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Learn How To Select The Perfect Speed and Agility Drills For Your Athletes
How do you go about selecting speed and agility drills for your athletes daily use and instruction? If you were like me you would choose the ones that you like, equal parts lateral and linear and then write them in the program. You would probably use some progressions from simple to complex.
Well that is what I used to do.
Recently our speed and agility programming has become systemized in a similar way as our strength training. This has helped our athletes to become much better at the skill of speed and agility. We are able to determine where each athlete is struggling and design the program to improve in that area.
Is the young athlete struggling in recognition?
Is their technique lacking?
Are they not powerful enough to explode out cuts?
To actually break up speed and agility programming into the parts we need to focus on, it is important to understand what it is that can improve through speed and agility drills.
In terms of linear speed there are 2 primary areas in which we can see improvement.
The first of those is in the technique of the movement. By improving technique we are truly working to improve the athletes ability to achieve biomechanically advantageous positions. We look to improve the athletes overall body position in the acceleration phase of linear sprinting, the position of foot contact, and the use of the arms during acceleration
Secondly we look to improve power production or maximal explosive strength in the early phases of acceleration. Training for power, in speed events can effect maximum strength, as well as bring about neuromuscular changes.
When it comes to lateral speed there are again 2 primary areas in which we can look to cause improvement.
Again we will look to see improvement in the athletes technique of movement. Of greatest concern to us is the athletes overall and specific foot position and the hip height during the change of direction maneuver.
The second area and often overlooked area of change of direction that we will seek to improve is mental cognition. The speed of change of direction movements is often determined by the athlete’s ability to recognize and process the information being presented to them, and their ability to react to the given stimulus.
Using these 4 categories where we can effect the most change we have devised a “4 puzzle piece” speed and agility training program for athletes.
Puzzle Piece 1: Linear Speed Training Technique
Piece 1 focuses on creating the foundations upon which we can build power and speed. All the power in the world will be for nothing if the athlete cannot get in, and maintain the correct positions.
A variety of drills can be used for training linear speed, but being that it is the “skill of speed” we are trying to improve, each needs to be coaching intensive. Simple 10 yd sprints from a split stance can allow you to get athletes in the correct starting position, with hands and weight distribution just as you would like to see them.
Puzzle Piece 2: Linear Power
Improving linear power is greatly dependent upon an athlete’s strength and explosive strength training, that being said the cyclic nature of sprinting requires that time be devoted in the training process to cyclic power development.
To improve cyclic power resisted sprints of a short distance with long rest periods are the most appropriate training method. Prowler push sprints, sled drag sprints, and band resisted sprints all fit this mode. While the actual technique of sprinting may be altered slightly, the focus is on the rapid and repeated development of power.
Puzzle Piece 3: Lateral Speed Training Technique
Piece 3 gets us to the basics of lateral change of direction. Many athletes lack the necessary tools to cut and change direction effectively to start with: developing the proper foot position in relation to the body, the proper foot position in relation to the ground and the proper hip height are the areas of focus.
Short distance single plane movements start this progression e.g. 1 shuffle step to a cut. We progress our athletes to greater distances and then add new directions of movement out of the cut or new types of movement into the cut e.g. crossover 10 yards to sprint.
Puzzle Piece 4: Complex, Recognition Lateral Speed Training
The last piece of the puzzle is using cognitive skills to more closely replicate the conditions of game play. The speed of lateral movement is determined by an athlete’s ability to recognize and react to the stimulus on the field.
A great drill for this is our “5 Cone Drill.” With 5 different colored cones spaced evenly in a line the coach should use verbal or visual cues to let the athlete know what cone they must move towards. The type of movment (shuffle, crossover, sprint) should be determined beforehand, and the athlete will move to the cone using that movement pattern.
Using these 4 pieces to design your speed and agility training will allow you to see where your athletes are lacking ability and improve in just that area. Your athletes and your program will benefit from taking a new approach to speed and agility.
Youth Fitness Resources
By Wil Fleming
I get a lot of questions regarding what IYCA product other coaches should buy. To my inbox, in person, and on facebook the question is always “I am thinking of buying Product X, and also product Y if you had to rank them what would it be?”
Continuing education is one of my favorite things to spend money on. I know that there is a big return coming on the money spent on products that help me improve as a coach. So in truth, any information gleaned from a text or DVD is valuable for me, but if I had to rank them here is how it goes.
Youth Fitness Specialist Level 1
This product really is what sets the IYCA apart. There is no more complete text about youth fitness and training athletes from ages 6-18. This text defined for me what youth athletes need when it comes to training. It underwent a recent update and has been improved even more from the original.
IYCA High School Strength and Conditioning Coach Certification
This was the first product I was ever involved in creating and is the most practical text I have ever read about training high school athletes. There are dozens of done-for-you high school training programs. If they don’t fit the bill for your training situation, there is a huge text book giving you the tools to replace movements with ideal choices. The fact that it was written by Mike Robertson, Eric Cressey, and Toby Brooks makes it even better. Normal texts talk a lot about theory but this one really does tell you how to apply theory to make great high school athletes.
The IYCA Youth Speed and Agility Specialist
Written by Dave Jack, Latif Thomas, and Toby Brooks there is not a better text about speed and agility available anywhere. It is required reading for all interns with me, and for all the coaches that work in my facility. The section on lateral speed alone is worth the investment. That being said I have never read a more practical de-construction of the mechanics of acceleration and high speed running than what is provided in this text.
IYCA Kettlebell/Olympic Lifts/Resistance Band Instructor Courses
I grouped these together because there is always a weak point in coaches arsenal that needs to be improved. The IYCA has provided 3 manuals that can help you eliminate those points to become a better coach. There are no better kettlebell instructors than Jason C. Brown and Pamela MacElree at teaching kettlebells in an easy to process way. When it comes to resistance band training, no one surpasses Dave Schmitz in his knowledge, I have seen him train elite football teams with only resistance bands, creating some of the fastest and most explosive athletes I have been around. The Olympic Lifts course is designed by me, and in my honest evaluation, it is the only product that comes from someone with an elite Olympic lifting background that uses the lifts primarily to train young athletes and not competitive Olympic lifters. Each of these products can help make you a better coach in a chosen weak point.
There are plenty of other awesome products from the IYCA. The Youth Fitness Specialist Level 2 and Level 3 products can only elevate your knowledge, and are the most thorough texts I have ever seen on a given subject matter.
Developing The Right Speed and Agility Training Programs For Young Athletes
Designing a speed and agility training program can be difficult with young athletesWithout a plan in mind of how to train a speed session, what can start as a speed session can crumble into a conditioning workout, with no lasting effects on an athlete’s ability to move quickly.
When I am coaching athletes in a youth speed and agility training program I find it necessary to first, break it down into the component parts that I would like to train, and second assess the size of the group that I will be working with.
Lets start with what we need to train.
Linear and Lateral Technique
The first thing we should address with any group of any size is the technical components that will make the athletes better and safer. For linear technique we must analyze the most common ways that linear speed are expressed:
Is it from a 3 point stance, 2 point stance, split stance, from a slower pace?
This will guide our use of acceleration training and allow us to coach the athletes on the proper start positions.
Lateral technique will focus on the lateral gait cycle and change of direction body positions. This type of training should be done with any group regardless of age and size of the group.
Linear and Lateral Power
The next phase of training will involve using different implements or tools to create more power for your athletes. Typically we will use sleds, weighted vests, medicine balls, or resistance bands to improve power in both the linear sprinting/acceleration and in lateral deceleration or acceleration
Linear and Lateral Reaction
When training reaction we are trying to improve the athletes ability to perceive the action and make the appropriate reaction. Drills in this category include change of direction with visual or verbal cues and acceleration drills on visual cues
Next lets move onto the size of the group, as this will determine the types of drills and equipment that we can use.
Less than 3 athletes
With less than 3 athletes training the coaching can be very intensive and the athletes can receive direction on technique with any and all drills. Very rarely in this situation will you be limited with the amount of equipment needed to complete a drill. Rest times will have to be accounted for through the training plan to make sure that the athletes get quality repetitions.
Small group- Less than 10-15 athletes
Training in groups smaller than 10 may limit your ability to train the group with equipment that you have on hand. If equipment is to be used it will be necessary to partner up the athletes or go in a rotation. Your ability to instruct will not be limited, but should be planned out in the training program for the day.
Large group- More than 15 athletes
With a group of more than 15 athletes restrictions on equipment become a primary concern, typically with groups this size or larger choices of equipment should be easily transportable (cones, small bands) and be plentiful. Instruction time should be mapped out before hand and should be deliberate. Large groups should be divided into smaller groups, this will allow for instruction between repetitions. Rest intervals in large groups are less necessary to plan because a normal rotation of drills and groups will allow for even, or positive rest periods.
With groups of any size it is important to approach a youth speed and agility training program with the same type of deliberate plan that is often reserved for strength training. Doing so will insure that your session will not turn into glorified conditioning work, but will instead develop real, true speed, wow coaches and grow your fitness business.
If you want to learn create your own training programs be sure to check out the Youth Speed Certification from the IYCA here;
Youth Fitness Coaching Tips From Dave Jack
By Pat Rigsby
It gets tough to access the credibility of coaches in this internet age. Many people that call themselves ‘coaches’ who haven’t actually coached anyone and there are many giving fitness advice that really shouldn’t.
So who do you trust?
That’s where the IYCA is here to help.
We constantly research and make sure to listen to coaches that are in-the-trenches getting great results. We know there is a lot of noise out there on the internet, so when we actually find quality information from a top-notch coach, we like to pass that info on.
I wanted to share a video with you from one of the best youth fitness coaches I know – IYCA Expert Dave Jack.
If you’ve never seen Dave present – it’s one of the most inspiring things you’ll ever see. The best part is, he not only talks the talk, he walks the walk.
Here is the link to the video -> http://youth-fitness- specialist.com
I know it’s a bold statement, but this one presentation will make you a better youth fitness coach.
Dave’s passion is contagious and this video will help you continue your mission on changing your client’s lives.
So, forget all of the internet ‘guru’ hype out there of pseudo coaches trying to sell you the next SECRET and checkout this powerful (and free) video and discover what a real elite coach does to become an even better coach.
Get the video here –> http://youth-fitness-specialist.com
Dedicated to Your Success,
PS – If you want to raise your level of coaching, I highly recommend you check this free video out by IYCA Youth Fitness Expert Dave Jack – http://youth fitness-specialist.com
Younger Athlete Push Ups Exercise
By Dave Gleason
Teaching the push up to a younger athlete can be arduous and complicated depending on physical maturity, body awareness, current skill and or experience. Let’s face it, in most scenarios the younger athlete has had no instruction, incomplete instruction or instruction with incorrect information. Once more, the opportunity to perform a push up is usually at the end of a practice, as a form of punishment or as an element of a timed standardized testing protocol. We know none of these story lines are optimal for any young athlete to achieve true success.
Creating a foundation where a younger athlete can progress to a push up worthy of actually performing as part of any training program is where we need to start.
In this video Dave Gleason, 2010 IYCA Trainer of the Year and owner of Athletic Revolution in Pembroke MA, shows you the progressions he uses with a younger athlete 10-13 years old.
Making Youth Fitness Training Fun with Resistance Bands
A t least once a week, I am asked about youth fitness training using bands, and in most cases, all I can envision is kids being put through a grueling workout using big bands that literally throw them around like a human slingshot .
OK, maybe I am a little off, but I see a lot of things on YouTube that scare me when it comes to training young athletes.
So here’s a tip on how to have your athletes naturally enjoy training:
If you really want to make youth fitness training fun, start making the training game-oriented.
My goal with any young athlete resistance band workout is to get them to train instinctively because when they reach that level, they are as close to a game situation as they possibly can be. At that moment, training becomes fun because athletes are thinking about competing, not training.
Over the past several years, I have had the chance to test some resistance band training games with youth fitness training and wanted to share some of these simple training games with everyone in the IYCA.
Video – Partner Zigzag training for Young Athletes
Young athletes need direction and a target. I find cone drills like a simple Zigzag drill to accomplish both of these. The key to this drill is making sure athletes have a good understanding of how to shuffle or backpedal and how to hold for their partner. Once this is accomplished, Zigzag drills are very easy to implement. Within about 2 minutes, you will have taught and trained a young athlete how to decelerate in the frontal and sagittal planes while developing good reactive strength from their trunk, hips, and quadriceps.
Video – Ricochet
Ricochet is a drill I developed to teach deceleration in youth fitness training. It has become a training game because athletes can compete while performing it. It can be used for all band locomotion drills but can also be effectively used for strength training drills as well. The video below demonstrates how it works with locomotion. It is used for strength training drills in essentially the same way, with athletes alternating back and forth during the strength exercise. This format is great for developing teamwork, but it is also very effective at improving strength endurance—especially when done for a 2-minute time interval.
Video – Partner Reaction
This drill is where athletes get to test their partner, who now is their opponent. Athletes face off where one is offense and one is defense. Defense must react to offense and try to mirror them during the drill. Best drills for this are shuffle or turn-and-go drills. Also, 2-step deceleration drills work well with this setup. This is also a coaching favorite because you allow the kids to dictate the start and stopping point of the drill.
1-Minute Partner Challenge
The 1-minute partner drill is fun because you can do it with 2, 3, 4, or 5 athlete teams. You can do all the same exercise or you can have each athlete do a separate exercise for 1 minute. The goal is to get as many reps as possible in 1 minute before transitioning to another exercise. My favorite band exercise for this are:
- Band Push ups
- Assisted pull ups
- Split Squats
- Squat Jumps
- Front Squats
- Overhead Press
- Turn and go (touching a cone)
To make this entire resistance band training game experience just a little more motivating, all these games can be played anywhere because bands are so portable. This means:
- Kids can train at their practice site and not have to go into a smelly weight room
- Trainers can have athletes train outside where it is much more enjoyable to do
- Coaches can throw these types of drills into practice any time and supplement conditioning with strength training
To be a successful youth coach, you must find ways to motivate young athletes starting from a very young age and continuing throughout their high school years. Resistance bands can provide a definite change of pace that athletes find fun and challenging at the same time.
Getting BETTER with BANDS
P.S. On this final video, I thought you would enjoy watching 2 very special young athletes have some fun competing while training in bands. Pay special attention to the laughing that comes along with this type of training. To this day, Kenzie and Carter Schmitz (yep these 2 are mine; I thank God every day) still talk about this experience and when they will be able to do it again. This is yet another reminder that youth fitness training doesn’t have to be filled with boring, routine drills; competition is a great thing!
Video – Kids Getting The Best of Some Fitness Pros
If you are looking for a fun and exciting new component to add to your training programs that will have your young athletes performing their best then check out the IYCA Resistance Band Course. In this course you will learn how to use one of the most versatile, and effective, training tools for young athletes!
Kettlebell Snatch For Young Athletes
by Jason C Brown (more…)
IYCA Youth Fitness Specialist Spotlight
I am licensed professional counselor in the state of Connecticut
and work as a child and adolescent clinician at Natchaug Hospital.
I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Eastern
Connecticut State University and was a four year collegiate soccer
player earning All-Region and All-New England accolades as a
defender. I completed my Master’s degree in Clinical Mental
Health Counseling with a concentration in child and adolescent
psychology at Springfield College.
My experience includes working inpatient, partial hospital
programs, in-home therapy for children and adolescents in crisis, facilitating
parenting classes and writing articles for parenting magazines. I
enforce the importance of movement and play with both children
and their families. I also work on youth nutrition with children
who are currently taking psychiatric medications that often
cause weight gain.
In addition, I’m an assistant soccer coach for the U-16 girls’
Southeast Premier Soccer Club and run high school soccer
strength and conditioning clinics. I currently have the following
IYCA certifications: Youth Fitness Specialist 1, High School
Strength and Conditioning, Youth Nutrition and Youth Fitness
for children with Special Needs.
The IYCA certifications have Impacted my work as both a therapist and coach.
I feel the overall philosophy of the program can be utilized when
working with any group of kids, whether it’s fitness related or not.
The IYCA emphasizes building upon the child’s current strengths
while empowering them to become better athletes with a focus
on injury prevention. I like the break down on how to work with
specific athletes based on both the level of skill and motivation.
The course material is easy to understand and can be applied
in various environments. I use many of the youth nutrition
handouts with both children in therapy and my high school
athletes as well as incorporating the games from the youth
fitness certification into group therapy.
In relation to coaching, my strength and conditioning clinic
sessions were based on the principles provided in the high
school strength and conditioning book (mobility, dynamic
stretching vs. static stretching, speed and agility with emphasis
on decelerating and accelerating properly, etc.) I would recommend
any professional working with children and adolescents (coaches,
various teachers, therapists and other childcare providers) to
become certified through the IYCA organization.
Give Yourself the Coaching Edge…For Just $1
Right now, you have the opportunity to give yourself the competitive
edge over every other coach in your area.
You have the opportunity to make your athletes better. You have the
opportunity to make your career better. You have the opportunity to
join a team of motivated, like-minded trainers and coaches that are
committed to being the best in the industry.
All by becoming part of IYCA Members.
So the question is this:
Are you committed to being the best coach you can possibly be?
If the answer is ‘Yes’ then don’t wait another second… Join IYCA
Members For Just $1 Today!
Brain Food for Coaching Young Athletes.
by Phil Hueston, NASM-PES; IYCA-YFS
Your feedback and communication is brain food when it comes to coaching young athletes.
To develop correctly and effectively, young athlete’s brains need a steady flow of quality nutrients and stimuli. Neural development and conditioning is a process that never really ceases, at least not until brain function does. Since none of us train zombies, let’s focus on how we affect brain development, especially synaptic development, through communication, feedback and the impact of both on proprioception with our living clients.
While synaptic structural growth is activity-independent, that is it’s spontaneous, part of the normal physical development of the neuro-muscular system, synaptic performance and modification, delivery efficiency and transient synapse termination require neural activity. By extension, then, all synaptic impulses are affected by previous proprioception. Spatial and kinesthetic differentiation, spatial awareness, force development, stabilization, deceleration and force application are all impacted by the billions of proprioceptive signals processed by synapses.
It’s reasonable to state, then, that the development and performance of synapses is affected by the quality (and quantity) of feedback and communication received by the sensory organs. Emotional response to sensory organ proprioception creates new “sub-signals” if you will, that affect the processing of and response to proprioceptive input. That’s because part of the neural response to stimulus is conditioned (more…)
by Ryan Ketchum
The more and more business coaching that I do for IYCA members, mastermind members, and franchisees the more I realize that our training philosophies and mindset sometimes get in the way of us running a great business. I am prepared to be tarred and feathered, put in the stockades and any other form of medieval punishment that the loyal IYCA readers are going to put me through for delivering the message that I am about to write.
Before you jump to conclusions and go into a tizzy about long term athletic development and building a training foundation I want you to read the entire message. That is my challenge to you…
Before I really get into the idea of selling the customer what they want I have to start by saying that I am on your side.
Youth fitness and athletic development should be implemented with the long term development of the athlete in mind. I am not claiming that you should run your programs any differently than this nor am I urging you to lie, cheat and steal from parents.
Take a deep breath and open up your mind for a bit because I am going to feel you in on a little secret that might change your youth fitness business forever!
by Dave Gleason
Youth Athletic Development: Deliver Your Best Youth Training Session Ever
In this video, IYCA expert Dave Gleason reminds us to meet our young athletes where they are to develop a physical culture and encourage youth athletic development.
Find out how Dave facilitated one of his best youth training sessions ever.
A Training Program For Young Athletes From Brian Grasso.
Here’s a program I did last week with a group of 15 year-old hockey players:
Mobility & Tissue Quality (more…)
Youth Fitness Specialist And Happines Part 2…
As Elena and I pondered the sources from which happiness flowed we wondered if there was another catalyst to its fulfillment, a life of solidarity. Whether fully engaged in a labor of love or committed to a purpose greater than yourself, can you truly be the best version of yourself, by yourself? Without being challenged, inspired and supported by a like minded peer group, how do we ever know whether we are progressing or regressing? Further, what is a life of pleasure without others to share, enjoy and explore it with.
Youth Fitness Specialist Article by Bobby Cuppucio
Last night in London, I believe I shared a simultaneous epiphany with Steve Jack, Elena and Michol Dalcourt. We were discussing well… the secret of happiness. Wine and the city make for an interesting conversation to say the least. What does make people happy? Or, more anecdotally, why are so many people not happy? According to Dr. Martin Seligman, in the decades that he has been a psychologist, he has discovered that there are three levels of happiness
- A life of pleasure
- A life of engagement
- A life of purpose
IYCA Olympic Lift – Instructor Course Can Help Take Your Athletes To The Next Level
Training Strategies for Young Athletes With Battle Ropes …
Don’t Forget… Join Us LIVE On Monday July 11 @ 7:30pm (EST)…