The term „coordination“ comes from the Latin word – „ordinare“, which means “to put in an order, to regulate, to bring in a certain sequence”. Coordination is about phasing, assigning and linking movements and it has always a specific, mostly complex purpose. In sports, coordination is defined as the ability to use your senses, peripheral and central nervous system and the skeletal muscles to perform tasks smoothly, efficiently and accurately. This is important to ensure that within any sequence of movements, the nerve impulses reach the correct muscles in a coordinated manner in terms of time, strength and scope.
The importance of coordinative skills
Coordination is essential for learning, adapting and controlling physical movements. It’s about responsiveness, balance, orientation and rhythm as well as the ability to anticipate, to distinguish and to link signals and events. If you are able to “coordinate” well, you can optimally use your flexibility and strength, speed and endurance, as well as your body’s conditional and motor skills. A distinction is made between intramuscular coordination (within a muscle) and intermuscular coordination (between several muscles). Both forms can be improved significantly through targeted training, which will really enhance your performance. Naturally, coordinative skills are developed mainly between the sixth and 13th year of life and can start to decline from as early as the age of 30 years. That’s why you should work on your coordinative skills all your life!
Why are good coordination skills important for riders?
Good coordination skills are essential for riders in order to apply the aids correctly, effectively and as subtle as possible. You need to be able to move both hands, legs, hips and your upper body independently and in a controlled manner. Especially beginners often find it difficult to apply leg aids without any movement in their upper body or to keep their hands still and independent of any movements elsewhere in their body. But also more experienced riders often find that one of their legs is more effective than the other or one of their hands is better at using the whip for example. There are many ways and exercises to improve your coordination skills. In order to optimise the interaction between muscles, brain and nerves, you can practise any “new” movements that your body does not perform “automatically” yet – so practising any flow or sequence of exercises that you may find a little challenging to coordinate at first, will help you strengthen your coordination skills. Especially exercises where you have to move your hands and legs independently of each other are great. Try these three exercises to improve your coordination skills:
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