Last week here on the blogosphere, we looked at a variety of strength exercises the coaches at SAPT have found to be helpful for training the lateral athlete in your life. Today we will discuss getting set up in the correct athlete position and how to perform and progress common drills to help athletes run, decelerate, and explode in a different direction.
The Athletic Position
No matter the sport that you play the solid athletic base position is a fundamental tool that can enhance reaction time, strength, power, and your ability to be productive in competition. All athletes will not look the exact same in their position because of their anthropometric makeup but with the help of a qualified coach anyone will be able to find their “sweet spot.” Listed below are a few of the basics for this position:
- Feet are slightly wider than shoulder width
- Weight is distributed on the balls of your feet
- Back is long and straight with your chest out
- Shoulders back
- Comfortable bends in the elbows, knees, and ankles
After an athlete finds his or her sweet spot in the athletic base position, now it’s time to build upon this and learn to move from this position.
The Push to Base exercise shown here is the signature drill for the execution of this. It can be progressed and regressed in any number of ways but more importantly, it reinforces good weight distribution, balance, and stabilization. The exercise also works wonders in helping athletes create a stronger push off in their first step. One thing to take notice of in the video linked above is that the athlete’s feet return to the athletic base position with each step and do not come together like the athlete in this video.
Once the athlete has demonstrated proficiency in the above movements and earned the honor of progressing to the next variation, it is time to add some load. The most efficient way to do so is employing a resistance band. This band can either be controlled by a partner or attached to a stationary object like a power rack. This videos show great technique in the partner-resisted variation with an emphasis on the push off.
The next exercise progression would be to increase the speed of the movement by having the athlete perform a shuffle down to a predetermined distance, typically 5 yards, and back as quickly as possible while stay maintaining the high quality technique that has been emphasized thus far. The next step in the development of this person’s lateral prowess will be to add an opponent to spice things up. This is where mirror drills also known as chaos training comes into effect. The video show below is a great example this mirror drill in practice where one person (white shirt) is performing a movement and the other partner must rapidly react and perform those same movements for a prescribed amount of time.
Hopefully the information on training lateral moving athletes has opened your eyes and added some weapons to your athletic training arsenal. Check back soon for more great info.