Young Athletes Agility
Personally, I have never thought of flexibility or mobility as a factor that plays a huge role in an athlete being able to assume an athletic stance. I do not see where there is enough flexion/extension in any joint throughout the chain where this is really an issue. If you are getting that low you are never going to be overly quick out of the position.
For me, it has always been a matter of reeducation. Young athletes simply have no idea how to align their bodies to create the most effective angles for spontaneous multi directional movement. Often they have been coached wrong or not coached at all and have created their own interpretation of the stance.
So then it comes down to teaching. Therefore, one must be careful with their “selection of words” when describing movements and positions to kids and young.
For instance, flat back can often also mean a completely vertical torso. MANY kids will automatically make this correlation (and so do many coaches.)
I prefer using the terms “neutral” and “tilted.” As Kwame suggested, we work on rounding the spine, we work on arching the spine, and we work on keeping the spine in a “neutral” alignment. Then it is a matter or “tilting” the neutral spine forward as the hips move back.
Another coaching cue that has worked well for me is “opening the door with your butt.” Tell them that their butt is against a door and they have to push the door open with their backside. It works every time.
There is one coaching cue that Kwame and I have always had opposing opinions on. This is good as you should see multiple perspectives whenever possible.
We often differ on our cues for the feet. I teach loading of the ball of the big toe with lateral “tearing pressure.” Lee tells the athlete to pretend they are standing on a piece of paper towel and are trying to rip it in half with their feet (ball of the big toe to be more specific). I use this cue as well.
I am trying to say this with out being disrespectful so if I am Kwame, please accept my apology? However, I feel that using a cue such as “sink your feet into the ground” does not paint a very clear picture and can be misinterpreted to mean stand flat footed and stable.
I know Kwame can coach the pee-wha-diddlens out of speed so this is not his intended message? But once again words can paint a graphic picture.
Are you clear on knee angle (using a somewhat “valgus” stance), foot angle (forward or slightly pigeon toed), slight forward lean (to move the COG forward as far as comfortably possible) etc?
Dr. Kwame Brown says…
I should mention one more cue that I give (mistakenly left out of my original post): This will make the feet sinking make more sense. To the cue to get the hips down and back:
Add “body weight forward”
Feet will begin to take care of themselves automatically. Balance the body and the feet will do what they need to. Below I have another cue for this.
Flexibility / ROM is going to be an indirect factor, because of where they will be used to bending from. The physiological limitation creates the motor preference here. Ankle ROM / flexibility is included here as well, and is often overlooked.
From there, we usually add (slowly sometimes) feet pointed forward.
Tony, as long as we’ve been working together, how could you think it would be disrespectful to simply disagree with me? That would be mighty egotistical on my part.
Folks, Tony and I have both said on here time and time again, it is not the answers, but the discussion that is important. Learn about the system and how it works from our different approaches. Furthermore, as you can see here, Tony’s answer prompted me to complete mine. Without his response, my answer likely would have remained incomplete.
Read it all. don’t pick your favorite person, or favorite cue. read it all for understanding.
Thanks, Big Dawg!
What do you think? Leave your comments below: