To improve speed over the off-season, adding strength and power to your frame is critical. Exercise selection is important in this aspect because players first need to choose exercises that they can perform with sound form. Secondly, players need to choose exercises that can create triple extension in the body (ankles, knees, hips).
There are several exercises that can accomplish the triple extension through their explosion nature, but learning the kettlebell swing is one that I’ve found extremely beneficial to adding both strength and power.
The thing about triple extension exercises is that the more advanced ones take a little more time and practice to master. The other thing is that exercises like traditional squats, cleans, deadlifts, and snatches need to be given special consideration depending on the athlete’s background in training as well as injury history.
The kettlebell swing, also requires special consideration, but with the ability to start with such a light weight, it’s an excellent exercise for grooving the hip hinge pattern, learning to keep a neutral spine, as well as understanding how to fire the glutes at the top of the triple extension movement.
I’ve been practicing the kettlebell swing lately, trying to improve technique as well as add it to the end of my workouts in the form of intervals.
Here’s a few tips on using the kettlebell swing to improve speed:
1. The starting position is a bell’s length away from the feet.
2. Bend at the hips and slightly at the knees, with a flat back and the kettlebell under your shoulders.
3. Engage the core and lats.
4. First swing comes in through the knees.
5. Drive the hips forward with the arms straight and locked.
6. Finish out in front of your shoulders.
7. As the kettlebell returns to your body, hinge at the hips and bring the kettlebell into the crotch area and NOT BELOW THE KNEES.
8. To finish the set, after the last swing, use the kettlebell’s momentum to place it on the ground right where it started, on the ground below your shoulders with your back flat and core still engaged to avoid injury.
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