Real World Drills for Real Life Athletes

May 31, 2017

Real World Drills for Real Life Athletes

Reaction is the great divider in athletics.

In an empty gym I can make all the jumpers I want, but as soon as I have to direct my attention to a defender guarding me all of the technique I practiced tends to go out the window. I have to just react to how he is positioned; if my practice habits are good then they will reflect.

*note: minor juvenile swearing is included thanks to Jake’s foul mouth

When we do things like squats, push-ups, box jumps, and cleans in the weight room, we are often using them to make us better at something outside of the gym walls. The things that translate best are safe and powerful positions: tight core, feet straight, knees out, elbows in, etc. Keeping those things in tact while we exercise can range from easy to difficult depending on factors like load, fatigue, speed, and volume. But regardless of what movement factor is placed upon us we keep our focus on maintaining good form.

But what happens if we take that focus away? Introducing the Champions Club Reaction Drills:

We started playing around with these about two years ago and have been practicing them sporadically ever since. When Jennifer was doing the clean variations in the first video, the emphasis on movement technique and positions was overridden in favor of reaction; she wanted to make sure she did the right movement. The cool part for me, the coach, is looking at all the things I normally look at. Were her feet straight? Did she pull with her arms? Were her knees out? Did her midline stay stable?

Sometimes I might notice something in these drills that would not normally show up in the movement. In Jennifer’s case her right knee looked a little bit more wobbly than usual – which means her hip is unstable. We could check to see if her pelvis is lined up, or free up the hip, or maybe do some corrective exercises to exaggerate that position.

Another thing these drills do is test an athlete’s ability to pick up cues. In the first video I was giving all of the directions by using my voice, whereas in the second video we pointed. Some athletes operate better in a visual environment and some better in an audible. Either way, it is good to learn and develop both.

However fun and challenging, an underlying point of these drills needs to be safety. Remember we are in the weight room! Save most of the risk for the football field. Using an empty bar and low boxes will do just fine for these drills. It’s not the intensity we are looking for, it’s the reaction.

These drills are limited by your creativity. Scan through the movements you emphasize in your gym and see if you can make a reaction game out of them. It might expose something in your fitness.

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