In this exercise of the week video, we will be going over reaction drills. The athletes don't know which direction they will be cutting before starting each rep, so they will have to react to whichever direction Kyle points. They also won't know if they'll be taking two steps, three steps, or four steps before the cut. We make sure they attack vertically and then react to Kyle's hand, still focusing on being explosive each change of direction.
Speed and agility drills should focus on explosive movements and cutting from all parts of the foot because, in competitions, athletes are going to cut from all parts of the foot. This is training one part of the foot - the outside edge. We want to train and improve movements that are sport-specific and will improve in-game performance.
In this exercise of the week video, we will be going over the outside edge cut. To start this drill you will only need three cones. We will first work on the three-step cross over with our back leg staying nice and tight to our body as it comes up and over to change direction. After that, we will work in a heiden at the beginning of the drill to work on deceleration and acceleration coming back through that cut. Here we are really focusing on sticking the landing each time and driving out into the outside edge cut drill.
We do this drill to help in our outside edge cuts. More than likely we are cutting and opening up in one direction. The benefits of this drill are to help feel the outside edge of the feet, it teaches athletes how to bring the knee drive up and over, and it helps athletes with motor control/skills.
In this exercise of the week video, we will be going over the inside edge cut on the ladder. To start this drill you will need two ladders set up side by side. If you’re starting on the left side of the ladder your right foot will start in the box. Next, we will cross over with our left leg keeping a high and tight knee to our body into the next ladder. After that, we will step outside the ladder with our right foot. Here we are really focusing on inside edge of the foot.
We do this drill to help in our inside edge cuts. More than likely we are cutting and opening up in one direction. While going through the ladder, we are also focused on body lean - always towards the center of the two ladders. The benefits of this drill are to help feel the inside edge of the feet, it teaches athletes how to bring the knee drive up and over, and it helps athletes with motor control/skills.
During our assessment process, we do an active straight leg raise to assess the athlete’s ability to go into a max hip flexion. Often, we have athletes who complain about hamstring tightness if they aren't able to achieve a certain range, but many times the issue stems from the anterior core not working as well as it should.
The primary hip flexors are the psoas and iliacus muscles, which make up the iliopsoas where they merge at the thigh. These connect to your lumbar spine, so when you go into hip flexion and your core isn’t functioning properly to align your spine or to keep it neutral, it's going to pull your spine into extension and your pelvis into anterior tilt. This action will pull your hamstrings tight before you even start to lift the legs.
This is actually a false indicator of hamstring tightness. If we assess the problem to be the anterior core firing, we’ll do an exercise called the active straight leg raise with a band pull.
The athlete is going to start with his or her hands straight up, then they are going to pull the band downward toward their sides. This pulling down movement serves as a physical cue which helps the athlete activate their anterior core. When he lifts his leg at the same time, he is activating the core and stabilizing the lumbar spine, which is how we achieve truer hip flexion.
Key things to focus on in this movement are the leg being lifted and the opposite leg on the ground. It is important for the leg being lifted to stay straight throughout the entire movement, while the opposite leg (specifically the knee) should push into the ground while keeping the toes up. He is going to pull down to engage the core and lift the leg, and then do the same alternating with each leg. We usually do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps each.