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History of Educational Gymnastics in British schools
February 13, 2018
Educational Gymnastics in Britain A popular conception of gymnastics today is of young girls in sparkly leotards with hair kept up in tightly bound buns.  This is a relatively new concept, with gymnastics originally being an all-male outdoor pursuit. Gymnastics has originated from several different sources, but all had the underlying principle of healthy movement. […]

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Structural Integrity

How do I start training?

how to start fitness trainingIn the rush to get results fast and take shortcuts, or to “get to the interesting stuff” young athletes get broken. Improving the structural integrity of the athlete is essential before moving onto other areas of fitness.

Watching Alien Covenant this week prompted me to update this blog as they used the phrase also.

I used to say that Structural Integrity is composed of  4 key components:

  • Posture: Static and dynamic, countering gravity.
  • Balance: Static and dynamic, upper/ lower body, single limbs.
  • Stability: Joints are strong and can support body weight when moving and static.
  • Mobility: How you control limbs over a range of movement.

Structural integrity

But, when presenting at the DAASM symposium in April, I was challenged on the use of “stability” By Dr. Homayun Gharavi MD, PhD, PhD. He suggested that the word “control” is better than stability. Stability has been overused and is vague, the body is designed to move, unlike a table, and so control is more accurate.

This means the new schematic would be this: structural integrity


The Foundation of Athletic Development

Most of the athletes I initially encounter have glaring deficiencies in their structure or posture that limits their ability to progress.  Loading athletes like this either through volume, intensity or weight, will lead to breakdowns. Saying someone needs to get fitter and then giving them a running programme, without seeing them run, is poor coaching.

Instead, after their initial musculo skeletal and movement screening, we start to work on their structural integrity. This is the foundation of Athletic Development and then allows the athlete to work on their athletic ability involving spatial awareness, rhythm, movement abilities and timing. This then allows greater ease of skill acquisition. In this video you see an example of work with young gymnnasts.

Only then do we start on our training programmes. The first month of the Sports Training System is designed to enhance structural integrity.

star trek structural integrity

Enterprise hull needs structural integrity

N.B. I thought this was an original term on my part, but then realised that it was inherited from watching too much Star Trek!

The hull has been breached and is losing its Structural Integrity Cap’n” and so on!


  1. […] lot of work players do in the gym nowadays is actually improving their resistance to injury, so spending time in the gym doing the right things can have a beneficial […]

  2. […] not to say that 100% of training should be focussed on these movements, as all round strength and structural integrity is necessary to maintain athleticism and reduce injuries. In order to ensure all round strength […]

  3. […] exercises which will reinforce good posture, balance, stability and mobility to develop the Structural Integrity of the archers. This could include using exercises during warm ups or encouraging athletes to […]

  4. […] Posture, balance, stability and mobility= foundations of excellent movement. […]

  5. […] We have to put certain exercises and training in first to allow their bodies to get strong and support the speed. This is developing their structural integrity. […]

  6. Nick Ward says:

    Great review of thid. In my option balance is a term which is also misrepresented as a unique ability to certain exercises e.g. stand on a single cushion or bosu, rather than as an integral part of any movement challenge. I am sure walking on or doing a handstand on a balance beam is not just about balance. I feel balance is an integral component of movement rather than a discrete property ?

    • James Marshall says:

      Thanks for the thoughts Nick. Balance is dynamic and static, that requires control and strength too. Our educational gymnastics sessions explore different points, bases and sequences in and out of balance. For example: find a balance, then lower yourself to floor, roll and then move to a different balance.

  7. Cameron Gurd says:

    Hi James
    Thanks that clears up structural integrity James. The video is a great visual image


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Sean Clifford- Point Guard
I feel that training with South West Talent and James Marshall has been the best thing I've done for my basketball career so far. It has greatly improved my overall athleticism which has been a real benefit to me when on court. More importantly, however, the training has enabled me to continue playing whilst suffering from a back injury which has caused me real problems over a number of years. It has made huge improvements more recently and I am confident that I will be in good shape to play this coming season.

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Teenage movement seminar: Willand
10 Apr 2018

Your future success starts here Are you an active teenager who wants to get a bit fitter? Feel like you get overlooked by school teams? Do you want to learn how to become more agile and faster? Do you want specific advice on how you can balance study and becoming more active? Do you want […]