Teaching The HingeOn the list of foundational human movements we aim to teach, which one stands out as the most difficult to instill within students? While there surely will be varying answers to that question, it feels like the hinge might make it to the top of the list for most coaches and teachers. The hinge is just one of those things that doesn’t come naturally to most students and athletes. From rounded backs to knees going in every direction, the hinge in all of its forms can often trip up even the most coordinated of individuals. And to add in another wrinkle, the more tempting and complicated version of the hinge, packaged in the form of a deadlift is always on an athlete’s mind. We all have seen at least one over-eager student put A LOT of weight on the bar and yank it off the ground before they have ever truly grasped the mechanics of the hinge itself. To make sure that my students stay both safe and engaged with the process of mastering the hinge, here are a few things I do throughout any given season or training cycle with my athletes. Hammer Home The Basics I have always found a simple bodyweight Good Morning is a great place to start. All my athletes spread out, and we slowly find what it feels like to have a soft bend in the knee, send our hips back and feel that nice stretch in the hamstrings all while keeping a strong lumbar curve. And as many slowly have that “Ah-Ha” moment within the first time or two teaching the hinge, I will be the first to admit that I have made the mistake of thinking that we could move on to more advanced versions. For example, ‘Sarah’ nails the bodyweight Good Morning on Monday, and the following week I expect to pick up where we left off, only to find she has forgotten everything from the week before. Just like learning to ride a bike, the hinge in its most basic form needs to be repeated over and over again before students (especially beginner students) know and remember what it feels to follow the appropriate range of motion. Keeping It Interesting And while hammering home the basics through a bodyweight Good Morning is awesome, we all know what it is like to try to keep the interest of teenagers. There are several very basic ways that you CAN add in wrinkles and variety, while still keeping a focus on form and mechanics. PVC and banded Good Mornings, as well as PVC and medball deadlifts are all ways that you can keep the hinge interesting and fresh, while still safe. And better yet, if and when you need to, you can always return to the basics of that bodyweight Good Morning at any time. And by layering in this variety, some students who are consistently struggling with the hinge, might find the equipment helps to give them some ‘feedback’ on what they need to fix. PVC pipes, bands, and medballs are all extremely helpful tools that will not put students in a dangerous or compromising position. Tips and Tricks As mentioned before, many students will often be smooth sailing only to hit a roadblock from time to time. Maybe they have hit growth spurt, are experiencing stiffness, or even just having an off day mentally. Having different tips and tricks to guide students can be helpful. Cues like ‘send your hips back,’ ‘try to look over the cliff,’ ‘let your hips and shoulders rise together’ can all click with different types of learners. Others might benefit from an instructional video that helps review or cover something that they just needed to see visually before being able to perform it. All of these different things can go a long way to helping your entire group of students or athletes grow in this challenging movement. Find The Right Resources Not knowing where or how to start is okay. Not having all the right resources is totally understandable.I consider myself a sport coach first and often need to come back and review things like teaching the hinge if it has been a while since I have last coached it. One of the most indispensable resources is the PLT4M exercise vault. Throughout this post, you have seen lots of different instructional videos that PLT4M offers. As a coach, these videos have advanced my ability to speak the age-appropriate language for my middle and high school students. Even more valuable is that sharing these videos with my athletes has helped them to develop not only good form and technique but also the language of fitness. As many of us turn to instructional videos and resources to help us learn in many facets of our lives, PLT4M’s vault of over 600 instructional videos is a must for any program looking to advance the way they both teach and perform movements like the hinge. Being Open-Minded Through the basics, adding in simple variety, and using resources like PLT4M, I have been able to appropriately teach and guide students and athletes through foundational movements like the hinge. I have seen lots of great things I have yet to try, like using a landmine or dumbbells with students and athletes. And of course, I am open and willing to try out new things. No matter how I approach teaching and coaching these movements, I plan and hope to keep an open mind, knowing that the end goal is always to empower my students and athletes with the confidence to move and exercise properly. Check out how you can use PLT4M with your students and athletes!Request A DemoAbout The Author: Doug CurtinCoach Doug Curtin is the Head Swim and Dive Coach for two different programs at the high school level in Massachusetts. He spends his fall season coaching a girls program and his winter coaching a boys program. He is also the host of PLT4M’s podcast Chalk Talk.