Building Relationships & Buy-In – Jared Markiewicz

Setting the Foundation for Motivating Athletes I want to walk you through a situation that happens to me often in the gym: I see my athlete, Drake, and his heels are coming off the floor as he transitions from the eccentric to the concentric portion of the squat. So I cue him: “drive down through the floor to stand up.” Now I walk away to coach someone else since his set is done.  A few minutes later, I am watching from a distance and I see after his second rep, his heels come off the floor. But then rep 3,.. More »

Is Olympic Lifting a MUST? – Jim Kielbaso

Power/explosiveness is one of the most important attributes a strength & conditioning professional (SCP) can develop in an athlete. One of the most important decisions the SCP can make is how power development will be accomplished in his/her program. For years, coaches have debated over the need for Olympic lifting to develop power. Proponents of Olympic lifting cited huge power outputs and the importance of power being generated with high force production, or against high external loads. Loading the triple extension in an “athletic” movement like an O-lift was a staple of many programs. On the flip side, other coaches.. More »

Cluster Training, Part 2 – Karsten Jensen

In Part 1 of Karsten Jensen’s article on Cluster Training, he explained many of the elements that lay the foundation for cluster training.  In Part 2, he goes into more depth on the 5 steps to effective use of cluster training so that you can immediately begin to utilize this concept in your training programs.  Be sure to go back and read Part 1 before your begin reading Part 2. SECTION 5 Tactic #3: Auto-regulated Training The definition of the word auto includes self and spontaneous, used  in  the  formation  of compound-words. (24)  Thus, auto-regulated training is self-regulated – or athlete/client.. More »

Cluster Training: Break Down the Set to Build Up the Body, Part 1 – Karsten Jensen

A few years ago I consulted briefly with a young woman who wanted to learn Olympic Weightlifting. From our first session it was clear that she had great motivation, adequate flexibility, solid coordination but little muscle mass. At the end of the first session she was given technical exercises to work on as well as Front Squats that were to be performed in the following way: The safety pins were placed corresponding to the height of her shoulders in the bottom position of the Front Squat. She was to perform one repetition at a time by stepping under the bar,.. More »

Keeping Shoulders Healthy – Jordan Tingman

The shoulder is a highly complex joint with many muscles and ligaments surrounding it for stability and protection. Because the shoulders are so inter-connected with the torso, I consider the shoulder joint part of the core. Proximal stability is required for safe execution and protection of the shoulder joint, and left untrained can lead to injury or pain at some point in an athlete’s career.  Shoulder stability and strengthening exercises should aim to strengthen the rotator cuff and structures surrounding the shoulder.  When performing any shoulder exercise, it is important to emphasize retracting the scapulae to ensure that the exercise.. More »

Narrow Your Niche, Increase Your Impact – Brett Klika

We’ve all heard the old adage “A Jack of all trades is a master of none”. This holds true to nearly every aspect of life, including the role many of us have assumed as a youth strength and conditioning coach. In becoming a youth coach, we’ve definitely narrowed down our focus of mastery. However, within “youth” there are now more varied needs than ever. Sport coaches, classroom teachers, and parents are now looking for specific solutions to the specific needs of niche populations within youth. These niche populations may not be served effectively under the “come all” strength and conditioning.. More »

Empathy in Coaching

Many coaches pride themselves on having high expectations and holding athletes to them. Setting standards and holding athletes accountable is a great way to raise their levels of performance and maturity. But, as the concept of emotional intelligence (EQ) grows in the coaching world, we’re finding it more and more important to understand what’s underneath the way athletes act rather than always taking the “my way or the highway” approach.  While a balanced approach is optimal for most situations, it’s important to understand how EQ can positively contribute to many coaching situations.   In Daniel Goleman’s book Working With Emotional Intelligence,.. More »

6 Reasons Your Athletes Shouldn’t Deadlift – Phil Hueston

Deadlifts are the worst. Let’s face it, everyone hates them. They’re not fun. They’re not cool. They’re hard. Doing them is just a grind. I think your athletes should skip the deadlifts. Find something better, easier and cooler to do in their place like some fancy, new piece of equipment or the sexy new exercise variation you just saw on Instagram. Just don’t include the deadlift in your athlete’s training plans. Here’s the reasons why your athletes shouldn’t deadlift. 1. Everyone loves an anterior pelvic tilt – The glute and hamstring activation stimulated by the deadlift helps correct anterior pelvic.. More »

Progressive Overload: Training vs. Exercise – Jim Kielbaso

The principle of progressive overload is perhaps the most important concept for coaches to understand when developing athletes.  It is one of the most basic differences between training and simply exercising. Unfortunately, this concept is often misunderstood and misapplied, especially when working with athletes under 18 years old.  While developing athletes can be a very complex undertaking, I’d like to simplify the concept of progressive overload and discuss how to most appropriately apply it as part of an overall training program. The most simplistic way to explain progressive overload is to slowly challenge yourself to do more than you’re currently.. More »

Improving Strength to Weight Ratio with Your Youngest Athletes – Brett Klika

According to the Centers for Disease Control, it appears that roughly 32% of children are either overweight or obese. Compound this with large scale youth inactivity and the result is a growing number of young athletes who will struggle with poor strength to weight ratios beginning at a young age. As youth strength and conditioning coaches, we are in a position to help these children improve this important component of health and athleticism while minimizing frustration with our youngest athletes. While bodyweight exercises may prove troublesome for these youngsters, there are other effective movement strategies that can help them build.. More »

Concussion Awareness & Mitigation, Part 2 – Joe Powell

Part 2 of 2 on concussion awareness and mitigation for the S&C Professional discusses when and how to program strength training for the neck, as well as exercise variations that can fit any program. Strength Training the Neck and Its Associated Musculature Neck training and its importance is not a new-found fad or focus in the strength and conditioning community. However, as part 1 detailed, what has emerged recently is concussion awareness and hopeful prevention has spread from not only the contact sports, but to the non-contact type as well. Clinical diagnosis along with research-based studies are showing athletes in.. More »

Exercise Stimulates The Brain – Karlie Intlekofer Ph.D.

Exercise Programming that Maximizes Brain Benefits As young athletes develop, part of their growing skillset includes the ability to follow verbal instructions and make good decisions. This challenges kids to direct their attention and remain organized as they carry out goal-directed behaviors, using an ability known as executive function. Young athletes have an advantage in developing executive function because the brain regions that help us stay on task are highly sensitive to aerobic exercise. In fact, a child’s executive function is immediately improved by a single bout of physical activity.1-4 There is also a long-term cognitive improvement after regular exercise.. More »

Training Muscles vs. Movements – Karsten Jensen

Regardless of which process strength coaches use to create training programs, such a process must have a step where exercises are selected. Exercise selection is always executed based on certain criteria that include: Scientific research Foundational bio-mechanical principles First person experience with athletes. It is logical to assume that the better the criteria, the greater the likelihood of a positive outcome of the training program. Criteria include principles, strategies, and tactics. This article suggests the 1st Principle of exercise selection, followed by a description of primary exercise selection strategies. Last, current research findings on the effects of single-joint vs multi-joint.. More »

Action Potentials, Plants & Paul Revere: The Spread of LTAD & A Call to Action – Joe Eisenmann

Currently, there is considerable interest, discussion and debate about long-term athlete development (LTAD) in America. The IYCA is one of several groups educating and creating awareness on this topic, and there have been several excellent blogs and resources made available. My entire life has been dedicated to the growing, maturing, exercising, and performing youngster. In the past year, I have given several talks along the lines of ‘LTAD: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ that cover a range of topics and concepts such as the current issues in youth sports and physical activity; the history and underpinnings of Long.. More »

How Physical Activity Enhances Brain Power – Erica Suter

If you’re a sport parent or coach, chances are, you enroll your kids in strength and conditioning programs so they become stronger, faster, and more resilient. Of course, you want kids to perform at their best physically, whether that is by scoring goals, blowing by defenders, shooting three pointers, outrunning opponents, bodying off defenders, or making the audience “ooh” and “ahh” with sharp agility jukes. Expounding further, you want your kids safeguarded from injury and able to enjoy their sport, instead of being sidelined. While performance and injury prevention are the backbone to youth strength and conditioning programs, I’d argue.. More »

Athletic Scholarships & Dream Teams – Greg Schaible

The allure of earning athletic scholarships drives people to take massive action.  This phenomenon has been around for years, but it seems to be intensifying.  This article will address some of the factors involved in earning athletic scholarships and will use my personal experiences to illustrate the challenges of this process.  Competition vs. Talent Stacking First it was the Dream Team! Then it was the Big 3 with Lebron, Wade, and Bosh. Now it’s the Warriors or pretty much anywhere Lebron is playing. It seems to be most prevalent in the NBA but certainly it happens across all pro sports.. More »

Muscle Clean & Muscle Snatch Variations – Jordan Tingman

Add the muscle clean and muscle snatch to your toolbox As a collegiate strength and conditioning coach, we deal a lot with rookies coming into the weight room with little-to-no technique with regard to the Olympic variations.  Many people think the Olympic lifts are simple, but we spend a great deal of time teaching them and cleaning up errors that have been developed as a result of poor instruction.  Take your time when teaching these lifts to young athletes so they learn good habits, and progress slowly instead of focusing on how much weight is on the bar.   In order.. More »

Training Kids With Autism: The LDD Approach – Eric Chessen

“Okay so we’re gonna do squats so what I need you to do is first go to the ball and then feet out and look forward and remember…” “Hold up. You want to see how I do it?” (coach nods) “Squat.” (Then I demonstrate the squat) It’s one of those crossover moments where a coach might find me during a bathroom break and tell me that there are striking similarities between coaching young athletes and coaching athletes with autism. Yup. We talk about simplification in coaching and there is the constant pull to give more information. The art of coaching,.. More »

Conditioning Games for Young Athletes – Brett Klika

Working with children at any age is an art as well as a science. As coaches, we aim to push our young athletes out of their comfort zone so they can grow physically and mentally within their sport and beyond. Science continues to provide methods by which we can do this effectively. However, we must also find ways make the process enjoyable and engaging for the kids involved. Many of us remember the “lines, laps, and lectures” that marred our experience with youth sports. We also remember that special coach or training environment that brought out the best in us… More »

In the Fast Lane – A Speed & Agility Roundtable

Having quick, agile athletes is vital to most sports, so it should be a focus for every strength and conditioning program. We asked a roundtable of experts how they satisfy the need for speed in their training. When thinking about speed and agility, many people picture the highlight-reel moments—an Olympic sprinter blazing through a 100-meter dash, a wide receiver breaking away down the sideline, or a baseball player stealing second. What do those three scenarios have in common? The athletes are running in a straight line. However, as strength coaches know, speed and agility training is not so straightforward. Linear.. More »