Training youth athletes is about building a foundation for long team athletic success.
This means taking a very structured approach to how you develop them and what areas you focus your largest emphasis on.
For me, I believe the most important area an athlete needs to focus on is the development of the posterior chain. The Posterior Chain is the muscle grouping of the upper back (trapezoids and posterior deltoid), low back (erector spinae), glutes, and hamstrings.
With young athletes, I like to develop their hamstrings and hips as my primary target from the moment we begin training. When training in this region of the posterior chain I look at two different methods to train the hamstrings and glutes.
- Hip Dominate Pulls
- Knee Dominate Pulls
For hip dominate pulls, the most commonly used movement for this muscle group is the deadlift and variations of the deadlift. The deadlift is a stone cold beast when it comes to building the posterior chain and should be a staple in every program for athletes of every ability.
The knee dominate pulls are a little more tricky. I have found that most athletes lack proper ability in this variation due to a lack of actual hamstring strength. With hip, dominate pulls the glutes are the prime mover whereas on knee dominate pulls that role falls to the hamstring and the glutes are simply in an isometric hold position.
For this reason, believe in progressing athletes towards the Glute Ham Raise (GHR) before being too concerned with how much they can pull in a deadlift.
Click Here to View Outlaw’s athletes perform the GHR: https://youtu.be/hWegKkT4RJI
If an athlete can be strong in Knee Dominate Pull movements then they will be able to decrease their potential for both knee and hamstring injuries while building their speed through an increase in posterior strength.
So, if you are in the business of athletic improvement and you are looking to turn your posterior chain into something that resembles a thoroughbred racehorse then I’d recommend progressing towards the GHR movement.
As a disclaimer, the GHR is an advanced move and it should be progressed towards as most athletes simply lack the strength in the hamstring. Use movements such as the hip bridge, ball/glider leg curls, and manual GHR’s to build your strength before programming the GHR.