Archive for “Spine” Tag

Selecting the Right Starting Position for Olympic Lifts (Part 1)

 

Athletes Options For Olympic Lifts

 

By Wil Fleming

 

Coaches everywhere, and a great percentage of coaches at that, choose to use some type of Olympic lift in their training of athletes. Typically this Olympic lift is a power clean, starting from the floor. While this is appropriate for plenty of athletes, there are multiple variations in the starting position, that it can be hard to determine which is the right place to start.

 

So lets take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of some of the variations in start position.

 

Floor Start Position

 

This is the typical start position and the one used in weightlifting competitions. This position is the one that as coaches we see high school athletes using most often in their high school training program.

 

In this position the athlete starts with the bar at rest on the floor, and the bar should be close (~1-2 inches) from the shins. Athletes starting in this position should slowly, and under control lift the from the floor, ultimately passing the knees.

 

Pros: This position is the position from which the most weight has ever been cleaned or snatched, has been lifted. This is due to the momentum gained from the correct pull off the floor. Using the floor start position requires the athlete to increase hip range of motion due to the low starting position.

 

Cons: This position requires great hip mobility, and therefore, if an athlete is lacking in hip mobility they will typically gain this lower start position through an increase in lumbar flexion. Lumbar flexion with loads in front of the spine have been attributed to greater shear forces on the spine and a corresponding higher incidence of back injury. The typical floor start position also requires athletes to move the bar by the knees. This area of movement is one that requires great technique and for many athletes means that their technical problems occur in this area. More lifts are missed due to the first pull moving around the knee than in any other area of the lift. Poor lifts will have an S pull where the bar will move forward to travel pass the knee.

 

Block Start Position

 

The block start position is used often in the technical training of competition weightlifters.

 

The actual start position can be adjusted in height to meet the goals of the training session, but typically the athlete will start from a static stance somewhere above the knee.

 

Pros: Block starts are a great teaching tool. Coaches can specify the exact starting position that the athlete must achieve. This position is usually close to the 2nd pull (the rapid acceleration of the bar), and requires very little thought from the athlete once the bar is in place. Cueing the pull from a block position is fairly easy for the coach, typically aggressiveness and explosiveness are the only thing needed. The block start position is great for starting strength, no momentum is used and the stretch shortening cycle is eliminated. Starting strength is great quality to develop for nearly any athlete.

 

Cons: Situating the athlete in the correct start position can be hard for the uninitiated coach, differing starting heights require differing positions that are sometimes very dissimilar. Blocks can also be expensive to purchase or difficult to assemble, and therefore many weight rooms or facilities do not allow for the possibility of coaching athletes from a block starting position.

 

There are even more possibilities for Olympic lift start positions stay tuned for Part 2 to learn about 2 of my favorite start positions for young athletes.

 

 

olymic lifts young athletes
Learn More the Olympic Lift Instructor Course Today!

 

 

 

Young Athletes: The Key to Agility Is Positioning

 

 

Young Athletes Agility

 

Tony Reynolds young athletesTony Reynolds says…

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.

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Favorite Strength Training Exercises for Young Athletes

Strength Training Exercises for Young Athletes

Tony Reynolds is a cut above almost every Strength Coach I know.

 

And that’s why he’s 100% in charge of the content for the message board
on www.IYCAMembers.com

 

When our Members have questions about training young athletes, their
is no one in the world I trust more than Tony to answer them.

 

But not only does Tony answer questions, he also contributes to the message
board every day with fantastic thoughts, opinions and suggestions.

 

Tony detailed some of his favorite strength training exercises to use with young
athletes last week and I just had to make sure that you saw this goldmine of
information. Below is a description of one of these exercises:

 

Single Leg Low Pulley RDL

 

Equipment:
Low pulley lowered as far down as it will go (ankle height) with a “D” handle attached.

 

Starting Position:
Grasp the D-handle in your right hand and face the pulley. Move far enough away from the pulley so you can perform a full range of motion without the plates touching the stack.

 

Stand on your left foot with your head up, base leg knee slightly bent (10-15 degrees), spine neutral but tilted, and hips pushed slightly back.

 

The Motion:
Flex at the base leg hip. As your torso moves forward and down “push” your free leg back for counter-balance. The free leg hip should not flex during the exercise.

 

You may need to slightly flex the base leg knee an additional few degrees as your hips travel back. This will allow you to keep your weight on the back half of your foot and reach forward maximally with the d-handle while keeping a neutral but tilted spine.

 

Descend until your back is near parallel with the ground. Reverse the motion and return to the top.

 

Things to Avoid:
Letting your hips push out to the side.
Dropping the base leg knee valgus
Over flexing the base leg knee…its an RDL not a squat
Losing a neutral spinal alignment
Loading the front half of the base foot
Hyperextending the hips/spine at termination of the ascent

 

 

Let me know some of your favorite strength training exercises for young athletes below

 

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