Archive for “High School Athletes” Category

Creating a Program for the Multi-Sport Athlete

Multiple-sport athletes in the high school setting are extremely common. However, coaches may find it hard to create a training program that can cater to the various requirements each sport demands.

As strength and conditioning professionals, our job is to create a comprehensive training program for these athletes. The goal is to build their baseline of training, make them fundamentally sound and progress their movement throughout their program.  Multi-sport athletes should be able to learn their weaknesses, balance them out structurally and exercise different degrees of motion to become a better overall athlete. These concepts are key when creating a program that will increase performance but also decrease the likelihood of injury.

Getting Started
As you get started with a new, multi-sport athlete, ask these questions:
What have you done to train in the past? What sports do you play? Have you ever worked with another strength and conditioning professional/had any formal training outside of your sport?

No matter the age of the athlete, it is important to consider the training age of the individual that you are working with to help you gauge the intensity of the program.  More often than not, the high school athlete has limited resistance training experience, speed and acceleration work or conditioning anywhere outside of their school sport coach.

Asking what sports they play can help you understand the demands that are being placed on them and the types of movement preparation or accessory exercises you may want to incorporate into their training program.

What injuries or structural issues have you had in the past?

Many athletes have experienced some sort of pain or injury throughout their young career and need help regaining strength or motion, so it is important to create programs that will aid in resilience. Having a complete knowledge of their injury history allows you to prepare for specific imbalances or overcompensations that we can help fix.

What are some things you would like to improve?

Try to have the athlete get specific.  Drill down by asking follow-up questions like “Are their plays you feel like you can’t make that you’d like to be able to next season?”  Depending on their goals, they may want to focus on gaining greater performance in specific areas and you must create a program that can cater to those needs.

If they’ve trained in the past, what kinds of training have they enjoyed/hated in the past?

Incorporating their interests is a great way to engage and empower an athlete. If they have had no formal training, ask what types of things they enjoy doing in their sports practices or have a list of ideas ready to discuss with them to gain a better idea of what they like.

How often can they train with you each week?  What is their practice schedule?

This will help you know how long you will be training with them, what your program goals can be and how to program around the demands of their practice schedule.  Athletes often forget how much they’re doing outside of training and don’t understand how it all affects their results.  As a professional, you’ll have to explain this to them and help them balance all of their competing demands.

Assessment
Before starting any training program, you’ll want to have an assessment session to help you parse out any glaring concerns. You can not build a program for an individual before you have watched them move and observed their limitations.  This can be a formal assessment or simply an observation during a dynamic warm-up.  Here are some things you can do to see how the individual moves:

Take them through a basic dynamic warm up:
High Knees, Butt Kickers ,High Knee Hugs, Pendulums, Quad Stretch and Reach, Runners, Lateral Lunge and Pivot, Figure 4 + Air Squat, Carioca, Skips, Backward Run, Side Shuffle, 2 10 yard sprints

Watching an individual move through a dynamic warm-up can help you spot imbalances or movement deficiencies immediately.

Squat Assessment: Air Squat, PVC Front Squat, Back Squat, Overhead Squat


Press Assessment: PVC Overhead Press

Lunges: Lunge in place, forward lunge, backward lunge, side lunge

Mobility/Flexibility: Ankles, Hamstrings, Hip Flexors, Back, Shoulders

These are just a few exercises that can be used to spot imbalances/deficiencies before you start a training program. Understanding their needs and limitations will help you create a program that will build a better athlete.

Start Programming!
Once you have all of the things you need to know about your athlete, you can start programming.  Considering that the individual has most likely never trained outside of their sport, we need to build up their base of strength, mobility, stability, speed, change of direction and conditioning.  Because you’ll probably have very limited time with a multi-sport athlete, keeping introductory programming simple and straightforward is the most effective way to make progress.  If you plan on working with this athlete throughout the year, you’ll want to keep the volume relatively low so they can make progress without creating unnecessary fatigue.

The goal should be to elicit a training response without compromising their performance.  This can be tricky, so you’ll want to have an open line of communication regarding their competition and practice schedule.  Working them extremely hard right before an important competition can ruin their performance and possibly set them up for injury.  Instead, you’ll want to time the training sessions in a way that doesn’t overly interfere with important events.  For example, if games are played on Tuesday and Friday, training sessions would probably take place on Wednesday and Saturday so there is ample time to recover before the next competition.  Not only will this help the athlete, it will keep you in good graces with the sport coach.

It’s especially important to balance the fatigue of areas that are used heavily in a sport.  For example, you don’t want to use high-volume lower body training on an in-season track or soccer athlete who is running every day.  Similarly, you don’t want to get a baseball pitcher’s upper body sore/fatigued when they have to throw a lot the next day.

Dynamic Warm up: Get their blood flowing. Whether or not they are currently in season for a specific sport will change the way you approach the dynamic warm up. You can make it extremely basic or add elements that relate specifically to the sport they are currently playing.

Movement Prep: Use belly breathing, flow progressions and stretch variations that move through a range of motion focusing on structural imbalances, glute activation and activation of specific muscle groups desired.  Pick specific exercises that the individual can work on to increase their range of motion in troubled areas.  Your assessment will reveal these areas and allow you to pick the most important exercises for each athlete.  There are a million exercises to choose from, but you need to be extremely efficient with multi-sport athletes because they don’t have a lot of extra time and energy for training.  Address the “big rocks” first by picking the exercises that are most important.

Speed/Change of Direction: Footwork of any sort is always beneficial. Incorporating reaction drills, line drills and change of direction/acceleration drills can help prime the nervous system for training.  Communicate with the athlete and/or coach to ensure you’re not doubling up on drills that may be done during practice.  For example, a soccer coach may do a bunch of sprint work in practice.  If that “box is checked,” don’t spend as much time on linear speed work.  Instead, you may want to include more agility or reactionary work.

Resistance Training Elements: Hinge, squat, push, pull and core are simple highlights of a training program that can be done easily and efficiently. You can use dumbbells, medicine balls, kettlebells and resistance bands to build up strength before loading an athlete with a barbell.  Examples include:

Hinge: Power Exercises, Kettlebell Swings, Trap Bar Deadlift
Squat: Squats, Lunges, Single Leg Variations
Push: Overhead Presses, Bench
Pull: Row, Pulls, DL
Core: Pick exercises such as anti-rotational, core Stability, anti-extension core work.
Assistance Exercises: Include any-sport specific exercises each season that you would like to work on or movement correctives that you see fit for the individual. Fixing imbalances and utilizing smaller muscle groups can help achieve correct functional movement.

The goal of resistance training for multi-sport athletes is to focus on building up the overall strength/athleticism, not building up a sport-specific athlete. Focus on joint stability and mobility through different exercises without creating unnecessary fatigue.  You’ll want to stick with moderately heavy weight, but not take sets to failure very often.  An example would be using 80-85% of a 1RM for just 3-4 reps.  Not all exercises need to be done with heavy weight, but using a relatively high intensity with low rep ranges allows the athlete to maintain or improve strength without creating excessive fatigue.  Higher-rep lower body training, for example, can cause excess fatigue that may be great in the off-season, but can over-tax an athlete during a season.

Simple plyometric exercises: Hops, bounds, skips, pogo jumps, jump to stick, squat jumps, single leg variations, vertical jumps, medicine ball throws and tosses.

Conditioning (if necessary and time allowing): Depending on the time you have with your athlete in a training session, conditioning may or may not be a priority. Challenging your athlete with various types of conditioning that they have not been exposed to is a way to train them differently, build up their work capacity and can be a great finish to a training session.

Mixing up the Training Stimulus
Try to stay away from solely using barbells and dumbbells for every exercise. For example, instead of a walking lunge using a kettlebell in a goblet carry or various carry, try a medicine ball held to the chest, or in a different position, or using a weighted vest.  Changing it up can also be beneficial when working with younger athletes because it keeps them interested and focused on the task when it’s something they haven’t done before.  The body doesn’t care if it’s a 15 lb medicine ball vs a 15 lb weight vest, but this can keep an athlete engaged in the training because it’s interesting.

Key Notes When Training the Multi-Sport Youth Athlete
• Build up the athlete as a whole from the bottom up, build a sound-moving body, not necessarily a better football, softball, baseball, soccer player.
• Find movement or muscular imbalances that you can fix that will help them perform better in all of their sports
• Mix it up often, using various training stimuli to better train the overall movement
• Teach them to move through a full range of motion and slow things down to emphasize proper musculature firing and technique.
• Proper core stability and firing, joint stability and strength are important when it comes to injury reduction and should be highlighted in every program
• Teach healthy recovery protocols early on
• Create enough stress to stimulate adaptation without inducing unnecessary fatigue

Allowing athletes to play multiple sports is a great way to prevent overuse injuries, but training them to become better all-around athletes can be the best way to produce long-term health and success.

Jordan Tingman – CSCS*, USAW L1, ACE CPT, CFL1 is a graduate of Washington State University with a B.S. in Sports Science with a Minor in Strength and Conditioning. She completed internships with the strength & conditioning programs at both Washington State University and Ohio State University, and is currently a Graduate Assistant S & C Coach at Eastern Washington University.

 

The IYCA’s Principles of Athletic Strength & Conditioning textbook covers how to train the multi-sport athlete in great depth as well as many other topics related to developing athletes.  The PASC book includes contributions from 17 top professionals including college, high school and professional-level coaches.  Click on the image below to learn more:

 

Bodyweight Training Progressions

bodyweight training exercises - plyo push upsAsk any strength coach, and they will tell you that most athletes lack strength, control and mobility in many basic bodyweight training exercises. Utilizing bodyweight training, “can result in both physical strength and stamina” (Harrison, 2010).  This is why bodyweight training progressions are such an important part of any strength training program.

We often think that bodyweight training is very simple, so we don’t spend much time thinking about it.  We want to rush into more advanced training methods because they seem more exciting.  Unfortunately, when we skip over fundamentals, it catches up to us down the road.  Spending time teaching and perfecting bodyweight training exercises has the potential to pay big dividends as athletes mature, so this should be an integral part of any youth training program.

When it comes to younger or female athletes, upper body exercises such as the pull up or push up tend to be difficult. With the squat, maintaining proper posture is difficult for many athletes due to a wide variety of mobility or kinesthetic awareness issues.

Instead of being taken through a proper progression, we often see athletes struggle through sloppy reps or force themselves into positions they can’t maintain.  Fortunately, there are ways to modify these exercises that allow athletes to perform them correctly while utilizing the correct muscles.

This article will highlight three of the basic bodyweight training exercises that are often performed incorrectly, and it will describe simple progressions to ensure long-term success.

Push-up:

A few of the most common flaws seen during the push up are lack of upper body strength, elbows flared out, improper hand positioning and lack of core strength to maintain stability and posture throughout the movement.

Here is an example of a proper bodyweight push up:

  • Plank position in the core is maintained throughout the entirety of the exercise.
  • Elbows are at a 45 degree or closer angle from the body, emphasizing proper use of upper body musculature, and not overstressing the shoulder joint.
  • Hands placed just under and outside the arm-pit, not even with the head like is commonly seen.
  • Body is lowered in a controlled manner until the elbow joint is below a 90 degree angle.

If an individual lacks upper body strength, the push up can be modified by elevating the surface in which the hands are placed.

This surface can be anything that is elevated and allows the individual to maintain proper core stability throughout the movement.  This could be a box, bench, or bar on a squat rack.  As strength is developed, slowly lower the angle in which the push up is done until the athlete can perform a standard push up.

If an individual lacks a lot of core stability, a banded hip-supported push up can be used.  Attach a band around the safety catches and position the athlete so it’s under the hips during the push up. This alleviates the weight of the hips and aids in maintaining the plank posture throughout the movement. This can be progressed by using smaller bands until the individual can maintain hip posture throughout the entire movement.

If an athlete can maintain core position and effectively use the upper body muscles, but simply isn’t strong enough to perform many reps, an eccentric or isometric component can help.

Have the individual perform a 3-5 second eccentric and hold in the bottom position for one second before pushing up.  This builds strength and control in all positions of the movement.  If the athlete cannot perform the concentric portion of a push up at all, performing eccentrics can build that strength.  Athletes can perform 4-8 negatives, simply lowering slowly, then “rolling” back up to the top position for the next rep.  

As a coach, you can vary the amount of time of the eccentric or isometric portion, and vary the reps depending on the capabilities of the athlete.

Pull-up:

One of the hardest, but effective bodyweight training exercises is the pull-up.  Due to a lack of upper body strength, many athletes cannot perform even a single pull-up. Those who can perform a pull up tend to do it incorrectly. The most common issues include:

  • Lack of scapular retraction
  • Inability to start each rep with full arm extension 
  • Inability to get the chin above the bar with each rep

Placing a band around the J-hooks of a squat rack will give assistance to the most difficult position of the movement. Ensure that when the individual lowers their body, they still extend their arms into the bottom position.

To strengthen different positions of the pull-up, add an isometric component at the top or middle of the exercise. This reinforces proper positioning and strength in a variety of the positions of the pull up.  Emphasizing the eccentric component throughout the full range of motion is also very helpful when building strength in the movement.

As mentioned in the section about push-ups, you can manipulate the eccentric or isometric times and the number of reps to make the exercise more or less difficult.  This will be dependent on the capabilities and strengths of the athlete.  For example, an isometric hold at the top plus a 5 second negative is a great way to develop strength in young or large athletes who struggle with pull-ups.  

Squat:

One of most popular bodyweight training exercises is the squat, but it is also the one most commonly rushed through.  The most common mistake we see here is adding a load before the athlete can even maintain correct posture in an air squat or goblet squat.

We look ask these four questions when coaching the bodyweight squat:

  • Are they maintaining an upright posture throughout the entire movement?
  • Are their heels staying in contact with the ground throughout the movement?
  • Are they properly hinging at the hip before descending into a squat position?
  • Are they able to maintain an upright posture until the parallel position of a squat?

You should be able to answer “yes” to all of these questions before loading an athlete with a barbell.

A good initial assessment is to see whether the athlete can properly execute an air squat.

In this video, the arms are out to assist in maintaining an upright posture throughout the air squat.

Feet are slightly outside of shoulder width with toes slightly pointed out. This position can vary from individual to individual depending on what their bodily mechanics look like. If their heels are coming off of the floor, their foot position may be the first thing you need to manipulate.

If an individual has trouble maintaining an upright posture to the parallel position, a good way to work on this is to have them air squat to a target.


In this video, the individual is squatting to a box slightly below the parallel position.  This reinforces the hip hinging aspect of the squat and allows the coach to cue the athlete to maintain an upright posture until the box is touched.  You can also hold the bottom position (without putting any pressure on the box) to reinforce this position and strengthen the lower back.  

You can load this movement by adding a goblet hold while the individual squats to a box. Ensure the individual does not relax the core or rock back onto the box to gain momentum before standing up.  Again, an isometric hold at the bottom can help athletes feel correct posture.  

Squatting to a box may also allow the coach to assess issues in the squatting pattern.

Then once they can maintain an upright position to a box- you can take the box away and allow them to perform a Kettlebell Goblet Squat:


If the athlete shows instability while performing this movement, add a tempo to the eccentric portion and/or an isometric hold at the bottom.  This will reinforce correct body positioning throughout the squat.


While there are many different modalities that you can use as a coach, bodyweight training is an excellent way to lay a solid foundation.  In order to slowly progress athletes in these movements, the bodyweight training progressions above can help ensure long-term progress and success.  You can also use these exercises as a part of a complete strength training program that will continually reinforce the foundation you have developed.  

Citations:

https://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/Fulltext/2010/04000/Bodyweight_Training__A_Return_To_Basics.5.aspx

Jordan Tingman – CSCS*, USAW L1, ACE CPT, CFL1 is a graduate of Washington State University with a B.S. in Sports Science with a Minor in Strength and Conditioning. She completed internships with the strength & conditioning programs at both Washington State University and Ohio State University.  She is now working as a Graduate Assistant S & C Coach at Eastern Washington University.

The IYCA High School Strength & Conditioning Specialist certification is the only course available that directly addresses the needs of the high school athlete.  Learn more about the HSSCS HERE:

Practical is the New Functional

I love innovation.

I love new exercise variations. I love learning new methods. I love new technology. It’s fun for me to watch new trends come and go, and I enjoy trying to predict what’s coming.  People love throwing around the term “functional” and seem to use it as a blanket reason for anything in their program.

Over the past year, however, it’s been hammered home time and time again that, while function and creativity are great, practicality is one of the most important – and neglected – factors to consider in programming. This is especially true when working with groups, which I do a lot. You can design the greatest program in the world, but if it isn’t practical – if it can’t actually be implemented – it’s not worth the paper it’s written on.

Here is an example. I’ve had a few young coaches contact me about looking at their programs for high school teams before they implement them. I’ll see stuff like this:

Power Clean 5 x 5

Front Squat 5 x 5

RDL 5 x 5

Bench Press 5 x 5

Barbell Row 5 x 5

Machine Front Neck 2 x 10

Machine Back Neck 2 x 10

At first, it looks like a nice, straightforward program, but things start to look a lot different when I find out there will be 40 athletes in the weight room with three racks, five barbells, and just one neck machine. There’s going to be a line out the door waiting for a barbell or the neck machine. It’s going to take two hours to finish a workout that should take less than 60 minutes. It’s not practical. It’s going to be a mess and the coach is going to look like a total amateur.

I also look at that workout and think about where the coaching energy is going to be placed. I would consider every one of these a “high coaching-demand” exercise. High school kids are going to struggle with several of them, so you’re going to be running around trying to correct poor form all day. You’ll have no time to help them understand how to progressively overload each movement or simply motivate the kids. It’s a recipe for disaster and will become a complete cluster based on the exercise choices. It’s a perfect example of a good program that’s simply not practical.

 

Here’s another example I’ve seen for a workout at a private training facility:

6 x 10 yards acceleration mechanics work

6 x 10 yards sled sprints

3 x 10 squat jumps

3 x 10 split squat jumps

Tabata set of something each day

Clean 3 x 5

Dumbbell Press 3 x 8

Chin ups 3 x 8

Single leg squat 3 x 8

RDL 3 x 8

Core work

Flexibility

When I first saw this, I thought it looked good.  I felt like the coach had a good plan….until I started asking questions.

It turns out that he runs 60-minute sessions, there are typically 6-8 athletes in a group and he only has one squat rack and one speed sled.

Uh oh.

Then I found out that he also does a 10-15 warm-up at the beginning of each session.  There’s just no way to get all of that done in one hour.  Something has to give.

When creating programs, it’s critical to think about how you’re actually going to get it all done.  You can’t fit everything you know into one hour (at least I hope not), so pick a few things and get your athletes great at them.

Early in my career, I always wanted to fit everything in and come up with new stuff to show off my creativity. I prided myself on being able to come up with a great workout no matter where I was. While I still think that’s important, I’m now drawn to fundamentals more than ever. I see so many young coaches trying to make their mark on this field by coming up with something new instead of mastering fundamentals. What I’ve learned is that, without mastering the fundamentals, there is no basis for innovation. It’s almost like saying “I’m not very good at the basics, so I’ll come up with something different so nobody will notice.”

I don’t need 50 variations for every movement. I need a couple and I need to understand the most important concept in strength training – systematic & progressive overload. Pick a movement, and get stronger with it.

The basics are not broken. They never were. We’ve just become so used to being entertained, that we’re constantly looking for something new. Our athletes aren’t bored. We are. And, who cares about us? We’re not the focus of the training – our clients are.

If you and your athletes aren’t exceptional at the fundamentals, take a step back and think about what you’re doing. You owe it to yourself, and your clients, to help them develop a sound foundation before moving on to new tricks.

In my world the most important program equation now looks like this:

Practical = Functional

Preparing Female Athletes for College Sports

Each year, college strength & conditioning professionals look forward to working with the new class of incoming freshman. We see a wide variety of abilities with incoming freshman ranging from athletes who have never touched a weight in their entire life, to those who came from big high schools with a solid strength and conditioning program.  Some have even worked with trainers at a private sports performance facilities before making their way to college athletics.

More often than not, we see females who have very little training before getting to college.  When they arrive, they quickly realize that they are way behind the upperclassmen and it can have a large impact on their confidence and initial success.  

While every college program will be different, this article will explain some of the ways sports performance coaches can help female athletes prepare for their first year in collegiate athletics.  Before we begin, let’s take a look at some of the misconceptions young athletes and their parents have about training so we can understand what may have held them back.

Common Misconceptions of Strength Training Before Entering College

  • “Being good at my sport is all the work needed to get to the next level” – Coming into collegiate athletics will be a complete reality check for most, preparing a strong and resilient mindset outside of your sport is also important.
  • “Training too early won’t help” – Training early can be very beneficial in the reduction of injuries, improving long-term athletic development, and improving performance, as well as having a positive impact on confidence and overall health. Teaching healthy lifestyle habits early on is extremely beneficial.
  • “I’m good at my sport and play a lot, so I don’t need extra conditioning” – Training at the collegiate level requires athletes to work hard in many different ways. Coaches may expect you to play a different position or role than you’re used to, and it is up to the strength and conditioning professionals to best prepare you for whatever may be thrown your way in your sport.
  • “The weight room at my high school is only for the football players” – Though times are changing, high school weight rooms are highly under-utilized for the majority of their athletes. Not only do many schools offer open hours, but there are also private facilities with performance coaches that offer a wide variety of programs to get you started.
  • “I don’t want to get too bulky” –  Training for your sport will not get you bulky. Will it increase your lean body mass and body composition? Absolutely. But the majority of the muscle gained will help the athlete better perform in their sport, as well as strengthen the body, musculature surrounding the joints and neuromuscular system to better prevent injuries.

Sports performance coaches may need to addresses these concerns, and it can often be difficult to break through to athletes who have experienced early success.  Having the long-term best interest of an athlete in mind can help break down some of these barriers and allow you to explain the importance of training.

What College Coaches Would Like to See

In an effort to understand what they are seeing, I asked several college strength coaches what issues they see in freshmen, and what they’d like to see addressed earlier.  Here are a few of their responses:  

  • “I would like to see more college freshmen coming in the ability to a correct push-up, a pull-up, and a full range of motion bodyweight squat”Adam Thackery – Washington State University
  • “Core stability and low back strength helps athletes brace properly during power movements and maintain an upright torso during sprinting. I believe more work should be done to isolate those specific areas to above all else reduce the risk of injury while also improving performance”Aaron Potoshnik – Northwestern State University
  • “I would like to see student-athletes come in from their freshman year with good shoulder mobility as well as the ability to properly hip hinge. It is also helpful when they come from a program that emphasizes unilateral movement and single-leg type movements, as well as being able to execute proper technique in strength and power movements”Anthony Glass – Ohio State University

Fortunately, all of these issues can be addressed.  Using the experiences of the coaches above, let’s examine how we can help female athletes before they enter college.

 

Issue #1 – Bodyweight Exercises/Movements

Often found by collegiate coaches, individuals lack the ability to do a proper pull-up, sit up, full ROM bodyweight movements. Implementing these movements into any training program is vital because it shows bodily control and strength.

Pull-ups:

Showing full control of a pull up includes:  

-Starting from the relaxed bottom position with a double overhand grip

-Scapular retraction

-Pulling body up until the chin passes over the bar, with a one-second pause at the top

-Eccentric control of the body back to the starting position

Because many young female athletes cannot perform a pull-up, the following methods will help develop the necessary strength:

-Eccentric pull ups through a full range of motion (athlete will jump up, hold, and come down slow and controlled to the very bottom position).  Repeat for 3-8 reps depending on their ability to control the motion.  

-Banded pull-ups (note: banded pull-ups can limit a full range of motion at the bottom position, so keep an eye on full extension of the arm while completing the pull up with a band)

 

Push-ups:  

Long gone are the days of the “girl push up.” Push-ups demonstrate core strength as well as upper body strength and control, and this is a simple movement that can be developed in any athlete.

Showing full control of a push-up includes:

-Starting in a proper plank position at the top

-Showing full body control, during the descent, the core stays engaged with body staying in plank position as the arms move

-Arms are at a 45-degree angle to the rib cage

-The body comes down until the angle between the forearm and the humerus is passed 90 degrees

-As the body comes up, the individual must keep the plank position and extend the arms back into the starting position

If an individual is unable to complete a proper push-up, things that can be done instead include:

  • Push-ups to an elevated surface (i.e. bench or step)
  • Hand-release push-ups 
  • Eccentric push up to a snake up

 

Body Weight Squat:  

A common problem found in many young athletes is the inability to perform a full-depth body weight squat. Poor ankle mobility will make it very difficult to keep the full foot in contact with the floor. Poor hip mobility will decrease the ability to keep an upright position at the bottom of a squat.

How to execute a proper body weight squat:

-Individual starts standing with feet just outside shoulder width apart, toes pointed slightly out

-Arms at shoulder height or behind head, have the individual squat until the femur is at least parallel to the ground.

-If an individual is unable to complete this, move their feet out wider, change their foot position and try executing a squat passed parallel once again.

-If any deficiencies are found, start implementing different mobility drills to help increase the flexibility and mobility of the desired areas.

*Goblet Squats can be beneficial in helping an individual achieve a proper squat position before moving to a loaded barbell.

*It is important that an individual can complete a proper body weight squat before they can move towards weighted modalities

Issue #2 – No conditioning baseline or any other conditioning outside of energy system used in sport

It is important for athletes to participate in conditioning that is outside of what they are comfortable with. Running miles will only get you so far. Acceleration drills, interval training, threshold training, short and long-distance training are all important aspects of physical development. No matter what sport, from throws to soccer, utilizing different types of training will be beneficial.  Teaching different agility and acceleration drills can also be helpful in increasing reaction times on field.

Issue #3 – No weight room experience

Coming into the collegiate setting, many individuals express that they have never even touched a free weight or been inside a gym. Exposing high school athletes to the gym before they reach their college will help acclimate them to the environment.  Understanding basic concepts like what sets & reps are or how to push through the discomfort of a hard set will help make the transition to college much easier.  

Issue #4 – Range of motion/ sport specialization imbalances and limitations

Almost everyone has a range of motion limitation in one way or another and most never do anything about it unless it causes major problems in their sport. Imbalances and range of motion issues can lead to injuries, so correcting them can prevent future problems. Attacking imbalances early on is a way to advance an athlete in their sport as well as protect them.

Another category of imbalances is due to right/left dominance.   Recognizing these imbalances and creating programs to correct them can help lead to safer athletes on game day.

Some common range of motion issues occur in the ankle, hip and shoulder joints, as well at throughout the spine.  Assess these areas and offer mobility drills to address concerns.  

Utilizing dynamic and static stretches, correctives and mobility drills can help an athlete move through various ranges of motion, pre-and post-training, can help an athlete fix their imbalances and achieve full range of motion throughout all planes.  

Issue #5 – Basic Exercise Technique (Clean, Squat, Pull, Bench, Lunge etc.):

Most incoming collegiate female athletes have never entered the weight room prior to college, so lack of basic weight room technique is very common.  More often than not, there are multiple movements that almost every collegiate strength coach will utilize including the power clean, squat variations, bench press, and lunges. Educating female athletes on these movements will be extremely helpful, not only for injury prevention but to cut the learning curve once they get to school.

Issue #6 – Plyometric Movements

Stabilization of the body and proper landing mechanics in plyometric movements is another area that many female athletes struggle with.

The knee is a great area of concern in female athletes, so early training in jumping and landing mechanics can be extremely beneficial for everyone, but especially female athletes with a higher risk of knee injuries (i.e. ACL, meniscus tears).

Including basic plyometric movements in your female athlete’s program can be extremely helpful in a wide variety of ways.

Plyometric movements that can easily be incorporated are:  

  • Vertical jump to stick
  • Double leg hop to stick
  • Single leg hop to double leg stick
  • Bounding
  • Lateral hop to stick
  • Hurdle jumps- bunny hops, lateral hops, single leg hops, lateral single leg hops, 180 hops
  • Box jumps
  • Upper body med ball throws/tosses

Issue #7 – Core stability

Core stability and strength are the key to success when it comes to multi-directional movements and proper transfer of force from the ground through the body.

Crunches are not enough.  These athletes need anti-rotational and multi-planar exercises to help them correctly transfer and control various forces throughout their bodies.

Anti-rotational exercises and core stabilization exercises can help an athlete learn how to properly brace the core against external resistance. Utilizing exercises like the dead bug, bird dog and leg lowers are beginner movements that teach an athlete to keep the core in a stable position while moving the extremities.

Utilizing structural exercises such as Olympic movements, squats and pulls can help an athlete learn how to properly brace the core when dealing with an external force.

Multi-planar movements are another way to help athletes learn how to stabilize the core while moving, which is much more applicable to sport. Exercises such as med-ball chops, tosses, lunge with twists and combination exercises forces the athlete to stabilize the core while moving in different planes of motion.

How Can We Help?

For female athletes heading into the collegiate sport setting, programming some of these exercises above can help set them apart from the other incoming athletes as they get to college.  The areas discussed above are what coaches notice the most and can certainly be addressed by qualified professionals.  

For parents and coaches looking to help and prepare their college-bound female athlete research successful local private strength and conditioning facilities- they are not just for football players.

As a sports performance coach, contact the college strength coach to learn more about their strength training expectations for the team or reach out to players on collegiate level teams about expectations of the school. Start implementing some of the training modalities the college coach will be using in an effort to set them up for success once they get to school.

 

Jordan Tingman- CSCS*, USAW L1, ACE CPT, CFL1 is a graduate of Washington State University with a B.S. in Sports Science with a Minor in Strength and Conditioning. She completed internships with the strength & conditioning programs at both Washington State University and Ohio State University.  She is now working as a Graduate Assistant S & C Coach at Eastern Washington University.

The IYCA High School Strength & Conditioning Specialist certification is the only course available that directly addresses the needs of the high school athlete.  Learn more about the HSSCS HERE:

Transitioning Sports Seasons

Transitioning from one sport season to another is something many athletes deal with.  Whether it’s a multi-sport athlete transitioning into a totally different sport or a single-sport athlete moving from club to school seasons, these periods can be both exciting and tricky. The transitions will vary greatly depending on the success the team/individual had during their season, so plans must be flexible. 

As a strength and conditioning coach, if you work with a school’s full athletic program the number of multi-multi sport athletessport athletes that you encounter will greatly depend on the size of the school and number of sports offered. I am within a school of 400 students with 15 varsity sports to choose from, and a “no cut” policy. This creates an atmosphere with a wide variety of talent and a situation where coaches are constantly vying for the top talent. As these athletes make the quick transition from football to basketball or volleyball to soccer I must be there to make the transition easier. The athletic demands are all changing during this transition, from the movement needs, to strength demands, and conditioning requirements. Let’s also not forget finding time to recover from the physical and psychological stressors of the previous sport’s season.

With all of these things in mind, what do I focus on first? What is most important to address and what can wait a week or two? Throughout this article I will discuss the hierarchy of my concerns as well as how I address each of them with my athletes.

Mental State

One of the first areas that needs to be addressed is the athlete’s mental state. How did they finish the previous season? Was the season an overall positive experience? Athletes who come off of a negative season, whether it is due to interpersonal experiences, competition outcomes, or conflicts that arose within the team, can have a mental residue that can construe the beginning of the next season. It is important for the athletes to take a few days or even a week to debrief and reflect on what occurred throughout the previous season. As a coach, we have to give them this time needed and assist in any way that we can during this process. Sometimes it’s as easy as asking how they are doing.

Injuries

The next area to address is any injuries that may have occurred throughout the season, regardless of whether the injuries continue to linger. This is a great time to re-evaluate injury sites, assess movement quality within these areas as well as gross movements incorporating these sites. These movements can also be specific to the sport that the athlete is going into. If I have an athlete that is transitioning from football to indoor track and field I will spend a great deal of time evaluating the ankle and hip joint to assess range of motion, muscle activation, and movement efficiency- two assessments in link below.

Typically, these specific athletes are going to lack full hip extension, causing them to do a lot of extending in their lumbar spine throughout the first few weeks of the season. This is a time that I will keep them away from high velocity sprinting in order to work into complete Glute activation and hip extension so that we can prevent any potential injuries for occurring.

Movement & Strength

As a part of the specific injury assessment I also perform a gross movement quality assessment. This is similar to an abbreviated GPP (General Prepatory Phase) in regards to the movements used and program structure. This allows me to reintroduce planes of movement and exercises that the athlete may not have been in or used throughout the previous season.  These general movements will be the bridge between the strength training from the previous sport and the upcoming sport. Through this process we are able to incorporate new planes of movement, new movement patterns, and different training speeds, where applicable.

Conditioning

The final piece is the conditioning side of training. Again, the focus is on meeting the athletes where they are at currently and helping to build them to the demands of the upcoming sport. Much of this can be done through sport specific practice sessions, however this may only target the conditioning toward the middle of the spectrum and not focus enough on conditioning at the ends of the spectrum. For example, when my football athletes transition to basketball much of the conditioning will be similar, however, this is a time to address base level aerobic conditioning as well as alactic conditioning while in change of direction and repeated sprint scenarios. If one or both of these areas are not being addressed within practice then we will take the time to address it within training once a week.

Throughout this transition process the theme is to meet the athlete at their current position and help them through the transition. As opposed to throwing them into practice with the athletes who have been there for 10 weeks, and hoping for the best.  This transition will set them up for the rest of their season.  

About the Author:  Nick Brattain is the owner of Brattain Sports Performance in New Orleans, LA.  Throughout his career as a track athlete at the University of Indianapolis, he accumulated 3 NCAA All-American titles, 6 GLVC Indoor/Outdoor Titles, and numerous indoor and outdoor records. From 2011 to 2014, Nick worked for a private, hospital-based facility in Indianapolis, where he grew exponentially as a coach due to the high caliber of colleagues around him and the opportunities he received to work with some of Indy’s most elite athletes. In 2014, Nick moved to New Orleans where he began Brattain Sports Performance. He is currently working with some of the top NBA and WNBA talent in the league. He also continues to work with high school and colleges athletes of all sports as they aspire to reach the professional levels.

 

For more information on how to train high school athletes, check out the IYCA High School Strength and Conditioning Specialist course and certification.  The HSSCS is the only certification available that focuses entirely on training high school ages athletes.  The HSSCS includes several hours of video instruction and two textbooks with contributions from 20 of the top strength & conditioning coaches from major universities, high schools, private facilities and NFL teams.  Click on the image below to learn more about the High School Strength & Conditioning Specialist credential.

Power Clean Progression

Power Clean Progression:  Part 3 of 3 in a series of exercise progressions by Tobias Jacobi

In the previous installments of this article series we talked about the importance of progressions and the progressions we utilize with our middle school and high school athletes in the Front Squat and Pause Bench Press.  These can be found at http://iyca.org/front-squat-progression & http://iyca.org/bench-press-progression.  

In this installment we will be discussing our Power Clean Progression.  We will also give you the progression plan we implement with our athlete’s and recommendations for both middle school and high school athletes.  In the last portion of this article we will discuss some issues that may occur when prescribing this exercise and our rationale for using this particular exercise in our program.  

The power clean is one of the most beneficial, and controversial, lifts that a coach can prescribe within their program.  Technical efficiency isPower Clean Progression imperative for the proper execution and continued progress with the power clean, which is the primary reason we utilize the lifting progression we implement.  When learning the power clean, never sacrifice technique for more weight; this is a recipe for disaster and will eventually lead to injury.  Our 7th grade program will typically use 3 weeks for each movement, while the 8th grade program uses 2-week intervals, and our high school program uses 1-week intervals for each progression.

When discussing how to teach the power clean, coaches usually choose either a Top-Down or Bottom-Up teaching progression;  I have found the Bottom-Up approach to be most effective in my program.  The reason we implement the Bottom-Up system is that, in my experience, it does a better job of strengthening not only the primary movers of the exercise, but it also does a tremendous job of developing the stabilizing muscles used when performing the power clean.  An additional benefit to using a Bottom-Up progression is that if a hand or wrist injury occurs with an athlete, they already have experience performing the modified movements like the clean pull or hang high pull.  One unique aspect of our power clean progression is that we use a partial range of motion to full range of motion philosophy when teaching technique.  We have seen substantial success using this model, but I need to reiterate that this is just what works best for me and our program.  

There are a couple of things we must discuss that are uniform across the board when talking about power clean technique:

Grip: When using an Olympic lifting barbell, the athlete grips the bar a thumbs-length from the “power clean ring” on the barbell.  Also make sure the grip is always outside the legs, not inside.  If the athlete has the ability to use the “hook grip” we will allow it, but do not make it mandatory.

Shoulder Position:  The shoulders should always be “covering up” the barbell in the starting position.

Barbell Position:  The barbell should always be pulled as close to the body as possible, and is either touching the thigh when the starting position is inside the rack/blocks, or touching the shin when lifting the barbell off the floor.

Power Clean Progression

RACK PULL

The Rack Pull is the first movement in our power clean progression.  The benefits of using the Rack Pull as the first exercise is that it teaches proper body position for pulling the barbell from a static position.  When performing this exercise, the athlete must focus on keeping the chest out, lower back tight & arched, and lifting with the legs not the back.

7th Grade 8th Grade High School

WK 1 – 6 x 5 WK 1 – 6 x 5 WK 1 – 6 x 5

WK 2 – 6 x 4 WK 2 – 6 x 4

WK 3 – 6 x 3

DEADLIFT

We cue our athletes to perform the Deadlift movement exactly as they did with the Rack Pull, with the only difference being pulling from the floor instead of the rack.  One important coaching point  when the athlete lifts the barbell off the floor is to cue everything rising together;  the athlete wants to avoid the hips rising too quickly.  If the hips rise too fast, the athlete will then lift with their back instead of their legs, which is not what we want when performing this exercise.  We want to focus on lifting with our legs not our back.  

7th Grade 8th Grade High School

WK 4 – 6 x 5 WK 3 – 6 x 5 WK 2 – 6 x 5

WK 5 – 6 x 5 WK 4 – 6 x 4

WK 6 – 6 x 3

RACK CLEAN PULL (Jump Shrug)

The Rack Clean Pull is the first movement where we add the explosive aspect to our power clean progression.  We teach the Rack Clean Pull by telling the athlete to perform the Rack Pull, but we jump through the roof and shrug the barbell at the top of the jump.  The arms should stay straight and cannot bend while executing the lift.

7th Grade 8th Grade High School

WK 7 – 6 x 5 WK 5 – 6 x 5 WK 3 – 6 x 5

WK 8 – 6 x 4 WK 6 – 6 x 4

WK 9 – 6 x 3

CLEAN PULL (Jump Shrug from Floor)

The Clean Pull is the first explosive pull from the ground in our power clean progression and is coached by telling the athlete to perform the Rack Clean Pull starting from the floor instead of the rack.  This exercise can also be used for athletes who have wrist/hand injuries that preclude them from performing a full clean.  The Clean Pull also is used for a regression for those athlete’s who bend the arms too early when performing the Power or Hang Clean.

7th Grade 8th Grade High School

WK 10 – 6 x 5 WK 7 – 6 x 4 WK 4 – 6 x 4

WK 11 – 6 x 4 WK 8 – 6 x 3

WK 12 – 6 x 3

HANG HIGH PULL

The Hang High Pull is our first movement where we bend at the elbow and hips to complete the exercise.  This is a great exercise to develop explosiveness for an athlete who has a wrist/hand issue but cannot perform a clean catch.  The cue we use for teaching the Hang High Pull is to jump & shrug into an upright wow (which would have already been taught) while pulling yourself under the barbell at the apex of the movement.  We teach athletes to pound the heels through the ground, which ensures the athlete is bending at the hips to get under the barbell and bending into a quarter-squat position.  Another added benefit of teaching the pounding of the heels is that it gives the athlete an audible cue to use.  9 times out of 10, if they do that correctly, everything else works properly as well.

7th Grade 8th Grade High School

WK 13 – 6 x 5 WK 9 – 6 x 4 WK 5 – 6 x 4

WK 14 – 6 x 4 WK 10 – 6 x 3

WK 15 – 6 x 3

RACK / BLOCK CLEAN

The Rack Clean or Block Clean are the same movements, the difference between the two is one is done out of a half- or power-rack while the other is performed off technique blocks.  The preferred method would be to use blocks if they are available, but if they are not then using the safety bars of a rack will suffice.  This is the first movement in our power clean progression where we will now catch the barbell at the top of the movement.  When catching the barbell, the athlete wants it to land on the natural shelf of the shoulders in the “rack” position.  This position is the exact same position an athlete uses when performing the front squat, which we would have already taught in great detail beforehand – see http://iyca.org/front-squat-progression.  When teaching this exercise, we tell the athlete to perform the Hang High Pull from the rack, but we add the catch in the rack position.  The jump & shrug into an upright row and pounding of the heels remain the same, and give the athlete points to return to if necessary.  Make sure the athlete allows the barbell to come to complete rest in the rack/blocks in between repetitions;  do not allow a bounce at the bottom of the movement because it will cause improper execution.

7th Grade 8th Grade High School

WK 16 – 6 x 5 WK 11 – 6 x 4 WK 6 – 6 x 4

WK 17 – 6 x 4 WK 12 – 6 x 3

WK 18 – 6 x 3

HANG CLEAN

The Hang Clean is just like previous exercise, but now the athlete is standing free on the platform and not inside a rack or using blocks.  Do not allow athletes to rock back & forth to generate momentum before performing the exercise.  This is not proper execution.  Focus on controlling the barbell at the start of the movement as opposed to using momentum to complete the lift.  The Hang Clean is where we will stop our 7th graders progression for the year.  Once they learn this movement we will focus on perfecting their technique for the rest of the year.

7th Grade 8th Grade High School

WK 19 – 6 x 4 WK 13 – 6 x 3 WK 7 – 6 x 3

WK 20 – 6 x 3 WK 14 – 6 x 2

WK 21+ – 6 x 2

HANG SQUAT CLEAN

The Hang Squat Clean is the exact same as the Hang Clean, except for the position of the catch.  When catching the barbell of the Hang Clean we are in the quarter squat position, but the catch in the Hang Squat Clean occurs at the bottom of the front squat position.  Performing this movement allows us to focus on getting the athlete under the barbell and adds some “athletic development” to the action.  To be able to perform this movement correctly, the athlete must be able to perform all of the previous progressions (as well as the front squat) efficiently.  Again our 7th graders do not perform this exercise, but our 8th graders and high school age athletes do.

8th Grade High School

WK 15 – 6 x 4 WK 8 – 6 x 3

WK 16 – 6 x 3

POWER CLEAN

The full Power Clean is the final movement in our power clean progression, and is what we have been working towards with this technical progression.  When teaching the Power Clean as before we just have the athlete’s put the Clean Pull & Hang Clean movements together.  Saying it in this manner gives the athlete something they can relate to since they have already worked through the progression, and can now perform those exercises proficiently.  When we catch the barbell in the Power Clean, we teach catching in the quarter squat position.  For our purposes, catching in the low front squat position constitutes a different exercise, and we wait to add that in later in training.  

8th Grade High School

WK 17 – 6 x 4 WK 9 – 6 x 3

WK 18+ – 6 x 3

Because of the high degree of technique required, many issues can arise during the power clean progression.  One of the most common we see involves athletes lifting with their arms or back instead of their legs.  Lifting with the back puts unwanted stress and strain on the lower back area, which can commonly lead to muscle strains and back issues, even with a relatively light load.  Using the arms creates different issues and will limit the amount of weight that can ultimately be lifted.  In some cases, the athlete may not be able to get into a proper starting position, which leads to lifting with the back as opposed to with the legs.   If that is case, and flexibility or mobility is the issue, then performing movements to increase an athlete’s flexibility & mobility is highly recommended, along with only having them pull from a position high enough to achieve the proper starting position.

Another issue that was mentioned earlier is athletes pulling with their arms too early.  The second an athlete bends the elbows, the ability of the hips to produce force is gone.  To steal from the great Gayle Hatch, “the elbow bends, the power ends.”  This is where having a qualified coach is really important.  Being able to dissect the issue and give appropriate feedback and instruction is critical, and is often a problem for under-qualified coaches.  When this issue occurs, we typically have the athlete regress to the Clean Pull for 1-2 weeks and pay special attention to keeping the elbows straight.  Using this regression has provided positive results in getting kids to bend the elbows at the correct time.

The power clean progression closes this series on exercises progressions, and I want to thank Jim Kielbaso and the IYCA for allowing me to share our progressions with you.  As always I look forward to feedback about this article or anything else that you may want to discuss.  I can be reached at tjacobi@strong-rock.com

Tobias Jacobi

Tobias  Jacobi has been a strength & conditioning coach at Strong Rock Christian School for 4 years and spent 15 years as a college S & C coach before that.  He spent time at East Carolina University, Charleston Southern University, Kent State University, Western Carolina University, Elon University, UNC-Chapel Hill and Cumberland University.  He holds multiple certifications, has worked with thousands of athletes at every level, and has spoken at clinics all over the country.

 

 

For more information on how to train high school athletes, check out the IYCA High School Strength and Conditioning Specialist course and certification.  The HSSCS is the only certification available that focuses entirely on training high school ages athletes.  The HSSCS includes several hours of video instruction and two textbooks with contributions from 20 of the top strength & conditioning coaches from major universities, high schools, private facilities and NFL teams.  Click on the image below to learn more about the High School Strength & Conditioning Specialist credential.

Bench Press Progression – Part 2 in a Series on Exercise Progressions

bench press progressionPause Bench Press Progression – In the last installment of this article series, we talked about the importance of exercise progressions and the front squat progression we utilize with our middle school and high school athletes.  It can be found at http://iyca.org/front-squat-progression.  In this installment we will be discussing the importance of the Pause Bench Press progression.  We will also give you the progression plan we implement with our athletes and our recommendations for athletes in  7th and 8th grade and high school.  In the last portion of this article, we will discuss some problems or issues that may occur when prescribing this exercise and the reasoning behind our use of this particular exercise for our program.  

When most people talk about strength training, weightlifting, powerlifting, or bodybuilding, the bench press is probably most commonly mentioned exercise, and probably the most commonly performed exercise.  Go to any gym, health club, fitness center, box, or whatever the facility is, and there will be a place to bench press there.  That can be a good thing and bad thing because many people believe that anyone can do it without a plan for progression when learning the movement.  Skipping over the basics in anything is usually detrimental, but in lifting it can cause long term issues that are hard to overcome.  Age appropriate progressions are the key, so let’s go through our Pause Bench Press progression one step at a time.

Bench Push-Up

This is our starting point for our pause bench press progression. We begin with both hands on the bench  performing a push-up with our chest touching the bench in each repetition. Body posture and proper execution is the focus when performing this exercise.  If a kid needs to, they can put their knees on the ground as a regression. We will not progress an athlete if they cannot perform 10 perfect reps of the exercise.  

7th Grade 8th Grade High School

WK 1 – 6 x 6 WK 1 – 6 x 8 WK 1 – 6 x 10

WK 2 – 6 x 8 WK 2 – 6 x 12

WK 3 – 6 x 10

 

Push-Up

For the next exercise in our pause bench press progression, we increase the difficulty and volume of exercise from the previous movement.  Just as with the focus of the previous movement, body posture and proper execution of the exercise is critical for maximum benefit to the athlete.  When performing this movement, we tell the athletes to squeeze the elbows into the body, not allowing them to flare outward. Just as with the Bench Push-Up, if needed they can have their knees on the ground. We will not progress an athlete if they cannot perform 10 perfect reps of the exercise.

7th Grade 8th Grade High School

WK 4 – 6 x 6 WK 3 – 6 x 8 WK 2 – 6 x 12

WK 5 – 6 x 8 WK 4 – 6 x 12

WK 6 – 6 x 10

When beginning to use weight while performing a bench pressing variation, whether it is barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell… safety is important.  We use a back spotter, who can provide either a lift off or a spot for safety purposes. We avoid using side spotters due to the possibility of one spotter grabbing the barbell and tipping it when trying to assist. We teach our spotters to have their hands in an over & under grip close to the barbell without touching it. We want to see that space/gap to ensure that the lifter is doing the work, while giving the spotter the ability to assist if needed. When spotting the dumbbells, we have the spotter spot near the lifter’s wrist. This way the spotter can assist the lifter appropriately during the exercise.  

 The next crucial thing we teach is the proper set-up on the bench.  We utilize a consistent barbell to eye relationship by having the athlete lie down directly under the barbell in a straight line upward.  The next thing to teach is pulling the shoulder blades together and digging into the bench when laying the back down. We have an advantage for athletes performing this movement because of our specialized type of upholstery designed to allow the lifter to grip into the bench more easily when lifting.

Body position is the next thing we teach our athletes when it comes to our Bench Press progressions.  First, we want the shoulder blades in the bench.  Second, we want the hips to stay in constant contact with the bench for the entire time throughout the movement. Lastly, we want the feet flat and pressed into the floor. This allows for the lifter to use the lower body by pressing through the floor during the bench pressing exercises.

The grip on the barbell is the next part of the exercise execution. We have tape on our barbells to better assist our athletes in knowing where to put their hands. Our blue tape is on the outer ring of the power barbell, while the red tape is on the smooth part of the power barbell and knurling ends towards the middle of the barbell.  We allow for comfort purposes that our athletes go no wider than pinky fingers on the blue tape.  

Barbell path is something most people usually don’t pay much attention to, but it’s something we coach about constantly.  We teach a straight-line path for the weight to travel. In my opinion, doing this is the safest and most efficient way to press.  Straight-line pressing also allows the lifter to better find their groove when pressing.  Each of the previous components are coached each time we perform a bench press variation.

Once we begin to utilize weight in our progressions, we use barbell to dumbbell type of progressions.  Using the barbell first allows for proper development of a lifting path while using the dumbbells. It adds a stabilization effect and increases the execution difficulty as we advance in our progression plan.  Another thing you will notice in our progression plan is the initial use of partial range of motion, followed by full range of motion movements.   

Floor Press

This is the first exercise in which we add external resistance in our bench press progression. We begin with a 25lbs barbell and then work up from that point.  Have the lifter lie on the ground under the barbell, have them lower the barbell straight down tucking the elbows in at a 45-degree angle. Then they should lower the barbell until the elbows come to rest on the ground. Once the barbell is completely at rest, the lifter should press the barbell upward fully locking out the arms to complete the exercise.

7th Grade 8th Grade High School

WK 7 – 6 x 6 WK 5 – 6 x 12 WK 3 – 6 x 10

WK 8 – 6 x 8 WK 6 – 6 x 10

WK 9 – 6 x 10

 

DB Floor Press

This is the same movement, but instead of using the barbell, use of dumbbells is introduced. When performing this movement, we have the palms facing towards each other which makes it a little easier to keep the elbows in the proper position.

7th Grade 8th Grade High School

WK 10 – 6 x 8 WK 7 – 6 x 12 WK 4 – 6 x 10

WK 11 – 6 x 10 WK 8 – 6 x 10

WK 12 – 6 x 12

 

Board Press

This exercise is another “partial range of motion” movement, but with greater motion than the Floor Press.  We start by placing a shoulder saver from elitefts on the barbell in the middle of the bar.  This lift is begun by having the lifter lower the barbell the same way as in the Floor Press, stopping when the shoulder saver comes to rest on the chest.  Once the barbell is on the chest, the lifter presses the barbell upward locking the arms out to complete the exercise.

7th Grade 8th Grade High School

WK 13 – 6 x 12 WK 9 – 6 x 10 WK 5 – 6 x 8

WK 14 – 6 x 10 WK 10 – 6 x 8

WK 15 – 6 x 8

DB Bench Press

This is the first full range of motion exercise we use in our bench press progression. We use the same palms-facing-forward hand position as the DB Floor Press.  Have the athlete get set-up on the bench, then extend the dumbbells with the arms to get started performing the exercise.  Lower the dumbbells down until they touch the chest, then press them upward until the arms are locked out at the top.  Focus must be on paying attention to not bouncing the weight off the chest with momentum. The lifter must control the weight the entire time while performing the exercise.

7th Grade 8th Grade High School

WK 16 – 6 x 12 WK 11 – 6 x 10 WK 6 – 6 x 10

WK 17 – 6 x 10 WK 12 – 6 x 8

WK 18 – 6 x 8

 

Close Grip Bench Press

This is another full range of motion movement in our bench press progression and is very close to our final movement. The biggest thing with this movement is the lifter’s grip of the barbell. We have our athletes place their middle finger on the red tape on the barbell to start.  To initiate the exercise, the lifter lowers the barbell down under control until it touches the chest, then the lifter presses the barbell upward completing the exercise by locking out the arms at the top.  Focus must be on paying attention to not bouncing the weight off the chest, as the lifter must control the weight the entire time while performing this exercise.

7th Grade 8th Grade High School

WK 19 – 6 x 12 WK 13 – 6 x 10 WK 7 – 6 x 8

WK 20 – 6 x 10 WK 14 – 6 x 8

WK 21 – 6 x 8

 

DB Incline Press

This is really the only exception to our rule of barbell first, dumbbell second, in our bench press progression. When performing this movement, which is very similar to the DB Bench Press, the angle of the bench is in an inclined position.  Remember that we want to utilize the same hand position as all other dumbbell pressing exercises. Again, attention must be paid to not bouncing the weight off the chest, as the lifter must control the weight the entire time while performing the exercise.

7th Grade 8th Grade High School

WK 22 – 6 x 12 WK 15 – 6 x 10 WK 8 – 6 x 8

WK 23 – 6 x 10 WK 16 – 6 x 8

WK 24 – 6 x 8

 

Pause Bench Press

This is the final movement in our pause bench press progression and it is the primary upper body pressing exercise in our program. When performing this exercise, the lifter lowers the barbell as before until the barbell rests on the chest. The lifter remains tight and pauses for 3 seconds, then explosively presses the barbell upward, completing the movement by locking the arms at the top of the exercise.  Controlling the barbell throughout the entire exercise is vital to the successful performance of the exercise.

7th Grade 8th Grade High School

WK 25 – 6 x 12 WK 17 – 6 x 10 WK 9+ – 6 x 8

WK 26 – 6 x 10 WK 18+ – 6 x 8

WK 27+ – 6 x 8

 

The most common issue that arises when following a bench press progression is doing things too fast and too soon.  As I mentioned earlier, everyone thinks they can bench press, but performing the exercise, and performing the exercise correctly/safely are two different things.  One of the reasons we utilize the pause in our bench press movement is to teach proper control of the exercise instead of bouncing the barbell.  Another reason we have embraced the pause is that it helps keep the hips on the bench while pressing the barbell. Yes, adding the pause will decrease the total weight a lifter can press. However, we believe this is the most efficient way for an athlete to press with the upper body.  Adding the pause reveals a lifter’s true upper body strength levels.

This is the second of three in our series of progression articles. I love the feedback I have already received, and I look forward to the third article, which will cover how we teach the power clean in our program. Not only will we discuss the progression we implement, but we’ll share the reasoning behind why we teach the progression the way we do. I would love to hear what you think, and I can be reached at tjacobi@strong-rock.com

Tobias Jacobi

Tobias  Jacobi has been a strength & conditioning coach at Strong Rock Christian School for 4 years and spent 15 years as a college S & C coach before that.  He spent time at East Carolina University, Charleston Southern University, Kent State University, Western Carolina University, Elon University, UNC-Chapel Hill and Cumberland University.  He holds multiple certifications, has worked with thousands of athletes at every level, and has spoken at clinics all over the country.

 

 

For more information on how to train high school athletes, check out the IYCA High School Strength and Conditioning Specialist course and certification.  The HSSCS is the only certification available that focuses entirely on training high school ages athletes.  The HSSCS includes several hours of video instruction and two textbooks with contributions from 20 of the top strength & conditioning coaches from major universities, high schools, private facilities and NFL teams.  Click on the image below to learn more about the High School Strength & Conditioning Specialist credential.

Front Squat Progression – Part 1 In a Series on Exercise Progressions

Front Squat Progression

When I started working as a high school strength and conditioning coach after 15 years in college S & C, the importance of proper progressions took on a whole new meaning to me.  Not only are progressions critical to development, but the safety aspect simply cannot be understated.  The primary movements I have selected for our high school strength & conditioning program are the Pause Bench Press, Front Squat, and Power Clean.  In this article I will be covering the Front Squat Progression I use in our program.  

Each step in the front squat progression progression takes 6-9 weeks, with each exercise building into the next.  With almost two decades of coaching at multiple levels, and working with thousands of athletes, I feel that utilizing these progressions sets our athletes up for long-term success and safety.  

In the last portion of the article, I will discuss how we incorporate areas that impact our squat progressions along with some of the issues a coach may encounter when implementing a system with these types of progressions.  

While the goal of a high school strength and conditioning program is help prepare athletes for their chosen sport, as much as I hate to say it, lifting weights is not the main priority for most young athletes.  The reason they train is to get stronger, faster, more agile, and more flexible in an effort to excel in their sport.  With that in mind, the last thing we want is an athlete getting injured inside the weight room because of improper training.  Using progressions helps ensure we are building the in right direction.

In our high school strength & conditioning program, the Front Squat is our staple exercise for developing lower body strength.  In my opinion, the Front Squat is the best option for strengthening the lower body for athletes.  As a former powerlifter, I have a fondness for the back squat. but I have found that, when dealing with youth and high school age athletes, the Front Squat holds more benefit and significantly less risk than the traditional back squat exercise.

With all primary movements, we start with isometrics, then we focus on mastering body weight exercises, followed by partial range of motion movements with external load, and finally full range of motion exercises.  Our squat progressions are as follows:

 

Isometric Athletic Hold

I like this exercise to begin the front squat progression as it can be taught to any age and any training level.  It is the fundamental athletic position which all athletes should master.  Starting here gives the coach many different directions to go when it comes to training.

Sets & Reps: 4-6 sets, starting with 20 second holds working up to 60 second holds.

Video of Iso Athletic Hold

 

Isometric Wall Squat

This is an easy transition from the Isometric Athletic Hold.  When performing this exercise, focus on proper depth. We get the thigh parallel to the ground.

Sets & Reps: 4-6 sets, starting with 30 seconds holds working up to 60 second holds.

Video of Iso Wall Squat

 

TRX Squat

This exercise is our first non-isometric movement.  This TRX Squat is easy to perform and really allows the athlete to feel how to hinge at the hips and sit back.  We coach the athlete to go as low as possible, which can vary depending upon many different issues.  In this case we operate with “the lower the better mentality” and since it isn’t a loaded movement, unless there is a pre-existing condition, athletes should not have an issue performing this exercise with a full range of motion.

Sets & Reps: 4-6 sets, starting with 6 reps and working up to 10 reps.

Video of TRX Squat

 

Body Weight Box Squat

This is a great exercise for teaching the hinge of the hips, proper posture and positioning, and feeling what it is like to hit proper depth when performing a squat.  When performing this exercise, a box of 12-15 inches will be used for most athletes depending on their height.

Sets & Reps: 4-6 sets, starting with 8 reps working up to 12 reps.

Video of Body Weight Box Squat

 

Goblet Squat

This is the first exercise in our front squat progression that utilizes an external load.  By now, the athlete should be proficient at hinging at the hip, maintaining good posture throughout the movement, and understand proper squat depth. Start with a light weights and gradually progress, always making sure that proper technique is being used.

Sets & Reps: 4-6 sets, starting with 6 reps working up to 10 reps.

front squat progression

Core Blaster Squat

This exercise is one I recently added and have really seen a lot of benefit from performing.  While it’s like the Goblet Squat in many ways, the use of the Core Blaster adds a different stimulus to the exercise, along with being able to significantly increase the load used during the lift.

Sets & Reps: 4-6 sets, starting with 6 reps working up to 10 reps.

Overhead Squat

We begin the Overhead Squat using a PVC pipe, and progress to using a barbell for those who can properly execute the movement.  Maintaining great posture and body control during this exercise is critical to the execution of the movement.  Mastering this movement is vital to properly set up the athlete for success in our following exercises.

Sets & Reps: 4-6 sets, starting with 5 reps working up to 8 reps.

Video of Overhead Squat

 

Free Weight Squat

This exercise is the most challenging of all the exercises within our front squat progression.  It is also the most uncomfortable for new lifters.  The Free Weight Squat is great for teaching the proper position of the barbell in the “rack” position of the front squat, or “catch” on the power clean.  This is also a great exercise to emphasize proper hip hinge and posture during the squat.  If the arms drop, the chest follows, then the barbell begins to drop. Depending on the age of the athlete, we may start with a PVC pipe then work up to the barbell.

Sets & Reps: 4-6 sets, starting with 5 reps working up to 8 reps.

Video of Free Weight Squat

 

Front Squat

This is the final stage in our Front Squat progression.  As was stated earlier, we believe that the Front Squat is the best squat for an athlete to perform when attempting to improve athletic performance.  

Video of Front Squat

This is our complete Front Squat Progression.  We believe this progression prepares athletes for the demands that will be placed upon them in our program.  Another important aspect of our program is that we super-set just about every exercise.   We do this for a couple of reasons:

  1. We have very limited time during the class day and super-setting allows us to increase the overall volume of work we can do during that time.  Some days, we only have 25 minutes during class so we must figure out how to be productive with that type of schedule.
  2. Super-sets are a simple way to spend time on the commonly neglected areas of the body. This allows us to work on wrist mobility, core work, neck strengthening, and muscular balance for the upper & lower extremities.
  3. It is a straightforward way to build training density.  We increase our overall workload over time, not only in our primary movements, but also in our super-setted movements.

Many athletes want to rush the early stages of our front squat progression.  In my experience, if there is a frustration or complaint by an athlete, it stems from either a lack of adequate coaching or the inability of the athlete to properly perform the exercise.  Many people want to lift heavy weights, especially young males.  When utilizing a progression program like this, it is important for the coach to explain why and how it will be beneficial to long-term athletic development.  

Other times, an overzealous parent may be the issue.  Some parents want to rush things and have their child perform exercises before the are properly prepared.  Again, communication is vital.  In my experience, with parent issues like this, once you explain that you are considering safety and long-term development, what parent in the right mind cold get upset?  When you have the child’s best interest in mind, you’re certainly headed in the right direction.

In the next installment of this series of articles I will be discussing the progressions we use for the Pause Bench Press, the reasons why we perform that particular exercise, and how to utilize other exercises to build a bigger bench press.  

I hope you have found this informative and I would love feedback and discussion about this or any other topic regarding strength & conditioning.  My email is tjacobi@strong-rock.com and I would love to hear from you.  

Tobias Jacobi

Tobias  Jacobi has been a strength & conditioning coach at Strong Rock Christian School for 4 years and spent 15 years as a college S & C coach before that.  He spent time at East Carolina University, Charleston Southern University, Kent State University, Western Carolina University, Elon University, UNC-Chapel Hill and Cumberland University.  He holds multiple certifications, has worked with thousands of athletes at every level, and has spoken at clinics all over the country.

 

For more information on how to train high school athletes, check out the IYCA High School Strength and Conditioning Specialist course and certification.  The HSSCS is the only certification available that focuses entirely on training high school ages athletes.  The HSSCS includes several hours of video instruction and two textbooks with contributions from 20 of the top strength & conditioning coaches from major universities, high schools, private facilities and NFL teams.  Click on the image below to learn more about the High School Strength & Conditioning Specialist credential.

60 Yard Sprint – Improving Top End Speed

The 60 yard sprint – baseball’s favorite test of speed.

With fall officially here, it is now time for Baseball Showcases and Fall Leagues. During this time, high school athletes have the opportunity to go out and show off their talents to college scouts from the area. These events will afford them the opportunity to show off their speed, strength, athleticism, and baseball IQ. Many of these showcases will take athletes through a battery of tests. Similarly to the 40 in the NFL combine, the 60 yard sprint is one of the coveted tests of a baseball 60 yard sprintshowcase.

Due to the popularity of this test many of the baseball athletes that I come in contact with are looking to improve their 60 yard sprint time. When I begin working with these athletes I will break down their acceleration and transition phases and spend time working through each of these prior to talking about the second half of the sprint.

However, I and others have written before about the set up, acceleration phase, and common pit falls throughout the first portion of any sprint. Instead, today I want to discuss three reasons why many of these athletes struggle through the last 30 yards of the test. In my eyes these three ideas create the largest issues during the second half of the 60 yard sprint:

– Poor Front Side Mechanics
– Lack of Supportive Strength
– Lack of Speed endurance

Poor Front Side Mechanics
The first pitfall I see with many new athletes is the lack of proper front side mechanics when they get into an upright position. One of the biggest differences between the 40 and 60 yard sprint is the amount of time spent in the upright position and the time needed in training to address this difference. The term front side mechanics refers to the movements that occur in front of the body during running. This includes the knee driving up in front of the body prior to moving back down toward the ground as well as the arm swinging up in front of the body.  Watch this brief video on front side mechanics:

As the athlete transitions from the acceleration phase into the upright position there is a lot of room for error. The body, from shoulder to hip, should move as one unit from the forward, acceleration posture into more of an upright position. There should be very little to no flexion or extension within the spine through this transition.

As a result of this poor transition into the upright posture you will see improper balance and tilt in the hips. Excessive anterior tilt (forward tilt) will limit the knee drive during the swing and re-positioning phase of the gait as well as introduce lumbar flexion. With limited knee drive the amount of vertical force produced with each stride will be limited.

Additionally, I will see, what I term, “reaching” within the hips when the athletes are not in full, upright position. This occurs when the athlete rotates the hips toward the foot that is taking the next step. At no point in running should there be rotation. We, especially, do not want to see rotation within the hips as this will cause excessive breaking force through the hip as well as added stress in the low back due to repetitive rotation during running.

Sometimes this break down in form can stem from a strength issue as opposed to a movement issue. This leads me to my next topic…

Lack of Supportive Strength
Another large obstacle that many athletes face when looking to improve their 60 time is the lack of strength that supports high velocity linear sprinting. Baseball athletes are agility-based by nature and very rarely sprint in a straight line for longer than 90 feet. This means that running a 60 yard sprint at top speed can be a little out of their wheel-house. This in combination with the sport demands in baseball, athletes can show muscular or movement “weakness” in areas that are crucial to max velocity sprinting.

These muscular weaknesses manifest themselves in improper movement patterns such as lack of extension at the hip, knee, or ankle, internal or external rotation at the hip following toe off, or rotation in the hips as the approach foot contacts the ground. Each of these issues can be addressed and resolved with proper strength and technical training.

Lack of Speed Endurance
Finally, many of these athletes lack the speed endurance to complete the sprint, especially for multiple reps. When I refer to Speed Endurance I am addressing the athlete’s ability to reach maximum velocity and maintain it for a set period of time prior to deceleration occurring. Then being able to recreate that velocity multiple times over. Some of the most talented sprinters in the world find the success that they do because they are able to sprint for 50-70 meters prior to experiencing deceleration. The same will hold true for baseball athletes preparing for a 60 yard sprint. The athlete who is able to achieve maximum velocity first and hold their position and speed the longest is going to come out on top.

When we discuss improving your speed endurance the last thing we want to think about is running miles. Honestly, when I am working speed endurance with my athletes we will very rarely run longer than 30 meters. Why? Well, for the very reason that we are doing the drill. I want my athletes to practice sprinting at maximum velocity. If I already know that they cannot hold their max velocity for longer than 30 meters then why would I allow them to run further than that? At that point we are practicing running slower. To take it a step further, why would I allow these guys to run miles at this reduced speed? Again, we are now practicing running slow which is the opposite of what we want.

Instead in this instance I will work with athletes at distances of 20-40 yards and through 4-10 repetitions as they can handle it. I will also incorporate specific tasks to work on throughout the sprint. For example we might do 5 reps holding a PVC pipe over head to facility proper posture and front side mechanics before removing the pipe and running normally to create carry over from the drill.

Speed training becomes overly complex too often. Stick to drills that accentuate maximum speed and proper mechanics. Forget the fancy movements and tools, and just run fast.

About the Author:  Nick Brattain is the owner of Brattain Sports Performance in New Orleans, LA.  Throughout his career as a track athlete at the University of Indianapolis, he accumulated 3 NCAA All-American titles, 6 GLVC Indoor/Outdoor Titles, and numerous indoor and outdoor records. From 2011 to 2014, Nick worked for a private, hospital-based facility in Indianapolis, where he grew exponentially as a coach due to the high caliber of colleagues around him and the opportunities he received to work with some of Indy’s most elite athletes. In 2014, Nick moved to New Orleans where he began Brattain Sports Performance. He is currently working with some of the top NBA and WNBA talent in the league. He also continues to work with high school and colleges athletes of all sports as they aspire to reach the professional levels.

Learn more about speed development and running mechanics in the IYCA’s Ultimate Speed Mechanics.

Making an Impact From the Inside

Most people see a problem and complain about it.  Other people grab the bull by the horns and do something about.

When John Welbourn saw an opportunity to make a change, he stepped up and decided to ruffle some feathers.

Making a change to an existing structure or organization is not easy.  That’s why it’s so impressive that the gang at Power Athlete – John Welbourn, Tex McQuilken and Luke Summers – has been able to influence the way CrossFit boxes around the world approach training.

Click here to listen to Ep. 40 of The Impact Show – Making an Impact From the Inside with Power Athlete.

After a very successful career in the NFL, CrossFit approached John Welbourn about creating a training program for football players.  He knew that a traditional CrossFit program was not appropriate for football players, so he was reluctant to accept the offer.  Instead of declining, he saw an opportunity to make a difference from the inside, so he accepted the challenge.  He embarked on a mission to teach CrossFit trainers the difference between traditional CrossFit and a systematic and progressive training program for athletes.

Of course, this was met with resistance, but that did not deter John from spreading his message.  Over time, he was able to show coaches all over the world the light and his Power Athlete programs are now a part of CrossFit boxes all over the world.

Along the way, Tex McQuilken and Luke Summers joined the mission and helped speed up the process to create more momentum than ever.  Together, this colorful band of characters has a serious mission and a strong educational background.

In this episode of The Impact Show, we get to hear how these guys are making a difference from the inside.  They discuss all of the struggles with this approach as well as their successes and how they are making a difference.  We also talk about how difficult it can be to change peoples minds, especially when their education is somewhat limited.

Power Athlete is about to embark on a new journey as they open a new facility in Texas, so we also get to hear their thought process on this move from California and what they’re doing to prepare for it.

For more information on Power Athlete programs, visit PowerAthleteHQ or listen to Power Athlete Radio on your favorite podcast platform.

Freddie Walker: Behind the Scenes – Pitt Strength & Conditioning

Freddie Walker University of Pittsburgh assistant strength & conditioning coach Freddie Walker was a presenter at the 2017 IYCA Summit and is one of 17 authors in the new Principles of Athletic Strength & Conditioning book.  Coach Walker has been a college strength coach for several years, but he also has a background working with young athletes.  Freddie spent two years working in high schools and with athletes as young as eight years old.  In his current position, he has worked with multiple NFL draft picks and some of the finest athletes in the world.  All of this experience gives him a unique perspective on athletic development.

In the video below, Coach Walker gives us a tour of the Pitt strength & conditioning facility and talks about how they create and organize their athletic development programs.  Getting a behind-the-scenes look at how top programs like this are organized can help high school and youth coaches learn how to organize their programs in the most efficient manner possible.

One of the most interesting and important things he says in the video is “We’re not weightlifting coaches or training power lifters.  Our guys are not here on a weight lifting scholarship, they’re here on a football scholarship.  So, everything we do is always geared toward what they need for football.”

This through process is sometimes missed by coaches who are enamored by numbers or who believe their training program is more important that the actual sport.  None of this means that you should train young athletes the same way Freddie Walker trains his athletes, but listening to top professionals discuss their programs can always teach you something.

Coach Freddie Walker authored a chapter on Athletic Assessments in the IYCA Principles of Athletic Strength & Conditioning book.  Click on the image below to pre-order your copy today – available only to the IYCA community.

IYCA Principles of Athletic Strength & Conditioning book

Plyometrics: The Truth and How to Use Them – Joe Powell

One of the most misunderstood, and often misused, training methodologies in the strength and conditioning field today is plyometrics. Far too often exercises that simply involve jumping around in some odd manner are being labeled as a “plyo” drill. It seems the most common culprit is when a coach or trainer calls any type of jump in the presence of a box a plyometric exercise. It should be understood that many physiological principles are taking place when performing a true plyometric exercise.

Plyometrics, by definition, are “an exercise that is a quick, powerful movement using a pre-stretch or countermovement, that involves the stretch shortening cycle.” To elicit this physiological mechanism properly, specific training parameters must be carried out. The end result, when programmed and performed properly, may include improved muscle force and power output.

Even though plyometrics are fairly well researched and can provide immense training benefits, important details regarding the programming and usage remain unknown to coaches and trainers alike. Aspects of plyometrics such as the type, the frequency in which they should be trained, volume of exercises, rest periods, etc. do not receive the heightened awareness that standard anaerobic or aerobic training does. The unfortunate result of this means that many athletes are not reaping the benefits of plyometrics to the greatest extent possible.

Understanding plyometrics correctly requires one to possess an understanding of basic anatomy and exercise physiology. In order to perform a plyometric exercise, the body relies on two physiological models.

The first is known as the mechanical model. It essentially highlights how our muscles and tendons (often referred together as the musculotendinous component) have the ability to store energy created by an eccentric muscle contraction and then use it with a very quick subsequent concentric contraction. This mechanism can be thought of as being similar to a spring. The spring is loaded and has stored energy ready to be used. To utilize the stored energy brought upon by the mechanical model, it’s imperative that the eccentric phase must be immediately followed by a concentric phase. If not, the stored energy is dissipated as heat. Another prerequisite of this model is that the eccentric muscle contraction cannot feature a range of motion that is too large. For example, imagine a basketball player jumping up to block a shot. The player does not completely squat as deep as they possibly can before the jump to reach maximal height.  Instead, they perform a quick ¼ to ½ squat and then jump. If the eccentric muscle action is too great, and the range of motion is too large for that movement, the stored energy will also be dissipated off as heat.

The second physiological model is called the neurophysical model. This model is predicated on the body’s stretch reflex and proprioceptive organs called muscle spindles. When the body experiences a quick stretch of a muscle it results with muscular activity reflexively increasing in the agonist muscle. Plyos rely on the stretch to cause the reflexive response which, in turn, increases the force the muscle produces. Similar to the mechanical model, if there is too long of a period between the eccentric phase and concentric contraction the potential benefit of the stretch reflex will not occur.

Essentially the two models tell us that in order for an exercise to be considered a plyometric it must involve three components:

  1. A stretch of the agonist muscle (eccentric muscle action)
  2. A transition phase/Amoritization phase (the transition between eccentric and concentric phases)
  3. A quick concentric contraction of the agonist muscle.

Together, these three components comprise what is known as the Stretch Shortening Cycle. Understanding at least the basic scientific components of the stretch shortening cycle and its components will be of great assistance for proper programming and utilization of plyometrics.

With a basic scientific primer set in place, one can now better visualize what an actual plyometric looks like. Plyometrics can be performed with both lower body and upper body movements, they can be utilized with both bodyweight and various apparatuses commonly found in a weight room, and most importantly they can be regressed, progressed and modified to fit an athlete’s individual skill-set or athletic-based need.

When designing a program around resistance training and/or aerobic training, many parameters must be set in place. Variables like the mode, intensity, placement/order, number of sets, training volume, rest time and frequency are outlined and set forth by a trainer or coach. When programming plyometrics into a training program, the very same considerations must be present. Often overlooked, there can be severe consequences if proper consideration has not taken place. Therefore, when introducing them into your program, safety should always be at the forefront. Factors such as biological age, training experience, body composition, sport/s played, season type, etc. all need to be considered in when using plyometrics.

plyometrics tuck jumpThe first and most important detail that needs to be recognized by a coach or trainer before taking any athlete through a plyometric drill for the first time is to make sure that they demonstrate proper mechanical form throughout the movement. Since plyos are fast and rapid in nature, the chosen exercise can be performed slowly at first to ensure correct from is in place. If the plyometric exercise chosen involves jumping and leaving the ground, the athlete MUST demonstrate an ability to land safely in a proper and stable position. If athlete safety is compromised during any drill, its potential effectiveness does not outweigh the potential for injury.

Often times, lower body plyometric exercises involve all three major joints of the lower body, and when stressed in a certain way, they can lead to soft tissue injuries. Keeping an eye out for proper alignment of the ankles, hips and especially the knee needs to be at heightened focus on every single repetition. Once an athlete can appropriately show the ability to perform the exercise(s) expected of them, plyometrics can begin to make their way into an athlete’s training program.

To begin designing a plyometric program for your athlete, attention to each of the following program variables needs to take place. It should be noted that certain issues may arise in athletes or clients, and heightened awareness and alterations to training should be made. The list of requirements is meant as a generalized process for programming plyometrics. There will always be certain situations that arise and contradict the detailed factors. Changes can certainly be made, and other programming staples can be added to the list.

Mode: In what manner should plyometrics be done?

To begin utilizing plyometrics with their athletes, strength and conditioning professionals must address a very important question: “What are you trying to accomplish by including plyometrics into a program?” The answer to that question is dependent on several factors.

Certain sports like track and field are quite literally a competition of plyometric exercises. Others like basketball and volleyball require plyometric movements at an all-out intensity to be repeated throughout the course of the game, or an athlete may simply play a sport where they want to increase their speed and become more powerful. Whatever the instance is, a coach should understand how the potential benefits of plyometrics translate to sport and the individual athlete. From there, we can compare it to the other training goals of a strength and conditioning program to begin programming them accordingly. The mode also defines details such as which portion of the body will be receiving plyometric exercises. The strength coach will identify whether training the lower body, upper body, or both with plyometric exercises will be necessary.

Placement/Order: Where should Plyometric exercises appear during a workout?

A thorough warm-up that is structured around the specific muscles, joints and planes of movement that are specific to that day’s training should always take place prior to engaging in plyometric exercises. When choosing the appropriate time to include plyometric exercises during a workout, they should be thought of similarly to the Olympic lifts. The Olympic lifts and plyometrics both require a great deal of technique combined with power, force and speed to complete. Multiple joints are highly stressed and are required to work together or in succession to achieve the desired outcome. Due to all of these factors, it is highly recommended to perform plyometrics, like the Olympic lifts, very early on during the workout. The body should be fresh and the athlete should be able to provide their maximal effort. Plyometric exercises be performed in a non-fatigued state so they should be placed before any resistance training or aerobic conditioning that may take place in the same workout. There are certain circumstances when plyometric exercises can take place concurrently, or after resistance training, or in combination with other types of training like performing speed work. These instances will be directly addressed later in the article.

Intensity: How much stress and force is being placed upon the body?

Plyometric drills are actually intense in nature according to their definition, but just how intense they are can range greatly. Plyometric exercises are classified as low, moderate or high in terms of intensity based on the amount of stress that will be placed on the working joints and musculature associated with the movement. Other factors such as difficulty of the movement, sequence required to perform it, and the presence of external objects will also help define the intensity. Athletes should demonstrate the ability to perform movements starting on the lower end of the intensity spectrum before they gradually move into more moderate and higher intensity exercises.

As mentioned prior, plyometrics may not be for everybody depending on certain factors. Performing high and even some moderate intensity exercises should not be done by certain demographics regardless if they displayed understanding and mechanics on lower intensity plyo drills. Prepubescent children should not partake in high and even moderate intensity exercises because of having their epiphyseal plates still open. This can result in stunted growth and other serious problems. Any circumstances of past or current injury should also always be taken into consideration before allowing an athlete to perform more intense plyometric movements on the spectrum.  Very large or overweight individuals are also at a higher risk of injury during higher intensity plyos, so be aware of who is performing the drills.

Examples of lower body plyometric drill intensity:

Low: skips (regular, backwards, power skips, A/B/C skips), line hops (bilateral), squat jumps, box squat jumps (low box height), box step-up jumps (low box height), alternating box step-up jumps (low box height)

Moderate: Line hops (unilateral), box squat jumps (mid to high box), box step-up jumps (mid to high box height), alternating box step-up jumps (mid to high box height), bounding for distance (single leg alternating),

High: Weighted squat jumps, depth jumps, Unilateral box jumps, Combo jumps (performing multiple repetitions consecutively, or adding in a second movement to take place after the jump is finished)

Frequency: How often should plyometric exercises be performed in a given week?

In regards to programming, frequency is defined as the number of times something occurs in a week. Many factors that have already been mentioned, like training age and sport, yet again come into play when discussing frequency. However, one of the biggest indicators of the frequency in which plyometrics are performed is the time of the training year. In-season training programs will likely see fewer training days containing plyometrics than the off-season will. As a generalized rule, off-season programs could include plyometric training 2-3 times a week, while only 1-2 times per week is necessary for in-season training. As is the case with resistance training, plyometrics tax the body in such a way that requires ample rest and recovery. Researchers and textbooks are suggesting plyometrics should be programmed by focusing on ample recovery and repair after a previous plyometric training session, instead of just an overall frequency and generalized number of days. The time that seems to be optimal for full recovery and repair is 48-72 hours, or simply 2-3 days.

There are certain exceptions to the rule.  For instance, a coach could have their athlete perform lower body plyometrics the day after upper body, or vice versa, and there would not have to be as much recovery time since the plyometric exercises taxed separate body regions.

Training volume: How many sets and repetitions are performed in a given session?

Plyometric training volume is measured in several different ways. Volume depends on the intensity of the exercise, if the exercise is an upper body or lower body plyometric, as well as the goal of plyometric exercise (for example bounding deals with horizontal displacement and can be measured by distance traveled). Plyometric training volume is similar to resistance training volume in that it is expressed by “sets x reps,” but unlike resistance training only certain advanced plyo exercises deal with an athlete overloading the body with an external load. Therefore volume is very rarely measured in terms “sets x reps x weight lifted.”

One of the most standardized ways to measure lower body plyometrics is by how many times an athlete’s foot comes in contact with the ground. This way of measuring volume cannot however, be appropriate for many moderate and most high intensity exercises. Unilateral exercises, depth jumps, high box jumps, and weighted exercises all cause much more stress than a low intensity exercise like line hops. As an athlete progresses through the spectrum of plyometric intensity, note that there should be an inverse relationship between both volume and intensity of the exercise. The classic model for foot contacts is as follows:

  1. Beginner (little to no experience): 80 to 100 total reps
  2. Intermediate (some basic experience): 100 to 120 reps
  3. Advanced (significant experience): 120 to 140 reps.

Plyometric exercises that are overloaded, such as weighted squat jumps, can be measured and programmed just like the Olympic lifts. They should be kept within the Strength and Power repetition threshold (roughly 1 to 6 repetitions) and for 3-4 sets depending on experience and skill level. Upper body exercises that utilize an apparatus like a medicine ball can be expressed by the total number of reps/throws/slams/ tosses and is typically seen with 1-3 sets of 5-10 reps (higher reps are typically okay with these exercises since medicine balls and similar apparatuses are not usually very heavy.)

Rest time: How long between sets should an athlete rest?

Rest times for plyometrics are largely dependent on the type and intensity of the exercise. High intensity exercises like depth jumps and overloaded vertical jumps will require more rest time than lower intensity drills such as line hops and power skips. According to current research trials, common rest times range from 1:5 – 1:10 work:rest ratio. So, if 5 depth jumps takes 20 seconds to finish, the rest period will be close to 3 minutes (1:9 work:rest ratio).

The reasoning behind such long rest periods, even for the low intensity plyo drills, are that plyos require maximal effort in order to improve specific power output that translates to sport. The other major reason is very similar when performing sprinting drills. Both plyometrics and sprint training require powerful movements that rely on proper technique to achieve the best possible results. If there is insufficient rest time between sets or reps, the athlete will most likely still be tired or fatigued, which causes a breakdown in technique and power output. When exercises are performed with poor technique and they are not fully rested, the results are sub-par. The physiological adaptations that coincide with plyometrics just simply won’t occur to the highest possible extent. Over time an athlete may even adapt to the poor technique and can risk that becoming the new standard because it has been practiced and learned.

Alternative ways to Program Plyometric exercises

Once the proper foundation for plyometric programming has been set and they have been properly programmed into an athlete’s training routine, adaptation and advancement will  likely take place. For athletes that are advanced enough, there are methods studied by physiologists to enhance the adaptations seen within plyometric training even further.

There is a specific style referred to as “Contrast Training” that achieves these adaptations. Contrast training relies on what is known as post-activation potentiation, or PAP for short. PAP is believed to allow for the working muscle’s overall power output to be greater after being taxed at, or near, maximal effort.  Essentially, contrast training calls for the athlete to perform a heavy set of 3-6 repetitions of an exercise followed by a handful of repetitions of a plyometric exercise.

Research shows that this concept of PAP works due to increased motor unit recruitment, enhanced motor unit synchronization and greater input to the motor neuron, among several other mechanisms and theories relating to hormonal and metabolic factors. This style of training is reserved for advanced athletes only. A sample of exercise pairings that could be used in contrast training are as follows:

Snatch Broad Jump

Squat Squat Jump

Bench Press Plyo Push-up

Deadlift/RDL Medball Reverse Toss

Loaded Sled Push/Sled Tow Sprints

As mentioned earlier there are so many factors that should be considered when programming plyometric exercises. A comprehensive needs analysis as well as knowledge of your athlete’s capabilities, injury history and goals will be necessary when utilizing this great exercise mode for everything it’s worth.

This brief review of plymetrics should help coaches make informed decisions about how to best incorporate them into an overall strength & conditioning program.

Joe Powell is an Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach and Adjunct Faculty Member at Central Michigan University.  He teaches classes in the Department of Health and Human Performance and works primarily with the Chippewa football team.  Joe is a regular contributor to the IYCA Insiders program and has been a huge part of bringing the Behind the Science series to the IYCA.  Get more of Joe’s contributions in the IYCA Insiders membership.

 

Don’t Get Strong Wrong

Among the many concepts I’ve learned from my experiences as a strength and conditioning coach is: “Don’t get strong wrong.” 

Simple and straight to the point. Getting strong wrong is simply loading up athletes on lifts where their mechanics are either poor to begin with, or are being affected negatively due to the load being too heavy for the athlete to complete a full range of motion. This is where we see half squats, rounded backs on deadlifts, barbells stapling athlete’s chests on the bench press, cleans being pulled in atrociously inefficient manners, etc. The list goes on and on. The implications are numerous and can prove to be quite detrimental for the athlete.

This phrase perfectly depicts how poor strength coaches reveal themselves. Unfortunately athletes getting “strong wrong” is occurring more often than not at both the high school, colleges and private facilities across the country.

When an athlete adds weight to a dysfunctional movement, the risk of injury increases exponentially. This is brutally counterproductive considering one of the main responsibilities of a strength and conditioning coach is to prevent injuries. Athletes exposed to months, or years, of dysfunctional strength training may take just as long to properly learn or improve these imperative movements with less weight, and thus are not accomplishing the goals set forth by their strength coach. Time is of the essence when it comes to youth, high school, or collegiate level athletes. Having to take precious time to fix bad habits limits their potential under a strength coach’s watch.

Secondly, the poor motor patterns that are now being learned by athletes can become ingrained in the nervous system, and thus cause a multitude of problems down the road. Joint mobility and flexibility are sacrificed which leads to frequent soft tissue injuries taking place on the practice and playing field. It is assumed that to develop strength throughout the joint’s full range of motion, training must be performed throughout that range. A great example is provided when further dissecting the squat.

Studies show that maximum quad EMG is displayed at 80+ degrees of a squat and that maximum glute EMG is at 90+ degrees. We know that getting parallel to the ground is shown at 90 degrees but with athletes taking short cuts due to heavy weight they are neglecting two enormous muscle groups that are responsible for joint actions that are crucial for sport. Coaches need to remember that these are athletes they are working with, and sports are unpredictable. Taxing the body through its full range of motion with a little less weight, as opposed to overloading the body with a half rep, will better prepare the body for the unknown bends and twists that are associated with sports.

Lastly, what getting strong wrong does to an athlete’s psyche can be just as problematic as the physical repercussions. Coaches that teach or allow improper form, yet record the results, lead kids to believe they are capable of much more than they actually are. These young athletes boast about their weight room numbers (and 40 yard dash times) that are so far from the truth it’s painful to listen to. I’ve listened to dozens of kids talk about their massive squat numbers only to watch them perform half reps.  The problem stems from coaches pumping kids up and wanting to show off these big numbers to make it look like they are the best strength coach around for producing such great results.  There is a fine line between boosting confidence and creating delusion.

Smart coaches understand games aren’t won with deceptive bench press numbers, but rather with healthy athletes who are able to play to the best of their ability. At certain levels, the strength coach is around their athletes more often than their position or head coaches. Actions and messages portrayed by the strength coach can often resonate with athletes. Pushing these false standards of success can send out the message that it’s okay to cut corners. Keep the lessons and messages honest. After all, one of the best privileges of being a coach of any kind is seeing an athlete grow to become an honorable human being, not just a standout on the playing field.

So what can coaches do to prevent the bad habit of getting strong wrong? The easiest answer would be to simply teach athletes proper execution from day one, then begin progressive overload in a safe and efficient manner.  For those working with large groups or teams, the ability to perform sound repetitions with a full range of motion simply won’t occur with every athlete. Varying levels of skill and experience are evident at every turn. A coach must focus on the following:

  1. Performing a well-executed warm-up involving the desired muscles and joints that will be utilized during the specific exercise and session.
  2. When introducing a new exercise, or covering a more advanced movement, always begin by teaching a bodyweight version, a regressed version, or utilizing teaching aids (dowels, practice bars, etc.) to perform the exercise.
  3. Progress an exercise or begin to progressively overload in a safe manner when proper range of motion and understanding of the exercise has taken place.
  4. Possess a coaching repertoire of regressions, modifications, and simple weight room aids to solve any dysfunctional patterns that occur.

Not every athlete will learn or progress at the same pace. Many factors come into play such as age, sex, training status, height, weight, etc. A successful strength coach should always be able to teach proper movement mechanics and make any adjustment necessary to prevent getting strong wrong.

 

Joe Powell is an Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach and Adjust Faculty Member at Central Michigan University.  He has experience in a variety of settings including Division I Athletics, private sports performance, high school S & C, personal training and teaching college courses.

 

The IYCA High School Strength & Conditioning Specialist Certification is the only certification geared toward training high school aged athletes.  Click on the image below to learn more about this unique product.

Eric Cressey on Finding Your Niche

Eric Cressey is at the top of the baseball training world.  His company Cressey Performance has become synonymous with high-level baseball training, but it didn’t start out that way.  Early in Eric’s career, he was simply learning about anatomy, physiology and how to train.  Eventually, he had the opportunity to work with baseball players, and over time, he realized that this was his niche.  He loved it.  He was great at it.  And, it was a good market for him.

At this point in his career, and in the grand scheme of the industry, he feels like developing a niche is necessary for long-term success.  “you’re going see more examples of people specializing.  For example Jim Kielbaso is working with football guys, Mike Boyle is working with hockey, Mike Robertson is working with soccer – that’s the direction I see this going” said Cressey in a recent interview.

“With that said, it’s really, really hard to force these things because there are a lot of things you have to realize. You have to realize it’s important to beeric-cressey-3 passionate about something beyond just monetary gains. As an example, I did a little bit of NBA combine prep towards the end of my U-Conn experience, so I had some time in it.  When I got into the baseball world, what basically happens is you’re swamped from the second week in September all the way up until the first week in March. And then you have six weeks to gather your thoughts before you start going with your summer guys.  It’s a tough schedule.  So I’ve had some agents who represent baseball players as well as basketball players and football guys, and they’ve asked me if I’d be interested in doing NBA combine or NFL combine prep.  While it sounds great, that would be walking away from the four weeks of quiet that I get each year. You have to be passionate about it but you have to be passionate about it beyond just monetary gains because if I try to be everything to everybody, it doesn’t work. Our baseball guys appreciate us even more because they don’t see a bunch of 350 pound offensive linemen walking around, and I don’t look like a guy who’s going to play linebacker in the NFL, so you have to be able to want it for more than just money.”

That’s advice anyone in the training world can listen to, because sustaining passion is hard work.  It takes something deep inside to keep going day after day, even when things are perfect.

“You can’t be a 110% on everything. Nobody can read all the journal articles on something like pitching injuries and everything that goes into that, and also know everything about the NFL or the NHL or youth training. I think you have to find something you really like and you’re also really good at. For example,  shoulders and elbows can be really, really complex. I’m a very good shoulder and elbow guy. I’m terrible when it comes to foot and ankle. I probably wouldn’t be a good foot and ankle physical therapist. So, you have to be able to acquire the information easily to really take over a niche.”

Eric also realizes that there’s more to things that just “wanting it” or being good at something.

“It also has to be substantial or sustainable. You’re probably not going have an incredible hockey development program in Mexico, you know? People have to realize that as well. That was something that we wrestled with for a long time.  We weren’t sure if we could build this baseball training mecca in Hudson, Massachusetts. We didn’t really know whether that’d be possible. We had to test the waters.  Eventually, high school guys became college guys, and college guys became pro guys, and then we ultimately decided we could expand our reach by opening another facility in Florida. Your business model has to be able to accommodate whatever you’re trying to do.”

You also have to make the environment friendly to the group you’re trying to attract.  One step into Cressey Performance and you know it’s all about baseball.

eric-cressey-facility“It’s hard to really grow a specific niche if you can’t outfit your facility to accommodate it. When you walk in our facility in Massachusetts, we’ve got two big tunnels for pitching and throwing and now doing video, and stuff like that makes a big difference. If we didn’t have that it would be harder to cater to baseball players.”

There’s also something to be said for being the first at anything.

“It’s also really hard if you’re not one of the first to market. We were probably the first people to be really specific in baseball strength and conditioning. We effectively bridge the gap between rehab and high performance. That’s what you need for baseball and we did it first in our area, so it’s really hard to compete with us if someone wants us to come to Massachusetts and start training baseball players.  It’s a challenge because we’re very well-connected in that area.  If you have an elbow issue we can get you in with an elbow specialist that afternoon. We know who the best physical therapists are. You know we can get guys passes at Fenway before a Red Sox game.  We can deliver a quality experience that goes with the expertise, and while they’re here, chances are they’re rubbing elbow with other big league baseball player in the office. So, from a business standpoint, it’s very, very hard to compete with us in the baseball niche because we were one of the first to market, and we’ve really worked hard to stay on top of things and really nurture that presence nationwide.”HSSC

Eric is a co-author of the IYCA High School Strength & Conditioning Certification – the only certification focused specifically on training high school aged athletes.  Read another article by Eric Cressey on Youth Training.

Acceleration Correlates Highly to On-field Performance

In the late 90’s, the strength coaches at the University of Nebraska did some internal research to determine which physical tests had the highest correlation to the ability to play the game of football.  They put their athletes through a large battery of tests including the 40-yard dash, pro-agility shuttle, vertical jump, several strength tests and numerous other drills.

Next, they had the football coaches rate each player’s on-field ability.  They wanted to find out which athletes were the most effective on the field.

They ran a statistical analysis on all of the data figure out which tests had the highest correlation to on-field success.

They figured that, if any of the tests correlated highly to on-field success, they would be able to create programs to improve those tests.

The test that had the highest correlation to on-field ability was the 10-yard sprint.   In other words, the ability to accelerate allows an athlete to perform at a higher level on the field.acceleration

I’d be willing to bet that the ability to accelerate also has a high correlation to the ability to many sports.  Soccer, basketball, baseball, softball, lacrosse, field hockey, track sprints, etc. are all heavily dependent on an athlete’s ability to accelerate over and over again.

The ability to cover ground faster than an opponent will put an athlete in position to make plays throughout a game, and having just one step on that opponent can be the difference between making a play or not.

So, when you’re training athletes, keep in mind what’s important, and be sure to spend plenty of time addressing the ability to accelerate.

To truly improve acceleration, mechanics MUST be addressed early and often.  The athlete must learn how to produce horizontal force, and this doesn’t always feel natural.  It also requires a lot of rest between sets in order to maintain a high level of intensity.  Acceleration work should occur relatively early in a workout, and you should stick to distances under 20 yards.

The volume of work doesn’t necessarily need to be high, but this needs to be worked on frequently in order for the nervous system to retain changes in mechanics.

A sample workout may look like this:

  • Warm-up
  • Acceleration instruction
  • 5 x 10-yard sprints
  • 5 x 10-yard sprints with a weighted sled at 15% of body-weight
  • 2 x 10-yard sprints (contrast training)
  • 2 x 20-yard sprints

This could be done in 20 minutes, leaving plenty of time to work on other things like conditioning, agility or strength development.

It is recommended to work on acceleration 2-4 days/week, and it can even be inserted into your warm-up routine.  It doesn’t have to be lumped together like the sample program above.  You can insert a few short sprints into a warm-up routine that is done every day.

I realize that this is just scratching the surface on acceleration training, but it is covered in much greater depth in the Ultimate Speed Mechanics materials.  I will be bringing you more tips and videos on how to help your athletes accelerate with maximum power and speed, so stay tuned.

Jim Kielbaso

ultimate-speed-mechanics

 

Preparing HS Athletes for College – Your Role as Coach

How You Can Prepare Your HS Athletes for College

LacrosseDo you have athletes that dream of playing in college?

As performance coaches, you have the opportunity to play a large role in the success of athletes making that “jump” to the next level.

We know that there are many coaches that do this really really well, and one of them is Coach Jim Kielbaso. He is our resident expert on, well – just about everything 🙂

We knew that it was time to sit down with him and talk shop, and you can see the entire video in our Exclusive Insiders All-Access Membership. We spoke about exactly what athletes need from their performance coaches to be prepared to play at that next level.

Usually we keep this pretty exclusive, but some things are just too good not to share with everyone! There are many things that can be done to help make the transition from HS to College Sports a little bit “easier”. Here are 4 from the exclusive video.

Four Ways to Make the Transition from HS to College Sports

#1: Identify goals early on

Try to decipher what your athlete ultimately is striving for. Do they want to play at the next level? Are they committed to the challenges?

#2: Network with college coaches

If an athlete identifies that they want to play at the next level, then it’s time to start networking. Speak with collegiate coaches (ideally at the school where the athlete has applied/is accepted) and start understanding what is “next” for your athlete.

#3: Get your athletes in REALLY good shape

Let’s face it, this is completely your wheelhouse! The best thing you can do for an athlete that wants to take their game to the next level is get them physically ready. The Long Term Athletic Development Model is the best way to get them prepared to perform.

#4: Teach good technique

This goes right along with getting them in “REALLY good shape”. They must be able to perform the fundamentals really really well. Again, it is about the long-term approach.

Realizing that you don’t always have the luxury of training a kid for many years before college, it’s your job to make sure the technique is mastered before moving on to “bigger and better”.

Want access to the entire video—–>Become an IYCA Insiders Member for $1 today.


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Retaining HS Athletes from Sport Season to Sport Season

Keeping HS Athletes from Season to Season

RAW and UNCUT with Jim Kielbaso (seriously…if you want to laugh, you need to watch this video in its entirety…in this video, Jim and Julie get taken by surprise…and it was really worth leaving in)

In this video, Jim Kielbaso talks about an all-too-common issue that High School Strength & Conditioning professionals deal with daily! Retaining athletes from season to season.

High School Strength & Conditioning professionals have the power to educate and coordinate one of the most important programs in a kids athletic career, their Strength & Conditioning Program.

It isn’t always easy, but it IS the best thing for the athlete.

Take the time to talk to other coaches and parents of your athletes to provide a program that is the most conducive to their success. WATCH the video above to learn more about retaining athletes from sport season to sport season.


Want to Help Your Athletes Get Prepared to Perform?

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Lessons From the “Greats”

They Do it Again and Again…Lessons from the “Greats”

There are a lot of lessons that High School Strength & Conditioning Professionals can learn from the “greats” in sports. Names like Bolt, Walsh and Phelps likely resonate with you in some way.

They are great athletes, but not only that…they repeat greatness on a daily basis.

What if you could help your athletes become “their” great?! 🙂

Making a positive impact on youth through great coaching can help your athletes live up to their potential. They all have the abilities to do something great. How will you help them?

In this video, Dr. Haley Perlus talks about what makes Bolt, Walsh and Phelps so spectacular. The best thing is you can teach your high school athletes these skills as well. That’s right, skills like having fun, being “real”, having the mindset to compete and focusing on the little things.

These are just a few things that Dr. Perlus talks about in this 6 minute video. Watch the video above now.


Want to Help Your Athletes with the Mental Side of Their Game?

Want to Enable Them to Succeed Again and Again? Here is a FREE RESOURCE FOR YOU to get started!

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Keys to Unlocking the High School Athlete’s Potential

How to Unlock the High School Athlete’s Potential

(Note: we apologize for the background noise on this video, but please enjoy the content).

There are many responsibilities of the High School Strength & Conditioning Coach. However, when the end-goal is to have a positive impact on your athletes, teaching the “keys” to unlocking their potential is close to #1!

In this video blog, Jim Kielbaso gives you the keys to being a great athlete, and you may be surprised to know that they have nothing to do with talent!

Sure, talent matters. However, when it comes down to it, if a kid has all the talent in the world but lacks these “keys”, then they won’t live up to their potential. Watch the video above now!


Want to Help Your Athletes with the Mental Side of Their Game?

Here is a FREE RESOURCE FOR YOU

GET MY MENTAL TOUGHNESS CHECKLIST

 

LTAD Can Change the Lives of HS Athletes

LTAD Complements the HS S&C Coach

In this video, Jim Kielbaso gives you some insight into how the LTAD Model complements the goals of the High School Strength & Conditioning Coach.

Start with the young kids coming to the weight room. Enjoy your time with the super strong and older kids, but find those kids that aren’t doing a great job, and help them become better at it!

He gives a great example of just how a HS S&C coach can make a HUGE impact on a young athlete, taking that awkward kid and turning him/her into a confident collegiate athlete!

Pro Tips:

1. Work with kids when they first get into the weight room.

2. Focus on the Freshman.

3. The long-term success of your program hinges on early-on instruction and programming.

4. LOVE THEM UP!

Watch the video for more!!


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