Coaching Cues to Make Your Strength and Conditioning Programs More Effective – Installment 6
Written on April 23, 2013 at 7:15 am, by Eric Cressey
It’s been a while since I published a new installment in my “Coaching Cues” series, so here are three new ones you can put into action.
1. “Imagine I have a rope around your waist and pull it back.”
It goes without saying that teaching a proper hip hinge is essential to get the correct posterior weight shift we need for good deadlifting and squatting patterns. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be much easier said than done, as lifters with poor kinesthetic awareness and body control might not even know what it feels like. Take, for instance, this example from my 15 Static Stretching Mistakes article; he has so much congenital laxity (loose joints) that he can perform an “extreme” toe touch without any posterior weight shift.
Just because he can do it doesn’t mean that he should do it, though. Just saying “sit back” or “hips back” doesn’t always correct this, though. I’ve spoken about the “touch your butt to an imaginary wall behind you” external focus cue here, but I also like the idea of telling folks to pretend like I’m tugging them backward with a rope, as this fits the correction into a scenario with which they’re familiar.
2. “Ribs down, scaps up.”
We work with a lot of athletes who have a heavily extended posture, and their overhead movements often look like this:
Essentially, they will substitute lumbar extension (arched lower back) in place of keeping a stable core so that the scapula (and, in turn, humerus) can move appropriately with respect to the rib cage. Most of these athletes lack scapular upward rotation, so we need to help them to get the scapula moving a bit while keeping the ribs down. Here’s a great exercise for which this cue would be appropriate:
In other words, you can use this cue with your core stability exercises and shoulder mobility drills in this population. Keep in mind, though, that this cue probably won’t be appropriate for folks who sit at desks all day and are really kyphotic.
3. “Push yourself away from the bar.”
One of the biggest bench press technique problems you’ll see is that folks lose their “tightness” at the top of the rep by protracting the shoulder blades too much. This sets you up for problems – both in terms of shoulder health and strength – on sets with more than one rep.
With that in mind, one of the easiest ways to coach folks out of this bench press technique problem is to think about pushing themselves away from the bar, as opposed to pushing the bar away from them. It gets them into the “ground yourself” frame of mind and ensures that the upper back is a stable platform from which to press. It’s not uncommon at all to see larger than normal dropoffs from 1-rep max loads to what you see on multiple-rep sets, and I firmly believe it’s because a lot of lifters lose their tightness on the subsequent reps. So, if you find that you can bench 315 for one rep, but only 265 for three reps, this cue could very well be a solution for you.
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