High School Athletes Strength Training
By Wil Fleming
Nearly all high school athletes, with very few exceptions, need to
develop explosive strength.
The instances in which the skill of explosive strength are used in
sports are endless, but when used “explosiveness” is very apparent.
A linemen firing off from their stance.
A soccer player rising above his opponents to head a ball toward goal.
A volleyball player making a quick lateral move to reach for the dig.
Instances of explosive strength are very vivid when used and typically are a part of a game changing play.
Typically I would now talk about the importance of Olympic lifts, but in some instances using a barbell is not possible due to equipment limitations or even the readiness of the athlete. In those instances, the need for High School Athletes does not diminish, but the need for creativity does increase.
So what are some alternative tools to use when limited by a high school athletes experience or exposure to equipment?
Medicine Balls Medicine balls are a great tool to use with even the least experienced of athletes. They are rarely ever intimidating like the barbell can be, nor are the movements difficult for athletes to pick up on. Medicine balls are a great tool to use on day 1 for high school athletes
The uses for medicine balls are quite extensive but in terms of explosive strength they are extremely well purposed as a tool for upper body throws. Medicine balls can be used as external resistance for lower body plyometrics, speed, and agility drills as well.
Rotational throwing drills help athletes learn to develop power in the transverse plane through their hips and effectively transmit force through a stable core.
Resistance Bands A second tool that is equally as useful, is the resistance band. Using resistance bands can make training explosively a truly portable experience, athletes can use these anywhere, from the gym, to the field, or even at home.
The increasing resistance that bands supply as they become stretched, means that near the end of a given range of motion an athlete will find the most difficulty. The greatest resistance when working with bands is in the area in which athletes do the most of their work, this makes bands a really practical tool to provide resistance for both upper body and lower body training.
Resistance bands can be used in place of nearly any traditional barbell training exercise, but the best uses can be found in areas where it is difficult to train with a barbell. Use bands as an additional resistance in training explosive plyometrics, or in lateral movement training.
Bodyweight (or Bodyweight +)
Training explosively with bodyweight is a great way to develop greater power. Bodyweight + refers to the addition of wearing a weighted vest to increase bodyweight slightly. These tools are rarely imposing for athletes.
Adding a weighted vest is applicable to traditional plyometrics, but also to speed and agility drills. The extra weight should always be contrasted with no weight to finish off a set.
A favorite drill of mine is using a weighted vest to do a “Falling Start”.
Wearing the vest an athlete should extend up as high as possible on their toes and then lean forward until almost “falling”. Explosively sprinting from this position closely resembles the correct acceleration position. Using the contrasting methods can really help athletes feel the positions of acceleration.
So there you have it. Some ways to train explosively that don’t involve the Olympic Lifts. These tools and methods can be used anywhere and with little prior experience to athletes. It is a great way to make the first day’s experience at your AR something that athletes really enjoy through early success.