How Your Hips Can Make You A Better Athlete

There is one body part that is vital for every football position.

Hips are the common thread to many of the moves performed on the field and in practice. During NFL Combines, nearly every scout focuses on players’ hips as they progress through drills. This is especially true for defensive backs, tight ends, and wide receivers.

You’ll hear scouts refer to ‘loose’ hips, which is referring mostly to range of motion and hip strength. It’s especially important for defensive backs, tight ends, and wide receivers because loose, fluid hip movement will enable lightning fast direction changes and reactions to same.

Proper defensive back and receiver technique demands a player ‘sink’ his hips. This particular positioning of the hips will store power during deceleration and allow the player to utilize the stored power to explode during a change of direction. Sinking the hips and recoiling from the sink requires hip power, quickness, and range of motion.

Linebacker is an example of another extraordinarily hip-reliant position. If you play linebacker, then your stock in trade is making tackles. Hips play a vital role in the ability to effectively take the proper angle, gain position and execute a proper tackle. The power that hips store and unleash will affect almost all muscle groups, because strong hips can more effectively harness and focus exertions made by other muscle groups. Thus hip power is vital to focusing the power that players work so hard in the gym to attain.

There are plenty of strong football players who can’t translate weight room strength into becoming more powerful tacklers. If a player’s tackling technique is fairly sound but not explosive, much of the blame goes to their hips and the inability to use them for explosive power transfer.

Here are a few techniques you can use to increase hip flexibility, range of motion and power.

Hip Stretches

Many associate the benefit of stretching with injury prevention. However, there are other benefits of stretching that assist performance and power.

Stretching is known to significantly increase an athlete’s strength and their ability to effectively harness it. Proper inter-set stretching [stretching between sets of weight training] significantly increases strength and range of motion as opposed to lifting routines that did not include stretching, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Human Kinetics. The research also noted that using inter-set stretching allowed athletes to get more results without spending extra time in the gym.

Leg Swings

This exercise involves dynamic movement. Stand in front of the squat rack, lean slightly forward and grab the machine’s uprights for support. While keeping a solid base with one foot flat on the floor, swing the other leg forward and backward for 10 repetitions. Repeat another 10 repetitions while swinging your leg side to side. Repeat the entire exercise three times for each leg.

Rolling Crossover stretch

Lay face down with your arms outstretched to either side. Move your right foot back across your left leg, roll your hips and place your right foot on the ground adjacent to your left knee. Repeat this exercise for both legs. Do 10-15 repetitions on each side.

Hip Power Exercises

Squats and power cleans are excellent power movements that should be a football player’s staple in the weight room. These exercises do improve hip power, but by simply adding some more hip-specific movements, you can take things to another level.

Weighted Hip Thrusts – Place your shoulders sideways against a bench. Sit directly on the floor with feet flat on the floor. Place a heavily padded, weighted barbell across your hips. Thrust your hips upwards past the point where your body is horizontally planked, lifting the weight. Do three sets of four-to-six repetitions. Although this movement may elicit some teasing in the weight room, it is extremely effective for building hip power and explosion.

Single Leg Hip Raises – Lie on the floor with one leg straight and your other leg bent at the knee, with the foot on a block (elevated approximately 6-8 inches). Concentrate on keeping one leg straight while using your bent leg to lift your hips. Do three sets of five repetitions with each leg.

Explosive hip power and mobility can elevate your game and make you a much better football player. If you dedicate one day a week for 6 months to increasing your hip functionality, then you’ll be amazed at the difference in your game.

Link to original article in USA Football by Steve Faber