Monday, September 10, 2012

30 DAYS OF SQUAT! (Day 10) - Michael Boyle

Mike Boyle came under fire a couple of years ago because of his strong language speaking out against the cult of back squatting. I wrote about it a bit in this post, The Death of The Conventional Squat? While I don't completely agree and dislike hyperbole, I respect coaches that are thoughtful and not afraid to speak their minds even when their opinions won't win them any internet popularity contests...

Those in the hard-core crowd love to bang square pegs into round holes, one size fits all. If the squat is a great exercise, it must be great for every athlete in every situation. I was one of those guys for years, forcing my basketball players to squat, and searching endlessly for ways to help them learn the right technique.
Then I figured something out: There's a limiting factor in squatting we call segmental proportion. Athletes with long femurs relative to the length of the torso will be lousy squatters. These guys were always forwards or centers, six-feet-five or taller.
But it's not just about height - some tall basketball players are actually very good squatters.
The problem is an athlete with these proportions needs an extreme forward lean when squatting, making it look like he's doing a good morning. This athlete will generally be frustrated  with the inability to do the exercise correctly, and may even suffer back pain.
Eventually I could identify these athletes before we got anywhere near the squat rack. Basketball players with exceptionally long femurs always look short sitting down. I remember sitting next to a player and realizing that despite the fact he was eight inches taller than me, we were eye-to-eye when seated in chairs.
My advice to fellow coaches: If an athlete is built proportionately and can squat with good form, go for it. If the athlete is all legs, be careful: You're looking at a square peg... 
To offset leverage, try these options:
  • For strength, use front squats, belt squats, single-leg squats with the rear foot elevated (Bulgarian split squats) or trap bar deadlifts.
  • For power, try Olympic lifts from the hang position above the knees, along with Vertimax jumps.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I train a high school basketball team. 9-12th grade. I have a senior guard 5'10"" who squats 315 well all the way to a soph post player who can' t even initiate the squat move correctly! In education we have a term called differentiated instruction for different learning styles. In the weight room you must evaluate each players movement patterns and ability and prescribe an appropriate plan for strength development. Some will squat, some will not! But a good coach can help them all get strong! Squat alternatives, step ups, lunges, split squats, single leg presses, deadlifts, can all help!