We are now ready for the flexibility drills. These drills will be for dynamic flexibility that will be useful in training and game situations. There is much discussion on the flexibility aspect of training, pro and con.
Since The Beginning
I have 'stretched' since basketball and football in Junior High School, Karate training in college, and weight training since then. It wasn't until I started to study the Renegade philosophy and contemplating past experiences that I came to the conclusion, for myself, that most of the flexibility training I had done in the past were just lessons in pain endurance with no lasting benefit. When I stopped 'stretching', I would soon be at the place I originally came from. Flexibility training, on the other hand, imparts benefits that are usable and applicable to conditioning and have carryover to athletic endeavors.
The flexibility portion of the program serves a dual purpose-one, it helps to warm up the muscles, joints, etc., by training specific athletic motor patterns; and two, it serves to reinforce the Central Nervous System (CNS) control of those patterns.
The correct movements should be reinforced so, when needed, are readily accessible for use. We have all seen teams and players practice sloppily, without attention and intention to movement. Then, in a game situation, when the correct movement is necessary to make the play, the CNS recalls the most practiced and implanted response so the ball goes over the backstop, pops up to the catcher, or drops on the ground.
Train with intention and concentration, make it fun trying to get the most effective and efficient movements, and remember that you have to fail before you can succeed. Take conscious note of your actions or your coach's remarks and, if necessary, put in more time at a slower pace to ensure that the movements become habits. It will pay off in the long term in less frustration, less game mistakes, and less internal criticism. Remember the adage, 'The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle'.
One word to thank all the people who have contributed to this endeavor, namely the coaches, teachers, and Mentors who have imparted their knowledge through on-the-field experience and other teachings-John Davies, Carlos Santana, Vern Gambetta, Chuck Mounds, Istvan Javorek, Dr. Mel Siff and others too numerous to mention. Their knowledge is vast and they are always willing to help by teaching, leading, being open to new ideas, and advancing the training and conditioning field.
The drills are to conducted over a 15-20 yard course, slowly at first, and always with proper form the main intention. Speed will come as the training progresses, but we are training the correct movement patterns to help prevent knee injuries. It is better to be a little slower, under control and injury free than to go like the wind and not be able to stop, cut, or land from a jump without injury or missing the play.
Exaggerated knee elevation toward chest, utilizing proper arm movement - cheek to cheek.
Proper arm movements, kicking the heels of the feet to the buttocks with each step.
Step forward with right foot and touch left hand to ground, left foot and right hand, keeping knees bent and back as straight as possible.
Swing right foot up, with knee straight, and touch toe with left hand, repeat left foot, right hand. Keep back straight and increase height of swing as hamstring flexibility increases.
Walk down on toes, back on heels.
Step out into right lunge, to left lunge, repeat. Stay under control, using hips and hamstrings to push into next step. Keep feet wider than hips for balance.
Balancing on left foot, swing right foot across in front of left foot as far as possible (adduction) and then change directions to away from body to the side (abduction). Step to right foot and repeat. This works the adductors, abductors and balance.
Facing to the left, carioca down to the right and back to the left. Keep upper body in the same plane while pivoting the hips.
Facing to the left, hang arms down as close to ground as possible while maintaining athletic position (AP) Shuffle to the right (do not cross feet) swinging arms back and forth (like the monkeys in the movies) trying to touch the ground without rounding the back (by lowering stance). Shuffle back to the left.
Balance on left foot, under control; swing straight right leg straight behind your body, 15 reps, switch legs, 15 reps.
One Leg Reach
Balancing on left leg, reach forward with right hand and touch ground about 1 foot in front of left foot (depending on your height). Switch legs. Do all 15 reps on one leg before switching. Every other set use the same side arm and leg, i.e., balance on left leg and reach with left hand.
With feet about shoulder width apart. With as little knee bend as flexibility allows, place hands on ground right in front of feet and 'walk' hands out until you achieve the push position. You may have to use the fingertips until flexibility allows flat hand position. Do a push up and raise buttocks and hips until body is in an upside down 'V'. From the 'V' dip forward in a Hindu pushup until buttocks are close to the ground and back is arched in 'Cobra' position. Back to pushup position and walk hands back to feet and stand-that's one rep. Start with five and work up to 15.
Do all the drill for 1-2 sets (down and back for the 15-20 yards being 1 set). The exceptions are the Heel/Toe, heels down, toes back; the Back Kick, Walkout and One Leg Reach are stationary. Concentrate on proper form, arm motions, increasing flexibility gradually over time, and balancing without the knees swaying in and out. The rewards will be better balance, proper running mechanics, more flexibility, and better body control.
Hurdles are an integral part of the SOAKS Program in that they promote hip flexibility, balance, and body control.
Arrange 5 hurdles about 3 feet apart with top bar approximately hip joint high. With the foot pointed straight forward, step over the hurdle with the left leg, leading with the knee Go over all 5 hurdles with 1) left leg over, 2) right leg over, 3) down the middle (alternating legs), and 4) under the hurdle (alternating legs). Do 3 sets (5 hurdles) each position for a total of 60 hurdles. Later we will add more hurdles drills for variety in training and explosiveness.
These drills can be incorporated into pregame and prepractice warm-ups as they will increase in speed with the addition of the form running drills in later stages of the progression.
Next week we will get into the form running and agility.