As a highly experienced strength and conditioning coach one of the first things we tell athletes is that S&C isnt rocket science. Athletes that perform on their feet often require starts and stops. In sports such as football and netball these are variations of take offs and landings. In a sport such as golf, the athlete doesn’t visibly jump but they do generate alot of force through the ground. We often use the term ‘Tear the Paper’ to help athletes stabilise during these movements.
The importance of the Glutes
The glutes are the largest muscle in the body. Glutes are able to generate more power than other muscle groups. Ask any experienced strength and conditioning coach. They are recuited in movements involving the hip, and therefore play an important in all movements that involve stabilisation and acceleration of the lower body. For example, think running, jumping and even kipping variations of gymnastics. If the soles of an athletes feet come into contact with an object then the glutes are likely to play an important role. An example of this might be equestrian.
One common error for athletes is an over reliance on the quads (the 4 large muscles of the thigh). Tell tale signs of this include excessive knee bend versus hip flexion. You may see the athletes heels come off the ground as they sit lower into a squat position, lunge or step up. During take offs and landings we may see the knee collapse inwards – this is known as valgus knee displacement. Failing to activate the glutes is a major contributor to this.
Tear the Paper by using the Glutes
Experienced strength and conditioning coaches must keep it as simple as possible. Glutes can control the position of the knee, keeping it tracking in line with the toes. So to turn them on, we ask athletes to ‘Tear the Paper’ .
Imagine standing on a large peice of paper. Without moving foot position, try to turn the feet outwards as if to tear the paper in the middle. This rotational force will ensure that the knees are aligned correctly and that the glutes are doing their job by controlling lower body stability. This is especially true for landings where controlling forces and stopping quickly can be a difference maker in performance.
Getting athletes to Tear the Paper when they stop and land can be a very useful tool in ensuring stability and balance – allow them to arrive where required, ready to play. NK Fitness are amongst Ascot’s most experienced Strength and Conditioning Coaches, and work with athletes at all levels of sport. Whether you’re just starting your athletic journey or have been plying it for many years, we can help you get better.