Archive for “movement” Tag

First Movement, Then Stability, Finally Mechanics

Movement, Stability & Then Mechanics

“Proper Body Mechanics” is a hot topic in any sport. Perhaps because over decades of research, video analysis and studying elite athletes there are seemingly very common trends on how to exceed in sports.

Whether throwing a baseball, shooting a hockey puck, or putting in a header, there is an “ideal” way to perform these tasks to optimize results. So the most important thing for any coach or trainer to focus on is body mechanics? Not necessarily.

Do you have a tennis player that always falls short of full extension with a serve? How about an athlete that can’t keep proper knee alignment with a squat?

There is a concept that precedes body mechanics, something much more fundamental than the correct foot position when lining up with a 7 iron.

It is this: Can your body physically do what you are asking it to do?

Movement: Making Motion

lacrosse-165576_640The human body is designed with 200+ bones that provide structure for movement to occur.

Among all those bones are a bunch of different joints, with distinct functions that allow various types of movement.

Hip and shoulder joints are designed for motion in all directions, knees and elbows in one direction, and ankles and wrists use a series of joints and bones to make little circles.

Laying on top of this structural support and center of movement are muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissue that puts humans into motion. Functional movement is very important.

PRO TIP: If an athlete cannot functionally move in the way that is ideal for athletic performance then that has to be addressed first.

Stability: Controlling Movement

Stability in a broader sense is the ability to generate motion while remaining in control. You want a car with a “stable chassis” which allows for moving at high speeds while keeping everything together. The athletic body craves the same ability to produce ideal body mechanics.

Most relevant to sports and strength conditioning, stability comes from core control. This is the ability to control the arms and legs while providing a stable platform and base of support.

It can be said that you only are as fast as your ability to stop. This perhaps is not true where there is plenty of time for the body to slow down, such as a 100m sprint. Otherwise, if an athlete has to change directions quickly, speed will be limited by the brakes.

This extends to throwing a baseball as well, as the rotator cuff has to prevent the shoulder from dislocating after a throw. Sports performance is limited by the ability to stop efficiently, an important consideration when we talk about controlling motion.

PRO TIP: Control is key to sports performance. The ability to control one’s body effectively is what creates an ideal environment for sports success.

Mechanics: Mastering Performance

If an athlete is capable of moving and stopping motion appropriately then everything else is about performance.

Humans have a phenomenal capacity for neural plasticity. This means we are capable of adapting the brain and nervous system to learn new tasks and master them.

So why is mechanics training so important with young athletes? Because learning carries for life.

PRO TIP: Keep preaching the mechanics! In baseball, for every odd throwing style or batting stance there are 99 that all do it pretty much the same way. Proper mechanics is not only about producing home runs, 3 pointers, and touchdowns but it is also about reducing wear and tear.

Every athlete will succumb to the limits of volume at some point, but those limits are significantly reduced when mechanics are crappy.

Dr. Keith Cronin, DPT

About the Author: Keith Cronin

Keith CroninKeith J. Cronin is a physical therapist and owner of Sports and Healthcare Solutions, LLC. Keith currently supports US Operations for Dynamic Tape®, the “Original” Biomechanical Tape®, providing guidance for education, research and distribution. He graduated with his Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) from Belmont University in 2008 and later earned his Orthopedic Certification Specialist (OCS).

Prior to graduate school, Keith was a collegiate baseball player and top-level high school cross country runner. He also had the opportunity to work as a personal trainer (CSCS) prior to his career in physical therapy, providing a very balanced approached to educating fitness and rehabilitation. Keith has focused his career on the evaluation, treatment, injury prevention, and sports conditioning strategies for athletes, with particular attention to youth sports. He currently lives in the St. Louis, MO area with his wife and two daughters, Ella and Shelby.

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Incorporating Acceleration Training for Athletes into Every Workout

Simple Warm-Up Provides Acceleration Training for Athletes

Developing proper acceleration mechanics in young athletes is essential to improving their performance. So acceleration training for athletes is important to train whenever possible. This skill should be considered no less important than learning a proper squat, jumping and landing technique, and multi-directional movement skills.

The High School Strength and Conditioning Specialist (HSSCS) typically has limited time to spend with the athletes under his or her charge. Therefore, they must take advantage of every opportunity to coach this skill.

Many times, acceleration training for athletes is neglected by placing too much emphasis on peak speed and high-speed mechanics. While being able to hit and maintain high top-end speed can be a positive quality for an athlete, very rarely does an athlete hit and maintain top-end speed during play.

As a result, being able to accelerate properly (often out of a change of direction) can be much more beneficial to the athlete’s performance.

One of the most effective ways to incorporate acceleration training for athletes into programming is to build it into the warm-up. Here is an example of how to incorporate acceleration mechanics into the warm-up:

1. Movement Prep

Cradle walks and other movement prep is crucial for incorporating acceleration training for athletes5-10 yards of the following:

– Stiff legged leg march
– Single leg walking dead lift
– Leg cradle
– Walking quadriceps stretch
– Elbow to instep
– Backward lunge to twist
– Knee hug to a lunge

2. Linear Progressions

Measure out 40 yards with a cone at the 10, 20, 30, and 40-yard marks. If space is limited you can shorten the distance or use a gymnasium. The only consistency needs to be 4 equal-distance phases. Perform the following:

– Linear march 0-10 yard mark
– Linear skips (A-Skips) 10-20 yard mark
– High knee trot 20-30 yard mark
– Accelerate through the 40

3. Linear Buildups

Acceleration training for athletes can take place outdoorsMeasure out 40 yards with a cone at the 10, 20, 30 and 40-yard mark. Perform the following:

– High knee trot 0-10 yard mark
– Accelerate “1st gear” 10-20 yard mark
– Accelerate “2nd gear” 20-30 yard mark
– Accelerate “full speed” through the 40

The amount of time spent on this will be determined by how much time is available in the workout. If time is limited, the athlete should perform only a single set of progressions and build-ups. Often, if acceleration is the focus of the workout or if more time is needed working on the skill, it is typical to perform four sets of each.

With proper setup and instruction, the warm-up can be narrowed to 10-15 minutes from onset. After this, the athlete may transition into a strength workout or continue into more linear training like resisted starts, sled sprints, or wall drills.

To get the most out of this warm-up, we suggest teaching it to the sports coaches and explaining to them the benefits of this warm-up prior to practice. You can also incorporate some of these drills into a full pre-game warm-up and add in some multi-directional specific warm-ups.

Like most skills, acceleration training for athletes requires repetition to build proficiency. With practice and in combination with an appropriate strength program, any athlete can learn to improve their acceleration, and the entire team will enjoy improved performance!

Josh Ortegon

About the Author: Josh Ortegon

Josh Ortegon - 5 Tips to a Healthy Football SeasonJoshua Ortegon is co-founder and the Director of Sports Performance Enhancement at Athlete’s Arena in Irmo, SC. Joshua earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Western Michigan University in 2000.

As an IYCA-certified High School Strength and Conditioning Specialist, speaker, and writer, Joshua has helped establish Athlete’s Arena as the premier high-performance center in South Carolina since 2005.

Joshua has worked with a wide range of athletes from youth to professionals specializing in the areas of injury prevention, return to play and performance enhancement.

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Flexibility and Mobility for Young Athletes

Flexibility vs. Mobility in Youth Fitness Programs

By Mike Robertson


What is the difference between Flexibility and Mobility?

I’ve always used the Bill Hartman definitions; they go something like this:

Mobility – Range of motion under specific circumstances (specific)

Flexibility – Range of motion about a joint (non-specific)

As you can see, mobility is specific to a certain movement-i.e., you need a certain amount of hip mobility to squat, lunge, etc.

In contrast, flexibility is non-specific-i.e. you lay someone on their back and stretch their hamstrings. This gives you an idea of their flexibility, but it’s not specific. Just because they have great hamstring length doesn’t mean they’ll be able to perform functional movements properly or without compensation.

Are both important to young athletes or is one more important than the other?

I feel that both are important, but flexibility is merely a component of mobility. I think of mobility as an equation, something like this:

Tissue length + neural control/stability + joint architecture = Mobility

Youth Fitness Programs

So my goal with youth fitness programs is to improve their mobility and allow them to perform those specific movements (squatting, lunging, etc.) without compensation from other areas (generally the lumbar spine).

Youth Fitness Programs: When should young athletes train flexibility?

There are several times throughout the day when I would incorporate specific flexibility drills into youth fitness programs:

Pre/peri-workout – I would only use this as part of an acute-corrective strategy; in other words, I don’t believe that static stretching has much of a place pre-workout. The goal here, for example, would be to statically stretch the hip flexors and pair that stretch with an activation drill for the gluteals. This will enhance motor control and function by helping restore proper length/tension relationships.

Post-workout – Here I’d use more active flexibility techniques like eccentric quasi-isometrics (EQI’s).

Before bed – I’ve always been a proponent of static stretching before bed. I think not only does it allow you to unwind and relax, but if you hop right into bed afterwards, you’re less likely to lose any flexibility gains you just worked for.

Youth Fitness Programs: When should they train Mobility?

Whenever they can! Quite simply, most people need more mobility in the appropriate areas (ankles, hips, t-spine, etc.). Especially in the beginning or foundational period of their training, more is generally better.

Getting more specific, pre-workout mobility training is a slam dunk. But if someone is really restricted in their movement patterns or movement quality, I’ll have them perform mobility drills several times throughout the day to reinforce good movement. Unlike strength training, you’re not going to over train your body by doing some simple mobility drills throughout the day.

Youth Fitness Programs 1

Youth Fitness Programs: Are there different kinds of flexibility, or is “bending over to touch my toes and stretch my hammy” all young athletes should be doing?

With the athletes I work with, we include several different kinds of mobility throughout their day.

Pre-workout, we always do a dynamic warm-up. Always. They’ve been sitting in school or class all day, so my first goal is to get them warmed up and moving through a nice range of motion.

EQI’s are a little more advanced, but they’re still working to promote optimal length/tension relationships and develop active flexibility. Once someone has been training for a few months, I like to get them doing this at the end of every workout.

Finally, we discussed static flexibility above, and I think it’s an integral component as well. Kids are a lot different now from how they were 10, 12, or 15 years ago when I was a kid! They sit more. They play more games. They have more homework. Static stretching can help get them back in tune with their bodies and keep themselves healthy.

I think all these methods are important; what’s more important is using the right flexibility method at the appropriate time.

Youth Fitness Programs: What is the single greatest mistake or myth people make when it comes to Flexibility training?

Not doing it!

Seriously, most people are so focused on their training and/or diet, they put no value or stock into recovery methods. Using the methods I outlined above in your youth fitness programs can go a long way to improving the flexibility and mobility of your body.

Flexibility and mobility are part of a complete program for athletes and in youth fitness programs. Check out the IYCA’s Complete Athletic Development 2.0 program to get the most comprehensive resource ever assembled for developing young athletes.





Movement Patterns & Young Athletes

by Dr. Kwame M. Brown


First, we need to understand how the human body works during movements. In a nutshell, the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) controls the muscles so that they can move efficiently to use energy wisely and to avoid injury. The central nervous system, in turn receives information about what’s happening from the muscles. Because of this process, movement patterns become important.