Improving Athletic Performance: Movement Rotation

Training during the season is imperative for all athletes; the intensity of in-season training depends on your experience level and age, where older more experienced athletes will lose less strength and muscle overall and also develop a greater level of fatigue from playing; younger less experienced athletes will recover more quickly from the intense grind of practices and games and most likely will be able to see neurological gains in strength just from putting in the reps. 

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The question is then, how can we optimize training efforts in the weight room to save energy for skills work and games, while also developing the essential components of athleticism? Enter movement rotation. When a new skill is introduced to the human brain, large neurological improvements occur just from newfound familiarity. When applied to a skill like strength; this means we can rotate strength movements in waves of anywhere from 3-6 weeks; the key is that we keep the movement similar enough to get the training benefit while making it different from the previous movement. A 3 month cycle of movements may look something like this:

September - Snatch Pulls:

week 1 - 75% 3 reps x 3 sets, week 2 - 82% 3x3, week 3 - 85% 1x5, week 4 - 90% 1x5

October - Overhead Med Ball Throw:

week 1 - Medium Ball 5 reps x 3 sets, week 2 - Medium Ball 5x3, week 3 - Heavy Ball 1x5, week 4 - Heavy Ball 1x5


November - Hang Clean

week 1 - 75% 3 reps x 3 sets, week 2 - 82% 3x3, week 3 - 85% 1x5, week 4 - 90% 1x5

In the above series, our "movement" was explosive hip extension. We switched the stimulus from a closed chain snatch pull, to an open chain med ball throw (an exercise where the weight is significantly lighter) and then back to a hang clean. In December the athlete may cycle back to the snatch pull, and she/he will have likely have gained some power and be able to continue to build upon their snatch pull.

Movement rotation can be used for jumping, pressing, squatting, hinging and many other athletic movements. Try adding a movement rotation sequence into your training and see if it can assist you in developing your full athletic potential.


Jordan Guilford holds a degree in Exercise Science & Health Promotion and is a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He is the Fitness Director for the Canadian Ice Academy.