Archive for “Young Athletes” Tag

Performance Training Issues Solved by Standardizing?

Can Performance Training Issues Be Solved by Standardizing?

The goal of Performance Training programs for young athletes is simple: create more injury-resistant and higher-performing athletes.

After years of coaching parents and youth, it is evident that performance training is still not held as an essential or non-negotiable part of an athlete’s career.

How can performance training become a non-negotiable activity for athletes?

Let’s look at other activities that are common with youth, like karate, gymnastics, and boy/girl scouts. In all of these, you can find achievement progressions exemplified in the use of belts, levels or badges.

These progressions provide a clear guide for how a participant can achieve success. Performance Training programs could be standardized in a similar fashion. However, we need to first address some of the current issues.

Current Issues

Stopping When Functional

Many training programs utilize a program model that has the athlete completing achievement, and there is no longer any room for improvement. Typically, this occurs once the athlete appears to be moving and functioning fundamentally.

So…now what?

Pro Tip: Create a “ladder” of achievement for young athletes. This ladder will allow them to continue to move toward a Performance Training program. Once they have qualified for this program, there is a new set of criteria for advancement.

No Mastery of Skills

Over the last decade or so, the onset of “functional strength” has meant that young athletes are introduced to a wide variety of movements including unstable surfaces, single leg exercises and more.

These variations are meant to induce “sport specific” characteristics. While that is great, the athletes never become masters of any one skill because they only scratch the surface of multiple variations.

Pro Tip: Focus on the “big bang” movements: squat, dead lift, bench, power clean, overhead press and loaded carries. These movements provide the foundation of the program until mastery is achieved.

Athletes need to learn the basics before moving on to a more complex exercise. You would not have a basketball athlete practice a cross-over dribble when they cannot dribble a ball with one hand.

Lack of Next Level Necessities

karate-502384_640As athletes grow and develop, they may have aspirations of playing their sport(s) at a collegiate level. This may be seen as an opportunity to earn a scholarship.

As a result of the focus on sport-specific training, oftentimes, an athlete never properly learns or completes the functional lifts.

Pro Tip: Focus on teaching the basics and doing “simple things savagely well” (as Mark Verstegan says), then athletes will be optimally prepared for the strength demands and the rigors of performing at the next level.

Focusing on Simply “Moving Weight”

There seems to be a trend in the youth strength and conditioning world of simply lifting a “specific weight”. This creates numerous concerns.

  • The focus on this “number” may create a situation where a teammate or coach assists with a lift, and the athlete is actually not capable of lifting this weight.
  • Larger athletes might not feel compelled to progress past a specific weight.
  • Smaller athletes may feel less confident as they are not able to reach the weight.

Pro Tip: When determining measuring metrics, consider each individual’s strength relative to their body weight. For example, a 300lb squat for a 300lb lineman is a lot different than a 300lb squat for a 150lb athlete.

No Positivity

There is a lack of emphasis on positive reinforcement for proper movement or great performances in many programs. This can have a negative impact on the athlete’s confidence levels, create a negative learning environment and/or stall or decrease progress, to name a few.

Pro Tip (BONUS!): This may be the most important item to take away. You must praise and provide feedback to your athletes. This does not have to mean “everyone gets a medal,” but for example, you earn colored bands as you improve.

Higher-level bands are a sign of proficiency and progress, the athlete becoming more self-aware, confident, and stronger. We should provide reinforcement for these attributes!

SUMMARY

By creating a standardized system, you provide athletes, parents and coaches with a simplistic and organized path to athletic success in your program.

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

Want to Learn More about Standardization?

Check out Jared’s Module in INSIDERS with this Exclusive Trial.

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5 Tips You Need to Know About Knee Injuries

Tips About Knee Injuries

football-619243_640Knee injuries are rampant, and in the physical therapy world they tend to keep us employed.

There are so many types of knee injuries that, for coaches, it can be hard to know what is what.

Patellofemoral Syndrome? Patellofemoral Dysfunction? Lateral Tracking Patella? Did you know those are the same thing?

So to break down the barriers to understanding knee injuries, here are…

5 Knee Related Tips that Every Coach Should Know

Tip #1: Basic Anatomy Factoid

The knee is the largest, most unstable, joint in the body. Somehow our evolution created a very large, somewhat disarticulated joint with a bony hockey puck on top, and 4 ligaments stringing it all together.

The ankle can move in two planes of motion very well. The hip moves in three planes of motion, and then the part between the two moves in one and if it moves in three, you have now lost your ACL!

This body part is set up for failure so that’s why tip #1 will hopefully shed light on tips #2-5.

Tip #2: The Joint is Sensitive But for Good Reason

There are millions of receptors coursing through the knee that transmit a lot of information.

When cutting on a basketball court and a little rotation at the knee is registered, what happens? Simple, the hips and lower back rotate—and the athlete goes up onto the ball of the foot to allow fluid motion to prevent twisting. This creates strong and efficient movement patterns.

The orientation of the kneecap (patella) allows the quad to generate increased force by making a bigger lever arm with every jump, land or sprint. It’s a great shock absorber when used correctly.

So when aches and pains start showing up in the knee, the message to the head is “I can’t handle the pressure, please stop.” Just think of it as a barometer for the lower body.

Ankles and hips have this type of capacity but they are also so intricately involved in balance strategy that they are focused on other tasks.

Tip #3: Address the Problem Early

Rolled ankles occur frequently. Hip joint injuries are less common, such as a labral tear, and when they happen it will really slow down or stop an athlete.

As a clinician that teaches online courses for Patellofemoral Syndrome and ACL Rehabilitation, please heed my recommendation to not ignore knee pain because there are a lot of causes.

For young athletes the most common response is “it’s just growing pains”, right? Sure, that could be the answer but let ME, (the Physical Therapist), figure that out.

Before, I mentioned the idea of the knee as a shock absorber. If a knee cannot handle the load, pressure, force, etc. going through it and the athlete continues to push through, changes will start to occur.

Pro Tip: Correctly using the forces of physics can build great athletes but when mismanaged becomes a wrecking ball.

Problems are much easier to address in the first couple of weeks. Timing and positioning mechanics of the knee—when pushed too far—eventually fall apart. Excessive loading through the patellar tendon can cause painful bone formation that we know as Osgood Schlatter’s.

Constant pain behind or on the side of the knee cap can cause maltracking. This is due to a bad combo of tightness and weakness in the quad muscles, known as Patellofemoral Syndrome.

Repeated abuse of the knee joint will begin to shut down quad strength because of this awful pain/inflammation cycle. If there is any uncertainty to the cause of knee pain, get the athlete to the doctor and hopefully to a sports-minded clinician that is going to figure out the underlying cause.

Pro Tip: The longer knee pain persists, the longer it will take to correct the problem.

Tip #4: Pain Does Not Equal Damage

This applies to any injury, but I find it very relevant to the knee. The knee is a very painful structure, as I mentioned—lots of tiny cells that relay information with every step. It is pretty well known in the physical therapy world that the fat pad behind the kneecap, which provides cushioning, when pinched is “drop to the floor” painful.

An IT band that slaps awkwardly across the outside of the knee joint may also take an athlete’s breath away. While both incredibly painful, when addressed appropriately can be quickly resolved.

Bringing this back to the “get it checked out” message I have already conveyed—as a coach it is important to realize this because fear and doubt will settle into the athlete’s brain.

Pro Tip: Pain is a way for the body to say “Hey, I don’t like what is going on here, do something about it.” Lots of things affect pain so getting a clear understanding of the cause is critical, before some real damage starts.

Tip #5: It’s Too Important to Cover Up

If you do not know what the issue is affecting the knee, don’t cover up the problem. I am talking about all the braces, bands, clips, gels, and bottles of anti-inflammatories that young athletes get rigged up with.

If your doctor or therapist recommended something like this, absolutely listen and follow the sound advice.

If an athlete is limping around and you slap on a compression sleeve and wrap, and then it miraculously feels better, it doesn’t mean the issue doesn’t still exist. The typical response is “back to business as usual”. STOP, and direct that child towards the doctor.

As adults, we mask things to make it through the workday, manage pains at home so we can bend over and bathe the kids, or perhaps to participate in recreational softball tournaments.

Children are not adults.

Take Home Message

A lot of the article may be interpreted as “any knee problem, take an athlete to the doctor.”

If an athlete’s knee is sore after doing box jumps for the first time, is slow moving following a run into a wall, or is a bit irritated after increasing running mileage from 5 to 7 miles, there are cases where you know a potential cause or instigator.

For the athletes that have been limping around for weeks and getting worse, a professional medical evaluation is warranted. I am always going to error on the side of caution with this type of thing because at the least, an athlete will get their part checked out and learn ways to head off problems before they start.

Dr. Keith Cronin, DPT


Help Prevent Injuries by Preparing Athletes To Perform

Learn how to leverage the Long Term Athletic Development Model to ensure your athletes are prepared to perform. In expert Wil Fleming’s free 7-minute video and PDF checklist, he covers how to create a training system that prepares young athletes to move better, get stronger, and enhance their performance.

Learn More


About the Author: Keith J. Cronin

Keith CroninKeith J. Cronin is a physical therapist and owner of Sports and Healthcare Solutions, LLC. Keith currently supports US Operations for Dynamic Tape®, the “Original” Biomechanical Tape®, providing guidance for education, research, and distribution. He graduated with his Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) from Belmont University in 2008 and later earned his Orthopedic Certification Specialist (OCS).

Prior to graduate school, Keith was a collegiate baseball player and top-level high school cross country runner. He also had the opportunity to work as a personal trainer (CSCS) prior to his career in physical therapy, providing a very balanced approached to educating fitness and rehabilitation. Keith has focused his career on the evaluation, treatment, injury prevention, and sports conditioning strategies for athletes, with particular attention to youth sports. He currently lives in the St. Louis, MO area with his wife and two daughters, Ella and Shelby.

Additional noteworthy items about Keith:

  • Keith is currently a reviewer for the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy (IJSPT) on a variety of topics including throwing athletes, concussions, and ACL rehabilitation.
  • Keith has produced several online CEU courses for PTWebcuation.com on the topics of running injuries, ACL rehabilitation, Patellofemoral Syndrome, and injuries to the Foot and Ankle.
  • In 2012, Keith participated in a concussion education program in Newcastle, OK that resulted in the documentary “The Smartest Team: Making High School Football Safer” which had several runs on PBS worldwide.
  • Keith has also been published in a variety of media, publishing almost 100 articles through venues including MomsTEAM.com, Advanced Magazine, the 9s Magazine, the American Coaching Academy, and Suite101.
  • Keith was also featured on Fox2News several times on topics of concussions and ACL injuries.
  • In 2008, Keith was a winner of the Olin Business Cup at Washington University for his product innovation “Medibite” a jaw rehabilitation system designed to improve the outcomes for individuals suffering TMJ dysfunction.

 

5 Reasons Performance Coaches Love Resistance Band Training

If you don’t use resistance bands in your training already, here are 5 reasons to start implementing them today!

Reasons to Implement Resistance Band Training

Reason #1: Versatility

RBT Band TrainingResistance bands are one of the most versatile tools aside from the body itself. Their versatility allows for unique implementation for individuals and teams alike.

Develop your athlete’s speed techniques, upper body strength, lower body power, rotational strength and so much more with this one continuous looped band!

Reason #2: Control and Stability

Resistance bands allow athletes to learn how to control their bodies, which requires a “boat load” of stability and core engagement.

Why is this important? Think of how universal it is for athletes to be able to control movement. No matter the sport, timely control is demonstrated by your best athletes.

Reason #3: Variety

Sometimes coaches just have to change it up. Plus, with all of the competing stimulation for youth, they need some variety as well. Bands are a fun, effective way to train that also helps performance coaches add some variety in their programs.

It is an exciting tool that the kids love!

Reason #4: They’re Compact & Easy to Transport

LuggageSeriously, they can go anywhere! Resistance bands don’t take up a ton of space, and they aren’t heavy or hard to transport. Stick them in your trunk and use them in every session! (They are 100% TSA approved so you can even fly with them.) 😉

On a similar note, resistance band training requires little space. So if you are stuck in tight quarters, they are the optimal tool to bring more value to your training.

Reason #5: Results

You can literally feel the results immediately. Resistance bands allow athletes to dynamically move, have resistance and establish strong systemic bodies.

Bands allow athletes to improve posture, feel the correct mechanics and provide a range of resistance that challenges anyone who uses them.

If you are a performance coach and want to learn how bands can make your programs better, check out the IYCA Resistance Band Training Instructor Course today.

What are you waiting for? Train with bands today!


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About the Author: Julie Hatfield

Julie Hatfield (1)Julie is the Executive Director of the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA). She grew up as an athlete and played collegiate softball at Juniata College. She currently owns and operates her own youth fitness business pouring into young athletes. Her areas of expertise are youth sport performance, youth fitness business and softball training/instruction. Julie grew up on a dairy farm and can challenge the best of the best in a cow-milking contest. 😉

 

Monitoring Part 2- Monitoring Tools That Every Coach Needs

In Part 1 of this blog I discussed why we monitor and considerations for monitoring your athletes.  Part 2 is going to deal with how we monitor at the high school level.

Monitoring can be an expensive venture, but there are also less expensive ways that can be implemented by virtually anyone at any level.

This blog will detail two practical and inexpensive ways in which, monitoring can be implemented to help you make decisions, allowing you to meet your athletes where they are at on any given day.

#1 Surveys

Having your athletes take quick daily surveys can help create awareness regarding their habits.  These surveys can be simple  and ask as few or as many questions as you would like. Keeping it simple is best. Here is an example of some of the questions to ask:

  • How many hours did you sleep?
  • Did you eat breakfast?
  • How many bottles of water did you drink?
  • How tough was practice yesterday on a 1-5 scale with 5 being the hardest?
  • How tough was your workout yesterday on a 1-5 scale with 5 being the hardest?
  • How do you feel overall 1-5 scale with 5 being the hardest?

You could make a survey through excel pretty quickly and log your information there to keep track of long term trends with your athletes. There are a couple of ways in which this can be beneficial for you.

  1. Make educated adjustments to your plan dependent upon feedback from the athlete
  2. Identify, where you feel they are at from a readiness standpoint that day.
  3. Look at long-term trends both individually and globally to make better decisions in programming for your athletes.

Individually, you may find that your athletes do not get enough sleep on Monday nights due to practice and academic obligations. Globally, you may find that the football team’s toughest day is on Tuesday every week. Knowing that your athletes average 6 hours of sleep on Monday nights and also have their toughest day on Tuesday allows you to adjust and make the best decision for your athletes that day.

It is very important that you use the data that you collect!

Pro Tip: Collecting data for the sake of collecting data is counter-productive. The adjustments you make off of the data collections is what is of real significance.

You can also up the ante and implement technology to take surveys. There are programs that exist where athletes can enter survey information into their phones, and it collects and organizes the data. This is a real time saver for busy trainers.

Here is an example of a survey:

Monitoring Part 2 Image- Fred Eaves

#2 Autoregulation (APRE-RPE Scales)

A second cost-effective way to monitor your athletes is by using an APRE/RPE scale in their strength training programming. APRE is defined by Dr. Bryan Mann as Autoregulatory Progressive Resistance Exercise.  APRE is a method that takes the daily readiness of the athlete into account through adjustment protocols that dictate working sets.  

There are two warm up sets, and then the third set is a set to failure at a prescribed rep max (RM). The results of the third set dictate the weight used on the fourth and final set.

As a coach, this can be used to help the athlete train to the highest level possible for that specific training session according to the physical state of the athlete.

We do not use strict percentages in our program but rather we use them as a guide.

Use this auto-regulation method to dictate our training loads for the day.

Pro Example:

I always use the example of the athlete who slept 3 hours the night before a hard training session that is under tremendous personal and academic stress when describing the need for this type of training. This athlete may have a prescription to hit 2 reps at 95% that day, but due to his physiological state that 95% is really more like 105% that day. This is why autoregulation can play such a key factor in the development of your athletes.

Dr. Mann from the University of Missouri has done a tremendous amount of work in this area, and has written an E-book specifically on APRE methods. 1

Mann’s Example:  

Here is what typical APRE protocol according would look like:

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SET 4 ADJUSTMENTS- REFER to this chart after set 3

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An RPE scale in conjunction with APRE methods is another effective manner in which to implement RPE. RPE  stand for rate of perceived exertion.  Athletes use this rating scale to rank the difficulty of a set in training.

Pro Example: Sample RPE rating scale

2016-02-29_1607

Pro Example:

An example would be an athlete does 155lbs. for 10 reps. When he finishes this set on set three, he rates whether or not he had one rep, two reps, or multiple reps left in the tank. Then picks an appropriate weight to finish his fourth set, using the adjustment chart below.

Here is an example of what this looks like:

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SET 4 ADJUSTMENTS- REFER To This Chart after set 3

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Look at long term trends when recording their numbers to make sure there is consistent progress.  Do not worry about disp as this is common due to the variable nature of the high school athlete.

Conclusion

Two simple and cost-effective measures in which to monitor and adjust for your athletes have been outlined.  Use these tools to tremendously impact your athletes in way that is both feasible and practical.

 


Are your athletes prepared to perform?

Download our free PDF and Overview video on the long term athletic development model.

WFIYCA


About the Author: Fred Eaves

Fred Eaves, Ed.S, M.Ed, CSCS, RSCC, IYCA, USAW, USATF, BIOFORCE Conditioning Coach Certified,  2015 NSCA H.S. Strength Coach of the Year, 2013 Samson Equipment & AFM H.S. Strength Coach of The Year
References

  1. Mann, B. (2011). THE APRE: The scientifically proven fastest way to get strong.

 

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5 Easy-to-Remember Aspects of Program Design

The best youth coaches are always looking for ideas, tips and tricks to improve their program development. Maybe it’s because they are the “never settle for anything less than perfection” type personalities, or just because they are getting bored with their current programming.

Either way, we have found some great techniques for how to approach program development, that will help you improve your programming, mix up the mundane, and continue to get great results with your athletes.

Pro Tip: When developing a program or improving an existing program, think of the acronym P.L.A.C.E. to make sure that you are delivering an extraordinary experience.

Plan & Prepare

Every program needs a good amount of planning and preparing. It is no secret that the best performance coaches in the industry have a tried & true system when it comes to planning and prepping their sessions.

What is your plan? How do you prepare?

Quality planning and preparation will take your training to the next level


Learn how to prepare your athletes to perform and to design programs that fit within a model of long term athlete development.

Watch Video


Lifelong Lessons

You have an amazing opportunity to simulate and help athletes overcome many barriers and obstacles. Find ways to relate training back to life and make it a part of each program.

Overcoming barriers, fears, weakness and obstacles can easily be brought into a training program in a non-threatening, manageable way. It is a great moment for you to impact that athlete for life.

On a similar note, when you program from the long term athlete development model and principles, not only do you get to spend many years with a single athlete, you also get to implement a rock-solid foundation in movement that will change their life.

Never lose site of the bigger picture: lifelong health & happiness.

Application to sport

It is an unfortunate reality that many athletes are defined by the sports that they play. Educating them on the need to be well-rounded, foundationally sound and the concepts of long term athlete development is essential.

But the reality is still there. That is why “application to sport” is still an important part of your program. Don’t over-emphasize this topic, but give your sport-athletes as much as they they need when it comes to relating components of your program to their sport.

Confidence Building

Confidence building should be an integral part of each and every session when working with athletes. Providing a platform for confidence building will allow your athletes to achieve goals and perform at a higher level.

How will you help your athlete(s) mentally? Whether it’s in the confidence that you have in them, or the way that you play to their strengths and build their weaknesses.

There are many ways to instill confidence as a coach, so make it a priority.

Evaluate

There are two pieces to the evaluation part of your program:

  1. Evaluate the athletes
  2. Evaluated by the athletes

Every time you see an athlete, there should be a constant evaluation process that takes place. How are they feeling, how is school, how busy are they, how do they look when they move?  

Much of this evaluation should occur in your warm ups and before they start working.

Secondly, they evaluate you. At the end of each session, you can ask for feedback. How did they rank the session? How did they rank their performance? (I use a # system, 1-10)

Summary:

The good news is that the acronym PLACE is easy to remember, and will help you think through the basics of what to include in your program design.

What others tips, tricks and recommendations do you use? We’d love to hear!


Want to help make sure your athletes are prepared to perform for the long-run and not just for next week’s big game?

Download our FREE Prepared to Perform Video to hear youth coaching expert Wil Fleming break down critical aspects of the long-term athlete model.

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Author: Julie Hatfield

Julie Hatfield (1)Julie is the Executive Director of the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA). She grew up as an athlete and played collegiate softball at Juniata College. She currently owns and operates her own youth fitness business pouring into young athletes. Her areas of expertise are youth sport performance, youth fitness business and softball training/instruction. Julie grew up on a dairy farm and can challenge the best of the best in a cow-milking contest. 😉

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

Olympic Lessons For Young Athletes

 

Olympic Lessons

 

Olympic lessons for young athletes

 

By Wil Fleming

 

Well it should go without saying, as a former athlete in an Olympic sport, there is no greater time than the Olympics. So many sports put on display, so many great athletes, and so many years of hard work finally shown on the world stage, means that there isn’t a better sporting event on the planet.

 

As a coach it is important to relay the messages of the Olympics to the athletes we work with on a daily basis.

 

1) Hope
The opening ceremony demonstrated this to its full effect. For those who missed the opening ceremonies, typically the host country will choose a famous former Olympian to be the final torch bearer as they light the cauldron that burns throughout the Olympics. Rather than choosing a great athlete from the country’s past, Great Britain decided to have the Olympic flame lit by seven athletes of the country’s future.

 

This gesture demonstrated hope, one of the greatest things that we can instill in our young athletes. While there are 10,000 athletes participating in the games, not every athlete we work with is destined for that glory, or a college scholarship, but we can instill the hope in each one of them that they can be the best athlete that they can be.

 

Each day we should aspire to inspire our young athletes. Find out what their REAL goals are, not just the typical. Several months ago I found out that one of my athletes didn’t want a college scholarship, all he wanted to do was score a touchdown for his high school football team. Considering he was playing guard for his team, this was not likely to happen. After consulting with him on his diet (losing 30 lbs and improving his 40 yd time), and even talking to his football coach, he is now a tight end and he is closer to realizing his REAL dream.

 

2) Skill
There are 28 sports in the Olympics and countless events that divide each of these sports. There will be plenty of jokes made about the merits of badminton and other sports and their inclusion in the Olympic games, but a true coach will seek out the skills necessary to compete at a high level in those sports and learn from these lessons.

 

Look at the hand-eye coordination of a table tennis player. Look at the lateral movement of the badminton player, think about the cardiovascular endurance of a shooting athlete trying to fire a shot between heart beats. Appreciation of these skills can help lead you to being a better coach, and thinking of new ways to help your athletes improve.

 

3) Defeat
A big part of reality is that of the 10,000 athletes that go to the Olympic games to compete, not many of them will come home with a medal. A majority of the athletes at the Olympic games will end their Olympic career in a defeat. Does that mean that they are a failure? No, not at all but it does mean that dealing with failure or defeat is part of choosing to be an athlete.

 

Learning to take defeat, or setbacks in training, is part of being an athletes. Young athletes who learn this lesson can benefit greatly by embracing that each defeat means another opportunity to get better.

 

So this week as you watch the Olympic games, think about the opportunities that we as coaches can embrace as some of these Olympic lessons can help our athletes get better in the process.

 

 

Understanding Low Back Pain in Adolescents

 

Low Back Pain in Adolescents

 

By Jake Moore

 

Every one of us has worked with a young athlete with low back pain. In fact, we have all likely have worked with and missed the signs of serious low back pain in our athletes. Looking back at my career so far, I’m sure I have. Of those young athletes with lower back pain, up to 47% have spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis (1). Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis are injuries to the posterior vertebrae and result from excessive spinal extension loading. Unfortunately too many young athletes are over-trained and exposed to poor training, leaving them at risk for these injuries. On the positive side, these injuries are preventable with good movement training and knowledgeable coaches. As IYCA professionals we expect to be held to a higher standard than youth fitness professionals when working with young athletes. If we can recognize the signs of serious back pain, and how to train to prevent such injuries, it will go a long ways in diminishing low back pain amongst your youth fitness athletes, help those with low back pain get timely treatment and decrease the impact of low back pain into adulthood.

 

Young athletes are at a vulnerable time to develop low back pain from excessive trunk extension. In late middle school and early high school they may be participating in multiple sports throughout the year. It is not uncommon to be in-season for one sport and still participate in off-season training for their club teams. (It would be worth another article to discuss how these athletes would benefit more from developing fundamental movement skills instead of being in-season all year.) In addition these athletes will be asked to begin a youth fitness or strength and conditioning program in their school as part of their athletic participation. Meanwhile this athlete is at a time in their development where:
1. The rate of bone growth is often outpacing the lengthening of muscle and fascia, leading to tight hips and poor posture.
2. Growth plates are still open and bone density is not yet fully developed.
3. Core strength is not developed as the body adapts to having longer limbs.
4. Motor control and posture are continuing to be shaped.
If these athletes are asked to perform fully loaded strength movements with poor form with an immature and ill-prepared body, the body has but one choice to accomplish this task. That is to hang onto ligaments and bony restraints instead of utilizing muscular control.

 

youth fitness

 

Pelvic influence on spinal curves

 

The spine has three curves. A lordosis, or slight backward bend at the cervical and lumbar spine, and a slight kyphosis or forward bend at the thoracic spine. This helps the spine absorb shock and increases stability versus a completely vertically stacked spine. The lumbar spine position is controlled largely by the pelvis. The pelvis is able to anteriorly and posteriorly rotate based on the muscle pull on the front and back side of the body. The images below demonstrate the muscles involved in creating rotation of the pelvis. The line of action of the hip flexors and spinal erectors pull on the pelvis to create anterior rotation. This anterior rotation results in increased lumbar lordosis. On the other hand, the glutes, hamstrings and abdominals create posterior rotation and a decrease in lumbar lordosis. It’s common to see individuals with inhibited glute and abdominal musculature and tight hip flexors and spinal erectors. The result is a tendency to position the pelvis in anterior tilt and increase compression of the lumbar vertebrae. When this occurs repeatedly over time, the posterior structures of the lumbar vertebrae are at risk for injury.

 

youth fitness

 

Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis

 

Some of the most significant injuries affecting adolescents are spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis. We all have likely trained athletes with this injury, whether we knew it or not. Spondylolysis refers to a stress reaction of overload to part of the vertebrae. In the lumbar spine this is often the pedicle or pars interarticularis. Spondylolisthesis is an advancement of spondylolysis with an identifiable fracture to the vertebrae and possible forward slippage.

 

youth fitness

 

The pedicles and pars interarticularis are located on the back side of the vertebrae and are placed under compressive and shear load when the spine moves into extension. Injuries to these structures often occur gradually over time. As an athlete is asked to do exercises that are beyond their ability for the core musculature to control, the lower back will drift towards extension to find stability. Think about trying to bend a copper wire. As you initially bend the wire a hinge point develops. As you do this over and over again the wire will bend more easily and eventually break. This is exactly what is happening to young athletes with spondylolysis. It’s critical that these individuals get treatment before it is too late (spondylolisthesis).

 

youth fitness

 

Recognizing serious low back injury

 

To recognize the signs of spondylolysis or athletes at risk, look at posture, core strength, hip mobility and activities. Posture is often excessively lordotic when doing squats, overhead presses, deadlifts, back extensions, push-ups and planks. These athletes may be some of your more capable squatters and deadlifters because they understand how to keep the spine from rounding forward. The problem is they can’t control spine extension. Athletes with poor core strength are more apt to use this type of strategy to make-up for inadequate active lumbar stabilization.

 

youth fitness

 

An athlete with limited hip mobility is also at risk. Without flexibility in the hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors, the athlete will have to bend more through the spine on order to perform sport specific or weight room movements. Tight hip flexors will pull the spine into excess extension and poor glute and hamstring mobility will force the athlete to contract more through spinal erectors. The end result either way is increased posterior spinal loading. Any athlete who has made recent large increases in loading in the weight room should be monitored closely for low back pain. Football players and gymnasts seem to be most at risk as well as athletes participating in multiple sports at the same time.

 

Initial symptoms of spondylolysis may be a dull ache in the back with no initial onset. These athletes often have the most pain with running and jumping due to large ground contact forces. Squats, cleans, deadlifts, overhead presses, planks and leg lifts are also exercises that can increase symptoms. These athletes may be able to do every exercise in your program but have pain doing it. These symptoms may go on for months before they bring it to your attention. It may even recur every year, increasing during track season for example, going away during the summer only to return during football season. Once diagnosed, these athletes may be held out of sports and put in a brace for up to 6 weeks with another 4-6 weeks of rehab before full sport participation. An athlete who develops spondylolisthesis may battle low back pain on and off for the rest of their lives.

 


Keys to prevention of Low Back Pain in Adolescents Through Youth Fitness Programs

 

Low Back Pain Youth Fitness Solution #1
Teach pelvic tilt. Understanding how to pelvic tilt is fundamental to developing awareness of the position of the spine and pelvis. An athlete who does not know how to posteriorly pelvic tilt will have difficulty controlling trunk extension and rest on boney structures during exercise. The athlete who cannot anterioly tilt the pelvis will have a hard time learning how to hip hinge and keep neutral spine with squats and deadlifts. Teaching pelvic tilt is easily done if doing and floor based core exercise. Have your athletes start with knees bent, feet flat. Have athletes practice arching the lower back up off the floor, keeping the glutes and shoulders down, then have them smash the lower back down into the floor. This can be progressed to quadruped, tall kneeling and athletic stance positions. Once your athletes understand pelvic tilt, many of your strength exercises will be easier to teach.

 
Low Back Pain Youth Fitness Solution #2
Train in neutral spine. Have your athlete’s pelvic tilt both ways and then find a happy medium. That’s roughly what we would call neutral lumbar spine. To find neutral spine a stick placed along the lower back works well. The athlete should be able to contact the stick at the sacrum, thoracic spine and back of the head.

 

youth fitness

 

Floor based core exercise should use neutral spine as well. Dead bug progressions work very well here. Have your athletes lift one leg or extend one leg and opposite arm, keeping neutral spine. Check under their back to be sure there isn’t an increase in the gap between the spine and the floor. Exercises such as double leg straight leg lifts will be too challenging for most athletes without a progression. This is why kids put their hands under their butt if asked to do excessive leg lifts with a weak core.

 

Look at how your athletes perform planks. Ideally the glutes should be tight and spine neutral. The pelvis position should not change when doing planks or push-ups. If it does, then the abdominals are fatigued or the athlete has poor core control and the lower back passive restraints will bear the load. Discontinue the set. This means push-ups may be limited more by core strength than by upper body strength.

 

youth fitness

 

Neutral spine applies for other strength exercises as well. Athletes should be able to use the force couples around the pelvis, engaging the glutes and abdominals to help control pelvic position. Exercises should maintain lumbar lordosis without forcing end range lumbar extension. Back extensions for example should be taken to full hip extension without hyper-extending the low back. For strength exercises, the cues to squeeze the glutes and tighten the abs will often help create balanced forces around the pelvis to control excessive pelvic tilt.

 

youth fitness

 

Low Back Pain Youth Fitness Solution #3
Improve hip mobility. As mentioned earlier, the hip flexors can create a force pulling the pelvis into anterior rotation, increasing lumbar lordosis. Keeping the hip flexors mobility is essential to allowing for neutral spine positioning when strength training and running. For younger athletes a specific static hip flexor stretch is not necessary. You can adequately train the hip flexors with lunges and split squats to develop mobility and neuromuscular control. Again use a dowel held along the spine and cue abs tight to improve pelvic control during the movement. On the other end of the spectrum, the athlete with tight hamstrings may not be able to utilize their glutes well when doing deadlifts, squats or getting into athletic stance. Getting the hamstrings more mobile will help young athletes access their glute strength and decrease demands on the lumbar extensors. Again, an isolated static hamstring stretch is not needed. Get your athletes to hip hinge with a stick and RDL with a neutral spine and you will develop functional hamstring mobility and trunk stability. These types of exercises along with many of the hip mobility exercises from your IYCA certification will help your athletes develop great hip mobility and allow for decreased demands on the lumbar spine during training and sport participation.

 

If you encounter Low Back Pain in Adolescents or an athlete who complains of LBP, take it seriously. Suggest that they see a therapist or physician for further evaluation. If their back pain is still there, suggest they see an orthopedic specialist. To help diminish the risk of spondylolysis, teach pelvic control through fundamental movement patterns and core exercise. Correct excessive spine extension just as much as you would the athlete who tends to round over. Teaching athletes how to move well and stay injury free is the essence of an IYCA professional and avoiding Low Back Pain in Adolescents. Being aware of the risk of spondylolysis in adolescent athletes will help direct those who need it to medical attention while improving the quality of training for all our athletes.

 

 

1. Motley G, Nyland J, Jacobs J, Caborn D. The pars interarticularis stress reaction, spondylolysis, and spondylolisthesis progression. Journal of Athletic Training 1998; 33 (4): 351-358

 

If you are interested in learning more about proper programming for youth fitness programs check out the IYCA Program Design System.

youth fitness

 

 

Youth Conditioning Programs Using Ropes & Tires

 

IYCA Expert Dave Gleason Explains How To Develop Youth Conditioning Programs Using Unconventional Methods

 

youth conditioning programs

As long as your programming has developmental justification that points pack to the required elements of the IYCA system…everything is in bounds!

This includes tires and battle ropes. Many of our AR franchise partners are co branded or are also a Fitness Revolution Franchisee as well. That said, many of our trainers and coaches have experience with large tractor tires and battle ropes. With safety mechanisms in place, very effective and fun activities can be implemented in your youth conditioning programs for 6-9 (Discovery) and 10-13 (Exploration) sessions.

Here are a few examples of youth conditioning programs to get your creative juices flowing:

1. Team Tire Flip.

youth conditioning programs

Even with a 500+ pound tire if you orientate your young athletes well and put yourself in a position to effective spot this activity, this is a very safe team building and exercise. Systemic strength, object manipulation, and cooperation are all aspects of this fun drill.

Have your athletes form a semi circle around the backside of the tire. Cue them to keep their toes close to the tire, and keep their eyes up as they place their hands underneath the tire. “On a count of three we all lift and drive the tire forward.”

2. Team Tire Drag (Pull).

This systemic strength pulling activity is an adventurous variation of tug o war.

Place a battle rope through the middle of a large tire so there are two equal lengths of rope to pull on. Place your athletes evenly on each length of rope. On your command your athletes will pull and drag the tire to a designated area or length.

You can add variation and problem solving by experimenting with how many athletes you can take off of pulling duties to sit on the tire with the remaining athletes still able to move the tire. Then experiment with different kids on the tire vs. pulling.

youth conditioning programs

3. Angry Monkeys.

This super fun exercise is a battle rope wave drill masked by as silly name and animation during the movement. Straight from the brain of Autism Fitness Expert, Eric Chessen, the set up virtually the same depending on the age and size of the athletes. Your 6-9 year old athletes will do well with a single rope wave. A mature 12 or 13 year old will handle a rope end in each hand with no problem. A 40 foot, 1.5 inch in diameter, rope works very well.

Instruct your athletes to act like an angry monkey with the rope end in their hands while making a wave in the rope. Let them make “angry monkey” noises. 10-20 seconds of work is optimal depend on the age of the athletes in your group.

4. Battle Rope Relay.

youth conditioning programs

Object manipulation, cooperation, spatial awareness systemic strength and kinesthetic differentiation are included in the benefits of this game.

Lay out a battle rope in a straight line on the ground. Form two lines of athletes, one line at each end of the rope. The first athlete in each line grabs hold of the end of the rope like a relay baton. On your command the athletes race to opposites ends and hand the rope off to the next person in line.

This is a perpetual race because there is no winner. Give your athletes 2-3 runs each and then give the group a rest.

youth conditioning programs

When ever you can think out of the box and apply some additional fun and adventure into your Youth Conditioning Programs for young athletes you should do so! If something is working well for you please share in in the IYCA Insiders Forum.

Keep changing lives!

 

Top 4 Alternatives for Olympic Lifts When Training Young Athletes

Training Young Athletes Using Olympic Lift Alternatives

 

Youth Fitness Expert Wil fFeming on Training Young Athletes

 

As a coach and professional I know that I love the Olympic lifts when training young athletes. For good or bad I think that there is no EQUAL to getting athletes more explosive than the Olympic lifts.

 

Being married to a lift or movement places too many limitations on the program you are able to design and in particular limits the improvements that each individual athlete can make.

 

For the athletes that are exclusively training with me and are physically capable the Olympic lifts are the king of my gym. There is no BETTER way to get explosive.

 

As my training business has grown, however, more and more athletes find out and are recruited to train with me, the necessity is not to place my training on them, but to discover the best training methods for them.

 

This means that the athlete that are concurrently training in their high school and doing Olympic lifts 2-3 times a week need alternative methods to train explosively with me. My beliefs are not something that can supersede the needs, time or ability of the athlete.

 

training young athletes

 

This being the case when we are training young athletes, the Olympic lifts have been replaced with alternatives that replicate the explosive nature of these lifts.

 

Using Medicine Balls To Train Young Athletes

 

training young athletes with medicine balls

 

The broad category of medicine ball throws can be used for nearly every athlete to produce explosive strength. These throws provide a low impact to the athlete but a maximal force production.

 

Throws in the rotational plane can be used to develop a vital linkage of the upper body to the lower body through the core musculature. Correctly performed throws originate in the lower body and leave through the hands, a kink in the core armor will be very apparent if a delay occurs from initiation to delivery.

 

Regardless of whether athletes can do Olympic lifts or not, medicine ball throws are a vital part of athletic programs, nothing develops the all important power in the transverse plane quite like rotational medicine ball throws.

 

KB Swings To Train Young Athletes

 

training young athletes

 

Much has been written on the kettlebell and benefits of using it to develop explosive strength. The addition of elastic resistance can take this movement to an entirely different level.

 

The swing itself is an excellent tool to develop an explosive hip hinge pattern. Most athletes lack in the ability to feel the explosive hinge and the swing is the best movement that I have found to break knee dominant athletes of using the knee bend to initiate explosive motion in the lower body.

 

The end range of hip extension is one of the best ways for athletes to truly feel the maximum contraction of the glutes. The voluntary muscle contraction that most athletes have difficulty attaining through other movements is a must for athletes to achieve a total hip extension.

 

The addition of elastic resistance allows accomplishes 2 main objectives:

 

1) It spares you of having to buy an unlimited number of kettlebells. Our biggest kettlebell is 32 kg. Many of our high school athletes can toy around with this weight with little to no difficulty for 10-15 swings. By adding even a small band to the kettlebell, 10-15 swings becomes a much greater challenge.

 

2) The majority of resistance occurs at the top end, where athletic movements occur. The maximal contraction should occur at the top end of the swing movement. With just the dead weight resistance supplied by the kettlebell athletes are sometimes apt to use the top extension as a point of relaxation. The addition of band resistance increases the load as it travels away from the floor. This top “high resistance” position is also the position in which most athletic movements occur.

 

In general swings simulate overall athletic movement. A correct swing should have the athlete relax momentarily at the top of the swing after reaching full hip extension but before returning to contraction at the top. This contract, relax, contract pattern allows for greater recruitment on the next upward swing.

 

Prowler Sprints To Train Young Athletes

 

training young athletes with prowler sprints

 

The goals of Olympic lifting are varied. They can go from becoming a better competitor, across the spectrum to improving speed (I first noticed that I had become a much more powerful athlete due to Olympic lifting when my 40 yard dash time dropped .5 seconds in just 6 months) For the latter a great substitution is to do resisted sprinting with the prowler.

 

The idea of special strength training was popularized by USSR coaches, and in particular those coaches in track and field. My first exposures to it were as a hammer thrower, to us special strength training was literally training the specific event in which I competed with a heavier implement (can’t get much more special than that!). Prowler sprints are the perfect special strength tool for athletes looking to improve acceleration.

 

The sets are typically 8 seconds or less, and the athlete gets adequate rest. This timing both mimics the boughts typically seen in athletic competition, the length of time for typical Olympic lifts, and helps increase the alactic power an athlete is able to produce.

 

An increase in stride length will be seen for athletes training with resisted sprinting techniques. This increased stride length will be due to an increase in the athletes’ ability to produce more power.

 

Submaximal Front Squats or Deadlifts to Train Young Athletes

training young athletes with deadlifts

This is something that I have been toying with recently that has really improved the maximum power output that we are seeing from our athletes.

 

Loads of 40-50% 1RM on the bar and band resistance of less than 100lbs should be used. Athletes should be instructed to lift the weight with maximal force on the concentric portion of the movement.

 

Recently Bret Contreras wrote an excellent article on similar movements In it he describes recent research showing that maximal force produced during 40% of 1RM in the Hex Bar Deadlift is surprisingly similar to that produced in the Olympic lifts. (4800 Watts Hex Bar vs. ~4900 Watts in O lifts). While research has shown that maximal power production measured in watts can be achieved in the split jerk at nearly 6000 watts, this is very close when it comes to the big 2 Olympic lifts (snatch/clean).

 

Adding bands to the puzzle has not yet been studied but anecdotally my athletes have seen a large improvement in the ability to produce power top end hip extension. The greatest load is encountered at this point in which the athlete has the greatest mechanical advantage.

 

The bands pull the athlete down at a faster rate in the eccentric phase of the lift. To resist this greater speed the posterior chain must contract with a greater force. This is similar to the eccentric portion of plyometric action. Higher rate of contraction in the muscle spindles will lead to a greater force of contraction on the concentric portion of the lift.

 

Check these moves out next time your training young athletes and let me know what you think.

 

Learn how to become a Certfied High School Strength and Conditioning Coach by Clicking Here.

HSSC

Misuse Of Speed And Agility Training

Speed and Agility Training With Young Athletes

Speed and Agility Training

A lot of people in this field call themselves Strength & Conditioning Coaches. I don’t have a problem with the “Strength” part of the title, but the “Conditioning” part could use a little work.

As a former college S & C Coach, I fully understand the time constraints of the collegiate or high school environment. Running a private facility for athletes, I also understand the limitations of this situation. In both cases, it is very difficult to give every athlete the time and instruction they need. Still, there is one area of our profession that I feel is in desperate need of some attention. That area is what I call Movement Training.

Speed and Agility Training

Recently, I was asked by a college coach what mistakes I have made in the past and what I would do differently if I could re-live the past 6-10 years of my career. At first, like many coaches, my ego didn’t want to admit to any mistakes, especially to another coach. But, after some thought, I realized that the area in which I have the greatest impact on athletes today, I simply did not understand when I was younger.

A few years ago, I thought the best S & C Coach was the one who most fully brutalized his/her athletes. I thought I was supposed to lift my athletes until they puked and condition them until they couldn’t see straight. Don’t get me wrong, I still think that stuff has its place. I love putting athletes through brutally hard workouts, and I think that kind of hard work can have amazing benefits (it also has terrific entertainment value). But, through time, I have gained a better understanding of how to maximize the “Conditioning” or “Speed and Agility Training” part of my job title.

To a lot of coaches, conditioning means creating running programs that enhance the physiological processes involved in aerobic or anaerobic metabolism. You may not think of it this way, but that is essentially what many conditioning programs are designed to do. I have no problem with this. Conditioning sport-specific energy systems is a vital part of athletic success.

Speed and Agility Training

Many coaches also implement speed, agility, and plyometric routines into their programs, and I think it’s great to see coaches making an effort to improve the physical abilities of their athletes. Unfortunately, I see way too many mistakes being made in this area, and I think many coaches are doing their athletes an injustice.

Over the years, we have read articles by some great coaches about specificity, but the full message of these wise men is often lost in an effort to use their message to support our own views. I’m sure you’ve done it. You’ve read an article, and thought to yourself “That’s what I’m talkin’ about. That’s why I do what I do. I’m going to use this article to support my speed and agility training philosophy.”

The articles have been great. They have helped a generation of S & C Coaches formulate their strength training philosophies….strength training philosophies. Why didn’t we see that the same information we’ve applied to strength training can also be used to develop effective speed and agility programs?

In my opinion, a lot of S & C Coaches approach speed and agility training the same way they approach strength training.

They find out what other coaches are doing (through reading summer manuals, watching workouts, etc.), and duplicate it in their environments. This has worked out pretty well for strength training because there are a lot of good Strength and Conditioning Coaches to learn from.

Unfortunately, there are a few problems with learning about speed and agility training this way.

First, there are not nearly as many quality speed and agility coaches to learn from.

Second, most of us didn’t learn anything about effective movement patterns in school.

Third, proper coaching of speed and agility training for young athletes is highly dependent on coaching prowess, movement analysis, and the ability to understand proper movement patterns. It is more like teaching a sport skill; instructor knowledge is vital, and you can’t just apply a cookie-cutter approach like many coaches do with strength training. Nonetheless, we’ve learned our speed and agility drills from Strength Coaches not Speed and Agility coaches.

The best case scenario for many of us was to learn a few drills from a track coach or catch an article outlining a couple of exercises. This kind of coaching just doesn’t cut it. I believe that movement training falls under the “Conditioning” part of our job title, and it’s time we take full responsibility for this important part of our jobs.

I like to call speed and agility training “movement training” because the goal is to train athletes how to move more efficiently. The problem with most movement training is the assumption that if we put some cones or hurdles out in a cool design and have our athletes run through them, we are making an impact on their movement patterns.

speed and agility training

The truth is, we’re not. All we’re doing is helping them reinforce whatever movement patterns they are using to get through the drill. Take a few minutes to re-read some of those specificity articles, and I think you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.

I have had the good fortune of working with, observing, and learning from a lot of good sport coaches and instructors. I have never seen a good basketball coach allow players to take hundreds of jump shots with poor shooting technique, and I have never seen a good baseball coach let players pitch and hit with poor mechanics. Unfortunately, I have seen a lot of Strength Coaches allow athletes to perform hours of agility drills using horrible technique.

A lot of coaches assume that if the athletes are going through the drills, their athleticism will improve. But, the benefits of performing speed and agility drills are dramatically reduced if the athletes are not executing them with sound mechanics and learning proper technique. If the coach is unable to analyze the movement and give corrective feedback, what good is he/she doing for the athletes?

There are still a lot of questions about speed and agility training and movement training especially with young athletes, but there are certainly some answers and a lot of room for us to improve. I look forward to examining this misunderstood aspect of our profession in more detail with you in the future.


 

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Training Young Athletes: Are You Coaching an Entitled Child?

 

Motivating When Training Young Athletes

Training young athletes IYCA youth fitness specialist

 

By Melissa Lambert

 

As coaches you can all think of a time when a parent or young athlete has approached you demanding they start and play the entire game. Whether they deserve that level of recognition or not, in their eyes they will be a professional athlete some day and the expectation is that you cater to their needs. One of the most difficult aspects of coaching can be motivating young athletes to compete at peak performance not only as individuals but as a team. Conversely, when you have young athletes who feel entitled and need to be in the limelight all the time, you can expect a bigger challenge. An entitled child or athlete feels like he or she should receive without giving and working. This child often refuses to hear the word no and will lash out. Other signs of entitlement include not taking turns, impatience, putting themselves first, lack of compassion, tantrums and minimal manners.

 

These childhood or adolescent behaviors are not innate; they have been shaped by their environment. They are a result of over-parenting and giving children too much without earning it. Coaches can only foster the environment during the time in which they are working with the athletes, however they still play a critical role in overall physical and emotional development. The problem with giving children everything they want is building false expectations that needs and desires will be at the center of future relationships whether it would be with friends, coaches, teachers or a significant other. If you put into the perspective of a high school athlete, how might he or she handle getting beat out of a position by their own teammate? The entitled athlete will come up with a million excuses for why they deserve to be playing and will quit the team instead of fighting for that position back.

 

The number of children with high skill and low motivation I see when training young athletes is increasing and the philosophy of coaching our current generation of youth needs to change in developing future elite athletes.

 

Coaches need to be mindful not to set-up athletes to fail by giving them the preconceived notion they will become the next all-star young athlete in order to meet their desired outcome.

 

What you need to know to about coaching and training young athletes:

 

Over-coaching hurts a child’s confidence and underestimates an athlete’s ability.

 

It’s a similar concept to over-parenting when your role is to provide the necessities without over indulging. Athletes need opportunities to learn for themselves and make their own mistakes. It is easy to find yourself catering to a child who always seems to have a problem whether it’s pain, hunger or needing a water break every 10 minutes. Make sure you set firm expectations and limits from the beginning and make team values a precedence. If an athlete shows up late to practice they should know ahead of time what the consequence is. You should also encourage your athletes to problem-solve their own questions or challenges rather than doing it for them. This allows for autonomy and exploration. Trust that your athletes can handle a difficult situation independently or as a team while providing guidance when needed.

 

Focus on the resilience of an athlete – their ability to cope with stress and adversity.

 

It’s much easier to say no to an athlete with a mind set that he or she will become a stronger individual in the long run. I am sure we can all think of an athlete that cracks under pressure or loses composure at the thought of failure. A child or athlete who is entitled tends to lack resiliency, which frequently results in poor performance in challenging situations. Create opportunities through competition and teach the importance of responsibility in growth. In order to affect change when training young athletes, an athlete needs to take ownership and acknowledge a change needs to be made. The more athletes are put in difficult situations during practice, scrimmages, etc. the greater their ability to handle adversity in a game situation. Use narcissism, giving-up and low motivation as teaching tools during practice to break out of habits while positively reinforcing appropriate behaviors through praise or additional playing time.

 

Don’t reward or compliment children for unfitting attributes.

 

Studies indicate that children who are complimented for everything don’t benefit from being positively reinforced by praise. You build false hope in an athlete if you tell them they are doing well at something when they are not. This will result in a greater sense of disappointment later in life when reality sets in. Coaches need to teach young athletes that mistakes are necessary to become better and use weaknesses as coaching opportunities for improvement. Don’t make athletes feel like they need to be exceptional all the time by using unsubstantiated appraisals.

 

Coaches are not only an intricate part of athletic development but also help build a foundation for everyday life skills. It is crucial to allow for autonomy and avoid doing everything for your young athletes. They need to be able to handle adversity and effectively cope when challenges arise. Most importantly when training young athletes, encourage them to build off weaknesses instead of giving false hop resulting in future disappointment.

 

Melissa Lambert, M.Ed, LPC, YFS1, HSSCC, YNS
Child and Adolescent Therapist
Program Director – Connecticut Coast Soccer Performance Training Clinic

 

 

Kettlebell Training: It’s All About Progressions

 

Kettlebell Training With Young Athletes

 

Kettlebell training progressions with young athletes

 

By Pamela MacElree MS

 

Just like every other training modality, kettlebells also have training and movement progressions.

 

I find it ironic that we often see people approaching kettlebell training far differently than they would barbell training or even the use of a dumbbell. Everything has a progression, always. I’ve talked about it before, you wouldn’t give someone additional weight in a squat if their bodyweight squat has poor form and you especially wouldn’t give them a weight to use in squats if they never squatted before.

 

If this is the case why would we automatically hand someone a kettlebell and show them how to do snatches if they had never done one before, if they had never used one before, or if they had never done any other similar movements before. We don’t.

 

This is where progressions come in to play when training young athletes. Progressions are highly important to understand and know to ensure that our clients and athletes both have good form and once they have maintained good form, can safely make increases in weight.

 

Since I mentioned kettlebell snatches earlier, let’s use them as the example. Keep in mind that I am not teaching how to do a kettlebell snatch, I am showing you the progression on where to start when first teaching the snatch.

 

Let’s take a look at things in reverse order:

 

    • Prior to doing kettlebell snatches we should ensure that being able to do a one arm kettlebell high pull is a proficient movement pattern.

 

    • Prior to doing one arm kettlebell high pulls, we want to teach and learn two arm kettlebell high pulls.

 

    • Prior to doing two arm kettlebell high pulls, we will teach the kettlebell Romanian deadlift. 
    • Prior to learning the kettlebell Romanian deadlift we teach the good morning stretch.

 

As you can see there are several steps that need to happen before teaching young athletes a kettlebell snatch. The purpose here is to not actually teach you the kettlebell snatch but to show you the movement patterns that need to be learned and perfected prior to attempting the snatch.

 

The good morning stretch shows us that our athletes understand the hip hinging process of moving the hips back in space, rather than down toward the floor as in a squat.

 

The Romanian deadlift follows the same hip hinging pattern as the good morning stretch with external load, slow and controlled. When learning the Romanian deadlift you start with two hands on the kettlebell and move to one.

 

After mastering the slow and controlled movements, we will move into the more dynamic explosive exercises of the two arm and one arm high pulls and finally progressing to the snatch.

 

Here’s a video to help you coach young athletes bring all of these kettlebell movements together :

 

 

 

Using Complexes In Warm Ups to Improve The Skills Of Young Athletes

 

Young Athletes weightlifting specific warm-ups

Young athletes olympic lifts warm up tips

 

By Wil Fleming

 

When your program is full of barbell strength training , in particular the Olympic lifts, it is important to sharpen the skills of your young athletes with a weightlifting specific warm-up.

 

A general warm-up is necessary for young athletes to increase mobility and activation, prior to training. Once the athlete is warmed up in general however, a specific warm-up for the days activities should be used to prepare.

 

In all sports the general warm-up is followed by a specific warm-up, baseball players should touch a ball before actually throwing out the first pitch, basketball players should take a couple shots before the buzzer sounds, just as in those scenarios, in strength training it is important to use some external loading before the training of the day.

 

A complex is the perfect way to do that.

 

Complexes are multiple movements done sequentially without rest in between movements. In order to complete a complex it is important to complete all the prescribed reps of one particular movement before moving on to the next drill.

 

Complexes can be a tremendous tool for conditioning as well, but in this case I would like to think of them for warm-up only.

 

The great thing about complexes is that they can really include whatever it is that you want for a given day. For my athletes I think that they are a great source of variation in the program, and a great way to challenge them on a given day.

 

I typically design complexes around what the movements of the day will be, if our athletes are to be cleaning in the session ahead, I will design a complex that includes clean movements. If we are snatching, then the complex will include the snatch.

 

Designing a complex

 

Limiting factors:

 

Athletes should be able to complete the complex without a severe break in proper technique. Complexes will have one movement typically that will be the limiting factor in the amount of weight that is on the bar.

 

For example: A complex of 5 exercises- Hang Clean, Front Squat, Push Press, RDL and Bent over row. In this complex , for nearly all athletes the bent over row will be the movement on which they will struggle the most with a given weight. In this instance the weight that an athlete can use for the prescribed reps on a bent over row

 

Selecting Exercises

 

Selection of exercises should mimic what the athletes will be asked to do in the training session later in the day. It is also important to use the LIGHTER weight of a complex to work on areas in which many athletes struggle. In the clean or snatch that is the pull around the knee area, and with extension of the hips. Including a movement that will specifically work on that area of the lifts is important.

 

Exercises should be selected in an order that moves logically for the athletes. This means that the starting points of each movement should be similar to the previous one.

 

For example: A complex that includes Front squats, to RDL’s, to Push Press becomes much more difficult due to the fact that the bar has go from resting on the shoulders, to the hands and back to resting on the shoulders. Changing the order from Front Squat, to Push Press, to RDL keeps the bar in the same position as long as needed.

 

Importance of Exercises

 

Explosive movement should be prioritized in complexes. This does not however mean that all complexes have to start out with a full clean or snatch, it does mean that a clean pull, or full clean should precede front squats.

 

Explosive movement requires a greater level of technical proficiency young athletes need to be fresher to complete these movements.

 

Examples of Complexes

 

Clean Complex:
2 to 3 sets of 5 -7 reps of each of the following:
Clean pull from above knee, Clean High Pull from Mid Thigh, Hang clean from Mid thigh, Power Jerk, Front Squat, RDL, Bent Row

 

Snatch Complex:
2 to 3 sets of 5-7 reps of each of the following:
Snatch Pull from below knee, Snatch High Pull from Above Knee, Hang Snatch from Mid Thigh, , Snatch Jerk behind neck, Overhead Squat, Snatch Grip RDL.

 

These same complexes could be used with Dumbbells or even Kettlebells. Try implementing them before your young athletes next session.

 

Change Lives Today

 

Wil

 

olymic lifts young athletes

 

The Olympic lifts are the most explosive and dynamic demonstration of force in which an athlete can participate. It is important to have established, an effective, efficient, and safe way to teach athletes to Olympic lift. Athletes can be taught at any stage to lift well, with proper technique using the methods outlined in this course. Learn more on Olympic Lifting with young athletes here…

 

 

One Shell At A Time

 

Coaching Young Athletes: One Shell At A Time

 

young athletes

 

By Dave Gleason

 

When we are educating prospective parent members about the value of long term athletic development we often use very poignant and effective analogies. This is paramount in guiding parents to a better understanding and, at times, a paradigm shift as to the optimal way to train their child(ren).

 

Once more, it is imperative that our parents as well as our athletes comprehend the inherent risk of early specialization in sport… and the 6 week “bigger, stronger, faster” quick fix.

 

A common analogy that has proved advantageous to these efforts is that of our educational system.

 

We can quickly draw a parallel between the progressive and cumulative effect of our school systems while explaining that learning physical skill sets is no different. We speak to building a solid foundation before specializing in any one subject. We offer the example of not excluding other subject matter because a child has an affinity or increased aptitude in one particular subject.

 

“If Trevor was brilliant in the subject of math in 1st grade we certainly would not skip to 7th grade algebra”.

 

As coaches we need to take heed as to how we observe our young athletes from a standpoint of skill acquisition and movement economy. More importantly we must pay close attention to each athletes well being from a humanistic perspective.

 

I offer this analogy to think about how you may become a better coach and mentor to the young athletes in your program.

 

One shell at a time.

 

When walking the beaches of the south shore in Massachusetts I have often collected sea shells. Far too easy to pick up the shell that catches my eye because of its outstanding shape, size or varied colors. The thousands of shells I have walked passed without a second thought.

 

Half buried.

 

Pale in color compared to the shells.

 

Jagged and unpleasing to look at.

 

How many shells were bypassed that were in fact the most unique and wonderful shells on the beach?

 

What have I missed as an observer and collector of shells?

 

What have we missed as coaches?

 

What kids have we looked past to see the athlete who is the “better” athlete?

 

What child needed to be picked up so we could see the true value of them?

 

As Athletic Revolution franchisees we are all on a greater mission to change the way young athletes are coached.

 

This is why we will continue to set ourselves apart from from others in our industry. THIS is why will we change lives…one athlete at a time.

 

Keep up the great work!

 

 

Concussion Prevention: A Pro-Active Approach

 

Concussion Prevention For Young Athletes

 

concussion for high school young athletes

 

By Jim Kielbaso

 

The concussion problem in sports has reached epidemic proportions. The NFL is spending millions on awareness and just instituted new practice rules to reduce the number of blows the players are exposed to during practices. Several high school athletic associations are also implementing new rules to deal with the issue. So far, everything has focused on how to deal with the athlete after the concussion, but there is now a movement to help educate athletes, parents and coaches about sports concussions and what can be done to prevent or avoid them. We’ll never be able to eliminate concussions from sports, but there are certainly things we can do to help reduce the forces our brain encounters.

 


There are really four basic components of concussion prevention:

 

    1. Protective equipment – In most sports, this means properly fit, quality helmets and mouth pieces. Unfortunately, no equipment or training currently known to us will eliminate concussions. “The best helmet on the market can still lead to injuries of the head including concussions,” said Scott Peck, a certified athletic trainer in Washington state. “To decrease concussions, athletes need to practice good technique in tackling and blocking by keeping their heads away from contact.”

 

    1. Technique – Some sports include more contact than others. Good coaches always teach athletes not to initiate contact with the head, but we still see a lot of young athletes using poor form when tackling or hitting.

 

    1. Awareness – It seems crazy, but there are still a lot of parents and coaches who simply do not understand how dangerous a concussion can be or that there is inherent risk involved in participating in most sports. This site was set up to help heighten awareness at the same time we discuss prevention options and proper treatment

 

  1. Training – This component is just now picking up momentum, but some coaches have known about this concept for years. This is also the least publicized aspect of concussion prevention for several reasons.

 

First, most people don’t know how to safely and effectively train the head and neck musculature. Second, it would be next to impossible to produce scientific evidence to show that training will help prevent concussions because you would have to use real human beings and expose them to potentially life-threatening blows. This would never pass any collegiate ethics committee, so the research probably cannot be done.

 

Still, the automotive industry has known for years that a stronger and stiffer neck significantly reduces the G-forces encountered by crash test dummies in crash research. It seems obvious that a stronger neck would be extremely helpful during a blow to the head, but most doctors aren’t yet ready to admit that. That could be because:

 

a. Doctors won’t make any money from the prevention side of this issue.
b. Doctors probably have no idea how to train.
c. Doctors typically refer to the scientific literature, but we already established that this evidence will probably never be published in any scientific journal.

 

We have to understand that no amount of training or equipment will eliminate all injuries, but that is not the point. Ten years ago, ACL prevention programs were virtually non-existent. Today, female athletes all over the country understand that proper training will limit their risk of sustaining an injury. Yet, ACL injury rates haven’t slowed down. It doesn’t mean that the training has not helped. And, going through a training program does not mean you will never hurt yourself. Training is meant to reduce risk or severity of an injury.

 

The same goes for properly training the neck & head to reduce the risk of concussions and serious neck injuries. The training does not eliminate the injuries, but it can help to lessen the risk or severity of neck and head injuries.

 

The leading researcher on neck training, Ph.D. candidate Ralph Cornwell, put it best when he said “If we know that it might help, and it’s not going to hurt, why wouldn’t you want to do this kind of training? People do ACL prevention programs all the time. This is like an ACL prevention program for your brain and neck. You can replace your ACL, but as far as I know, you only have one brain. It just makes sense to protect it.”

 

Research done by the NFL is now revealing that the repetitive sub-concussive blows – the hits that don’t knock you out, but just ring your bell a little – are the main culprit behind the long-term brain damage seen in many former athletes. Many of these athletes are now suing major sports organizations because they are mentally and physically disabled due to these blows. It seems that every brain has a certain number of hits it can take before long-term damage sets in. The more G-forces the brain encounter, the worse it gets.

 

Training can reduce the G-forces encountered on these sub-concussive blows, raising the bar on the number of hits it will take before the long-term damage sets in. This is some of the best news ever presented on this topic, because it gives us hope that we may be able to combat this problem.

 

Major sports organizations like USA Hockey and the NFL are recognizing that something must be done, so rules are changing quickly. Even Dr. Robert Cantu, who is considered one of the leading experts on the subject, has said that he thinks young athletes should wait until they are stronger and more mature before they engaging in intense contact/hitting sports. This means that the leading authority on concussions understands that being stronger will have a positive effect and is part of the concussion prevention equation.

 

With the knowledge that training can help prevent concussion and other injuries and, when done properly, can cause no harm, why would we NOT strengthen the muscles surrounding the head and neck?

 

 

Three Quick Ways To Become a Better Coach

 

Become a Better Coach

Become a better coach with young athletes

 

By Wil Fleming

 

In the network of coaches that I have met, the most passionate always are other coaches at AR. Every one of the coaches that I have met wants to do the best they can FOR their athletes. As a franchise this sets AR apart from any other that I have ever witnessed (outside of maybe Fitness Revolution!).

 

The franchisee at the local Starbucks isn’t trying to become better at brewing coffee, the local owner of Chipotle isn’t trying to build a better burrito, but each and everyday the owners of AR’s are trying to be better at developing young athletes.

 

It is a pretty cool thought when you get down to it.

 

In light of this, and of a conversation that I had with one of my coaches recently I wanted to talk about my 3 ways to INSTANTLY become a better coach. We can all dive into more continuing education products, and attend live events, but those things take time and it is all about being a better coach today than you were yesterday!

 

    1. Attend your athletes’ sporting events

 

We typically see our athletes in the bubble that is our AR, we even evaluate them through the lens of an assessment, but the ultimate assessment is how they perform on the field (or court, or track). See your athletes compete and you will be able to pick out exactly what it is that is holding them back.

 

In their lateral movement are they applying the principles of deceleration? Are they reacting quickly enough to the visual cues of the game played? Right there you have a blueprint for their next phase of speed training.

 

Do your athletes start to tire later in the match or game? How exactly is their game paced? If you didn’t already know you know now and you hae a blueprint for designing the conditioning protocols they will use in training.

 

Lastly, and it has been said 100’s of times, being a presence at sporting events is one of the single greatest marketing tools you have in your toolbox.

 

    1. Use film to breakdown lifts

 

This is so simple but sometimes we forget it. Our eyes can only capture so much, and with limited repetitions per training session there are so few opportunities to see your athletes in action while training.

 

Using film can help you spot errors when you believe that everything is going perfectly. Recently with one of my athletes I was able to spot that the athlete was lacking in complete extension of their hips while doing Olympic lifts, even though it seemed they were reaching this point while in full speed. I was able to notice this by breaking down the lift on film and correct this error for the next lift.

 

Taking a look at film will sharpen your ability to see things going forward and improve your ability to correlate results (missed lifts, slowing down in acceleration, etc) with particular errors.

 

For the best breakdown of movements I use the iSwing app available for iPhone and Android (it costs $2.99).

 

    1. Spend 1 day observing other coaches

 

This is almost immediate, but just arranging to spend 1 day while around other coaches can help you become a better coach and improve your abilities as well. I am fortunate that at AR Bloomington we have some tremendous coaches that I can turn to so that I can bounce ideas off of them, but even if you are not in this situation find someone in driving distance and go learn from them.

 

They don’t have to be household names or even strength coaches. Just last week I was able to observe a 2x state champion basketball coach take his team through some off-season basketball workouts. His command and presence resonated with me to be a better leader on the floor of our gym.

 

The desire to become a better coach is the reason that the members of the AR family are among the best in the world.

Try out these 3 quick tips and see your coaching improve overnight!

 

 

 

Around The World For Better Balance Training For Young Athletes

 

Young Athletes Balance Training

 

By Dave Gleason
 

In this video IYCA Expert and Athletic Revolution Pembroke Owner Dave Gleason discusses and demonstrates one of his favorite Activities for training dynamic balance in young athletes.

 

Progressions, regressions and even a way to make this exercise more fun for even the youngest of athletes is included in this short video coaching clip.
 

 

 

Let us know what you think of these exercises for improving the balance of young athletes below.