The Hinge Series – Part I

Post contribution on the hip hinge is from current Coach with TCU Sports Performance Andrew Behnam. Parts II and III will follow in the coming weeks.

The hinge is one of the most important movements in the weight room. Student-athletes must know how to properly perform the movement and coaches (if you are one) must know how to coach it. Why is this? In many sports—whether they know it or not—athletes are constantly put into the similar positions of a basic hinge pattern.

In part 1 of 3 in this blog series we are going to take a deep dive into the basic hinge pattern. We will cover how to teach it as well as common mistakes to look for when performing the movement. There are many different ways to teach a hinge pattern; ultimately, it is up to each coach’s discretion to determine what works best for their athletes.

When teaching the hinge there a few fundamental points that must be observed for this very critical movement in sport. Lets start from the ground up. 

  1. Feet underneath the hips We want the athlete to feel comfortable while executing the movement, and this all starts with the base of support.
  2. Slight bend in the knees a common cue for this could be telling the athlete to get into an athletic position. We want a slight bend in their knees to allow hamstring to do its job while hinging. Understanding proper knee position can be make-or-break with this exercise.
  3. Shoulders pulled back – Throughout the entirety of the hinge, we want to maintain scapular retraction. Cueing an athlete (especially youth athletes) to have a “proud chest” or telling them to “break the bar” could help put them into the proper upper body position.
  4. Head neutral This aspect of the movement often gets overlooked. During any movement in the weight room but particularly during the hinge, looking too far up can cause an over-arching of the spine. With a neutral head position, the airway becomes open and breathing can more steadily occur. We want to cue the athlete into proper head positioning by telling them to make a “double chin” or to “position your head where you feel it is easiest to talk.”
Dec 14, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant (21) covers Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) during the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Steelers defeated the Falcons 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

COMMON MISTAKES

  1. The squatty hinge – This is probably the number one mistake made throughout the pattern. Athletes will change their knee angle at some point and turn the movement into a squat-like hinge. Doing something as simple as communicating to the athlete that the hinge is a hip-dominant, not quad-dominant, exercise could serve as an immediate fix. We want the athlete to feel like something is behind them pulling their hips back and not pulling the hips lower.
  2. Rounded shoulders – It is very common to see athletes having retracted scapula at the start of the hinge yet finish with protracted scapula at the bottom of it. In order to prevent the low back from dominating the concentric part of the movement, athletes must keep their shoulders back the entire time. In the next installment of this blog we will expand on this and go over exercises that feed this mistake in particular.
  3. Upwardly tilted head – This is another common mistake. As the body lowers, the head rises. Telling the athlete that their head and chest are connected and should move as one can help in avoiding a tilted head.

Andrew Behnam is currently a strength and conditioning coach at TCU working with the baseball team. Before arriving at TCU, Andrew pitched in college for 4 years, and made stops at Millersville University and Villanova University where he worked as a performance coach. You can follow Andrew on social media:

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/ajbehnam1/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/ajbehnam1?lang=en