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Single-Leg Forward Reach

By Gene Coleman, Ed. D., RSSC*E

The single-leg forward reach is a closed-kinetic, ground-based, unsupported, i.e., only one foot is in contact with the floor, single-leg exercise. It involves the synchronized action of the muscles of the core, hip, knee and ankle joints to increase unilateral, lower body strength, improve joint mobility and stability, enhance balance and improve proprioception. Because many movements in practice and game situations are performed with one foot in contact with the ground, the single-leg forward reach is considered to have positive carry-over benefits to movements that require athletes to run, jump, hop and throw than conventional double-leg exercises.

The strength, balance, joint mobility and stability and proprioception developed in this single-leg exercise tends to be more movement-specific than that developed in exercise that utilize a double-leg stance. The stabilizing actions of the pelvic muscles, glutes, adductors and low back are also more prominent in single-leg movements. Finally, some authorities in sports medicine and rehabilitation believe that single-leg strength is an essential key in both injury prevention and rehabilitation.

How to do it:

1)    Start by standing on your right foot about 2-3 feet in front of a 6 to 12-inch cone.

2)    While keeping the balancing leg (right) slightly bent and hip in line with the knee, set the core, tighten the glutes, squat on your right leg and slowly bend forward at the waist.

3)    Allow the non-support leg (left) to move behind you for balance and keep the support leg heel (right) on the ground.

4)    Reach forward and touch the cone with your opposite (left) hand.

5)    Return to the starting position. This is one rep.

6)    Repeat for the desired number of reps and then stand on your left leg and reach forward with your opposite (right) hand for the desired number of reps.

7)    Start with 3 sets of 8 reps on each leg. Increase reps to 10 in week 2 and 12 in week 3.

8)    When you can perform 3×12 with perfect form on each leg, increase difficulty by reaching to a shorter cone, increasing the tempo or moving in a different plane.

9)    When you can perform 3×12 on each leg in all 3 planes with perfect form, add resistance in the form of a weight vest or dumbbell.

Coaching tips:

  • 1) Keep your head and eyes up and back flat.
  • 2) Maintain balance throughout the exercise
  • 3) Aim to touch the cone on each rep, but stop when your limits of stability have been reached and return to the starting position while maintaining balance on the support foot only
  • 4) Check for excessive abduction or adduction at the hip joint; excessive inward (valgus) or outward (varus) movement at the knee joint and excessive inward (pronation) or outward (supination) movement at the ankle joint

To alter the difficulty:

  • 1) Make it easier by using a taller cone or reaching with both hands.
  • 2) Make it harder by using a shorter cone and reaching farther, using a faster tempo, holding a weight in the extended hand or wearing a weight vest

Change the plane of movement:

  • 1) Frontal plane – Place the cone outside the right foot and reach laterally and touch the cone with the right hand for the desired number of reps. Then place the cone outside the left foot and reach with the left hand.
  • 2) Transverse plane – Place the cone outside the right foot and reach across and the body and touch the cone with the left hand. Then place the cone outside the left foot and reach across the body and touch the cone with the right hand.

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Gene Coleman, Ed. D., RSCC-E, FACSM, was the Head S&C Coach for the Houston Astros from 1978-2012 and is currently a strength and conditioning consultant for the Texas Rangers and Professor Emeritus in the Exercise and Health Sciences Program at the University of Houston – Clear Lake and Website Education Manager baseballstrength.org.

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