Here’s something we don’t talk about much: where should you stand when you coach exercises? Although there is not one correct answer to this question, most coaches would agree that coaching from the side gives you the best perspective on most movements.
Squats, deadlifts, lunges and rows are all exercises that should be coached mostly from the side. This lets you see if the spine is neutral, if the hip hinge is good, if the knees come forward too much, if the chin stays packed, etc.
I definitely agree that it’s the most efficient angle to coach from. But it doesn’t mean that you should coach exclusively from the side. There is valuable information that you can collect from the back or from the front that is pretty much impossible to identify from another angle.
The knee valgus collapse for example is something that’s pretty hard to spot if you’re only coaching from the side. Moving around a little bit will give you that additional information that is hard to identify from observing from the side.
I posted a video a couple weeks ago on box jumps shot from the back. You can see the knees collapsing in during the loading phase of the jump with that angle. I am not sure that it would be as easily identifiable from the side.
Same thing for a deadlift or a squat; a knee valgus, unless extremely bad, is hard to identify from the side. In this video you’ll see that the form looks good from the side, but as soon as the camera gets behind the athlete, you immediately notice the feet being a little too wide, and the knees collapsing in.
Another thing that can be spotted from the back is the feet position. Without going into too much details, as this could be the subject of an entire article, a foot that looks flat in a standing posture, or when lifting weights doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s structurally flat; it can be the result of a collapsed arch (similar to the knee valgus collapse, it’s something that can be coached and/or corrected).
Standing from the back, you’ll notice immediately when the feet lose their arch during a deadlift or a squat. (Whether the problem is structural or the result of stability problem in the weight bearing position is something you should assess early on.)
The take home point is that you shouldn’t just be standing still watching things from one angle when coaching athletes or clients, whether you do group training or one-on-one training. Seeing things from different angles will give you more information on the exercise or the movement you’re coaching, and it’ll help you see everything that’s going on in the execution of said movement.
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