Archive for “Strength Coach” Tag

Creating a Program for the Multi-Sport Athlete – Jordan Tingman

Multiple-sport athletes in the high school setting are extremely common. However, coaches may find it hard to create a training program that can cater to the various requirements each sport demands.

As strength and conditioning professionals, our job is to create a comprehensive training program for these athletes. The goal is to build their baseline of training, make them fundamentally sound and progress their movement throughout their program.  Multi-sport athletes should be able to learn their weaknesses, balance them out structurally and exercise different degrees of motion to become a better overall athlete. These concepts are key when creating a program that will increase performance but also decrease the likelihood of injury.

Getting Started
As you get started with a new, multi-sport athlete, ask these questions:
What have you done to train in the past? What sports do you play? Have you ever worked with another strength and conditioning professional/had any formal training outside of your sport?

No matter the age of the athlete, it is important to consider the training age of the individual that you are working with to help you gauge the intensity of the program.  More often than not, the high school athlete has limited resistance training experience, speed and acceleration work or conditioning anywhere outside of their school sport coach.

Asking what sports they play can help you understand the demands that are being placed on them and the types of movement preparation or accessory exercises you may want to incorporate into their training program.

What injuries or structural issues have you had in the past?

Many athletes have experienced some sort of pain or injury throughout their young career and need help regaining strength or motion, so it is important to create programs that will aid in resilience. Having a complete knowledge of their injury history allows you to prepare for specific imbalances or overcompensations that we can help fix.

What are some things you would like to improve?

Try to have the athlete get specific.  Drill down by asking follow-up questions like “Are their plays you feel like you can’t make that you’d like to be able to next season?”  Depending on their goals, they may want to focus on gaining greater performance in specific areas and you must create a program that can cater to those needs.

If they’ve trained in the past, what kinds of training have they enjoyed/hated in the past?

Incorporating their interests is a great way to engage and empower an athlete. If they have had no formal training, ask what types of things they enjoy doing in their sports practices or have a list of ideas ready to discuss with them to gain a better idea of what they like.

How often can they train with you each week?  What is their practice schedule?

This will help you know how long you will be training with them, what your program goals can be and how to program around the demands of their practice schedule.  Athletes often forget how much they’re doing outside of training and don’t understand how it all affects their results.  As a professional, you’ll have to explain this to them and help them balance all of their competing demands.

Assessment
Before starting any training program, you’ll want to have an assessment session to help you parse out any glaring concerns. You can not build a program for an individual before you have watched them move and observed their limitations.  This can be a formal assessment or simply an observation during a dynamic warm-up.  Here are some things you can do to see how the individual moves:

Take them through a basic dynamic warm up:
High Knees, Butt Kickers ,High Knee Hugs, Pendulums, Quad Stretch and Reach, Runners, Lateral Lunge and Pivot, Figure 4 + Air Squat, Carioca, Skips, Backward Run, Side Shuffle, 2 10 yard sprints

Watching an individual move through a dynamic warm-up can help you spot imbalances or movement deficiencies immediately.

Squat Assessment: Air Squat, PVC Front Squat, Back Squat, Overhead Squat


Press Assessment: PVC Overhead Press

Lunges: Lunge in place, forward lunge, backward lunge, side lunge

Mobility/Flexibility: Ankles, Hamstrings, Hip Flexors, Back, Shoulders

These are just a few exercises that can be used to spot imbalances/deficiencies before you start a training program. Understanding their needs and limitations will help you create a program that will build a better athlete.

Start Programming!
Once you have all of the things you need to know about your athlete, you can start programming.  Considering that the individual has most likely never trained outside of their sport, we need to build up their base of strength, mobility, stability, speed, change of direction and conditioning.  Because you’ll probably have very limited time with a multi-sport athlete, keeping introductory programming simple and straightforward is the most effective way to make progress.  If you plan on working with this athlete throughout the year, you’ll want to keep the volume relatively low so they can make progress without creating unnecessary fatigue.

The goal should be to elicit a training response without compromising their performance.  This can be tricky, so you’ll want to have an open line of communication regarding their competition and practice schedule.  Working them extremely hard right before an important competition can ruin their performance and possibly set them up for injury.  Instead, you’ll want to time the training sessions in a way that doesn’t overly interfere with important events.  For example, if games are played on Tuesday and Friday, training sessions would probably take place on Wednesday and Saturday so there is ample time to recover before the next competition.  Not only will this help the athlete, it will keep you in good graces with the sport coach.

It’s especially important to balance the fatigue of areas that are used heavily in a sport.  For example, you don’t want to use high-volume lower body training on an in-season track or soccer athlete who is running every day.  Similarly, you don’t want to get a baseball pitcher’s upper body sore/fatigued when they have to throw a lot the next day.

Dynamic Warm up: Get their blood flowing. Whether or not they are currently in season for a specific sport will change the way you approach the dynamic warm up. You can make it extremely basic or add elements that relate specifically to the sport they are currently playing.

Movement Prep: Use belly breathing, flow progressions and stretch variations that move through a range of motion focusing on structural imbalances, glute activation and activation of specific muscle groups desired.  Pick specific exercises that the individual can work on to increase their range of motion in troubled areas.  Your assessment will reveal these areas and allow you to pick the most important exercises for each athlete.  There are a million exercises to choose from, but you need to be extremely efficient with multi-sport athletes because they don’t have a lot of extra time and energy for training.  Address the “big rocks” first by picking the exercises that are most important.

Speed/Change of Direction: Footwork of any sort is always beneficial. Incorporating reaction drills, line drills and change of direction/acceleration drills can help prime the nervous system for training.  Communicate with the athlete and/or coach to ensure you’re not doubling up on drills that may be done during practice.  For example, a soccer coach may do a bunch of sprint work in practice.  If that “box is checked,” don’t spend as much time on linear speed work.  Instead, you may want to include more agility or reactionary work.

Resistance Training Elements: Hinge, squat, push, pull and core are simple highlights of a training program that can be done easily and efficiently. You can use dumbbells, medicine balls, kettlebells and resistance bands to build up strength before loading an athlete with a barbell.  Examples include:

Hinge: Power Exercises, Kettlebell Swings, Trap Bar Deadlift
Squat: Squats, Lunges, Single Leg Variations
Push: Overhead Presses, Bench
Pull: Row, Pulls, DL
Core: Pick exercises such as anti-rotational, core Stability, anti-extension core work.
Assistance Exercises: Include any-sport specific exercises each season that you would like to work on or movement correctives that you see fit for the individual. Fixing imbalances and utilizing smaller muscle groups can help achieve correct functional movement.

The goal of resistance training for multi-sport athletes is to focus on building up the overall strength/athleticism, not building up a sport-specific athlete. Focus on joint stability and mobility through different exercises without creating unnecessary fatigue.  You’ll want to stick with moderately heavy weight, but not take sets to failure very often.  An example would be using 80-85% of a 1RM for just 3-4 reps.  Not all exercises need to be done with heavy weight, but using a relatively high intensity with low rep ranges allows the athlete to maintain or improve strength without creating excessive fatigue.  Higher-rep lower body training, for example, can cause excess fatigue that may be great in the off-season, but can over-tax an athlete during a season.

Simple plyometric exercises: Hops, bounds, skips, pogo jumps, jump to stick, squat jumps, single leg variations, vertical jumps, medicine ball throws and tosses.

Conditioning (if necessary and time allowing): Depending on the time you have with your athlete in a training session, conditioning may or may not be a priority. Challenging your athlete with various types of conditioning that they have not been exposed to is a way to train them differently, build up their work capacity and can be a great finish to a training session.

Mixing up the Training Stimulus
Try to stay away from solely using barbells and dumbbells for every exercise. For example, instead of a walking lunge using a kettlebell in a goblet carry or various carry, try a medicine ball held to the chest, or in a different position, or using a weighted vest.  Changing it up can also be beneficial when working with younger athletes because it keeps them interested and focused on the task when it’s something they haven’t done before.  The body doesn’t care if it’s a 15 lb medicine ball vs a 15 lb weight vest, but this can keep an athlete engaged in the training because it’s interesting.

Key Notes When Training the Multi-Sport Youth Athlete
• Build up the athlete as a whole from the bottom up, build a sound-moving body, not necessarily a better football, softball, baseball, soccer player.
• Find movement or muscular imbalances that you can fix that will help them perform better in all of their sports
• Mix it up often, using various training stimuli to better train the overall movement
• Teach them to move through a full range of motion and slow things down to emphasize proper musculature firing and technique.
• Proper core stability and firing, joint stability and strength are important when it comes to injury reduction and should be highlighted in every program
• Teach healthy recovery protocols early on
• Create enough stress to stimulate adaptation without inducing unnecessary fatigue

Allowing athletes to play multiple sports is a great way to prevent overuse injuries, but training them to become better all-around athletes can be the best way to produce long-term health and success.

Jordan Tingman – CSCS*, USAW L1, ACE CPT, CFL1 is a graduate of Washington State University with a B.S. in Sports Science with a Minor in Strength and Conditioning. She completed internships with the strength & conditioning programs at both Washington State University and Ohio State University, and is currently a Graduate Assistant S & C Coach at Eastern Washington University.

 

The IYCA’s Principles of Athletic Strength & Conditioning textbook covers how to train the multi-sport athlete in great depth as well as many other topics related to developing athletes.  The PASC book includes contributions from 17 top professionals including college, high school and professional-level coaches.  Click on the image below to learn more:

 

A Strength Coach Career Path: A Winding Road – Joe Powell

As the popularity of sport continues to boom across the globe, so too does the interest in pursuing a career linked to our favorite past times. Coaching, athletic training, front office personnel, and you guessed it, strength & conditioning/athletic development, have all seen meteoric rises in popularity among young adult choosing a college major and career path. Unfortunately, the number of people interested in the field compared to those who actually earn a living in it is quite unbalanced. So, why do so many individuals get turned off to these career paths and change their route altogether?  That answer is complicated and multifaceted, but perhaps the most simplified response is that there simply aren’t enough jobs to satisfy the overwhelming demand.  Because of this imbalance, it is very difficult for mediocre coaches to land a good job and stay employed.  And, when the going gets tough (because it absolutely will) the pretenders often get going… on to a different career.

To begin a career in the word of athletic development, whether it be in the high school, collegiate, professional or private sector, a hopeful coach typically has to go to lengths above and beyond what is required in other fields just to land an entry-level position. Unlike other majors, there aren’t any “exercise science job fairs” just before graduation where we land our dream jobs. This alone is a turn-off and exit sign to many hopeful S & C coaches. Essentially, many strength and conditioning hopefuls finding themselves out of the game before they even started. Internships, clinics, conferences, apprenticeships, and more free hours worked than many prisoners locked away in a penitentiary, are all commonplace for young professionals in hopes to land a graduate assistantship, and then possibly if all goes well a full-time job.

Much like life, nothing is promised in the world of strength and conditioning. Many things can go wrong along the journey to achieving one’s dream job.  I’m not here to paint a picture of doom and gloom, or to scare you off into another career.  Instead, I’d like to let you know that you’re not alone, and offer you my story as a way to inspire you to persevere through difficulties.

The road hasn’t been easy for me.  While your path won’t necessarily be the same as mine, I feel like my experiences may be able to help you to land your dream job in athletic development. I certainly haven’t had the most conventional career path, but as I reflect on it, I realize that things have fallen into place for good reasons.

What’s Your Why?

As I began my journey into S & C, the question I heard over and over from coaches, mentors, and speakers was “What’s your Why?” Three words can essentially define your entire motivation to succeed. My why was first discovered immediately after my high school sporting career had finished. I was in incredible shape after the last wrestling meet of my life, and I felt that I wanted to stay that way.   I also need to fill a void that now existed in my life. Being active my entire life, the decision was easy, and I decided to start lifting weights. Even as an ignorant teenager who sought out muscle magazines for guidance, I was able to see results quickly and I was hooked.

I also became a little bitter wondering what could have been if I had begun weight training years prior. My high school had an abysmal “weights class” that’s probably similar to many people’s experiences.  We’d basically go into the weight room with no guidance and wait for the allotted time to expire so we could all go home. It finally hit me that I was ripped off by not having a solid program in place. I immediately thought about pairing resistance training with sports, but I had no idea there was actually a career path for this. I quickly realized that my why was to be the person I wished I’d had when I was younger.

I eventually attended college at Central Michigan University and began my path toward becoming a performance coach.  After discovering that “Athletic Training” wasn’t actually learning about “training athletes” (they really need to come up with a better name) I was left incredibly frustrated and 2 credits at about $750 was wasted in my foolish attempt to take classes to become a “trainer.” Luckily, an instructor explained the difference, and I was able to start moving in the right direction.  

Never Give Up

My program was mainly designed for cardiac rehab or for those heading to PT or PA school. I started to wonder if there was a different option when I was told I should look into the “personal training” minor.  There was no mention of anything related to strength & conditioning. We had an internship supervisor, so I eagerly set up an appointment to try to find any experience in the field that I could. I was actually scolded for trying to find an internship before it was time to graduate and that I had better not seek one out until that time. I was absolutely dumbfounded and discouraged, but I refused to settle. I listened to my gut, and my first big break came shortly thereafter.

My first break came when I applied for a scholarship for 1st generation college students. During a meeting with my advisor, I explainedJim Kielbaso and Joe Powell what I wanted to do for a living.  She had no knowledge on the subject, but she referred me to Dr. Roop Jayraman who listened to my career goals and stopped me in my tracks. You see, I was applying for a scholarship that would lead me to a free Ph.D., when I told him that I wanted to “train athletes.”  He very kindly told me this scholarship probably wasn’t what I wanted, but he referred me to his friend Jim Kielbaso at a place called Total Performance.   He showed me the website and I felt like I struck gold because the training center was located a mere 10 minutes from my hometown. He gave me Jim’s contact info and set up an interview for a summer internship.  That summer changed everything for me.  

I ended up doing a totally volunteer internship at Total Performance Training Center with Jim during the summer before my senior year, and it was exactly what I needed. I finally found what I had been looking for.  It went well enough that he invited me back to work as a part-time employee whenever I could get chunks of time away from college. At the time, CMU had a very short list of internship sites for those entering the fitness field.  So, I chose to spend my post-education “required internship” at Total Performance since it was the only place that offered what I was looking for.

When my time at Total Performance was nearing an end, I was admitted to graduate school as a teaching graduate assistant at CMU where I would help teach labs for health fitness classes.  I accepted the position, and this experience really helped me hone my knowledge of exercise principles, anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics. Sure I had studied these topics before, but I firmly believe you truly understand a concept when you have to teach it. I couldn’t fake it in front of the class, and I began to get more comfortable with the science and application of exercise.

It’s not what you know, or even who you know. It’s who knows you.

Nearing the end of my first year of grad school I had two unique opportunities present themselves. Option one actually involved going on tour with the “Vans Warped Tour” rock festival. Option two was applying for an internship with the University of Michigan football team. Jim Kielbaso knew the coaching staff at Michigan and trusted me enough to pretty much get me the phone interview that secured the gig.  He also pushed me toward this option even though being on a “rock tour” sounded pretty awesome at the time.  

This was how I learned my next valuable lesson – “It’s not what you know, or even who you know. It’s who knows you.”

I know this is the case because I was told by my boss at Michigan (and now one of my mentors), Mark Naylor, that my resume looked terrible. But, because Jim vouched for me, I got a chance and was welcomed aboard at Michigan. (HUGE lesson learned here in building a resume which will be addressed later on). It was at U of M that I realized exactly where I wanted to do; I needed to be in a collegiate weight room. (Lesson in interning as much as possible to find out what fits you best in the S&C world).

As my time at Michigan was nearing its end I was preparing to return to CMU for my last year of grad school. I had done a good job, and Coach Naylor made it clear that in order to stay alive in the field I needed to find a way inside CMU’s weight room and become a part of the football program. CMU had undergone a coaching change and hired new S & C coach, Jason Novak. Jason had come to CMU after 11 years in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans. Coach Naylor did not know Coach Novak personally but had common connections. A former U of M player who now plays for the Titans happened to be the connecting factor. It turned out that a football player who didn’t even know my name helped get my foot in the door.

It once again came down to not what I knew, but who I knew and who knew me.

I interviewed for a graduate intern position and before I knew it I traded in my Maize and Blue for Maroon and Gold and was able to become a part of the strength staff at CMU. During my interview with Jason Novak he said something that will stick with me for the rest of my career. He told me he was given some incredible opportunities as a young coach and felt lucky to have some people along the way who simply gave him a chance. He also encountered those on the opposite end of the spectrum, and he had vowed to himself that he would help those out just as he was helped out when he was young. I swore to myself that when I was in a position to do so I would do the same. It’s something that I’m grateful for and just one of the countless reasons why I admire Coach Novak so greatly.

I spent the entire second year of grad school taking classes, teaching classes, and spending any free minute helping train the football team. I counted as one of the 5 strength coaches associated with football, which meant I could full-on coach and be with the team on the sidelines of games. It was a taste of exactly what I wanted to do for a career and it only strengthened my appetite to make it in the S & C field.

At the end of that year, I found myself finished with school, a masters program in hand, and no full-time coaching job lined up. This was a pretty difficult time for me because I felt like I had done everything I was “supposed” to do and things just weren’t happening.  Fortunately, there was an opening as a fixed-term faculty in the school of health sciences and I was offered a semester-by-semester contract where I taught undergraduate classes and a lab for the physical therapy students. While it wasn’t a full-time S & C gig, it allowed for me to continue working with CMU football so I embraced the opportunity with optimism.  During this year, one of my colleagues at CMU got his big break and became a full-time coach at Florida International University. His good-fortune proved to be a turning point for me as well. Since our staff was now shorthanded, I began getting compensated for being a strength coach as well as seeing my role in the S & C department increased significantly.

My time at CMU eventually evolved further than even Charles Darwin could’ve foreseen. I began as a confused undergrad who spent $750 on a course that focused on taping ankles, to being a “professor figure” and coach at my alma mater. Life was pretty good, so I spent another year at CMU.  In doing so I became a fixture in the health fitness undergraduate program, teaching and helping students in the very same situation I found myself in just a few years prior. I loved my dual role teaching and coaching, but I was burning the candle at both ends. I was putting in countless hours, working for peanuts, and it started to get to me. 

I missed out on several opportunities before I was finally able to hit pay dirt and catch my biggest, most unlikely break yet.  I interviewed for a job at Utah State University and ended up being offered an assistant coaching position with strength coach Dave Scholz. I accepted it and suddenly found myself saying goodbye to those I loved and cared for most to take an opportunity 1600 miles away. I packed up everything I could fit in my Toyota Corolla and traded in the great lakes for sprawling mountains. My life was flipped upside down, but as crazy as it may sound, it felt so very right because I had been preparing for this opportunity for years.

The point of sharing my journey was to highlight some of the moments that changed my life, share some lessons I’ve learned, and to demonstrate that things can eventually work out.  You may be struggling to open a business, land a job or make your next big move.  Wherever you find yourself, the best piece of advice I can give is never, ever give up. I was told no. I had to blaze my own trail, and I had minimal guidance until I worked hard enough (and was lucky enough) to find it.  My journey is far from conventional, but with persistence, pride and passion for everything I did, I was able to make it work. There is no set “way” in this profession, rather there is a set of intangibles we have in all of us that will serve far more important than a resume ever will. The funny thing is that if you understand that last point and work harder than the person next to you, the resume and references will have a way of filling themselves out.

In the next installment, I plan on sharing more about the lessons I’ve learned and some of the things I wish I could have done differently.  Until then…..

Joe Powell is an Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach at Utah State University.  He formerly held a similar position at Central Michigan University where he also taught classes in the Department of Health and Human Performance.  Joe is a regular contributor to the IYCA Insiders program and has been a huge part of bringing the Behind the Science series to the IYCA.  He is also the author of the IYCA Guide to Manual Resistance Strength Training.  Get more of Joe’s contributions in the IYCA Insiders membership.

Pushing Power in Athletics

Power in Athletics

When it comes to developing the ability to push someone around, a skill necessary for almost every team-based sport, there isn’t a better training tool than the push up.

I’m sure there are plenty of 5/3/1, Bigger Stronger Faster, or other weight room guys that will argue a big bench trumps someone who can crank out a bunch of push ups any day.

That’s when I refer to the great Earl Campbell and Herschel Walker, two incredibly successful and punishing running backs in the NFL, who reportedly were body weight training guys. They swore by push ups and body weight exercises and clearly had no problem pushing around the best in the world over and over.

Additionally, you have to look at the population of athletes in front of you. We have mostly late middle school or high school age kids who have a low training age and lack the ability to activate their entire body. The push up and its progressions give us an opportunity to teach that skill to our athletes.

More importantly, a girl that can crank out 10 full push ups and a boy that can knock out 25, in our experience, has a body well-prepared for sport and the contact typical of most team sports.

Finally, from a biomechanical standpoint, I look at the push up and see the direct correlation to pushing necessary for sport. The body stabilizes on the ground with four contact points, but the majority of the body MUST be active when pushing away from the ground. Otherwise, we might as well be doing the worm.

That pattern very closely resembles an athlete pushing someone on a field or court, with two legs on the ground and the entire body activated.

Conversely, when assessing the mechanics of a bench press, the back, glutes, and (sometimes) thighs are in contact with a stable surface. I don’t know of a situation in team sports where that much of the body comes in contact with a surface while pushing. The exception, of course, is being on the bottom of a pile of players after a tackle and pushing someone off you, which is not ideal for high performing athletes.

So let’s take a look at our progressions to get a young athlete crushing push ups on a regular basis!

Progressions:

Plank on elbows/hands

When doing a plank on the elbows or hands we are looking for rigidity of the entire body and will use various cues to teach each body part how to activate optimally:

  1. Active legs (straight as an arrow)
  2. Glutes (squeeze a quarter between the cheeks)
  3. Trunk (brace like someone is going to punch your gut)
  4. Shoulders (envision a towel between the elbows or hands and try to rip it apart)

The plank requires a lot of focus and should be difficult to hold for a long time. Therefore, we find it much more beneficial to teach athletes a plank by having them fire everything for brief periods (10-20 seconds) rather than hanging out in a plank for a minute with just enough activation to make it look good.


Mountain Climbers

Mountain Climbers, in our world, don’t differ greatly from a plank. The only difference here is that the athlete now must learn to stabilize in a dynamic setting.

By only moving one leg at a time, they get the chance to maintain full body bracing, like the plank, while actively driving the knee towards the trunk.  Here, the athlete must be on his or her hands. Thus we implement a new cue, “push the ground away.”

By using that cue, the athlete now aggressively pushes his or her body away from the ground, giving the leg more room to move and activate the scapular stabilizers that are generally very weak and assist in poor posture with young athletes.

We also ask athletes to “torque the ground” with the intent of turning the hands away from each other. The hands shouldn’t move, but when torquing occurs, the arms become more active and better prepared for a push up later on in the progressions.

Once an athlete shows quality movement with the mountain climber, we will have him or her start to move the leg with aggression while stopping it at 90 degrees to the body. The exercise then turns into an excellent front leg drive drill for acceleration training.


Assisted Push Ups

We use two main variations of the standard push up to help young athletes progress towards completing a push up that is repeatable and consistent through fatigue.

Our first and most common assisted push up is completed via the use of a resistance band attached to the athlete’s body and a point well above the athlete’s body (typically 7-9 feet high on a rig or hook).

There are some significant benefits to this variation. First, the movement is quite similar to an unassisted push up from the ground. Second, the athlete can torque the ground with his or her hands and arms like we cue during an actual push up.

Once an athlete has developed sufficient assisted pushup strength and can perform the movement without the band, there is almost no adjustment necessary for a body weight push up.

There are, of course, limitations to any assisted pattern.

First, the core is supported during the assisted pushup and for many of our athletes who are stuck in anterior tilt, core strength is the limiting factor and sometimes allows them to continue doing the worm instead of a push up once the band is removed.

Second, we often miss full range of motion (ROM) with our younger athletes, particularly boys. They want to crank out 20 push ups because, “that’s what I did when I tested for football!” However, the only way their chest would touch the ground with their “testing push ups” would be if they had a 60-inch chest. And I have yet to see a 16-year-old that looks like Lou Ferrigno.

**We started using bean bags (like the ones used for bean bag toss) to force full ROM. Our athletes need to touch their chest to two bean bags stacked on top of each other and then progress to one bag before we take the band away and have them train the full push up. **

The other variation we use is an elevated barbell on a rack.

Again, there are both positives and negatives to this assisted push up variation.

First, it is great for younger female athletes who truly lack upper body strength. They can see gradual improvements in strength since the holes on our rack are 1-inch apart. They can make small gains, sometimes within a singular training session, and certainly over a 6-week training program.

Second, because of the height, those athletes who lack upper body strength can start to make significant gains in chest, shoulder, and arm strength since they don’t have to struggle through the pattern and can truly focus on form, positioning, and muscle tension.

But this variation also leads to some potential issues of which coaches need to be aware.

First, due to the angle the athlete is at, the shoulders tend to elevate once the chest and arms have fatigued. So you either need to stop the set before that point or cue the athlete’s “shoulders away from their ears.”

Second, since the hands are on the bar, not on the ground, torquing is nearly impossible. I am not going to lie to you and say I haven’t seen it done, but generally those just learning a push up can’t start pulling apart a bar plus do all the other things they need to do correctly.

Remember, this isn’t our end all, be all. Instead, it is a stepping stone from a mountain climber to a full push up from the floor.


Push Ups

The push up is our end all, be all. I fully believe an athlete does not need to train bench press unless they are required to test for their sport. For the sports required to test the bench, like football, there is enough contact and pushing involved in practice and play that it justifies working the bench press into programming.

However, no matter how advanced our athlete is starting out, I want to PERSONALLY see them do ten perfect push ups before they put their face under a bar and start benching.  All too often we have athletes come in who bench and are stuck at a certain weight.

When they show me their push up, it’s evident they lack the full body activation necessary to do a push-up. Once we train the push up correctly, they go back to the bench and magically set a new personal best.

The things we coach in a quality push up stay consistent with everything taught in the previous movements, but we add additional cues to maximize pushing power.

  1. Create rigidity through the body (body is one long piece of solid oak)
  2. Torque the ground through the hands (rotate the hands away from one another)
  3. Pull the body to the floor (rip the ground apart to give the chest space)
  4. Push down as your body comes up (push the ground away)

Once an athlete shows the ability to accomplish this and get his or her chest to the ground for a reasonable amount of push ups, we may add resistance in the form of plates on the athletes back. We had some strong male athletes rep out ten push ups with 90+ pounds on their back, so if you don’t think you can overload the push up, you’re wrong!

By taking the proper steps in progressing a young athlete through the push up, you will create a powerful, stable athlete capable of pushing around anyone he or she chooses.

And when the athlete returns to his or her team and can crush all teammates in push ups, they walk a little taller. When we as coaches can create confidence like that, we win!

ADAPT and Conquer,
Coach Jared


About the Author: Jared Markiewicz

JarredJared is founder of Functional Integrated Training (F.I.T.). F.I.T. is a performance-based training facility located in Madison, WI. They specialize in training athletes of all levels: everyday adults, competitive adults and youth ages 5-20+.

The long-term vision for F.I.T. is recognition as the training facility for those desiring to compete at the collegiate level in the state of Wisconsin. Alongside that, to also develop a platform to educate those in our industry looking to make strides towards improving the future for our young athletes.

Find out more about Jared’s gym by visiting F.I.T.

Career Highlights

  • 2014 Fitness Entrepreneur of the Year – Fitness Business Insiders
  • 2014 IYCA Coach of the Year Finalist
  • Volunteer Strength Coach for West Madison Boys Hockey and Westside Boys Lacrosse
  • Helped develop dozens of scholarship athletes in 3 years of business
  • Instructed Kinesiology Lab at UW-Madison
  • Houses an internship program at F.I.T. that started in 2013
  • Member of Elite Mastermind Group of Nationwide Fitness Business Owners

Push Ups Help Develop Powerful Athletes:

Learn more power evolution techniques today.

IYCA-PowerEvolution-V1

 

Overworked and Underpaid

Overworked, Underpaid and…Exhausted?

If you are reading this, it’s fair to assume it is because you answered “yes” to at least one part of that question.

Let’s be honest here, most of us feel this way at some point or another, no matter what industry you’ve worked in.

Many sport performance coaches spend countless hours planning, preparing and delivering, only to fall short on financial performance and feel exhausted. After all, we wake up before the sun, and go to bed just before it rises again…right?   

tired-418902_640If you are like most performance coaches, passion got you started—persistence keeps you going—and pride keeps you from quitting when the going gets tough. If you are feeling that you are 

overworked, underpaid and exhausted…well, the going has gotten tough.

What to do?

Take a few steps back, and figure out how you can turn your youth fitness business into a lucrative and successful place…afterall…the world NEEDS you!

Here are 3 Ways to avoid burnout as a performance coach:

Take a 30,000 foot view, quarterly:

Sometimes we can’t see what is really going on inside our businesses until we remove ourselves.  It isn’t always physically possible, but what if you could look at your business from the outside…

… what would you see? Would you like it? What wouldn’t you like? Is it what you envisioned when you started? Would you come into your own gym as a client, and why?

These questions serve to spark your curiosity, knowing what your business is really about is probably the most important thing you can do when it comes to being lucrative.

If you lose sight of your vision, your dream and the reason you started in the first place, likely that passion will fade and so will your business.

Know your numbers, monthly:

Many youth fitness business owners hate showing their numbers.  Knowing your numbers is a sure-fire way to gain insight into your business.

Numbers you have to know:office-620822_640

  • Gross Revenue
  • Expenses
  • Profit Margin
  • Leads
  • Clients Lost

There are more than these, but this is a good start.   Do you know these answers? If you don’t, you need to. If you want to make money, you have to know what is coming in and going out.

Don’t have “time” to track them, then keep ignoring them and the result (likely not the one that you or I want for you) will come, or acknowledge them and have the power to create solutions and change the course…and WIN!

It is that simple. Numbers tell the story, get to know your business’s story!

Work ON the business, not IN the business, weekly:

Performance coaches are good at coaching…we are not always businessmen and businesswomen.  Overlooking critical aspects of our business, like sales/marketing, setting goals, our numbers, strategies and systems, etc. can destroy a business.

By working ON your business, you focus on the strategies and systems that optimize your performance.  Spend an hour or two every week (or a timeframe that works for you), focusing on your business.

What to think about?

  • Strategies
  • Systems
  • Priorities
  • What is working
  • What is not working

If you are only working IN the business, you have blinders on to most of these things. You may know them, but they get forgotten. Don’t let that happen…it’s a good way to burn out.

Written By:

IYCA-newsletter-julie sig-v1 (1)

 

 

IYCA– Executive Director
YFS, YNS, YSAS
Fitness Business Owner


Program design can require a lot of time.

Here is a free video and PDF resource for you to help save you some time (and energy) on program design for long-term athletic development.

IYCA-LTAD-LM-Blog AD-V1

Is Your Training Program Complete?

 

 

by Wil Fleming

 

The other day a track coach that I really respect called me to discuss an athlete that we both work with and right away I knew he was excited. I could hear in his voice that he was just fired up. I asked him what was going on and he responded,
"Coach Flem I have to tell you the coolest thing, Anthony has gotten 3 feet faster just training with you this summer and fall. (meaning his long jump approach had to be moved back 3 feet on the same number of approach steps) What kind of speed work have you been doing?"

 

 

Honestly, the answer was very little, outside of some very short acceleration work, this athlete’s focus had been on improving his explosive strength recently.

 

So what’s the point of this story?

 

(more…)

Coaching Young Athletes Back in The Trenches: Part 2

Coaching Young Athletes – We learn from the Best…

 

(2) Coaching Presence

 

Yet another intuitive intangible that I truly believe cannot be taught… But CAN be improved upon so long as you’re prepared to look in the mirror…

 

A quality Coach has a presence. 

 

Not because they are dictators or aristocratic morons who feel compelled to proclaim their dominance, but because they simply have a commanding authority that is automatically respected and impossible to ignore when Coaching Young Athletes.

 

In my career, I have 3 Coaches who fit this bill perfectly  –

 

(more…)

Symptomatology of Training Young Athletes

 

Training young athletes… It seems that everybody dabbles in this market 

Whether the fitness or sport training professional is a Physical Therapist by trade, Personal Trainer to the average adult clientele or Strength Coach to elite sporting stars, when stating their bios and areas or expertise, it seems that the sentence always ends with ‘I am Training Young Athletes, too‘.

 

And why not, right?

 

Training young athletes is the fastest growing niche within the entire fitness industry.

It’s worth over $4 billion a year in the United States alone and more than 1 million children, youths and teens hired a Personal Trainer in 2007 – a large number for the purpose of enhancing sport performance.

 

But that term, ‘enhancing sport performance’ is something that doesn’t really belong in the vernacular of the youth sports training world. At least not in the way we currently use it.

 

At the risk of sounding acrimonious, let me ask you this question.

 

How much do you really know about human growth, development and the necessary components of training clients in the pediatric and formative years?

 

(more…)

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…)

High School Strength Certified Coach

IYCA High School Strength & Conditioning Coach Certification

Exactly as I predicted, the “High School Strength & Conditioning Coach” certification has been absolutely flying off the shelves since I released it yesterday.

 

There is an unbelievable buzz at IYCA Head Office that, quite frankly, I haven’t seen in a very long time – the whole Fitness and Sport Training industry is lighting up over this new certification!

 

 

(See what all the buzz is about by clicking here —> http://iyca.org/highschool/)

 

 

And why wouldn’t they be?

 

After all:

 

You receive a certification and gain credentials to work with the fastest growing and most ‘in need’ demographic in the entire sports training industry.

 

You learn the inside secret systems for training high school athletes by some of the most successful Coaches on the planet (Eric Cressey, Mike Robertson, Wil Fleming). 

 Until Saturday January 29, you can own the “High School Strength & Conditioning Coach” certification for a full $100 discount.

 

But perhaps the most important reason…

 

The lynchpin that is making it so practically every single Coach and Trainer worldwide wants to become a certified “High School Strength & Conditioning Coach”?

 

Because it’s a Risk Free (more…)

High School Strength Certification

IYCA High School Strength Certification

 

High School Strength Certification will be released tomorrow.

And today, I wanted to hit you with a few key points for your consideration…

 

Barrington High School

Timothy Christian

Prairie Ridge

 

3 of the numerous high schools I either worked at or consulted for from 2001 – 2009.

 

Without question the most fulfilling time of my career.

 

In those 8 years and with those 6,000+ high school athletes, I experienced more in the way of learning than at any other point in my 15 years inside this industry.

 

I learned that the situation (for multiple reasons) was never going to be ideal and that a practical system was necessary to optimally train these teenagers.

 

(more…)

New: High School Strength Coach Certification

High School Strength Coach Certification

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Get the entire audio event I recorded with Eric Cressey, Mike Robertson and Wil Fleming:

 

“The High School Training Manifesto”

 

Everything you need to know about training high school champions!

 

Click Here —> http://iyca.org/highschool/

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

  • Eric Cressey
  • Wil Fleming
  • Dr. Toby Brooks
  • Pat Rigsby
  • Brian Grasso
  • Mike Robertson

(more…)

How to Create High School Training Systems

Before you read how I created a High School Training System that became one of the most successful in the country, I want to invite you to this landmark event:

 

Wednesday January 19
7:30pm (EST
)

 

“The High School Training Manifesto”

 

A LIVE audio with my special guests:

 

high school training

 

3 of the very best and most successful High School Strength Coaches in the world are going to share all their secrets with you…

 

Just click below and register for NO CHARGE:

 

 

—> http://iyca.org/highschool/

 

(more…)

Championship High School Training

young athletes

 

My fondest memories of coaching are very specific.

 

Specific to a period of time, particular location and group of young athletes.

 

Barrington High School.

 

Just outside Chicago, Illinois.

 

2004 – 2006.

 

I had started working at a large sports training facility not too far away from BHS.

 

Naturally, I wanted to position myself as the ‘go to expert’ for all the Young Athletes who participated in the competitive sports the school had to offer.

 

(more…)

Youth Training By Eric Cressey

Eric Cressey youth training

Youth Training Done right 

Last November, a good buddy of mine who is a very accomplished college strength coach came up to Boston for a seminar we put organized on a Sunday.  He actually flew up Friday night so that he could observe on Saturday while we trained our clients – which was a nice blend of youth training, high school, college, and professional athletes, plus our adult clientele.  All told, I’d say that high school athletes are 70% of our clientele.

 

That Tuesday morning, I woke up to this email from him:

 

(more…)

IYCA Summit – FAQ’s

>IYCA Summit

Whether you were at last year’s

or not, you’re bound to have some questions about our 2010 event.

     Why should you attend?

      Will you obtain CEU’s?

      Why is it less expensive than last year?

      Will you become certified through the IYCA for attend?

I’ve got all your answers here!

1) Why should I attend the IYCA International Summit in 2010?

Honestly, I could spend all day answering this one.

Let me list some bullet points for you –

The Speakers & Education:

  •       Carlo Alvarez is a former Major League Baseball Coach and considered
          the very best high school Strength Coach in the country.

  •      David Jack received a standing ovation at last year’s IYCA Summit because his
          seminar on ‘Mentoring Young Athletes’ was so cutting and innovative.
  •       Nick Berry has created multiple businesses in the fitness industry and
          developed systems to see them ALL become profitable and revenue-rich.
  •       Pat Rigsby is considered the finest and most knowledgeable marketing
          guru in the fitness industry today.
  •       Dr. Kwame Brown has created a pre-adolescent fitness program called
          ‘FUNction’ which is currently the most on-demand and successful
          fitness initiative in the entire country.

Think any of these experts can help with your training and business
issues or questions?

Think you could learn some stuff from them that will make you a better
Coach and more money literally overnight?

(more…)

Kids Coaching: My Memories – Part One

 

 

Kids Coaching teaches us

Blake came to me as a quiet, shy and terribly uncoordinated
8th grader.

 

13 years old and quite tall for his age, I knew the second I saw
him that I was going to like the kid.

 

He never said much and certainly had a great deal of difficulty
learning how to perform even the most basic of exercises, but
he was steadfast in his work ethic and always brought a good
energy to the training center.

 

I learned a lot over the years from kids coaching and from Blake.

 

Mostly, how to enjoy and appreciate the very small things in life.

 

His last training session with me was on a humid and sweaty
Chicago-style, August afternoon.

 

Walking into my facility, I noticed an unfamiliar bounce to his
stride and a larger than usual, ear-to-ear grin on his face.

 

"What’s goin’ on, my friend" I greeted him.

 

"Why such a perky smile?"

 

"Tomorrow, football tryouts start and I’m geared up!" he replied.

 

I tend to get tunnel vision as the summer months dwindle down.
I have dozens upon dozens of college athletes returning to play
fall sports and even more high school kids phasing up for
football and basketball.

 

"That’s right! What position you trying out for? You expecting
a ton of playing time, I assume?" I asked.

 

"Don’t care to be honest. Just looking forward to strapping on a
helmet and being part of a team"

 

His answer struck something in me that I didn’t quite understand at
the time, but would be overwhelmed with a few short months later.

 

Fast forward.

 

Late September, same year.

 

Blake was attending the same high school that I served as Head
Strength Coach at.

 

Great bunch of kids all around.

 

Dedicated, hard working and a Coaching Staff that truly valued the
kid inside the athlete.

 

And I’ll be honest…

 

I ADORED Friday nights.

 

I got to patrol the sidelines.

 

Home games especially.

 

There is just something magical about high school football in the cool
autumn air.

 

So there I was.

 

Patrolling as usual.

 

Laid back as I am in my daily life, I get ultra-serious and intense when
it comes to competition.

 

My own or my athletes.

 

(more…)

Favorite Strength Training Exercises for Young Athletes

Strength Training Exercises for Young Athletes

Tony Reynolds is a cut above almost every Strength Coach I know.

 

And that’s why he’s 100% in charge of the content for the message board
on www.IYCAMembers.com

 

When our Members have questions about training young athletes, their
is no one in the world I trust more than Tony to answer them.

 

But not only does Tony answer questions, he also contributes to the message
board every day with fantastic thoughts, opinions and suggestions.

 

Tony detailed some of his favorite strength training exercises to use with young
athletes last week and I just had to make sure that you saw this goldmine of
information. Below is a description of one of these exercises:

 

Single Leg Low Pulley RDL

 

Equipment:
Low pulley lowered as far down as it will go (ankle height) with a “D” handle attached.

 

Starting Position:
Grasp the D-handle in your right hand and face the pulley. Move far enough away from the pulley so you can perform a full range of motion without the plates touching the stack.

 

Stand on your left foot with your head up, base leg knee slightly bent (10-15 degrees), spine neutral but tilted, and hips pushed slightly back.

 

The Motion:
Flex at the base leg hip. As your torso moves forward and down “push” your free leg back for counter-balance. The free leg hip should not flex during the exercise.

 

You may need to slightly flex the base leg knee an additional few degrees as your hips travel back. This will allow you to keep your weight on the back half of your foot and reach forward maximally with the d-handle while keeping a neutral but tilted spine.

 

Descend until your back is near parallel with the ground. Reverse the motion and return to the top.

 

Things to Avoid:
Letting your hips push out to the side.
Dropping the base leg knee valgus
Over flexing the base leg knee…its an RDL not a squat
Losing a neutral spinal alignment
Loading the front half of the base foot
Hyperextending the hips/spine at termination of the ascent

 

 

Let me know some of your favorite strength training exercises for young athletes below

 

(more…)

Youth Conditioning Programs Tip of the Week

 

 

Youth Conditioning Programs

Why hold on to the ‘norm’?

 

What’s the point of doing what everyone else always has?

 

Case in point.

 

I’ve worked with literally dozens of different high schools
over the past several years and almost always have been
asked to ‘add’ to there already existing programs rather
than re-create a system that I know will work better.

 

It takes time, but eventually the Coaching staff come to
learn that my style of athletic development works better
than what they currently have and turn the reigns
completely over to me.

 

And when that happens, do you know what my first step
is in changing the face of their youth conditioning programs and methods?

 

I separate the freshmen from everyone else.

 

High school represents a perfect developmental model.

 

4-years of having the same athletes – guaranteed.

 

So rather than making the young 14 year olds perform the
same lifts as the 18 year old seniors (and with the same
zeal of heavy loads) I remove them from the equation and
train them as a separate group.

 

We work on things like summation of forces, lift technique
and speed/agility basics.

 

This gives them a solid foundation on which to grow and
ensures they don’t get caught up in the ‘how much can you
lift’ world of high school athletics.

 

By the time they are sophomores, they are much better
equipped to handle loads and perform lifts with more
accuracy and precision.

 

Now this methodology flies in the face of what most high
school athletic programs do.

 

But trust me when I say that it’s a much superior system.

 

Don’t be afraid to go against the ‘norm’ with Youth Conditioning Programs.

 

Carlos Alvarez, looked at as the best high school
strength coach in the entire United States, will be discussing
topics just like this one next month at our International Summit.

 

MORE than worth taking a look at –

 

http://www.iyca.org/2009summit

 

 

 

Have a great weekend!

 

Brian

 

 

 

Kids Fitness: My 15% Rule

 

 

Kids fitness Education Success

 

I spend 75% of my time with resources from trusted names I know are
great kids fitness trainers.

 

I spend 15% of my time with resources from trainers I have never heard of.

 

I spend 10% of my time with resources that I completely disagree with.

 

This system has been the secret to my success.

 

In my 10% category, I force myself to learn something about a training
philosophy or exercise program that, at face value, I have no use for.

 

How different is that from most kids fitness trainers?

 

Do you ever spend time with training resources that you know you don’t
agree with, or do you brush them off as ‘not worth your time’?

 

The method to my madness is simply this –

 

I can never learn enough. 

 

By reading a book or listening to an audio CD about a training style that
I disagree with, one of two great things happen.

 

Either I learn something I didn’t know (which often happens when you
actually read a book that you didn’t think you were going to like) or I
reaffirm and become more closely connected to the belief-system that I
already had.

 

Learn something new or validate that your system is the right one…
how is that anything but a positive experience?

 

The 15% category is reserved for trainers that I have never heard of before.

 

Why?

 

Because some of the best trainers I have ever met are simply NOT
household names.

 

They don’t have websites, they don’t market themselves and they don’t
try to become well known.

 

They just train people and then publish what they know to be true.

 

Professionals like  David Jack and Carlos Alvarez come to mind.

 

David runs a CATZ training facility near Boston and Carlos is the Head
Strength Coach for a prominent high school in Ohio.

 

Both spend roughly 50 hours a week training young athletes from various
sports and kids fitness programs— and they do so successfully.

 

David has sent countless high school graduates on to successful college
careers and Carlos is responsible for the fitness levels of the 2007 National
High School Champion football program.

 

They don’t broadcast themselves.

 

They don’t have websites.

 

They don’t ‘beat their own drums’.

 

But they’re incredibly talented and insightful Coaches who know exactly
how to develop top level athletes.

 

And they’re both speaking at my International Summit in February.

 

Two guys in your 15%.

 

Two guys who know exactly what it takes to be the best.

 

And two guys you will absolutely never learn from again if you aren’t
at the IYCA Summit.

 

Something to consider…..

 

 

http://www.iyca.org/2009summit

 

 

– Brian

 

The Young Athlete That Changed My life

 


 

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
Solution program.

 

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’
solution.

 

Kim was a gifted hockey player.

 

Terribly gifted.

 

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
it is.

 

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 –

 

http://www.TheYouthObesitySolution.com/

 

 

Brian