Correcting Young Athletes Technique
With young athletes who exhibit poor technical quality on a particular exercise or group of exercises, the best method of offering correction is often to become less dogmatic or predictable in your teaching method.
When teaching the squat for example, most Trainers and Coaches tend to take a ‘top down’ approach to skill execution
They teach the young athlete to set their feet and proceed through an eccentric-concentric progression.
The nuances as to why a squat may be faulty are many, but very often, it is the inability of the young athlete to get to and summarily regulate the base of the squat phase (the ‘hole’). When inaccurate applications of force production/absorption are applied to the eccentric and ‘pause’ phase of the eccentric base (no matter how quick or seemingly inconsequential), the ability of the athlete to apply correct force sequences towards the concentric motion will be compromised.
In that, it is often the incorrect pattern of eccentric loading and ‘hole’ stabilizing that causes an incorrect pattern of force production through the concentric phase of the lift.
Many Trainers and Coaches will visually recognize the poor form during the concentric phase, but fail to recognize that it was due to incorrect loading patterns during the eccentric portion.
Having said that, a wonderful way to reform poor squat technique (as an example) is to start the young athletes in the fixed, static ‘hole’ position, and then proceed up through the concentric phase.
Have the young athlete assume a quality ‘hole’ position and talk them through what they should be feeling:
Weight back on the heels
Knees pushing outward
Neutral low back
Chest push forward
Elbows angled downward
Do not be afraid to hold these positions for several second counts. An increase in the static strength of this position can, and usually does, improve technical patterning of the entire squat.
Upon ascending into the concentric phase, be sure that the young athlete understands how to push from their heels, using the large muscles of the hip extensors and drive through the ground.
Repeated efforts of this exercise, perhaps over a single training session or for several successive sessions, will have a tremendously positive impact on the technical qualities of a young athletes squat.
So, whether it is the squat, lunge, push-press or any other compound exercise, think ‘BOTTOM UP’ when trying to create a positive change in the technique capacity of young athletes.