SPREAD THE CHEST
Learning the Six Absolutes
By Dr. Greg Shepard
Published: Summer 2002
President’s Note: In past issues, I introduced the Six Absolutes, which illustrated how coaching techniques in the weight room can be easy and amazingly effective in teaching and learning perfect technique. All coaches and athletes should use the Six Absolutes when coaching or spotting. You can also use these Six Absolutes when coaching any sport.
The BFS Six Absolutes
1. Use an Athletic or Jump Stance.
2. Be Tall.
3. Spread the Chest (lock-in the lower back).
4. Toes Aligned.
5. Knees Aligned (Knees over toes).
6. Eyes On Target.
A s with the other Absolutes, Spread the Chest applies to all areas of athletics, not just the weight room. Use this Absolute all the time, even during practice for any sport. The term Spread the Chest goes closely with these other Absolutes: Eyes on Target and Be Tall.
SPREAD THE CHEST
When I do a BFS Clinic, one of the very first things I do is to teach the Six Absolutes. I will bring down six athletes from the bleachers. They will line up two yards apart and stand sideways to the audience.
I give the command “Hit,” which means to pop to an Athletic Stance and get into an athletic ready position. I grade their position on a scale of one to ten. From the sideways position, I am looking mostly at the lower back. Almost always I will get an athlete who looks like Figure One. I would rate this position at about a three. It is not that uncommon to give a rating of one or two. Can you imagine squatting, jumping, tackling or doing anything athletic from this position?
USE THE 6 ABSOLUTES
Matt Shepard is shown in Figure Two trying to hit a home run. Think he can do it? How about in Figure Three? Think he has a better chance in this position?
Examine Figure Four. Matt is getting ready to do a standing long jump. Compare this photo with Figure One. Which position will yield the longest jump? It’s a no-brainer, right?
Okay, then how do you fix the problem and help all athletes go from wherever they are now to a rating of a ten? Simple! Use the Six Absolutes.
“SPREAD THE CHEST'
I will say to all athletes and coaches sitting in the bleachers to get their feet into an Athletic Stance like the six athletes in front. Next, I say, “Eyes on Target straight ahead. Now, Be Tall and Spread the Chest.”
Most athletes will improve dramatically. I might have to make some slight adjustments by pulling back slightly on an athlete’s shoulders or being more forceful in giving the command to Spread the Chest.
A small percentage will still have problems and just can’t get a kinesthetic feel for the correct position. There are two coaching guidelines to help these athletes.
First, have them put their hands on their knees with some pressure, as in Figure Five. Most of the small percentage who can’t get the kinesthetic feel will be able to be successful from this position.
The second guideline is for those remaining who still cannot get into a correct position. Have these athletes sit on a bench or squat box as in Figure Six. Now, again say, “Be Tall and Spread the Chest.” See Figure Seven. You might have to mold them by pushing in on their lower back and pulling back on their shoulders but they should be able to do it.
From this sitting position, which should look good by now, have them squat up a few inches and see if they can stay in the correct position. Some will and some won’t. For the ones who still have a problem, simply start over. The last step is to have them stand erect. Tell them to try to remember the correct position and then do it.
Again, if they still can’t, start over on the box. Most of the time I do not have to start over, even if I have 100 athletes.
IT’S YOUR DUTY
The athletes and coaches at a BFS Clinic will hear the words “Spread the Chest” several hundred times. Athletes will need to be corrected throughout the entire school year. It should just be part of everyone’s vocabulary.
It is every spotter’s duty to make sure that whoever is lifting is lifting with perfect technique. If the lower back is even one percent from perfect, coaches and athletes should always issue the commands “Be Tall and Spread the Chest.”
SPREAD THE CHEST IN ALL THAT YOU DO
Remember, you can use this same coaching Absolute when coaching in any activity: running, jumping, stretching or sports practice. You will be a better athlete if the lower back is correct. You will be less injury prone if the lower back is correct. And, all you have to do is say, “Spread the Chest.”