Archive for “Amount Of Time” Tag

Should Your Young Athletes Be Doing Power Cleans?

 

Young Athletes: Are Power Cleans with an Efficient Use of Our Time?

 

Young Athletes

 

By Jim Kielbaso

 

There is a great deal of anecdotal evidence and personal experience that comes into play when strength and conditioning coaches select strength training exercises, speed drills or conditioning routines for young athletes. The risk vs. reward scale is a great place to start, but not the only factor that should be considered. As a professional, I believe it is my ethical responsibility to prescribe safe exercises. But, according to the thought processes I’ve been hearing lately, it seems like a lot of people believe there are no bad exercises, just bad implementation. I understand the point to a degree, but I disagree. Risk vs. reward is one reason I feel this way, but there is another factor I weigh when making decisions.

 

Another ethical responsibility I think we all have is to implement “efficient” programs, and that is something I see missing more often than not. What I mean by that is that I think a lot of trainers waste time and energy doing things that won’t necessarily elicit the response with the young athletes that they’re after. I can see where someone may think “well, it might help, so I’ll implement it a little.” I can see that, but I hate to see coaches spending an inordinate amount of time on things that we’re not sure work better than other alternatives.

 

Let’s take the Power Clean as an example. Olympic lifting is a sport. There is a governing body and athletes compete against one another in the lifts. It’s possible that the lifts develop power, but it has never been shown that they develop power better than other alternatives. In my opinion, some of the alternatives such as dumbbell/trap bar squat jumps, pulls, DB pulls, and plyometrics are also much easier to teach and are much safer to implement and will elicit the same result. I’ve heard many coaches talk about how the catch is the most critical part of the clean to work on because that’s where the problems will be seen. The catch is also completely unnecessary, from a physiological standpoint, for developing power. Yet, as strength coaches, our romantic enchantment with the exercise keeps us doing it.

 

You’d think that if the exercise was SO great for young athletes that the rewards completely outweighed the risks, we’d have plenty of research showing just that. We don’t. We don’t have anything. It’s simply not out there.

 

Now, it might develop power. Let’s put that aside and think about whether or not it is efficient? How long does it take to get an athlete good enough at the lifts that they can actually derive the benefits? How much coaching and supervision does it take compared to, say, a squat jump? How safely will it be done when we’re not around or another coach is supervising? How many sets and reps are required to 1. Become proficient and 2. Get more powerful? We don’t know. And, is moving a bar with heavier weight even going to transfer to sport?

 

Hmmm. Again, we have no idea. What I do know are many professional strength coaches who tell me it takes them months to get their young athletes proficient enough at the clean that they no longer require daily instruction.

 

The principle of specificity states that in order for one skill to transfer to another, they need to be kinetically and kinematically the same for transfer to occur. The clean has been shown by Canavan to be dissimilar to a vertical jump, which is what is commonly argued as the movement it is most like. If it’s not like a VJ, then it’s nowhere near any other sport movement. So, is the transfer gone? I don’t know, but this principle seems to point in that direction. The principle also states that if x gets you better at y, then y should get you better at x. Playing a sport or practicing jumping does not make you better at the clean, so why do we expect the clean to get us better at a sport?

 

So, if we have no idea if it’s going to help us in sport, it takes a lot of time and energy to coach and implement, and it can be dangerous if done with slightly poor technique, is it an efficient way to spend our young athlete’s time? I have an opinion, but I don’t know the answer. I can kind of understand the argument that it helps prepare for sport, but is it efficient?

 

What I do know, is that gymnasts are incredibly powerful, flexible, and have great core strength and balance. So, should we all go through certifications for gymnastics and start implementing them with other young athletes because we want them to have all of those things? I would say that would be a poor use of our time. I know that jugglers have amazing hand-eye coordination. Should we implement juggling into our programs because we want our athletes to have that kind of coordination? Again, probably a waste of our time. So, why do we train for one sport to get better at another?

 

So, forget about whether the clean is safe or not. There are plenty of arguments either way. But, is it efficient?

Is it the best use of our time with young athletes?

Do we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is the best use of our time? In my opinion, if we can get the same result in half the time, why not use that option? I use the same thought process when determining workout volume. If I can get the same results in 45 minutes, 3 days a week, why would I ask my young athletes to train 2 hours a day, 4 days a week? But, many coaches do. I think it’s our responsibility to figure out how to maximize results in minimal time. Most young athletes are not professional strength athletes. They want to play their sport and should spend their time doing so. We should be with them the minimum amount of time possible and still get results. It’s like a prescription drug. A doctor is supposed to find the lowest dosage possible to get the desired response. As strength and conditioning professionals, I believe we should take the same approach when determining which exercises to include in our programs.

 

 

 

Why Performance Training Alone isn’t enough For Young Athletes

 

By Melissa Lambert

Young athletes require more than physical training

As a former collegiate athlete, I remember spending my off seasons training every opportunity I had including weight lifting, running and playing with the men’s team to increase my speed of play. I took pride in having the top times in running and physically being able to outplay others. However, I remember playing our rival team and making a huge mistake that could have resulted in the other team scoring. What could have possibly gone wrong when I was in the best shape of my life? I neglected the most significant component of an athlete; my mind. The mental aspect of any sport can make or break a talented athlete regardless of their training regiment. I didn’t spend nearly the amount of time training my mind as I did training my body.

It wasn’t until becoming a girls’ premier soccer coach and a licensed therapist that I realized how much of performance was based on mental skills. More of my time was spent off the practice field counseling my young athletes than actually playing. Coaches expect players to be ready to perform and leave all baggage behind, but if the athlete lacks mental toughness they will not see peak performance. Sport Psychologist, Gary Mack, defines the seven characteristics associated with mental toughness:

Competitive: An athlete who does whatever it takes to win and will go the extra mile for a team. As a coach or fitness professional, observe whether your athletes’ fight for the ball after making a mistake or give-up.

Confident: An athlete believes he or she can’t be stopped. These athletes believe in their abilities and don’t allow self-defeating thoughts to take over.

Control: Mentally tough athletes have control of their emotions and behaviors. They won’t allow coaches, players and parents to get into their head.

Committed: An athlete who is highly motivated will avoid letting outside distractions deter them from their goals. As a coach it’s important to observe the commitment of each individual athlete to themselves and to their team.

Composure: Mentally tough athletes who can deal with adversity and stay focused under pressure. Those athletes who lack faith in their abilities have more trouble managing their emotions.

Courage: Athletes who believe in themselves are more likely to take a risk. In order to improve individually and as a team an athlete must step out of their comfort zone.

Consistency: An athlete can play their best on the worst day. They possess inner strength to block thoughts that would negatively impact performance.

What coaches don’t realize is how much work goes into developing mentally tough young athletes and the impact of environmental influences. The most significant factor in preventing an athlete from being mentally tough is known as negative cognitions or thoughts.
As humans we all have core beliefs about the way we see ourselves, others and the world based on life experiences.
Young athletes who lives in the inner city is going to see the world differently than other young athletes who lives in a rural environment.

A therapeutic tool I commonly use with both my young patients and athletes is cognitive mapping. The athlete would identify a series of events, followed by their thoughts, feelings, behaviors and consequences. The athlete would be able to visually see how a particular event led to a specific thought.
For example, a 13 year old male basketball player missed the winning foul shot and thought he must be a horrible athlete. As a result he may have felt depressed or angry, which resulted in giving up. The consequence was sitting the bench for not working hard after making a mistake. However, if the athlete was able to recognize the belief “I am a horrible athlete” as being irrational and change his thought about the experience, his feeling would also change.

 

Coaches can support their young athletes by encouraging them to set daily or short-term goals that are measurable.

Children specifically like to set long-term goals like winning a conference championship or setting new personal records but lack action steps to get there. As a coach, be sure to know the goals of your young athletes and check in frequently on their progress.
It is also important to stress the power of control each athlete carries as an individual and as a team. It is guaranteed mistakes will be made; however are your young athletes responding by working harder or giving up? Mentally tough young athletes have the ability to control their thoughts from becoming self-defeating.
A baseball pitcher may walk a batter, but how he perceives the situation will impact the outcome of his next series of pitches.
Coaches play an intricate role in helping to develop mentally sound athletes at any level whether it’s recreational or an elite program. Studies have proven that mental training will not only enhance performance and improve productivity but increase one’s passion or enjoyment of the sport. However, achieving inner excellence takes time and effort in the same manner as physical training.

One of the biggest mistakes coaches make is having the need to improve performance solely through training and play. Realistically, ask yourself whether it’s your need that’s getting met or the need of your Young Athletes. If you coach a high school team and have practice the week of finals, be attentive to their emotions and take time to address what’s on their mind. Performance training and talent can only go so far without the ability to conquer self-defeating thoughts.

 

young athletesMelissa Lambert
LPC, M.Ed, YFS1, YNS, HSSCS
Child and Adolescent Therapist

Metaphors and Youth Fitness Success

As with anything, the degree to which you can successfully build upwards is solely determined by the strength, depth and solidification of your foundation…

 

This leads me to my first metaphor…


 

Don’t Rush Grade 2

 

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Alwyn Cosgrove's Secrets to Success

Each week, I post a new audio for IYCA Members.

 

I call them the ‘8-Minute Rapid Fire’.

 

The amount of information you can get out of someone in just 8-minutes is absolutely amazing… I am stunned at how much experts can reveal in this short amount of time!

 

I want you to listen to Alwyn’s interview carefully.

 

He was diagnosed with cancer twice over the past five years, beat it both times, and in the process, became one of the most successful and inspirational Fitness Professionals in the world…

 

… If this guy is not qualified to teach you about ‘Success Secrets’, I don’t know who is.

 

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