Want your squat to transfer to your sport for optimal results? Then pay attention.-DR
CD: Many athletes and/or coaches use an Olympic style or powerlifting style squat when they are utilizing front and back squats during the course of training for sport. Let’s keep in mind that these are all excellent exercises in gaining strength for humans to become faster and potentially more explosive. Also, please don’t forget that I use these various techniques throughout the year; ultimately, though, you can’t get the greatest sport results unless you change these methods once your athletes have become strong enough. One must increase the athlete’s readiness and potential in order to maximize the transfer of strength and explosiveness to the sport.
Upon making this statement one must come to the realization that athletes can’t keep squatting heavier and heavier and have their performance keep improving. This has never been the case with any athlete that I’ve seen. You must have a level of strength that is high enough to perform the task at hand. However, once the requisite strength has been developed one must use more sports specific methods to transfer the gains made from the Olympic/Powerlifting style squat to the sporting field. This is where the “Sport back squat” comes into play. The Sport back squat essentially is taking your wider stance squat and moving the athlete’s feet to a very narrow position, basically shoulder width apart (it may be slightly within or outside the shoulder based on the athlete’s size). The key is to bring the stance to a much narrower position. The reason we do this is that the majority of motor tasks that an athlete will complete in his or her sport will be from this position.
As such, to help transfer the strength gains made from the Olympic/Powerlifting style back squat, we place the Sport back squat in the last 4 to 6 weeks of training (sometimes during the in-season), which utilizes the most specific positions for your feet when squatting. Some things change in this particular style of squat, especially when dealing with athletes who have long thigh bones. These athletes will not be able to go as deep as before when using the Olympic/Powerlifting style back squat. Keep in mind that when you switch from the Olympic/Powerlifting style back squat to the Sport back squat you most likely won’t have your athletes go as deep for biomechanical reasons.(Editor’s Note: the video above is a bit deeper version of the sport back squat. When athletes typically do this they are reaching a depth usually just below the quarter squat position)
Since your athletes won’t be going as deep on their squats, you must increase the glute and hamstring work in your program because you will not be utilizing the hamstrings and glutes as much as you would in the deeper Olympic/Powerlifting style squats. Many people often ask, “Well, is not squatting deep the ideal thing for my athletes?” I would say that unless they are going into some type of squatting based competition not to worry about it because in sports they rarely ever get into that deep of a position. They will not lose much strength in regards to squatting during the transition time, utilizing the sport back squat, which again should be the last 4 to 6 weeks of your training cycles to get optimal transfer to sports performance.
Dr. Bondarchuck rarely ever squatted his athletes that deep because they never utilized those deep positions in their throwing movements. He felt that squatting at the angles that they were supposed to compete at was optimal and got the best results. Those results speak for themselves, especially being the greatest coach in the history of the summer games. Remember, though, that when using the Sport back squat one can also come up with some very specific glute and hamstring exercises at this time to help your athletes transfer into their sporting event. You will see a large transfer of sports performance, especially in vertical jump and sprinting ability.
DR: For more information, please check out Coach Dietz’s website, XLathlete.com, for hundreds of free exercise demos, articles, and programs. Please post comments and questions about Coach Dietz’s article in the space below. Next week, we’ll talk to Coach Dietz in a podcast and ask him those questions.
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