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How to Build a Year Round Band Flexibility Program

How and Why to Build in a Year Round Band Flexibility Program

Athletes young and old do not like to stretch and, as a result, create unnecessary trauma to their joints and muscles by not being optimally ready to perform high intensity ballistic type movements.

Why Athletes Don’t Stretch

Young athletes are not taught why it is important to optimally lengthen out the body prior to performing high intensity ballistic type movements.

Teaching a young athlete at a middle school level why lengthening out their muscles and mobilizing their joints will enhance performance, eliminate unnecessary muscle soreness and help eliminate injury will set a standard that will stay with them as their athletic career advances.

Coaches need to stay consistent and demand that dynamic flexibility training be part of all training workouts. For most athletes, stretching before a big game is well followed.

However, to make a long-term impact on flexibility, athletes need to do it consistently before workouts. Programming this into the workout is the coach’s responsibility.

Research contradicts the importance of stretching before workouts. This contradiction of importance makes it a difficult sell to older athletes and many sport coaches.

The fact is, muscles will not lengthen out and create permanent plastic changes unless they are routinely challenged to do so. Regardless of what research says, muscles that are short will stay short unless they are both lengthened and neuromuscularly taught how to control length.

Traditional body weight stretching is boring. As a result of the prior 3 reasons, a consistent emphasis on making sure muscles are frequently lengthened out prior to working out using a body weight approach has been less than successful over time—especially if athletes are not part of a large team structure.

Why is Resistance Band Stretching Effective?


Being elastic, bands provide for an accommodating resistance so muscles can gradually release into the band tension. This ability to slowly release into the stretch eliminates the inhibition that comes with most body weight stretches.

Ability to Contract

Bands allow the muscles to contract into an accommodating resistance. This ability to contract allows the opposing or antagonistic muscles to relax more effectively which, in turn, allows for better stretching of the targeted muscles.

Lightweight Construction

The band’s lightweight construction allows the stretching extremity to be unweighted. This, in turn, eliminates the influences of gravity which often creates stretch inhibition when doing traditional body weight stretching.

These are more of the physiological reasons why bands are a great flexibility tool. However, there are also some practical reasons that play a significant role in band stretching.


The band is an actual tool and for many athletes they need some type of device, ball or equipment to exercise with. The band is a physical tool that provides them with a means for which they can improve their joint mobility.

Simple body weight stretching does not provide a tool that the athletes can use to challenge themselves and, as a result, these types of stretches become boring over a short period of time.


Bands are very portable so, like body weight stretching, band training can be performed anywhere. This high level of portability allows band flexibility training to be performed on the court, field or weight room as well as on the road during competition.

Varying Resistance Levels

Bands come in various resistance levels so as with strength training, athletes can gradually challenge themselves with greater passive over pressure stretching as their muscle flexibility and joint mobility improves. For a competitive athlete the ability to measure and visually see progress is highly motivating.

How to Implement a Year Round Resistance Band Stretching Program

The most successful way to incorporate a band flexibility program is by starting to implement it prior to every off-season workout regardless if it is a strength-based workout or speed and conditioning-based workout. The initial band stretches should focus on improving the hip complex since this is the true power center of the body.

Over the years of implementing the band flexibility program into numerous athletic teams, the following sequence of band stretches should be followed to make the learning curve as short and efficient as possible.

Stretch 1 – Hamstring Series


Stretch 2 – Hip Rotation


Stretch 3 – Hip Flexor Quadricep


Stretch 4 – Ankle Mobilization

Allow athletes to master the position and integration of an active rhythmical-based stretching approach before progressing onto the next stretch.

A complete band hip flexibility program will require about 4 or 5 training sessions to fully implement. It will require approximately 10 training sessions before sport coaches will see a consistent flow from one stretch to the next.

Another key tip to creating early success with band stretching is allowing athletes to stretch with a band that they can easily control. Stretching with a high resistance band will quickly create muscle inhibition to the stretch and not allow it to optimally lengthen.

Once band stretching has been mastered for the hip and ankle, this sequence of stretches should be used prior to any practice, workout or competitive event.

Best Band Package for Band Flexibility Training

The best band package for band flexibility training is now 15% off using code “rbtiyca15”.

The Medium Single Band Package provides athletes with 4 levels of band resistance. This will allow them to progressively improve their hip and shoulder flexibility by gradually increasing band resistance as their flexibility improves.

Medium Single Band Package

Medium Single Band Package

Progressing Athletes with Resistance Bands

The Most Effective Way for Progressing Athletes with Resistance Bands in 4 Key Areas of Training

Dave Schmitz is an expert in resistance band training.

By Dave Schmitz

When it comes to progressing athletes with resistance bands, we need to first identify the 4 elements of performance that resistance band training targets the most effectively:

  1. Acceleration
  2. Deceleration
  3. Agility and footwork drills
  4. Strength and Power development training

Depending on which one of these elements of training your session is going to focus on will dictate the resistance bands you use and how you will progress. That said, let me briefly take you through my thought process as it relates to choosing bands to train these elements of multi-directional speed and first step explosiveness with resistance bands

Choosing the correct bands is very important because it will be that first experience that sets the stage for making sure your athletes have a positive experience training with bands. It will also dictate how you progress athletes to stronger bands as training continues. Most athletes want to go heavy, but understand that overloading too much only inhibits the neuromuscular system and leads to compensation.

Progressing Athletes with Resistance Bands on Acceleration Training Days

On an acceleration day, my preference is to move towards using higher level resistance bands once drills are mastered because I am focusing on getting athletes exploding out and there is minimal concern with them handling the return phase of the running drills. As a result, I am not concerned about their ability to decelerate safely because we keep that aspect of training very controlled.

With acceleration training, we will do drills like:

  • Partner run variations
  • Repeat Starts
  • Tug of war
  • Towing Drills

All these drills primarily focus on force production versus force reduction. As a result, I can ramp up band resistance using black bands with my middle school athletes and purple and green bands with my high school athletes without putting them at risk of being overloaded.

One important thing to remember with acceleration drills is that you always want movement to look good and be explosive. I want pop and burst. If athletes begin to labor or start looking like they are towing the exercise bands versus exploding with the band, you want to increase rest time or decrease band resistance. Obviously, I am not referring to grinding-type drills like partner towing or tug of war drills. These are low velocity drills designed to only work on acceleration strength not neuromuscular reaction.

Progressing Athletes with Resistance Bands on Deceleration Training Days

To me, deceleration training in bands is what sets training in bands apart from any other training device. No other tool can speed up deceleration momentum the way exercise bands can. However, deceleration training in bands is where as a coach you must err on the side of caution until athletes really start to show good body control. That said, I will train in black or purple bands for my male high school athletes and red or black for my middle school or female athletes.

Deceleration drills are pre-loaded elastic band drills, which means the first movement will transfer the kinetic energy from the band into the athlete on the fly. I want athletes to feel confident and not be concerned or anxious that the band could overpower them as they are pulled into having to decelerate. It is similar to doing over-speed training for acceleration: If you make it too much of an overload, the body will inhibit the movement, and you will get too strong of a breaking effect instead of quick transition.

Deceleration drills include:

  • 1-Step Drills
  • 2-Step Drills
  • Run and recover drills
  • Acceleration Stop Drills
  • Partner Reaction training
  • Visual or Verbal Reaction training

I highly recommend you allow athletes to remain fresh during these drills by:

  • Keeping Reps at 3-4
  • Do all drills off whistle starts
  • Keep drill very short amplitude (1-2 Steps) early in training
  • Keep band tension low

By keeping athletes fresh it will allow you to maximize band strength without inhibition occurring. The goal with deceleration drills is to slowly build up deceleration neuromuscular strength and transition speed. That takes making sure everything is well integrated and timing is perfect.

Also keep in mind that these drills are done well within the 2-yard band stretch parameter. Actually, when you see your athletes exploding out of a decelerated stop, it is a strong indication that they are ready to move up to the next level of band.

Progressing athletes with Resistance Bands

Progressing Athletes with Resistance Bands in Agility and Footwork Training Sessions

Agility and footwork training is typically done in conjunction with either an acceleration or deceleration session. It is how I get my athletes’ CNS excited and prepared for advanced training. These drills are characterized as very short amplitude or small-space drills designed to teach athletes how to keep their hips or center of gravity over their base of support.

Agility and footwork drills include:

  • Low Box drills
  • Ring Drills
  • Cone Drills
  • Short ladder drills
  • Line drills

The key to choosing the correct band for these drills obviously comes down to not overloading the athlete but rather providing them with a small overload so they can still be training at 80% of maximal quickness with optimal balance. Often, I will do many of these drills in partnerships where I have 2 athletes in red or black linked up bands. The distance is always less than 2 yards, so putting a 200-pound athlete in a linked-up black band setup and going 2 to maybe 3 yards should be easily controlled by the athlete and not overstretch the band.

All my middle school athletes use red bands while my high school athletes (male and female) use either linked up black or purple bands. Make sure you teach the drill without bands first before applying the bands, regardless the age of the athlete.

Progressing Athletes with Resistance Bands in Strength and Power Development Training Sessions

When it comes to strength training with bands, you are looking at developing the ability to handle high levels of resistance at the end range of motion. That said, the key to choosing the correct band is to make sure the athlete has tension on the band at the beginning of the movement and is still able to push throughout the full range of motion.

Since most of my strength training in bands is done for either a set time or low reps, I will watch the athlete, and if he or she is not able to push consistently with constant tension on the band at both points of the range, I will adjust band size. The main thing is to not allow the band to snap back on the deceleration phase of the movement. This can result in soft tissue micro trauma or, worst yet, tendon damage. Movements should remain slightly faster on acceleration as opposed to the deceleration phase.

Strength drills that I key in on with athletes include:

  • Standing Chest Press
  • Overhead Press
  • Squat Pulls
  • Single leg Bench squats
  • Single Leg Dead lifts
  • Front Squats
  • Multiple variations of single arm push-pulls

When it comes to power training, it is all about speed of movement both concentrically (or unloading) as well as eccentrically (or loading). My biggest cue when it comes to power production is how fast an athlete can get through the “point of transformation.” In other words, how fast can they go from a decelerated eccentric loading phase to an accelerated concentric unloading phase without shortening up the range of motion?

I will typically err on the side of a smaller resistance band with power training because I want fast movement with no visual lag time seen at the point of transformation. That means red or black are what I will use with my high school athletes. I do not train power in bands with middle school or low strength level high school athletes. They must first show good strength as discussed above before I will even consider power reaction training.

Athlete Power Reaction Drills include:

  • Speed Squats (double and single)
  • Standing Reactive Chest Press
  • Reactive overhead press
  • Deadlifts
  • Chops
  • Hop drills

Hopefully this will provide you a guideline for progressing athletes with resistance bands.

Getting BETTER with BANDS!!

Dave Schmitz


Band Exercises for Young Athletes

5 Band Exercises for Young Athletes to Start a Youth Strength Training Program

Dave discusses band exercises for young athletes
By Dave “The Band Man” Schmitz

Bodyweight training is without question the first line of training when it comes to designing a youth strength training program. Young athletes must learn how to move and control their body, and bodyweight strength training is the safest way to achieve that.

However, I also find band training to be a great next step. (I know that surprises you!)
Band exercises for young athletes

Why Band Exercises for Young Athletes Should Come after Bodyweight Training

  1. It is a very safe way to train as long as you use the correct size of band that allows your young athlete to go through a full range of motion.
  2. Band Training makes an athlete have to push through a full range of motion. What this does is teach young athletes how to load and explode. They will not be successful at getting through the full motion unless they load first.
  3. They can train anywhere. I find the best time to do a little strength training at this age is either immediately following practice or right before practice. It’s difficult to drag out the dumbbells on the court or field, so it has to be bodyweight and bands.
  4. Band exercises for young athletes allow them to move the way their bodies move. Essentially, it’s bodyweight training with a little extra resistance.
  5. At this age, repetition is the key, not resistance. Training with bands allows young athletes to neuromuscularly train the movement not just the muscle. The ability to handle larger forces will only come once neuromuscular integration is mastered. Band Training teaches intergration in young athletes better than any other tool I have come across.

My band recommendation is orange, red, black, and eventually purple. It is why I created the small single band package. This package provides your young athlete with everything they will need to strength train with bands.

5 Resistance Band Exercises for Young Athletes to Start a Youth Strength Program with Bands

Watch these 2 videos to see the 5 exercises I’d use for starting a youth strength training program with bands.

Getting BETTER with BANDS!!

Dave “The Band Man” Schmitz

PS In the videos, Kenzie is 12 years old and is one of those special young athletes who enjoys a challenge. At the time, she was one of the most disciplined 12-year-old I had ever met, but she was also my favorite 12-year-old in the whole world.

Thanks Kenzie for helping me out!

PPS. Click HERE to become a Certified Resistant Band Instructor Today!

Youth Stretching with Bands

When and How to Implement Youth Stretching with Bands

Dave “The Band Man” Schmitz discusses when and how to implement youth stretching with bands with your young athletes (video included)
By Dave “The Band Man” Schmitz

When should a young athlete begin stretching? That is a very debatable question that I feel would have several strong arguments for and against. Personally, I have never felt doing band stretching with athletes younger than 14 was a good thing because of how hypersensitive their nervous systems are to passive overpressure stretching. Passive overstretching of young athletes for years seem to be very noxious to the neuromuscular system and resulted in kids just putting their body through unnecessary stress that the body was not mature enough to handle. Plus, emotionally, young teenage athletes were not ready to handle the focus needed to avoid compensation.

I still find many of these circumstances still exist, but with the help of my son Carter, I am starting to look at this aspect of youth training as something that could be successful if implemented correctly.

When Carter was 13 years old and going into 8th grade, he and I started working on flexibility with bands more frequently. Carter always moved very well for his age, but before 8th grade, he went through a 2-inch grow spurt that dramatically increased hamstring and hip rotation tightness. Carter played soccer and football, and he became very interested in being a kicker for football, which is why we decided to pursue implementing a more rigorous stretching program. Interestingly, after 6 weeks of consistent band stretching, we have seen his accuracy and consistency in distance go from 20 to 30 yards. Now, I am not discrediting the importance of practice, but based on his improved movement quality, I believe his increased hamstring and hip rotation mobility has definitely assisted in his improvement.

Recommendations for Youth Stretching with Bands

If you are going to start a youth (age 12-14 years old) stretching program, here are a few recommendations.

  1. Begin by using a micro orange band before progressing to a red band. It’s very important to not over tension young athletes but instead allow them to easily perform the movements without the band dominating them.
  2. As their trainer or parent, you need to help them learn the movements and positions. They will need manual guidance for at least 2-3 sessions before they can do by themselves.
  3. Start with 1 or 2 stretches and gradually implement the others as they master the initial stretches. Again, keep in mind that this is not fun stuff and the motivation to perform will probably not be there early on. Until they see improved results, getting them to do this will take some one-on-one support
  4. Stretch slowly but actively with 2-3 second holds maximum and very rhythmical movement. Let them know that this takes patience and cannot be rushed through. Carter very often stretches out while watching a show on television. All I ask is that he make sure he pushes into those restricted regions.
  5. Stretching the hip flexor-quad mechanism is not one of the stretches because to effectively do that stretch, the athlete must have optimal stabilization awareness. I find young athletes struggle with this and do much better stretching out those muscles doing a more active lunge-reach approach.

The video below will take you through what stretches I feel you should start with.

Good luck and feel free to shoot me your comments below.

Getting BETTER with BANDS

Dave Schmitz

PS If you are interested in purchasing bands for following this stretching routine, I recommend the Small Single Band Package. The Black and Purple bands that come with this will be effective for lower body strength training and speed training if not for the stretching program.

Making Strength Training Fun for Young Athletes using Resistance Bands

Making Youth Fitness Training Fun with Resistance Bands

Speed and Agility Training Program 3

A t least once a week, I am asked about youth fitness training using bands, and in most cases, all I can envision is kids being put through a grueling workout using big bands that literally throw them around like a human slingshot .

OK, maybe I am a little off, but I see a lot of things on YouTube that scare me when it comes to training young athletes.

So here’s a tip on how to have your athletes naturally enjoy training:

If you really want to make youth fitness training fun, start making the training game-oriented.

My goal with any young athlete resistance band workout is to get them to train instinctively because when they reach that level, they are as close to a game situation as they possibly can be. At that moment, training becomes fun because athletes are thinking about competing, not training.

Over the past several years, I have had the chance to test some resistance band training games with youth fitness training and wanted to share some of these simple training games with everyone in the IYCA.

Video – Partner Zigzag training for Young Athletes
Young athletes need direction and a target. I find cone drills like a simple Zigzag drill to accomplish both of these. The key to this drill is making sure athletes have a good understanding of how to shuffle or backpedal and how to hold for their partner. Once this is accomplished, Zigzag drills are very easy to implement. Within about 2 minutes, you will have taught and trained a young athlete how to decelerate in the frontal and sagittal planes while developing good reactive strength from their trunk, hips, and quadriceps.



Video – Ricochet
Ricochet is a drill I developed to teach deceleration in youth fitness training. It has become a training game because athletes can compete while performing it. It can be used for all band locomotion drills but can also be effectively used for strength training drills as well. The video below demonstrates how it works with locomotion. It is used for strength training drills in essentially the same way, with athletes alternating back and forth during the strength exercise. This format is great for developing teamwork, but it is also very effective at improving strength endurance—especially when done for a 2-minute time interval.



Video – Partner Reaction
This drill is where athletes get to test their partner, who now is their opponent. Athletes face off where one is offense and one is defense. Defense must react to offense and try to mirror them during the drill. Best drills for this are shuffle or turn-and-go drills. Also, 2-step deceleration drills work well with this setup. This is also a coaching favorite because you allow the kids to dictate the start and stopping point of the drill.



1-Minute Partner Challenge
The 1-minute partner drill is fun because you can do it with 2, 3, 4, or 5 athlete teams. You can do all the same exercise or you can have each athlete do a separate exercise for 1 minute. The goal is to get as many reps as possible in 1 minute before transitioning to another exercise. My favorite band exercise for this are:

  • Band Push ups
  • Assisted pull ups
  • Split Squats
  • Squat Jumps
  • Front Squats
  • Overhead Press
  • Turn and go (touching a cone)

To make this entire resistance band training game experience just a little more motivating, all these games can be played anywhere because bands are so portable. This means:

  • Kids can train at their practice site and not have to go into a smelly weight room
  • Trainers can have athletes train outside where it is much more enjoyable to do
  • Coaches can throw these types of drills into practice any time and supplement conditioning with strength training

To be a successful youth coach, you must find ways to motivate young athletes starting from a very young age and continuing throughout their high school years. Resistance bands can provide a definite change of pace that athletes find fun and challenging at the same time.


Getting BETTER with BANDS


Dave Schmitz


P.S. On this final video, I thought you would enjoy watching 2 very special young athletes have some fun competing while training in bands. Pay special attention to the laughing that comes along with this type of training. To this day, Kenzie and Carter Schmitz (yep these 2 are mine; I thank God every day) still talk about this experience and when they will be able to do it again. This is yet another reminder that youth fitness training doesn’t have to be filled with boring, routine drills; competition is a great thing!

Video – Kids Getting The Best of Some Fitness Pros




If you are looking for a fun and exciting new component to add to your training programs that will have your young athletes performing their best then check out the IYCA Resistance Band Course. In this course you will learn how to use one of the most versatile, and effective, training tools for young athletes!