An Outsiders Perspective From The Inside

Eitan Gelber, MA, ATC, CSCS, CMT
DNS Practitioner
Senior Associate Director of Athletic Training
Department of Athletics, Stanford University 
BIO

Let me formally welcome Eitan as Move2Thrive's newest "Movement Ambassador". I am truly honored to have Eitan as part of the team. Eitan is an amazing athletic trainer and Stanford University is lucky to have him as a member of their sports medicine team. What I respect more about Eitan, besides his brilliance in high performance therapy, is his humility and "big picture" understanding of physical literacy regardless of age. Get to know this guy...he is truly a special individual!  Read below what Eitan has to say about the current state of physical literacy in collegiate athletes!


A Few years ago, one of our teams at Stanford University had an increase in fall injuries to their upper extremities. My co-worker requested me to come in and advise the team on risk reduction strategies. I was introduced to the team after warm up, and I started to teach basic break-falls. This is an important skill judo participants learn before learning how to throw. The progression is quite simple, starting with a backward fall – first from lying supine, then squatting and falling back, and lastly from standing to falling back. The key fundamentals are that the head stays off the ground and arms stay by the body. Human instinct is to post the arm out and “CRACK” off it goes! Next step was to perform side break-falls while keeping the same fundamentals. Here as well, the athletes did excellent. The next set of skills were break-fall rolls, but first I had to assess the athletes’ rolling abilities. It was a comedy show! Very skilled NCAA Division I collegiate athletes had rolling and tumbling illiteracy. One does not need to be considered a ninja, but definitely should know how to perform a basic tumble and roll when falling. In this case, I suspect these ATHLETES had very limited movement variety experience at an early age (early specialization).

Growing up in Israel, one learns from elementary school basic gymnastics (rolling, vault, balance beams), track disciplines (primarily sprints, and high and long jump as a kid), variety of ball games, and water activities. While the facilities were horrendous, the education and the emphasis of variety were a well-established part of our education. In the current reality of the San Jose Unified School District, PE is not required until 5th grade. Hence, the education component of physical activity and movement is deprived from the children during the most crucial years of brain neuroplasticity. The opportunity of learning skills and habits that would be retained for life is lost (I am not sure what happens in other school districts). Even in the highly competitive NCAA Division I athletics at Stanford University the impact of that loss is felt. I am afraid, as of right now, the future does not look brighter! Join me and let’s give our youth and future athletes the opportunity to Move2Thrive!

Eitan Gelber, MA, ATC, CSCS, CMT
DNS Practitioner
Senior Associate Director of Athletic Training
Department of Athletics, Stanford University 
egelber@stanford.edu