In the past few months, P3’s Action Sports Division has witnessed a number of athletes achieve top finishes in competition. From a victory in the Clash Bowl Jam in Berlin, Germany, to Frankie Harrer’s three victories in the NSSA Western Championships in Huntington, to Parker Coffin winning the USA Championships at Lower Trestles as well as the NSSA National Championships, setting himself apart as the best under 16 surfer in the United States, P3 Action Sports athletes are proving that smart, science-based training pays off.
Two athletes making exceptional gains over the past months have been surfers, Sage Erickson and Yadin Nicol. Sage had been surfing on the women’s World Qualifying Series (WQS) for a few years and has missed making the World Tour by a single spot the past two years. As a means of improving her performance and chances of qualifying for the tour Sage committed to undergo very personalized, intensive training at P3.
Much of P3 Action Sport’s work with Sage over the past few months has focused on creating dynamic hip stability and shifting demand from knee to hip, allowing Sage to control femoral rotation and adduction. This process has involved both strengthening and neuromuscular re-education of how to stabilize and activate her gluteus medius and upper-third of gluteus maximus. Hip stability also allows surfers to maintain their hip position through dynamic movements, train more aggressively (enabling the athlete to become more powerful), safely transfer force generated from the lower body through the trunk and produce more explosive rotational movements.
We are very pleased with the progress Sage is making. Her body composition has improved, she has reduced her total body weight by 16%, while increasing lower extremity power (shown by a 2-inch increase in her vertical jump), rotary power (a 17% increase to both right and left sides), and overall work capacity. These improvements have been a direct result of very specific training that began with correcting some poor movement patterns as well as improving some major hip stability issues.
With the qualifying season now in full swing, Sage has already accumulated enough points to not only clinch a spot on next year’s tour, but in securing her top seed as she is currently the highest ranked qualifying surfer in the world.
Another P3 action sports athlete that is doing extremely well is Australian surfer, Yadin Nicol. Currently ranked 27th on the ASP World Rankings after taking second place in the US Open of Surfing, Yadin has been on a tear, has already qualified for the World Tour. When Yadin first came in to P3, he was dealing with some left knee pain – something that is becoming increasingly common among progressive surfers who are lacking hip dominance – especially while compressing coming out of big above the lip maneuvers.
During Yadin’s initial Depth Jump to Absorption Test (which measures the ability to efficiently compress during the eccentric loading phase) he put up a score of 20.11, which is extremely high compared to other action sports athletes we have tested, and is almost always an indication of quad dominance; as athletes who are able to utilize their hips to absorb the majority of the compression are able to greatly reduce the amount of force that their body place’s into the ground. Yadin also placed the majority of force onto his knee joint during any other squat or compression movement while testing and it was apparent that his knee pain was directly related to the way his body was absorbing compression through the quads and into the knees.
Quad dominance can be observed by the knees moving over the toes, excessive dorsiflexion (bending of the ankle joint), limited hip flexion, and often observed by heels coming off of the ground through any squatting movement. The quad dominant surfer will generally put over 50% of compression force onto the knee joint, while the ankle will absorb about two-thirds of the remaining force, allowing the hip to only take up what force remains.
Habitual quad dominance for surfers is less than ideal for a couple of reasons. First, moving without utilizing the largest muscle group in the body (Gluteals), will place an obvious limit on force production, resulting in weaker turns and longer transitions in getting the board back on rail coming out of big maneuvers. Compression will be much less efficient, and in some ways impossible for a quad dominant mover, as this type of athlete must rely on perfect positioning of the knees and feet over the board in order to hold on and get back into position without losing speed. This type of surfer will also find much less consistency in surfing due to a lack of stability in the hips. Secondly, and probably more importantly, the quad dominant mover greatly increases chance of injury – usually to the knee. If the hip extensors are weak relative to the knee extensors, the quads are forced into a state of overuse resulting in greatly increased loading of the knee. An overloaded knee is left completely vulnerable, especially under a surfer like Yadin who is known for landing some of the largest aerial maneuvers in the world.
Fortunately, Yadin’s inefficient movement patterns were more of a motor programming issue rather than a lack joint mobility. Corrective strategies have included coaching and cuing Yadin through a full range of motion in strength movements (ie. bulgarians, step ups) and plyometrics, various yoga modules to stretch some of the overactive muscles in the quadriceps, ankle mobility and ground contact drills to improve dorsiflexion, building strength in hip extensors to provide hip stability and reduce risk of injury, and a lot of soft tissue work.
Three months after Yadin’s initial testing we re-evaluated him to assess the influence of our intervention. Coming back to the Depth Jump to Absorption, he showed a massive improvement by lowering his score from 20.11 to 7.45, a difference of 170%. The improved ability to efficiently load his lower body is directly related to being able to move through a larger range of motion utilizing his hips as the major joint for absorbing the compression. This adaptation puts Yadin at much less risk of injury while at the same time giving him the ability to tap into a much larger power source when executing the critical movements of surfing.
P3 Action Sports is excited about the continued development of these two athletes, as well the others currently training at P3, who are making their mark on the surfing world. Both Sage and Yadin have proven that they are ready to do whatever it takes to maximize their success, and as P3 Action Sports continues to set the standard through the utilization of advanced technology and scientifically based training methods, our athletes will assuredly continue to find themselves at the top of the podium.
For more information on P3 Action Sports, visit P3actionsports.com