Jul 27, 2015
Tips on Troubleshooting Squats

Training & Conditioning is pleased to bring you the first installment of our Digital Guide to Strength and Conditioning! Containing seven specific exercises to use in training your athletes, the guide features text and a video showing each exercise being performed. Here, we provide tips on troubleshooting squat technique.

Coaching proper technique for the back squat is crucial in preventing injuries and ensuring the safety of your athletes. These surprisingly simple suggestions go a long way to protecting them while they’re performing this all-important move.

First, we want notice the setup of the bar on the rack. The bar height should line up with the athlete’s collarbone. This will allow the athlete to rack and re-rack the bar safely without having stand up on toes or bend forward to replace the bar. Either scenario causes opportunities for injuries, particularly to the lower back, to occur.

Second, athletes should un-rack the bar with feet parallel. Many athletes will un-rack or re-rack the bar with a split stance, but performed repeatedly, this can cause strain on the sacroiliac (SI) joint, unevenly stress the hips. Even their knees may start to complain. Ensure your athletes maintain parallel feet while under the bar and their lower backs will thank you.

Third, watch for athletes taking 3, 4, or even 5 steps backwards when unracking the bar. This is unnecessary, and each step over 2 increases their chance for injury. To keep them healthy, have your athletes take no more than 2 steps when backing out from the rack. Correct initiation is also very important, and a great place to increase effectiveness while lowering injury risk.

Some athletes have a tendency to initiate in an extended position with the lower back excessively arched, the ribs flared out towards the ceiling and the pelvis tipped forward toward the floor. This disadvantageous position saps the athlete’s ability to adequately brace and protect the spine, while causing the sheer bulk of the movement’s stress to be incorrectly received by SI joint. These athletes are generally hinging at the SI joint, rather than the hips, creating a false sense of “sitting back.” To avoid this, cue your athletes to brace hard, and initiate the squatting action from their hips moving backwards as a unit.

These small adjustments can go a long way in clearing up and preventing lower back pain in athletes.

To view more exercises, click on the complete interactive guide below:

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