You Should Be Doing Skater Squats

by | January 30, 2014, 10:40am 25

Tim, if you could pick just 1 exercise to give to the ultimate community improving athleticism and decreasing the dreaded amount of injuries that we see, what would it be?

Although the Hang Power Clean and the SLDL come to mind, my hands-down answer is the Skater Squat.

How pretty commonplace it could be if the ultimate community would get away from the bilateral lifts, the Crossfit, the powerlifting and adopt a functional training model?  If all ultimate athletes would add Skater Squats to their regimens, we would have a drastic decrease in ACL and other knee injuries.  Our cutting, sprinting and jumping would improve, and a lot of the poor movement patterns we see would be replaced with functional patterns.

Why is the Skater Squat so important?

When ultimate players run, jump and cut, these movements are happening on a single leg. We rotate and pivot constantly on the same side.  The act of practicing and playing ultimate is a breeding ground for asymmetry, which elads to inefficiency and injury. There is no way around it.

Boston gets its skater squat on.

Boston gets its skater squat on.

We have to come to an understanding of our bodies– particularly our hips– and how to train them for function, symmetry, and performance.

Squatting variations are one of the best things we can do to create symmetry. However, we need to train stability just as much as we train symmetry. A bilateral Squat does not challenge our stability whatsoever.  A Split Squat, on the other hand, is awesome. It’s the precursor to the Split Jump Progression, but the back leg is there for stability and is doing about 40 % of the work.  A Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat is even better, but still the back leg is in contact to the bench assist in stability and is doing approximately 20 % of the work.

When we do Skater Squats, the back leg is free, leaving the front leg to do all the stabilizing! This gives us what we are after if we want to develop true stability that will transfer to our sprinting and single leg jumping.  Let’s look at some of the benefits of doing this awesome exercise:

  • Creates knee and hip stability.
  • Trains a stable arch.
  • Quad and glute/hamstring development.
  • Develops single leg strength.
  • Teaches neutral spine.
  • Transfers  to the landing position of a HOP or 1-2 Stick (essential drills for developing bulletproof knees).
  • Decreases the risk of ACL and other knee injuries by teaching the anke/knee/hip to be strong and stable.

Why not just pistol squat, Timmy?

I dislike pistol squats. You should stop doing them.  When most people pistol, they completely exhaust the ankle range of motion, causing the knee to be way in front of the toe and thereby creating an anterior / quad dominant exercise.  Squatting should be the first hinge, and we should only dip into our ankle range if we need to. We need to get back on our heel and develop our glutes any chance we get! When we do Skater Squats, the free leg goes back, creating a more vertical tibia which allows us to engage the glutes as well as the quads.  Further, pistols create a rounded back. We want to train with a neutral spine as often as possible (while I’m at it, stop deadlifting with a rounded back, please. It’s too heavy!).

How do I build up to this?

Alright yall, here is the Skater Squat Progression.  Don’t just watch these videos! Add this exercise to your program! It will make a difference.

Phase 1: Skater Squat

Phase 2: Deficit Skater Squat

Loaded Deficit Skater Squat (JAM MODE)

Variations:

Reach Across Skater Squat for Improved Glute Firing

RNT Skater Squat:

Troubleshooting the Skater Squat:

  1. Feel tension in the front of the knee? Make sure your weight is on your heel. Reach up high with the counterbalance weights and reach your free leg way back.
  2. Can’t go full range? You may be lacking ankle mobility. Try this drill. You may be lacking hip mobility. Try this one out. Also consider using 2-4 pads to start. Work your way towards the full drill.
  3. Back Rounding?  Don’t go as deep. Use light weights for counter balance.
  4. Knee collapsing in?  Create a stable arch.  Add in this drill to activate your hip rotators.
  5. Still having trouble? You may just need to practice! Reps, reps reps!

Thanks for reading guys. Thank you for supporting Skyd, Morrill Performance, Ultimate and awesomeness. Let’s dominate 2014. If I can help you in any way, e-mail me at morrillperformance@gmail.com.

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  • Zack Smith

    Not sure where we are supposed to post questions, so I apologize if this is not meant to be a comment on this thread:

    My question regards mental toughness and conditioning:

    Your team is playing and loses a tough and emotional loss, but they still have one or two games left in the day. Besides experience, is there any way that you can train your team to be able to handle several emotional battles in one day/weekend while remaining focused and competitive?

  • Martin

    C'mon Timmy, you know the answer is the Hanging Clean . . . you even brought it up in the beginning:)

  • Guest

    Thanks, Tim!! This is fantastic stuff! Thank you!

  • D. Dunbar

    Thanks Tim.

  • Jeremy

    Tony Horton ftw

  • squatz for dayz

    traditional back squat can and should still be a staple of any healthy lifters program. if you're legs are strong, you're legs are strong, whether you are training them one leg at a time or at the same time. variation is obviously good, and decreasing the load on the spine (by going from trad. back squats to single leg variations) is also a plus, but most ultimate players aren't squatting heavy enough for the decrease to matter. learn how to squat the right way and progress appropriately, adding the single leg variations as accessory movements.

    • Tim

      Well said.

  • James

    Thanks, but I think I will just keep back squatting.

    • Keep up that mentality and you're in for a knee injury or some other musculoskeletal injury sooner or later.
      It's been said before by Tim and some other people, but you're just building strength on top of dysfunction. When you play a game of ultimate, you're lunging on your right leg( or left) probably over 20 times, and probably twice that if you're a handler. Ultimate is an extremely asymmetrical sport in that one side becomes even more dominant than the other that it already was. So you've got one leg that's much stronger than the other. You think doing a bilateral squat (back squat) is going to even out your right and left sides? It's going to make it worse. And don't give me that broscience "but making them work together is going to solve the asymmetry", sorry, it's not. By adding more strength on top of dysfunction, you're setting yourself up for a higher risk of injury. Think of it this way, let's compare 2 athletes. Both athletes have the same movement dysfuction, let's say both display knee valgus when they squat for example (knees move inward). 1 athlete only squats 150 pounds, the other athlete squats 450 pounds. Now which sounds more dangerous, squatting 150 pounds with knee valgus or squatting 450 pounds with knee valgus? I think you get the point. By improving your strength, it just becomes more and more dangerous if there are any movement dysfunctions or asymmetries. Of course, if there are none and both sides are completely equal, then by all means keep back squatting. But it still won't have as much carryover benefits to your ultimate game, mostly just carryover benefits for your ego. And eventually, if you all together avoid single leg training, one leg will dominate the other. Let's not forget what was just mentioned in the video, too. Your standard back squat does not challenge your stability, which is very needed for preventing knee injuries. Besides providing a solution to asymmetries, skater squats and single leg training in general also provide a solution to instability.
      Anyways, do what you want. Who needs to listen to a dude with a master's degree in exercise science and is a certified strength and conditioning coach?

      • squatz for dayz

        you even lift, bro? long-winded, too critical of a response. having a strong (right around 2x bw) back squat is a great base of strength for someone looking to be fast and explosive, bottom line. add in some single legs variations and a few olympic lift/plyos and some sprints/conditioning where appropriate and you have a great lower body program. see my above post as to why. i don't need any degrees or certification to know that, just hard work and seeing how it carries-over into the area i'm trying to improve.

  • 1wu2

    Thanks Tim. Thoughts on the TRX split squat? Perhaps one could progress from RFESS to TRX-assisted to Skater Squats..

  • Saw your above post and yes, I agree back squats are good to build a strong base, but evening out symmetries and improving stability should be an ultimate player'player's top priority. Having a certification or degree helps to understand how dysfunction plays a large role in injuries. Well, it's not so much about a cert or degree, but it's about an understanding of the kinetic chain. There is a lot more to getting in shape than just doing squats, adding in single leg work and plyos and conditioning. This is coming from a dude who absolutely loves back squats, I've got a 315 ass to grass squat at a bodyweight of 145 lb. But being able to squat that much isn't going to help prevent knee injuries for me.

    • DeeZee

      Your argument is invalid based on the facebook video of "Jordan" performing a hang power clean. Please learn how to properly coach the 3rd pull before you hurt someone. I am not being rude, I am seriously worried about his well being.

      • Well actually that doesn't invalidate my argument, because your point is ad hominem based. And if you can tell me on how I can improve on my coaching for the 3rd pull, that would be great. I've only been coached in Oly lifting for less than half a year, almost 4 years ago so my experience is fairly basic. Of course I want to improve my coaching on the oly lifts and I can only do so by work shops, educating myself more, etc. but I'm still focusing on passing my next CPT exam for my job -_-. but if you can give me a pointer on the spot, that would be appreciated.
        Either way, though, your argument stating my argument is invalid is still fallacious. And if you can't figure out why, google ad hominem.

        • Derek Zoolander

          You lack basic common sense and/or intelligence. "Look at me, I have less than six months of coaching on weightlifting, time to go coach others on it and then go argue on the internet without any practical experience." How fucking dumb are you? Would you teach theoretical physics after your first year of calculus? That kids form is worse than any crossfit gym I have been to recently… You clearly lack the real world experience necessary to fully form an argument on any aspect of strength and conditioning. Thus, your argument is invalidated by your own stupidity.

          I can't tell you how to fix that abomination via the internet. Intern at a gym that actually coaches weightlifting. Yes, intern. Go grind son.

          Seriously. I have been Olympic lifting for awhile, have interned / coached it for over a year, coach multiple regional level CrossFit athletes on their weightlifting, and am still unsure of myself when it comes to coaching it. IE: I will constantly question myself, re-evaluate my lifters videos (despite those lifters being girls who snatch more than buddy hang cleans) and live with serious self-doubt. Know enough to realize you don't know shit. Quit arguing on the internet about things you have only read about, and go pay your fucking dues.

          • Why so angry, bro? Your post is completely inappropriate and unprofessional. Rather than address what you think could be better, you act like a 10 year old and further your ad hominem argument by attacking me and invalidating my original point.
            Well for one, I already discussed with him what went wrong in the lift and how it can be better. Obviously in the video I didn't mention what was wrong nor on my page because I prefer positive encouragement first and foremost before adding in my critique, in private and off video.
            You think I don't question my methods either? There will ALWAYS be some uncertainty in coaching something that takes years to master, especially when you're in the fitness field where things aren't always absolute. Yes, maybe I shouldn't be coaching Olympic lifting with such little experience, but I believe I know enough to teach the basics. Just because you come across a video where the exercise wasn't performed with text book form doesn't mean it has never been performed with good technique either. He was maxing out, give me a break.
            And if you're going to continue being a douche bag with nothing positive to offer, then email me at kuni.nishimura.cpt@gmail.com so we can settle this privately and save yourself the embarrassment of sounding like an angry 10 year old playing xbox. Seriously, how much of a douche bag can you be? "I'm not trying to be rude but.." lol okay dude.

          • And I never even mentioned Oly lifts so the fact that you keep bringing it up as if my argument is about oly lifts is hilarious. And it's even funnier that you stalked me to try to invalidate my argument because apparently Olympic lifting experience equates to my point of not adding strength on top of dysfunction and reducing the risk of injury. Before you call someone a dumb ass you might want to double check what your argument is actually addressing and how unrelated it is to my point. If you want to sound smart and call someone dumb, try to stay on point and do the same thing. Quit arguing on the Internet about unrelated shit.

        • Archer the Moderator

          Congratulations you have entered the DANGER ZONE and have been moderated.

  • Oh man, love the discussions! However, I feel everyone is missing the point. The most important movement you can do is the one you do as perfectly as possible. Skater squat / back squat / front squat / ballistic step up / etc. It doesn't matter what you do, if it is performed poorly, it doesn't matter. The entire purpose of weightroom training for sport is to challenge athletic posture and position and correct movement faults. Different coaches are going to have different approaches based on their backgrounds and experiences. I prefer an explosive step up (see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BexqmLEMeRw) as my single leg exercise of choice; however, my approach to training ultimate athletes differs from Tim's, whose approach is going to differ from someone else. At the end of the day my progressions are going to differ from another coaches but as long as we are progressing our athletes to playing explosive injury free ultimate, it doesn't matter. Like most things in life, there is no "right answer" just a whole lot of wrong ones.

    Oh, but because controversy is fun – the most important exercise an ultimate player can do is the athletic deadbug! Stability trumps everything! (see: http://powerathletehq.com/blog/2013/06/12/movemen

  • Just tried the link, not working. Post again?

  • Deadbug video = priceless (working link below in comments).

  • Question, if we're doing skater squats. Are we only doing it on the pivot leg to help balance out the symmetry or are we doing both?