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8/27/2014 11:04:27 PM - Rich
Coach Watts,

I know that you're a big fan of neck training but are there any neck drills/stretches/work that you like done during prepractice or pregame warm up. I would like to do some type of neck work prepractice but time and efficiency are an issue.


Thanks for the question and absolutely training the head and neck is so vitally important for collision and combat athletes. With neck training in-season, there is a double edged sword which is similar to training hamstrings hard in season or before practice.

The question that always comes up is: Are we truly getting enough strength work right before practice or are we just fatiguing them?

There are a few different thought processes with this. Some coaches may feel some neck strengthening exercises would serve as an activation type sequence. Kind of like doing some directed hip extension or abduction before squatting i.e. "glute-activation". Only issue with this is that the neck's responsible for protecting the head and spine in a reactive manner. Without going to far into detail about how this happens on a neurological level (I am probably not as qualified to do so), The neck must contract proprioceptively to a point upon contact. So the question is the value of warming up the neck from an activation standpoint. Bottom line is, the benefit of some neck work pre-practice wold highly depend on the intensity and volume.

The other side, is can you really do enough to fatigue the muscles of the head and neck toa point where they will not be as effective during full-contact drills or game situations. I don't know the answer to that. I am not sure what the correct dosage of volume and intensity to elicit strength gains, activate the correct musculature in the proper firing sequence without fatiguing the muscles to a point where they will not be able to do what they are designed to do. I highly doubt that there will be a detrimental effect. The only other factor is the basic premise that most of what you will be doing is manual resistance type training and will highly depend on another player to regulate the amount of resistance.

So here are the most optimal times to train neck in my opinion.

1. As part of a strength training session that is not right before or right after practice.
2. As part of a strength training session that is right after practice.
3. As part of a strength training session that is right before practice.
4. Immediately after practice on the field
5. Immediately before practice on the field

Now, due to logistics and scheduling you may be in a situation where the only time you can fit it in is before practice. if that is the case then that is still 100 times better than not incorporating neck training at all.

So here is what I would incorporate during pre-practice and pre-games.

Option 1:
All fours Manual Resistance 4-way Neck
1x5 for 5 sec Concentric & Eccentric with Flexion, Extension and Side Flexion
Resist partner with side of leg (side flexion) or hands

Option 2:
Kneeling Manual Resistance 5-Way Neck
1x5 for 5 sec Concentric & Eccentric with Protrusion, Flexion, Extension and Side Flexion
Resist partner with hands which he is bracing off of you.

Option 3:
Manual Resistance Static Holds
1x5 for 5 sec Concentric & Eccentric with Anti-Extension & Anti-Flexion

Option 5:
Self Serve Manual Static Holds
10 second static holds with Anti-Extension, Anti-Flexion, & Anti-Side-Flexion

Option 6:
Lying Protrusion
3x10 second isometric hold

I hope these give you a few ideas, Rich. Keep up the great work and I wish you and your team the best, my friend.

Train the Neck Year-round,
Mark Watts

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