fbpx

Blog Archives

Youth Sports-A game of Continual Improvements or Immediate Performance?

Many youth sports coaches mistakenly embrace the notion that the pressures to succeed in the present and the immediate future overshadow what is likely best for the athlete.

Winning today’s game or this weekend’s tournament becomes paramount, regardless of the actual importance of the event or its positioning in light of the Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model. In this case, coaching styles are very much reflective of the need to win. 

Performance and perfectionist-based philosophies are employed during practice and game settings. When performance is not reflective of the level of skill or perfection that the coach desires, yelling, belittling, and negative criticism often follow.

Perhaps even more devastating to the developing athlete, many parents ascribe to the same errant thought process. Demonstrating advanced skills and achieving success at all developmental levels are conceived as the most important factors for participating in youth sports.

Some parents offer negative feedback, harsh criticisms, or inappropriate comments during the game. The message sent to the young athlete is clear: success now is most important. 

What is more, continued success is the only defense from negative feedback that can undermine confidence, self-esteem, and ultimately the perception of self-worth (1-Rowley S. Psychological effects of intensive training in young athletes).

Trainers and training centers dedicated to working with young athletes may fall within this category, as well. However, the efforts of the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA) and like-minded organizations and professionals have started to turn the tide against such notions.

Conversely, young athletes functioning under the coach who ascribes to the LTAD model are taught to search for continual improvement rather than immediate performance as the principal marker of athletic success. This mentality encourages the young athlete to develop a far more useful and powerful approach to success and personal improvement— both athletic and otherwise—that may be utilized across the lifespan.

With this approach firmly developed and well-entrenched, the individual is motivated to improve rather than motivated to perform. While subtle, the influence in thinking of such a difference is profound. Reasoning and creativity are enhanced. Problem-solving skills are better developed.

Perhaps most importantly, self-worth is preserved because “success” is an ability demonstrated over time rather than an instantaneous or momentary expression of skill linked directly to any one specific performance.

Also encouraging is that enhanced reasoning and creative abilities enable the young athlete to solve new and more challenging sport-related tasks over time, thereby further increasing ability.

Because such athletes associate success with improvement rather than performance, burnout and dropout issues that currently plague youth sports culture may be averted.

Ultimately, such an approach can teach the young athlete to love physical activity simply because refining movement skills and developing physically is intrinsically linked to holistic self-improvement and may be viewed as a series of steps toward success rather than the more typical model of physical activity as a measure in determining aptitude.

Youth sports and training for youth sports have largely become exercises of pressure and fear.

Repercussions for poor performance or lack of aptitude or skill are oftentimes severe. Many young athletes today have lost the joy and innocence of what sport and fitness participation truly is, and the stark reality is that they never fully develop a lifelong love for movement.

So, the question becomes- do you believe this needs to change?

If YES, then this article can be a step in the journey to provide extraordinary experiences to your athlete(s), by learning both the science and the practice of youth conditioning and fitness. The next step would be to get further education around Long Term Athlete Development and the Craft of Coaching Youth. 

We invite every person with the desire to positively impact the field of youth fitness and athletic development to join our cause and become part of the worldwide revolution. It’s as simple as our 3 E’s.

Step 1: Educate Yourself with science-backed, tried & true methods that stand the test of time.

Step 2: Elevate Athletes by applying LTAD and always working at becoming better at ‘meeting kids where they are at’.

Step 3: Expand the mission into your communities with programs, classes, and educational opportunities in your hometown.

Ready to join the mission?

Get started with one of our Top Credentials- the IYCA Certified Athlete Development Specialist. 

Not ready to get Certified, then our Long Term Athlete Development Resource is the perfect next step.

Let’s make the most positive Impact we can make today!

We are right there with you,

– The International Youth Conditioning Association

 

References:

1- Rowley S. Psychological effects of intensive training in young athletes. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines. 1987;28(3):371-377.

2-Toby Brooks, Ph.D., David Stodden, Ph.D., Jim Kielbaso, MS. Essentials of Youth Conditioning and Fitness. 2020, 21-23.

Why Youth Sports is a Losing Game and We Must Change

As an industry, we are playing a losing game right now and it’s time to look in the mirror. Consider this, if seven out of ten employees quit their job at a company due to burnout or overuse, it’s fair to assume the company would be concerned.

So what makes the youth sports industry any different…why aren’t we paying attention to our younger kids, seeing the red flags or doing something about this?

Perhaps some are, but it’s going to take MUCH more.

You may be wondering what we are talking about, and this is the first step…awareness.  It starts here and in this article we hope to bring awareness to the problem and a staggering statistic that is plaguing our industry and setting our children and future generations up for failure.

In a recent study, by the American Academy of Pediatrics they stated that although over 60 million children and adolescents currently participate in organized sports, attrition rates remain staggeringly high, with 70% of youth athletes choosing to discontinue participation in organized sports by 13 years of age.

Look around your teams, training sessions and end-of-season parties, the likelihood is that 7 out of every 10 athletes will be done playing sports before they reach high school

Most likely, the majority of those 70% will either get injured and sit or burnout and quit. This isn’t even considering the possibility that some athletes’ that remain playing, only do so because they feel they have to or are obligated to.

According to the study, the professionalization of youth sports is widely considered responsible and is a result of high volumes of training, the pressure to specialize which can increase odds of injuries, overtraining and burnout (2,3).

Burnout, however,  is only one reason for dropout, others on the list include a loss of interest, lack of available time, interest in other activities, lack of playing time and lack of fun.

If you are reading these numbers as a coach, trainer, parent, athletic director or ANYONE who facilitates or coaches teams, we hope that it strikes a chord. Perhaps, even, there may be doubt about theses statistics?

If that is the case, don’t take it from us, get out there and educate yourself with credible resources and research.

In a take home message from Pediatric Child Health, participation in organized sports should be aimed at the developmental level (which may not be the ‘chronological age’) of the participants so that they enjoy being physically active. (2)

Children should be encouraged to participate in a variety of activities and avoid early specialization.(2)

Parents can be instrumental in promoting physical activity and sport participation in their children by ensuring that children are having fun at their development level. To provide a basis for lifelong involvement, parents and coaches should strive to provide positive sport experiences for children that match their interests and developmental capabilities. (2)

We hope you are asking…how do we fix this?

This is a question we’ve been asking for years, and the truth is, we need to take an all-hands-on-deck approach to reverse these trends.

We must change as a collective industry if we want to move toward a more sustainable direction for our young athletes. Parents, sport coaches, trainers, sport organization officials and schools must collectively come together and collaborate versus compete. We must work in synergy, not against each other, and we must keep the athlete a priority.

Are you with us?

So, where do we go from here?

There are some STOPS & STARTS we recommend so we set our future athletes up for the WIN not just in sport, but in life well into adult-hood.

1. START teaching foundational and functional skill development while promoting a well rounded approach to their overall development as an athlete respective to their athletic & developmental age. (Learn more about Long Term Athlete Development and Physical Literacy and how to do this)

2. START facilitating workouts & practices that are engaging, memorable and exciting with age appropriate games and training to keep sessions and practices engaging and FUN. (See the Long Term Athlete Development Model)

3. START encouraging and planning for athletes to take adequate time off- at least 1 or 2 days a week- to rest and recover.

4. STOP encouraging athletes to specialize, defined as: “year-round intensive training in a single sport at the exclusion of other sports.”(3) START taking OFF 2-3 months (they don’t have to be subsequent) from individual sports.. 

5. START supporting athletes’ in playing another sport while taking a ‘break’ and/or START seeing a Certified Performance Coach who is Certified to teach Long Term Athlete Development and Physical Literacy principles. (Recommended Certification)

6. START emphasizing and celebrating athletes in their process goals vs their performance outcomes.

7. START prioritizing the WHOLE athlete. Encourage mindfulness and emphasize overall habits of athletic health (Hydration, Nutrition, Sleep, Mindset, Motion, Relationships, etc). Seek out or become a specialist beyond the ‘skill of the game’ when needed.

8. START implementing the Long Term Athlete Development Model and reinforcing Physical Literacy principles or seek out a performance professional who is Certified to Coach athletes at their developmental and athletic ages, which could be different than their chronological age. (Recommended Certification).

9. STOP coaching all athletes the same. START understanding how they need to be coached to be most successful, and adjust to meet them where they are at.

10. Lastly, START 1-9 as soon as possible!

There is no doubt that involvement in sports can be extraordinary and positive experiences for young athletes, but we have a long way to go in providing these experiences consistently.  We believe that this should be the duty and mission of every Sport Coach, Sports Organization, Athletic Director, Performance Professional and Parent.

As an organization, The IYCA strives to positively impact the healthy living habits and behaviors of tomorrow’s generation. We know that developmentally-sound, purposeful, and fun movement exposures provided through conditioning, fitness and sports are critical building blocks in developing from the younger years and well into adulthood.

The first step is awareness, then education and action!

We know that some may read this right now and not take action, but some of you will be ready to join this mission and take action. If that is you, keep reading! Below are  two of our best resources that will start to bridge the gap that is causing our athletes to drop out, burnout and lose.

If you are a community builder and want to play your part in reversing this staggering trend in your community, then the IYCA Certified Athlete Development Specialist is the perfect stepping stone to furthering your knowledge in order to provide extraordinary long-term experiences for the athletes you work with.

If you are looking to learn more and further your knowledge on how to develop athletes long term in a healthy and appropriate way but aren’t in need of a certification, then a great next step would be Long Term Athlete Development: The Lifelong Training Roadmap

 

Now, let’s go WIN THIS game!

– The International Youth Conditioning Association

 

References:

1. Joel S. Brenner, MD, MPH, FAAP; Andrew Watson, MD, MS, FAAP; COUNCIL ON SPORTS MEDICINE AND FITNESS https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/153/2/e2023065129/196435/Overuse-Injuries-Overtraining-and-Burnout-in-Young

 

2. Sport readiness in children and youth. Paediatr Child Health. 2005 Jul;10(6):343-4. PMID: 19675844; PMCID: PMC2722975.

3. Jayanthi N, Kleithermes S, Dugas L, Pasulka J, Iqbal S, LaBella C. Risk of Injuries Associated With Sport Specialization and Intense Training Patterns in Young Athletes: A Longitudinal Clinical Case-Control Study. Orthop J Sports Med. 2020 Jun 25;8(6):2325967120922764. doi: 10.1177/2325967120922764. PMID: 32637428; PMCID: PMC7318830.

Physical Literacy: The Game and Beyond

Athletic development across the lifespan is a complex process that is heavily influenced by the cognitive and physical maturity of the individual. Unfortunately, conditioning and fitness programming for the developing athlete have most often been designed around routines initially intended for adult and elite level athletes.

This is NOT appropriate or effective and can set kids up for failure. It can also put the young athlete at risk for acute and chronic injury.

By understanding the process of motor development, the coach or youth fitness professional will be far better equipped to create long-term programs that are developmentally appropriate every step of the way. This will only optimize the experience of the young athlete in the game and beyond the game.

Physical literacy is the goal and the cornerstone of basic human movement and fundamental movement skills. It is described as motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge, and understanding to value and engage in a physically active lifestyle (1. Longmuir C, Boyer C et al.)

The youth fitness professional, parents and sport coaches must apply the concepts of physical literacy in order to ensure that the child may have the best opportunity to develop and achieve success in movement, sport, and life. 

This needs to be a combined effort from coaches, trainers, parents/guardians, and children.

Developing the fundamental movement skills (e.g., walking, running, and jumping) happens early on in a child’s life. Unfortunately, being unable to perform fundamental movement skills can restrict later opportunities, which is why it is vital to develop physical literacy early in the child’s life. 

As coaches, if we hope to create great athletes who have a chance at being successful for the long haul, then your programs must be based on Long Term Athletic Development.

Just like a baby must learn to roll over before crawling, crawl before standing, stand before walking, and walk before running, your athletes need to build a foundation for elite level athletic performance before they can reach their maximum potential.

When athletes specialize early and skip critical steps in building this foundation, they are at extreme risk for injury and burnout. The trouble is, building that foundation early isn’t always sexy. And often coaches may not understand the exact steps to building the foundation.

However, that’s not your fault! Many are inundated with ‘influence’ of non-experts in this area and it’s at a detriment to our kids.

When it comes down to it, you and the athletes want results, and you’ve been told that specialization is the way to do it. Unfortunately this is wrong and setting our athletes up for failure, in their game and beyond their game. 

But the trends are shifting, and it’s time to get back on the path towards Physical Literacy and Long Term Athlete Development for EVERY athlete!

The very first step in any effort towards change, is to gain education. Our Long Term Athlete Development Roadmap is the perfect place to start or enhance your current knowledge. 

Will you join the mission with us? 

We cannot do this alone and we need other parents, trainers, school administration, sport coaches and professionals to stand up for Long Term Athlete Development and Physical Literacy.

It’s time to move. Our athletes’ will thank us!

We’d love to hear from you, don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments!

References:

1. Longmuir C, Boyer C, Lloyd M, Yang Y, Boiarskaia E, Zhu W, Tremblay M. The Canadian Assessment of Physical Literacy: methods for children in grades 4 to 6 (8-12 years). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4532252/#CR1

2. Gleason, D, Brooks, T, Fleming, W.  Long Term Athlete Development: The Lifelong Training Roadmap. https://iyca.org/ltad/

Athlete Development through the Ages

It is no secret that the development of the young athlete is multifaceted and it is the responsibility of the coach and/or trainer to take into consideration developmental, physical, and psychological aspects of training. 

Stodden et al. (2008) has developed a model proposing that motor skill development, physical fitness, and perceived competence interact synergistically over time and will lead to increased physical activity and healthy weight trajectories over time from early childhood into adolescence.1 

The crux of the model proposes that the early development of gross fundamental motor skills, promoted via early movement experiences and opportunities to be active will lead to positive trajectories of the child’s overall development.

Specifically, the development of multi joint, ballistic skills (e.g., locomotor and object control skills) can directly improve not only coordination and control, but also muscular strength, muscular endurance, power, agility, and cardiorespiratory endurance. In addition, positive developmental trajectories of these physical attributes will promote positive body composition, physical activity, and psychological attribute trajectories. 

In addition to promoting motor skill development in a traditional sense, integrating developmentally-appropriate resistance training will further enhance the development of the young athlete. 

Understanding how to integrate multiple aspects of training necessitates understanding the background and developmental status of each individual athlete.

Athletic development across the lifespan is a complex process that is heavily influenced by the cognitive and physical maturity of the individual. Unfortunately, conditioning and fitness programming for the developing athlete have most often been designed around “watered down” routines initially intended for adult and elite-level athletes. 

Not only is such practice of limited effectiveness, but also can put the young athlete at risk for acute and chronic injury. By understanding the process of motor development and designing programming that is not only developmentally appropriate but also fun and engaging, the trainer and/or coach, is quite literally laying the necessary foundation for motor skill and injury prevention. 

Perhaps most importantly, appropriate practice at the early stages of development also establishes an early love for physical activity that will be essential for overall health and fitness later in life.

The ultimate goal, wouldn’t you agree?

 

Learn more about the development of athletes through the ages and what to consider as a coach/trainer? We would like to send you a free Video doing just that- where IYCA CEO and LTAD Expert Jim Kielbaso breaks down Training athletes from Start to Finish 

References/Resources:

1-Stodden DF, Goodway J, Langendorfer S, et al. A developmental perspective on the role of motor skill competence in physical activity: An emergent relationship. Quest. 2008;60:290-306.

Essentials of Youth Fitness & Conditioning Text by Toby Brooks, PhD, David Stodden, PhD & Jim Kielbaso, MS

Utilize M.O.L.D for Programming Youth

In developing programming for youth, it is important to utilize the IYCA’s four-part programming guideline, easily recalled by the acronym “MOLD.”

Under this guideline, movement must dominate, the coach must be open to communication variances and learning style variances, and should avoid training and instead teach.  Let’s break these down.

M-Movement Must Dominate:

Young athletes are dynamic and ever-changing creatures. Development and optimization of motor control requires both depth and breadth of movement experiences. Specific skill instruction must take a back seat to general movement skills, particularly during the more foundational years of development.

Far too often, coaches attempt to integrate far too technical aspects of instruction into programming at the expense of activity that is more focused on the acquisition and refinement of general motor skill.

O-Open to Communication Variances:

Just as instruction can oftentimes be inappropriately geared toward specific skill acquisition, the manner in which coaching cues and non-verbal coaching feedback is delivered can tend to be nonspecific in nature. Young athletes are unique individuals with broad-ranging variability with respect to preferred communication styles. 

Coaches can sometimes assume that an athlete who does not respond favorably to their coaching is lazy or unmotivated. However, a reflective practitioner is committed to exploring potential barriers to instruction, which in many instances may be directly linked to differences in the athlete’s preferred communication style. 

L-Learning Style Variances:

Young athletes do not vary only with respect to communication styles. Learning styles vary considerably from person to person. Unfortunately, in cases in which a teacher’s instructional style is not compatible with a student’s preferred learning style, the student will experience a significantly more difficult time in acquiring the intended information.

Developing a broad-based instructional style and being attuned to individual differences is the best way that a coach or teacher can optimize athlete learning. 

D-Don’t Train; Teach:

Too often, conditioning programs for youth are geared toward eliciting the “best” performance improvement by applying adult based exercise prescriptions with only slightly decreased volume and/or intensity. However, programming for youth should be fundamentally different. At the same time, the most basic goal of programming for youth should not be to train the body to peak physical performance. 

Instead, the goal should be to teach the young athlete both how to move most efficiently and effectively and to develop a fundamental love for physical activity. Unfortunately, programming that is too heavily focused on training, introduced early in development, can lead to physical injury and/or psychological fatigue. 

If you want to learn more about the development & programming of athletes through the ages and what to consider as a coach/trainer check out this free Video- where IYCA CEO and LTAD Expert Jim Kielbaso breaks down Training athletes from Start to Finish 

Source: Essentials of Youth Fitness & Conditioning Text by Toby Brooks, PhD, David Stodden, PhD & Jim Kielbaso, MS

The Super Power of Great Coaches and Leaders – Brett Klika

Great coaches know how to connect with their athletes beyond “X’s and O’s”.

We all know brilliant coaches who understand programming and tactics, but when it comes to igniting a fire within their athletes, they can’t seem to make it happen. We also know coaches with an “adequate” level of knowledge and experience that have athletes who will run through a brick wall for them.  Coach in weight room

Research on the world’s most successful coaches and leaders points to the fact that tactical knowledge and experience are only a small part of what makes them successful. Effective coaches must also have the skills required to gain trust, commitment, and buy-in from their athletes.

For years, these skills were considered the “intangibles” of effective leadership that only a few gifted coaches possessed. A rapidly expanding field of research in leadership and performance has now identified these specific skill sets that allow great leaders to create an optimal relationship with those they lead. Together, these skillsets create the critical leadership attribute called emotional intelligence, or EQ.

Coaches with a high level of EQ are able and willing to adjust their communication style to the needs of their athletes. They are aware of their own attitudes and behaviors and how these impact the training environment. Emotionally intelligent coaches reflect on how they can continually improve their ability to communicate and inspire the best performance in their athletes.

Imagine refining your leadership skills to develop an even more effective relationship and communication style with your athletes. Consider how the ability to quickly develop trust, buy-in, and enthusiasm can help you further unlock their potential.

The good news is that emotional intelligence can be developed. Just like a movement skill, it can be broken down into individual components that can improve with training.

The 5 skillsets that comprise emotional intelligence are:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social Skill

Let’s look at how you can add EQ to your coaching IQ by developing the individual skill sets of emotional intelligence.

Self-awareness
Self-awareness is the ability to identify your strengths, weaknesses, values, and impact on others honestly and accurately. This awareness can be general or situational.

Developing the skill of self-awareness can be challenging, as it requires you to be vulnerable enough to move past ego and insecurity. When something isn’t working in the coach/athlete relationship, it requires you to honestly reflect on your role in this shortcoming.

To develop this skill set, self-reflection is critical. However, it’s also important to gain feedback from colleagues and mentors while resisting the urge to become defensive. Record yourself coaching and evaluate what you do well from a communication standpoint, and what you can do better.

Identifying a personal weakness doesn’t suggest failure any more than identifying a strength suggests complete mastery. The goal of continual personal assessment isn’t to label, justify, or judge your behavior. It’s merely information. When you are aware of this information, you have the ability to develop and access more effective coaching tools that match the needs of your athletes.

Self-regulation
Self-regulation is the ability to consciously control your actions, reactions, and moods.

Gaining control over emotional response can be difficult. Consider, however, how your mood and/or emotional reactions impact your training environment. If you show up to a training session in a bad mood, already agitated, how do you expect your interactions with athletes to go? When this happens frequently, what does this do for your ability to gain trust and buy-in from your athletes?

To develop the skill of self-regulation, consider the situations that bring out your most ineffective emotional responses. In what specific ways do these emotional responses impact the training environment? Is this the training culture you aim to create? Now, identify and write down more effective ways to deal with these situations. As you are coaching, look for opportunities to exercise these more effective emotional responses.

Motivation
Motivation is a measure of your drive to succeed.

It could be assumed that all coaches are motivated to create success with their athletes. However, notoriety, promotion, financial gain, and other self-serving aspects of motivation can come into play. While pursuing success for your athletes can result in all the above, the most effective coaches are motivated by achievement for the sake of achievement.

What motivates you as a coach? Consider the aspects of coaching that have made you voluntarily go above and beyond. What gets you excited? What pulls you to give everything you have to your athletes?

Do you get just as excited when a young athlete improves at a skill as when a high-profile professional athlete does? Why or why not? There’s no wrong or “bad” answer when you reflect on your personal sources of motivation. Just be aware that when athletes trust that your core motivations are in line with theirs, you have the greatest opportunity at positive impact.

Empathy
Empathy is your ability to understand and acknowledge others’ emotions and how these emotions impact their performance.

An empathetic coach tries to put themselves in their athletes’ shoes and considers their emotional makeup. A struggling athlete may be having problems at home or in the classroom, impacting their on-field performance. Acknowledging these struggles and offering words of encouragement while still holding high standards for this athlete is more effective than continually rebuking their performance.

The age, ability level, and background of our athletes can impact their emotional make-up on a daily basis. Consider the person you were when you were in middle or high school. How about college? What were the different challenges you dealt with? How would you want a coach to help you manage these challenges while helping you improve your athletic ability?

Empathy is not merely justifying and/or accepting any and all athlete behavior. It’s merely acknowledging that your athletes come from diverse backgrounds and experiences that impact their emotional makeup. Developing awareness and effective strategies to manage various emotional states shows you care about the athlete as a person.

Social Skill
Social Skill is the ability to develop rapport with others. As a coach, it’s critical for your athletes to know you have their best interests in mind. This goes beyond the tactics of training.

A coach with great social skill can quickly relate to and gain athletes’ trust by connecting on a “human” level. This can be as easy as asking an athlete how they are feeling, or what they did over the weekend. It could be demonstrated by actively listening and asking questions when an athlete shares something about their life. Either way, this demonstrates that the coach/athlete relationship isn’t merely transactional.

When you demonstrate a genuine interest in your athletes as people, they learn to trust that you have their best interests in mind.

Great coaches are always looking for opportunities to become more effective in leading their athletes to excellence. Consider the skill set of emotional intelligence and your own improvement with these skills could significantly impact young lives.

 

Brett Klika is a youth performance expert and a regular contributor to the IYCA who is passionate about coaching young athletes.  He is the creator of the SPIDERfit Kids youth training program and has run successful youth fitness programs all over the country.  Brett is an international speaker whose passion for youth fitness has helped thousands of people learn how to create exceptional training experiences for young athletes.

 

 

Thank you for reading this article our gift to you is a FREE Training Video on Developing Athletes from Start to Finish, from IYCA CEO, Jim Kielbaso: Get your FREE TRAINING TODAY!

 

Are you ready to really take your knowledge to the next level?

The IYCA Certified Athletic Development Specialist is the gold-standard certification for anyone working with athletes 6-18 years old.  The course materials were created by some of the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the industry, and the content is indisputably the most comprehensive of any certification related to athletic development.  Learn more about the CADS certification here:

The Right Time for Youth Athletes to Start Training – Brett Bartholomew

When is the right time for youth athletes to start training?  This is a question parents ask all the time, and it’s something that athletic develop specialists need to be able to address in great detail.  The key to the entire process of long term athlete development is to expose athletes to as many different activities as possible and not rush the process.

Of course, it’s not that simple.  The IYCA’s flagship certification, the Certified Athletic Development Specialist, is an entire course dedicated to this process, so there are many things to take into consideration.  We need to understand how to teach exercises adequately, choose exercises appropriately, create a proper training schedule, change exercises/programming when necessary and more.

Long-time friend of the IYCA, Brett Bartholomew, spends a lot of time addressing coaching & communication issues, and he has become one of the industry’s foremost experts in that area.  But, because Brett has had such a wealth of experiences, he often addresses other important topics.  In this video, Brett gives an amazingly concise answer to the question of when athletes should begin training:

To be clear, Brett’s does not go into detail on the specifics of developing athletes, but his explanation almost perfectly mirrors the views of the IYCA – give kids lots of different activities, avoid specialization, understand training age, don’t focus on competition, and “slow cook” the process.

Often, experienced coaches know a lot about athletic development, but have a difficult time putting all of their knowledge into words.  This is the kind of video you can share with other parents and coaches to help them understand the process without going into too much detail.

We hope Brett’s video helps you verbalize the importance of the LTAD model, and gives you ammunition to continue doing what’s best for young athletes.

 

Brett Bartholomew is a strength and conditioning coach, author, consultant, and Founder of Art of Coaching™. His experience includes working with athletes both in the team environment and private sector along with members of the United States Special Forces and members of Fortune 500 companies.

Taken together, Brett has coached a diverse range of athletes from across 23 sports world-wide, at levels ranging from youth athletes to Olympians. He’s supported numerous Super Bowl and World Series Champions, along with several professional fighters in both professional boxing as well as the UFC.  Visit ArtofCoaching.com for more information or follow Brett on all social media platforms for daily updates.

 

For more information on developing athletes, the IYCA Certified Athletic Development Specialist is the gold-standard certification for anyone working with athletes 6-18 years old.  The course materials were created by some of the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the industry, and the content is indisputably the most comprehensive of any certification related to athletic development.  Learn more about the CADS certification here:

High School Strength and Conditioning: How to Get Started – Jim Kielbaso

Because the IYCA has the only certification designed specifically for high school strength and conditioning – the IYCA HSSCS – I get a lohigh school strength and conditioningt of questions about how to get your foot in the door or how to become a high school strength and conditioning coach.  I also happen to work in several high schools, I post a lot of content from weight rooms, and I love working in high school strength and conditioning, so it makes sense that people ask those questions.  But, is this job really right for you?

Through the years, I’ve answered these questions individually, and this video breaks down just about all of the advice I’ve given and everything you need to know to get your foot in the door or get started in high school strength and conditioning.

Keep in mind that this article/video is not covering how to be a great coach or any of the science and training methods needed to do the job.  This video is about understanding the job and how to get started.  I also explain how different each job can be depending on the situation at the school.  Some schools are very well funded, have great facilities, and have supportive coaches and parents.  Other situations are the complete opposite where just about everything is a struggle. You need to fully understand each situation and know which ones fit you the best.

The two most important things to understand are:

  1. There are both tremendous challenges and opportunities in high school strength and conditioning.  Funding, schedules, facilities, group size, skill level, motivation level, demands from coaches, safety, and constantly changing coaches and athletes are all part of the job.  But, being able to make a difference in the lives of hundreds of young people is an amazing opportunity.  Before you jump into this demanding job, make sure you understand the pros and cons and decide if this is the right position for you.
  2. You have to be a really good coach, teacher, and role model to be an effective high school strength and conditioning coach.  Just because you like to lift weights or were a good athlete does not qualify you to be a great S & C coach.  This is a demanding job and kids deserve to have a great coach working with them.  The mission of the IYCA is to help educate coaches in an effort to create exceptional training experiences for athletes, and we feel that this is very important.  That means that the days of unqualified and sub-par coaches in high schools should come to an end.  You need to have great knowledge, great energy, great coaching skills, and a passion for developing athletes at all levels and in all sports.

In the video, I discuss:

  • Is this the right job/situation for you?
  • Qualifications
  • Funding
  • Challenges & opportunities
  • Relationships
  • Creating a job vs. being hired

There is obviously a lot to understand before you get started in high school strength and conditioning, but this should help you understand what is necessary and give you a sense of what you can do to make things happen.

 

Jim Kielbaso IYCAJim Kielbaso is the President of the IYCA and Owner of Impact Sports Performance in Novi, MI.  He has authored multiple books, articles and training products and has spoken at events around the world.  He holds a BS in Exercise Science, an MS in Kinesiology and has gone through multiple certifications through the IYCA, NSCA, NASM and more.  Jim is a former college strength & conditioning coach and has trained thousands of athletes at every level of competition.  He runs a successful NFL Combine training program in Michigan and has been hired as a consultant for major sports programs like the University of Michigan Football Program and the University of Kentucky Basketball Program.

 

The IYCA High School Strength & Conditioning Specialist is the only certification created specifically for coaches training high school athletes, and it has recently been updated!.  The course includes several hours of video instruction (including a complete Olympic lifting instructor course) and two textbooks with contributions from some of the top strength and conditioning coaches in America.  Click on the image below to learn more about how to become a certified high school strength & conditioning coach.

Keeping Young Athletes Training – Brett Klika

Few things will help a young athlete develop physical skills at a higher level than consistent training. As youth strength and conditioning coaches, much of what we know from the legendary Bompa’s, Balyi’s, Drabik’s, and Verkhoshanskys of the world has been based on their observations working with kids daily, in a completely immersive institutionalized setting, for a long period of time.

We are faced with a very different model of consistency here in the United States. If you are working as a youth strength and conditioning coach in the private sector, young athletes’ participation in your program is treated more like an “additional activity” than a necessary aspect of their long-term development. 

When mom and dad’s time, money, and energy aren’t too constrained, their child gets to participate in your program. At the first sign of any scarcity of these resources, parents will find a reason to discontinue.   

To create more consistency, measurable results, and business sustainability, it’s important to evaluate how to create a business model and training environment that keeps kids and parents engaged for the long-term with our programs. 

In my over 15 years of creating youth fitness programs of all sizes, in addition to SPIDERfit Kids’ current consultation with youth sports and fitness organizations around the world, this is one of the challenges I’ve set out to tackle. 

Taking into account my own experiences in addition to parent questionnaires, market research, and other “experiments” done by the coaches we consult with, we’ve been able to identify some critical aspects of creating a business model and training experience that increases long term retention for 5–12 year-old athletes. 

While not all coaches have the ability to impact their employer’s business model, below are some simple aspects of the training environment that we’ve found to increase program adherence.

  1. Coach and athlete name recognition
  2. Parent communication
  3. Incentives for progression  

Coach and Athlete Name Recognition

One of the fastest and easiest ways to create a community where young athletes feel like they belong is for coaches and other athletes to know and use their names as soon as possible. Likewise, young athletes should know their coaches and other program participant’s names. If a young athlete doesn’t know their coach’s name after their first day of training, it’s a missed opportunity that trivializes the coach’s engagement. 

This isn’t something that happens passively for most so I encourage coaches to make it a pillar of their program. It should immediately become obvious to everyone involved that knowing everyone’s names is a critical aspect of your program. 

When a child feels like they belong, they feel a sense of accountability and community. This is relayed when they’re talking to their parents about their experience with your program.  It is more difficult for parents and young athletes to leave a program where they feel like they are part of a community. 

Parent Communication

Remember, most parents of young athletes pay for a program that they don’t’ stick around to watch.  Somewhere between when parents drop their young athletes off and when they pick them up, you’re most likely doing some cool stuff to enrich their child’s life. How do parents know that? 

I’ve learned that coaches can’t assume parents have any idea what’s happening with their child between drop off and pick up.  Young kids aren’t exactly forthcoming in sharing the details of a day of training either. 

This makes it critical for coaches to connect with parents either in person, on the phone, via email, or by text at least once per week.  Once a child is old enough to drive themselves to training, communication doesn’t have to be as frequent. 

To keep this communication concise and effective, I recommend the “4 Sentence Conversation”:  

  1. Tell the parent something their child did well that day/week.
  2. Share a unique personality trait that their child has that allows them to be successful (“Logan is really using her arms well when she runs. She’s such a good listener, she really takes coaching well.”)
  3. Share one thing you are working on.
  4. Share how this skill contributes to one of the long-term goals shared by the parent or athlete.

This level of consistent feedback brings parents into the process. It leaves no question as to where their investment of time, money, and energy in your program is going. They are less likely to discontinue participation when they understand where their child is in the developmental process. It doesn’t hurt that they get to know you better either. 

These conversations are also a very personalized forum to encourage sign-ups for future programs in addition to soliciting testimonials and referrals. 

Another step you can take to bring parents into the process is to regularly text a picture or video of their child in action. Obviously, be sensitive to parent concerns about pictures of their child, but I can honestly say I’ve never had an issue sending a parent a picture of their child in action when they are not there to see them. 

The above steps provide a consistent answer to “what am I paying for?” This increases the value of your program so it becomes a higher priority on the endless list of things kids are doing or could be doing.   

When looking at the different interventions we have taken with coaches in order to help them improve their program adherence with 5-12 year-olds, frequent 1-1 parent interaction has emerged as one of the most important factors. 

Incentives for Progression

Another way to keep kids and parents excited and engaged with a long-term developmental program is to clearly define developmental benchmarks for skills and recognize kids for accomplishing these benchmarks. 

Consider the success of the “belt” system in martial arts for keeping kids and parents engaged with the program. A young martial artist and their parents are aware of universal criteria for progression. To get the next belt, they have to do “X”.  Once they do “X”, they earn a public symbol of accomplishment and acumen; a colored belt.   

In terms of youth strength and conditioning, picture creating levels designated by a colored wrist band, t-shirt, or other designation. To earn a certain color of wristband, a young athlete has to display competency with a list of skills and accomplishments.

For example, for a “Level 1” wristband, youth athletes would need to:

  1. Identify relevant gym equipment by name
  2. Identify specific anatomy
  3. Recite a gym mantra or ethos by memory in front of a group
  4. Perform 1-3 fundamental movement patterns with developmentally appropriate criteria
  5. Perform an at-home chore, activity, etc. a certain number of times with parent signature 

Once the athlete accomplishes these criteria, they receive an appropriately colored wristband or other awards. They are immediately aware of what they must do to accomplish the next level.

Notice the criteria for progression involve skills beyond exercise. This allows a coach to reinforce the expectation, culture, and positive external influence of their program. 

The coaches I have worked with that have implemented this type of system report that:

  1. Kids become more engaged in the learning process. They want to master skills so they can get to the next defined level. 
  2. Parents are more aware of specific skills and why they are important to the process of development. They also value the at-home progression criteria that compels their kids to do things they usually wouldn’t do; like making their bed, clearing their dinner dishes, etc. 
  3. Assessments have become more relevant to the needs of young athletes. The focus shifts to the quality of a movement vs. merely the magnitude. This ensures that the focus of progression at young ages is skill proficiency. 
  4. Coaches are able to expand their expectations for things outside of exercise. They are seeing more at-home adherence in addition to increased attention to other aspects of their program they deem important. Imagine how much more efficient coaching becomes when athletes are expected to understand basic anatomy, equipment vocabulary, and other important aspects of training.  
  5. Kids are staying in their programs longer. 

The more I’ve worked with coaches from different organizations and programs, it’s become more and more clear that when it comes to creating a program that maximizes engagement with kids and parents, it’s not so much what we do, but how we do it. These concepts seem so simple, yet we as coaches often forget their importance. 

The best training program in the world in a disengaged, disconnected environment fails to deliver results for anyone involved. 

There are also quite a few factors associated with the business model, like how payments are collected (EFT!), how frequently programs are run (no “gaps” between programs!), and others that impact program adherence. However, not every coach in an organization has influence over these factors. 

Whether you own a youth fitness facility or work for one, remember to take the above steps to create a training environment that gets parents and kids excited to be committed for the long haul.  

Brett Klika is a youth performance expert and a regular contributor to the IYCA who is passionate about coaching young athletes.  He is the creator of the SPIDERfit Kids youth training program and has run successful youth fitness programs all over the country.  Brett is an international speaker whose passion for youth fitness has helped thousands of people learn how to create exceptional training experiences for young athletes.

 

The IYCA Certified Athletic Development Specialist is the gold-standard certification for anyone working with athletes 6-18 years old.  The course materials were created by some of the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the industry, and the content is indisputably the most comprehensive of any certification related to athletic development.  Learn more about the CADS certification here:

Single Leg Squat Variations – Jordan Tingman

Single Leg SquatUnilateral exercises, or single-leg squat variations, are beneficial for a variety of reasons including that they require stability, they have the potential to eliminate imbalances, and they can help create awareness of weaknesses. The single-leg squat has been utilized commonly in knee rehabilitation settings such as with individuals experiencing patellar tendinitis or going through a return-to-play protocol with knee surgeries. Considering the stress that sport has upon the knees themselves, implementing exercises that stress the knee joint is imperative when preparing the body for these demands. The single-leg squat is a great way to strengthen not only the larger muscles of the leg but also all of the stabilizing muscles of the hips due to the nature of the unilateral exercise.

Though there are many benefits of the single-leg squat, they can be fairly difficult exercises to perform. Here are some ways to progress and strengthen the single-leg squat movement pattern:

Important things to note:
Some of the variations in the video emphasize the eccentric portion of the single-leg squat.  At first, many athletes struggle to perform the concentric portion of these exercises, so performing the lowering portion will help build the strength necessary to eventually control the full range of motion.  Focusing on the eccentric portion of the exercise is beneficial not only to strengthening the muscle fibers but it creates tension on the tendon structure of the knee joint itself. Challenge the eccentric portion with time under tension spending around 3-5 seconds on the descent during the exercise vs focusing on the concentric portion.  Athletes will still reap the benefits of utilizing the variation and will eventually increase their strength to a great enough degree to perform full range of motion repetitions.

If utilizing a longer eccentric time, perform around 4-8 repetitions on each leg for 3-4 sets.

If focusing on a normal tempo, utilizing higher repetitions (8-10) may be more appropriate. Determining the repetition ranges will depend on the athlete’s ability or what phase of training they are in.

You can also perform the single-leg squat variation in multiple planes using a variation of the Y-balance test:

Performing these movements can be done utilizing sliders or standing on a single leg and tapping the toe to each of the same positions. You can challenge this position by having the balancing leg on a foam pad to add more of an ankle stability component.

Since the Y-balance test holds validity in assessing an athlete’s limb-to-limb symmetry, adding these movements into a warm-up may also prepare the body for all the different planes associated with many sports.

Utilize these single-leg squat variations in conjunction with other exercises, including bi-lateral squats, to create well-rounded programming that addresses many needs.
Jordan Tingman – CSCS*, USAW L1, ACE CPT, CFL1 is a graduate of Washington State University with a B.S. in Sports Science with a Minor in Strength and Conditioning. She completed internships with the strength & conditioning programs at both Washington State University and Ohio State University, as well as a Graduate Assistantship in S & C at Eastern Washington University.  Jordan is a competitive Olympic weightlifter and is currently training athletes of all ages near her home in Seattle, WA.

 

 

The IYCA High School Strength & Conditioning Specialist is the only certification created specifically for coaches training high school athletes, and it has recently been updated!.  The course includes several hours of video instruction (including a complete Olympic lifting instructor course) and two textbooks with contributions from some of the top strength and conditioning coaches in America.  Click on the image below to learn more about how to become a certified high school strength & conditioning coach.

10 Ways to Improve Athleticism in Young Athletes – Jeremy Frisch

Like King Arthur searched for the legendary Holy Grail, many coaches, parents, and sports performance experts are on a quest to find the perfect way to improve athleticism and develop young athletes into world champions.  So far, no perfect formula has been created.  There are simply too many variables involved for anyone to create a magical pathway that can be replicated over and over again to churn our world class athletes like a factory.improve athleticism

Instead, science and experience have taught us a lot about athletic development so that we can apply fundamental principles and methods throughout an athlete’s life, sort of like an artist painting a picture.

Jeremy Frisch has come up with a list of 10 ways to improve athleticism in young athletes that draw on many of the fundamental principles taught in all IYCA materials.  As you read this list, you should appreciate the simplicity of what is being shared.  As many people look for new, sexy, and innovative ways to developing athleticism, Jeremy has drawn on his experiences working with thousands of young athletes to boil things down into simple tasks that need to be repeated and varied throughout a child’s life.

Enjoy Jeremy’s list and be sure to comment below:

1. Jumping: Jumping is the secret weapon to develop explosiveness… there is no such thing as jumping slow. Jump for height, jump for distance, jump over, sideways, side-to-side, one foot, two feet and with twists and turns. The more variety the better the coordination developed.

2. Sprinting: The best age to develop the foundation for speed is ages 7-11. Kids need not worry about technique and should only be concerned with effort. Max effort will help self organize technique. Simply challenge them to give their best effort by using racing, chasing and relay races.

3. Calisthenics: The simple stuff like we did back in P. E. Remember jumping jacks? How about the lost art of jumping rope? Calisthenics are a fantastic tool for warming up and coordination activities. Simple? Yes… but much more effective than jogging around a soccer field if the goal is to improve athleticism.

4. Gymnastics: Gymnastic activities develop body awareness, landing/falling skills, static and dynamic positions, balance, body toughness. You don’t need Olympic routines to get benefits, simply learning how to roll, cartwheel and various static holds can go a long way to improve athleticism.

5. Strength: Strength training is not just lifting weights. For children it can come in other forms like tug of war, monkey bars, rope climbing, play, parkour and ninja warrior. The key is using activities that require the athlete to create muscular tension.

6. Pick-up games: Any sports game like flag football, baseball, basketball, wiffleball, etc. or made up classic games like capture the flag, dodgeball and pickle. The key is minimal adult intervention. Let the kids decide the rules, winners and losers.improve athleticism through pick up games

7. Tag: (the athlete maker) The game of tag develops all around agility. Sprinting, stopping, starting, spatial awareness… mixed in with a whole bunch of decision making and, of course, all-around fun. Tag carries over to almost every sport. Play in different size spaces or make up different rules for variety.

8. Stop playing one sport all year around: Multiple sports develop multiple skills…the more skills the better the all-around athlete…skills transfer! Physically, the body gets a rest from repetitive stress and mentally, the athlete stays fresh from new activities.

9. Screen time: Limit screen time as much as possible. Eyes get fixed in a two dimensional landscape, and sitting for long periods is not good for anyone. Sensory overload without a physical outlet creates stress, anxiety and angry outbursts.

10. Have Fun: If young athletes have fun they are 90% there. When kids have fun, they come back and the more
consistency they have the more skills they develop over time without even realizing it.

 

Jeremy Frisch is the owner and director of Achieve Performance Training in Clinton, Massachusetts. Although he trains people of all ages and abilities, his main focus is to improve athleticism in young athletes, physical education, and physical literacy.

Jeremy is the former assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Holy Cross athletic department. Prior to joining Holy Cross, Frisch served as the sports performance director at Competitive Athlete Training Zone in Acton, Massachusetts. In 2004, he did a strength and conditioning internship at Stanford University. Frisch is a 2007 graduate of Worcester State College, with a bachelor’s degree in health science and physical education.

The IYCA Certified Athletic Development Specialist is the gold-standard certification for anyone working with athletes 6-18 years old.  The course materials were created by some of the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the industry, and the content is indisputably the most comprehensive of any certification related to athletic development.  Learn more about the CADS certification here:

Effective Communication: Starting the Conversation – Jill Kochanek

Effective communication is based on the needs of each player and team. When coaches give players voice, we can more fully understand what our athletes need to feel optimally supported. This post offers coaches useful activities for addressing what effective communication means for their team and athletes. Though just a starting point, this session is an example of how coaches can start a conversation with players to glean valuable information about their needs and co-create team standards for effective communication.

As many of us finish up the winter season, I want to bring up a topic, which comes up a lot in my work with athlete and coaches: effective communication. This entry explores what effective communication means for your team and athletes. To do so, I offer a recap of a session on effective communication that I’ve facilitated with my high school student-athletes. You might consider integrating any, or all, of these activities as an off-the-field preseason session. These activities are meant to draw on team knowledge and co-create communication standards with your athletes. Reflection and discussion centers on several questions: What type of communication does an athlete/teammate need and when? What constitutes effective communication on our team? What does effective communication look like in action? Feel free to use, leave out, or adapt any aspect of this session to best fit you as a coach, your context, and athletes.

Before I overview the session, let me give some background on what led me to the “communication” drawing board. Last year, communication became a point of emphasis for my high school girls’ team. We started the season with a young squad, only one senior, a sizable freshmen class, and several returning players who had only joined us the year prior. Some might call this a “rebuilding year.” I cringe when I hear that statement because it can shift a coach’s focus from improving based on where athletes are at to a preoccupation with proving oneself (as a coach or team). When coaches adopt this mentality, doing so can come at the expense of athlete development. Optimally challenging (and raising the bar for) players becomes a more difficult task when we safeguard against defeat and lower expectations before our players even step onto the field. As coaches, let’s not fall into this trap!

Young teams might lack the foundational skills that you wish they possessed, but these groups present a unique opportunity for coaches as culture creator to establish—and reinforce—good habits. If coaches plant these seeds with athletes early on, they are more likely to internalize those behavior patterns and model them for new and future players.

As a younger group, we not only lacked on-field communication but also clear standards for what effective communication meant on our team. The mix of inexperience and diverse player personalities led to instances of ineffective communication: younger players feeling as though older players were bossing them around, and older players feeling as though younger players were not listening or committed. After a few conflicts between players, our coaching staff decided that the group would benefit from more an explicit conversation on effective communication.

Here is a breakdown of the session—keeping this caveat in mind: as with technical/tactical skill building, culture building and behavior change are on-going processes. One session on effective communication will not be a complete cure-all. Consistent reinforcement is essential for players, and coaches, to internalize desired values and actions. As coaches, we not only need to model these behaviors. And, we need to encourage players when they effectively communicate and own our mistakes when we fall short of doing so.

Effective Communication Session Synopsis

Activity I: Effective communication on our team
I started by asking the girls to think of a recent moment in which a teammate effectively communicated to them (e.g., encouragement, instruction, suggestion, or criticism). They wrote down who that teammate was, what happened, and why the communication was effective for them. This was meant to guide athletes to self-reflect on their needs, but also gave them a chance to recognize their teammates.

Debrief: As a group, we discussed their responses. I did not have each girl share their who-what-why, but took notice of which players spoke up (or did not) and who was actively listening. Several girls offered their responses, and I probed players to consider commonalities and differences across examples. We distilled these anecdotes down to key characteristics of effective communication on our team, which were honest, direct, & positive. With this definition, I emphasized to players that it’s not just what we say that is impactful, but how we communicate—that communication needs to be honest and selfless. Praise that is not earnest can undermine our legitimacy as the communicator and backfire. At the same time, our communication should aim to help teammates be successful—to build each other up—not break us down. When players know that teammates mean well, and are genuinely trying to support our success, they will be more open to receiving corrective instruction (or constructive criticism) and less likely to take feedback personally.

The first reflective activity helped our group established what effective communication means for our team. While we might define communication that is honest, direct, and positive as our team standard, I asked players to consider if, and how, effective communication might depend on the individual and context. Though we might defer to honest, direct, and positive feedback in most teammate interactions and team situations, how we communicate may depend on who we are working with and how they show up on that day.

Activity II: Effective communication as individual and context specific
I asked each girl to write down what kind of communication they need from their teammates (or coaches) when they are having a good day versus bad day. I clarified that the good-bad day scenario could be for a host of reasons, including but not limited to sport-related events. I invited each player to share her perspective with the group in this second activity. In this case, I wanted to give each person the opportunity to speak to her needs, and likewise teammates (and myself) the chance to listen and gain insight into how to best support each player. Here were some of common responses from our group:

“I am motivated by the little things. It’s a huge boost when you catch me, and let me know, that I doing the little things well.”

“I want limited feedback on my bad days.”
“Hold me accountable when things aren’t going my way.”
“I just want you to tell me what to do!”

“I need positive reinforcement no matter what kind of day I am having. I had a bad coach when I was younger. He would always scream at us, and it’s still hard for me to shake that.”

Debrief: Once players shared what they need in terms of communication, I identified some of the common themes and differences across our responses. Then, I circled back to our team captains and asked what they thought were key take-home messages from our activities for us, as a team, to take away from the session and how we put that information into action. Give them the space and agency to communicate to their teammates, establish expectations, and define actions. After they spoke, I validated their responses and asked if anyone else from the group has something to add.

Conclusion
This session is one example of how to start a conversation with your players to glean valuable information about their needs and co-create team standards for effective communication. Effective communication is individual and context specific—based on the needs of each player and team. When coaches give players voice, we can more fully understand what our young people need to feel optimally supported. At the end of the day, it’s not about us – it’s about them.

Facilitating a session on effective communication, however, is not a quick fix—it’s a starting point. Consistent reinforcement of effective communication when coaches catch players doing so is necessary for all team members to internalize those behaviors. Along with praiseworthy actions, coaches need to attend to “challenge moments”: when players (or coaches themselves) fall short of effectively communicating based on team standards. Coaches can use “challenge moments” as opportunities to reinforce desired behaviors (or acknowledge their own mistakes) and encourage athletes to see mistakes as a part of the learning and culture-building process.

Top 3 Hip Hinge Exercises – Jordan Tingman

The ability to properly perform hip hinge exercises is a very important movement concept for any athlete, and every program needs to include a hinge exercise at some point.  This is a hip dominant exercise and utilizes a combination of the glutes, hamstrings, quads, lower back, and core muscles.  Not only will hip hinge exercises improve strength and power, but an inability to adequately perform this movement can lead to many other issues as Jason Goumas pointed out in his article about Overuse Injuries.

In this video, I break down three hip hinge exercises that I commonly utilize in my athlete’s exercise programming.

The first exercise I break down is the kettlebell swing. The kettlebell swing can be utilized anywhere from power to endurance. It is a ballistic exercise that requires proper sequencing of multiple muscle groups in order to be performed correctly. If the kettlebell swing is done correctly, I think it is a very beneficial exercise when increasing hip strength.hip hinge exercises

My second favorite exercise is the Romanian deadlift. Just like in the kettlebell swing, the hinge pattern is the same, however this time it is done in a slower more controlled matter. This movement can be done with a barbell, a kettlebell, dumbbells, resistance band, and many other implements. The RDL is more of a strength-building exercise that strengthens both the hinge pattern and hip extension.

The third exercise I included is the banded broad jump. I enjoy this exercise because it’s a plyometric hinge exercise. The band really reinforces the hip hinge, but also challenges hip extension when jumping. I like this exercise because it’s different and honestly, it’s fun!

Of course, there are many other hip hinge exercises that can be done, but these are my favorite variations that I use with most of my athletes.  I believe that starting athletes with these three exercises will develop a foundation and allow you to work towards single-leg versions and will improve move complex movements as athletes progress.

 

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

 

 

The IYCA High School Strength & Conditioning Specialist is the only certification created specifically for coaches training high school athletes, and it has recently been updated!.  The course includes several hours of video instruction (including a complete Olympic lifting instructor course) and two textbooks with contributions from some of the top strength and conditioning coaches in America.  Click on the image below to learn more about how to become a certified high school strength & conditioning coach.

How to Create a Niche? – Eric Cressey & Jim Kielbaso

A lot of strength & conditioning professionals wonder how others have created strong businesses and niches in the industry.  In a nutshell, creating a niche is focusing your efforts on a specific group or sub-set of a larger population.  For example, you might focus your efforts on female soccer players, athletes 8-11 years old, adults over 65, high school hockey players, offensive linemen in football, or athletes recovering from an injury.  It doesn’t mean you won’t ever work with other people, but focusing on one group of people allows you to establish a foothold in one segment of a larger market, and gives you the opportunity to be “the expert” in a specific area.

Young coaches often look at the success of professionals like Eric Cressey in the baseball market or Jim Kielbaso in speed development and want to make that happen for themselves in other niches.  But, while most people choose their niche then try to market their services, it doesn’t always happen that way. 

“It happened largely by accident” said Cressey in an interview with Jim Kielbaso. “I think there are definitely people that are certainly forcing it. That can be a tremendous thing for people, and I absolutely see the industry going in that direction, particularly as you look at what’s happening in the industry.  I saw the first sub-pectoral biceps tenodesis in major league history. That was a surgery that they really started doing fairly recently.  Cut Schilling was the first guy in major league baseball to have it, and now they’re giving them out like they’re candy.  We’re evolving pretty dramatically, both physiologically but also  in the context of how we treat different sporting demands, so you’re gonna see more of things like Jim Kielbaso is working with football guys, Mike Boyle working with hockey, Mike Robertson is working with soccer – that’s the direction I see this going. With that said, it’s really, really hard to force these things because there are a lot of things you have to realize.”

These people didn’t necessarily set out to dominate a specific niche.  “I was just obsessed with speed training and the mechanics involved early in my career,” says Jim Kielbaso.  “Before people were really talking about it, I recognized that we (strength & conditioning coaches) have a massive opportunity to help athletes by teaching them how to move more efficiently.  I called it Movement Training back in the 90’s, but that term has obviously changed through the years.  I was working more with basketball players at the time, but I happened to help some football players improve their 40 times by teaching them more efficient mechanics.  Well, they told their friends, and those friends told others, and before you knew it I had all sorts of people coming to me to run faster.”

“You have to realize it’s important to be passionate about something beyond just monetary gains,” continues Cressey.  “So as an example, I did a little bit of NBA combine prep towards the end of my U-Conn experience so I had some time in it.  When you get into the baseball world, you realize that you’re swamped effectively the second week in September all the way up until the first week in March. And then you have basically six weeks to gather your thoughts before you start going with your summer guys.  So I’ve had some agents who represent baseball players whose agency also have basketball players and football guys and they’ve asked me if I’d be interested in doing NBA combine or NFL combine prep.  I realized that would literally be walking away from the four weeks of quiet that I get each year. You have to be passionate about it but you have to be passionate about it beyond just monetary gains because if I try to be everything to everybody, it doesn’t work.”

It seems that niches most often grow organically rather than artificially.  It’s not so much about finding a way to make money as it is finding a need, and being the right person to service that.  But, it’s also critical that you are passionate about a nice to become extremely invested and good at it.  It would be very difficult to work with soccer players all day if you don’t like the sport or culture of the sport.  Niches evolve when there is a need combined with passion and expertise.

“Nobody can read all the journal articles about pitching injuries and on top of that know how everything is changing in the NFL or NHL,” explains Cressey. “I think you also have to be good at it. Shoulders and elbows can be really, really complex. I’m a very good shoulder and elbow guy. I’m terrible when it comes to foot and ankle.  I probably wouldn’t be a good foot and ankle physical therapist. So, you have to be able to acquire the information easily to really take over a niche.”

“I was extremely fortunate to be around some of the right people early in my career that helped me understand speed development,” explains Kielbaso.  “Then, I got lucky with the fact that there are a lot of great athletes in the metro-Detroit area who want to get faster.”

“People have to realize that as well,” continues Cressey. “We wondered if we could this baseball training mecca in Hudson, Massachusetts?  We didn’t really know whether that’d be possible. We had to test the waters and eventually high school guys became college guys and college guys became pro guys and then we ultimately decided we could expand our reach by going to Florida.  I think your business model has to be able to accommodate it. You know it’s hard to really grow a specific niche if maybe you can’t outfit your facility to accommodate it. When you walk in our facility in Massachusetts, we’ve got two big tunnels for hitting, pitching, and video stuff. If we didn’t have that it would be harder to cater to baseball players.”

While you don’t have to change your entire training philosophy or marketing strategy, it’s important that you are constantly evolving and stay current with what is happening in particular segments of the industry.  Reading journal articles, attending conferences and sporting events, and fostering relationships with key people are all part of the process.

“I believe that one of the keys to success is fostering quality relationships,” says Kielbaso.  “I don’t think I could have grown my business without truly caring about the people and organizations I work with.  I’ve worked with groups in the past that I didn’t really enjoy for various reasons, and it’s very difficult to consistently pour your energy into those relationships.  Once you find people you connect with, you never seem to run out of energy.  Things just click.”

Sometimes that’s how you find your niche.  You work with enough people and groups that eventually one of them just feels “right.”  It’s also different for each person, and there is no right or wrong niche.  There are obviously certain niches that are more lucrative or sustainable, but that doesn’t mean they are right for you.

These things also take time, but when you think you’re getting some momentum in an area that is untapped, you may be on to something.

“It’s really hard if you’re not one of the first to market,” says Cressey. “We were probably the first people to do very specific baseball strength and conditioning. As much as the term is overused, we bridge the gap between rehab and high performance. That’s what you need for baseball, so you know, it’s really hard to compete against us if someone wants us to come to Massachusetts and try to compete with us in the context of training baseball players.  It’s a challenge because we’re also very well-connected.  If you have an elbow issue, we can get you in with an elbow specialist that afternoon if we want to. We know who the best physical therapists are. So, from a business standpoint, it’s very, very hard to compete with us in the baseball niche because we were one of the first to market and we’ve really worked hard to stay on top of things and really nurture that presence nationwide.”

Growing a niche is not a necessity in the sports performance industry, but it can be a way to differentiate yourself in a crowded field.  As you can see, niches often develop organically, but it’s also important to recognize when an opportunity has presented itself.

The youth training market is currently a massive opportunity for the right coaches, but there are also great opportunities in specific sports or with specific populations.  The key is to match your skills, passions, and relationships with a need in the market.  By starting general, you will begin to generate momentum and get a better feel for the possibilities.  After that, you can dive deep into becoming the best in the market to make the biggest impact possible.

 

The IYCA Certified Athletic Development Specialist is the gold-standard certification for anyone working with athletes 6-18 years old.  The course materials were created by some of the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the industry, and the content is indisputably the most comprehensive of any certification related to athletic development.  Learn more about the CADS certification here:

The Basis of All Training Programs – Joe Powell

When the human body receives a stimulus, it adapts to it in preparation to receive that stimulus again. The next time, you make that stimulus slightly stronger to continue the adaptation process. That’s progressive overload!Dumbbells

While it’s way more complicated that that, this process should be top-of-mind when choosing ANY exercise and implementing ANY strength program.  Of course, there are thousands of ways to implement progressive overload – periodized programs, linear progression, multiple-set schemes, HIT training, etc. – but the principle of progressive overload should be taught to every athlete so they understand how small improvements made over time will produce great results.

Listen briefly to what Michigan State Strength & Conditioning Coach, Joe Powell, has to say about the importance of making this a priority.

 

To learn more about progressive overload from 20 of the top coaches in the profession, check out the IYCA book Principles of Athletic Strength & Conditioning.  Chapter 5 by Arizona Cardinals Strength & Conditioning Coach, Mark Naylor, explores this topic in great depth and goes into detail on how to most effectively use this principle in training programs.

Overcoming the Awkwardness of the Pre-puberty Growth Spurt – Brett Klika

Imagine spending years learning how to drive a race car, then, nearly overnight, someone changes the dimensions, transmission, and engine power in that car. In order to get back into racing condition, it’s going to take some time learning how to use the new equipment.  This is very similar to the scenario many young athletes find themselves in as they experience rapid growth at the onset of puberty.

As most young athletes begin the transition into puberty sometime between the 6th-8th grade, they will undoubtedly experience limitations in mobility, stability, and coordination that result from the rapid growth of their limbs and an increase in body mass.   

This “peak height velocity” usually happens between age 12 and 14 for most young athletes, girls peaking before boys. As bones grow rabidly, proprioceptors in the muscles, joints, and tendons have to recalibrate. During this recalibration period, coaches often witness previously mobile, fluid athletes become stiff and slightly awkward. They may experience difficulty and pain during activities that never bothered them before. 

To minimize frustration and keep these young athletes progressing, it’s important for coaches to look at training progression differently as their athletes are adjusting to their “new” bodies. 

This doesn’t suggest a complete overhaul of a young athlete’s training progress. It may merely mean assessing where limitations exist and integrating some pro-active strategies into warm- ups, specific skill work, and even general conditioning in order to minimize pain and frustration while maximizing progress. 

When working with athletes at the onset of puberty, I have found three easy-to-integrate strategies to be effective in overcoming many of the limitations introduced by the pubertal “growth spurt”. 

Strategy #1:  Go Primal

Primal, fundamental movements like crawling, climbing, skipping, carrying, and others are often the first to be introduced to children because they are highly effective in “wiring” the proprioceptive system to accommodate effective mobility, strength, and overall coordination. 

For athletes in the throes of their pubescent growth spurt, these movements can help maintain or even reestablish this proprioceptive wiring. Ingrate more crawls, pushes, pulls, carries, get-ups, step-over/under, etc. as part of a general or specific warm up. Better yet, utilize these movements in your core programming as conditioning or skill work. 

“Cheetah Crawl”

Strategy #2: Highlight Isometric Work

Isometric training is one of the most under-utilized forms of training for both children and adults. By removing complex variables like joint velocity and limb precision, isometric training allows for the basic levels of mobility, stability, and strength to be established.  This can be just what that doctor ordered for young athletes growing into their new pubescent bodies. 

Isometric hangs, wall pushes, squat and lunge holds, and other movements are great program additions either during warm- ups, skill work, or during other strategic times during training for growing athletes. I have found that by directly preceding a movement like the squat or lunge with a static version (i.e. hold a lunge position for 10 seconds then do 5 controlled cadence repetitions), these athletes can do the movement with fewer limitations. 

In addition to static work, controlling the cadence of a movement can help coaches identify where the most common range of motion limitations exist and address them appropriately. A simple example would be the coach prompting the “down” and “up” of a bodyweight squat or lunge. 

It’s important to note the goal of isometrics and controlled cadence isn’t just “making it burn” and creating painful fatigue. Monitor your athlete’s ability to execute an isometric or controlled cadence movement effectively without excessive fatigue.  If an athlete has experienced rapid growth in limb length or body mass, even static versions of an exercise may prove to be too challenging from a mobility or strength standpoint.  In this case, don’t’ be afraid to integrate movement regressions that decrease the impact of body mass. For example, the athlete can hold onto a suspended band while holding a lunge position. 

Example of Band Assisted Work (Split Squat)

Strategy #3 Movement Transitions

New limb length, body mass, and a change in force production can make a growing athlete appear awkward when they move.  This is highlighted when transitioning from one movement pattern or pathway to another. For example, an athlete does a linear movement like a sprint, then must decelerate, re-orient, and execute a lateral shuffle. 

Taking this into account, it’s important to not only double down on reinforcing the body mechanics associated with acceleration, deceleration, and direction change, but facilitate activities that require a transition from one movement to another. 

Spending more training time with tactical (sport-related) movement transitions like linear to lateral, forward to backward, etc. in addition to more generalized transitions like crawling or jumping to running and similar movement patterns will pay dividends in re-establishing smoother, more efficient movement for athletes at the onset of puberty.  Integrate multi-movement transition circuits into conditioning activities, even if they aren’t specific to the tactical needs of a specific sport. 

Movement Transition “Obstacle Course”

When working with athletes at the peak of their growth velocity, keep these strategies in your tool- box.  Similar to extremely young children, these athletes are re-learning how to navigate their new developmental hardware. Integrating the basics listed above is not a “step back” in training progression. It can actually become a powerful step forward in ensuring your young athletes have the mobility, stability, and coordination they need as the progress through puberty and beyond. 

Brett Klika is a youth performance expert and a regular contributor to the IYCA who is passionate about coaching young athletes.  He is the creator of the SPIDERfit Kids youth training program and has run successful youth fitness programs all over the country.  Brett is an international speaker whose passion for youth fitness has helped thousands of people learn how to create exceptional training experiences for young athletes.

 
 

The IYCA Certified Athletic Development Specialist is the gold-standard certification for anyone working with athletes 6-18 years old.  The course materials were created by some of the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the industry, and the content is indisputably the most comprehensive of any certification related to athletic development.  Learn more about the CADS certification here:

Business Plans for Sports Performance – Jim Kielbaso

Opening a business without a solid plan is a recipe for disaster.  It’s important that you have a thorough knowledge of your business and have thought about as many different options and scenarios as possible so that you’re prepared for the ups and downs of starting a business.  Before you start a business, take the time to think through everything involved in running a sports performance business, and use your business plan as a roadmap for success.business plan for sports performance

There are two kinds of business plans for sports performance businesses – a Traditional Plan and a Lean Startup Plan.  The Small Business Association has an excellent business planning resource that explains what goes into each plan.  The Traditional Plan is more geared toward approaching a bank or investor and is typically done in a standard format.  The Lean Startup Plan is more of a roadmap that outlines your resources and the key relationships you have to help you succeed.  I recently started Impact Sports Performance in Novi, MI and I chose to use the Lean Startup Plan because I didn’t need investors or a loan.  I have created Traditional Plans before, but I thought a Lean Startup Plan was more appropriate this time.  I also find this version more helpful in keeping your thoughts organized so you can take advantage of your opportunities.  Ultimately, you should probably do BOTH kinds of plans, but I personally feel it’s important to go through the Lean Startup Plan to help guide your course of action.

While the Traditional Plan includes more detailed financial projections, the Lean Startup Plan will force you to think about the resources and key relationships you have available.  For example, do you have relationships with coaches at a local high school or club sports organization?  Do you have access to equipment or space for training?  Do you already train athletes from a particular area that you believe will help spread your message?  Do you have people that can help with accounting, business structure creation, social media, website buildout, email promotion, construction/build-out, and more.  The Lean Startup Plan will help you focus on the nuts & bolts of your business, while the Traditional Plan will help you project into the future.

While the Traditional Plan typically has a standard format, the nice part of working on the Lean Startup Plan is that you can organize it in any way you choose.  This is more for you, so you can write it on paper, type it on a computer, jot down notes on your phone, or leave voice memos.  You just want to spend time thinking through all of your opportunities.

Even if you are already in business, I believe that the process of creating one of these business plans will produce plenty of value.  You will have to do a little research, think deeply about your position in the area, and organize your thoughts on how you will approach certain people or groups.

If you’re interested in opening a sports performance business, make sure you take advantage of the SBA resource above and take some time to create your business plan.  Ultimately, your business plan should help you take action.  No business has ever been successful without taking massive action, so use this process to guide the steps you’ll take as you embark on your new journey.

 

Jim Kielbaso IYCAJim Kielbaso is the President of the IYCA and Owner of Impact Sports Performance in Novi, MI.  He has authored multiple books, articles and training products and has spoken at events around the world.  He holds a BS in Exercise Science, an MS in Kinesiology and has gone through multiple certifications through the IYCA, NSCA, NASM and more.  Jim is a former college strength & conditioning coach and has trained thousands of athletes at every level of competition.  He runs a successful NFL Combine training program in Michigan and has been hired as a consultant for major sports programs like the University of Michigan Football Program and the University of Kentucky Basketball Program.

 

To learn more from Jim, check out the IYCA Certified Speed & Agility Specialist course.  The CSAS is the most comprehensive and scientifically sound speed certification in the athletic development profession.  It truly prepares you to teach and develop speed.  Click on the image below to learn more.

speed & agility certification

4 Reasons Why a Muscle Feels Tight – Dr. Greg Schaible

Stretching can often be a polarizing topic among rehab and performance specialists.

On one end of the spectrum, you have people who seemingly hand out stretches for every injury and think it’s the solution to everyone’s problem. On the other hand, you have people who believe that you should never stretch and that there are no benefits to stretching whatsoever.

Before we start talking about what is right and wrong, we first need to appreciate what “tightness” really is, so we can discuss the potential reasons why one may choose a particular intervention over another. Hint: It’s not as simple as long or short, stretch, and strengthen! Watch the video to learn the 4 reasons why a muscle ACTUALLY could be perceived as tight!

Ultimately people feel the need for stretching because of “tightness”.

The problem here is that “tightness” is just a sensation, and a muscle can be perceived as “tight” for a variety of reasons. Before we discuss these reasons, it is important to note that bones and joints act and muscles react!

Said differently, your body is always manipulating position. We are never stagnant creatures; we have a constant postural sway! When asked to stand perfectly still we cannot. This is because our body is constantly interacting with gravity and manipulating it around our center of mass. As such we are always moving and always using a variety of strategies to either create (overcoming contraction) or control movement (yielding movement).

There are really three reasons someone would feel “tight”:

Reason 1) A muscle is concentrically oriented or in a state where the tissue sustains contraction at low levels for a prolonged time period.

Reason 2) A muscle is eccentrically oriented or where the tissue sustains a yielding contraction trying to prevent/stop/or reverse movement

Take a look at the picture below. You will see someone on the left displaying both concentric and eccentric orientations due to the anterior orientation of rib cage and pelvis. The individual on the left is utilizing an eccentric (yielding) contraction at the anterior hip to prevent further forward translation of the pelvis. This creates a subsequent thoracic extension followed by rounding of the shoulders to create a counterbalance.

In either instance, the body is trying to organize itself in the best manner it can to manipulate their center of mass around the line of gravity.

**Simple practical takeaway – The individual on the left potentially could benefit from stretching or eccentrically training their quads such as a half-kneeling stretch or eccentric leg lowering exercise that concentrically orients abdominals and takes quads through an eccentric contraction. The individual on the left however likely would not benefit from stretching of the quads because the muscles are in a position of eccentric orientation already.

Reason 3) As a protective mechanism to create rigidity or control depending on the environment, task, and situation. Example: think driving in a snowstorm how the external environment can create uncertainty or lack of control. As a means of creating more internal perception of control the body starts to grip the steering wheel tightly. Essentially creating co-contraction and rigidity around the joint to restrict movement.

Bonus Reason #4) You just performed an intense workout, and as a result there was some eccentric micro trauma to the musculature which occurred. Your intent is that stimulus hopefully results in recovery and net gain of strength/hypertrophy in the long run when programed correctly. However, acutely there will be restricted movement as the body repairs.

Notice in all the above scenarios, stretching may not be the most advantageous thing to be doing.

Perhaps the biggest issue is that many people’s current understanding is that muscles either get “long” or they get “short”. While this is a simplistic way of viewing things, it does not do the body justice and it leads to confusion when we talk about proper application.

This makes sense!

If muscles truly got longer, then we would develop a lot of “slack” in muscle tissue as the distance between origin and insertion of the muscle do not change unless the individual is growing and the bones are elongating.

You certainly would not want the guidewires in a bridge to develop “slack”, as the integrity of the structural support system would be lost.

So the ability to stretch further does NOT make muscles longer. It simply just builds increased tolerance to an eccentrically oriented position. Which may not be beneficial for tissue that is already oriented in an eccentric fashion! Remember, bones/joints act and muscles respond based upon ones center of mass, gravity, and the task.

While I do not have an issue with stretching concentrically oriented tissue. I do believe that controlled eccentric training to that musculature is probably more useful simply because it requires more coordination and control over ones center of mass and gravity.

Now with all that being said, if the individual still wants to lightly stretch because they find it helpful to provide “looseness” or “ease of movement” in the short term. That is 100% fine by me.

However I will still educate them on the following and let them make their own decisions based off this guidance:

1) Changes in sensation are momentary – If you are stretching to provide relief to the sensation of “tightness” without addressing the cause of the tightness you are operating at the effect level and not the cause. Which is why the sensation of tightness does not always go away when gradually exposed to a stretch. Maybe it does in the very immediate short term, but you have to keep applying that stimulus in order to maintain or improve.

2) If the sensation of tightness came from a workout and eccentric damage. It does not make much sense to aggressively eccentrically elongate the muscle as means of recovery as eccentric activity is what caused the soreness in the first place. Simple active movement would suffice!

3) Stretching does not take into account orientation of axial skeletal system (origin and insertion). For example, an anterior rotation of an innominate and anterior rib flare would indicate the paraspinals and quads to be in a concentric orientation of muscle via position of axial skeletal system. The hamstrings and abdominals would be eccentrically oriented. Note: This also happens in frontal and transverse plane not just sagittal.

Length tension relationships of musculature is important to consider. The reason for differences in length tension relationship is the axial skeletal position. Stretching does not change position of origin and insertion.

If you are a clinician who is looking to expand their clinical skill set with athletes and the orthopedic general population, I invite you to check out our Sports Rehab Expert “Fast Track” course which is the first step in making you a sharpshooter when it comes to getting results for your clients predictably, reliably, and with ease!

Dr. Greg Schaible is a physical therapist and strength coach specializing in athletic performance and a regular contributor the the IYCA. Greg is the owner of On Track Physiotherapy and owner of the popular online education resource Sports Rehab Expert. Greg works with athletes and active individuals of all ages. As a former athlete himself, he attended The University of Findlay and competed in both Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field where he earned honors as a 5x Division II All-American and a 6x Division II Academic All-American.

 

Dr. Schaible was instrumental in putting together the completely updated version of the Youth Athletic Assessment Specialist 2.0 course that covers a wide range of screens, performance assessments, and advanced assessment techniques.  Learn more about the YAAS 2.0 by clicking the image below.

How to Get Better at Push Ups – Jim Kielbaso

It’s no surprise that many athletes want to get better at push ups.  It’s a foundational exercise that requires no equipment, and How to get better at push upscan be done anywhere.  Many coaches also look for ways to help athletes get better at push ups, but simply doing them more often isn’t a great way for many people to improve, especially those who aren’t capable of performing many good push ups.

When I work with athletes who struggle with them, but want to get better at push ups, I take a three step approach that has worked for hundreds of athletes.  This approach is outlined here and demonstrated in greater detail in the video below:

  1.  Teach them proper technique.  Often, I see young athletes use poor form because they either can’t or haven’t been taught.  I like to start the process by giving some instruction and cues that I can build upon as we train.
  2. Take advantage of negative (or eccentric) push ups.  Humans can produce about 20% greater force eccentrically than concentrically.  That means that we can perform the lowering phase of a push up much easier than the raising phase.  We can take advantage of this phenomenon by utilizing negative push ups in an effort to gain enough strength to perform full reps.
  3. Slowly progress from negatives with good form to full push ups with good form.  Having a slow system of progression can really help athletes get better at push ups in a fairly short amount of time.

Watch this short video to learn more about these steps:

Of course, effort and consistency are key to making progress, but taking advantage of this 3-step approach gives you a simple system than can help just about anyone get better at push ups.  By teaching proper technique, reinforcing it through the use of negatives, and slowly forcing the body to adapt (get stronger), you can give athletes the ability to take advantage of this foundational exercise.

Athletes that struggle to perform push ups often struggle with other exercises and movements because they lack the postural strength & stability to maintain main positions.  Once athletes can perform quality push ups, it will open up a plethora of variations and options that can be utilized when training for improved sports performance.  Learning how to use free weights, sprint faster, and improve a variety of sports skills will be enhanced by the ability to perform push ups.  Take advantage of this method to not only help athletes get better at push ups, but to improve their ability to control their bodies in sports.

 

Jim Kielbaso is the President of the IYCA and owner of Impact Sports Performance in Novi, Michigan.  He has authored multiple books, articles and training products and has spoken at events around the world.  He holds a BS in Exercise Science, an MS in Kinesiology and has gone through multiple certifications through the IYCA, NSCA, NASM and more.  Jim is a former college strength & conditioning coach and has trained thousands of athletes at every level of competition.  He runs a successful NFL Combine training program in Michigan and has been hired as a consultant for major sports programs like the University of Michigan Football Program and the University of Kentucky Basketball Program.

The IYCA High School Strength & Conditioning Specialist is the only certification created specifically for coaches training high school athletes.  The course includes several hours of video instruction (including a complete Olympic lifting instructor course) and two textbooks with contributions from some of the top strength and conditioning coaches in America.  Click on the image below to learn more about how to become a certified high school strength & conditioning coach.

Politics and Athletic Development? – Jim Kielbaso

This election season has really gotten me to think about things in a way that relates to athletic development and the business of strength & conditioning. Now, before you get upset thinking I’m gonna talk about politics, I’m not!  Instead, I’ve noticed that the way we consume politics is very similar to the way we consume information about strength and conditioning, and it’s probably not the best way for us to make decisions.

In my opinion, one of the most important traits we can have is the ability to keep an open mind, research facts, and not get swept up in feelings, half-truths, and people saying whatever they feel like.

I’m talking about strength and conditioning right now, not politics!

I’m talking about understanding complex training concepts and knowing the facts.  But, the only way you’re going to know the facts is by digging deep and finding out what actually works, not what people SAY works or what you FEEL works.

A lot of people make programming decisions based on things like “well, so and so said this” or “I’m doing this program because this other coach or sports figure does it” or “I really think this looks cool.”  I also hear A LOT of people say things like “in my experience….” Well, experience certainly matters, but if you haven’t been in coaching for years, trusting your limited experience could be a mistake. You may want to count on the experiences of people who have been doing it for 20, 30, 40 years.

And, saying you read something doesn’t automatically make it a fact. If you read it in a magazine, on a blog, or on Twitter, that is NOT the same as reading it in a scientific journal, taking a course, or learning from a coach who has been in the trenches for 20 years. These are big differences and the election cycle kind of got me thinking about this because I’m noticing a lot of people also making both their political AND training decisions based on small bits of information without getting more details.

We see something on Instagram from someone with a bunch of followers, and we instantly think it must be the truth instead of digging deeper, doing our own research and getting the whole story.  So, whether it’s politics or strength & conditioning, it’s important to get the whole story before you make a decision.

I think we need to think about foundational concepts and ignore too much hype or what “everybody else is doing.” We don’t need to pick sides and follow people blindly based on who your friends like.  Do you really decide who to vote for by seeing signs on the road? Or do you make up your mind based on facts and digging in and actually learning about what’s going on?

Are you able to sift through the garbage on the internet? In both cases, politics and strength and conditioning, we are on absolute overload with garbage.  In politics, they call it fake news.  In S & C, it’s called bro-science.  There’s too much out there and it’s hard to sift through it all. How can we sift through it all? We can’t. It’s impossible. But you can’t check social media and call that education. It’s not. It’s just social media where there are no fact-checkers, and there’s just too much out there to keep track of everything.

It has really become a challenge for many professionals to dive deep into a topic because we’ve gotten so used to short blips of information. Many coaches make training decisions based on a YouTube video or Instagram post. If you see something on social media, that should prompt you to dig deeper into what you’re doing, what you’re thinking about, and how you’re making your decisions. It shouldn’t be your only source of information.

Unfortunately, I don’t really have a perfect way of telling you to sift through the garbage other than explaining what I do. First, I find lots of different sources of information. Of course, I use social media, but I also go to scientific journals, I take courses, I have multiple degrees, I read lots of books, I attend conferences, and I go to people who have many years of experience in the industry who put out quality information and who are in the trenches daily.  These people have been doing it for years, documenting the results, analyzing their experiences and their programs, and then making decisions based on those analytics.

I try hard to determine what the actual training effect is going to be from any exercise or stimulus.  You need at least a basic background in anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology to understand how the body might adapt to a particular stimulus, but this is very, very important.  You also need to have an understanding of HOW MUCH of a stimulus is necessary in order to elicit an adaptation.  We also know that our nervous system can learn new skills, but if we don’t know a little about motor learning, we may not understand exactly how to get the nervous system to learn quicker.

Yes, you actually need to understand the processes involved in adaptation. Otherwise, you’ll watch a cool looking exercise on Instagram and decide to use it just because it’s new.  New might look cool, but it is not always good or useful.  There may be a reason that no one has ever seen this exercise.  Maybe it’s fluff.

Along with the effectiveness of a training stimulus, you have to weigh the risk vs. benefit to help determine whether it’s the right choice to include in a program.  For example, when I see kids standing on stability balls or doing circus tricks, I feel like the training benefit is incredibly small while the risk is fairly high.  Or, I’ll see kids stacking a bunch of plates up on top of boxes to see how high they can jump.  Again, the training benefit of jumping onto a box is no greater than jumping in the air as high as you can and landing on the ground, but the risk is MUCH greater.  So, I personally don’t feel like the risk outweighs the benefit.

I will also try to determine if something is economical.  Basically, is this new exercise or training method worth the time an athlete will have to put into it?  Does it give you a good “bang for the buck” or is the potential benefit so small that it’s basically wasting time.  And, every time you choose to do an exercise, you are simultaneously deciding to NOT do every other exercise in the world.  So, it better be worthwhile.

Finally, I have to decide if a particular method is right for every athlete or just for certain athletes.

I like to find multiple people or sources to discuss training so I can understand several angles. I try to take in as much as I can and keep an open mind while I’m doing it.

It is okay to change your mind. It’s certainly good to question the validity of new things, but it’s also OK to learn something new and admit that you’re either wrong or didn’t know something.  Mike Boyle is one of the most respected coaches in the profession, and he has changed his mind many times.  In politics, it would be called a flip-flop.  In training, it’s called learning and evolving….which is good!

So, I hope you can see that this wasn’t supposed to be political at all, but the way we consume politics has many parallels to the way we have been consuming training information.  I think it’s time to take a step back, slow down, and dig deeper into topics.  We should have a thorough understanding of training methods before we use them with athletes.  If we don’t, we are walking blindly through the forest, hoping to find a path home.

And, I think we can all agree that we can be better than anything happening in politics.

 

Jim Kielbaso is the President of the IYCA and owner of Impact Sports Performance in Novi, Michigan.  He has authored multiple books, articles and training products and has spoken at events around the world.  He holds a BS in Exercise Science, an MS in Kinesiology and has gone through multiple certifications through the IYCA, NSCA, NASM and more.  Jim is a former college strength & conditioning coach and has trained thousands of athletes at every level of competition.  He runs a successful NFL Combine training program in Michigan and has been hired as a consultant for major sports programs like the University of Michigan Football Program and the University of Kentucky Basketball Program.

The IYCA High School Strength & Conditioning Specialist is the only certification created specifically for coaches training high school athletes.  The course includes several hours of video instruction (including a complete Olympic lifting instructor course) and two textbooks with contributions from some of the top strength and conditioning coaches in America.  Click on the image below to learn more about how to become a certified high school strength & conditioning coach.