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12/31/2013 8:03:48 PM - Damien

I am working with a men's basketball team for a division II university, and I have a player who would fall into the PUTS category due to limited ankle and hip ROM. We have been working on improving his ROM with slow improvement, and in the meantime have substituted single leg work for squats. Do you have any other advice for what type of exercises you would use for a PUTS player? And/or progressions you might use as ROM increases?

Thanks for your help,



It's awesome that you are using the PUTS terminology. I was always afraid it was derogatory in nature, but sometimes brutal honesty is what athletes need. They key is always letting them know it is just an assessment and you have a plan to get them to where they need to be.

The second and more important message you need to communicate is WHY you feel they need to squat parallel. Some coaches don't see the value and that's fine, but if you are like me, then you need to make the athlete aware of why you are taking the necessary steps to get those last few inches of range of motion.

You are definitely on the right path as far as corrective strategies. Not saying you aren't doing these, but here is the list of correctives I would implement. Maybe there are a few that will help at least with redundancy.

Foam Roll, Softball, or Lacrosseball
- Anterior Tib, Soleus, Gastroc, IT Band, Piriformus, Glute Med, t-spine, pec

- Ball of foot against wall, push knee forward
- Foot on ground push knee to wall
- Strong Band Ankle mob

- Lateral Hurdle Step-over rotate to lunge
- Lateral Hurdle Duck-Under
- Dan John's partner sumo squat drill
- Knee Flops
- Figure 4 knee flops
- Scorpions
- Rev Scorpions
- Knee Circles

- Elbows on bench lat stretch, duck your head
- band pec stretch

One thing that is very important to do is figure out if it is really mobility that is keeping your athlete from getting parallel.

For the most part, most athletes seem to have an anterior pelvic tilt which not only can inhibit squat depth, but can also lead athletes to more hamstring injuries, etc.

In my opinion, the biggest culprit for an athlete's inability to squat parallel is due to lack of posterior chain strength. The most crucial component of the squat is being able to sit back at the bottom of the movement. Athletes who are not strong enough usually compensate one of two ways.

1.) They lean forward at the bottom to change the center of gravity
2.) Their knees shoot forward, again to change their COD

If the athlete can sit on a box in a squat stance, it is probably a stability issue and not a mobility issue. stability = strength

One thing you can do is perform a Thomas test. I am not a PT, but this could at least confirm if tight hip flexors are an issue.

Strengthening the posterior chain can allow the athlete to get in a better squat position. Because the athlete can achieve a parallel position with a more vertical shin angle, thus not as much ankle mobility is needed. That's a backwards way of addressing the problem, but it is attacking it from another angle.

1.) Raise the Heels. I realize this is a big no-no to most but this will fix most athletes pretty quickly. I can almost bet your athletes squat in basketball shoes and not Olympic lifting shoes. You can even go with a progression by standing on thinner and thinner plates.

2.) Box Squats. Especially starting from the bottom position. Starting from the position where it is the most difficult can help the athlete's motor learning. Obviously, the weight will need adjusted. Bottom up training.

3.) Front Squat or Goblet Squat. Anytime you distribute the weight anterior and change the COD, it allows the athlete to sit back and squat with more efficiently, Remember the shin angle usually replicates the torso angle and front squats can change both to be more vertical.

4.) Accommodating resistance. I am in the minority of coaches who believe that bands and chains are excellent tools for beginners. The resistance is lower at the most difficult position and it teaches the athlete to produce force.

I hope this helps a little, Damien. I truly understand and appreciate the job you have in front of you. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you and keep me updated.

Ankle Moblity + Posterior Chain Strength = Better Squatters,
Mark Watts

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