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  • Writer's pictureBaldMarauder

Keep Developing: Simple Exercises to Improve Mobility, Stability, and Strength

Everyone is trying to find the best way to keep on task and developing during this extended period of isolation. Over the past week the sales and subscriptions to sports-specific apps has hit an all-time high across the country! These are usually very good, and can give our athletes ideas on skill development, as well as bring them closer to their peer group. Nothing motivates kids more than seeing their friends do something they have been working on!

What I am focusing on is athletic development – mobility, strength, balance, explosive power, and coordination. In this series we have looked at core transfer, developing explosive power, and learning how to efficiently change direction. In this segment I wanted to give everyone some simple exercises to perform at the house using nothing more than a shirt or towel and a tennis ball.

These exercises will promote strength and mobility at the shoulder and hip joint; functional strength in the upper and lower body, and balance. They will challenge all age groups, are functionally appropriate, and will improve the ability of your athletes to perform their required tasks.

If you can - video these exercises and let your athletes watch themselves against what we are trying to accomplish. Nothing is better for learning than watching yourself!

Upper Body - progress through exercises in order, then repeat for 2-3 sets

1) Towel Plank Circles – starting in a extended pushup position, towels (or a t-shirt if that works) on a wood or laminate floor; maintain a tight core while making small circles in opposite directions with each hand. Ten circles then repeat in the opposite directions.

2) Towel Pushups – same position (go to kneeling pushups if these are too difficult), bend elbows and push hands away in a pushup motion. Squeeze hands together as you return to extended plank position. Repeat for eight repetition.

3) Scapula Wall Extensions – back flat against the wall, back of head against the wall, arms extended overhead, back of your hands flat against the wall. Pull from the elbow and bring arms flush down the wall to a 90 degree angle and return to extended position. Repeat for eight repetitions.

4) Staircase Pullups – if you have a stairwell, beam, literally anything you can hang on to; we want to start with an hanging hold for ten seconds, then pull up to top position (with help if need be) and hold for ten more seconds. If you can knock out 3-5 more pullups with assistance give it a try!

Extra: Handstands are a great way to improve upper body strength, stability, and balance. With assistance (on a forgiving surface). Rise up into a handstand position and try to hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat for 3-5 reps.

Lower Body – progress through exercises in order, then repeat for 2-3 sets

1) Cossack Squat – maybe the single best lower body mobility exercise I have seen. You may have to start this by holding on to something stable. Feet wider than shoulder width, heels in ground, core tight and chest tall. Squat down through your right heel and let your left leg straighten out, toe up, stretching groin and hamstring. Keep your chest tall as you sink into a hip-to-ankle position on your right side. Squat back up and repeat on left side. Repeat for three reps.

2) Towel Reverse Lunge/Side Squat Combo – Standing with weight on right foot, mental weight through the right heel, left foot on towel. Push left leg back on towel, push left knee down towards floor. Return to base position by driving through right heel. From starting position, push left foot away from your body horizontally, try to keep right leg straight as you squat down on your right leg. Return to base position by driving through right heel. Repeat for 5 reps and switch feet.

3) Single Leg Squats – this exercise is important for ankle mobility and proper keen pattern movement. Find a vertical beam or rail. Right toe against the beam holding on with both hands, and left leg extended in front (side of beam). Squat down through the right heel and drive your knee over your right little toe. Your knee should touch the beam as you continue to the bottom of the pattern (preferably in a full squat if ankle mobility allows). Drive through the right heel to return to starting position, using arms as needed. Repeat for eight reps then switch feet.

Extra: Balance routine - Start on one leg and try to maintain balance while closing your eyes. Aim for 30 secs and try to progress to 60 secs. After you have tried both legs, stand on one leg with eyes open and have a partner throw you a tennis ball – single hand catch and return. Make it difficult by working the range of motion with the ball, but not so much as to force a break. Can progress to two tennis balls simultaneously - tracking, catching, throwing.

By hitting these exercises a couple times a week, either as a workout or warm-up; you are on your way to improving your strength, mobility, and ability to move through essential movement patterns for sport.

For more on athlete development, tune into the Process 2 Perform podcast

and please hit me with any questions: @UnrivaledESS or



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