Young Athletes & Poor Technique

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

  • Chin up

  • 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.



7 Responses

  1. Donovan Owens says:

    Hey Brian – this is top notch info right here.

    I have to admit that I’m one of those trainers that has been teaching the top down approach for a long time.

    It’s been very successful due to some key words and phrases used to probe certain actions but I can definitely see how this approach would make more sense.

    Having the athlete feel the correct positioning at the bottom of the movement
    will allow them to better visualize the trail a motion needed to accomplish that again coming from the top.

    Love it!!!


  2. Steph says:

    Hi Brian

    I find teaching the skills this way helps a great deal.
    I use it with my athletes that struggle with getting tech right but also with those that thins just click with.

  3. Erik Brown says:

    Hey Brian, Great info.
    I actually started doing this a couple of months ago with great success! It is not a given that even talented athletes can perform correct squats and a lot of it is due to poor strength in certain positions. Thanks! Great minds think alike! Keep up the the great info!

  4. prince Duwai says:

    Hi Brian,
    Vital info regarding the actual squat positioning. I tried itmyself and i felt my hams & glutes working hard, so i decided to inco-operate that type of workout with some other multi directional movement with the kids on a non track day. Thanks for the info, your tips has actually help me develop my knowledge and skills even though i was a successful international athlete from Sierra Leone. I intend to travel to the States in the summer during my University break.Please update me with your programmes that are coming up. Cheers, Prince.

  5. Kevin O'Brien says:


    This is great information my friend. See…this is just one of the many reasons I became involved with Brian Grasso and the IYCA. This information is priceless! Give us more!

  6. Good tip about focusing on the loading patterns rather than focusing on the end result to fix proper form – I think this’ll cause a shift in a lot of trainers’ minds –

  7. BrianGrasso says:

    Great comments all! Thanks for taking the time to post. BG

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