientific protocol. It provides a rich, dynamic, and flexible foundation for crafting programs that not only enhance physical performance and foster faster rehabilitation, but also cultivate a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the body's capabilities.

This is not just about programming for athletic performance – it’s about composing a symphony of motion, a unique melody that sings to the rhythm of each athlete's body and mind. It is the unity of science and art, where the precision of the grammar meets the expressiveness of the literacy, crafting the language of athletic excellence.

Imagination of athletic statue as a result of literate and well-quantified approach to performance training.

Practical Commentary.

  • I believe that the analogy of language powerfully underscores the potential of a modern and positive approach to motor learning and strength training, particularly in sports and clinical contexts.

  • This approach fosters a misleading sense of control over a process that cannot be fully comprehended through numerical analysis alone. It misses out on the artistic creativity – the crucial element that encourages thinking beyond conventional boundaries and truly understanding the depth and dynamism of human movement.

  • As someone deeply committed to the scientific understanding of human movement, I find it disheartening when trainers and clinicians try to confine the complex phenomenon of movement to an overly reductionist perspective, devoid of the richness it inherently possesses.

Recommender Reading:

  • Whitehead M. Physical LiteracyThroughout the Lifecourse. Routledge (2010).

  • Rudd JR et al. Physical Literacy - A Journey of Individual Enrichment: An Ecological Dynamics Rationale for Enhancing Performance and Physical Activity in All. Frontiers in Psychology (2020).

  • Roetert EP et al. Physical Literacy: Why Should We Embrace This Construct? British Journal of Sports Medicine (2018).

Enrich the Conversation.

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