I went back through all of the posts that I've made so far to this blog (950 if you can believe it) and I didn't find one that talked about stance, specifically defensive stance. Hard to believe I've missed talking about something so fundamental.

Anyways, I was watching our Varsity coach the other day working with some young Gr 8's soon to be playing on the freshmen C team next year (we don't have middle schools in our district so Gr 8 is their first year of high school) and he was making the comment about how the biggest problem kids have when they get to high school is losing what he calls the "elementary stance" and learning the proper athletic stance required to get into proper triple threat and to play proper defense. It's notably characterized by the lack of a butt extension and an arched back.

By contrast, you can see what the athletic stance differs. The butt is extended and the back is straight. You hear some coaches say "bend your knees", but clearly that isn't the problem at all. In the elementary stance, the knees are bent, but the problem is that the back is not straight and it looks like the person has no butt. Get the butt down first, and the knees will take care of themselves.

I've never thought about it much myself, but in watching these Gr 8's, most of them still have it, the dreaded elementary stance. We got to talking afterward and he was telling me that the kids that can figure out the stance as early as possible are the ones that end up doing well in all the sports throughout their high school career, and the ones that are stuck with their "elementary stance" all the way through high school are usually the ones that end up giving up sports or can never breakthrough and become really good.

I don't know if Elementary school PE teachers are teaching these kids the wrong stance, or maybe it's just a natural progression a kid needs to make, but it certainly seems to me that we need to get to these kids earlier. It's amazing to think that something so small as changing a stance can have a major impact in basically all things athletic. I've never really thought about it that much because the athletic stance has always been natural to me, sink your hips and get in your chair, as they say.

So, when you're out there with your freshman, first thing to do is check their stances. If they've still got the elementary stance going on, that's the first thing that's gotta go before you go onto any of the other stuff. For more great 1-on-1 defensive fundamentals, check out D'Em Up fundamentals with Darrick Rizzo. Keep working fellow coaches, remember the summer is the opportunity season.