A lot of time what I find with my athletes is not a lack of mobility but rather a lack of stability. A lack of stability in an athlete, specifically in their core, will inhibit their body’s ability to function and move properly. While in the weight room and on the course it is important that our body works as functionally efficient as possible to create optimum performance. In terms of my relationship with my athletes, it is my job to improve their body and how it functions in the weight room to facilitate improved performance and efficiency on the course. This starts with improving proper movement patterns as well as muscular and postural deficiencies in order to have a strong, stable and mobile body. It is only then that we can begin to gain strength, power and performance. For it is only then that the athlete can efficiently move and maintain proper position throughout exercises. If they cannot perform proper movement patterns then we cannot allow weight bearing exercises. In other words, we never want to load an athlete’s body with weight or perform more complex exercises on an athlete who is not functional. If you do, you compromise and endanger their body and their career. Always remember that improving function improves strength because functional is strong.
To be functional, an athlete must be mobile and stable in sequential order from bottom to top: stable feet, mobile ankles, stable knees, mobile hips, lumbar spine stable, thoracic spine mobile, scapular-thoracic stable, shoulder mobile, elbows stable, wrists mobile and cervical spine mobile. This is important for if one is out of place it affects others up and down the chain. A major contributor to decreased mobility and stability of joints is an athlete’s overall core stability. For an athlete, a lack of core stability inhibits mobility and stability of joints throughout the body affecting posture during exercise and compromising the athlete. This will inevitably lead to injury and break rule No. 1, never hurt the athlete. So my athletes start simple. They increase their core stability promoting better mobility and increasing the efficiency of their body. We can then progress and build upon a body that is strong enough to maintain and perform power and weight bearing exercise.
You are only hurting your athletes by allowing them to perform exercises which compromise their body due to their own limitations. That is why assessing your athletes is so necessary for it gives you a blueprint of their body allowing you to build a program tailored to their individual limitations. You can then start their journey on the road to a functionally efficient, strong and powerful body necessary to perform at the highest level.