Movement Standards pt. 1

Without standards, we cannot teach.

Imagine if there was no standard answer for the equation 1 + 1 = ___. On Mondays, the answer could be 2. In September, the answer could be 11. When you’re in a bad mood, anything resembling a number could be correct. It was hard enough for poor Mrs. Clark to teach my first grade class addition and subtraction as it was; thank God we had standards.

Unfortunately the world of strength and conditioning as a whole does not recognize universal standards. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we are okay with our back rounding as long as it’s for a “deadlift”. For football players, squats should never be “below parallel”. Knees buckling on box jumps is okay when working with basketball players because they need to jump high. This, of course, makes no sense whatsoever. Yet my observations at a number of high schools and colleges tell me that coaches do not have a set us universal movement standards to abide by.

Luckily, nature provides standards for us. And with a little bit of critical thinking, we can come to recognize and understand them.

A 10-foot basket is a man-made standard. 10 yards for a 1st down is a man-made standard. A 200m dash is a man-made standard. Doing a squat with your hips at parallel is a man-made standard. Doing a squat without your knees caving in is not a man-made standard, it is a standard set by nature (gravity and our anatomy).

In reality, there are three standards, dictated by nature, that we are all bound to whether we are in a weight room, soccer field, basketball court, or baseball diamond.

They are:

  1. Midline stability
  2. Loading oder
  3. Laws of Torque

Understanding the difference between these and man-made standards like range of motion, number of reps, weight on the bar, and time duration helps coaches build progressions and triage the most important important points to coach.

Back in February, I had the privilege of speaking at Michigan State’s annual Strength and Conditioning Conference on this very topic. Shauhen Tahrebandi (aka Coach T) presented along with me and we had the opportunity to talk to over 200 coaches from across the country. It was a great experience, and I would love to share it with you guys on this platform. Part 1 of the presentation can be seen below.

We were also granted the opportunity to do a practical application and demo with all the coaches in MSU’s weight room. That will be featured in part 2. Coming soon…

For more info, visit the Champions Club website.


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