Recomended Reading on Nervous System

The more I read about training the nervous system for speed, the more I realize how inadequate my knowledge of the nervous system really is. Could you people out there, especially you coaches, refer me to some of the research and books that have shaped your understanding of how the nervous system can be trained? I know that some of this has been posted before, but I was unable to find it. (I’m not very smart) Thanks very much!

Charlie’s manuals are the best literature that I’ve found on information for increasing neural efficiency and expanding the energy envelope.

Any good text on exercise physiology at a university bookstore should do it.

Personal favorites of mine are by Roger Enoka-

There are three editions-

Neuromechanical Basis of Kinesiology
1st Edition 1988

Neuromechanical Basis of Kinesiology
2nd Edition 1994

Neuromechanics of Human Movement
3rd edition 2002

There are modifications in each of the text and portions on the nervous system in the first edition were not in later editions. The texts are very readable and applicable- a blend of physiology and kinematics.

The texts are full of real sports examples and extremely well referenced.

If you have the time a search on Pub Med with RM Enoka will give you a look at the extensive research he has been involved with.

thanks so much!

thanks so much!

Speed Trap by Charlie Francis. Not a down to the molecule technical manual, but down to earth, actual on the field information. Stuff you can use right away that works!

sorry, I should have stated in the initial post that yes I have read Speed Trap, Training for Speed, and the Forum Review a number of times each… I am searching for texts more along the line of what Mr. Green has suggested. I am hoping to learn the rudiments of how the nervous system works so that I can better apply what I have learned from Charlie and others.

I would recommend the following texts:

Rose, (1997) A multilevel approach to the study of motor control and learning, Boston: Allyn & Bacon

Magill( 2001) Motor learning concepts and application 6th edition. : Brown and Benchmark

Schmidt & Lee ( 1999). Motor learning: A behavioural Emphasis 3rd edition Human Kinetics

The above texts provides a overview of the motor learning process and the neurophysiological aspects of movement.

Its important to know the structure & function of brain and the somatosensory system before you can understand the role of the nervous system in sprinting.

The content of Charlies Manuals provides a pseudo-sciencitific representation of the nervous system. The claim that sprinting is a hind brain activity is contradicted by the fact the forebrain regulates all voluntary movements via the cortiospinal tract.

We’ve been all through this ad nauseum (Can anyone post the link from these discussions). Now Sharmer’s back for more.
Repetitive Actions that become automatic - ie walking, running, etc become hind-brain activities BUT input into these actions would be fore-brain directed. The hind brain operates much faster- that’s why conscious effort DURING ground strike is so disastrous.
I spent some time working on this very area with Cerebral Palsy patients with Neurologists, and the problem with many non-isolated tasks (combining EMS assisted dorsiflexion tasks with actual walking) moved what would normally be a hind-brain activity to the fore-brain- the area of the brain most affected by CP. It soon became clear that doing assisted dorsiflexion work separately and allowing it to be incorporated automatically into the gait later was effective, while a combined approach had little impact.
Of course, it is entirely possible that I, and the Neurologists who worked with me were completely out to lunch- that Sharmer is correct- that the MRIs were wrong and the damage was in the hindbrain and that the patients improved by moving tasks to the forebrain- perhaps their heads were on backwards- or they improved merely by divine intervention and happenstance.
Ditto for the sprinters.

Yours Truly
Pseudo Charlie


The CP work is really interesting was there anything published on it? This subject interests me and i have some friends who are cognitive science majors who would be really interested.

I know this was probably asked in the other thread, but to clarify, an action that is practiced enough is controlled by the hind-brain and thus automatic and quick. However, if the subject attempts to adjust this action “on the fly”, it becomes a fore-brain activity and screws up the firing patterns because the fore-brain is too slow.
So, in practical terms, is this an example of how “paralysis by analysis” (as you put it in Speed Trap) can actually be really detrimental?

Thanks, in advance.

I’m not sure what was published on this- or the other areas we worked on. This was at the Magee clinic in Toronto, run by Dr Karen Pape, which eventually closed due to funding difficulties. I was there in 1991 and 1992 and a lot of impressive results were achieved and documented, as the husband of one of the neurologists was a leading creator of MRI imaging software. With low frequency EMS, done overnite, CP children showed, not only improved muscle function, but overall growth, which we believed could be attributed to hormonal changes induced by the EMS. (CP children tend to be in the bottom 20th percentile for growth. After treatment, many moved to the 50th percentile, which seemed to be far more than coincidence.)
As the level of contraction force, delivered by the EMS, was so low as to be barely perceptible (the children slept through the treatments), muscle growth must have been due to forces outside the accepted understanding of exercise.
In addition we had documentation of treatment of an undeveloped hand, which was followed with MRI studies and it reached almost the same size as the good hand- freaky!
I also developed a program for teaching parents massage methods and ultra-slow motion, gentle stretching techniques for home use. (Accepted stretching methods for CP are nothing short of barbaric- often leaving the childeren terrified and screaming in pain)

I spent some time working on this very area with Cerebral Palsy patients with Neurologists, and the problem with many non-isolated tasks (combining EMS assisted dorsiflexion tasks with actual walking) moved what would normally be a hind-brain activity to the fore-brain- the area of the brain most affected by CP. It soon became clear that doing assisted dorsiflexion work separately and allowing it to be incorporated automatically into the gait later was effective, while a combined approach had little impact

This is only anecdotal evidence, with no sources to verify the accuracy of your description. For arguments sake I ‘ll assume your right.

So what! There was a shift towards hind brain activity with CP patients.
Does this mean that sprinters have a hind brain shift ?
Is this enough evidence to warrant proof that same shift occurs in sprinting?
Is it valid to apply anecdotal evidence from CP patients to sprinters?

Your counter argument is fallacious because it may be true that CP patients have a shift in hind brain activity yet this is not suffice to support the conclusion that sprinters have the same shift. In science we have a term called Validity- so that your testing enables valid inferences. In your case a shift in hind brain activity would be a valid conclusion if the data showed a shift in sprinters. Your argument is neither valid nor plausible.

You Said it yourself: Pseudo Charlie…

Perhaps you could review a sprint model using current research sharmer?

Indeed! I have one opinion and you have another. One of us has 30 years experience as an athlete and a coach, working at the highest levels of performance ever achieved. One of us does not. One of us is wrong, and everyone here is free to judge who has their oars in the water- and who does not.
I’ve freely offered experiences- you dismiss them.
I’ve mentionned the neurologists who felt as I did- you dismiss them.
I point out that the CP patients improved- you say “So what!”
You admit that walking is hind brain but claim sprinting is not. At what speed does your “science” tell you that there is a shift from back to front? By the way, I’ve never suggested that you shift sprinting to the hind brain- it’s already there- unless you screw it up.
Observation will always be ahead of science. It’s not my job to validate my experience to your satisfaction. If you can’t figure it out, then go back and try again till you can.
You could do us all (and yourself) a big favour by using your own hind brain for sprinting and your fore brain for commenting instead of the other way around.
In science, you have a term called validity- In the real world, I have a term called: “Money talks- bullshit walks!”

Would espn use pimp or gansta slap? Kick in the hind period!

Thanks so much for the elaboration on the CP research. I will have to look up the group to see if they published something, with those results i hope they did before the funding dropped out . Maybe some of the cog sci proffs here might know about it, I think i might have heard a friend mention that one of the proff’s does CP research…

Anyways, thanks again for the info.


From own experience, I was at a seminar with Charlie and Ian King a couple years back.

When I was performing drills, possibly realizing I was in front of two world classes coaches I tried to think my way through things. That equaled bad execution. As I repeated them I let things just flow and I remember Charlie telling the group how I improved each time. Now the movements are second nature, no thought needed!

You can do a test for yourself, walk in front of a pretty lady, the more you think about her looking at you, the more you become aware of each foot placement, and you don’t feel you move as naturally. As opposed to walking without any spectators.

Look up under Dr Karen Pape, as, I think, she still travels doing lectures and/or seminars on CP, as well as on Post Polio Syndrome.

1- Arousal ( forebrain activity in the Diencephalon, region of the brain responsible for arousal. Receives input from motor areas of the cerebral cortex. Its the level of arousal that influences the frontal system.

  1. Activation of frontal lobe( Primary motor area, premotor cortex, prefrontal cortex).

  2. Neural impulses travel down the primary motor area along the corticospinal tract to motor units.

The Hind brain differentiates into the Cerebellum, pons, medulla. In terms of movement the cerebellum has a function in co-ordinating movements by working with forebrain. The cerebellum has no direct effect on motor units because it has no neural connection.

Supporting reflexes: ( stretch reflex, flexion reflex, crossed extensor reflex), work between motor neurons at the spinal cord and muscle fibers. Voluntary movements don’t function at this level.

When performances become automated so no conscious effort is needed, the neural impulses between motor areas of brain & motor units occurs much faster. The idea that automated performance is a hind brain activity is false because neural impulses begin in the forebrain with arousal and leave via ascending fibers of the primary motor area.

Schmidt & Lee ( 1999). Motor learning: A behavioral Emphasis 3rd edition Human Kinetics

I have only referenced one secondary source of evidence, if I was to use primary sources: such as current published researched findings I wouldn’t be able to reply to your question for weeks. However Schmidt & Lee are leading scholars in the field of motor learning.