The action|types® approach

by Bertrand Théraulaz

Photo by Michael Zittel PexelsEach gesture can be perceived as a problem to solve. The specific coordination required is conditioned by the context and the individual’s natural needs (action|types® profile). A one-size-fits-all concept limits the quality of motor expression. The The action|types® approach (ATA) is based on 30 years of research, experimentation, courses and practical applications in various contexts. Nature took a long time to develop our motor patterns. Therefore, respect, understanding and humility are required qualities when dealing with individuals’ preferences.

The ATA was developed through 30 years of experience in elite sports first and then in the corporate environment. The movements observed are the body’s natural way to return to the essential elements of all types of human performance, its natural functions, its ecology, its capacity to adapt and evolve in a context.

The action|types® approach global mission is: Allowing human beings to thrive within their own identity! Being more of who I am while being welcomed as I am. Building on people’s strengths.

From this experience, we were convinced that:

  • There is enough talent in each person, and enough possible activities on our planet, that every individual can become, in their own way, a “world champion.” If the first step is the intention to become the constructive champion of oneself, the second step is to value differences.
  • Learning is a very personal matter and “one cannot learn a movement, it is freed” by the body.

For more more complete information about the thinking behind action|types® theory, download this file.


The various dimensions composing an action|types® profile

Every living being is subject to the effect of gravity which influences the bone structures and the muscle chains coordination. action|types® has highlighted four main motor patterns:

  • G like Global motor skills ==> SF
  • D like Distal or fine motor skills ==> ST
  • R like Rhythm motor skills  ==> NF
  • C like Conceptual motor skills  ==> NT

Gs need to globally engage the body (accent on the big muscles of trunk and legs): they have better control of action realized close to the body and without rotation. Gs need to face the incoming action using translational, symmetric and linear movements.

Ds need to engage fine motor skills (accent on forearms, wrists and fingers, same with the legs): they have better control of actions executed away from the body (foot, eye) that needs higher eye-hand/foot coordination. Ds also use translational, symmetric and linear movements.

Rs are sensible to the rhythm (time sequence in space): their organisation is asymmetrical; they mix very well the global motor skills on their right side with the fine motor skills on their left side. Rs need to use rotational movements.

C needs a concept to construct the movement (accent on the mental representation of the activity and or the situation): their organisation is asymmetrical; they systematically engage their right side in the action. Cs need to face the incoming action to sharpen their perception and use rotational movements.

Key features of each motor skills’ family according to action|types®

Walking from the Vision Movement Posture
G Bottom, while producing energy Low-frequency, unfocused, towards the ground Linear, from the hips Symmetrical, turning around middle of the body
D Bottom, while producing energy High-frequency, focused, towards the ground Linear, from the hips Symmetrical, turning around middle of the body
R Top, while recovering energy Low-frequency, unfocused, towards the sky Rotatory, from the shoulders Asymmetrical, turning around the left side
C Top, while recovering energy High-frequency, focused, towards the sky Rotatory, from the shoulders Asymmetrical, turning around the right side

The action|types® approach developed and uses physical tests to obtain a reliable assessment of the natural motor patterns. We postulate that without a reliable diagnostic based on physical evidence it is difficult to get the true dynamic of an individuals’ preferences. Because the person is moving back and forth between its profile and its counterpart, any cognitive assessment will have trouble revealing somebody’s true dynamic.

There are two main coordination patterns which are the foundation for most movement in order to organize the body against gravity. People maintain their balance either from the bottom (upwards) or from the top (downwards).

Characteristics of the Walking Patterns according to action|types®

  Walk from the Bottom – WB Walk from the Top – WT
Information comes from Senses / Sensations / Touch Intuition / Anticipation
Information leads to Fact / Action / Repetition / Routine Forecast, mental representation / Combinations
Adaptation while moving  Down-up =

Organize the lower body first

Up-down =

Organize the upper body first

What allows the action Front muscle chains (thighs) Back muscle chains (hamstrings)
Accent on Pronation (« to take ») Supination (« to give »)
Posture organization Centre of gravity behind, symmetry Centre of gravity in front, asymmetry
Movement dominance Linear Rotatory
Seek to Impact and measure their actions Gain Self-Confidence / Create Interrelations

Characteristics of the visual preferences according to action|types®

  Low-frequency vision or LF High-frequency vision or HF
Information comes from Movement perception Perception of contrasts
Information leads to a decision based on Personal values Impersonal principles
Adaptation while moving  If able not to focus with their gaze If able to focus with their gaze
What allows the action Extension of the spine Compression of the spine
Accent on Breathing out Breathing in
Posture organization Aim with their body Aim with their vision
Movement depends on Personal implication in the duel Tactic and strategy
Seek to Feel the context Understand the context

Training in the UK

Even if we could not go through all the elements that characterize each motor skill family, we hope we could awake your curiosity and add a new perspective to your own observation skills.

Doing the action|types® Basic Course (ATBC) allows each person to capitalize on his/her personal strengths. Using our proprietary detection method, you may physically validate your profile and experience what it means in terms of movement and posture. Integrating the action|types® approach in any workplace, assures dynamic growth, utilizing the intrinsic strengths of each person.

Whatever your professional or personal field of interest, becoming an action|types® approach practitioner will further prepare you for any challenge of the 21st century!

Next opportunity to become educated in the ATA:

ATBC 1-2019 in Milton Keynes, England – ActionTypes Basic Course in English

Details for Module 1: 15-17 April 2019 (following the BAPT 2019 conference)

See details for Module 1 here
Book your place here

Follow-up Module 2: 13-15 May 2019

For more information, please use the e-mail below and contact Bertrand Théraulaz, co-founder of the action|types® approach

ActionTypes Swiss
Route de Prêles 10
CH-2517 Diesse
+41(0)79 355 26 50

About the Author

Bertrand Théraulaz (ENTP) did Biology studies, then studied for a PE Teacher diploma winning Swiss 1st prize. Volleyball coach up to national teams level. Co-founder of the ActionTypes approach (1990—). Elite sports coaching diploma. Formerly responsible for professional coaches’ education in Switzerland for French-speaking coaches (15 yrs).

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