Why the female athlete needs to strength train!


The female athlete: why she needs to strength train

(This post comes from my “Strength and Conditioning Manual For Youth Sport Coaches from within my Online Course)

Youth females are different from youth males…I know shocking! There are many differences that make it really important for youth female athletes to strength train. Of course youth males will benefit from strength training but the biggest advantage that youth males will have are the hormones that will be flooding their bodies as they go through puberty.

These male characteristic hormones will give males an advantage over youth female athletes because they will naturally have what it takes to build muscle mass on a frame that is naturally less susceptible to injury.

Here are some reasons as to why youth female bodies are more susceptible to injuries:

• Women’s ACL’s are smaller
• The connective tissue softens in relation to a female’s menstrual cycle
• An increased “Q” angle creates greater force at the knees
• Many females lack development of the VMO muscle
• Because of biomechanical differences in ankle, hip, and spine orientation, females tend to be quad dominant.
• Females tend to decelerate movement in a more risk-oriented manner
• Females do not naturally have the same lean muscle mass and strength as males

“You can’t change bone but you can change things like: strength, coordination, fitness, balance, and neuromuscular movement patterns” -Brett Klika C.S.C.S.


Overall we’re looking to reduce injuries, as we are not able to prevent them entirely.

If you’re interested I’ll tell you a few of the reasons why physiological female traits make youth female athletes more susceptible to injury.

To start with we’ll address the “Q”angle. What is the Q-Angle and why does it matter?


The Q-angle is measured by extending a line through the center of the patella to the anterior superior iliac spine and another line from the tibial tubercle through the center of the patella. The intersection of these two lines is the Q-angle; the normal value for this angle is 13 to 18 degrees. Men tend to have Q-angles closer to 13 degrees, and women usually have Q-angles at the high end of this range.



Image: Austin, William M. “Women in Sports, Q Angle, and ACL Injuries.” Dynamic Chiropractic 21.21 (2003): n. pag. Web.

The “Q” refers to the quadriceps. (rectus femoris)

Why is this important for the female athlete?

The wider the hips and the wider the “Q angle” the greater the risk of instability.

This does not only affect the pelvis, it can affect everything down the kinetic chain, such as the knees and the ankles.

If there is instability in the joints there is a greater risk of sustaining an injury.

Although we can’t do anything about the bones, we can do something about the muscular system.

Strength training can be used in order to improve joint stability.

Progressing from strength work to plyometric work trains the body to react when called upon in sport. Good landing positions combined with the stability to produce and absorb force can be a great plan in a female athletes injury prevention plan.

We help the female athlete to decrease her risk of knee injuries by keeping it stable.


The hips are another area that can help or hurt the female athlete. As the female pelvis is wider, so will the angle of which her muscles pull based on her origins and insertion points of her muscles (where the muscle starts and where it ends).

Often the deep hip rotators are considered only as providing rotation to the hip but what we need to recognize is their ability to stabilize the hip. When activated they turn on in a way that may not be noticeable to the naked eye as there is no movement. The “isometric” (non-moving) contraction of these muscles can protect the hip as well as provide for further help down the kinetic chain into the knee and the ankle.

One area that we can improve drastically is poor neuromuscular control, according to Nick Jack is owner of No Regrets Personal Training

Neuromuscular control is:

“Neuromuscular control is defined as the unconscious trained response of a muscle to a signal regarding dynamic joint stability. The movements of the lower extremity, including the knee joint, are controlled through this system, which needs to provide the correct messaging for purposeful movement.”3

By including a few “single leg exercises” into this program we not only help groove new movement patterns, we also help “activate” different muscle groups that aren’t needed as much when we’re on 2 feet.

When an athlete performs a “skater squat” or a “single leg deadlift” he or she will turn on their deep hip rotators as “stabilizer muscles”, thus helping them learn how to control movement for sport, such as when they need to kick a ball or skate or go up for a lay up in basketball.

Skater Squat


Single Leg Deadlift With A Reach


Another function of the hip is to transfer power through the body during sports and activities. Energy will be lost between the upper and lower body if the core and hip muscles are not sufficiently able to transfer force.

‘Because of the architecture of a female, such as a wider pelvis, they need more stabilizer strength.’ -Paul Chek (Reference 1)

As young girls go through puberty certain hormones will be dominant for specific reasons.

Female athletes will have hormones being released that are preparing her for child birth, not specifically for her athletic abilities.

In order for her to make progress in her athletic career, she must make an effort to strength train, in my opinion.

If we simply look at the order of which rehabilitation works after an athletic injury we can see how important strength training is:

Injury occurs- manage pain and inflammation – regain range of motion – improve strength – recover coordination – return to modified exercise – return to play.

Imagine if we all used strength training before the occurrence of an injury!

We can’t completely prevent injuries but if one does occur maybe the injury will be less severe and maybe the athlete’s recovery will be better.

Overall, it is really important to me to incorporate a good physical literacy program for female athletes as their physiology should not be the reason why they can’t be the best athlete they could possibly be!

Learn more about how you can help your youth athletes through my Online Course: 

How To Implement A Strength And Conditioning Program Into Youth Sport Practices…While Having Fun!

1 Retrieved from

2 Retrieved from

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Bored With Workouts?

Here’s a super quick post for today! If you’re getting bored with the same exercises try and change them up with this one little thing…tempo! My advice is to have fun with this! Pick one of your favourite songs and try to switch up what you’re doing with the beat of the music.

You might just forget about the exercise and enjoy the presence of connecting to a song!

Have fun!

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The Kettlebell Swing (Coaching Cues)

ivan-pergasi-q2c6mpqb6kq-unsplashThe Kettlebell swing is a great exercise for many reasons:

  • Hits multiple muscle groups
  • Helps to generate power
  • Helps to improve cardio
  • Great for athleticism
  • Helps with balance
  • Helps with stability

but….it is a complicated exercise!

The first thing that I’d recommend working on BEFORE attempting the kettlebell swing is the hip hinge. In order to get in the proper position for the Kettlebell swing the hip hinge is something that needs to be figured out!

Here’s a quick video of a simple way to learn the hip hinge with a PVC pipe (you could use a broom or a hockey stick as well)

Once you’ve figure out the hip hinge you’ll be in a better position to set yourself up for the Kettlebell swing.

Here are the coaching cues to help you get organized in order to successfully perform a great Kettlebell Swing!


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There’s a lot going on with the Kettlebell Swing!

Coaching Cues:

  • Feet straight, shoulder width apart
  • Trunk is braced
  • Shoulders are externally rotated
  • Head is neutral
  • Hinge at the hips with a flat back
  • Belly stays tight
  • Arms grip KB in front of feet
  • Screw hands around KB handle
  • Drive knees out
  • Initiate the swing allowing KB to move between legs
  • Extend hips and knees squeezing glutes
  • Arms raise from power generated by the hips
  • Hinge at hips allowing KB to swing back down
  • Back stays flat
  • Repeat for desired repetitions
  • Return KB to the ground under control

Always check in with your healthcare provider before starting a new program fitness program.

Check in with your strength coach to assess your form and to make suggestions to improve your movement!

Have fun and Happy Swinging!

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Mastering change in direction in youth sport (soccer case study)

neonbrand-avcbdbr-lwc-unsplashMastering Change In Direction In Youth Sport (soccer case study)


Rianna Poskin, CSCS

I’ll never forget instructing a soccer training session for a new team a few years back. Within 5 minutes of practice starting, a young teenage girl blew out her knee in the warm up.

The warm-up was designed to help decrease the risk of injuries, but in this case it caused a HUGE injury!

So what went wrong? When we’re working with kids we have to understand why we’re doing certain things and then assess if in fact we’re doing it the right way.

This warm-up was a fantastic thing for the girls to be doing, unfortunately they weren’t implementing it in the way that it was intended.

If you’re working with youth sport then I’m so happy that you’re reading this article!

Teaching kids how to change direction is part of implementing an “injury prevention” program.

This article will give you simple tips and drills to implement in short amounts of time that could drastically improve an athletes athleticism, speed, power, and above all else, decrease their risk of injury!

Let’s use soccer as our sport to create a case study to break down some key points.


 (Photo by Jeffrey F Lin on Unsplash)

Have a look at the photo above and look at the goalie coming out. She is going hard towards the ball and in a split second she’s going to have to make a decision about which way to move next.

For simplicity sake, let’s imagine that she’s going to slow down her run, get low and dive in order to smother the ball.

The goalie will plant her feet while her momentum takes her forward, and then she’s going to have to push into the ground in order to change the momentum in a new direction.

Here’s where you come in! Before you advance too far into the season one of the first things that you can teach your athletes is the “lean drill”.

The lean drill looks like someone “downhill skiing”. What this drill accomplishes is teaching young people how to angle their body from their feet all the way to their head in order to be in the most athletic positions, while also, setting up a position to decrease injuries.

The goalie in the picture above would benefit from this as she can get low in a “lean position” and then explode in a safe and explosive way to get in front of the ball quickly.

Here’s the drill:

Have the athlete get into an athletic position (1/4 squat) and then have them shift their weight from side to side. They should move on the edges of their feet as they shift. Outside edge on one foot, inside edge on the other. The upper body shifts to maintain alignment with the lower body.



Have a look at the next picture and you’ll see that this position happens in different situations as well as changing direction!


Photo by Jeffrey F Lin on Unsplash

You might be able to see now where injuries occur if youth athletes aren’t used to getting into the best athletic positions possible.

Look at the defensive player in Red, in the next picture. You can see that she’s about to change direction to react to what her mark is doing. In order for her to explode out of the planted foot she needs to get low, load her muscles with great “joint angles” and make sure she aligns her body in the direction she wants to go rather than letting the force take her in the direction she was previously headed!

All of this needs to take place in a split second! So…how can we help?!


Photo by Jeffrey F Lin on Unsplash

We can run very simple drills in practices and “cue” the athlete to make corrections when needed.

This can be done with fun drills as well as instructional drills. Tag, for example, is a great game that brings about a lot of split second direction change decisions.

Here’s a simple idea that can be easily implemented.

The coach can accomplish a lot with 3 simple implementations at practice:

1. Teach the “Lean Drill” (shown above)

2. Have the athletes do some side shuffles in their warm-up.

  • Watch the athletes.
  • Have the athletes side shuffle to a designated spot and then have them come to a complete stop in their lean position.


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  • The Lean should be in the direction they’re going next.
  • After a few controlled stops, have the athletes try a few on command. The coach yells “stop” to see if the athletes can come to a controlled stop quickly and safely.
  • Finally let the athletes go for a few rounds of shuffles on their own always finishing in a good stop position.

3. Play a game like tag for just a few minutes and see if the athletes are implementing the “positional” instructions when they change directions. If they’re not, make a few corrections to help them understand what to do and when to do it.

Many sports will benefit from these simple implementations. Change in direction happens all of the time in sport and it happens without us thinking about it. Having a good base of strength as well as motor control will go a long way to build great athletes, and keep them playing with as little injuries as possible!

To learn how to put these drills together in a fun way with a detailed plan to get youth athletes strong, powerful, decrease their injuries and have fun, check out my course for coaches!

Best wishes to you! Have fun!

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Why You Need To Build Single Leg Strength For Tennis

john-fornander-4r9ccbdqteg-unsplashWhy You Need To Build Single Leg Strength For Tennis


Rianna Poskin, CSCS


(Image from:Photo by John Fornander on Unsplash)

Have you ever thought about the strength that is required to start and stop over and over again in a game like tennis? Athletes need to change direction in split seconds! Have a look at the following images to see what I’m talking about!


Roger Federer Link:https://images.app.goo.gl/nScZwJg5EXstQDh88

Have a close look at Roger Federer’s feet. When he slams on the breaks he has to do so controlling the stop, the deceleration, with a lot of strength so that he doesn’t get injured. In this picture he is absorbing a lot of force on the left leg preparing to then explode as he positions himself again for the return.


Serena Williams https://images.app.goo.gl/1WYuPqMWhFfYhXaEA

In this photo of Serena Williams we can imagine how this will play out. She’s going to plant the left leg while she tries to position herself to return the ball with power and precision.

In order to create force we need to have ground contact and control. Serena is not only looking to create force, she’s looking to absorb force! That single leg needs to be strong enough to do this!

Nitto ATP World Tour Finals - Day Three

Dominic Thiem:(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Lastly have a look at this perfectly positioned foot and knee position while Dominic Thiem separates his upper and lower body! Dominic is not twisting his knee, he is rock solid in a great “1/4 squat”.

Loren Landow once said that “you want to be able to do all the right things from the wrong positions”!

Tennis is a game that requires so many skills that puts you in crazy positions! For this article we’ll focus on how agility and change in direction is paramount to the athlete’s performance, but also the ability to stay free from injury.

This is where single leg strength comes in!

Here’s the progression to build single leg strength even if you don’t have any equipment to work with:

Progression 1: Bodyweight Squat


  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointing forward. If the athlete needs to turn their feet slightly out, that is ok.
  • Brace the core, and maintain good posture.
  • Push the butt back first, sink the hips to descend until hips are parallel to the knees.
  • Drive through the heels to return to standing.
  • Use the glutes to extend the hips.
  • Engage the side glute muscles in order to keep the knees from collapsing inward.
  • Once the body weight squat is perfect the athlete can progress to the Split Squat.

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Progression 2 Split Squat:

split-squat-top-position split-squat-bottom-position

  • Begin in a standing position with core braced.
  • Step one foot forward into a split-stance.
  • The athlete can lower the back knee to check their alignment.
  • The 2 knees should be around 90 degrees in their bent position.
  • Balance on the toes of your back foot.
  • Keep both toes pointed forward.
  • Keep the front knee behind the toes.
  • Maintain good posture as the athlete rises and lowers through the split squat.
  • Drive through both legs to maintaining a flat front foot.
  • Perform a designated amount of repetitions on one side and then switch sides.
  • If the athlete cannot maintain good form allow them to rest before completing the set amount of reps.
  • If the form looks bad from the beginning the athlete can build up more leg strength by regressing back to the body weight squat.

Progression 3 Skater Squat:


  • Stand on one leg with the opposite leg just slightly behind the body.
  • Brace the core and maintain good posture.
  • With the athlete’s weight in the heel of the standing foot, perform a squat by pushing the butt back, hinging at the hips, and bending the knee.
  • The back leg will track behind with a slight knee bend until the shin and foot nearly touch the ground.
  • Descend until the hips are even with the knee on the supporting leg.
  • Drive through the heel to extend the hips and return to standing.
  • Repeat designated amount of repetitions on the same leg before changing sides.
  • If the athlete cannot maintain good form allow them to rest before completing the set amount of reps.
  • If the form looks bad from the beginning the athlete can build up more leg strength by regressing back to the split squat.

Once you build up your single leg strength, then incorporate deceleration drills.

Something as simple as jogging forward and then transitioning to backwards jogging in good low positions can help with deceleration. After a few times going forward and backward always finish in a complete stop to overemphasize the control required to stop safely.

On a separate day use a side to side shuffle as the drill to work on lateral change in direction. Again always stop in good positions.

Finally the athlete can work on stopping in good positions on a single leg.

It is really important to develop single leg strength and work through the progressions safely in order to make sure that the end goal, developing athleticism and decreasing injuries, is met.

With a little extra intention and a great plan, more fun can be had!

If you’re a coach and want incorporate a warm up that works on strength, speed and power please learn more here!

Check out this short clip to see why mastering “starts” and “stops” are so important!

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30 Minute Home Workout (Equipment Needed)

Are you at home? Do you have 30 minutes? Here’s something to try! 1-2-3-4 Workout!
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Always check in with your healthcare provider before starting a new program.
Equipment needed:
1. A smile! ????
2. Mini band
3. Dumbbells
4. Bench, barbell, plates
5. Medicine ball (sport ball)
Here’s the Breakdown for the Workout:
1 Round: Dynamic Warm-up
-Jog on the spot
-Side Lunge
-Reverse Lunge
-Open the Gate
-Hip Openers
-Arm Circles Back
-Arm Circles Forward
-Leg Swings
-Single Leg Deadlift
-Hip Hinge Wide Arms
-Quad Stretch
2 Rounds:
– Quadruped Hydrants
– Plank Resisted Arm Taps
3 Rounds:
– Resisted Squat jumps (Dumbbells)
– Chest pass
4 Rounds:
– Bench Press
– Split Squats
– Quadruped (hover) Pull Through
Finish: 90/90 Breathing
Pick your reps and weights according to your ability. Keep power reps low. Seek professional guidance from a strength coach for proper programming and coaching!
Have Fun!
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Navigating Risk in Extreme Sports: 2 Big Wave Case Studies


Extreme sport may seem crazy to some, but to others there’s a method to the madness!
I go deep into navigating risk with Doctor of Performance Psychology, John Coleman.
John talks about how each and every time you go out into a risky situation there’s a sequence that can be used to determine if it’s a good idea or not.
The 5 parts of this sequence is explained on The Youth Sport Podcast Episode 11 Part 2: Planning, Awareness, Flexibility, Motivation and Humility.
Here’s an example of risk navigation using the legendary Hawaiian surfer Eddie Aikau as an example.
The first part is planning
Author Stuart Holmes Coleman says in his book “Eddie would go, The Story of Eddie Aikau, Hawaiian Hero”:
Part 1: Planning “Like a dedicated student of oceanography, he had studied each surf spot, noting how and where the waves broke, how deep the reefs were, what direction the swells came in and how the weather affected them.”
If the conditions don’t look good after all of the planning, Part 2 and 3 come in: being Aware and being Flexible, in order to navigate risk that could be life threatening.
When participating in Extreme Sport the athlete has to assess their own fears in order to assess whether the risk is manageable based on the athlete’s acquired skill.
“We all have some fear, and it’s tough to admit to that. But the fear would be more a matter of cautious decision-making. There were some waves you wouldn’t take off on, and those would be waves you knew were going to drill you to the bottom. It was the kind of fear that made you careful.”
“Eddie then realized he had to return to the scene of the accident and face his fears. Including his fear of death.”
“As a legendary surfer once put it, big waves were not measured in feet but in increments of fear.”
With John Coleman being a mental performance coach he knows how important it is to make sure that mental training is integrated into the overall training of extreme sport.
“Surfing became a metaphor for his life: Eddie had to regain his balance and find the natural flow, or he was going to wipe out all over again. In this way, he rediscovered the danger and thrill of riding mountainous waves.”
What’s amazing is that John has called his Mental Performance Training program: FREE FLOW!
The last 2 Parts of Navigating risk according to John’s sequence is Motivation and Humility.
What is the motivation behind the activity? If it is about the ego, you’re in trouble!
If it’s about Humility, carry on!
“He says that many of the big-name riders who followed Eddie didn’t possess his sense of humility and courage.”
“Like Eddie, Jose was very humble and didn’t like boastful people. Jose had a reputation of being fearless in the water and on land, but he was still a man of flesh, blood and nerves. He didn’t seem to recognize that fear is an integral part of living, as Eddie would soon discover, and to deny it was to flirt with death.”
“Some guys who get into the culture of big-wave riding aren’t really doing it because they want to- it’s more of a status thing. Though that would never occur to Jose. He wasn’t doing it to reassure himself, he was doing it because he liked to do it. Peter was the same way, and it was fun for him- he didn’t do it for the cameras or the rest of that crap. Nor did Eddie, who surfed big waves for the simple thrill of it, even when no one else was around.”
And now, the Why! Why do Extreme Sport athletes do what they do?
“For a few moments, the outside world just falls away, eclipsed by the ocean’s green wall. The other competitors, the judges, the concerns that weigh on your mind on land. Everything is suddenly cleansed at the end of the tunnel. Crouched inside, you keep your eyes on this light, making sure you don’t get sucked up the face of the wave or axed by the lip. Psychedelic surfers of the era compared the feeling to going back to the womb or seeing a glimpse of the afterlife. This exciting yet serene experience is what surfers live for. When he finally emerged from the tube during the last minutes of the finals, Eddie must have felt a profound sense of peace as he burst out of the darkness and into the light.”
If you missed Part 1 of the “Master Class” assessing risk, wonder and high performance with Dr. John Coleman, you can check it out here: http://backtobasicsblogger.com/episode-11-youth-sport…/



Here’s my second example of Navigating risk using Big Wave surfer Kai Lenney as my next example:

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30 Minute Lunch Workout!

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Thanks for your support!

Today’s workout:

A. Single leg hip lift + Bird dogs + A’s

B. DB Squat jumps + groin stretch (t-spine rotation)

C. Squat/hammer curl/press + 1/2 kneeling DB chop + Down dog/ plank flow

D. Breathe

Always check in with your healthcare provider and if you have pain don’t do it!!

Rock your day my friends!!

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30 Minute Home Athlete Workout

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This workout is brought to you by Lululemon. I am part of the Lululemon Collective. I receive commissions when you shop through my link: https://lululemon.prf.hn/l/7R0m8Wn

Shopping for your loved ones and yourself helps me to bring free content to everyone! Thanks for your support!

1. Always check in with your healthcare provider before beginning any new workout program

2. If you have pain don’t do it!


Dynamic warm-up

2 rounds: Quadruped hip hydrants + Side plank + T’s

3 rounds: Snap down lateral push + Spider-Man stretch

3 rounds: SLDL + Plank row + Skater squats + Tiger (bear) crawls

Let’s do this!!!

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30 Minute White Board Workout

img_429630 minute White Board Workout!

Before beginning any new exercise program please consult with your healthcare provider. If you have any pain, don’t do it!

This workout is from my LIVE Instagram and Facebook session. I had initially scheduled a 20 minute workout and then it turned into 30 minutes!

This workout is brought to you by Lululemon. I am part of the Lululemon Collective and receive commissions when you shop through this link! When you shop for your loved ones and yourself you help support me to bring new content for everyone to enjoy! Thanks for your support!

Now it’s time to sweat! Let’s GO!!!!

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