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Kettlebells instead of Olys for High school athletes?

I have a question for all thoses with some experience in the S&C field and would appreciate any suggestions or feedback you would be willing to give. I am trying to build a sports performance division of our PT/sports medicine program into existance. Most of the schools we cover are small, rural schools and the resources are somewhat scarce. Most of the kids, at least the one’s who play football are on a strength program that incorporates oly lifts or some variations of them. When we get some of these guys into the clinic for rehab, I will get them to show me their technique with lifts such as power cleans, c&j, etc… I am not an oly lift expert, but I can pick out horrible form when I see it. These kids have horrible form. I am set to take the USAW club coach course soon and have worked on learning the lifts through books and videos. There is a scarcity of experienced coaches in my area and I will be the main source of coaching for those we work with in these programs. I will be able to only work with limited numbers and do not feel good the instruction on these type lifts that they are getting from the coaches. My question is this. The explosive type lifts with kbells have much lower learning curve and while they may not be the equivalent in effectiveness of true Olys, do you think that this would be a safer and better way to train the explosive lifts? I understand that the weights that are moved are no comparsion when looking at kbs vs Olys, but my major concern is effectiveness and safety with a large number of athletes that I will have minimal contact with most of the time. Any advice or thoughts on this would be truly appreciated.

Although I think KB?s are a good GPP and supplemental tool for OL, the problem you’ll have with KB’s is their availability. The cost per pound for KB’s vs. OL weights isn’t really effective for small rural schools. So while KB?s may serve as a good teaching tool, most kids won?t have access to them when you?re not around, and since de-training of complex movements occurs after 72 hours IMO using Olympic weights is a better option, since they?re more accessible.

Have you though about using medicine balls as part of their training? Various med ball throws (over head throws, snatch throws, etc.), are very effective in training explosive strength, and the $50 cost for a 12lb med ball may be easier to fit into a limited budget.

One more point:
Getting hit in the head with a med ball will hurt, but not as much as getting hit with a KB.

One more conclusion:
Med balls are safer toys for unsupervised teenagers then KB’s.

You know, what about one-armed dumbell oly lifts? Dumbells are always around, MUCH cheaper, and can be used for the exact same moves as a KB (just without the advantages of the displaced weight, wierd handle, and so on). Still would be “dangerous” like kettlebell lifting, but at least you have that alternative.

FP I didn’t really mean to imply that KBs are dangerous in a normal situation. I do however know how safety dumb novices can be. How many of you have seen someone unload all the plates from one side of a narrow rack, or bench? Ever have someone bump into your bar during a set of squats, while they are retrieving a 2 1/2lb plate? Now imagine a group of unsupervised teens doing kb swings in a small room.

Here’s my opinion any lifter should start of with the basics. You know the old saying crawl before you walk, walk before you run. ect.

So, with that in mind whats the diffrence with a begginer athlete remember they are in high school.

So, I would o-lift before KB. Get the basics down first then go for the fancy stuff. Although, some may think O-lift is an advance exercise. I don’t.

I would also implicate one arm dumbbell o-lifts as fat panda suggested.

In Health,

Silas C.

I didn’t read your thread correctly, sorry. So, you do include o-lifts currently. But, the althetes form sucks. So I think you should focus on that first. And as far as the ones that are you are rehabbing Kbell will be better on the joints then O-lifts.

In Health-

Silas C.

Thanks for the replies guys.

Here is the current situation. I am relegated to the clinic seeing patients for the most part. The plan is to build the program so that I can get to a point where I am working with the athletes full time. The kids are training at their respective schools and the coaches oversee their programs during PE class. What I am trying to do for now is to convince the coaches to either back off of some of the more technical lifts until the kids can show proper technique or modify the current program while still achieving the same goals. I want to build a good relationship with the coaches and not step on their toes, but I do know that many of the kids that I have seen cannot even perform basic movement patterns but are attempting complex lifts with relatively heavy weights. I hope to be able to be much more hands on soon with the athletes training soon, but I have to make the best of the situation as is for now. Thanks again for the thoughts and suggestions.

here is a idea cut out the oly lifts completely except for the most basic and easy to learn…hang clean in the rack…and high pulls…99% of hs athletes DO NOT NEED TO DO FULL OLY LIFTS…oly lifts take years and years to learn…99% of hs athletes i meet cant do 1 reps in the glute ham raise…they usually have major problems doing 1 body weight reverse hyper…none of them know how to squat coreectly and very few of them have the hip mobility to even reach parrelel in a medium stance squat…and we want to teach these guys the snatch and clean and the power clean …this is a huge mistake…BUILD A YOUNG ATHLETES CORE WITH THE BASICS BENCH, SQUAT, DEADLIFTS, TONS AND TONS OF GPP WITH MED BALLS, SLEDS, TIRE FLIPPING, ECT…GET THEM WITH A BASE OF STRENGTH FIRST…basics, basics, basics…with a young athlete things like push ups and pull ups can work wonders…BUILD A BASE…big m

I can relate to you as far as hi school coaches and technical lifts and teaching form.I offered my help at my sons school as i have 25 years lifting experience.The first time i saw some real dangerous out of control lifting and poor technique.I decided to help these kids with there power clean technique was demonstrating a few cleans when the coach came over and told me i had the weight plates on wrong at fist i thought he was jokeing around but i realized he was serious and ask him whats the diffrence if the weight plates face the inside or out side?He said it was the tradition in thier weightroom.Thats when i said to myself my boy going to train in our garage where i have a pretty good set up.If you hang around unknowledgable people how do you expect to learn a lift when this coach was more concerned on how the weights were put on than the preformance of the lift i just didn’t get it.So rigth now we’ve been training at home are as strong as most of the seniors at his school.My son is a freshman thats got to tell you something right there.So i know where your coming from.

Big Martin,

I agree with you completely.
Based on my observations with the kids I have gotten a chance to work with, a majority of them are significantly deficient in basic core strength and mobility. During quick assessments for physicals that we for these high schools, most of these kids can’t even sit into a full squat without falling over. It will take some time and a buildup of trust with most of these coaches before I think that they would agree to move away from the more technical lifts. One particular coach I spoke with admitted to having no background in S&C and his program was based on what he got from a 2 day coache’s clinic at a university. The K
bell idea was a way I thought I might could work out a compromise. I do feel that most of the programs could be much more basic and great gains could me made all through High School.

Steve B
I feel your pain!

Thanks again for the feedback

It’s kind of funny I was working at a fitness club in my early years and I met a trainer that was a certified at NSCA w/ CSCS plus a college degree from Nebraska w/ Nutrition and he was a football player not for Nebraska though. I gain a lot of knowledge from him. I also help him sell a personal training package to a mother for two high school students athletes that had a strength coach at the high school.

The Strength coach at the high school actually paid him a vist and told him that he was their strength coach not him. It was kind of funny also. He wound up still training them because he knew boxing skills also so he showed the kids how to transfer the boxing skills that he taught them on to the football and wrestling.

Unfortunatly, in high school there are not a lot of good strength coach. That why there is a need for people to turn to. Also there’s a gym in NJ that trains athletes its called Parisi’s Sports Club in Fair lawn, NJ. They have an athletic side and a family side seperated from each other. Which is pretty cool and they do real well.

In Health-

Silas C.

Although I am a HUGE fan of KBs, I totally agree with what has been said here. KBs are mainly for strength-endurance and GPP. If you want to develop power, you need something that can increase in weight - KBs won’t do that. Invest in some OL bars and bumper plates. As Big Martin said, and Chris Thibaudeau has also said, athletes really only need to learn the power versions of the lifts. Teach the power versions from the hang – easier to teach and learn than the full squat lifts or even the power lifts from the floor.

Big M also made a good point about tire flipping. Since these schools are in rural areas, surely you can find an old tractor tire for flipping. Also, old oil barrels and such filled with sand or water make great strength training implements. One person’s heavy “junk” is another person’s strongman training equipment. Sometimes I wish I could live in a rural area just so I could play with some of these odd objects.