Many parents and coaches are reluctant to have their kids participate in strength and conditioning programs. They worry about disrupting growth plates and bone development, and that the technical demands required to avoid injury are too much.
If you want to start off slow, the Turkish Get-Up is a great strength and conditioning exercise for youth athletes. It creates positional awareness and encourages proper body alignment. Speed of execution is deliberate, and breathing patterns are controlled. With a built-in check-point system, it doesn't allow you to take on more of a load than you can handle.
I also like that it requires central core stability prior to movement of the extremities and creates a functional demand for grip strength in the shoulder by placing the arm in multiple positions in relation to the head and torso.
For throwing and rotational athletes, the Turkish Get-Up encourages appropriate shoulder/hip separation along an oblique path, connecting the torso, core, hip and extremity in a properly timed fashion. Check out the video player above for a demonstration of the Turkish Get-Up.
Here are some quick tips I've found useful when coaching young athletes with the Turkish Get-Up.
1. To start, have the athlete go through the movement pattern without weight.
You'll be surprised at how difficult the unloaded positions are. This a great time to reinforce alignment and stress the importance of breathing. (Don't hold your breath; breathe from your belly).
2. Break the movement down into "checkpoints" where the athlete holds the position for 3 to 5 seconds.
This creates an environment rich in positional awareness. It may mean holding the position on the elbow, progressing to full extension, to hip up, etc.
3. Keep a constant eye on wrist alignment.
The athlete will miss out on a great deal of feedback if his/her wrist gets "lazy" and he or she loses a neutral position.
4. In the half-kneeling position, make sure the athlete is not "hanging out" on the hip flexor complex.
This is an easy trap to fall into, where the athlete is not engaged and is relying on anterior tissue for stability.
5. Watch for neck and thoracic positioning when the kettlebell is in the overhead position.
This includes the half-kneeling and standing positions. Compensation in the neck and/or upper back (e.g., cervical extension or a leaning action) may indicate poor thoracic and/or mobility, a tissue extensibility restriction to the lat and/or triceps, or a stability dysfunction. Either way, you will need to address this with soft tissue work (e.g., foam rolling) and other techniques prior to increasing the weight.
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