Movement & Body Dimensions

Pat Barber Coaching Challenges

This week’s coaching challenge is about noticing body dimensions and how they affect positions.

“Movement, specifically technical movement in exercise and sport, is subject to anthropometric and geometric influences. This means that how people’s bodies are put together and the relative sizes of the various parts affect how they look and perform when doing certain movements. Just think about obvious cases of this truth—NBA centers and NFL offensive linemen, for example. Their build suits the demands of their sport and position, and so the best players in a given physical sport usually have similar dimensions. Soviet sports scientists even had a set of target anatomical dimensions they used in selecting developmental athletes in various fields to increase the likelihood of individual and team success. Championship teams are frequently built by recruiting players with the right bodies and skills—as much as by elite coaching.

The average trainer, coach or physical educator must have a functional understanding of how differing anatomical phenotypes (different body dimensions and body-segment lengths) affect the way proper technique looks.⁣


Being able to see, at a glance, how a trainee’s body dimensions compare to an average template helps us place the trainee in correct, efficient and safe exercise positions. Being oblivious to anthropometric considerations means that we cannot teach our trainees how to exercise to their best benefit for the biggest gain in fitness. Being oblivious means that we may, without intending to, place trainees in positions that can decrease their efficiency and even increase their risk of injury.”⁣

Words by Lon Kilgore in the article The Measure of Man (CF Journal).


Read the article.

When you coach this week, choose at least 3-5 people per class where you really pay attention to how their body dimensions are affecting the positions they can get into. Work with them, maybe even video their movement for them, and educate them on the topic so they have a deeper understanding of their own bodies.

Because if they have very long legs, and a compact torso, they need to understand how that could affect their squat (and so on). Or, said differently: they might really like to know it’s why their squat looks different than someone else’s. This is a super surface level example, but you get the idea.

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About the Author

Pat Barber

You might know me from the CrossFit Games, where I’ve competed since 2008, but I have also been the Head of Coaches Development for one of the largest CrossFits in the world. I have the honor of being one of the few L4 coaches, and I still love teaching L1s and L2s for CFHQ (I’ve put about 15,000 coaches through their L1’s). I'm husband to the most wonderful woman in the world, and a father who loves surfing, Magic: The Gathering, knife making and good coffee.

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