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Three Benefits of Running a Camp or Clinic

By: Julie Hatfield

Do You Have What It Takes?Summer_Camp_Checklist

Every year about this time, I am gearing up for the summer season of camps and clinics. It is one of my favorite times of the year to work with my athletes because I get to spend long durations of time with them cultivating culture and relationships. There are many benefits to running camps and clinics, so if you think these benefits will help you, then likely it is time to start planning!

I hope you enjoy my top 3 benefits to running a camp or clinic!

Benefit #1: Building Culture and Relationships

Camps are generally held on multiple consecutive days for 4-8 hours per day. Clinics are generally held on either 1 day or 2 consecutive days, or they are recurring events that happen from week to week for a set number of weeks. Both of these concepts allow for maximizing your time with your attendees. The more time you get to spend with them, the greater the opportunity and ability to build culture and get to know your athletes. If you host a 1-week camp for 4-8 hours a day, you are looking at nearly 20-40 hours for you to work your magic!

Speed and Agility Training Program 3

Benefit #2: It’s an Annual “Feeder Program”

If you are reading this blog, then likely you know the importance of Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD). When considering running camps and clinics, it is important to remember that they are best served as a part of the bigger picture. Running a camp or clinic as a one-off offer is what many do, but it doesn’t fit the LTAD concept—LTAD isn’t a one-and-done philosophy. Strategically thinking about your offer is going to set you apart from the rest and ultimately feed your current programs.

Look at a calendar for an entire year, 6 months, or quarter, and identify a good time for a camp or clinic. This may be at the end of a 12-week program or just before a new program starts. Whatever the case, place the camp or clinic where it can be fed to a new program or where it can feed an existing program. If you can plan your camp or clinics in advance, it will likely increase your success. This takes some work and some planning, but if it is done correctly, it will enable you to offer different opportunities for attendees, year after year.

Benefit #3: Camps & Clinics Are Multi-dimensional

The third is a place where you can show your creativity and uniqueness. Camps & Clinics can be completely multi-dimensional. In our camps and clinics, we have special guests, team time, daily or weekly awards, t-shirt gifts, game days, bring-a-friend days, day trips… the list goes on. There are so many opportunities that are created when you have access to your athletes day after day or week after week. Camps and Clinics are not just about training hard; they are about creating an experience.

Now you have 3 of dozens of benefits to running a camp or clinic. Do you have what it takes to get started? If you answer yes to all of these, then it is time to start planning!

  • I love working with kids in large groups
  • I enjoy having an impact on kids for a long duration of time
  • I value Long Term Athlete Development and want to add a camp or clinic into my annual approach to training
  • I have at least 6 weeks to plan my next camp or clinic
  • I have a facility or location in mind that I can use
  • I am disciplined when it comes to planning programs
  • I am excited about running a camp or clinic

Summer_Camp_ChecklistWant to minimize the work in planning for camps and clinics?

Some people may enjoy the novice approach of figuring out on their own, and that’s ok! But if you want a tried-and-true system for planning a camp or clinic, download our Camp & Clinic Checklist today to help you get started.

Download Checklist


About the Author

Julie Hatfield (1)Julie is the Executive Director of the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA). She grew up as an athlete and played collegiate softball at Juniata College. She currently owns and operates her own youth fitness business pouring into young athletes, as well as consults with other fitness professional as a Success Coach for Fitness Revolution.

Her areas of expertise are youth sport performance, youth fitness business and softball training/instruction. Julie grew up on a dairy farm and can challenge the best of the best in a cow-milking contest. 😉



Inspiration Instead of Information

Alex Slezak – M.Ed, YFS-II, YSAS, HSSCS

A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention. – Herbert Simon

Alex Slezak

We live in the information age. It is a world where anything we could ever possibly want to learn is literally in the palm of our hands.  Take a moment to pause and think deeply about that. This new world we live in has changed everything. In the past, coaches and teachers held the keys to knowledge. Information for kids was hard to come by and because it was scarce when the opportunity to listen to a coach or teacher attention levels were high.

The information age as changed all that and Herbet Simon’s quote above is absolutely true. All of us—young athletes included—are bombarded every minute of that day with so much information it is impossible to process it all. We are well beyond the tipping point. And because of this information overload, we can no longer discern the difference between the real shining diamonds of knowledge and the rhinestones that appear to glimmer but have no real value.

Young people today have at their fingertips all the information they could ever possibly want or need yet rarely do we see them actually utilize it. The wealth of information has truly created a poverty of both desire and attention. This has been a game changer for the skillsets needed by coaches and teachers. Let me be clear: coaches and teachers still need to understand their content knowledge but this is no longer the most important skill because they no longer hold the keys to the gate of knowledge.

The new breed of excellent coaches have mastered the “art” of teaching. You see the most important skill now for a coach or teacher is to be able to inspire young people to hunger for knowledge, pursue true excellence, have a growth mindset, and look deep down inside themselves to give more than they ever knew they had. It seems like a paradox but it is true, our youth do not need more information, they need inspiration. They need inspire to tune up their desire and begin utilizing the information all around them. They need the inspired to search for the real diamonds because they are harder to find than ever before.

If you want to pursue excellence in coaching and teaching get to know the content knowledge and then work tirelessly to master the “art” of inspiring children. This is a quality legendary coaches have always had but never has the demand been higher for inspiration than it is now.

To learn more about the art of coaching young athletes, the IYCA Youth Fitness Specialist Level 1 is the ideal next step.

Fitness Coaching Tips

Alex operates a tennis & fitness training business in Pittsburgh, PA.  You can learn more by visiting his website at

Effective Basketball Performance Training For Youth Athletes

By: JC Moreau, MS, FMS, USAW-SP

Fifteen years of training men’s and women’s basketball players, from junior high through the professional ranks will teach you things. One of the many things it has taught me is that certain training protocols have clearly had the greatest positive impact on the performance and health of these athletes. The more I read about self-proclaimed “basketball-specific” trainers or methods, the more I am reminded of what these athletes really need. And it is not the latest gimmick, but the basic principles of sound performance-development.

Despite the various ways we can define “sound performance training principles,” my experience has shown that proper movement, structural balance and postural integrity are king. And the progressive overload of fundamental strength movements are still the ideal way to accomplish this.

For the purpose of this article, I will not present specific exercises for each category, but instead I will discuss more general movements as well as several key exercises that are paramount in the development of each young basketball athlete, both boys and girls.

Our first priority should be to have EVERY athlete screened by an athletic trainer, physical therapist, or other credentialed sports performance coach trained in the principles of movement screening. Once an athlete is cleared of mobility issues or pain, then it is safe to proceed with some form of resistance training. From my perspective, the best way to maintain or enhance postural integrity is to work on unilateral movements for the upper and lower body and train upper body pulling movements which emphasize the retraction of the shoulder blades, as well as basic bilateral and unilateral leg exercises. All of these must initially be performed in higher rep ranges (8-15) and multiple sets (2-5) with a slow eccentric tempo for most movements (3-4 full seconds). Perfect posture and positions are prioritized while performing ALL movements from warm up to cool down.  When this is combined with higher volume and controlled tempo it goes a long way in developing a solid foundation, which includes greatly improved postural integrity.

While there is much debate pertaining to what the “best” leg movements are I prefer the goblet or front squat, split squat and unloaded (bodyweight) single leg (SL) squat progressions with my athletes.  The reason has everything to do with developing the performance outcomes I stated earlier.  First, in order to perform a squat of any kind or a split squat the athlete must first be able to move through those ranges of motion with adequate mobility and stability.  If they cannot, they then need to correct this before adding a load (weight) to the movement.  Second, the goblet or front squat requires considerable engagement of the core and the athlete must minimize the forward lean at the low back making it safer during the introductory phases.  When that aspect is combined with a slow tempo, as stated earlier (example: 4 seconds down, 1 second pause at bottom, 1 second up and 1 second pause at top) you also improve the athlete’s postural integrity, as a lack of strength in this area hinders proper form at higher numbers of reps.  Third, the split squat is an effective introductory, unilateral, static single leg movement.  The athlete can still use the back leg for balance, but the movement focuses primarily on the front leg, making it work independently from the other.  Additionally, the split squat enhances flexibility in the hip flexors and groin, as well as improving balance.

Finally, the single leg squat is the one exercise taught from a partial range of motion before progressing to a full one, followed by additional resistance. This movement is particularly difficult for most athletes and the lack of support from the opposing leg makes proper alignment between the knee, hip, and ankle difficult to maintain, particularly while controlling the tempo.  Once an athlete attains proficiency with this movement to a point to, or slightly below parallel, we are able to add resistance with weight vests, weight plates, or dumbbells.

It is the implementation of sound performance principles, applied programmatically, that make up the foundation of our basketball training protocols.  Our objective is to produce an athlete who operates from a good base of mobility, demonstrates proper movement patterns and can maintain postural integrity for the duration of a game or practice. Once that has been attained, we know they have developed the strength required to minimize the potential for non-contact injuries, have a far better chance of remaining healthy and can also take their “game” to the next level.

Recently, an AAU basketball coach commented on the improved stamina, quickness, explosiveness and body position of his players in their last few tournaments.  When he asked how I had managed to accomplish this with his players my answer seemed to surprise him with its simplicity. “We made sure they could squat and lunge properly and then we got them stronger in those areas.”

We certainly did more than two exercises, but by focusing on proper structural balance and postural integrity while improving leg strength the players were able to remain in a defensive stance longer and quite simply played the game with better body position for two full halves.  The result was athletes who were in a better position to take a first step, could take a STRONGER (thus FASTER) first step, remain in a strong “box out” stance under the net, jump higher, run faster, stop, breakdown and cut more effectively. And they could do all of this for a much longer duration.

Sure, we perform an equal amount of upper body strength work, including some hoops specific rebounding, grip, passing, pushing, and pulling work in the weight room. We also train speed and agility drills, some basketball specific footwork, balance and core work, ball control and other drills. Just like everyone else. But, when asked how to improve basketball performance in players from 10 to 22, my  short answer is, “Get them stronger!”


In this article, JC Moreau states the importance of screening EVERY athlete.  The IYCA’s Youth Athlete Assessment Specialist Certification provides YOU with the tools you need to screen kids 18 and under.  Give your athletes what they need today.

Youth Athletic Assessment Specialist Certification

Power Training for Faster Athletes

Power Training for Faster AthletesBy Wil Fleming, IYCA Director of Sport Performance

When breaking down speed training we break down the training into the two categories we can have the maximal impact: power and technique

When it comes to training for power, we can augment athletic abilities through simple strength training, but more than that, we can really improve the technique through different forms of resisted sprinting.

When we talk about technique, we focus on the area that athletes can control most: acceleration. Acceleration involves a number of factors that influence technique. Among those, we talk about posture, arm action, and the strike of the foot. The big technique point for most athletes is the idea of a “controlled fall.”

On the strength training side of developing power, we work to develop lower body strength through squatting, deadlifting, sled pulling and pushing (the heavy variety), single leg squatting and hinging, and through Olympic lifts. Our game changer, however, is the addition of resisted sprinting for our more advanced athletes.

Why should you use resisted sprinting to improve your athletes’ acceleration ability?

  1. During resisted sprinting, hip muscle recruitment goes up, leading to higher force output in unloaded sprinting.1
  2. Increases in lower body power have been shown to improve ground reaction forces.2 Push harder = run faster.
  3. (Technical bonus!!!) Increased loads during resisted sprinting help improve the athlete’s arm action during sprinting. A serious arm action can improve leg movement and improve stride length.3

We use three main types of resisted sprinting in our facility and although we can use each in a linear fashion (and do often) we can train each one in a different way to make them unique tools.

Sled Towing

With the athlete hooked to a sled behind them this form of resisted acceleration has been shown to improve the fast twitch muscle fiber recruitment, while not having a great impact on the form associated with acceleration.1 In this form of training, the athlete’s arms are free to swing in the proper patterns and the athlete is able to get the great benefit of increased arm action.

Based on where the load is attached to the athlete (a harness, or belt), the coach may see differences in the body lean during acceleration for the athlete using this technique. I prefer a harness as it encourages a large body lean and a drive phase where the shoulders lead the action.

Our novel way of using the sled in a towing fashion is to use it for crossover acceleration. The crossover step is the most explosive way that we can move laterally, and many athletes struggle to accelerate in this way. Sleds can teach athletes how to push to accelerate in the frontal plane better than any other.

Sled Pushing


Sled pushing is typically done against a Prowler or other drive sled. In this use of a sled, the athlete’s arms are not free to swing and there is no involvement in the upper body.

The biggest benefit to this type of sprinting is that the body position (lean) can be pre-determined by you as the coach. Immediate feed back as to the nature of the ground strike is also available from this type of sprinting. If the athlete’s upper body begins to rise quickly or their hips rise due to faulty posture, the coach can determine that the athlete’s foot strike is likely occurring in front of the body in acceleration. In this instance, the coach can make adjustments accordingly to prevent this braking motion.

For simple strength building, we march with a sled in a slow fashion.

I know what you are thinking. “We are talking about speed, how can we get faster by going slower?”

I know, it may seem as though I am talking jibberish right now, but stick with me. By getting the athlete to go slow while pushing a sled, we are able to get them in PERFECT positions from which to accelerate. Set up your athlete in the ideal acceleration angle against a sled and have them start moving slowly. Driving aggressively into the ground but with enough weight, any athlete can move slowly and perfectly.

Sprints Against Bands

Sprinting against the resistance of bands is similar to that of towing a sled, but the force is greater on each subsequent stride. The benefits of sprinting against band resistance are easy increase or decrease in resistance without the loading and unloading of plates, and the extreme portability of the implement.

Bands are my go-to equipment when I need to go out and train athletes at another facility. Because of this, bands are my number one choice for resistance sprinting for athletes.

My favorite way to use bands is to do rebound sprints. Have the athlete sprint out two or three steps, walk back slowly and under control, then explode back out. In this way we train the reaction of acceleration, while under a stretched condition.

There are other types of resisted sprinting that are unavailable to us in our facility (parachutes, self-powered treadmills, etc.). Those tools can be useful, as well, to help improve the athlete’s ability to produce power in acceleration.


Whatever your situation, you need to work to develop speed in multiple ways. Develop technique, develop strength, and develop acceleration against resisted tools. Your athletes will thank you.

See how to apply and how to perform these resisted techniques in the IYCA’s Power Evolution.

Power Evolution 350


  1. Lockie, R; Murphy, A; & Spinks, C. (2003). Effects of resisted sled towing on sprint kinematics in field-sport athletes. J. of S&C Research. 17 (4), 760-767.
  2. Young, W; McLean, B; & Ardagna, J. (1995). Relationship between strength qualities and sprinting performance. J. Sport Med. Phys. Fit. 35:13–19.
  3. Bhowmick, S; & Bhattacharyya, AK (1988). Kinematic analysis of arm movements in sprint start. J. Sport Med. Phys. Fit. 28:315–323.

Strength in Numbers – Fitness Coaching Tips for Large Groups

Mike Mejiaby Mike Mejia, MS, CSCS, YFS-1, YNS

President of B.A.S.E. Sports Conditioning Inc



I love working with clients on a one on one basis. There is just something about being able to put my blinders on and give my undivided attention to one person’s needs during the course of a workout. I guess it is because I started out as a personal trainer, and to some extent, that is still where my passion lies.

That said, I also thoroughly enjoy working with groups of athletes…even entire teams. The only caveat is that in a group setting, it can be difficult to keep the level of movement quality as consistently high as I might like it.

That is just the nature of the beast when you are working with groups in general, and teens in particular. At times, attention will start to wane, which can be a huge problem for a population whose bodies are going through various developmental changes and who often lack the kinesthetic awareness to self-correct during the course of a given exercise. The other big factor when working with groups of young athletes is that commitment levels tend to vary… A LOT! In my experience, any time you are working with multiple athletes, you are going to encounter three distinct personality types with the number of each differing from one group to the next.

First up will be the self-motivated kids. These are young athletes who want to get better and are going to follow every instruction to the letter. They understand and appreciate the value of the training they’re receiving and intend to do everything possible to get the most out of each session.

I call these my “run through a wall” athletes, because they will basically do anything you ask of them. They are extremely focused, take coaching cues well, and are generally an absolute pleasure to work with.

At the other end of the spectrum, you have what I like to call the “tuned out” group. These are kids who typically do not want to take part in the team training session and are only present because the coaching staff requires them to be. They display poor body language and tend to talk or fool around when you are giving instructions.

Fitness Coaching Tips for Large Groups

Somewhere in the middle you’ll have your “tweeners”. I call them this because this group could go either way. They have not yet been bitten by the training bug, but seem genuinely intrigued. On the other hand, they are also easily distracted and can often fall in with the poor example set by the tuned-out group.

This is the group you will want to focus on the most, because it is where you can make the biggest difference as a coach.

Do not get me wrong; I am not advocating to give up on the tuned out group. Over the years, Ihave converted plenty of them into some of my best students with a little time and effort.

Nor am I recommending that you let that first group rely solely on self-motivation. Even driven young athletes need a little push and some guidance now and then. I am just suggesting spending the bulk of your coaching energy in the area where you can have the greatest impact in the shortest amount of time.

Because—as is often the case when working with groups—you may not have access to your athletes for a prolonged period. Once the season begins, training time is typically reduced as athletes and coaches focus more on skill refinement and conserving energy for competition.

So, the question is how do you effectively manage training sessions when presented with these three distinct personality types and you’re just one coach working with a group of a dozen athletes, or more? And, perhaps even more importantly, how do you do so while establishing the type of training culture that gets athletes buying into your system as quickly as possible.

Throughout the course of my career in working with young athletes aged 10 and up through the collegiate ranks, I have found that the following strategies work especially well.

1. Establish easily recognizable cues

While you do not necessarily want to bombard kids with tons of technical jargon (warning a young athlete about “placing too much valgus stress on their knees” when squatting, for instance, will garner you little more than a confused look), you do want to try and develop a “training language” that your athletes can easily remember and even parrot.

I find nothing more gratifying than listening to a couple of my athletes coach their teammates through different movements. Hearing them tell each other to “sit the hips back,” or “rip the floor open” during a squat lets me know that they understand the importance of what they are being taught, even if they may not be familiar with the exact anatomical mechanisms of why they are doing things a certain way.

2. Put out the biggest fires first

Even a form perfectionist like myself realizes that during the course of a rigorous team workout, there are going to be a few less-than-perfect reps. And while one or two athletes slipping slightly out of a good core neutral position during a plank is not the end of the world, allowing some egregiously bad form just to “keep the flow of the workout going” simply cannot happen.

If you notice an athlete or a couple of athletes really struggling with a particular drill, do not hesitate to direct a little more attention their way. Try to quickly ascertain where the problem lies (i.e. is it a mobility issue, a strength imbalance, or were they simply not paying attention to instructions) and work from there.

Sometimes a simple form cue and some personal attention will do the trick, while others might require slightly regressing the drill and/ or assigning some follow up “homework” (more on this in a minute). Either way, some type of immediate action on your part is necessary to help ensure that bad movement patterns are not engrained and so that athletes know they cannot get away with simply going through the motions.

3. Give homework drills

Sometimes you will not be able to offer a quick fix when you see an athlete struggling during the course of a workout. This is where it pays to have a battery of stretching, foam rolling, and corrective strengthening exercises on hand that you can assign to young athletes in need.

Whether in the form of a handout, a follow-up e-mail, or simply referring them to your website, giving young athletes access to tools such as these can make a huge difference. I also make it a habit to stay a few minutes after each session to answer any specific questions and work with individuals who may require a little more personal attention.

Now, not all of them will follow through. However, the ones who do heed your advice on a consistent basis can make some major improvements in a relatively short period of time.

4. Progress drills based on ability… not a desire for variety

Let’s face it; as motivated and “elite” as some of your young athletes may be, the bottom line is that they are still young. So as a coach, part of your job is to make sure these individuals are having fun while still working to improve things like systemic strength, speed, agility, and coordination.

And when you are working with young athletes, fun often means including lots of variety. After all, who wants to do the same drills over and over again?

That said, it is important that said variety does not come at the expense of first mastering basic movement patterns. Take the time to get your athletes’ movement mechanics “programmed” with staple exercises like squats, lunge variations, push-ups, rows, and planks.

While such may be easy enough to do with younger groups, what about older athletes who want to push hard and consider these exercises “too easy” despite often executing them with less than perfect form? Here is where a little communication and some coaching creativity can go a long way.

Point out any specific flaws you notice that may be impeding your athlete’s ability to perform these drills properly- such as poor ankle and hip mobility while squatting, or an increased lordotic curve during planks and push-ups. Then, offer up some simple form cues that may help correct the issue by getting them more aware of the mechanics of the exercise.

I like to call these “mini-clinics” where I take a group of athletes through a couple of quick troubleshooting strategies to correct common exercise mistakes. Doing something as simple as teaching them how to go into a slight posterior pelvic tilt during a plank(to help offset an exaggerated lumbar curve) or cuing them to maintain an arch in their feet during squats and lunges (to prevent excessive pronation) can often provide a whole new appreciation for how an exercise is supposed to feel.

Oddly enough, exercises that were previously perceived as being too easy suddenly become much more difficult. Add in a few static holds in the hardest part of the range of motion, or slow the rep cadence down significantly (this is where the creativity part comes in) and you have got a workout guaranteed to challenge without having to resort to assigning athletes drills that are beyond their current level of ability.

5. Make a Connection

Simply showing up and trying to run team training sessions like some type of drill sergeant rarely yields good results. While there may be a handful of individuals who respond to that type of approach, the vast majority do not.

If you want to gain the trust of your athletes and have them buy into your system, you have to show them that you have a genuine concern for their health and well-being. It does not matter how scientifically sound your workouts might be or how much knowledge you possess about the human body.

It is like the saying goes: “Your athletes will not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Follow up with them on a regular basis. Ask questions before and after training sessions and provide them with your contact information so that they can call, e-mail, or text you if they need a little training and/ or nutritional guidance.

Not only will it mean a lot to them, but you will find it to be an extremely rewarding experience, as well. Working with groups is not about the prestige of training a particular team, or the increased revenue potential it can generate. In the end, it is all about the number of lives you can impact.


If you wish to learn more about the Art of Coaching, check out our Youth Fitness Specialist Level 1 Certification. This credential will take your coaching and training to the next level!


Three Things to NOT Do When Creating Stronger Athletes

wil_fleming_profileby Wil Fleming, IYCA Director of Sport Performance

If the qualities of our athletes are like buckets—ones that can be filled to the brim or only half full—the strength bucket is often the most important bucket. If the strength bucket grows larger, all other buckets can grow larger, as well. To think of it another way, if an athlete works on max strength and takes their back squat from 250 lbs. to 400 lbs., the max rep set at 200 lbs. is likely to see an improvement as well.

In this way, the strength bucket can improve the work capacity bucket as well. This relationship holds true for virtually all athletes, as strength relates to speed, power, and several other factors. Strength is almost always the king of the qualities when it comes to improving as an athlete.

Given that strength is important, it is critical to be aware of some of the most common mistakes that coaches can make when trying to get their athletes stronger.

Programming Workouts of the Day

To get athletes to peak strength, a coach must compose a long-term program for the athlete to follow. This long-term program should be rigid enough that we can see where we are heading and follow a logical path to get there, but maintain enough flexibility to allow athletes to recover when necessary, miss a day because they are sick, etc.

Where many coaches struggle is putting together a plan that can be followed for months at a time. The reasons for this struggle can be many, but it must happen. Athletes need a progressive program that follows the basic tenets of strength.

Volume inverse to intensity: That is, as the volume of a program is high, intensity should be low. Similarly, as intensity increases, volume should decrease. This is a foundation to building maximal strength.

Progressive overload: Across sessions, weeks and months, the loading of the athlete must increase. Initially this can be done on a session-to-session basis, but as athletes advance, this process might occur from a month-to-month basis. 

Allow for supercompensation: A program intended to increase strength must allow for the process of supercompensation to occur. This means that there must be planned periods of rest or “deload/unload” weeks

Too many coaches get wrapped up in the flexibility of a workout and lean towards creating programs that are in essence a workout of the day. In this format, the coach is unable to create a long-term plan that meets the need of an athlete seeking greater strength.

Bench Pressing

Prioritize the Bench Press

Even today, one of the most common questions that gets asked when anyone says that they “lift weights” is still “how much ya bench?” While most reading this would know that this movement should fall low on your priority list, many athletes still see the bench press as an indicator of their overall success (and the 225 bench press test still is a staple at the NFL combine).

It is easy to get wrapped up in delivering the training that your athlete and their parents want, and if the bench press is important to them, that often means including it on a weekly and monthly basis.

What we are quick to forget is that strength—especially in growing athletes—is a systemic quality. It is not localized to individual muscles or movements. Strength is strength overall, and I will give you a quick anecdotal story to illustrate that.

Every year on my birthday, I hit the bench press. It is literally the only time each year that I do it. In 2013, I hit the bench press and did 275 lbs. for 1 repetition for my bench press PR of the year, from that point forward I did not bench one other time.

I did push ups and I did single arm bench press with dumbbells, but other than that I did no horizontal pressing. From 2013 to 2014, my squat went up 40 kg, my push press went up 15 kg, and when I went to bench press on my birthday in 2014, my bench press was 335 lbs.

Strength is a systemic quality not one that is particular to any single movement or muscle group.

Learning the Clean

Focusing on ANY One Exercise Too Much

Focusing on any particular movement is a problem in any program for athletes. While it may seem reasonable that even an important movement like the squat should be focused upon to gain the maximal results for your athletes, doing so comes at the detriment of all else in the program.

We can be certain that strength is a systemic quality. Even squatting strength can carry over into other movements. Athletes are athletes because they move and display strength across a broad spectrum of movements.

A popular method of improving one’s squat is to employ the “Russian Squat Program.” Basically, this and similar programs have the end user squatting several times per week with varying rep schemes, and intensities. If you have a team full of weak athletes, this might be an enticing way to see all their squat numbers rise. I can guarantee that this program will get their squat numbers to rise, but these athletes will suffer in their overall performance along the way, too.

Even when focused on strength, athletes must be good movers. They must be fast, strong, powerful and agile. A focus on a single movement or exercise—be it squats, bench, or even power cleans—will be a detriment to their progress as complete athletes.

Strength is massively important to the improvement of your athletes. Much of the time you work with them can be devoted to helping your athletes get stronger, but don’t make these common mistakes that can really stall the progress of your athletes!

The Reserved Athlete

By Dave Gleason, IYCA Director of Youth Fitness

Coaches and trainers love working with team sport athletes live to get after it in their training sessions. You know the type: you give them a cue to correct an exercise or activity and bam…they listen, they absorb, and they transfer that information into a more efficient movement. The type of internally-inspired young athlete that gives everything they have for each training session is a dream come true—right?

What are the odds of coaching these types of younger athletes 100% of the time?

What is the mark of a great coach?

How do we handle the athlete who is not quite as motivated? Moreover, how are we to coach the reserved or shy athlete that is seemingly unenthusiastic?

This short article is based on experiential evidence from coaching young athletes for the past 22 years as well as the tenants in found in the IYCA Essentials of Youth Conditioning and Fitness text and is meant to help free any coach…from themselves.

Meet them where they are.

The reserved athlete does not wake up in the morning yearning to have you infuse inspiration into their heart, mind, and soul at 4 pm. The reserved athlete wants to have as much fun as any of the athletes you coach. That fun is contextual. Fun for one may not be as much fun for another.

How do they roll? Not all kids want you to shout their names from the rooftops. Connect with your athletes as much as possible to learn what is important to them and to ascertain where they are.

Love them without losing yourself.

The young athletes you coach will loosely fall into one of the following four categories:

  • High skill, high motivation
  • High skill, low motivation
  • Low skill, high motivation
  • Low skill, low motivation

We will focus on high skill, low motivation and low skill, low motivation young athletes in an effort to give insight on the art of coaching these children.

A high skill, low motivation young athlete can be frustrating due to the stigma of just “not reaching his or her potential.” The primary goal is to inspire this athlete. The coach should be extremely cognitive that there are a multitude of reasons as to the source of the low motivation. Be extremely sensitive that this athlete may in fact be giving all he or she has to give. Sometimes this child simply needs someone to believe in them. Short-term goal setting, even if the goal falls far below what most would deem competitive is a common strategy that has also worked extremely well.

Low skill, low motivation athletes are in need of direction. These young athletes will need to be included in activities, discussions and sharing of concepts, activity creation, and coordination of your programming just as much as—if not more than—the other athletes in your groups. Typically, these athletes do not respond well to being the center of attention, or once more, being called out in front of others. A successful approach may be one-on-one conversations and communication.

If you want more information on the temperaments of young athletes, our Youth Fitness Specialist Certification is a comprehensive resource that will enable you to coach your athletes to success.

The IYCA Youth Fitness Specialist – Level 1


youth fitness

The Foundation for a Successful Career in Youth Training

  • 220 page textbook authored by Dr. Toby Brooks and Dr. David Stodden with contributions from Dave Gleason, Wil Fleming, Kim McCullough and Mike Robertson
  • 2 DVD set with narrated screencasts
  • Online examination process so you can complete your certification from the comfort of your own home

Click Here to Learn More About the Youth Fitness Specialist Level 1 Certification

Utilize outcome-based coaching.

The foundation for coaching both of these reserved athletes must be outcome-based coaching. Skill acquisition via as little cueing as possible will allow for neural blueprinting and learning at a faster rate. Goal confusion and frustration will only lead to a more reserved athlete. An athlete who feels successful will be more apt to become excited as they take ownership over their own physical culture and fitness.

Therefore, be keen to recognize that if a young athlete completes a task, exercise, or activity through their interpretation of your direction(s)…praise them in an appropriate way to that athlete. If the outcome is not what you imagined or hoped for, do not be quick to believe the athlete did not have success. Reflectively coaching the situation will allow you to determine in your communication was not clear or if the activity needs a regression in to produce success.

It is my hope that this helps you coach the reserved athlete that is on your team, program or client roster.

Keep changing lives!

For more information on the “Art of Coaching” the reserved athlete- check out our #1 Certification, The IYCA Youth Fitness Specialist Level 1 Be the Game-Changer in Youth Fitness and Sport Performance!

The IYCA Youth Fitness Specialist – Level 1


youth fitness

The Foundation for a Successful Career in Youth Training

  • 220 page textbook authored by Dr. Toby Brooks and Dr. David Stodden with contributions from Dave Gleason, Wil Fleming, Kim McCullough and Mike Robertson
  • 2 DVD set with narrated screencasts
  • Online examination process so you can complete your certification from the comfort of your own home

Click Here to Learn More About the Youth Fitness Specialist Level 1 Certification

Healthy vs. Constantly Hurt Athletes: What All Coaches and Youth Fitness Specialists Should Know

By Keith Cronin,  DPT, OCS, CSCS

Being on the end of rehabilitation, injured athletes cross my path daily. Now some (around 50%) are simply the result of misfortune: sprained ankle sliding into second base, torn ACL from a lineman collapsing on his leg, or a collision on the volleyball court resulting in a rotator cuff tear. Simply put: crap happens.

Then there are the other 50% 1. These athletes suffer from injury are the result of:

  • Overtraining
  • Undertraining
  • Poor body mechanics
  • Improper training routines
  • Poor lifting technique
  • Pushing through pain/injury
  • Ignoring warning signs of problems

These are things that perhaps you already know….but here are few you may not. After years of treating young athletes with chronic pain and injury, here are the TOP THREE types of individuals who you have to pay special attention to.

#1 They Are Non-compliant

Non-compliance extends far beyond “they don’t listen.” These are individuals who regularly go against sound advice, are very bull headed about what they want to do, or simply just do not follow through with recommendations. They do what they want and not what needs to be done. They commonly shortcut training sessions, only focused on playing the game. When faced with minor injuries, too regularly these individuals skip out on rehab exercises.

Once sidelined with a couple of injuries, some snap out of it and start listening. Many do not. The attitude of the “rules don’t apply to me” is endemic to this type of athlete. From the therapeutic side (particular to chronic pain) I recently read up on a research presentation from Washington University that on average 50% (ranging from 20-80%) of individuals do not successfully rehabilitate chronic pain due to non-compliance1,2. I would surmise that my practice would support those findings. Non-compliance with these athletes, regardless of their athletic talent, is only going to stifle their opportunity in sports.

Strategy to Keep Healthy: You have to barrage these individuals with the science of sport. Articles, research, presentations—basically anything that is put together by some expert in a field that produces or treats top-notch athletes—can be helpful. Recommendations from professional athletes are also a good source, as that is usually how they see themselves or where they want to be. Talking about injury prevention is typically useless because they are not hurt, therefore, the rules of physics currently do not apply. Also using scare tactics of “this is what could happen” most often falls on deaf ears. Once they get into my world, they tend to listen a little better, but that is because there is now pain or problems that are limiting sports. These individuals are tough to deal with, but if you can drill it in their heads that a good strategy helps produce a better athlete, you stand a better chance of keeping them out of the spiral drain of chronic injuries.

#2 They Have a Poor Understanding of Pain and Injury

This group falls into two classes. The first thinks that a paper cut is a reason to call the orthopedic surgeon. This individual will limp and moan at just about anything. The second believes that extremes of pain are normal. I had one tell me, “My back has hurt for six years and makes it hard to go to sleep.” That child was 14. For whatever reason, these individuals have a hard time conceptualizing what is normal.

Strategy to Keep Healthy: These athletes in particular are often the ones who should be evaluated by a physician, athletic trainer, or physical therapist. Treating young athletes with either of these extreme mindsets requires a significant amount of education. Talking about how pain is generated, perceived, and ultimately treated in the brain and body is more often more of a medical discussion. The emotional swings—whether apathetic or manic—are easier to handle in a clinical setting. If you have athletes who show signs of over-magnifying injury or obviously under-reporting, it is important to encourage the athlete’s parents to seek medical assistance. Children have far more capacity to understand these topics than we give them credit for. Most often, they simply need a push in the right direction.

#3 They Are “Dynamically Deficient”

This is a polite way of saying that the athlete in question is a train wreck waiting to happen. They have poor mechanics, bad form with lifting, and are uncoordinated to the point where chewing gum and walking could result in an ankle sprain. These individuals seem to trail behind their peers with developing body skills such as jumping, running, cutting, squatting, etc. They may or may not be injured frequently but as a coach or youth fitness specialist, you know something is “off.”

Strategy to Keep Healthy: If the child is constantly hurt, definite medical intervention or encouragement to seek further rehabilitation is warranted. Now if you have these athletes on your team or in your program they will require extra attention. Don’t let them skip steps! For instance, if you are running a sports training program and you have a couple athletes who have trouble doing squats, make sure they master the movement before moving on. This does get tricky in that you do not want to make them feel “left behind,” but here is where education comes in. Talk with the parents on the importance of reinforcing training at home. Bring parents into a session or show where the issue is so that they can provide more support. Most young athletes develop at a normal pace but some get left behind and the last thing you want them to feel is that “they are broken.” These individuals take up a little more time but from experience, it is worth it in the end to see someone whose attitude changes from “I CAN’T” to “I CAN.”

Sports are a team approach and that includes communication among athletes, parents, coaches, athletic trainers, physical therapists, and physicians. As adolescents grow older, these various state of minds can bend, completely change, or just get worse. Either way, it is important to identify precisely why an athlete is constantly hurt before figuring out what to do and how to do it.

1 DiFiori JP, Benjamin HJ, Brenner J, Gregory A, Jayanthi N, Landry GL, Luke A. Overuse Injuries and Burnout in Youth Sports: A Position Statement from the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine. Clin J Sports Med. 2014;24(1):3-20.

Van Dillen, Linda. “Adherence: An Important but Often Forgotten Determinant of Treatment Effectiveness.” Presentation at Washington University in St. Louis, MO for the Program in Physical Therapy. January 13th, 2015

5 Great Movements for Reversing Extension Postures in Athletes

By Eric Cressey, MS, CSAS

One of the biggest mistakes coaches make in training young athlete is just treating them like they’re adult clients. Obviously, this line of thinking is incorrect for a variety of psychological, physiological, and biomechanical reasons, but perhaps none stands out as more significant as their different postural demands on a daily basis.

Adult clients spend a big chunk of their days sitting in flexion, and often need more extension – especially through the thoracic spine – in their daily lives. Many trainers are, as a result, terrified of including any flexion-based core training in their programs.

Conversely, kids spend a ton of time standing and moving around. When combined with athletics, you realize that the majority of young athletes absolutely live in extension.

If you take this same flexion-aversion to a young population, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to help them. Why?

Flexing from an extended position toward “neutral” is different than flexing from “neutral” position toward end-range lumbar flexion.

With that in mind, we incorporate a ton of flexion-bias exercises with our young athletes to get them out of extension. Here are five of my favorites:

Suspension Trainer Deep Squat Breathing with Lat Stretch

Bench T-Spine Mobs

All Fours Breathing/Belly Lift

Back-to-Wall Shoulder Flexion

Bear Crawls

While this is certainly not an exhaustive list of the exercises we’ll use with athletes who are in a heavily extended posture, you can definitely easily incorporate these five movements into warm-ups with young athletes with great results.

Taking it a step further, I include both extension-bias and flexion-bias 16-week training programs as options in The High Performance Handbook. This versatile training resource provides a glimpse into how we program for our athletes at Cressey Sports Performance, and includes 2x/week, 3x/week, and 4x/week programming options that are derived from a preliminary easy-to-apply self-assessment. Click here to learn more:

How would you like a quick and easy-to-apply – but very effective – self-assessment component to add to your training program? The High Performance Handbook gives you the tools that you need to personalize each and every program. Featuring over 200 exercises, each with a 30-120 second coaching tutorial and over three hours of videos that will give you everything you need to become a High Performance Coach, long after you’ve completed the program!

We all know the importance of Nutrition with any Youth Training Program. Dr. John Berardi’s High Performance Handbook Nutrition Guide will give you everything from menus, recipes, nutrition application to the eye-opening expose on all of the chemicals in our environment and how you can take steps to limit exposure and improve health!

Get the GOLD Package today!

Why Children NEED Structured Strength & Conditioning

by Shane Fitzgibbon, B.Sc., NCSC, FMS, YFS, HSCS, YNS, YSAS
Taekwon-do Instructor & Strength & Conditioning Coach


This blog post is being written as I reflect on all the recent articles I have read about youth obesity spiralling out of control in Ireland, as well as the reports on young athletes being burned out at ever- increasing rates from exhaustion and/or injury. While these are opposite extremes of the scale, I believe they are opposite sides of the same coin. The issue is lack of education (or perhaps even lack of caring) on what exercise professionals can offer. While both are pressing issues, this feature is aimed at why active children need some amount of professional attention—even in amateur/hobby sports—if they are to minimize injury risk.

While it is essential that children engage in regular exercise for numerous health benefits, it is also important to recognize that exercise and sport is not necessarily the same thing. One key difference is that sport is, by its very nature, competitive and therefore more demanding and rigorous than exercise for its own sake. It is also not realistic to expect a local, unpaid, volunteer, amateur coach (no matter how well-meaning) to be an expert in nutrition, injury prevention, injury rehabilitation, strength, speed & agility, etc. His or her expertise is in the game, not in determining the physical capabilities or limitations of the players (unless they also happen to be a professional trainer). Let’s consider the benefits of children participating in structured strength & conditioning, should their local clubs or parents be forward-thinking enough to provide it.

Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS)

Children are entering sports with less physical literacy than ever before due to, among other reasons, the amount of time spent indoors instead of involved in free play at home. This is exacerbated by the massive reduction of P.E. and free-play in schools. This has huge implications on childrens’ competency of fundamental movement skills, such as object manipulation, hopping, jumping, squatting, etc…not to mention hand-eye coordination and more. When a child joins a new sport lacking competence in essential FMS, is it asking far too much of the child to develop competency of intrinsic sport-specific skills?


Humans aren’t designed to spend long hours in the seated position. It drastically alters the tone of our muscles – shortening and tightening some, while lengthening and weakening others, to the detriment of posture. Ask someone to run or jump with poor posture and he or she will certainly make an attempt, but will typically lack efficiency due to the inability of certain muscles to fire in the correct sequence or with optimum force production. At best, performance is reduced. At worst, the child eventually gets injured. A professional strength and conditioning coach recognizes these issues with the squad and is able to intervene with appropriate corrective exercises, thereby dramatically reducing the risk of injury.

ONE CHANCE to get it right….

Prior to puberty is the best time for children to develop many of their fundamental movement skills, such as locomotion. Given that these FMS are the building blocks for athletic skills, then the strength of this foundation is linked to athletic success later in life. You may think that they have plenty of time to learn this. WRONG! If a child is not exposed to various movements in the early developmental stages, the brain undergoes a process of synaptic pruning, whereby underutilized motor pathways in the brain are trimmed away. Exposing the child to these movement patterns later in life provides no guarantee of learning, as it means that all new motor pathways need to be created in the brain. Children literally have ONE CHANCE to effectively learn fundamental movement skills well1.

Resistance Training


The benefits of resistance training are numerous. These have been documented extensively in my free eBook on youth conditioning, so I won’t revisit them here. (If you want to pick up a copy use this link:

According to Lloyd and Oliver “ if a child is ready to engage in sport activities, then he or she is ready to participate in resistance training2,”. Knowing that resistance training for children is both beneficial and, indeed, recommended, then why should parents or sports coaches seek a strength coach to teach the children? The answer is because children should not be treated like adults when it comes to ANY kind of training. A suitably knowledgeable coach understands what various modalities of resistance training, e.g. body weight, resistance bands, dumbbells, etc… are appropriate for a child depending on experience, age, etc… The youth fitness coach understands that there are differences in approach needed for boys versus girls, and that a growth spurt changes the rules.

Injury reduction

One of the most important roles a strength and conditioning coach performs is that of the assessment. Poor posture and previous injuries can both influence the readiness of a young athlete to participate in sport, often leading to additional subsequent injury. An assessment early on can identify risk factors which can be mitigated by intervention from the coach. Experienced strength and conditioning coaches should be adept at spotting fatigue and overtraining symptoms in young athletes. Frequently children get overtrained from participating in multiple sports, each one with a coach who may fail to realize that the child has little left to give. Naturally, every coach expects the best from each child on the squad. One area requiring particular mention is anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in field and court sports. Teenage girls suffer five times more ACL surgeries than boys3. There are a few potential reasons for this, including weak hip stability, quadriceps muscle dominance, and other factors. It takes a specialist to know these risks, to identify them in players, and intervene to reduce the likelihood of such injuries occurring.

Long-term development

I hear from many parents about the fitness activities that their children are doing as part of their particular sport. Frequently these are random, inappropriate, and sometimes just make no sense whatsoever. They may be age inappropriate and have no bearing on what was done the previous years, or to be done in the following years. A youth strength and conditioning coach should plan for the future and design age-appropriate and experience-appropriate programs for young players, with a plan for where they are going and where they need to be.

A child’s age isn’t necessarily his or her age

Children should be prescribed exercise and have expectations based not on their chronological age (years since birth), but on their biological age (developmental or maturation age).

Case study: John and Michael both join the U12 soccer team. John is 11 and is an early bloomer. Michael is 10 and is a late bloomer. Because children can seem up to three years younger or older depending on whether they are early or late bloomers, John can have a biological age of 13, with Michael having a biological age of only 8. In this scenario you have two boys with biological ages of 13 and 8 on the same team. Should they be expected to have comparable levels of strength? Speed? Cognitive awareness? Of course not. Specialist youth strength and conditioning coaches will have a whole sequence of progressions and regressions that are suitable for the more or less advanced child.

Any team fitness activities must take into account the difference between biological and chronological ages. To determine your child’s biological age, visit


Given the evidence available, it seems prudent to offer active children a variety of movement-exploration experiences, whether through sports or structured physical education classes. In the early developmental stages, children should be encouraged and given the opportunity to develop physical literacy to the maximum. Parents and sports coaches can only expect their children to massively benefit from availing of the knowledge of the specialist youth fitness coach.

To discuss workshops or training programmes for an individual or team, contact me at or visit


  1. Parents – you have one chance to do this right” Greg Rose, Functional Movement Systems
  2. High Performance Training for Sports, Joyce & Lewindon, Human Kinetics, 2014
  3. Kelvin Giles,



Shane Fitzgibbon is a Strength and Conditioning coach, based in Galway, Ireland. He is a professional martial arts instructor and, as a retired athlete from this field, is a 6-time World Champion in Taekwon-do & Kickboxing. Representing Ireland in European, Intercontinental, and World Championships, Shane has competed all over the World, e.g. Ghana, South Korea, Nigeria, Canada, Croatia, Germany, etc… amassing an impressive twenty World-medal tally. The 6th degree black belt in Taekwon-do has coached numerous Irish, British, European and World champions to success.

Holder of a B.Sc. from National University of Ireland, Galway, Shane has  always had a passion for exercise and qualified as a gym instructor with ITEC in 2001. In the years that followed, Shane has been busy coaching his martial arts students as well teams and individuals from other sports. As well as obtaining National Certificate in Strength & Conditioning, Shane is Functional Movement Screening (FMS) certified and a member of the prestigious Register of Exercise Professionals Ireland (REPS Ireland). Shane is a also a member, in good standing, of the Irish Sports Coaches Institute (ISCI). Shane came across the IYCA two years ago while researching educational sources to further his knowledge in the area of youth coaching. He is currently a Youth Fitness Specialist Level 3, Speed and Agility Specialist, Kettlebell Instructor, Olympic Lift Instructor, Youth Nutrition Specialist, Resistance Band Instructor, and High School S&C Coach, as certified by  the IYCA. Not one to be satisfied with his current level of knowledge, Shane has enjoyed attending seminars and learning directly from two key IYCA contributors, Mike Robertson and Wil Fleming, as well as Mike Boyle, and others.

As well as teaching martial arts classes, Shane coaches young people from a wide variety of sports. He is very diligent in improving their fundamental movement skills and physical literacy, as this has a direct bearing on all movement capacities and sporting attributes.

In 2012, Shane authored the highly acclaimed book, “Training and Optimal Health for Sports”, which is available from Amazon, and the dedicated site In it, he has shared twenty years of experience training and competing at the highest levels of his sport as well as the secrets of his longevity, not having retired from competition until 38, a double World Champion that year. Shane’s dedication and skills have recently come to the attention of, not only the IYCA, but also the NSCA, who have invited him to present at a symposium in 2016.

Shane’s S&C website is and his facebook page is


The FAST Program

Fun Agility and Strength Training

by Shawn Manning

Movement is crucial for these kids as they sit daily for long periods of time. So we feel that it is our responsibility to give these youth athletes the opportunity to move, and more importantly teach them to move correctly. In that movement comes positive coaching. Helping classmates in school, on the bus, at practice or anywhere. Our goal is to not only help these youth athletes create a healthy lifestyle, but to help them realize that they can make a positive impact on anyone. “Be the good in the world that you wish to see”.   These kids are awesome, and this class serves as a unique opportunity to leave a positive impact in the youth fitness world.


1. Movement Prep
Forward Jogging 2x 20 yards
Backward Jogging 2x 20 yards
Skips AMAR
Hurdles 1x 10 yards
Walking Knee Hugs 1x 10 yards
Walking Quad 1x 10 yards
Cradle Walk 1x 10 yards
Inchworm 3x
Static Mountain Climbers – Vertical Shins 2x 10 seconds
Athletic Stance – Leads to Power Jumps
Ladder 2 linear and 2 lateral
2. Speed Skills
Knee Extensions 4x each leg
Wall Drill March Switch on coach’s command ex.1-1-2-1
Arm Swings Switch on coach’s command ex.1-1-2-1
Right & Left Leg Bounding 2x each leg
5 Yard Sprint from forward facing start 6x
3. Strength Skill Practice    
Squat Hip Hinge Movement – ‘Shut the car door’ ‘Knock the wall down’‘Athletic Stance’ Back and down; Weight in Heels; Vertical shins; Stand up like a superhero
Pick Ups (Deadlifts)6 lb Medicine Ball 4 Step DL
-Stand directly overtop
-Put your hands on it
-Squat down
Reps and time allotted determined by coach
Broad Jump  
4. Obstacle Course
5 yard sprint with tennis ball
Drop off tennis ball in hula hoop – used points if tennis ball stayed in the hula hoop
15 yard bear crawl – High Knees in Ladder in Day 2 of Week 1
Pick up (DL) medicine ball
Crab walk to hula hoop – High Knees in Ladder in Day 2 of Week 1
Pick up tennis ball
Sprint back to partner


1. Movement Prep
Forward Jogging 2x 20 yards
Backward Jogging 2x 20 yards
Skips AMAR
Hurdles 1x 10 yards
Walking Knee Hugs 1x 10 yards
Walking Quad 1x 10 yards
Cradle Walk 1x 10 yards
Inchworm 3x
Static Mountain Climbers – Vertical Shins 2x 10 seconds
Athletic Stance (The Everything Stance)
Ladder (Specific Drills)
2. Speed Skills
5 yard sprint 4x with no arms
Arm Swings Switch on coach’s command ex.1-1-2-1
5 yard sprint Concentration Arm Swings
Wall Drill March Switch on coach’s command ex.1-1-2-1
Hip Turn, Push & Go 3x each leg (Drop step)
3. Strength Skill Practice    
Squat Hip Hinge Movement – ‘Shut the car door’ ‘Knock the wall down’‘Athletic Stance’ Back and down; Weight in HeelsVertical shins; Stand up like a superhero
Kettlebell Deadlifts 4 Step DL
-Stand directly overtop
-Put your hands on it
-Squat down
-Lift with arms straight
Reps and time allotted determined by coach
Depth Squat Landing position  
Box Jump Power up & landing position  
Broad Jump 4x  
4. Obstacle Course Day 1
  • 3 squats then pick up tennis ball
  • Side shuffle, switch tennis and place the original in cone
  • Sprint to the next cone and place your second tennis ball in
  • Bunny hop through the ladder to the medicine ball
  • 3 ball slams
  • Skip on outside of ladder, pick up tennis ball from blue cone, switch at orange cone and sprint to finish
5. Obstacle Course Day 2
  • 1 rep of 1 pood Kettlbell
  • 10 mini hurdle jumps
  • Fireman pull down
  • 3 squats
  • Fireman pull back
  • 10 mini hurdle jumps


1. Speed Skills
Crossover Step 3x each way
Foot Pop & Go 3x 5 yards (reaction)
Backpedal-2-Sprint 2x 10 yards
Pro Shuttle 2x timed
Frisbee Hip Turn & Go 3x each angle
2. Movement Prep
Forward Jogging 2x 20 yards
Backward Jogging 2x 20 yards
Power Skips 1x 10 yards
Side Shuffle 2x 10 yards
Athletic Stance 1x 10 yards
Depth Jumps 1x 10 yards
Side Shuffle Jumping Jacks 1x 10 yards
Wall Drill 3x
Arm Swings 3x
Step Outs 2x 10 sec.
Static Mountain Climbers – Vertical Shins 2x 10 seconds
Clock Drill
Open & Go 2x 5 yards
Ladder (Specific Drills)
3. Strength PODS for Day 1
1A. Kettlebell Deadlift 3×3
1B. Bench Push 3x 10 yard
2A. Bodyweight Squat 3×3
2B. Box Jump 3×3
1A. Rope Pulls 3×3
1B. Hurdles 3×8
4. Obstacle Course Day 2
  • 3 squats then pick up tennis ball
  • Side shuffle, switch tennis and place the original in cone
  • Sprint to the next cone and place your second tennis ball in
  • Bunny hop through the ladder to the medicine ball
  • 3 ball slams
  • Skip on outside of ladder, pick up tennis ball from blue cone, switch at orange cone and sprint to finish

F.A.S.T. – Week 4: Importance of the Crossover Step

1. Movement Prep
Forward Jogging 2x 20 yards
Backward Jogging 2x 20 yards
Power Skips 2x 10 yards
Side Shuffle 2x 10 yards
Athletic Stance 1x 10 yards
Depth Jumps 1x 10 yards
Side Shuffle Jumping Jacks 1x 10 yards
Wall Drill 3x
Arm Swings 3x
Step Outs 2x 10 sec.
Static Mountain Climbers – Vertical Shins 2x 10 seconds
Clock Drill – Hip Turn
Front Medicine Ball Slams 5x
Plank Holds 1x 20 sec.
Ladder 2 linear and 2 lateral
2. Speed Skills
Crossover Step 4x each way
Foot Pop & Go 4x 5 yards
Backpedal-2-Sprint 2x 10 yards
Rt. Leg & Lt. Leg Bounding 1x each leg
Frisbee Angle Sprints 3x each angle
Depth Jump-2-Sprint 3x 5 yards
3. Strength Skill Practice    
Squat Hip Hinge Movement – ‘Shut the car door’ ‘Knock the wall down’‘Athletic Stance’ Back and down; Weight in HeelsVertical shins; Stand up like a superhero
Pick Ups (Deadlifts)6 lb Medicine BallKB Deadlifts 4 Step DL-Stand directly overtop-Put your hands on it-Squat down


Reps and time allotted determined by coach
Sled Push  
Box Jump Power up & landing position  
4. Obstacle Course Day 1
Speedy Strongman
  • Crossover sprint
  • Drop off tennis ball in cone
  • Sled Pull with rope
  • Medicine ball deadlift
  • Put on top of box
  • Kick soccer ball into goal (3 attempts)
  • Sled Push back
  • Tennis ball pick up and handoff to partner
5. Obstacle Course Day 2
  • Bear crawl to ladder
  • High knees through ladder
  • 3 box jumps
  • 3 squats
  • 3 box jumps
  • 10 mini hurdle jumps
  • Bear Crawl to finish


1. Movement Prep
Forward Jogging 2x 20 yards
Backward Jogging 2x 20 yards
Power Skips AMAR
Side Shuffle 2x 10 yards
Athletic Stance – Incorporate Jumps
Depth Jumps 1x 10 yards
Side Shuffle Jumping Jacks 1x 10 yards
Wall Drill 3x
Arm Swings 3x
Step Outs 2x 10 sec.
Static Mountain Climbers – Vertical Shins 2x 10 seconds
Clock Drill
Medicine Ball Slams 1×5 front
Plank Holds 1x 20 sec.
Ladder 2 linear and 2 lateral
2. Speed Skills
Hurdle Jumps, right, left & both feet 4x 10 seconds
Hurdle-2-Sprint 4x 5 yards
Depth Jump 2×5
Drop Step-2-Crossover 2x
Lateral Box Jump 2×6 each way
Frisbee Angle Sprints 2x each side
Stop & Go Sprints 3x 10 yards
3. Strength Skill Practice
Kettlebell Deadlifts
Ring Pulls
Lateral Lunges
4. Obstacle Course – POD Day 1 4. Obstacle Course Day 2
Rescue Team – Sled Push/Pull
1A. Kettlebell Deadlift – 4×3

1B. Box Jump – 4×3


2A. Blue Saucer Sled Push – 10 yards

2B. Squat – 4×3


3A. Ring Pulls 3×2

3B. Lateral Lunges 3×2 each leg

10 yard sled pull with rope
10 yard sled push

10 yard sled pull with rope

10 yard sled push

Teammate repeats

*We use a flat bench that is flipped over as the sled. The athletes push the legs of the bench.


1. Movement Prep
Forward Jogging 2x 20 yards
Backward Jogging 2x 20 yards
Power Skips AMAR
Side Shuffle 1x 10 yards
Athletic Stance 1x 10 yards
Jumping Jack Shuffle 1x 10 yards
Side Shuffle Jumping Jacks 1x 10 yards
Wall Drill 3x
Arm Swings 3x
Step Outs 2x 10 sec.
Static Mountain Climbers – Vertical Shins 2x 10 seconds
Clock Drill (Hip Turn) 2x
Front Medicine Ball Slams 5x
Plank Holds 1x 20 sec.
Ladder – 2 linear and 2 lateral
2. Speed Skills
Side Shuffle Back to Sprint 2x 5yards
Sleeper Sprints 2x 5yards
Backpedal-2-Sprint 2x 5yards
Open & Go Sprints 2x 5yards
Frisbee Angle Sprints 4x Distance varies
Drop step-2- Crossover 2x 5yards
Pass Sprints w/ Coverage 4x Distance Varies
Push & Go (push over standing tire & sprint) 4x 5yards
3. Strength Skill Practice
Kettlebell Deadlifts
Push Up
Box Jump
4. Obstacle Course Day 1
Fireman Fun – Rescue Medicine Ball
2 Throwers with soft dodgeballs in each corner2 runners at the start behind L screen4 others screens are set up in various positions to serve as cover for 2 runners. Runners can only stay behind screen for 3 seconds. Burpee penalty2 Medicine balls are to be recovered at the safe spot and brought back to the start.

If a runner is hit by a ball they are out of the game

Teams switch once med balls are returned or runners are knocked out with dodgeball

Play as many innings as you wish

Ladders and hurdles were used to add a level of difficulty

5. Obstacle Course – The Finish
Junior American Gladiator
2 Throwers with soft dodgeballs in each corner2 runners at the start behind L screen4 others screens are set up in various positions to serve as cover for 2 runners. Runners can only stay behind screen for 3 seconds. Burpee penalty2 Medicine balls are to be recovered at the safe spot and brought back to the start.

If a runner is hit by a ball they are out of the game

Teams switch once med balls are returned or runners are knocked out with dodgeball

Play as many innings as you wish

Ladders and hurdles were used to add a level of difficulty






Squatting for Female Athletes

by Wil Fleming

Female athletes are one of my favorite “subsets” of athletes I get to work with. The reasons are plenty but in no particular order:

  • They are typically less tied to the egomaniacal pursuit of more weight.
  • They have usually less experience with “bad” training.
  • They are typically better movers at a young age compared to males at the same age.

Most importantly is the recipe for a young female’s success is quite simple, keep them moving well, and get them strong. I first learned this as a collegiate athlete, where the females that came to the track team would all have exceptional talent, and had incredible accomplishments (most were all-state, or state champion athletes), but many had never been in the weight room before. Once exposed to some high quality strength training their performances exploded! It was like adding gas to a match.

This recipe does not hold just for high level collegiate athletes, it holds for the middle school volleyball player, and high school basketball player too. Strength is the great equalizer in female athletics.

Adding Strength

With any young athlete, nearly everything they do can help them add strength. That is why so many disparate programs can be seen at the high school level, and so many of them work. Young athletes are very pliable to the demands you give them, and adaptation can occur to nearly anything.

The key though to adding more strength, more quickly, is to teach your young athletes, and especially females big compound movements early and often.

The most important among these compound movements is the squat.

Squatting Coaching

First and foremost, squatting should be simple. Do not over complicate and make a basic movement pattern a high tension high threshold movement. Do not over coach this (this goes for all athletes).

  • Feet Flat
  • Stand up straight (means no anterior tilt, and no rib flare)
  • Hips first
  • Knees over small toe on the way out
  • Push the knees out on the way up.

Every person’s squat will look different, but remember if it doesn’t look athletic it probably isn’t. Every squat though, from an individual person should look very similar, goblet, to front, to back should all look very close to the same. Try not to coach this as a “lift” but as a “movement”.

The caveat for coaching females is that a great deal of them will likely have a valgus collapse on the way up. In most instances this isn’t something you need to “coach them out of,” instead make them aware of it and then help them train their way out of it.

Training their way out of it means more work on glute development, and more single leg work. Awareness and strength will eventually make this a non-issue.

The bigger concern when it comes to injury prevention is valgus collapse on the way down. While this is rare, if this occurs the athlete is not yet ready for squatting the current load and should spend more time on single leg work and go down in load.

Squatting Progression

For female athletes the progression will be exactly the same as for any athlete.

  • Goblet Squat or Bearhug Squat
  • Racked KB Squat
  • Front Squat
  • Back Squat

The cool thing about this progression is based on bodyweight alone most female athletes will immediately see a large return in strength even while doing goblet and bearhug squats.

Check out this video to see an example:

Programming Squatting for Females

Squatting is certainly an important movement, and will deliver an enormous return to the athlete, but is only one part of a complete program. Athletes should squat 1-2x per week with a variation in the placement of load. The coach should take care to balance the demands of squatting with an equal or greater amount of posterior chain work (hamstrings and glutes especially). While a full depth squat will certainly help the athletes develop in the posterior chain, a squat is not a panacea to all that female or any athletes need.

I have found good success with using an alternating linear type of periodization with female athletes, where in 3 week blocks are dedicated to reps of 8-10, 5-6, 6-8, 3-5 respectively. Each individual block can focus on one or multiple types of squatting movements.

Return on investment

Females that are coached to squat the right way will see an enormous improvement in performance markers like 10 yard sprint, standing long jump, and vertical jump.

With proper mechanics the squat can also assist in preventing non-contact knee injuries by strengthening the major muscle groups around the knee.

A Coaching Tip from Jim Kielbaso

By Jim Kielbaso

Because acceleration is such a vital part of most sports, plan on devoting a significant amount of practice time to developing this trait. Always explain that a drill is intended to work on acceleration and that adequate rest periods will be given between sets. During speed and agility training, some athletes will simply try to get through the workout rather than giving 100% intensity on each drill. While this kind of pacing may get an athlete through a workout, it will never allow for optimal speed development. If the athletes understand that this particular portion of the workout is not “conditioning” work, they will be much more willing to give 100% on each repetition.

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Of course, it is up to the coach to keep the drills fresh and always allow plenty of time to recover between sets. Athletes may actually seem a little bored, but it is important to explain what they are working on, why they are resting so much and that performing the acceleration drills with sub-maximal effort will severely limit the training benefits.

When you notice an athlete giving sub-maximal effort, talk to him/her about how the nervous system will never learn how to perform optimally if the athlete does not consistently give maximal effort. It is also useful to ask the athlete why maximal effort is not being given.

Speed and agility for athletes 3

An example of what to say is, “It looks to me like you’re not running as fast as you possibly can. I think you are capable of more. Is there a reason you are not pushing yourself right now?”

This puts the responsibility on the athlete, and forces him/her to think about why 100% effort is not being given. Asking this question is also a good idea because there may actually be something limiting the athlete. There could be an injury or emotional issue that needs to be addressed, and the only way to find out is by asking a simple question. If done tactfully, without demeaning the athlete, this kind of discussion will also tell the athlete that you care and want the best for him/her.

If the athlete tells you there is nothing wrong and has no reason for the lack of effort, consider asking whether or not he/she wants to improve. If the answer is “no,” a more in-depth discussion needs to take place. If, however, the answer is “yes,” then all of the responsibility falls on the athlete’s shoulders. If the behavior continues, you can remind him/her of your conversation and explain that the lack of effort is not acceptable.

When these steps have been taken, athletes are apt to give excellent effort on each drill, thus enhancing the training benefits.



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How To Push Through Your Fears, Insecurities, And Threats

Dr. Haley Perlus

by Haley Perlus, PhD

Author’s note: When you read this article, in addition to enhancing the performances of the athletes you coach, relate the information to your personal performance and success in sport, health, and business.

There’s a fabulous video being shared online right now about a high school girl, named Kayla Montgomery, who is an award-winning long distance runner even though she’s battling Multiple Sclerosis. MS is a disease of the central nervous system that disrupts information between the brain and body. It’s basically your body’s immune system attacking it’s own nerve cells. MS symptoms include fatigue, gait difficulties, numbness, and muscle spasms – not exactly helpful for a runner.

The video circling the web is of Kayla Montgomery running – running and winning! Even more impressive, during the state championships, Kayla falls during the race, gets back up, and continues to pass all of her opponents to win the race. I also want to point out that, at the finish line of every race, Kayla falls into her coach’s arms in such agony and fear because she can’t feel her body. You see, Kayla’s body needs to be at cool temperatures in order for her to feel her limbs. When she runs, similar to you and me, her body temperature increases leaving her numb.

Looking at Kayla’s entire story thus far, there are so many inspiring and energizing mental toughness moments to focus on. I could focus on her ability to take control of her MS instead of it taking control over her life. I could talk about the truly wonderful relationship she has with her coach. I could concentrate on her fall during the state champs and discuss why it is important to always get up and keeping moving forward. These all target mental toughness. What I have chosen to focus on for this column is something else Kayla demonstrates – something that every high achiever has figured out.

Crossfit to Fight

In its simplest explanation, when it comes to motivation, people either aim to seek pleasure or avoid pain. One inevitably takes precedence over the other. However, after researching high achievers in both sport and business, pain and pleasure are not mutually exclusive. High achievers have figured out that you can’t have ultimate pleasure without enduring some pain. Pain is any physical, emotional and/or psychological struggle. It can be anything from muscle soreness to performance frustration. For Kayla Montgomery, her struggle is the numbness she experiences every time she runs. To win her long distance races, she literally runs towards physical numbness to the point where she can no longer feel her body starting at her toes all the way to her waist. Then, when the race is finally over, since she can’t come to a coordinated stop, she needs her coach to catch her. At this moment, she is helpless. She goes through even more discomfort while she waits in fearful anticipation for somebody to place ice all over her body in an effort to bring back her physical sensations.

What makes Kayla mentally tough is that she embraces the intense discomfort of numbness in order to win her races and literally outrun the disease. When asked why she takes on the struggle and discomfort of running, Kayla says it’s the cost of competing and she’s willing to pay it. Running makes her feel happy, normal and whole. When she’s running, she feels like she’s battling the disease. “As long as I’m running, everything is fine.”

To realize your true potential, there will be struggle along the way. You’ve got to be okay with moving towards it and then surpassing it to realize your ultimate success. Barbara Sahakian, professor of clinical neuropsychology at the University of Cambridge is quoted in Steven Kotler’s new book, The Rise of the Superman. She says, “Once danger becomes its own reward, risk moves from a threat to be avoided to a challenge to be risen toward. An entirely new relationship with fear begins to develop. When risk is a challenge, fear becomes a compass – literally pointing people in the direction they need to go next. You have to learn this lesson. To really achieve anything you have to be able to tolerate and enjoy risk. It has to become a challenge you look forward to. In all fields, to make exceptional discoveries you need risk – you’re just never going to have a breakthrough without it.”

This quote introduces two words: fear and challenge. Remember this:

Fear makes us retreat;
Challenge makes us defeat

What I propose is following in the footsteps of Kayla Montgomery and turn your fears (including insecurities and threats) into challenges. Whatever obstacle you are facing, focus on one aspect that can become your challenge to overcome. For example, the box jump is used in many conditioning programs to develop explosive power, but is often feared because of the cuts and bruises it leaves if the athlete fails to perform the movement correctly. To help the athletes you coach turn their fear of the box jump into a challenge, instruct them to focus on extending their hips while they jump in an effort to get the necessary height for landing on the box. Directing their attention to technique distracts them away from any fear and enhances their performance.

I’d like to leave you with one more quote from Kayla Montgomery. She said, “…if I’m not able to run at some point down the road, then at least I can look back and know that, when I could, I gave it my all.” Effort is the only thing we 100 percent control. Know that you’re probably going to experience some struggle, but also know that, when you exert every ounce of effort to conquering your challenges, you’ll be exactly where you need to be in order to give yourself the best shot at peak performance and the most awesome experience you can have.