Aug 19, 2016
Activating the Glutes
Rich Zawack

Athleticism is part of the makeup of the human body. Everyone has the system necessary to create athleticism.

Playing is dependent on the person’s ability to actuate that potential. It is not always easy to do that; some individuals have allowed their bodies to stray far from their natural origins. But every aspect of one’s body is subject to adaptation, so retraining is possible.

In an earlier blog we discussed the importance of biomechanics. Athletic position makes play possible. The most important position has to do with the ability to sit properly.

Playing sports requires the ability to bend at the hips while maintaining a flat back. This position is the one baseball, basketball, and football players create when they want to play defense. They bend at the waist and flatten their back. This puts them in a position to react with leverage to any movement by their opponents.

The body must be trained to attain this position. The proper muscles must be activated and used.

Sitting down properly is the classic example of what can be taught and applied to exercise and to sport.

When a person goes to sit, most people lean back and support themselves with the front of their legs, the quadriceps. They support themselves with the front of their legs and their back. They don’t use their hips, their core, their glutes, or their hamstrings.

Those are the key muscle groups that allow a person to sit properly. They are also the keys to efficient and successful play.

The approach we take is to ask the individual to sit back. That is, don’t bend your knee first when you go to sit down. Instead, push your hip back, tighten your abdomen, your glutes, and your hamstrings and lower your backside. Proper sitting enables proper playing.

Eventually you bend your knees to place yourself in the seat but your knees are not what control your body. The small of your back is not what should control your body. It should be neutral.

The activation of the hips, glutes, and hamstrings is trained and learned.

Mobility and acceleration are dependent on a person’s ability to activate these muscle groups. They are essential to jumping. They are necessary for initiation of propulsion.

All forward movement starts with a push from the glutes.

Sitting properly is the gateway to squatting. Squatting applies the same basic principles.

Squatting is a tremendous way to develop jumping and sprinting ability. The ability to push hard into the ground is one of the keys to speed.

Again, these are all trained characteristics and everyone can learn them with practice.

Rich Zawack, BS, MA, CSCS-D, has served as president of Athletic Development Corporation for the last 10 years. Prior to that he was a high school teacher and coach for 36 years at Strongsville (Ohio) High School. He has coached 17 state champions, one NCAA champion, 18 NFL football players, and one NBA basketball player.

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