Hostyle Youth Conditioning – Teaching the Kettlebell Swing and Hip Mobility
The kettlebell swing is one of my favorite go-to exercises for teaching younger athletes how to hinge from the hips and develop that explosive power necessary for all sporting activities. In order to utilize the hips effectively an athlete must first recognize that the hips are where all of your power comes from and in order to harness that power they have to be able to engage their glutes, hamstrings and adductors to drive their movements.
This is the basic premise behind teaching younger athletes the kettlebell swing as soon as they can properly hold and control a light kettlebell.
See the video below for a quick demonstration.
In order for an athlete to properly complete a kettlebell swing they first must utilize the hip hinge in an explosive manner to propel the kettlebell out away from their body, while remaining in control with the core and upper back.
This elicits a great training effect for increasing the amount of force production on and off the field as the athlete can feel the various tissues being worked and can work on increasing explosive power from the right areas.
Teaching the Swing
As you can see from the video, the kettlebell swing is a very dynamic exercise with a lot of movement going on. At Hostyle’s Youth Conditioning classes an athlete is taught how to properly hold onto the kettlebell so that the grip is tight and the arms are allowed to freely swing, while keeping the upper back tight and shoulder blades pulled back and down. This helps keep the upper back from rounding while allowing the kettlebell to travel freely in the front of the body.
The next step is to gradually have the athlete pick up the kettlebell with a good neutral spine position and then“rock” the kettlebell from the hips, utilizing the hip hinge and gradually increase the intensity until the athlete can fully extend the hips forcefully to get the kettlebell to about chest or shoulder height.
This amounts to increasing amounts of power transfer from the ground on up through the hips and upper body. Once an athlete has mastered the movement with fairly lighter weights they can progress to using heavier and heavier kettlebells.
The swing also being a full body maneuver elicits a nice response out of the upper back, abdominals and glutes, which have to remain tight throughout the exercise or a break in form will occur.
You can often see when a younger athlete gets tired as their form will completely degrade and they will have to be told to control the weight down to rest.
The Goblet Squat
The Goblet Squat as seen on the latter half of the video demonstrates another great technique that is useful for setting up very young athletes up for the proper position to perform a squat.
By having the kettlebell held in the front rack or double horn grip position the athlete must contract their abs and utilize their posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, adductors) to properly execute the lift, while at the same time teaching them to sit backwards into the lift and keep the knees from drifting inward.
As you can see in the video there is still a bit of form and correctional work that needs to be done with our athlete’s form in order to fully correct the “butt wink” at the bottom of the exercise through additional stretching and mobility of the hips, hamstrings, and hip flexors. However, using a light kettlebell this problem generally corrects itself as the athlete becomes more mobile and can “feel” where the body needs to go to get in the right position.
The Power of the Kettlebell
Kettlebells are an overall great tool to help teach how to powerfully explode from the hips, develop core stability and mobility, which is why they are a foundation of our programming here at Hostyle Youth Conditioning. There are often many different ways to incorporate and teach various body positions into your athletic programs. We have just found the kettlebells to offer that balance between form, mobility and strength in our younger population without sacrificing exercising hard and teaching proper movement mechanics.
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