The 3 Planes of Movement and Why They Matter

The first several chapters of any training certification textbook are filled with rather basic (baseline) science. Lever types, muscle anatomy, and cellular biology all receive an overview, seemingly just to check off boxes that the certifying agency has deemed necessary. It’s commonly acknowledged among coaches is that while this knowledge is certainly necessary, it isn’t always front-of-mind when coaching. Strength and conditioning coach Martin Rooney routinely jokes at coaching seminars “who remembers the Krebs cycle?” A question which almost always receives a combination groan/laugh from coaches he’s addressing (some nervously hiding the fact that they’ve forgotten entirely what the Krebs cycle is). The frequency with which this knowledge is referenced, doesn’t make it any less important, but the gap between the foundational necessity and the applied usefulness of this information is not.

One of the core concepts that is typically contained in this chapter is “planes of movement”. This concept is typically illustrated by a drawing of a faceless outline of a person who is bisected by 3 planes. It’s a simple enough image that almost anyone would gloss over the adjoining paragraph thinking “ok I get that, let’s get to the real stuff”. However, these planes are a great framework for designing workouts, cueing movements and improving agility.

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