Do you want your athletes to run faster or jump higher? Then get their hips right. Do you want them to hit farther or kick harder? Then get their hips right! It’s all in the hips. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to dunk or spike, go yard or upper 90, if an athlete wants to get up, they’ve got to get down (load the hips).
Developing the hips in the athletic context is about developing power. If power is the rate of doing work, or for athletes strength times speed, then we are trying to go as fast as we can, as hard as we can. An athlete has to be able to transfer power from the hips. If an athlete can’t transfer power, then they will struggle to deliver their skill.
The glutes are the key part of the hips. The gluteus maximus is the most powerful hip extensor. Too many athletes fail to utilize their posterior. This could be a strength deficiency issue or a technique issue and these deficiencies lead to sub-maximal play and possible injury.
Ensuring athletes understand that their hips need to go back as well as down will help with technique issues. Proper lifting technique is crucial for athletes to understand how to more effectively use their hips on the field or court. Be sure to teach good technique and be cognizant of it while training.
Remember the 4 T’s: Take Time to Teach
If it’s a strength deficiency issue, one way to develop the hips inside the weight room is through power lifts like squat and dead lift. Some coaches avoid putting a barbell on a girl’s back altogether. However, like most lifts, just teach properly then use moderately. Deep squats with light weight while focusing on exploding up under control can improve vertical.
The dead lift is simply lifting dead weight, whether a barbell, kettlebell or dumbbells the technique is the same. Coaches tend to like this because it is about as safe as power lifting gets. For those who avoid it due to lumbar worries, we promote teaching the lift properly first and then using your discretion as to how you wish to proceed. Just follow the principle “use it, don’t abuse it.”
There are several ways to develop the hips outside of the weight room. Body weight exercises, mini-band work and change of direction (COD) drills can all be used to strengthen the hips and increase explosiveness. But with all exercises be sure to teach proper technique. When changing directions athletes should squat as they stop which teaches them to sink their hips and transition their body weight efficiently. However, COD drills are more intense than most linear speed drills and the reps should be counted accordingly.
Sometimes, your athletes just need a coaching cue. Tell them something to the effect of, “you need to bend to extend” or “you need to load to explode.” Keep them conscience of their technique until it becomes second nature. Then watch as their added strength and proper technique take their play to the next level. Just imagine if your athletes ran faster and jumped higher.
“Skill is important but the speed and strength it is delivered with determines the level of play!”