Enhancing Football Movement Through Activation and Strengthening

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If you just head into the weight room, throw an arbitrary amount of weight on the bar and start going at it, you won't accomplish much. You might jack up your beach muscles, but how's that help you prep you for the grueling football season?

"You need to focus on enhancing your movement with activation and strengthening exercises, which transfer what you gain in the weight room to the field," says David Stroshine, founder and owner of AMP Gym [Provo, Utah] and former linebacker for the Tennessee Titans.

Stroshine trains his athletes in three areas: activation, strengthening and sport-specific movement. Activation "turns on" your muscles before strength training; movement work helps you transfer what you accomplish in the weight room to the field.

Here, Stroshine dishes out a few exercises for each area.

Activation

Gluteus Maximus with Mini Band
· Place mini band above knees
· Lie on back with knees bent and feet planted firmly on ground, hip-width apart
· Tighten glutes, raise hips off ground and hold for 5 seconds, making sure your shoulder blades and feet are only body parts touching ground
· Lower glutes; repeat
Sets/Reps/Rest: 3-4 / 3 / 30 seconds

Knee Fallouts with Mini Band
· Place miniband above knees
· Lie on back and raise legs straight up
· Bend knees to form 90-degree angle between quads and torso; pull toes toward shins
· Place thumb on hip bone and wrap pointer and middle fingers around hips
· Keeping heels together, pull knees wider than shoulderwidth apart; hold for 5 seconds
Sets/Reps/Rest: 2-3 / 5-7 / 30 seconds
Benefits: Activating your glutes before strength training allows you to maximize efficiency and reduce wasteful muscle activity, which can lead to injury.
Coaching Point: Make sure you feel your gluteus medius contract; that means you're doing the exercise correctly.

Strengthening

Hang Clean to Front Squat with Jerk
· Hold bar above knees, then perform clean
· Catch clean in quarter-squat position, then perform front squat
· After reaching lowest part of the squat, accelerate into jerk
Sets/Reps/Rest: 3-4 / 3 / 2 minutes
Benefit: This is a full-body movement that focuses on acceleration, deceleration and then reacceleration out of the weakest part of your legs and trunk.

Sled Snatch Pulls
•    In athletic position, grab sled straps that connect to belt
•    Aggressively pull sled toward you as arms travel over head
•    Bring arms down into snatch position
Sets/Reps/Rest: 3-4/3/2 minutes
Coaching Point: Use weight that will allow you to generate a lot of speed with the movement.

Movement

Medicine Ball Drop and Toss with Z-Ball
You need a partner for this exercise. For all progressions, your partner holds the med ball at shoulder height with arms extended.
•    Place your hands over med ball without touching it
•    React to partner's dropping of ball by catching it in squat position
•    Immediately throw ball overhead to partner with 100% effort
•    After you release ball, partner tosses Z-Ball within 5-yard radius. Catch Z-Ball before it bounces twice
Progressions
1. Single-leg med ball drop
2. Med ball drop and toss
3. Single-leg med ball drop and toss
Sets/Reps/Rest: 3/4-5/2 minutes

Mirror Drill
•    Place 2 cones 10 yards apart
•    Partner up, and designate who's playing offense and defense
•    Both of you start between cones: defense mirrors offense move-for-move
•    Offense changes direction between cones, trying to create as much separation from defense as possible, for 10 seconds
•    Perform 5 times
 


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock