[Content by Loren Landow and Eric Bach]
Think you’ll agree with us when we say:
Sports are chaotic.
Imagine you’re a quarterback. On a three-step drop you’re immediately flushed from the pocket. A 260 pound linebacker in barreling down your neck while you’re doing all you can to avoid the sack.
Your eyes are down field, scanning you receivers, analyzing the flow of the defense, and making predictions on where to throw the ball.
Bingo, you found your guy.
Do you spin away from pressure?
Throw the ball up for grabs?
Finally, you decide:
Spin move, hop, and whip a frozen rope pass to your crossing wide-reciever.
This whole sequence takes a couple seconds at most. As practitioners, its our job to prepare our athletes for their sports so when chaos takes over, they’re able to do all the right mechanical movements from bizarre, unorthodox positions. 
More specifically…
In this post, we’ll cover the basic planes of movement as a foundation, then cover specific drills to immediately improve your athletes’ performance.
The Planes of Motion:
Before diving into the specific planes of motion it’s important to understand that there are always ti-planar forces. This means there are forces front to back, side to side, and rotationally on every joint and during every movement.
The degrees of force change, which is why its absolutely imperative you condition your athletes to handle these forces. This table from Philip Melillo breaks down the three coronal planes:
PlaneDescription of PlaneAxis of RotationDescription of AxisMovement
Divides the body into
right and left halves
FrontalRuns medial / lateralFlexion
(Coronal or
Divides the body into
anterior and posterior
SagittalRuns anterior / posteriorAbduction
Lateral Flexion
Divides the body into
superior and inferior
(longitudinal or
Runs superior / inferiorInternal Rotation
External Rotation
Horizontal Abduction

Horizontal Adduction
Table 2 (Melillo)
Sagittal Plane: The sagittal plane divides the the body into a left and a right side. In movement, think primarily front to back, like sprinting.
Frontal Plane: The frontal plane divides the body by anterior and posterior, or front and back. In movement, think side to side like a lateral lunge, shuffles, or jumping jacks.
Transverse Plane: The transverse plane divides the body into the upper (superior) and lower (inferior) portions. In movement, think about a rotation, such as a spin, a juke move, or a baseball pitch.
With the basics covered, it’s imperative you cover exercises that emphasize each plane of motion.
The body must be exposed to small doses of venom to protect against snakebites (Landow). Similarly, its vital to stress the joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles to the stresses they will see during sport. Through multi-planar jumps, you’ll train your athletes to be resilient to forces and gain awareness of joint positions during sport.
The progression followed in the video below is laid out in the exact progression you should use.
Technical competency is imperative for progression— your athletes must earn the right to try more difficult exercises with sound landing mechanics.
Static Sagittal Plane jumps: 0:24

Static Frontal Jumps Plane jumps:

Static Transverse Jumps Plane jumps:
Countermovement Sagittal Plane jumps:
Countermovement Frontal plane jumps:
Countermovement Transverse plane jumps
Bottom Line:
 Teach your athletes how to do all the right things from all the wrong positions (Landow).
After all, sports are chaotic.
Failing to address the chaotic nature of movement opens the door for injury and minimizes performance. Don’t let that happen— start grooving tri-planar movements with the jump progression provided above.
P.S. If you’re looking for more injury prevention high-performance strategies, then make sure you check out Phase One and Phase Two mentorships brought to you by Loren Landow. Check them out here.
Melillo, Phillip. “Philip Melillo – Anatomy & Kinesiology: Body Position & Joint Movement.” Philip Melillo – Anatomy & Kinesiology: Body Position & Joint Movement. Philip Melillo. Web. 9 May 2015. <http://www.philipmelillo.com/anatomy_bodyposition.htm>.
Kendall F, McCreary E. Muscles: Testing and Function. 4th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 1993 In: ACSM’s Resource for the Personal Trainer, 3rd ed. Thompson, W.R. ed. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2010: 37-40.
Landow, L. (2013, August). In Loren Landow (Chair). Train to win. Steadman Hawkins Sports Performance Train to win performance mentorship, Denver, Colorado.