Why Strength Fundamentals Win Over Specilization in Young Players – Part 1
By Chris Chase, Memphis Grizzles – S&C Development Coordinator
Of course, I have a ton of my own opinions on things just based on what I’ve seen. I don’t think I know the answers but development is one of those buzz words. You went through a lot of buzz topics, right? Like specialization and kids should be multisport athletes. I don’t know the right answer. I love when I hear people talk about, “Okay, this kid specialized too early, so that’s why they got injured.” There’s so many things to that.
There’s so many variables that come into play. For instance, basketball players, have these long limbs and long torsos that they have to control. There’s consequences to that. If you’re a kid that’s playing basketball at a young age and then you, also, are involved in baseball or track and field or football or whatever. The bad movement patterns that you’re going to display or the struggles or the consequences that you may have because you’re trying to control that body.
It’s not going to be different if you play multiple sports, you’re still going to carry over that to football. I mean, I am all for the fact that, if you’re talking to me about a youth in general or youth in general, that there should be more free play, they should get outside more, they should play multiple sports. Just in general, totally with it. I don’t know if we can definitively say that that would be the answer to improve, just in general, athletics. What I do think is, now, there’s fundamental concepts and principles that, maybe, you could apply to these younger athletes,
That can start this developmental process. That’s where, I think, we miss a little bit. Maybe, that’s where gym classes should be taking advantage of that time to implement some of this stuff because, maybe, they’re not getting it anywhere else.
What I mean by “it” is do you understand the principles? Like when I see an NBA athlete, I’m thinking in my head, “This person is stiff. They have stiff ankles. They have knee pain from some sort of tendonitis issue or some tendon issue. They’re stiff at their hips, their back.” Just kind of like how a lot of athletes present.
Or maybe, especially, basketball players because it’s a game they play on their toes. They don’t have to really scourage through large of ranges of motions a lot. If you see a basketball player trying to bend over, for instance, to get a ball, they won’t flex their ankles or knees, they’ll just bend over at the hip. What’s the consequence of that? You wonder why these guys have knee pain and stiff joints. It’s just the nature of the sport.
Now, if you were a basketball player and you got exposed to some sort of developmental training program early, maybe, some of those things wouldn’t be as bad. I imagine that you’re in a middle school situation or going into high school, as a basketball player what exposure do you have to good strength and conditioning around this country? I don’t think there’s any, to be honest with you. Maybe, there’s a small percentage where a high school happens to have just a decent strength coach in there, that’s catering to these basketball guys.
These guys don’t know how to find the floor. They don’t know how to change levels. How they reference the floor is just through tendinous structures, so they rely just on their elastics.
Can we teach the principles of how to…
If I’m talking about changing levels, maybe, that’s a squat. Maybe, that’s some sort of squatting pattern, whether that’s bilateral (2 legs) or unilateral (1 leg or off-set stance).
How do we find the floor? How do we reference the ground throughout your whole foot? Maybe, that translates to things like squat and a hip hinge as well. When you bend or flex at your hip, what do you use? Most of the time these guys are on their toes and they have to use, maybe, their posterior chain is their back that they’re using, for most of this stuff, as their strategy to stay upright versus controlling movement with hip musculature. They don’t know how to do that.