5 Things that Athletes should be able to do but a lot Struggle with

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Athletes should possess a wide variety of skills.

Sports require multiple athletic abilities and many athletes are good at what they need for their sport.

The key statement there is “for their sport.” When it comes to movements that are not practiced every day or multiple times per week, athletes can really struggle with the most basic of them.

I am currently reading Long Term Athletic Development by Istvan Balyi and the goal of the book is to develop athletes according to where they are in life. Some of the factors include chronological age, training age, rate of maturity, etc.

One of the main things that they argue, and most sports are starting to adopt, is the need to learn a variety of different sports skills when athletes are young. Athletes should not specialize in one sport until they are about 16. The younger the athlete, the more they should be exposed to.

Every day we find it increasingly apparent that athletes need to learn a lot of movement patterns. Whether is transfers to their sport or not is irrelevant, the most athletic will prevail.

We are in a unique situation at Evolution, because we are teaching resistance training to people for the first time. There are a lot of things that athletes have never done before when they get to us.

The best method for success for these athletes is to start as young as possible. If an athlete can learn how to hinge their hips when they are 8, they are not just going to forget when they are older. At the very least, it will come back to them quickly.

The following list is 5 movements that athletes may struggle with but should be able to do.

  1. Rotate

This is a funny idea. A lot of athletes are great at rotating. These are usually hockey players, baseball/softball players, golfers, etc. If these athletes cannot rotate well, then we have serious issues. They are rotational sports.

We see a lot of soccer, basketball, and football players that just do not know how to rotate their bodies. Most of their sports are played forward and back and rotation is not necessarily a skill required for success.

It might not transfer but how can someone be a good athlete if they cannot actually turn their body?

I like giving these athletes med ball throws and explaining that they actually need to rotate instead of bending over to make the throw.


  1. Get through ladder drills

I do not really think that ladder drills are going to make an athlete successful or not. There is really not a lot of things going for ladder drills. The latest trend of Instagram videos of elaborate, choreographed ladder drills does not help.

Footwork may be important but it is not going to make an athlete that much better.

But, an athlete should be athletic enough to get through ladder drills. If they are not coordinated to get in and out of the boxes then that’s a huge red flag. All athletes should be able to at least get through ladder drills. This is especially true for younger athletes. Ages 8-10 usually get the most benefit from the ladder.

  1. React

Some kids might be really fast and strong, but the best athletes are the ones that can make decisions on the fly. This is why I love to incorporate reaction drills into our training.

We may be in trouble when we have an athlete that does really well with structured, controlled drills but struggles in open drills. This would be similar to your “workout warriors” in the NFL combine. Freak athletes that can’t make decisions and critically think on the field flame out on the big stage.

On the other hand, someone who is not as physically gifted but can react quickly and make plays will always have a job. Training athletes to react to a number of different sources is helpful. We can point, use left and right, react to color, use numbers, or even lights to give the athletes many things to react to.

  1. Squat

Assuming the athlete does not have some kind of medical issues preventing them from squatting, athletes should be proficient in the squat pattern. I know a lot of people have taken the squat out of their program because they do not like its safety or effectiveness. That’s fine.

An athlete should definitely be able to at least get into a body weight squat with control over their body. It might not have to be in their training program but they should at least be able to get into the squat pattern. The best athletes will be able to.

  1. Hinge their hips

The hip hinge is a big one. Most sports and athletes are quad dominant. They do not have the kind of development in the back of the legs that they need.

hip hinge

Teaching the hinge and using in deadlifts, RDL’s, and KB swings is really helpful in building strength. This is one of the places where most athletes lack and provides the most room for growth.

Hinge movements are going to train the glutes and hamstrings which is going to make athletes run faster and lower injury risk.