Connect the Dots

Does everything in your program make sense to your athletes?

Do they clearly see the relationship between your exercise selection and their sport?

Creating a connection for the athlete between their training tools and their sport is critical for engagement.

Even more importantly do they understand the specific way in which you want particular exercises executed so that it is more applicable to their sport?

For example…is a squat always a squat or can it mean different things?  Absolutely!  In recent weeks I’ve had a number of different field sport S&C coaches explain to me their “way” of doing squats.  Things like knees outside feet, shins vertical, hip flexion that creates a torso approaching parallel to the ground etc. Suffice to say I didn’t agree with them because I couldn’t see (nor could they explain) how those movement patterns related to movement patterns we want to ingrain in our field sport athletes.  

Am I right or are they right…I don’t think it’s my place to judge (and to be honest I’m not trying to start a twitter-fest on squat mechanics).  That said, when I discussed my methodology; balanced torso and shin geometry, hips initiate movement...I was able to demonstrate a clear relationship between how I want the squat executed, how I move to single leg threads and how the entire strength package relates and contributes to on-field movement.

As it happened, I had a similar conversation with a player a few days later.  The player in question has made some great recent strength gains and was questioning my drive to improve him further..."I don’t want to be just a good lifter!"  When I explained in detail (again) how the program was moving forward with particular respect to how I saw the interaction with and contribution to on-field performance the athlete was reinvigorated about our next training phase.  I even went as far to re-assure him ...“I’m not trying to build a weight lifting champion, I’m aiming to build a football champion”.

Obviously, the point is not at all about squatting.  The point is that any exercise can be done with slightly different emphasis.  For example whenever my athletes do standing rotator cuff work I always have them emphasis their foot position and body posture to not only replicate the positions required for their sport, but also to reinforce systemic coordination.

A short video example of coaching common exercises with a different emphasis.

In recent blogs I have noted the need to develop efficient and effective motor patterns.  Reinforcing body postures / positions and systemic control in exercises as benign as rotator cuff work, significantly contributes to “ingraining” the required motor patterns in the athlete.

Remember, particularly in team sports, when the athlete is at their most fatigued they will fall back upon what they have practiced most, what is most “ingrained” in them.  You want to make sure that at the point of greatest fatigue, the movement patterns they fall back on are rock solid.


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