Learning the Six Absolutes
By Dr. Greg Shepard
Published: Fall 2002
As I looked at the photos for this article, I couldn’t help thinking that bad toe position is extremely obvious. However, when I see athletes lift or perform some other phase of strength and conditioning, correct toe alignment is a constant challenge. The good news is that once athletes and coaches incorporate Toes Aligned as one of the Six Absolutes, this challenge is greatly minimized.
We have two kinds of stances we utilize at Bigger Faster Stronger. First is the Jump Stance as shown in Photo One. A jump stance is used, of course, in a vertical jump or in a standing long jump. However, we also use this same stance when lifting any weight from the floor: power clean, power snatch, deadlift, straight leg deadlift, etc. The second stance we use at BFS is the Athletic Stance as shown in Photo Two. An athletic stance is what some coaches refer to as “about shoulder-width apart.” At BFS we feel the term “athletic stance” is more descriptive in helping athletes squat with the correct stance. In relation to lifting, all coaches and athletes should be watching the toes as part of the Six Absolutes. The toes should either be straight ahead (jump stance) or slightly pointed out for balance (athletic stance). Notice the toes in the stance in Photo Three are pointed out too far and would need to be corrected.
A total strength and conditioning program involves, of course, a lot more than just lifting weights. It also involves stretching, jumping and sprinting. The toes also need to be aligned correctly in all of these phases of strength and conditioning.
Sprinting: Photo Four shows the correct BFS sprint starting stance. Look at this athlete’s toes. They are straight ahead. This is perfect. Now look at Photo Five. Notice the toes. They are pointed out. Coaches should correct this by shouting, “Toes!” Teammates of this athlete should also shout “Toes!”
If the Six Absolutes have been taught properly to everyone, then this athlete would be able to correct himself and understand that correction. I am telling all you coaches that it does not take very long to see huge improvements in your overall technique, if you take the time to teach the Six Absolutes and demand perfect adherence to them. Insist that all athletes know these Six Absolutes like the palm of their hand. Insist that all athletes act as assistant coaches and always coach their teammates when spotting or performing any phase of strength and conditioning. If your goal is to win, then all athletes and coaches must be unified in helping each other become great.
Flexibility: Correct toe alignment in stretching is neglected constantly by both coaches and athletes. Get the toes right in everything you do, every time you do it. If you do, then correct toe alignment will become a great habit.
Photo Six: This athlete is demonstrating one of the BFS stretches on the wall (back leg stretch). Look at the back foot. The toes are pointed out. This is a most common error and can be easily corrected. Photo Seven shows this stretch being done correctly. Notice the difference.
Photo Eight: Shows correct toe alignment in the BFS One on the Bench stretch. The toes should be straight, not flopped over as in Photo Nine. Again, once you teach the Toes as one of the Six Absolutes, all you have to shout while coaching is that one word, “Toes!” Athletes will correct themselves. It makes your coaching life easier and a lot more fun.
Photo Ten: Shows poor toe alignment. Look at the front foot in our BFS Hip Flexor stretch. Toes should not be pointed out. The toes should be straight as shown in the correct position of Photo Eleven.
Our Next Issue: We will discuss correct knee alignment. This will conclude our series on the Six Absolutes of technique and coaching. To get the previous articles on the Six Absolutes, log on to our web site at BiggerFasterStronger.com. There, as a BFS Team Member, you will have access to these articles plus every BFS article written in the last five years. Until then, keep those Toes Aligned!
The BFS Six Absolutes
1. Use an Athletic or Jump Stance
2. Be Tall
3. Spread the Chest
4. Toes Aligned
5. Knees Aligned (Knees over toes)
6. Eyes On Target
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.