There are tons of reasons why an athlete may show a dramatic rib flare during many skills, whether in sports or during strength and conditioning. In a post I wrote a few months ago, I went pretty in-depth about what reasons could lead to somebody having some issues with overhead motion and replay. Hip and shoulder mobility were two big culprits. Core control, rather than strength, was another.

At Champion, many athletes often know they should work on their mobility overhead or in their hips, and also pay special attention to basic core strength work. What I find people often miss the most though, is eventually integrating this newfound mobility into core control patterns that actually matter for the skills they want to train.  This is true on a global basis, with athletes just focusing on mobility work.  It is also true within a warm up,  with many athletes doing their mobility work or join specific activation, but missing the boat on actually warming up the patterns they are training for that day.

Today in this quick post, I wanted to share three of my favorite drills that I use after hip or shoulder mobility work has been performed to help transfer this newfound motion directly into skills.  I personally think that these drills help the athlete learn to maintain midline control and good spine position, while the arms and legs move, and patterns that are generally applicable to most skills of strength work. I will show them in a video below, then list them at the end of this post.


1. Tall Kneeling Kettlebell Press-Outs

In the first exercise, although it biases anti-flexion it helps due to most athletes wanting to compensate by resting on their passive stabilizers in extension. many athletes will have lacking core control and will default to sinking into their rib flared arch. Have the athletes engage in the tall kneeling position, press the weight or kettle bell straight ahead, hold and range position for one full breath cycle, and then returned back to the starting position.

2. Tall Kneeling Banded Press and Overhead Reach

This drill is fantastic for any overhead lifting or sports that involve overhead motions like gymnastics or Olympic Weight Lifting.  the athlete will again start a tall kneeling position, and then press the band straight out the start. Instruct the athlete to slowly bring the arms overhead, and avoid any excessive arching or fast motions.  they should be able to completely control and range, take a deep breath and repeat.

3. Supine KB Overhead Drop, With or Without Kick Outs

This drill is extremely challenging but can be modified for any appropriate level. This is built off the more basic dead bug but progresses to use weights and kick outs.  the first version is dropping both arms overhead with a weight in hand, and holding the end range position for one full breath cycle. The athlete should only drop as far as it can go, or use a way that is comfortable enough, to not allow any lower back midline sacrifice in alignment. The next version of this can involve kicking out one leg bent, two legs bent, or either leg straight, into a full hollow hold.  Keep in mind this requires quite a bit of hip and shoulder mobility and can be extremely challenging if not appropriately programmed.

4. Bonus – Tall Kneeling KB Complexes

This complex I included more as a bonus because it doesn’t apply to everybody. I close to this a few weeks ago on Instagram, saying that I’m getting a lot more athletes these complexes to warm up with kettlebells before they get the actual lifts. I personally use these a lot and tweak the complex based on what my workout as the day.  As you can see, it has a lot of tempo in pause work, and also work between positions of tall kneeling as well as lunging and walking.  Whichever athlete your programming, program within their ability level. Personally, I think they make for fantastic warm-up complexes and really enhance the overall training with better position prep.

That’s all for now.  Give one or two a try at the appropriate level of difficulty, then progress as you feel you or your athletes are ready for.  Have a great week,

Dave Tilley DPT, SCS, CSCS

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