Zachary Long details three tests that will help you determine whether mobility or motor control is derailing your squat.
The squat is an essential movement pattern, but many lose the ability to perform a proper squat over time, and the movement must be retrained to allow them to perform daily activities such as standing from a seated position.
In the world of athletic development, the squat is the most important exercise for developing powerful hip extension, and thus it is one of the best exercises for improving athleticism. In the CrossFit Level 1 Certificate Course, the air squat is the foundation on which the squat is developed into higher-level training tools such as the back squat, front squat and overhead squat, with the latter two variations key to the Olympic lifts.
Performing a proper squat requires significant mobility throughout the body, but the ability to move all the involved joints through their available ranges of motion does not necessarily ensure a perfect squat. The squat also requires considerable motor control, meaning the athlete must be able to efficiently utilize his or her available motion through proper muscle activation. While mobility is often blamed for poor movement, motor control is just as important.
A thorough understanding of the mobility and motor-control needs of the squat will help athletes and coaches choose the best corrective exercises to optimize performance of this essential functional movement.