In today's weight rooms, some athletes are too concerned with how much someone else can lift. However, rarely are athletes concerned with the length of time it took to achieve those numbers. They want immediate results!
As a high school athlete, ask yourself a simple question: do you want to Squat 225 pounds today and be unable to play next week due to an injury, or Squat 185 pounds with good technique and compete in next week's game? Obviously, you'd rather play than Squat more, but I consistently find that high school athletes focus on the amount of weight on the bar—to the point where they become discouraged if they can't lift as much as a teammate.
One area of concern is the Back Squat. Many young athletes can hardly perform a Bodyweight Squat, never mind with a heavy bar. Often, this is because they have weak glutes, which can cause them to lean too far forward or cause their knees to collapse inward. Both technique errors reduce the lift's effectiveness and raise the risk of injury. I recommend all athletes, regardless of experience, follow these steps when performing the Back Squat:
• Mentally prepare before each set; imagine yourself performing a Back Squat with perfect form.
• Ensure that your feet are shoulder-width apart and your toes are turned slightly outward.
• Tighten your core, expand your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
• Maintain a neutral head position with your eyes pointing straight ahead, focusing on a single point.
• Take a deep breath before lowering into a Squat. The added air in your lungs helps stabilize the spine.
• Lower slowly into a squat while maintaining a flat back and knees in line with the hips.
• Powerfully drive off heels, focusing on extending the hips to ascend out of the Squat.
If these steps can be successfully performed with bodyweight, then additional weight can be added, ranging from 70 to 95 percent of one rep max.
Jasman Marks is director of sports performance for Velocity Sports, where he has been since 2009. In his career to date, he has worked with athletes at several levels and in numerous sports, ranging from high school and college to the NFL, NBA, MLB, AFL and UFL. Coach Marks currently creates all elite development, Combine prep, tactical force and high school training programs at Velocity.
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