In my first STACK Blog post, I offered three key areas of focus for improving athleticism. Here, I will expand on the Squat Position Homework, one of the progressions used to reinforce proper and efficient knee bending.
The Squat Position Homework is an exercise that can serve as a staple in any workout, either in the weight room or as part of an athlete's speed or agility training.
• Stand with toes two inches from a smooth wall
• With feet shoulder-width apart, push hips back and assume squat position
• Repeat for three to five reps, keeping feet straight and knees tracking over heels
When performing the Squat Position Homework, it's most beneficial to partner with another athlete in order to objectively evaluate the movement patterns.
The Squat Position Homework should be observed from two angles: the side and the rear. When observing from the side, the athlete's back should remain straight, his knees should not go past his toes, and when he descends, his thighs should be parallel to the ground.
When observing from the rear, the athlete's ankles, knees and hips should be in a straight line throughout the entire range of motion. If the athlete's knees drift toward the midline of the body, we will move him through a glute activation sequence, similar to the exercises shown in the video below.
If the athlete's knees drift away from the midline, we will have him perform a Lunge series.
Athletes who are relatively new to strength training should start by performing a Bodyweight Lunge series. This will teach proper sequencing and appropriate muscle recruitment for bending the knees safely and efficiently. Using the quads, hamstrings, glutes and other lower body muscles in an orderly manner must be taught first.
Furthermore, an athlete's flexibility plays a big role in proper movement. There are many ways to increase flexibility—and many protocols, which, if used properly, will reduce the risk of injury when combined with a comprehensive strength and conditioning program.
We devote five to 10 minutes following each workout to stretching the body. Performing a foam roller program, partner stretching and a stretch band sequence will help increase the resting length of muscles, restore normal range of movement, encourage proper blood flow and promote an increase of power with strengthening exercises. Try this "FLEX" session [seen in the video below] following your next workout.
Check out Coach Taylor's SMARTER Team Training podcast below.
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