The front squat is a fantastic squat variation with a bevy of benefits that include gaining mobility, building strength, and enforces solid squat technique. However, it's not uncommon to find someone butchering front squats. With that note, here are some do's and dont's when it comes to learning how to front squat
1) Use a Cross Arm Grip Not the Traditional Front Squat Grip
I prefer the cross arm grip for the simple reason it's less stressful on the elbows than the traditional front squat grip. A study by Werner et al showed that softball pitchers specifically are already experiencing significant elbow compression and varus forces during the windmill delivery. In my mind, why add more unneeded stress to the elbow if we don't have to?
**Note to reader**
Avoid using the front squat with people who are dealing with an acromioclavicular joint injury. The pressure of the bar over this joint will definitely do more harm than good. Instead, use a belt squat or DB or KB goblet squat.
2) Do Program Front Squat's to a Box for Novice Lifters
With young novice lifters they tend to have a lack of proprioception (knowing where their body is in space). You will see many (not all) rely on passive stiffness going ass to grass because they lack the knowledge of how to control depth. Instead, these individuals let the bar control them, coach these individuals to take control of the bar and have the upmost confidence in themselves. I encourage coaches to start novice lifters squatting to a box (13-15") with a pause. This will help them gain strength through the range of motion they already have while giving them an idea of where the correct depth is. As they improve, gradually lower the box height and eventually take the box away.
3) Eyes at the horizon not down at the ground
We know that our eyes are in charge of commanding our entire body. For example, If an individual standing some distance behind you shouts your name you immediately turn you head first then the rest of your body follows. You wouldn't turn your hips, then your torso, then lastly your head. When performing the front squat we want to look slightly above the horizon. This is sending a message to our body that we need to stay tall. If you coach an athlete to look down at the ground their entire body will start to collapse forward towards the ground. Eyes are a very small part of the human body but when it comes to lifting technique it plays a crucial role in cleaning up technique.
The front squat is an ideal fit for many athletes (not all) to improve full body strength and build mental toughness all of which translates to the diamond. Use these tips above to help improve take your front squat game to the next level. Check out the video below to see a quick overview of how I set up for the front squat.
If your looking to learn more about softball specific training Austin Wasserman and myself will be holding our Elite Softball Performance Seminar on August 20th. Click the link below to learn more details.