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Exercise Stimulates The Brain – Karlie Intlekofer Ph.D.

Exercise Programming that Maximizes Brain Benefits

As young athletes develop, part of their growing skillset includes the ability to follow verbal instructions and make good decisions. This challenges kids to direct their attention and remain organized as they carry out goal-directed behaviors, using an ability known as executive function. Young athletes have an advantage in developing executive function because the brain regions that help us stay on task are highly sensitive to aerobic exercise. In fact, a child’s executive function is immediately improved by a single bout of physical activity.1-4 There is also a long-term cognitive improvement after regular exercise training,5-7 indicating that each season in which a child participates in regular practices may confer additive benefits to their executive function.

Why is executive function so important?

Part of every child’s potential for athletic success is based on their ability to focus, respond quickly, and adapt to new situations. While these skills certainly serve them on the field or court, it may come as no surprise that a child’s level of executive function predicts their success in school.8 Executive function develops slowly and matures during adolescence or early adulthood.9 This is why teams of older individuals can handle more complex tasks and follow directions more reliably.  

Exercise primes the brain for improved executive function

The two major features that predict whether exercise will boost executive function are engagement and intensity.

Aerobic exercise that is highly engaging benefits executive function because more brain regions are activated, resulting in more blood flow to the brain. For instance, when teammates work together to complete a task, they show more activity in brain circuits important for listening and verbal communication. Practices that feature plenty of social interaction are a reliable way to keep athletes engaged and significantly improve their executive function.10 Beyond social interactions, higher brain activation also occurs when hand-eye coordination is challenged by complex tasks compared to simpler movements. Engaging forms of physical activity provide a longer lasting cognitive enhancement compared to repetitive and familiar types of exercise.11

Secondly, only moderate to vigorous exercise consistently improves brain blood flow and executive function.6 When this threshold of intensity is not reached, some studies failed to detect cognitive improvements, for example, treadmill walking in 7-11 year-olds,12 and stationary bicycling in 13-15 year-olds.13 For exercise to reliably improve brain function, it seems that the heart rate must be sufficiently increased. Intensity correlates to the athlete’s release of adrenaline (epinephrine), as well as the degree of neurochemical changes (in brain-derived neurotrophic factor) that optimize brain function.14,15 Selecting exercise intense enough for adrenaline release is also advantageous in terms of improving an athlete’s fitness and also closely matches the release of adrenaline that comes with competition during the athlete’s event or game.

Coaching for maximum benefits

As coaches, we are hopefully already structuring practices to include plenty of opportunities to cooperate and to adapt to new situations. These findings on brain benefits may convince you to introduce more variety to your warm-ups and conditioning exercises to ensure that your young athletes are reaping the full cognitive advantages. Some additional ideas to consider are shown in the video kindly provided by Jordi Taylor and Rona Guggemos:i


Exercises featured in the video:

  1. Dowel Run
  2. ISO Squat Ball to Cone
  3. Tennis Ball Throw Single Ball
  4. Tennis Ball Throw Double Ball
  5. Box Jump Hands on Head
  6. Box Jump Hands on Hips
  7. Sprint to Decel
  8. Plyo Box Sprint


Dr. Karlie Intlekofer earned her Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Behavior. She is a published author, researcher, and popular speaker. Karlie is also an expert on how exercise influences the brain and pediatric neuroscience. She currently works as a Global Wellness Researcher at Johnson Fitness & Wellness.


If you want to be better at coaching young athletes, the IYCA Youth Fitness Specialist certification is the industry gold-standard for youth fitness and sports performance.  Click on the image below to learn more about the YFS1 certification program.



  1. Budde H, Voelcker-Rehage C, Pietrabyk-Kendziorra S, Ribeiro P & Tidow G. Acute coordinative exercise improves attentional performance in adolescents. Neuroscience Letters (2008) 441: 219-223. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2008.06.024
  2. Ellemberg D, St. Louis-Deschenes M. The effect of acute physical activity on cognitive function during development. Psychology of Sport and Exercise. 2010; 11: 122-126. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2009.09.006
  3. Hillman CH, Pontifex MB, Raine LB, Castelli DM, Hall EE & Kramer AF. The effect of acute treadmill walking on cognitive control and academic achievement in preadolescent children. Neuroscience. 2009; 3: 1004-1054. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.01.057
  4. Pesce C, Crova C, Cereatti L, Casella R & Bellucci M. Physical activity and mental performance in preadolescents: Effects of acute exercise on free-recall memory. Mental Health and Physical Activity. 2009; 2: 16-22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mhpa.2009.02.001
  5. Davis CL, Tomporowski PD, Boyle CA, Waller JL, Miller PH, Naglieri JA & Gregoski M. Effects of aerobic exercise on overweight children’s cognitive functioning: A randomized controlled trial. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. 2007; 78(5): 510-519. https://doi.org/10.1070/02701367.2007.10599450
  6. Davis CL, Tomprowski PD, McDowel JE, Austin BP, Miller PH, Yanasak N, Allison JD & Naglieri JA. Exercise improves executive function and alters neural activation in overweight children: A randomized controlled trial. Health Psychology. 2011; 30(1): 91-98. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0021766
  7. Hinkle JS, Tuckman BW & Sampson JP. The psychology, physiology, and the creativity of middle school aerobic exercisers. Elementary School Guidance & Counseling. 1993; 28: 133-145. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1994-31406-001
  8. Blair C & Diamond A. Biological processes in prevention and intervention: The promotion of self-regulation as a means of preventing school failure. Development and psychopathology. 2008; 106: 461-472. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579408000436
  9. Best JR, Miller PH & Jones LL. Executive function after age 5: Changes and correlates. Developmental Review. 2009; 29: 180-200. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dr.2009.05.002
  10. Serrien DJ, Ivry RB & Swinnen SP. The missing link between action and cognition. Progress in Neurobiology. 2007; 82: 95-107. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pneurobio.2007.02.003
  11. Carey JR, Bhatt E & Nagpal A. Neuroplasticity promoted by task complexity. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews. 2005; 33: 24-31. https://journals.lww.com/acsm-essr/Fulltext/2005/01000/Neuroplasticity_Promoted_by_Task_Complexity.5.aspx
  12. Tomporowski PD, Davis CL, Lambourne K, Gregoski M & Tkacz J. Task switching in overweight children: Effects of acute exercise and age. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology. 2008; 30: 497-511. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2705951/
  13. Stroth S, Kubesch S, Dieterle K, Ruchsow M, Heim R & Kiefer M. Physical fitness, but not acute exercise modulates event-related potential indices for executive control in healthy adolescents. Brain Research. 2009; 1269: 114-124. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2009.02.073
  14. Winter B, Breitenstein C, Mooren FC, Volker K & Knecht S. High impact running improves learning. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. 2007; 87: 597-609. https://doi.org/10.16/j.nlm.2006.11.003
  15. Ferris LT, Williams JS & Shen C. The effects of acute exercise on serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels and cognitive function. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2007; 39: 728-734. https://doi.org/10.1249/mss.0b013e31802f04c7


Training Muscles vs. Movements – Karsten Jensen

Regardless of which process strength coaches use to create training programs, such a process must have a step where exercises are selected.  Exercise selection is always executed based on certain criteria that include:

  • Scientific research
  • Foundational bio-mechanical principles
  • First person experience with athletes.

It is logical to assume that the better the criteria, the greater the likelihood of a positive outcome of the training program.

Criteria include principles, strategies, and tactics. This article suggests the 1st Principle of exercise selection, followed by a description of primary exercise selection strategies. Last, current research findings on the effects of single-joint vs multi-joint exercises are discussed and concrete guidelines for exercise selection are suggested.

1 First Principle of Exercise Selection
The first principle of exercise selection could be that:

Any exercise ever performed must – in the short or the long run – improve the athlete’s ability to practice or compete.

If these criteria are not met, how do we explain that the exercise is in the program?

Even exercises that might be included for fun and variation can be said to meet the above criteria.

Why would we include an exercise in the program where the purpose is “just” fun? The answer is that we would include exercises for fun so that the athlete stays in our program. What is the outcome if of the athlete staying in the program? With practice, over time, the ability to practice and compete is improved.

Exercise Selection Strategy (Part I): Bio-mechanical specificity
For athletes, the ability to practice and compete involves the ability to safely, effectively and repeatedly sprint, cut, kick, throw or perform any other sporting movement.

How do we know which strength and conditioning exercises will improve the above abilities?

The primary strategy is to select exercises based on biomechanical specificity which means that there is a certain biomechanical resemblance between the training movement and the sporting movement. (10)

This strategy is often misunderstood. Correctly used the exercises should stimulate, not simulate the sporting movement. (7,8) More accurately, the exercises must always stimulate the ability to practice or compete in the sport. The most foundational exercises do not necessarily look that much like the sporting movement. As the movement patterns are built the resemblance to the end goal become gradually more obvious.

Example: Especially eccentric knee-flexor strength may be important for preventing hamstring injuries during sprinting. The first video below shows a more foundational hamstring exercise that does not really look like sprinting. In contrast, the second video shows a hamstring exercise where the resemblance to sprinting is more obvious


Exercise Selection Strategy (Part 2): Intra- and inter- muscular coordination
Train the movement, not the muscle – one of the original taglines of functional training – is a logical proposition when the end goal is to improve the ability to perform a sporting movement.

However, the body is only a strong as its weakest link. (6) Further, the basic phenomenon is that the body avoids positions of weakness and seeks positions of strength. Thus, practicing complex movements with identifiable weak links may inhibit long term progress as far as that particular movement.

Therefore, a longer training cycle has an early phase where the primary focus is to develop any identified weak links. In this early phase, there is a secondary focus on practicing a version of the final movement that challenges the identified weak link. As the weak links become strength’s the focus is reversed and practicing the complete movement is the first priority. Train the muscle, then the movement is the (over)simplified tagline for this dynamic that is also expressed as “first isolate, then integrate.”

How could we describe the benefits of exercises that focus on weak links? How could we describe the benefits of exercises that focus on practicing the movement?

The concepts of intra- or inter-muscular coordination describe which exercises that focus on weak links aim to do. (9)

Intra-muscular coordination
“Another possibility for improved power results from improved intra-muscular coordination. The term “intramuscular coordination”, describes in the author’s opinion the relation between excitatory and inhibitory mechanisms for one muscle for a specific movement.” (93)

Inter-muscular coordination
“A further way to improve power results from improved inter-muscular coordination. Inter-muscular coordination describes the ability of all muscles involved in a movement, agonists, antagonists, and synergists to corporate wholly with respect to the aim of the movement.”
It is obvious that inter-muscular coordination requires the use of multi-joint exercises. However, intra-muscular coordination can be developed with both single-joint exercises or targeted multi-joint exercises.

3 Tactics – Single-joint or multi-joint exercises.
The following section offers some research-based guidelines regarding the benefits of single joint vs multi-joint exercises.

The most foundational aspect of the choice between single-joint and multi-joint exercises is the ability to develop intra- or inter-muscular coordination:

  • Single joint exercises are more effective to strengthen a weaker muscle group, but the single joint exercise must eventually be replaced with a multi-joint exercise to obtain more impressive strength increases. (3)
  • Multi-joint exercises offer an increased opportunity to develop inter-muscular coordination through the involvement of multiple segments of the body. (6)

Example – Frontal Plane Stability in for sprinting

Early phase 6 weeks:

A1. Forward Walking Lunges with a pause to demonstrate balance as the trail leg passes the stance leg. The exercise can be vertically loaded with a vest, dumbbells or a barbell.

B1. Standing Hip Hike

Later phase (6 weeks)

A1. Forward Walking Lunges Dragging a Sled, explosive execution. Add vest if needed.

B1. Standing Hip Hike is included with low volume as a warm-up or finisher exercise.

Structural strength, including hypertrophy (muscle mass), is a foundation for developing maximal strength:

  • Single joint exercises and multi-joint exercises for the same target muscle group – with similar RM loads – results in similar levels of electromyographic activity. (1)
  • With the use of multi-joint exercises, synergists might fatigue before prime movers and limit the stimulus of the prime movers OR synergists might not be sufficiently stimulated due to the dominance of the prime movers. (1)
  • To the extent that the same fibers of a target muscle experience the same stress (load) the hypertrophic response from single joint and multi-joint muscles is likely going to be similar. (2,5) However, due to different patterns of muscular hypertrophy between single-joint and multi-joint exercises (so-called regional hypertrophy) a combination of a single joint- and one or more multi-joint exercises may be required for complete muscular development. (1,4)
  • Compared to using multi-joint exercises to develop the same target muscles, single joint exercises may result in faster increases in muscle mass due to a shorter duration of neural adaptations (1,2)

With respect to the development of maximal strength and Vo2max:

  • Multi-joint exercises may result in a greater training stimulus due to greater load lifted. (2)
  • Multi-joint exercises may have greater potential as a tool to develop V02max due to a higher muscle mass involved. (5)

Application Summary
To utilize the information presented in this article strength coaches must work from a needs analysis of the sport and assessment of the athlete’s strengths and weaknesses. (10)

The body can be understood as a kinetic chain that is not stronger than its weakest link(s). For this reason, there is an initial emphasis on developing weak links through targeted multi-joint exercises or single joint exercises.

Once the weak links have become strengths the emphasis switch to practice the final, key movement.


  1. Gentil P, Fisher J, Steele J. A Review of the Acute Effects and Long-Term Adaptations of Single- and Multi-Joint Exercises during Resistance Training. Sports Medicine 2016
  2. Gentil P, Soares S, Bottaro M. Single vs. Multi-joint Resistance Exercises: Effects on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy. Asian J Sports Medicine. 6(2): 1-4. 2015.
  3. Giannakopoulos K, Beneka A, Malliou P, Godolias G.Isolated vs Complex Exercise In Strengthening The Rotator Cuff Muscle Group. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 18(1):144-148. 2004
  4. Ribeiro AS, Schoenfeld BJ, Sardinha LB. Comment on: A Review of the Acute Effects and Long Term Adaptations of Single and Multi-joint Exercises During Resistance Training. Sports Medicine. 2016
  5. Paoli A, Gentil P, Moro T, Marcolin G, Bianco A. Resistance Training with Single vs. Multi-joint Exercises at Equal Total Load Volume: Effects on Body Composition, Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Muscle Strength. Frontiers in Physiology. Vol 8. Page 1-8. 2017.
  6. Teixera CVS, Evangelista AL, Novaes JS, Grigoletto MES, Behm DG. You are Only as strong as Your Weakest Link: A Current Opinion about the Concepts and Characteristics of Functional Training. Frontiers In Physiology. Vol 8, page 1-8. 2017
  7. Stone MH, Stone M, Sands WA. Principles and Practice of Resistance Training. USA: Human Kinetics; 2007. 243-253 p.
  8. Siff M. Supertraining. 6th Ed. The Means of Special Strength Training. USA: Supertraining Institute; 2004. 240-246 p.
  9. Schmidtbleicher D. Training for Power Events. In Strength and Power in Sport, Chapter 18, p. 385-395. Blackwell Science; 1992.
  10. Jensen K. Needs Analysis of Sports. The Foundation of Success With The Flexible Periodization Method. https://yestostrength.com/fpm-move-better.html


Acceleration and Strength: The Physical Attributes We Truly Covet

JC Moreau, Founder and Director, Strength U

 Perhaps the most common question I get from coaches and parents is “how do I get my son or daughter faster/quicker/jump higher?” They are often surprised by my response, as well as what I am about to discuss in today’s article. My answer is typically “get them stronger” and that is usually met with a look of confusion, so I elaborate.  In the past, I’ve written about the values of squatting through a larger range of motion than simply to 90 degrees, I explained in greater detail how strength is undeniably effective at developing speed, quickness and vertical jump height in athletes, especially young ones. What I did not discuss was the next part of my answer to that question.

I typically answer that my primary concern is typically more about developing the athlete’s ability to accelerate and decelerate and that this is largely accomplished with strength work in addition to drills that focus specifically on these skills, rather than top end speed. The reason for this is quite simple. Nearly every sport requires quick bursts of speed over 1 to 15 yards or the ability to stop on a dime and then change direction and accelerate again.  In other words, the world’s greatest 400-meter sprinter will be quite average at soccer, football, baseball, basketball, volleyball, lacrosse, or any other running sport if he or she cannot stop quickly, change direction, and quickly accelerate. If you are having a difficult time envisioning this, simply think of the great running backs in the NFL or point guards in the NBA. Many of them do not run a 4.4 40 yard dash (VERY few do). However, most can hit top speed in a few steps, stop, cut, and hit top speed again very quickly and efficiently.acceleration

So how do you develop these things?  By training acceleration and deceleration mechanics, and strengthening the movements and positions that maximize the athlete’s ability to perform these skills.

Strength is a big part of this for a couple of reasons. First, acceleration and top-end speed are both a result of how much force can be produced through the foot at foot strike and how efficiently the body can utilize that force. There are many factors that play into this, but strength, posture, and body position are the most critical. What I want to focus on in this article are the acceleration drills we like to work on in order to maximize the force that is created and ideally learn how to create more and/or waste less. Assuming two athletes are the same size and exhibit similar strength and muscle fiber composition (ratio of fast to slow twitch), there are a few mechanical and structural factors that will impact the ability to accelerate and/or decelerate. Those we tend to focus on are body position/posture, knee drive, foot position, and arm swing.

When elite level sprinters run to 100-meter dash they are typically not upright until at least 35+ meters into the race. The reason is simple: in order to accelerate, the body has to be in a position that allows the athlete to apply force into the ground in both vertical (downward) and horizontal (backward) directions. This is a simple concept because most athletes will quickly understand that if you push straight down you will go straight up.

One of the first things all athletes must be taught is the correct body position required for ideal acceleration. To do this there are several drills and training aides that can be used and the most simple and readily available is a wall. By simply leaning forward at somewhere between 45 and 60 degrees, and keeping the body tight (as if doing a plank) from head to heel the athlete is now in a great position. From this position we have the athlete work on basic leg drive with the knee up and heel under the glute of the raised leg, all with a dorsiflexed foot. We want maximum knee and foot lift and tell the athlete to envision a rod coming out of the opposite knee. We want the foot to be above this rod while maintaining posture.

From here we do individual ground strikes and then progress to alternating strikes and eventually to multiples of 3, 5, 7, 9 etc…, or for times of 5-15 seconds. Remember we are not training for conditioning we are training to develop the ability to produce violent, powerful ground strikes while maintaining ideal postural integrity and a dorsiflexed foot, since the more force we put into the ground the more we will get back. So far so good, right?

Hopefully, but I am regularly reminded just how hard it is for most young athletes to maintain this position for more than a few seconds without beginning to move their feet forward (thus changing the angle we established), sticking their butt back (breaking at the hips which leads to tremendous energy leaks), or tilting the head forward and looking down, which also tends to lead to several postural issues. Since this position is critical, it is important to both stress the correct form and ALWAYS correct these flaws and also identify if the issues taking place are due to either a lack of postural control (strength/stability) or a lack of mental focus. In most youth athletes, the cause can be rooted in both. As such, postural strength issues must be addressed since a lack of correct body positioning and alignment will compromise full acceleration potential. Also, the inability to focus long enough to complete this mundane yet vital task may make speed the least of their concerns, but this is another topic altogether……
To develop the athlete’s ability to maintain perfect posture over extended periods of time we must focus on this area in all phases of training.  We can develop the musculature required to hold many of these positions by performing simple glute bridges and planks (done properly with the core gently braced at all times). I have found too often that athletes plank incorrectly and just hold their bodies up. In order to improve activation, the coach may palpate the athlete’s entire core (low back, obliques, glutes, hip flexors etc…) to be sure all muscle groups are activated.

In addition to these, I have found that focusing on postural integrity during everything from warm-up to cool down also makes a huge difference. As a result, anytime the athlete is standing is a good time to drive home the importance of standing tall with the shoulders back, core braced, head in a neutral position, and other aspects of good posture expressed.

Once the acceleration position has been refined and the athlete understands the basic reasoning and concepts that necessitate it, we move to starts. The tricky thing about having the body in the required position is that the only way to get it there is by leaning into or against something such as a sled or thick resistance band or by starting from positions that put you into a forward lean. The most common way we do this is with a traditional 3-point “40 yard dash” start, a falling start, or a single leg falling start. The point of emphasis must always be to explode out and to stay low. In the 3-point stance start, the trailing leg does very little other than cycle through (and ideally does so quickly in order to be in optimal position to take the next step). However, the lead leg is the one that must explosively push the athlete out because it is ultimately a series of strong, powerful, efficient “pushes” that lead to impressive acceleration. In his latest book Coach Mike Boyle describes a start drill he coaches that uses a large crash mat for his athletes to literally jump out and land on to teach the aggressive drive required to fully grasp this concept1. The athlete simply gets into a starting position and explodes out of the position so aggressively that he or she will essentially dive onto the ground. This is where the mat comes in handy!

If you can get your athletes to correctly perform these drills while maintaining postural integrity and slowly develop the habits of correct arm drive and foot position, dramatic improvement in 10 or 20 yard dash times will result. These times are what separate the 4.6 athlete from the 5.0 athlete, but more importantly will have far greater carry over than performing “top-end speed drills” such as those taught by many speed camps and used by track athletes such as B-skips, etc. Over the years, I have found that developing proper arm swing and dorsiflexing the foot takes a tremendous amount of repetition in those who do not naturally do these well. For this reason I recommend incorporating some very short drills to work on these during warm ups as a way to get almost daily exposure to them in a college or in-season competitive club sports athletes.

Every quality that coaches and parents desire for their athletes is rooted in strength—either the ability to produce force or the ability to maintain postural integrity. So when a parent or coaches preaches first-step quickness, speed, and agility remind them that each of these is largely dependent on getting stronger AND learning how to transfer that new found “horsepower” into more explosive, deliberate, and efficient movements. How fast an athlete steps has little to do with the step and almost everything to do with the drive leg’s ability to produce force and do so quickly. That is what results in a fast and explosive start.

The same principles hold true for developing the ability to pull away from a defender or close the gap on a player ahead of you. So whether you are a coach or parent, the next time you are looking for “speed development,” remember that it is actually strength and movement development that you desire because perfect running form without these traits is like a beautiful race car with a golf cart engine. It may look sleek and fast, but will take three days to reach full speed!

1 Advances in Functional Training p. 173, Boyle, Mike 2010


The mechanics discussed in this article, as well as dozens of additional drills and coaching cues, are covered in great detail in our Certified Speed & Agility Specialist materials.  The CSAS has been recognized as the most thorough speed certification in the industry.  Learn more about the CSAS by clicking the image below.

Your Opportunity for Impact in Youth Fitness & Performance

Making an Impact in Youth Fitness and Performance

In this video, Jim Kielbaso talks about three of the ways you can have the greatest impact in youth fitness and sport performance.

Listen to what he has to say, and let us know what you think. What ways do you feel coaches and trainers can make a big impact with the kids they are working with?

Watch this video for more!!

Comment below!

Help Your Athletes Get Prepared to Perform by Checking This Out

IYCA-LTAD-LM-Blog AD-V1 - Opportunity for Impact in Youth Fitness and Performance

Jim Kielbaso Talks Shop with Cliff Avril

Talking Shop with Cliff Avril and Jim Kielbaso


Cliff Avril of the Seattle Seahawks joins the Impact Show to discuss his journey from an 0-16 season to Super Bowl Champion.

Cliff talks about the difference between his experiences with the Detroit Lions and the Seattle Seahawks and how the environment really made a difference in the mindset of the entire organization.

What is really interesting is what he says when he talks about what he went through as he prepped as a younger athlete. It’s probably not what you think an NFL football player would say.


Cliff also talks about some of his greatest influences. It’s some good stuff. There are many ways you, as a Coach, can have a positive impact through positive coaching. Go get em’!

Preparing HS Athletes for College – Your Role as Coach

How You Can Prepare Your HS Athletes for College

LacrosseDo you have athletes that dream of playing in college?

As performance coaches, you have the opportunity to play a large role in the success of athletes making that “jump” to the next level.

We know that there are many coaches that do this really really well, and one of them is Coach Jim Kielbaso. He is our resident expert on, well – just about everything 🙂

We knew that it was time to sit down with him and talk shop, and you can see the entire video in our Exclusive Insiders All-Access Membership. We spoke about exactly what athletes need from their performance coaches to be prepared to play at that next level.

Usually we keep this pretty exclusive, but some things are just too good not to share with everyone! There are many things that can be done to help make the transition from HS to College Sports a little bit “easier”. Here are 4 from the exclusive video.

Four Ways to Make the Transition from HS to College Sports

#1: Identify goals early on

Try to decipher what your athlete ultimately is striving for. Do they want to play at the next level? Are they committed to the challenges?

#2: Network with college coaches

If an athlete identifies that they want to play at the next level, then it’s time to start networking. Speak with collegiate coaches (ideally at the school where the athlete has applied/is accepted) and start understanding what is “next” for your athlete.

#3: Get your athletes in REALLY good shape

Let’s face it, this is completely your wheelhouse! The best thing you can do for an athlete that wants to take their game to the next level is get them physically ready. The Long Term Athletic Development Model is the best way to get them prepared to perform.

#4: Teach good technique

This goes right along with getting them in “REALLY good shape”. They must be able to perform the fundamentals really really well. Again, it is about the long-term approach.

Realizing that you don’t always have the luxury of training a kid for many years before college, it’s your job to make sure the technique is mastered before moving on to “bigger and better”.

Want access to the entire video—–>Become an IYCA Insiders Member for $1 today.

Want to Learn More About Preparing Athletes for the World of College Sports?

Come see our exclusive content for $1, plus get exclusive bonuses that will catapult your training.


Retaining HS Athletes from Sport Season to Sport Season

Keeping HS Athletes from Season to Season

RAW and UNCUT with Jim Kielbaso (seriously…if you want to laugh, you need to watch this video in its entirety…in this video, Jim and Julie get taken by surprise…and it was really worth leaving in)

In this video, Jim Kielbaso talks about an all-too-common issue that High School Strength & Conditioning professionals deal with daily! Retaining athletes from season to season.

High School Strength & Conditioning professionals have the power to educate and coordinate one of the most important programs in a kids athletic career, their Strength & Conditioning Program.

It isn’t always easy, but it IS the best thing for the athlete.

Take the time to talk to other coaches and parents of your athletes to provide a program that is the most conducive to their success. WATCH the video above to learn more about retaining athletes from sport season to sport season.

Want to Help Your Athletes Get Prepared to Perform?


Lessons From the “Greats”

They Do it Again and Again…Lessons from the “Greats”

There are a lot of lessons that High School Strength & Conditioning Professionals can learn from the “greats” in sports. Names like Bolt, Walsh and Phelps likely resonate with you in some way.

They are great athletes, but not only that…they repeat greatness on a daily basis.

What if you could help your athletes become “their” great?! 🙂

Making a positive impact on youth through great coaching can help your athletes live up to their potential. They all have the abilities to do something great. How will you help them?

In this video, Dr. Haley Perlus talks about what makes Bolt, Walsh and Phelps so spectacular. The best thing is you can teach your high school athletes these skills as well. That’s right, skills like having fun, being “real”, having the mindset to compete and focusing on the little things.

These are just a few things that Dr. Perlus talks about in this 6 minute video. Watch the video above now.

Want to Help Your Athletes with the Mental Side of Their Game?

Want to Enable Them to Succeed Again and Again? Here is a FREE RESOURCE FOR YOU to get started!



Keys to Unlocking the High School Athlete’s Potential

How to Unlock the High School Athlete’s Potential

(Note: we apologize for the background noise on this video, but please enjoy the content).

There are many responsibilities of the High School Strength & Conditioning Coach. However, when the end-goal is to have a positive impact on your athletes, teaching the “keys” to unlocking their potential is close to #1!

In this video blog, Jim Kielbaso gives you the keys to being a great athlete, and you may be surprised to know that they have nothing to do with talent!

Sure, talent matters. However, when it comes down to it, if a kid has all the talent in the world but lacks these “keys”, then they won’t live up to their potential. Watch the video above now!

Want to Help Your Athletes with the Mental Side of Their Game?




LTAD Can Change the Lives of HS Athletes

LTAD Complements the HS S&C Coach

In this video, Jim Kielbaso gives you some insight into how the LTAD Model complements the goals of the High School Strength & Conditioning Coach.

Start with the young kids coming to the weight room. Enjoy your time with the super strong and older kids, but find those kids that aren’t doing a great job, and help them become better at it!

He gives a great example of just how a HS S&C coach can make a HUGE impact on a young athlete, taking that awkward kid and turning him/her into a confident collegiate athlete!

Pro Tips:

1. Work with kids when they first get into the weight room.

2. Focus on the Freshman.

3. The long-term success of your program hinges on early-on instruction and programming.


Watch the video for more!!

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How Resistance Band Training Can Impact a Strength & Conditioning Program – Part 3

Using Bands to Conveniently Impact a Strength & Conditioning Program

Resistance bands are easily the most convenient and effective way to work on first step speed mechanics as it relates to acceleration and deceleration.

Not only are bands easy to attach to the body but their ascending resistance allows athletes to load both acceleration and deceleration phases of running.

7. First Step Acceleration

It’s a well known fact that if an athlete can win the first 3 steps during a play in a game, they are probably going to experience good success continually throughout the game and probably win the event.

Resistance bands make it very easy to train large groups of athletes to increase first step speed and reaction. As a coach, partner-based first step speed training requires minimal setup or space to implement and is relatively easy for athletes to quickly learn.

As for the athlete, they are able to instantly feel the difference it makes on their quickness and agility within only a couple of training sessions. These two factors alone instantly make it successful.

These drills are typically done in a partner attached setup with athletes alternating while performing 3 or 4 sets of 5 reps. Because these drills will emphasize acceleration, the athlete only has to focus on getting out quickly against the band resistance.

Once learned, coaches can build in reaction starts through the use of whistle start hand signals.

Shuffle Acceleration Drill


8. First Step Deceleration

Once acceleration training is mastered, athletes can begin to work on deceleration by training under what is called a pre-loaded band setup. Performing the same drills, athletes now focus on learning how to decelerate under band-driven momentum.

Just like applying weight to increase strength, the band applies a resistance that the body has to overcome in order to become stronger at decelerating or slowing down momentum.

Shuffle Deceleration Drill


9. Partner Resisted Running

Once first step acceleration and deceleration speed drills are mastered, longer amplitude linear speed training can be implemented using a training approach called partner resisted running.

With partner resisted running, partners work together to challenge each other to run under a controlled resistance for 15 to 20 yards.

Partner resisted running allows athletes to now take their first step speed training through longer amplitudes of movement.

Here Is An Example of Partner-Based Forward Running


10. Implementing Non-Traditional Strength Training

The final way that resistance bands can be implemented into an off-season strength program is by using them to simulate non-traditional strength training drills like resisted crawling, towing, pushing or lunging.

In many cases these types of drills are used with specially designed equipment that increases cost and the need for greater training space. With a flat band’s ability to attach onto the body in multiple ways, it allows them to provide resistance to non-traditional movements that, in turn, challenges total body strength and coordination.

Non-Traditional Speed-Strength Training

Flat continuously looped layered bands, like the Quantum Band, provides coaches and their athletes with the ability to train all aspects of performance. They also allow them to simulate specific exercises and unique training approaches that historically required specialized equipment and additional resources.

Resistance band versatility makes it very easy and convenient to implement key aspects of an off-season training program without the need for added equipment, space or resources.

Dave Schmitz – The Band Man

About the Author: Dave Schmitz

Dave SchmitzDave Schmitz (aka…The Band Man) is the Co-Owner of Resistance Band Training Systems, LLC and the creator of https://resistancebandtraining.com, the only website exclusively devoted to training with large continuously looped resistance bands.

Dave has a unique professional background and vast experience as an orthopedic physical therapist, performance enhancement specialist, certified strength and conditioning specialist along with 27 plus years of living fitness and performance training.

All of this has allowed him to turn a simple 41-inch resistance band into an incredibly multi-faceted total training experience for 1000’s of athletes and fitness enthusiasts around the world—while helping 100’s of fitness professionals and coaches get their clients or athletes BETTER with BANDS.

How Resistance Band Training Can Impact a Strength & Conditioning Program – Part 2

Using Bands for Versatility in Your Strength & Conditioning Program

The ability to combine bands with free weights, create efficient metabolic circuits and safely be used to introduce strength training to younger middle school athletes adds to their off-season versatility.

4. Contrast Free Weight Band Training

Most off–season strength training programs are built around 6 or 8 week cycles that are designed to gradually improve absolute strength. In many cases after a cycle of this nature is completed the body needs what is called a de-load week.

This is a week where an athlete is allowed to let their body recover, heal and re-energize after performing a multi-week cycle of heavy gravity-based free weight strength training. It is during this de-load week that resistance bands play a significant role in allowing the body to continue strength training while still allowing muscles and joints to recover.

During this phase, barbell–band contrast training or band only exercises are implemented. This change of pace training allows the body to experience a completely different strength training stimulus while continuing to improve on common strength training patterns of movement.

Here are a few examples of easy to implement contrast band training exercises using bands in conjunction with frequently used barbell exercises.

Barbell-Band Bench

Barbell-Band Squat

Barbell-Band Dead-lift

Barbell-Band Push Press

5. Circuit-Based Metabolic Training

As the off-season progresses, metabolic conditioning becomes increasingly more important in preparing the high school athlete for their upcoming pre-season.

Resistance band’s ability to simulate any strength exercise while providing unlimited resistance and lightweight portability allows easy station circuit-based workouts to be set up and implemented anywhere.

Posterior Chain Metabolic Circuit

6. Middle School Strength Training

One of the safest ways to implement a middle school strength training program is through the use of body weight exercises. It teaches body awareness as well as core stability while still working against gravity.

Unfortunately not all young middle school athletes can effectively perform simple body weight exercises like squats, push-ups, pull-ups or single leg squat variations.

Resistance bands can supplement a body weight strength training program in 4 ways.

First, they can be used to assist body weight exercises to allow athletes to learn how to properly perform basic body weight exercises through full ranges of motion.

Second, bands can be used to apply added resistance to body weight exercises by quickly attaching the band onto the body.

Third, bands can be used to create unique exercises besides body weight movements that can increase exercise variety while influencing movements body weight exercises can’t.

Last, since most middle schools are not able to properly outfit a strength training room, resistance bands provide a highly cost effective way to introduce young middle school athletes to a simple strength training program.

Part 3 will turn the focus towards using bands as a speed development training tool to enhance both acceleration and deceleration while training both linear and lateral planes of movement.

Dave Schmitz – The Band Man

About the Author: Dave Schmitz

Dave SchmitzDave Schmitz (aka…The Band Man) is the Co-Owner of Resistance Band Training Systems, LLC and the creator of https://resistancebandtraining.com, the only website exclusively devoted to training with large continuously looped resistance bands.

Dave has a unique professional background and vast experience as an orthopedic physical therapist, performance enhancement specialist, certified strength and conditioning specialist along with 27 plus years of living fitness and performance training.

All of this has allowed him to turn a simple 41-inch resistance band into an incredibly multi-faceted total training experience for 1000’s of athletes and fitness enthusiasts around the world—while helping 100’s of fitness professionals and coaches get their clients or athletes BETTER with BANDS.

How Resistance Band Training Can Impact a Strength & Conditioning Program – Part 1

Impacting a HS Year Round Strength & Conditioning Program with Bands

As a strength and conditioning coach of a local high school where I have over 80 young high school athletes training in our weight room 4 days per week, I am constantly evaluating our efficiency and results.

Resistance bands have easily been our most versatile and cost effective training tool to date. Not only do the kids find bands to be extremely challenging to train with, but they also enjoy the ability to improve their free weight training results.

Anytime we can provide a training tool that motivates high school athletes to work harder, train more frequently and enjoy doing it, only good things happen.

I would like to share 10 ways, as a coach, you can implement continuously looped resistance bands into a high school strength and conditioning program.

1. Dynamic Flexibility Training

No question the greatest impact on keeping young athletes healthy, besides strength training, is making sure their joints and muscles are able to move freely through a full range of motion on demand.

A majority of youth injuries are directly associated with flexibility deficits due to frequent growth spurts. Unfortunately athletes do not like to stretch and if they do stretch, it’s often using simple body-weight movements performed poorly.

Band stretching allows athletes to use the band to passively and actively lengthen out key muscles of the hip and shoulder. Using a tool, in this case the band, to stretch seems to provide athletes with an added motivation to routinely perform a dynamic stretching routine.

This series of band stretches performed before every lift or running workout allows athletes to follow a routine program. Over time it creates permanent soft tissue length changes that athletes quickly recognize.

What’s even more interesting is the longer athletes perform the band stretching routine, the more they begin to appreciate the importance of flexibility and how it directly impacts improvement in strength, speed and power. These are not often recognized as flexibility benefits.

Dynamic Band Stretching with Young Athletes

2. Trunk and Hip Activation

The importance of establishing good activation of the trunk and hip stabilizers pre-workout is pretty well documented.

Using the same single band that was incorporated in the band stretching routine, athletes can quickly perform a series of resisted planks or hip stabilization exercises that will optimally prepare them for any running or lifting workout.

This series of band stabilization drills makes it convenient and easy to flow directly from stretching into a muscle activation series of exercises.

Simple Core Activation Exercises

3. Auxiliary Training

Free weight training should be a key part of any high school athletic-based strength program. However, regardless if that type of program emphasizes the use of kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells or sandbags, the type of resistance remains the same in that it is a gravity dependent constant resistance.

Resistance bands provide an ascending resistance that is not reliant on gravity. As a result, continuously looped bands can be used to create auxiliary exercises following different planes of motion or movement patterns while impacting muscles significantly different than free weights.

Combining straight plane free weight movements with multi-plane, multi-resistance vector band strength training allows the body to eliminate weak links in what is a total kinetic chain, tri-plane structure.

5 Best Lower Body Band Exercises for Youth Strength Training

5 Best Upper Body Band Exercises for Youth Strength Training

Stay tuned for Part 2 which will cover how to use resistance bands to improve barbell strength and sport specific conditioning as well as using them to develop a safe and effective middle school strength development program.

Dave Schmitz – The Band Man

About the Author: Dave Schmitz

Dave SchmitzDave Schmitz (aka…The Band Man) is the Co-Owner of Resistance Band Training Systems, LLC and the creator of https://resistancebandtraining.com, the only website exclusively devoted to training with large continuously looped resistance bands.

Dave has a unique professional background and vast experience as an orthopedic physical therapist, performance enhancement specialist, certified strength and conditioning specialist along with 27 plus years of living fitness and performance training.

All of this has allowed him to turn a simple 41-inch resistance band into an incredibly multi-faceted total training experience for 1000’s of athletes and fitness enthusiasts around the world—while helping 100’s of fitness professionals and coaches get their clients or athletes BETTER with BANDS.

3 Tips to Help Educate Your Athlete’s Parents on LTAD

In this video, IYCA Ambassador and Expert Phil Hueston gives you 3 tips to help educate the parents that you work with.

Pro Tips:
1. Be crystal clear about what THEY want.
2. Relate directly to the developmental sequence in life.
3. Use simple phrases to translate the science behind the training.

Watch this video for the details on each of these tips!

Want to Learn More About These Tips?

Access that and more by becoming an IYCA Insider today!IYCA-Insiders-Blog-ad-V5

Be “That” Coach

Being called Coach means more than just coaching. It means changing lives.

That’s what the IYCA is here to help you continue to do. 😉

Our mission is to empower coaches all around the world to not only do what they love doing, but to reap the rewards of seeing their athletes excel.

We want to see you prepare thousands of youth for the next step. Hundreds of athletes for collegiate sports. Maybe even some for professional, or olympic sports. 😉

But most importantly, you are helping form the next generation. You are helping young athletes become leaders, entrepreneurs, thinkers, innovators, and the next generation of coaches.

Coaches are building up the next generation.

And we want to help you be (even more) awesome at that.

Great coaching is done, (as you know!) one day at a time. One program at a time. One session at a time. (Of if you are a coffee drinker like the coach in the video above, one cup of coffee at a time). 😉

It is done in small steps. Small increments of progress and change.

So thanks for what you are already doing. And keep moving forward!

Are you ready for the next step?

One of the best ways to take the next step as a coach is to learn from industry thought leaders and great coaches. That’s why we started our exclusive member program for coaches—IYCA Insiders. If you’re ready for the next step, join the IYCA Insiders and get a chance to “peek behind the curtain” to see what some of the best in the field are doing.

Join IYCA Insiders for $1 today



5 Tips to a Healthy Football Season – And Any Sports Season

Football Season is Here

The season is upon us. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s football season. The time of year where you can lose more friends than in an election year. So with that said, 2016 may be an interesting year. Let’s call 2017 the year of reconciliations.

If you are an athlete, football season can be grueling and can wear you down. If you are a coach, it can do the same thing. If you are a parent…well, parents have it easy. All you have to do is print out this article, tape it to the fridge, and your young athlete will follow all 5 tips, right?

The goal of this quick article is to give the athletes 5 tips to a healthy football season and give coaches some things to harp on with your athletes. In a loving way, of course.

5 Tips to Having a Healthy Football Season

Tip #1: Nutrition

Eating “properly” for performance is a year long struggle for the young athlete and can get even more difficult during football season. One of the hardest goals to meet is getting the calories an athlete needs to perform. With lunch around noon and practice after school, kids can go 6-7 hours without eating in the afternoon.

Pro Tip: Bringing snacks to school is important to fill those huge gaps in the day. But don’t forget, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Don’t skip it.

Tip #2: Strength Train

If we work hard in the off-season, why lose all those “GAINS” during the season? Yea, I know, “I don’t have any time” or “we gotta spend that time watching film” is a common reason for skipping strength training. Time can be of the essence, but 2 days a week minimum is a must! Get into the weight room.

Pro Tip: The main goal in-season is to combat muscular imbalances that are caused by the season which CAN help prevent injuries. Oh yea, athletes CAN get stronger in-season! Don’t skip out on strength training during the season. Your off-season will thank you!

Tip #3: Sleep

You know what? I love video games too! I think it’s important to have fun with friends but don’t let it affect the season. Athletes need 8-9+ hours of sleep each night so the body can repair itself. Period.

Tip #4: Injuries

This is a big one for highly motivated athletes. Nobody likes to be hurt and miss games. But that slightly rolled ankle can quickly turn into a season ending injury if not treated correctly. There is a big difference between some bumps and bruises and an injury that can lead to something more serious.

Pro Tip: Maintain a good working relationship with ATC’s and make sure injuries are discussed.

Tip #5: Academics

Poor academics can lead to ZERO play time. Make school work a priority. Time management is one of the skills athletes will need to learn as a student athlete.

Pro Tip: Take advantage of free time. Use study hall for studying and homework (obviously), and use bus rides for the same thing. Being an athlete is work!

Have a Productive Football Season

Parents, I hope this is “fridge worthy”. Coaches, keep these tips in the front of your mind when it comes to your athletes. I hope that your football athletes will use these 5 tips to have a healthy and productive football season.

Josh Ortegon

About the Author: Josh Ortegon

Josh Ortegon - 5 Tips to a Healthy Football SeasonJoshua Ortegon is co-founder and the Director of Sports Performance Enhancement at Athlete’s Arena in Irmo, SC. Joshua earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Western Michigan University in 2000.

As an IYCA-certified High School Strength and Conditioning Specialist, speaker, and writer, Joshua has helped establish Athlete’s Arena as the premier high-performance center in South Carolina since 2005.

Joshua has worked with a wide range of athletes from youth to professionals specializing in the areas of injury prevention, return to play and performance enhancement.

Are Your Athletes Prepared to Perform this Season?

IYCA-LTAD-LM-Blog AD-V1 - 5 Tips to a Healthy Football Season

A Message from Dave Jack

Dave Jack’s Powerful Message

If you feel compelled to work with kids, you need to watch this! In this powerful message, Dave Jack explains just why our kids need you. You have the power and ability to change lives and speak LIFE into our youth…see what he has to say.

About Dave Jack

Dave Jack 1Dave has been in the industry for nearly 15 years and has worked with top professional athletes and teams throughout the National Football League, Major League Baseball and more. His vision is to inspire people to live healthy lives and provide them with tools to do so.

In addition to being the Fitness & Wellness Director of TeamWorks Fitness in Acton, MA, Dave is a national advisor and consultant for brands like Reebok, Rodale, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Prevention and NBA All-Star Paul Pierce’s Truth on Health Foundation.

Dave is also a National Level Speaker on Sports Performance, Fitness and Wellness and Co-founder of “Sports and Life,” a wellness curriculum for schools.

Check Out the IYCA Store!

If you are ready to take the leap into youth fitness and be a part of the IYCA team, check out our STORE today!

3 Team Training Resistance Band Drills for Basketball

Resistance Band Drills for Basketball

We got a sneak peak in to Dave “The Band Man” Schmitz’s basketball training session and wanted to share!

Check out these 3 awesome drills that will help your basketball athletes improve their game and mobility.

Basketball Drills #1

Basketball Drills #2

Basketball Drills #3

Like what you see? Share this blog!

Got Bands?

Order your resistance bands today by going to www.resistancebandtraining.com and use code rbtiyca15 at checkout to receive 15% off.

Thank Yourself

The Purpose of Youth Sports

I am a medical professional so there is a duty to talk about “problems” and “pain.” After enough years I would like to approach it with two different “P” words: purpose and progress.

thanks-1183283_640I have written a hundred plus articles on the topics of injury prevention, rehab, and sports performance but have not fully addressed something more profound…that youth sports are great.

Problems exist, and we talk about them a lot. Massive increases in over training injuries and dropping out of sports by 8th grade are at an all-time high. Also, the number of crazy parents and coaches doing embarrassing things seems to be growing daily.

But what is the purpose of youth sports? Some could say, to develop top notch athletes but more economist types would say to support a growing multi-billion-dollar industry.

I say it is about fun.

Youth Sports is Not a Job

Fun, determination, hard-work, success, failure, big highs, disastrous lows, and all the rest that goes into building strong character. Sports is only a good paying job for an infinitely small part of the population and at those levels, it still is a job.

Youth sports is not a job—it is an opportunity to participate in something a child loves.

The whole purpose is to give our children a chance to experience greatness for themselves, in whatever tiny amount, which in turn can carry on to so many other things. Opportunity for success and risk of failure is what sports is all about.

As we live in a crazy interconnected world, let’s take a moment and appreciate what you do. You show up day and night to provide children with the opportunity to live out their dreams, their fun and their chances at glory.

In these moments, we can watch fun unfold.

Thank Yourself

If you are reading this article, perhaps you have been visiting the IYCA for some period of time in the hopes of learning. Learning how to make youth sports better, safer and smarter. Learning how to maximize the fun and minimize all the other stuff.

So just take a moment and appreciate yourself, that you care about the well-being of children, and that you are a coach.

That sounds like a purpose. That feels like progress. So thank you.

Dr. Keith Cronin, DPT

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.


What Makes a Successful Program – Build a Community

Build a Community to Have a Successful Program

If you want to have amazing success in this industry, it’s all about having the best, most technically sound programming available to you, right?


Take a look at some of the most successful performance training programs. Is each and every single one stellar in their program design, implementation, progressions/regressions, periodization, etc.? Not necessarily.

So what made the program outstanding in developing high performing athletes? It’s quite simple.

It’s all about building a community.

note-881421_640To us, a community is defined as a welcoming, positive training environment that includes supportive coaches and teammates. The community pushes and encourages each other.

Building a community takes effort, that is for sure. But if you have a passion and desire to make your athletes better, you are off to a great start.

I recently had the opportunity to watch IYCA contributors Adam Feit and Bobby Smith present at a clinic. They own an athlete-based training facility in New Jersey, and their energy was incredible – they engaged every athlete/coach in attendance. It didn’t matter if you were participating in the demos or not.

Think back to when you were an athlete and had a coach. Did the ones who spoke to you in monotone and went through the motions make an impact on you? Or was it the ones who engaged with you, high-fived you, and injected energy into the practices or training sessions? My guess is the coach with energy had a much greater impact on you.

Pro Tip: When you can inject YOUR energy into the athlete’s training sessions, they recognize it. They will FEED off of it! That energy starts to resonate, creating a culture that is palpable. Athletes will be excited to train, won’t want to leave, and you will have to tell them when to stop more often than you will have to push them to go!

Once you have that enthusiasm for training, you can build a community.

Here Are 3 Simple Tips to Build a Better Community in Your Program

Tip #1: Swag Up!

Athletes love to wear gear from their teams and places where they train, so give it to them! We just integrated a new process where our athletes advance through a tier system.

Each time they go through our performance testing, they have an opportunity to achieve a new level. Each level has a colored shirt they receive after achieving said level. When they go to school, they sport their swag and brag to their other friends, while also showing it off to athletes we may not train yet.

It’s like we sponsored a race car driver or golfer. They wear our gear that they earned, and when they dominate in their sport, everyone knows why.

Tip #2: Watch Them Play!

This is no joke. Every time I have gone to a game to watch one or more of our athletes, they exclaim, “Wow, that’s really cool you came out to watch. No one has ever done that before.”

We are all busy, I understand. I am no exception to being busy. I do not make every single game for all of my athletes. But I make a concerted effort to catch one, maybe two games a season, particularly big rivalry games or important ones.

Plus, seeing them play helps you as a coach. You can see what things carried over to the sport and what things broke down for your athlete that can be focal points in upcoming training blocks.

Afterwards, you have something to chat with the athlete about and connect with them on a deeper level. Remember, you are a COACH, not a trainer.

Tip #3: Create a Performance Team!

The best athletes in the world have a team of people helping them out. You can do the same for your athlete.

The team may consist of:

  • Parent(s)
  • Coaches
  • Health Practitioners (includes ATs)
  • Athlete

Don’t hesitate to reach out to parents if you feel athletes drifting and lacking focus in the gym. And, ALWAYS let parents know when their athlete has done something particularly outstanding.

Sport coaches can be difficult at times. They think you are trying to steal their athletes. It’s your job to reach out the olive branch and let them know it is your objective to make the athlete better for their sport.

In the very least, ask the coach what things they see need work, and then revisit after some training to see if the coach has seen improvement. If possible, take them out for coffee and have an actual conversation with them so they see you as part of the team, not enemy #1.

Healthcare practitioners and ATs need to have a great relationship with you, your athlete, the athlete’s coaches, and their parents. Befriend them and refer as often as you can. They help keep your athlete training with you and with the team, helping them perform better. They also save your butt from time to time when an athlete presents with something out of your scope of practice.

When you add a solid relationship with your athlete, you have a top tier team, and a community for your athlete to thrive!

Creating a Community Starts With You

Once you have a culture of excellence and engagement from your athletes, making them earn some swag, attending their games, and creating a performance team will have a profound effect on the community, and thus, the success of your program.

Want to read more from Coach Jared? Check out his last blog on Standardization.

ADAPT and Conquer,
Coach Jared

Looking for ways to inject a little fun into your programs and keep your athletes engaged?  Check out the IYCA’s Game Play Performance program created by Dave Jack and Dave Gleason.

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.