I see it every day. Parents wanting the best for their kids in their sport. Kids spend most of their time in camps and extended seasons (fall ball, winter ball, spring ball) practicing their sport. They spend these extended seasons practicing in their sport hoping this gives them the competitive edge to be a starter, making the traveling team, or to make the “A” team.
Is there a better way?
I believe so. Let’s talk about the concept of the Sports Performance Pyramid.
The base of the pyramid consists of basic movement concepts. Mobility: the ability to move a joint through its entire range of motion. Stability and Balance: maintaining posture when performing a movement. Landing Mechanics: landing without the knees caving in or falling forward onto the toes. Locomotion: running, jumping, skipping with proper mechanics.
The base is the most important, yet probably the most overlooked part of the pyramid. Its not sexy like squatting 400 pounds. Rather, it is the ability to squat your own bodyweight properly. The inability to squat (or perform any movement) safely, will on the best-case limit performance, or on the worse case lead to injury over time if not corrected.
Do you remember RG3? He was an amazing athlete. He won the Heisman trophy in college and was drafted second overall in the 2012 draft. He became an instant starter, but unfortunately never became the NFL Superstar due to a tragic knee injury to end his rookie year. If you recall, the injury was a non-contact ACL tear.
Check out this photo of RGIII performing the broad jump at the NFL Combine. Notice the way his knees track in while performing the jump. This is called valgus. Valgus knees while jumping, landing, squatting, running, etc. is a major contributor to ACL injuries. This is a common fault we see with many youth and adults. Fortunately, this condition can be corrected.
In our programs, we incorporate several strategies to work on mobility, mechanics and proper movement. We are a BrandX Training Center and one of the most effective valgus corrective exercises we incorporate is the blocked squat. To perform this squat, the athlete squats with their feet together. With the feet together, the knees are forced to track out. This can be incorporated into the warm-up or used as a substitute exercise when other squatting movements are performed in our training program. Repetition with the blocked squat trains the nervous system, and eventually valgus knee collapse is corrected.
Our programs include many other exercises and drills to work mechanics. We firmly believe that creating a strong base of the performance pyramid will creating stronger, more resilient athletes.
In our next installment, we will talk about how we help athletes in the next phase of the Sports Performance Pyramid, Athletic Development.