Mar 24, 2017Sliding to Success
For coaches trying to find a new way to help their athletes build strength and muscle stability, look no further than the slide board. Typically six to eight feet long and two feet wide, these boards always have a slippery surface and many times have a bumper at each end. To utilize them, athletes wear special booties that allow their feet to slide freely.
According to Anthony Yeung, CSCS, in an article for Muscle & Fitness, the lack of friction from the slick surface causes the user to become unbalanced. When this happens, the entire body is forced to participate in the movement, engaging stabilizer muscles. “That spikes the intensity on each move, ultimately building more muscle,” says Yeung.
“It also unlocks unique exercise variations,” he continues. “On a sliding surface, you can move in new directions, change angles within an exercise, and even reduce the impact on your joints.”
While this exercise might seem more applicable to sports such as ice hockey, it can actually be valuable for any athlete. “Moving side to side is necessary to change direction effectively,” writes Strength and Conditioning Coach Bobby Dattero in an article for Evolution Sports Performance. “Sports like basketball, football, baseball, and hockey all rely on this side to side movement at different parts in the game.”
In the most standard way to use the slideboard, athletes start at one end, hinge the hips, stay low to the ground and forcefully push off of one leg towards the opposite side of the board. When they reach the other side, athletes do the same in the opposite direction, mimicking the motion of ice-skating without actually moving forward. To maximize the benefits of this exercise, athletes must give 100 percent effort in their pushes, rather than sliding across at a leisurely pace.
Along with strengthening athletes’ ability to change direction, this movement can be used to both build power and endurance. If working on power, Dattero suggests focusing on a low amount of strong pushes. On the other hand, if you are using this exercise for conditioning, he suggests adding reps, while still putting all of your strength in each push.
Beyond the primary sliding exercise, the amount of training workouts that can be done on the slide board are endless. Because of the activation of stabilizing muscles, it can be used with almost any exercise to add variety and increase difficulty. It strengthens balance and coordination and builds muscles that don’t get as much work from the typical exercises on grass or a weightroom floor.
Rich Sadiv, Head Strength Coach at The Parisi Speed School in New Jersey, has applied the slide board to many different exercises. In an article for Stack.com, he describes seven different exercises and the benefits that accompany them. Here are three of those examples:
Single-Leg Mountain Climbers
1. Begin in a push-up position with your hands off the end of the board and feet placed on the board.
2. Bring one leg forward until your knee just passes the edge of the board.
3. Alternate legs as fast as possible, keeping the core tight and not allowing your knees to slip outside your elbows.
Sadiv suggests starting with timed sets of 15 seconds and working up to three sets of 30 seconds with 60 second rest periods between each one. Because of the lack of stability, this exercise works the lower body, core, and shoulders, and is also a great addition to any conditioning workout. Fitness professional Naomi Talbot provides a look at the Single-Leg Mountain Climber in action on this video.
1. Begin at one end of the board facing away. Place your left foot off the board and right foot on it.
2. Although variations exits, Sadiv suggests bringing your left hand up and your right hand back as you slide your right foot across the board in a lunging motion.
3. Move back to starting position.
Sadiv suggests doing five repetitions before changing to the left leg. You can then move up in reps and add resistance by holding dumbbells. This exercise helps to build strength in the glute and quad muscles, while also building power by teaching your body to push forcefully off the ground. For a variation of this move with dumbbells, check out this video from Vanhook Sports Performance.
1. Start in a push up position with your hands off of the slide board and your feet together on the board.
2. Keeping your legs straight and knees locked, raise your hips toward the ceiling. Try to get your feet as close as flat to possible.
3. Reverse the movement into starting position.
For this move, start with sets of five. When you can do this without error, move to sets of 10. The double-leg pike is great for athletes looking to increase their core strength. For an example of this exercise, watch this video from Deep Relief Peak Performance Athletic Training Center).