mary jo falvey of the center on the cadillacMy son Kyle played three years of varsity football at Pope High School. Each year his coach invited the mom’s to a pre-season workshop called “Football 101.”  Coach Kemper would teach us  about the different positions, the differences between offense and defense, and how the team executed their strategies.  After attending for three years, I was able to see a play develop and could carry on a semi-meaningful conversation about the game.

Coach Kemper’s success with these young men (they were in regional playoffs the last two years) is based on a teaching system that is straight forward, sensible and effective.  This system is known as the  “Three A’s of Football”.  Each player on the team knows what his particular “A’s” are for a specific football play.


Alignment:  How a player lines up on the field.

Assignment:  What a player needs to do during the play.  This is the player’s job.

Adjustment: What the player does if the situation changes on the field.   This is their “Plan B”

When good players execute their three A’s, great things can happen for a football team.

After listening to Coach Kemper, I realized that my Pilates teaching and my student’s learning could benefit from a similar approach.

Alignment:  The starting position for an exercise.  Students need to know the position of the pelvis, spine, scapulae, and ribs.  Just like in football, success in a play comes from lining up correctly.

Assignment:  What the body does during the exercise.  How should it move? What is the objective?  When all of the body’s “players” (muscles) execute correctly, the resulting team work realizes the true benefits of Pilates.

Adjustment:  How to modify an exercise to make it successful.  Just like a football player may need to adjust his assignment as a play unfolds, a Pilates practitioner may need to modify an exercise to facilitate the result.  Modifications make the exercise successful.

Keep the three A’s in mind during your Pilates practice.  Knowing your alignment, your assignment and your adjustment can help you realize the wonderful benefits of this exercise method.