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High School Athletes Strength Training
By Wil Fleming
Nearly all high school athletes, with very few exceptions, need to
develop explosive strength.
The instances in which the skill of explosive strength are used in
sports are endless, but when used “explosiveness” is very apparent.
A linemen firing off from their stance.
A soccer player rising above his opponents to head a ball toward goal.
A volleyball player making a quick lateral move to reach for the dig.
Instances of explosive strength are very vivid when used and typically are a part of a game changing play.
Typically I would now talk about the importance of Olympic lifts, but in some instances using a barbell is not possible due to equipment limitations or even the readiness of the athlete. In those instances, the need for High School Athletes does not diminish, but the need for creativity does increase.
Foot Strike: The most obvious but most overlooked component of training young athletes.
About eight years ago, one of my high school high jumpers, Danielle, came running down to me at a track meet to tell me the news. As the coach of the long, triple and high jumps I was making the rounds at a meet trying to miss as few competitive attempts as possible, in a facility that spread the jump areas out. Needless to say, I missed her high jumps attempts. She was about to fill me in.
Between spurts of laughter, Danielle, whose athleticism is best described as “she is a really nice girl”, managed to tell me that during her approach she fell, crashed into the standard, caused a ruckus but rather enjoyed the experience. She then bounded off. Momentarily, I was relieved to have missed it. Days later I scrounged up the video to see what I expected. Poor foot placement in the latter steps of the approach and some other factors caused the wipeout.
Her problem was caused by the same part of athleticism that also led to many of the great performances that day: the” foot strike.” “Foot strike,” refers to the foot contacting the ground while running. That instant is vital to the success or failure of nearly every sporting endeavor, yet it is rarely emphasized, coached, taught or even discussed. It definitely should be. Since then, the other co-head coach of the track team and I have focused many hours upon this very topic. Here are some things to think about:
Is there a difference in ‘Injury Prevention’ for soccer versus baseball with young athletes?
How about hockey versus volleyball?
Watch this video on Youth Sports Injuries and see what you think:
Youth Sports Training with Weights
At what age should a young person begin lifting weights or using Kettlebells?
The question I get asked more than any other.
Here’s my brief thought on the matter (taken right from the curriculum found in the IYCA’s Youth Fitness Specialist – Level 1 Certification (more…)
Youth Fitness Tools
What do you REALLY need to train young athletes properly?
What if I gave you an exact template to spend no more than $50, but with that small investment, could stock your entire Youth Fitness & Sport Training business with exactly what you needed to both:
Get started now…
And, be fully equipped to ‘do it right’?
Think I’m crazy?
Then watch this short video:
Youth Sports Training For;
Mobility & Active Flexibility
Injury Prevention – Mechanics
Injury Prevention – Deficits
I had 20 minutes, one volleyball court and 50+ young athletes…
So, here’s how I broke it down:
(A) Mobility/Active Flexibility (7 Minutes)
Youth Training Systems
(1) Create An Ascension System
Prior to my arrival, if you watched the Novice Teams (8 – 11 years old) go through their conditioning regime and then you watched the Senior Team (16 – 18) right after, you’d have trouble distinguishing the difference.
Across the board; identical.
It’s important for me to hear what you have to say about this topic on young athletes…
Read this short (but hopefully powerful) ‘Part 1’ and then chime in to let me know what you think…
I’ve just released a very special video of one of my favorite presenters in the world of sport and kids fitness training, Lee Taft.
It’s from the 2010 IYCA International Summit, where Lee started off his presentation by playing Simon Says for kids fitness with the entire audience – all 300 of us!!
But it wasn’t all fun and games as he made some incredibly valid points before he took us through the game:
Young Athletes Programming
In far too many situations throughout North America, strength coaches and personal trainers make common errors in their programming for young athletes, many of which can lead to overtraining syndromes –
Critical Analysis of Biomotor Ability
In working with young athletes, there is very little reason to ever ‘test’ their ability at certain lifts or speed variances. Your programming guidelines must be based around instilling proper execution of technique in your young athletes from a lift and movement economy standpoint. Having said that, gleaning 1, 3, 5 or 8 RM values on any particular exercise should be deemed a distant secondary consideration to teaching the proper values of form and function.
By using a ‘Teaching Model’ of exercise development rather than a ‘Training Model’ you are taking the pressure off of kids to reach for biomotor improvements at the expense of developing sound technique.
Changing Exercises to Often
Although when training adult clientele, there are neural advantages to altering your exercise selection often, with young athletes the reality is that the initial stages of training should comprise little more than dedicated time to teach and become proficient in the basics of lift and movement economy.
Far too often, trainers work to make young athlete routines challenging and neurally stimulating by incorporating complex programming and exercise selection into the mix early in the athletes’ training life. Resist the urge to make a neurological impact and instead, focus your efforts on developing sound competency in just a few basic lifts – the foundation you build during this time is paramount to eventually increasing both the volume and intricacy of your programming.
Consider the Athlete’s Entire Life
When creating a training program for a young athlete, you must take into consideration their entire life – that is, don’t just make training sessions hard for the sake of making them hard.
You do a disservice to the athlete and your business by following this practice.
For instance, if the young athlete is in-season for a particular sport, there practice and game schedule must be considered into the reality of your overall programming. Soccer practices, for instance four days per week coupled with one to two games per week, will leave any young athlete bordering on the verge of overtraining syndrome as it is. Your job during times like this is to augment them with restorative training that does not serve to push them lower beneath what would be considered normal and healthy biological levels.
Additionally, you must work to understand your young athletes’ eating and sleeping habits as well. Inappropriate nutrition and poor sleeping patterns (which many teenagers face today) are precursors to overtraining syndrome in that they are two of the more important restorative elements trainees can use to combat such concerns.
As a professional trainer working with young athletes, you are responsible and must assume accountability for their overall health and wellbeing. When training young athletes and in an effort to ensure quality, efficacy-based training practices, resist the temptation to do the ‘norm’ by making exercise sessions hard and physically challenging. Instead, follow the three key points above to ensure optimal training conditions and guard against the very real concerns of overtraining.
Complete Athlete Development is the number #1 resource available that
shows you EXACTLY how to create cutting-edge training programs for young
athletes of all ages and for all sports, that will keep them progressing without
the concern of over-training.
Increased Athletic Ability
Increased Speed and Agility
Increased Weight Room Technique
Increased Flexibility and Mobility
Youth Fitness Professionals
Personal Trainer = Someone who works with a client to plan or implement an
exercise or fitness program.
Coach = Someone who gives instruction, advice or direction.
As defined by Webster’s Dictionary.
Much has been discussed about my use of the term ‘Coach’ in favor or the word
‘Trainer’ when describing myself as well as IYCA certified professionals.
And I have been asked many times why I have such a strong inclination towards
the one versus the other.
Re-read the definitions above and you should be able to figure it out for yourself.
The Art of Coaching information I provide in the Level 1 YouthFitness Specialist
course is both a great source of pride for us here at the IYCA, but also serves as a
strong differentiating factor in terms of our organization versus other educational
bodies in this industry.
Programming, training, exercise selection…
These are the sciences of our work.
Communication, coaching and instruction…
These are the arts within Youth Fitness.
Understanding how to reach each and every one of your young clients in a manner
that they will hear and respond to is perhaps the single greatest challenge facing
Youth Fitness Specialists.
We must be chameleon. We must accept the fact that understanding the specifics
associated with learning and communication are every bit as important, maybe
more so, than creating and implementing effective and developmentally-sound
Young Athletes Development Tips
Developing young athletes is not based solely on a given conditioning
coach’s understanding of scientifically valid measures of motor stimulus,
strength training or flexibility exercises. In fact, it could be argued that
given all of the critical information contained in this textbook on exercise
selection, methodology and sensitive period development, successful
coaches will be the ones who can teach and relay information to young
athletes well, more so than the coach who merely reads and digests the
scientific information offered via clinical research.
The science of developing young athletes, then, is centered in the particular
technical information associated with pediatric exercise science whereas
the art of developing a young athlete is based on a coach’s ability to teach.
There are several styles of coaching that do not adequately serve to aid in
a young athlete developing skill, yet are none-the-less common amongst
North American coaches and trainers.
An example of this would be the ‘Command Coach’. Command coaches
presume that the young athlete is a submissive receiver of instruction. The
instructions given and information offered moves in one direction only:
from the coach to the athlete. Coaches who display this habit believe that
coaching success is based on how well the athlete can reproduce the skills
as taught or demonstrated by the coach.
There are also various misappropriations relating to how young athletes
actually learn –
Young Athlete Success Story
"Brian completely changed the way I approached training and eating.
But even more than that, Brian completely changed my life"
It’s easy to get causal to comments like this isn’t it?
If you’ve had the kind of career I’ve been blessed to have, you hear
and read comments like that all the time.
This one in particular was written by Kim McCullough.
A standout young hockey player who I had the honor of training 10
years ago when she was just a teenager.
Now in her mid-20’s, Kim is a highly accomplished Strength Coach
herself, and widely known as one of the very best hockey-specific
trainers in the world.
She’s also a very significant and proud member of the IYCA.
So yes, I admit to hearing and reading comments like this one on
a very regular basis.
And I admit that I’ve grown rather numb to them.
They’re certainly nice to hear, but they don’t really penetrate.
Almost like I can’t relate to the enormity of being the guy who
"changed someones life".
But this comment by Kim really gave me pause to reflect today.
She wrote it only minutes after reading my new Youth Obesity
You see, Kim knows firsthand the impact I can have on someone.
My young athlete training system.
My nutritional program.
My mentoring style.
She knows what it’s like to be immersed in a ‘Brian Grasso’
Kim was a gifted hockey player.
But she was mis-directed in terms of training and nutrition.
And by her own admission, fat.
Some perspective changes on conditioning and food intake
changed her life completely.
And that’s all it took.
Kim knows very well that the greatest benefit of my system is
not founded in the earth shattering science and ‘secretive’
nature of my exercise selection or set and rep schemes.
She knows that it’s the perspective I carry on training,
nutrition and coaching that is the basis of my success.
And that is exactly what you’re going to find in my new
Youth Obesity Solution program.
Fad Diet…. NO!
Innovative Training System…. NO!
Intensive Boot Camp Template…. NO!
These are superficial issues and will NEVER be the solution
to a problem as big as youth obesity.
But you do get to understand my perspective on the matter and
how the ultimate solution is founded in understanding where the
problem actually lies.
The comments you read above from Kim were contained in a blog
she wrote yesterday promoting the Youth Obesity Solution to
her own loyal readership.
She was so impressed with the contents of my new program,
she just had to let her own customers know about how powerful
Here’s how Kim ended her blog –
"Brian has had a HUGE impact on my life, and as THE world renowned
expert on young athlete development, he has also helped tens of
thousands of kids worldwide. But the impact he is going to have with
his new program goes far beyond young athletes. Brian is tackling the
youth obesity epidemic head on and I have no doubt that his program
is going to be the solution. And we all need to be a part of it"
Sound advice from someone who knows firsthand just how powerful
my programs can be.
And how much they can change lives.
The title of Kim’s blog is this –
"The Coach That Changed My Life"
I’m honored and flattered.
Maybe it’s time you became a young athlete ‘life changer’ yourself.
Click below and get started on changing the world with me –