Archive for “High School Athletes” Category

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.


Want to Learn More About Preparing Athletes for the World of College Sports?

Come see our exclusive content for $1, plus get exclusive bonuses that will catapult your training.

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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!

GET MY MENTAL TOUGHNESS CHECKLIST

 

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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How Resistance Band Training Can Impact a Strength & Conditioning Program – Part 3

Using Bands to Conveniently Impact a Strength & Conditioning Program

Resistance bands are easily the most convenient and effective way to work on first step speed mechanics as it relates to acceleration and deceleration.

Not only are bands easy to attach to the body but their ascending resistance allows athletes to load both acceleration and deceleration phases of running.

7. First Step Acceleration

It’s a well known fact that if an athlete can win the first 3 steps during a play in a game, they are probably going to experience good success continually throughout the game and probably win the event.

Resistance bands make it very easy to train large groups of athletes to increase first step speed and reaction. As a coach, partner-based first step speed training requires minimal setup or space to implement and is relatively easy for athletes to quickly learn.

As for the athlete, they are able to instantly feel the difference it makes on their quickness and agility within only a couple of training sessions. These two factors alone instantly make it successful.

These drills are typically done in a partner attached setup with athletes alternating while performing 3 or 4 sets of 5 reps. Because these drills will emphasize acceleration, the athlete only has to focus on getting out quickly against the band resistance.

Once learned, coaches can build in reaction starts through the use of whistle start hand signals.

Shuffle Acceleration Drill

 

8. First Step Deceleration

Once acceleration training is mastered, athletes can begin to work on deceleration by training under what is called a pre-loaded band setup. Performing the same drills, athletes now focus on learning how to decelerate under band-driven momentum.

Just like applying weight to increase strength, the band applies a resistance that the body has to overcome in order to become stronger at decelerating or slowing down momentum.

Shuffle Deceleration Drill

 

9. Partner Resisted Running

Once first step acceleration and deceleration speed drills are mastered, longer amplitude linear speed training can be implemented using a training approach called partner resisted running.

With partner resisted running, partners work together to challenge each other to run under a controlled resistance for 15 to 20 yards.

Partner resisted running allows athletes to now take their first step speed training through longer amplitudes of movement.

Here Is An Example of Partner-Based Forward Running

 

10. Implementing Non-Traditional Strength Training

The final way that resistance bands can be implemented into an off-season strength program is by using them to simulate non-traditional strength training drills like resisted crawling, towing, pushing or lunging.

In many cases these types of drills are used with specially designed equipment that increases cost and the need for greater training space. With a flat band’s ability to attach onto the body in multiple ways, it allows them to provide resistance to non-traditional movements that, in turn, challenges total body strength and coordination.

Non-Traditional Speed-Strength Training

Flat continuously looped layered bands, like the Quantum Band, provides coaches and their athletes with the ability to train all aspects of performance. They also allow them to simulate specific exercises and unique training approaches that historically required specialized equipment and additional resources.

Resistance band versatility makes it very easy and convenient to implement key aspects of an off-season training program without the need for added equipment, space or resources.

Dave Schmitz – The Band Man


About the Author: Dave Schmitz

Dave SchmitzDave Schmitz (aka…The Band Man) is the Co-Owner of Resistance Band Training Systems, LLC and the creator of https://resistancebandtraining.com, the only website exclusively devoted to training with large continuously looped resistance bands.

Dave has a unique professional background and vast experience as an orthopedic physical therapist, performance enhancement specialist, certified strength and conditioning specialist along with 27 plus years of living fitness and performance training.

All of this has allowed him to turn a simple 41-inch resistance band into an incredibly multi-faceted total training experience for 1000’s of athletes and fitness enthusiasts around the world—while helping 100’s of fitness professionals and coaches get their clients or athletes BETTER with BANDS.

How Resistance Band Training Can Impact a Strength & Conditioning Program – Part 2

Using Bands for Versatility in Your Strength & Conditioning Program

The ability to combine bands with free weights, create efficient metabolic circuits and safely be used to introduce strength training to younger middle school athletes adds to their off-season versatility.

4. Contrast Free Weight Band Training

Most off–season strength training programs are built around 6 or 8 week cycles that are designed to gradually improve absolute strength. In many cases after a cycle of this nature is completed the body needs what is called a de-load week.

This is a week where an athlete is allowed to let their body recover, heal and re-energize after performing a multi-week cycle of heavy gravity-based free weight strength training. It is during this de-load week that resistance bands play a significant role in allowing the body to continue strength training while still allowing muscles and joints to recover.

During this phase, barbell–band contrast training or band only exercises are implemented. This change of pace training allows the body to experience a completely different strength training stimulus while continuing to improve on common strength training patterns of movement.

Here are a few examples of easy to implement contrast band training exercises using bands in conjunction with frequently used barbell exercises.

Barbell-Band Bench

Barbell-Band Squat

Barbell-Band Dead-lift

Barbell-Band Push Press

5. Circuit-Based Metabolic Training

As the off-season progresses, metabolic conditioning becomes increasingly more important in preparing the high school athlete for their upcoming pre-season.

Resistance band’s ability to simulate any strength exercise while providing unlimited resistance and lightweight portability allows easy station circuit-based workouts to be set up and implemented anywhere.

Posterior Chain Metabolic Circuit

6. Middle School Strength Training

One of the safest ways to implement a middle school strength training program is through the use of body weight exercises. It teaches body awareness as well as core stability while still working against gravity.

Unfortunately not all young middle school athletes can effectively perform simple body weight exercises like squats, push-ups, pull-ups or single leg squat variations.

Resistance bands can supplement a body weight strength training program in 4 ways.

First, they can be used to assist body weight exercises to allow athletes to learn how to properly perform basic body weight exercises through full ranges of motion.

Second, bands can be used to apply added resistance to body weight exercises by quickly attaching the band onto the body.

Third, bands can be used to create unique exercises besides body weight movements that can increase exercise variety while influencing movements body weight exercises can’t.

Last, since most middle schools are not able to properly outfit a strength training room, resistance bands provide a highly cost effective way to introduce young middle school athletes to a simple strength training program.

Part 3 will turn the focus towards using bands as a speed development training tool to enhance both acceleration and deceleration while training both linear and lateral planes of movement.

Dave Schmitz – The Band Man


About the Author: Dave Schmitz

Dave SchmitzDave Schmitz (aka…The Band Man) is the Co-Owner of Resistance Band Training Systems, LLC and the creator of https://resistancebandtraining.com, the only website exclusively devoted to training with large continuously looped resistance bands.

Dave has a unique professional background and vast experience as an orthopedic physical therapist, performance enhancement specialist, certified strength and conditioning specialist along with 27 plus years of living fitness and performance training.

All of this has allowed him to turn a simple 41-inch resistance band into an incredibly multi-faceted total training experience for 1000’s of athletes and fitness enthusiasts around the world—while helping 100’s of fitness professionals and coaches get their clients or athletes BETTER with BANDS.

How Resistance Band Training Can Impact a Strength & Conditioning Program – Part 1

Impacting a HS Year Round Strength & Conditioning Program with Bands

As a strength and conditioning coach of a local high school where I have over 80 young high school athletes training in our weight room 4 days per week, I am constantly evaluating our efficiency and results.

Resistance bands have easily been our most versatile and cost effective training tool to date. Not only do the kids find bands to be extremely challenging to train with, but they also enjoy the ability to improve their free weight training results.

Anytime we can provide a training tool that motivates high school athletes to work harder, train more frequently and enjoy doing it, only good things happen.

I would like to share 10 ways, as a coach, you can implement continuously looped resistance bands into a high school strength and conditioning program.

1. Dynamic Flexibility Training

No question the greatest impact on keeping young athletes healthy, besides strength training, is making sure their joints and muscles are able to move freely through a full range of motion on demand.

A majority of youth injuries are directly associated with flexibility deficits due to frequent growth spurts. Unfortunately athletes do not like to stretch and if they do stretch, it’s often using simple body-weight movements performed poorly.

Band stretching allows athletes to use the band to passively and actively lengthen out key muscles of the hip and shoulder. Using a tool, in this case the band, to stretch seems to provide athletes with an added motivation to routinely perform a dynamic stretching routine.

This series of band stretches performed before every lift or running workout allows athletes to follow a routine program. Over time it creates permanent soft tissue length changes that athletes quickly recognize.

What’s even more interesting is the longer athletes perform the band stretching routine, the more they begin to appreciate the importance of flexibility and how it directly impacts improvement in strength, speed and power. These are not often recognized as flexibility benefits.

Dynamic Band Stretching with Young Athletes

2. Trunk and Hip Activation

The importance of establishing good activation of the trunk and hip stabilizers pre-workout is pretty well documented.

Using the same single band that was incorporated in the band stretching routine, athletes can quickly perform a series of resisted planks or hip stabilization exercises that will optimally prepare them for any running or lifting workout.

This series of band stabilization drills makes it convenient and easy to flow directly from stretching into a muscle activation series of exercises.

Simple Core Activation Exercises

3. Auxiliary Training

Free weight training should be a key part of any high school athletic-based strength program. However, regardless if that type of program emphasizes the use of kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells or sandbags, the type of resistance remains the same in that it is a gravity dependent constant resistance.

Resistance bands provide an ascending resistance that is not reliant on gravity. As a result, continuously looped bands can be used to create auxiliary exercises following different planes of motion or movement patterns while impacting muscles significantly different than free weights.

Combining straight plane free weight movements with multi-plane, multi-resistance vector band strength training allows the body to eliminate weak links in what is a total kinetic chain, tri-plane structure.

5 Best Lower Body Band Exercises for Youth Strength Training

5 Best Upper Body Band Exercises for Youth Strength Training

Stay tuned for Part 2 which will cover how to use resistance bands to improve barbell strength and sport specific conditioning as well as using them to develop a safe and effective middle school strength development program.

Dave Schmitz – The Band Man


About the Author: Dave Schmitz

Dave SchmitzDave Schmitz (aka…The Band Man) is the Co-Owner of Resistance Band Training Systems, LLC and the creator of https://resistancebandtraining.com, the only website exclusively devoted to training with large continuously looped resistance bands.

Dave has a unique professional background and vast experience as an orthopedic physical therapist, performance enhancement specialist, certified strength and conditioning specialist along with 27 plus years of living fitness and performance training.

All of this has allowed him to turn a simple 41-inch resistance band into an incredibly multi-faceted total training experience for 1000’s of athletes and fitness enthusiasts around the world—while helping 100’s of fitness professionals and coaches get their clients or athletes BETTER with BANDS.
 

3 Tips to Help Educate Your Athlete’s Parents on LTAD

In this video, IYCA Ambassador and Expert Phil Hueston gives you 3 tips to help educate the parents that you work with.

Pro Tips:
1. Be crystal clear about what THEY want.
2. Relate directly to the developmental sequence in life.
3. Use simple phrases to translate the science behind the training.

Watch this video for the details on each of these tips!


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5 Tips to a Healthy Football Season – And Any Sports Season

Football Season is Here

The season is upon us. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s football season. The time of year where you can lose more friends than in an election year. So with that said, 2016 may be an interesting year. Let’s call 2017 the year of reconciliations.

If you are an athlete, football season can be grueling and can wear you down. If you are a coach, it can do the same thing. If you are a parent…well, parents have it easy. All you have to do is print out this article, tape it to the fridge, and your young athlete will follow all 5 tips, right?

The goal of this quick article is to give the athletes 5 tips to a healthy football season and give coaches some things to harp on with your athletes. In a loving way, of course.

5 Tips to Having a Healthy Football Season

Tip #1: Nutrition

Eating “properly” for performance is a year long struggle for the young athlete and can get even more difficult during football season. One of the hardest goals to meet is getting the calories an athlete needs to perform. With lunch around noon and practice after school, kids can go 6-7 hours without eating in the afternoon.

Pro Tip: Bringing snacks to school is important to fill those huge gaps in the day. But don’t forget, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Don’t skip it.

Tip #2: Strength Train

If we work hard in the off-season, why lose all those “GAINS” during the season? Yea, I know, “I don’t have any time” or “we gotta spend that time watching film” is a common reason for skipping strength training. Time can be of the essence, but 2 days a week minimum is a must! Get into the weight room.

Pro Tip: The main goal in-season is to combat muscular imbalances that are caused by the season which CAN help prevent injuries. Oh yea, athletes CAN get stronger in-season! Don’t skip out on strength training during the season. Your off-season will thank you!

Tip #3: Sleep

You know what? I love video games too! I think it’s important to have fun with friends but don’t let it affect the season. Athletes need 8-9+ hours of sleep each night so the body can repair itself. Period.

Tip #4: Injuries

This is a big one for highly motivated athletes. Nobody likes to be hurt and miss games. But that slightly rolled ankle can quickly turn into a season ending injury if not treated correctly. There is a big difference between some bumps and bruises and an injury that can lead to something more serious.

Pro Tip: Maintain a good working relationship with ATC’s and make sure injuries are discussed.

Tip #5: Academics

Poor academics can lead to ZERO play time. Make school work a priority. Time management is one of the skills athletes will need to learn as a student athlete.

Pro Tip: Take advantage of free time. Use study hall for studying and homework (obviously), and use bus rides for the same thing. Being an athlete is work!

Have a Productive Football Season

Parents, I hope this is “fridge worthy”. Coaches, keep these tips in the front of your mind when it comes to your athletes. I hope that your football athletes will use these 5 tips to have a healthy and productive football season.

Josh Ortegon


About the Author: Josh Ortegon

Josh Ortegon - 5 Tips to a Healthy Football SeasonJoshua Ortegon is co-founder and the Director of Sports Performance Enhancement at Athlete’s Arena in Irmo, SC. Joshua earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Western Michigan University in 2000.

As an IYCA-certified High School Strength and Conditioning Specialist, speaker, and writer, Joshua has helped establish Athlete’s Arena as the premier high-performance center in South Carolina since 2005.

Joshua has worked with a wide range of athletes from youth to professionals specializing in the areas of injury prevention, return to play and performance enhancement.


Are Your Athletes Prepared to Perform this Season?

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Regressions and Progressions in Multiple Training Blocks [Part 1]

Regressions and Progressions

Introduction

soccer-1341849_640Team training can be challenging. There are a variety of factors that have to be taken into account when working with large groups and sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming.

When programming for a diverse population, it is important to account for the various needs of the group in order to ensure success. Injury history, physiological age and ability level are just a few of the factors that need to be considered when developing your training programs.

These factors become even more important when you will be working with the same group for an extended amount of time. This will be a 2-part blog series that will explain this process.

This blog post will focus primarily on what must initially be considered in order to program for the long-term effectively. The second post will focus on specific examples of progressions and regressions and how to utilize those in LTAD programming.

#1 Backward Design

It is important to begin with the end in mind. As the coach, you must determine what your top tier exercises will look like in your program. A top tier exercise should be the most advanced exercise your athlete will reach while training.

After determining what your top tier exercises are, you will work backward to determine what exercises you need to help your athletes reach the top tier of your program.

Pro Tip: Begin with your most advanced exercise and work backward.

Squats

#2 Developing Multiple Training Blocks

Developing multiple training blocks is necessary to implement regressions and progressions effectively in team training LTAD models.

A 9th grade 14-year-old athlete is much different from an 18-year-old athlete physically, psychologically and emotionally. You must also account for the junior in high school who has never lifted weights.

Differentiated training blocks will allow you to do this effectively. You must develop training blocks that set them up for long-term success. One of the most effective ways to do this is to implement a model that utilizes progressions and regressions of the same type of exercise.

Developing this type of program will allow you to differentiate for large groups of athletes while keeping your athletes on a similar plan.

Pro Tip: This is an example of a lower body squat emphasis day for these athletes.

Developmental Level Exercise
Blue (Seniors – 17-18 years old) Back Squat
Gold (Juniors – 16-17-years old) Front Squat
Gray (Sophomores – 15-16 years old) Overhead Squat
White (Freshmen – 14-15 years old) Kettlebell Goblet Squat

#3 Developing a Deep Toolbox

Developing a deep exercise toolbox is a must if you want to meet the individual needs of your athletes, while at the same time setting them up for long-term success.

It is important to evaluate your athletes in order to determine the correct exercise for each individual athlete. An athletic profile should be developed from the assessment process, which will aid in exercise selection for your athletes.

Use a method which determines a baseline exercise every athlete should be able to complete before progressing forward. Look for a couple of progressions forward and several regressions backward.

There should be a reason and defense for all of your progressions and regressions in your programming. Develop a deep toolbox, but do not get too far out there in your programming for developmental athletes. Master the basics with this age group.

Pro Tip: Here is an example of progressions and regressions on a lower body squat day.

Progression & Regression Levels Exercise
P2 Barbell Back Squat
P1 Barbell Front Squat
Baseline Exercise Barbell Overhead Squat
R1 Kettlebell Overhead Squat
R2 Kettlebell Front Squat
R3 Kettlebell Goblet Squat
R4 Bodyweight Squat

Conclusion

This is the process to use to begin plugging progressions and regressions into your developmental blocks in an LTAD plan. Part 2 of this blog will get very specific with real life examples of what this looks like at Battle Ground Academy.


About the Author: Fred Eaves

Fred EavesFred Eaves
– Ed.S, M.Ed, CSCS, RSCC, IYCA, USAW, USATF
– BIOFORCE Conditioning Coach Certified
– 2015 NSCA H.S. Strength Coach of the Year
– 2013 Samson Equipment & AFM H.S. Strength Coach of The Year


Prepare Your Athletes To Perform

Learn how to leverage the Long-Term Athletic Development Model to ensure your athletes are prepared to perform. In expert Wil Fleming’s free 7-minute video and PDF checklist, he covers how to create a training system that prepares young athletes to move better, get stronger, and enhance their performance.

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Overcome Summer Programming Hurdles [High School]

Overcoming Summer Programming Hurdles

Programming for the high school athlete during the summer has its challenges. Does it seem like the summer is getting shorter and shorter?

Here are 6 hurdles you will see if you work with high school athletes. More importantly, check out the Pro Tips for ways to overcome them!

Hurdle #1: Vacations

Families want to use the summer for vacations and let’s face it, they can’t always plan it around a strength and conditioning program.

Often they are planned around work schedules and other siblings. As a performance coach, it is challenging to adjust for every athlete when there are 30, 40 and up to 100 kids involved in summer programming.

summer-814679_640Pro Tip: Set the expectations at the beginning of the program. For example, expect athletes to make a certain percentage of the summer workouts.

You can also give athletes a supplemental workout for vacations, so they are still getting the benefits of your program, even if they can’t attend.

Hurdle #2: Sports Camps

It’s summer camp season, which is not a bad thing. However, it can have its challenges for the performance coach. Consulting with parents and players about which camps the athlete attends is very important.

Too many sports camps can have a negative outcome, not because they are a “bad camp”, but because it can be too much in combination with a summer strength & conditioning program. There is a balance, which will reduce the risk of over-training and burnout.

Pro Tip:  Work with the athlete and parents to find the balance, be flexible and do your research on opportunities that are appropriate for your individual athletes. Be sure to know when the athlete will be gone and adjust for that in their programming.

Hurdle #3: Lifestyle

Summer days often take kids out of any sort of routine. Sleeping habits, eating habits, etc. can all change. Let’s face it, it can get pretty sloppy.

Pro Tip: Provide morning workouts! Athletes that train in the morning will start their day off on the “right foot”. This “Get Up and Train” mentality will ultimately provide athletes with a structured morning routine that will also prep them for their respective sports.

Hurdle #4: Summer Teams

catcher-377677_640Summer travel teams are full-force right now. It is necessary that it is acknowledged. This will be a challenge in respective athletes’ programming, but don’t fight it…look at it as an opportunity to educate parents and players!

Pro Tip: EDUCATION! This is the most important thing you can provide your athletes in their programming. They will play on travel and club teams, but do they understand how to balance practices, games, skill and their strength & conditioning? This is where you provide valuable insight and knowledge.

Don’t be a “my way or the highway” coach. Communicate and educate athletes, parents and even other coaches on the value of athletic development as they progress through their high school careers.

Hurdle #5: Summer Jobs

Summer jobs are something to encourage. This is a great time for athletes to get a glimpse of the real world. They will learn to balance their time and set priorities.

Pro Tip: Help athletes find the balance between work and training. This may mean they need to leave early or come late. Don’t discourage this opportunity, they can do both.

Hurdle #6: Transportation

Lastly, some will have transportation issues. If they can’t drive themselves, they have to rely on someone else.

Pro Tip: Suggest car-pooling and have flexibility.

Summary

There are many challenges that performance coaches can face during the summer months. These 6 show the possible hurdles in participation, and ways that they can be overcome.


About the Author: Joshua Ortegon

Joshua OrtegonJoshua Ortegon
Joshua currently consults and programs for athletes of all levels. He operated Athlete’s Arena for 10 yearsa sports performance and fitness center in Irmo, SC and sold that business in 2015. Josh is currently Director of Performance at Dual Threat Training Group in Albany, GA.

His career highlights include training over 100 athletes who moved from high school to college and 15 professional baseball athletes. He also developed 36 return to sport programs to help bridge the gap between rehab and performance for the athlete. He can be reached at JoshuaLOrtegon@gmail.com.


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