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Friday, June 25, 2010

A few thoughts on training young athletes

I am lucky to have the opportunity to train young athletes. I especially enjoy training high school athletes. I have been asked by several trainers/parents and coaches how to introduce strength training to their kids. If you are in the business of training/coaching young athletes here are five things that I suggest you nail down first.

1. Perfect hip hinge with a neutral spine- this is a must. This will teach the athlete how to extend their hips properly and safely. The hip hinge lays the foundation for RDL's, Bent rows, Deadlifts, KB swings and several other essential movement patterns. Teach this early and often, if will make your life easier as well

2. Body Weight squat- IMO, kids have no business putting a bar on their backs if they cannot perform at least 100 body weight squats in one session. Teach them to squat with proper depth and pay attention to their joint alignment as well as their lumbar spine. If you cannot teach a proper squat you might want to reconsider being a strength coach.

3. Anterior/Posterior pelvic tilt- teach the athlete about neutral spine and how to execute it by pelvic tilting. When paired up with the hip hinge will lay the foundation for proper movement patterns. This will also help the athlete during planks, and push-ups.

4. Push ups-Ahhh the push-up. Great when executed properly, terrible when taught wrong. Half push-ups don't count. Their is no need for a anterior cervical glide in a push-up. There is no need for a hyper-extended lumbar curve in a push-up. There is no-need for a butt in the air push-up. Teach the kids to connect their core with their upper body, do the push-ups right. End of story. There are way too many kids that cannot do a push-up, its embarrassing.

5. Lunge patterns- Too many kids cannot lunge these days. Here are my cues on teaching the lunge. Tall spine, vertical shin angle, weight in the front heel, no valgus or varus forces in the knee. These are simple cues but they work.

Here is my rant :)

High school athletes look bigger and stronger than ever but they are weaker than ever. Most kids train to look good not to perform good. I see way too may kids that can bench 225 but cannot perform 20 perfect pushups. The same kids can't even do 1 perfect pull-up. Their planks are terrible, they cannot deadlift due to poor mobility. They can't squat or even lunge.

Stop training your athletes like bodybuilders, train them to move better. Strength training is a skill and is slowly getting lost when it comes to our young athletes. It makes me sick

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