How to Prepare An Athlete's Neck For Sports

Posted by Sean Smith on Nov 29, 2018 12:18:03 PM

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I am excited that neck training is gaining a lot attention because of concussions in sport, but we still have a lot of work to do. This is not an article on how to reduce traumatic brain injuries (TBI) using neck exercises or neck training. That’s too much of a promise that no coach could keep; however, if a stronger neck gives you a better chance, than I am all for it.

This blog piece is about building a complete neck that enhances what the neck is designed to do. The typical article on neck training usually shows progressions of exercises from easy or light strength training to more intensive or difficult training. I will not do that. Instead, this article is about preparing the neck for sports performance, and if that can reduce concussions and help athletes recover from TBI, then I feel I have made a difference. This past summer, the Exceed facility started taking neck training to the next level, and my goal now is to share a few concepts we support.


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Video 1. Fine Motor: Coordination of the neck isn’t complicated—it’s the ability to do what you want in any way you need it to be. We like doing figure eights with the Iron Neck with athletes now as it improves how they control and steer their neck.

Video 2. Freedom: Large ranges of motion are great, and that starts with diagonal chops of the neck and plotting every safe degree of motion possible. Neck mobility is not about how much range of motion you have, it’s how much coordinated range you can access.

Video 3. Force: This isometric exercise develops neck strength, improving the accessibility of neck coordination and even endurance of the neck. Getting stronger is not oversimplifying the problem or reductionist—it works.

Video 4. The spin, or 360 exercise, is unique to the Iron Neck device due to the technology. I am sure someone can find a similar exercise, but this option is great for all levels of neck strength.

Video 5. The KB Hip Halo with static neck is not easy to do and we’re just starting to experiment with it.

Video 6. Maintaining a good neck position is always difficult for people when doing push-ups. With good coaching and form, the athlete can kill two birds with one stone.

Video 7. This exercise challenges the neck in a multi-planar environment. It encourages maintaining a posture through level change as well as a forward and backward step. As with all the exercises displayed, we are not endorsing it or prescribing it—the point of showing it is to make sure coaches know what is possible with just a little creativity.

Video 8. Simple neck retraction and protraction motions are part of a neck development plan. A few reps and sets are all that is needed to get progress in neck strength.

Sean Smith

Sean Smith

Sean Smith is Co-owner of Exceed Sports Performance & Fitness based in Westborough, MA. Sean started his training and coaching career as a young athlete under the mentorship of some of the most respected coaches in the industry, giving him excellent access to experience and knowledge. He specializes in speed and performance training. Sean has 18 years of experience working with elite high school, college, and professional athletes.

Topics: neck training, neck strength, neck exercises, Iron Neck, concussion prevention, Athlete, traumatic brain injury