Ever feel like there is a huge disconnect between your limbs and your brain when you are doing an activity?
Then you probably need to start doing more speed, agility and quickness drills like the ladder – which are honestly drills for the mind as much as they are for the body.
Coordination is all about how fast your mind and body can communicate.
Balance drills and most speed, agility and quickness drills work on neuromuscular control, which means they work on your mind’s ability to communicate quickly and efficiently with the body to produce a specific movement.
Besides being a great workout, these drills will help you master form in other workout moves and help you realize your true strength. These more efficient movement patterns will lead to fewer injuries AND you will probably see strength increases in your lifts because you are recruiting the right muscles in the right order quickly!
Ok so what drills should you add to your workout to improve your mind-body connection?
Balance drills are a great place to start.
Have you ever tried balancing on one foot? Maybe one foot up on your toe (it’s actually very difficult and you may want to start on both toes)? Maybe one foot on a foam pad?
Balance work will help you start improving that mind-body connection and it will strengthen your feet and ankles.
You can then move onto some plyometric training.
Most people define plyometric training as jump training, but that isn’t correct. Plyometric training is training that improves your ability to move quickly between an eccentric and concentric contraction – it improves your body’s ability to decelerate and then accelerate then decelerate quickly without much pause.
Jumping can be a great way to train this. Think about the squat jump. Start by loading or squatting down a bit. Then jump up and squat back down to jump up again. A beginner should pause after each jump before jumping again. Someone more advanced will try not to pause between jumps because their body can quickly decelerate and accelerate. The goal of this training is to go as fast as possible while maintaining control.
A HUGE part though of jump training is the landing. You should land softly….like a ninja. This requires that you bend your knees and don’t land flat-footed. It may mean squatting down enough that you swing your arms as if you are grabbing gravel off the ground. The landing is key…it is when most people get hurt. So if you are new to jump training, you may want to even start by jump UP to a very very low box. As you master this, go a bit higher or even work on the jumping OFF of the box part.
Using the ladder or cones can be another great way to improve your neuromuscular control. Shuffle quickly around cones. You can do this in a straight line or in a circle. You can sprint then shuffle then back pedal then sprint. You can mix it up. The key is quick movements and quick changes in direction.
The ladder is one of my favorite tools because it is super easy to see improvement in. You can do running forward with one foot in each box or make it harder by doing both feet in each box. You can do ins and outs or the Ali shuffle. Or one of my favorites the “icky shuffle.” The goal is to do any of these movements perfectly as quickly as possible. Start as slow as you need just do it PERFECTLY. Add speed as you learn the move and perfect it. Remember it isn’t about just going quickly. It is about doing it PERFECTLY.
Anyway, here is a little SAQ portion to do before you do your strength training.
3-5 rounds: Rest between each round. Move quickly through all three exercises.
5 Squat Jumps (or up to a box or barely off the ground depending on level)
Icky Shuffle down ladder
4 Soccer Throws each side (So overhead throw against a wall stepping forward with the same foot for 4 before switching)
All these should be done as QUICKLY as possible with good form. Try to increase your speed each time you do everything with great form.
Remember this doesn’t have to kill you. It can actually just be the end of your workout after you’ve rolled out and gotten the muscles a bit warm.
Try it. Watch how much your coordination will improve after a few weeks of just a few drills before your workout!