When we talk about multi-dimensional movement and transference from the weight room to the field we are talking about the three planes of movement. Typically, they are discussed as: Sagittal, Frontal, and Transverse. To give an example, when we think about a back squat, that is a primarily sagittal based movement. A lateral lunge would be a frontal based, and a rotational med ball toss would be considered a transverse plane movement. Even running can be considered a tri-planar movement in that the ankle joint moves in all directions at once. 

Why Train On Three Planes?

Why do we want to train movements in these three planes? Simply because athletes do not just move in a singular plane, but in a tri-planar (sagittal, frontal, transverse) fashion. Sometimes they end up in disadvantageous positions despite their best efforts. This means that athletes may get into an extended split with their legs, their ankle may roll to an extreme angle, or their knee may go past their toes a bit too much, so taking some time to train their bodies to be in these positions will assist in reducing the possible adverse effects that may occur.

From Weight Room to Field

When we consider how the work that we do in the weight room transfers onto the field, we begin with the idea that everything we do is a skill, and all learned movements are a skill. To enhance our skills, it takes repetition. In this case, it needs to happen both in the weight room and on the field. A skill that we can develop, and transfer as well, from the weight room to the field, is the ability to accept and generate force in a multi-dimensional fashion. Many coaches like to talk about rate of force development, but we cannot produce what we cannot accept in terms of force. Rate of force acceptance can be defined simply as the eccentric (lengthening / lowering) muscle action that occurs in everyday life. It is our ability to take the eccentric force/load that occurs when walking, running, lifting, etc. and redirect it in an explosive manner. When we look at sport, team/field/court, virtually all sporting events, we see that athletes often end up in disadvantageous positions. Athletes must respond to stimuli from their event in a fast-paced manner which puts them in these positions. Therefore, we can train our athletes to accept force in these disadvantageous (sometimes referred to as bad) positions in order to generate force out of them.

Multi-Dimensional Movements Prevent Injuries

Exposure to these more extreme ranges of motion in various planes is critical to injury prevention as well. When athletes are put in compromised positions and have never had to produce strength in those positions, then soft tissue injuries occur such as with the ankle, groin, hamstring, etc. Therefore, including more multi-planar movement (sagittal, frontal, and transverse) will drive new tissue lengths, strength, and stability which will have a greater carryover to performance and injury reduction on the field. Working in and on tri-planar movements will enhance your athlete’s ability to accept and produce greater forces which will in turn decrease their injury rate while increasing their athleticism.