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How to Perform a Full Squat Lift - A Checklist for Coaches

What coaches should watch and correct when observing athlete's performing a full

By

Updated October 20, 2007

The following checklist provides coaches a simple way to assess their athlete's performance of the full squat lift. A skilled coach needs to understand the mechanics of executing the lift, observe the athlete and constantly reinforce correct movement patterns. Here is what a qualified coach looks for.

Coach's Checklist: The Full Squat Lift

Assessing Control
The most obvious safety item for a coach is assessing overall control. If the movement is not under control the coach needs to stop the lift and educate the athlete or allow sufficient rest before the next lift.

Start of the lift as observed from the front

  • Is the lifter centered on the bar
  • Is the head looking forward or slightly upward
  • Is the bar secured on the back
  • Is the back in a neutral to slightly arched and braced position

Start of the lift as observed from the rear

  • Is the bar loaded symmetrically with the proper weight
  • Are the collars firmly attached to both sides
  • Is the bar evenly spaced and resting on the shoulders at the correct height for the lifter
  • Are the hands in the proper position and evenly placed on the bar

Start of the lift as observed from the right side

  • Are the feet evenly aligned
  • Are the hips starting the rearward movement, or are the knees bending first
  • Is the back remaining straight and solid

The back out and set up observed from the front

  • Are the two to three steps to the rear small and sufficient to clear the rack
  • Is the body vertically in line
  • Are the feet shoulder width or wider

The back out and set up as seen from the rear

  • Is the movement under control
  • Is the back solid and slightly arched
  • Is there constant movement of the feet or are they steady and remaining in one place
  • Is the bar moving about on the shoulders or is it steady and held firmly in place

The back out and set up as seen from the side

  • Is the movement under control
  • Is the athlete in an upright stance
  • Are the feet correctly aligned in relation to one another and front to rear
  • Is the back solid and slightly arched

The descent as seen from the front

  • Is the head in line with the back
  • Is the head positioned to front and not tipped to one side
  • Are the hips even
  • Are the feet positioned in line with one another
  • Do the hips move backward before the knees begin to flex

The descent as viewed from the rear

  • Are the hips coming backward before movement is felt or observed elsewhere
  • Is the back remaining solid and slightly arched
  • Are the lower legs staying perpendicular to the floor
  • Is the head in the upright position and not tipped to one side

The descent as seen from the sides

  • Are the hips moving backward prior to any other movement
  • Is the back remaining stationary, rigid and slightly arched
  • Is the head in line with the back or angled upward 10-20 degrees
  • Does the weight appear to be centered in the middle and slightly to rear of the feet
  • Is the body tipping forward
  • Is the bar moving in a straight line downward, there should be very little, to no deviation from this line
  • Is the bar path seeming to go from the ears to the middle of the feet
  • Has the bar accelerated as it approaches the bottom of the move
  • Is the torso angle relationship to the floor remaining the same throughout this phase
  • Are the heels in contact with the floor

The bottom position as viewed from the front

  • Is the head in line with the vertical aspect of the body
  • Is the bar even on the shoulders
  • Is the body square with the lifting platform or has the athlete tipped to one side
  • Is the body still facing to the front or has your lifter twisted to one side
  • Are the knees aligned over the feet or are they in a valgus or varus position

The bottom position as viewed from the rear

  • Has the back remained tight and slightly arched or has it rounded off at the bottom position
  • Is the bar even on the body
  • Has the body tipped to one side
  • Is the athlete twisted to one side or the other

The bottom position as viewed from the sides

  • Is the back straight with a slight arch
  • Is the chest out
  • Is the head straight or tipped slightly at 10-20 degrees
  • Are the lower legs nearly perpendicular to the floor
  • Are the angles at the back/hip similar to the knees/lower legs
  • Is the body tipped one way or the other
  • Is the body twisted to one side
  • Are the heels in contact with the floor

The ascent as viewed from the front

  • Did the move begin with the head and chest coming up
  • Was there an upward push on the bar with the hands
  • Is the torso angle remaining the same throughout this phase
  • Is the body remaining straight to the front
  • Is it tipping to one side
  • Is it twisting
  • Did the body shift forward
  • Has the head remained at the correct angle
  • Did the legs and body wiggle around in several small oscillations
  • VERY IMPORTANT are the knees remaining over the feet or have they moved into a valgus position. Valgus positioning is extremely detrimental to the anterior cruciate ligament and must be avoided at all times during the lift.

The ascent as viewed from the rear

  • Was the upward move started at the chest, head and arms
  • Did the body shift backward
  • Was there a rise in the buttocks before the head, chest and arms moved
  • Did the buttocks move from side to side
  • Is the bar moving upward at an even pace without side-to-side sway
  • Is the bar staying in line with the front of the rack and not torquing to one side

The ascent as seen from the sides

  • Did the buttocks rise before the bar began to move upward
  • Did the knees cave inward toward the valgus position
  • Are the head and chest remaining upright
  • Did the back remain solid and slightly arched
  • Are the knees still in line with the feet
  • Did the body torque to one side

By using this check-list coaches can reinforce the correct movement patterns needed for a full squat lift and teach their athletes to safely perform one of the best overall strength exercises.

Source

Danny M. O'Dell, M.A. CSCS*D, co-owner of Explosively Fit, Nine Mile Falls, WA.

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