Athletic Competencies and 5 in 5

8 12 2010

I have had much interest in athletic competencies and Kelvin Giles “5 in 5” program since I appeared on BBC Breakfast  at the end of November in conjunction with the UKSEM conference I organised in London ( This is quite possibly the most exciting concept in sports injury prevention and physical exercise and unsurprisingly the media has taken a significant interest along with very many of you.

Basic  building blocks-  When we walk, squat, run, twist and turn we need to coordinate simple muscle activity in order to perform these tasks such as a squat or lunge. We learn these as part of paediatric development and as part of evolution, prior to us spending large parts of the day sitting in offices or at school desks these skills were fundamental parts of development but now inactivity and lack of formal exercise training we are losing these simple tasks. In screening  two International sports teams in the last 12 months over 50% of these athletes were unable to perform a coordinated  bodyweight squat correctly , despite many of them squatting in excess of 200Kg in a smith machine. Is this a good thing? It cannot. When we run, commonly at low speed we transmit up to 2.5x our body weight through a single leg at impact – if we are unable to keep  our knee ankle and hip in line, our pelvis  tilted and lumbar spine not hyerextended we are not maximising efficient movement. The consequences are:

1. Decreased performance and power generation

2. Loss of control of force potentially creating injury

3. loss of change of direction speed


These are all fundamental skills we require whether developmentally or in improving performance through athletic development or in Elite sport.


There hae been critics of the 5 in 5 programme – harking back to  past times for today’s It generation say the critics , or ‘we already do it’. The response to this has to be, it requires no or little equipment, takes 5-10 minutes and although some kids may be doing this they are not doing it with good form and appropriate feedback as bourne out be studies looking at the very best kids in talent id programmes in International sport – they still do not display athletic competence and all benefit from these skills being incorprated in their warm up and rehbailitation. 

FIFA have recognised this and introduced a standardised warm up FIFA 11, which although  was advertised at the World Cup in South Africa did not make mainstream media, but has been demonstrated to reduce injury and improve performance . We at UKSEM asked the government to consider making 5 minute warm ups mandatory as part of the curriculum – The idea is that kids could take it home, what other  programme requires no equipment and takes 5 minutes, by taking it home kids might do it 2 or 3 times a day and studies show the earlier exercise patterns are made, adherence later in life is significantly better. The feedback was the Department of Education want to focus on team sport! This is integral to team sport and not separate something which was lost – it is not the whole session of PE merely a physical hard and active warm up with added benefits.


Kelvin and his collaborators are working hard to develop 5 in 5 further and will update via




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