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Never sacrifice technique for pounds! This statement has long been a key coaching point at BFS Clinics. Poor technique is an issue at all levels in all schools and private gyms.
By Greg Shepard
Published: Fall 2001

The following is a letter from a concerned coach:

Dear BFS,

I recently had the opportunity to witness some high school athletes doing the BFS version of the box squat. Many of the athletes were using 300 pounds or more. Some of them much more. It appalled me to watch some of them slam down onto the box as well as lose their balance which put all of the weight on their spinal cord. You should also be aware that these high school athletes are a bunch of testosterone pumping puppies who are under the assumption that technique can be thrown out the window if it hinders their max.


The coach who wrote the letter should be appalled. I am. Poor technique problems occur in all lifts both free weights and machines. It is not the private domain of the box squat.

The Six BFS Absolutes are coaching gems that will help even the inexperienced coach become a great strength coach. These Six Absolutes are a major part of a BFS Clinic. If a clinic is seven hours long, the Six Absolutes are a part of every hour. The Six Absolutes should be incorporated into every phase of training, whether it be lifting weights, running, jumping or playing the sport.

The BFS Six Absolutes are as follows:
1. Athletic or Jump Stance (The athlete must be
in an athletic stance or a jump stance)
2. Be Tall
(The athlete should be as erect as possible)
3. Spread the Chest - Lock In Lower Back
(Is the athlete’s chest spread?)
4. Toes Aligned (Are the athlete’s toes straight?)
5. Knees Aligned (Are the athletes knees directly
over the toes at all times?)
6. Eyes On Target (Does the athlete keep
his/her eyes on target?)

Box Squat Technique:
1. Strictly observe the Six Absolutes. 2. Always stay in the “Power Line”. 3. Always keep the lower back locked in. Keep a concave position with the lower back. Never allow the lower back to become rounded. 4. Always sit on the box under complete control. Never plop down. 5. The feet should always keep in contact with the floor. As you sit, do not raise your heels or pick your feet up off the floor.

Additional Guidelines:
Keeping track of the difference of the poundage used between the parallel squat and the box squat is critical. If an athlete can only parallel squat 250 pounds and is box squatting over 400 pounds, this is not good. The difference is too great. The height of the box is too high. We recommend the difference of poundage to be around 100 pounds and no greater than 150 pounds. This is why we have designed different heights with our boxes with accompanying booster boxes. Sometimes taller athletes try to use our medium height box which can create a parallel position. Many times, especially with younger or beginning athletes, the taller athlete in this situation will plop down on the box because he has not yet developed enough strength to maintain control. In this case, the box needs to be raised. This can be done three ways: 1. Get a taller box. 2. Get a booster. 3. Put a 35-pound plate underneath the box.

The beginning athlete should ideally start box squats at a two-inch above parallel height. Then, if the weight becomes more than the recommended difference between the box squat and the parallel squat, simply begin using a shorter box. Also, you should use a power belt: one that is four inches all the way around which helps you Be Tall.

Final Thoughts:
The box squat will give any athlete a tremendous advantage over his opponents. The box squat is very forgiving, as it has an excellent track record for injuries when compared to other lifts. Our BFS Clinicians have about 4,000 athletes doing the box squat on a weekly basis all year round. Most have done them for five years or longer. No injuries have been reported. No lost time from training has been experienced and no player has missed a contest because of a box squat injury. I also see athletes that I coached 20 and even 30 years ago from time to time. There does not appear to be any long term effects from any phase of strength and conditioning, including box squats. Nonetheless, every coach must follow the proper technique and guidelines as explained and follow the Six Absolutes.

When the 6 Absolutes are followed the “Power line” is established. The result is perfect technique.
Here the athlete failed to Be Tall. As a result the back rounds and the bar moves forward.
By failing to Be Tall, other absolutes are also broken such as Spreading the Chest, resulting in poor form.

Return to Fall 2001 Articles

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