One athletic development strategy I use is giving our kids frequent “Movement Snacks” suggestions.
Not all of our physical training is done before practice or after it.
What I actually see is that our youth athletes are not that physically active – beyond playing basketball.
As the main issue in basketball players – and kids generally – is limitation in their hip and ankle mobility, squatting practice is one of our main movement snacks.
Probably when you think of a squat you imagine a typical fitness workout squat where the arms are held in front. Holding the arms in front however helps as a counterweight and limits the actual folding work the ankles and hips have to do. It also supports “cheating” the squat by moving in your lower back. There I often propose new explorations with the arms to further test the freedom in their squats.
What we want here is hips hips hips! to move well and freedom in the ankle that will allow fluid folding and unfolding in jumping, landing and low defensive stance positions for example. It also allows for better loading of the legs to be able to change direction easily.
Below you find two variations I shared with all our teams (U14 up to U21) to practice by themselves as a quick movement snack. In our workouts together, I’ll see who worked on these.
I often say that
“warmups are the screening”
Movement Snacks are small dosages that allow kids to check up frequently: how are my ankles, how do my knees feel today? Which helps them to widen their physical awareness beyond depending on screenings that thappen once a year by a physio
In the first squat I am working more on testing rotational ability while the feet say on the floor to:`
1️⃣ elastically interconnect the lower body with the upper body.
2️⃣ test ankle mobility in motion
3️⃣ keep relaxed shoulders while squatting
In the second squat I am adding a simple breath practice we do to:
1️⃣ relax the nervous system while squatting because kids often tense up while squatting
2️⃣ create space in the ribcage to increase breath capacity
3️⃣ keep a long spine while squatting down
Remember the aim is never to push yourself or into positions that are new to you but rather to take your time to explore these positions until they start to feel natural.
As I see kids progress I will add more complexity or depth.