Archive for “Risk” Tag

Coaching in the Weight Room

 

Coaching High School Athletes in the Weight Room

 

By Jim Kielbaso
 

Just about every sport coach now recognizes the fact that a strength program can help their athletes optimize performance, reduce the risk of injury, and improve overall health and self-esteem. Some coaches are very comfortable in the weight room, while others feel totally out of their element. Either way, there are a few easy steps to follow to maximize your effectiveness in this environment.
 

Many coaches get overwhelmed in the weight room and never really give their best instruction or encouragement. But, many high school athletes need you there to show proper technique, get through the routine quickly, keep traffic flowing, give safe and effective spotting, and maximize effort.
 

In addition to reducing the risk of injury and enhancing performance, the weight room is also an excellent place to develop relationships and create team unity. Unfortunately, many coaches miss out on this because they are sitting in the corner or absent from the room altogether. Never underestimate the long-term benefits of polishing your weight room coaching skills.
 

Here are a few easy steps you can take to optimize your coaching effectiveness and help your athletes get the most out of their training time:

 

1. Educate Yourself. If you haven’t implemented a program because you don’t feel knowledgeable enough, put that excuse to rest. You don’t have to be an expert to help your team reap the benefits of strength training, and there are plenty of books that can give you a decent understanding of technique, program design, and how to spot different exercises. Go to your local bookstore or at the very least get online to find something to fit your needs. There is plenty of mis-information online, so just be sure to read with a critical mind. Always check the source before you completely buy into something that sounds too good to be true.
 

Avoid the trap of feeling like your athletes need an incredibly specialized training routine. It’s best to keep it simple with high school athletes. They will benefit from a basic, well-rounded program, so just get them started and feeling comfortable in the weight room by introducing a few basic exercises that you can easily teach. Remember, you can always add more later on.
 

2. Teaching Sessions. Before you turn your athletes loose in the weight room, spend a couple of days teaching them how to perform all of the exercises and how to safely spot each other. Take your time up front to save a lot of time and energy down the road.
 

3. Record Keeping. Once you’ve created the training routine, give it to your athletes on a piece of paper or card-stock so they can record the amount of weight lifted and number of repetitions performed on each set. This serves a few important purposes. For the athlete, it tells them exactly what they should be doing on every exercise and gives them a goal each day. This will help them make progress and eliminates guess-work.
 

For the coach, a workout card quickly gives you a lot of information and tracks attendance. You are going to be bouncing around from athlete to athlete, spotting as many athletes as possible; you want to spot each athlete on at least one exercise each day so you have a little contact with everyone. As soon as you’re done spotting one athlete, look around the room, see who is ready to lift, and get there quickly.
Having the workout card available allows you to easily see the weight and repetition goal for each set before you begin spotting. You can assess progress and effort on each exercise by taking a quick look at the chart. This is a great way to increase accountability and improve your ability to coach multiple athletes in the weight room.
 

4. Exercise Selection. In an effort to keep your training sessions time-efficient, it is recommended to select exercises that utilize a large amount of musculature rather than focusing on isolation exercises. For example, squats, leg presses, lunges, bench presses, dips, pull-downs, rows, and military presses all use multiple joints and recruit several muscle groups. These exercises should be the foundation of your program.
 

Curls, wrist extensions, and triceps pushdowns are examples of isolation exercises that can eat up a lot of valuable time.
 

It is also highly recommend that you select exercises that are relatively easy to teach, learn and execute. Lifts like the power clean and snatch are very technique intensive, require a great deal of coaching expertise, and are often performed incorrectly, which can be dangerous. There is absolutely no need to include exercises that are problematic for your situation. Whether you don’t feel comfortable teaching an exercise or the athletes just aren’t getting it, drop any exercise that is causing problems.
 

5. Traffic Flow. I often see traffic jams in high school weight rooms. This makes for an inefficient, frustrating experience that can be avoided. Rather than performing several sets of each exercise, have your athletes perform one set of 2-4 different exercises for the same body part to keep traffic moving.
 

For example, instead of performing three sets of bench press, try doing one set of bench press, one set of incline press, and one set of push-ups. Not only will this keep everyone moving, it also allows the musculature to be trained at several different angles and is equally effective in developing strength. This eliminates a lot of standing around that ultimately creates distractions and decreases training intensity.
 

You can also create different versions of a workout. Change the order of exercises for some athletes so the equipment is being used at different times. This small change will allow more athletes to workout simultaneously without traffic jams.
 

The weight room can be the motivational hub of your program if you create the right environment, and these simple tips can increase your effectiveness as a coach. They will allow you to maximize your coaching skills and give your athletes what they deserve – your attention.
 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

High School Strength & Conditioning Coach: New Certification, New Offer

 

Just a quick update and new offer for you on the “High School Strength & Conditioning Coach” Certification…

 

As of today (right now, in fact), it’s yours for only $67 a month for 3 months.

 

I recognized that coming off the Christmas Holidays, your cash flow may not be exactly where you wished it was.

 

But I didn’t want that to be a factor for you getting your hands on the resources that has, in only 2 days, become the fastest selling certification in the history of this industry.

 

As of right now, the “High School Strength & Conditioning Coach” certification is yours for only $67 a month for 3 months.

 

 

Click Here to Take Advantage of the Opportunity —> http://iyca.org/highschool/

 

(more…)

Physical Education Injuries: 150% Increase

Physical Education Injuries alarm bells

IYCA Member, Mike Howard, sent me a link to this incredible article.

 

I was floored.

 

Stunned.

 

And completely annoyed.

 

150% increase Physical Education injuries.

 

Read the article and then be sure to leave me your comments about
why exactly you think this has become such a problem.

 

I feel very strongly that I know the answer.

 

And tomorrow I’m going to tell you what it is.

 

But for now, I want to hear your thoughts.

 

Here’s the article:

 

 

New national study finds increase in P.E. class-related injuries

 

Annual number of cases increased 150 percent from 1997-2007

 

Physical education (PE) in schools is one of the main tools used to increase physical activity and to prevent childhood obesity, and PE-related injuries are on the rise. Although increasing physical activity may reduce obesity, it may also increase the risk of injury. While recognizing that PE classes and physical activity are important components in combating obesity, parents and school administrators should remain vigilant for injuries. A recent study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, found that the number of PE-related injuries to elementary, middle and high school students in the United States increased 150 percent between 1997 and 2007.

 

According to the study, published in the online issue of Pediatrics, the most common PE-related injuries were lower-extremity sprains and strains (23 percent), followed by upper extremity sprains and strains (14 percent) and fractures (14 percent). Middle school-aged children (11-14 years of age) accounted for the majority of PE-related injuries (52 percent). Elementary school-aged children (5-10 years of age) had almost double the odds of a head injury, compared with other injuries.

 

Nearly 70 percent of PE-related injuries occurred while children were participating in six activities (running, basketball, football, volleyball, soccer and gymnastics). Injuries were caused by contact with another person, playing surface, equipment, stationary structures, pulled muscles, overuse and activity-related illnesses such as heat stroke.

 

"The 150 percent increase in PE-related injuries presenting to emergency departments was consistent across gender and age groups. It is unlikely that this increase was attributable to an increase in PE participation," explained study author Lara McKenzie, PhD, principal investigator at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and faculty member of The Ohio State University College of Medicine. "Identifying patterns of PE-related injuries is the first step toward preventing them. Injury prevention education should be made a priority for all PE activities, especially for those activities with the highest injury rates."

 

This is the first published study to examine PE-related injuries on a national level. Data for this study were collected from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), which is operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The NEISS dataset provides information on consumer product-related and sports and recreation-related injuries treated in hospital emergency departments across the country.