A FUN CHALLENGE (Agility Drills)
Three Power Balance Auxiliary Drills
By Dr. Greg Shepard
Published: Fall 2000
I have used the term “Power Balance” for many years. Lunges, in the past, have been the primary auxiliary exercise to develop power balance at BFS. Exercises which demand balance use stabilizing muscles about as equally as the prime movers. Free weights normally develop the stabilizing muscles more than machines. In simple terms, when balance comes into play during exercise, many different muscles in the body are used. This factor is one of the primary advantages for an athlete to use free weights over machines. For example, the prime movers in a Standing Curl exercise are the biceps, but if it were not for the stabilizing muscles in the back and hips, the lifter would fall over. I like to have an athlete stride out a long ways during a lunge. Therefore, the athlete must learn to balance himself powerfully in an awkward position; a position many times duplicated in athletic competition.
Tom Cross, Mid-American Nazarene college strength coach, got me to thinking about some additional Power Balance lifts several years ago. As a result I have included three of these during my Auxiliary Lifts presentation at BFS Clinics. It is important to note that prior to this presentation, the athletes and coaches have already experienced a thorough practical knowledge of the Six Coaching Absolutes. They also have worked on the Power Clean for about an hour. During the Power Clean presentation, all athletes have also experienced a Front Squat from a Power Clean position. Shown in Photo #1 is Randy Parks, a sophomore fullback from Burroughs High School in California. This was taken last June at a repeat clinic for Coach Jeff Steinberg. Randy is 6-1 185 and Power Cleans 230 and does a full Parallel Squat of 315 pounds. Randy’s Front Squat form is great, but what I want you to notice is how he has the weight perfectly balanced. The weight of the bar goes right through his “Power Line” or center of gravity.
I give you this background because I would recommend that any athlete should go through the same experience before trying the following three power balance lifts. The final lift I present at a BFS Clinic before the three power balance lifts is the Power Snatch. Almost all coaches at clinics think the Power Snatch is a very complex lift to teach and would be difficult to have high school athletes include it in their program. Wrong. By following the Six Absolutes and the Power Clean techniques which have already been taught, it takes about three minutes to teach and do successfully. Anthony Walls in Photo #2 is shown doing a Power Snatch for the first time at the June 2000 Burroughs High School BFS Clinic. Anthony is a junior linebacker at 5-7 150 pounds. He Power Cleans 225, runs a 4.8 forty and has a 4.0 GPA. Anthony’s eyes are on target, he is spreading his chest, locking in his lower back, being tall and has ended up in an athletic stance; these are four of the Six Absolutes. I have ten stations set up with BFS Training Plates; so most athletes are successful with a Power Snatch at a clinic. If they can do a Power Snatch, they are ready for a fun challenge.
I have a lot of fun as well as I say, “The next part of the clinic is really hard. In fact so hard that only about 5% have enough athletic ability to do these three Power Balance Lifts. Only five out of a hundred can do it!” I then pick out a 9th or 10th grader who looks average, but because I have seen the athletes all day, I have confidence that the one I pick out will be successful. The reason I don’t pick out the best athlete is that I want all athletes and coaches to see that if this kid can do it, that maybe a lot more can. After they see the three Power Balance Lifts done, it is amazing. Everyone is begging to try them.
POWER BALANCE LIFT #1: Do a Power Snatch and stand erect in an athletic stance. Now squat all the way down while maintaining great balance and technique. Hold the low position for three seconds and then stand erect again. See Photo #3 with Baron Holmes who is a 9th grade receiver at Cathedral City High School in California. I also did a BFS Clinic there last June. The previous lifting experience of the Cathedral High School athletes was limited. So Baron went from a raw rookie to “looking good” in one day.
POWER BALANCE LIFT #2: Place the bar on your shoulders like you are going to do a Back Squat while using a Snatch grip. Again squat all the way down like Baron and balance yourself. Now, see if you can press the weight all the way up so you look like Photo #3 again. The trick is to see if you can press the bar up from your shoulders while maintaining perfect balance.
POWER BALANCE LIFT #3: Do Drill #2 but now see if you can press it up, hold it for three seconds and then stand erect; all without losing your balance!
The athletes are yelling at me from their stations, “Coach Shepard look at me! I can do it!” As it usually turns out, well over half the athletes can do it. This naturally leads into a great ending as we talk about the great success of the day as well as the future. Hopefully, you can use this article and do the same thing. Good luck!
Recommended Sets & Reps: Two sets of five reps on each lift.