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Archive for “Athlete Development” Category

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.

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:

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.

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:

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.

Pelvic Tilt Control for Athletes – Jim Kielbaso

Pelvic tilt control is something that frustrates both coaches and athletes, but it is often not addressed very thoroughly.pelvic tilt   Coaches may recognize an exaggerated arch in the lower back, but that’s just one part of the equation.  The ability to control anterior and posterior pelvic tilt is critical to sprinting, squatting, hinging, and a variety of athletic movements.  Many athletes struggle with these movements because they simply don’t know how to create or control pelvic tilt.

For example, when you see an athlete struggle to maintain a flat back during squatting or hinging, they may not be able to control anterior pelvic tilt.  When you see an athlete sprinting with excessive lordosis, it may look like they can’t get their knees up or they have excessive backside mechanics, but this often stems from an inability to control the pelvis and maintain a neutral position.

Coaches often want to assume that these issues stem from strength or mobility issues, so we begin with stretches in an attempt to create better muscular balance.  This is not wrong at all – tight muscles can create all sorts of issues – but flexibility may not be the root problem.  More often than not, I’ve found that athletes simply cannot control or create anterior and posterior pelvic tilt.  They don’t have the proprioception or muscular control necessary to control these motions.  If he/she doesn’t know how to fire their abs, lower back, and glutes properly, they will appear to be “stuck” when asked to perform certain motions.

When this happens, I often use something I call the “Rubber Pants Full of Water” technique to teach athletes what it feels like to control anterior and posterior pelvic tilt.  The following video goes into much greater detail on this technique and others I use to help teach athletes how to control this important motion:

Try the Rubber Pants Full of Water technique or the homework exercise described in the video to get athletes to begin controlling their pelvic tilt.  You will find it much easier to teach common movements, and it will help them develop the ability to control their posture during any kind of movement.

 

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.

If you’d like to learn more about developing athletes, the IYCA Certified Athletic Development Specialist is the industry gold-standard for youth fitness and athlete development.  Click on the image below to learn more about the CADS certification program.

 

Complete Achilles Tendon Treatment for the Sports Performance Coach – Greg Schaible

When working in an outpatient orthopedic rehab or sports performance facility you will commonly be treating Achilles Tendon injuries.

That could be an Achilles Tendon Rupture, Achilles Tendinitis, or Achilles Tendinopathy. All are slightly different in their mechanism of injuries but all have the same milestones and goals to progress through in order to experience a full recovery. Obviously a rupture will take a longer time frame to recover than a tendinitis or tendinopathy scenario (but that’s probably a topic for a completely separate post).

***Be sure to pay special attention to step #3 as this is often missed by many rehab clinicians and strength coaches

The first step into the process is understanding the influence of pain on the problem as well as anatomy and biomechanics influence on the problem. These are two separate issues, as often pain does not correlate directly with the amount of tissue damage present. This makes it important to understand the guidelines of pain (what is okay to work through and what is not okay to exercise through).

We discuss this in the below video:

The other important consideration we pointed out in the video above is the anatomy of the calcaneus. The shape of the heel creates a compression force on the Achilles tendon when stretched which is important to consider if the pain or location of the injury is at the base of the tendon or if the tendon is highly sensitive. For these reasons, it is often NOT a good idea to stretch your Achilles tendon (especially when you are experiencing pain).

Once you understand the pain and irritating factors it is important to understand how to re-establish capacity back into the tendon without aggravating the tissue.

We do this through strengthening in a NON stretched position FIRST. Then start gradually working our way back into STRENGTHENING THROUGH a stretched position. Not hanging out for 30 seconds in a sustained stretched position.

In Part 2: the video below we discuss our two favorite exercises to start accomplishing this:

Step #1 and #2 are the easy parts of the rehab gameplan. However, this will probably only solve about 70% of cases. In the other 30% of cases, you need to consider other factors that may be influencing pain, as well as return to play scenarios for those involved with higher levels of activity!

To understand this further we need to consider the two main archetypes of feet you will see…

A pronated (flat) foot, and a supinated (high arch) foot.

Depending on what media and other healthcare providers have led you to believe, you probably feel that both flat feet and arched feet are undesirable. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth!

Both types of feet are necessary for everyday tasks. It’s no different than the ability to rotate your head right and left. Flat feet and arched feet are two extremes that the body should be capable of experiencing both. If the foot is not adaptable at creating both, and experiencing both at the correct moment, then you limit the foot’s capabilities.

During gait or walking our foot SHOULD experience supination, to pronation, to re-supination. That is normal and necessary mechanics of walking, gait, running, etc.

Pronation is needed to absorb force (store potential energy) or absorb/attenuate forces. Supination is necessary to produce force by creating a rigid foot.

The body’s ability to re-supinate the foot is accomplished through the windlass mechanism. Which is only created by getting great toe extension. The only way to get great toe extension during gait is by allowing the foot to pronate and weight bear over the great toe as your center of mass moves forward (horizontally) during gait, walking, running, etc.

If you cannot pronate effectively, you will not create an effective windlass mechanism and thus not experience re-supination. So all those towel scrunches or tripod foot exercises you are doing with the knee straight have little carry-over to life as during walking, running, etc we are moving forward! The tibia is moving forward, the knee is moving forward, the hips and body are moving forward…

So we must pronate effectively to allow our body, knee, and tibia to move forward. Load the foot and the kinetic chain. Experience pronation effectively and let the body get over the great toe to effectively utilize the windlass mechanism to re-supinate the foot and prepare for propulsion. The video below will hopefully give you a better understanding:

This above step #3 is often the most overlooked problem to Achilles injuries as well as many foot/ankle/knee problems. Understand it, and you can make a world of difference for people who seem to be constantly stuck in a state of injury or rehab purgatory.

Finally, the last step in the process is exposing the tendon back to a situation similar to sport.

Sure eccentric loading is great for the tendon histology development, and the athlete will certainly experience eccentric loading of the tendon in sport. However, a concept often overlooked is the ability to create co-contraction of the kinetic chain to distribute or absorb force more effectively. When running or jumping, the body needs relative stiffness in the ankle (as well as all the other joints) to not crumble when applying a force into the ground. Then store the potential energy to propel themselves forward. Look at any sprinter at top-end speed or dunker taking off from a one-foot jump approach.

Those who do it effectively create a lot of stiffness around their joints at ground contact. Meaning you will not see a large counter movement occur during a one-foot jump approach (or really even someone who is more of an elastic two-foot jumper). A sprinter you will notice a very stiff an rigid foot and even knee at ground contact. This is because the body is co-contracting the calf, hamstring, quad, and glute to quickly apply force and absorb force through the kinetic chain.

In video 4 we discuss some of my favorite dynamic exercises that take into account teaching co-contraction at ground contact.

If you found this article helpful, you will probably love the newly revamped Youth Athletic Assessment Specialist 2.0 course that I helped create for the IYCA.  I hope this gives you a better understanding of the Achilles tendon and how to address it in your training programs.

 

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.

Overuse Injuries in Athletes – Jason Goumas, PT

Overuse Injuries in Athletes – A Real Pain!

Youth sport injuries are responsible for not only pain felt by an athlete, but also lost time on the field enjoying the sport, and in certain cases career-ending injuries. It is estimated that annually 12 million individuals between the ages of 5-22 will suffer a sport-related injury and result in 20 million lost days of school(1) and $33 billion in medical expenditure(2). This article will discuss overuse injuries in athletes that primarily affect the knees and ankles of young athletes – specifically the patellar tendon and extensor mechanism of the knee, and the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia of the foot.Overuse Injuries in Athletes

As a physical therapist, coach, and referee in both soccer and basketball I’ve worked with many athletes over the years with various knee and ankle issues. While I will include some information regarding certain medical conditions that can affect young athletes, it is not intended to serve as medical treatment. What I hope to accomplish is help coaches, parents, and athletes understand the relevant mechanisms which drive the development of these problems so they may be avoided.

What Makes the Young Athlete Unique?

The injuries I will be describing happen frequently in adults, but are called by different names which you likely know: patellar tendonitis, jumper’s knee, patellofemoral syndrome (PFS for short), Achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis. Each of these problems (with the exception of PFS) is an overload of the attachment of tendons and fascia to their bony attachments. Because children are in the process of growing some of these attachments also include growth (epiphysial) plates which are the active parts of their bones which may be disrupted when subjected to either sudden or repeated excess tension. In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to reattach the bone fragment.

The good news is that the treatment of these problems in both adults and youth is actually very similar. Rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs, etc) all work, but these actions are only a small part of not only helping athletes overcome these problems, but also to help avoid them altogether! One component which I see overlooked or not addressed FAR too often are the biomechanical factors that contribute significantly to the overload of the painful tissues. Offending movements and activities are usually blamed such as running and jumping, but if the athlete’s movement pattern(s) is also causing increased stress is it really the activity that is to blame or how it is being performed? More on this later as we will first go over some of the more common youth overuse injuries in athletes.

Issues involving the knee

Osgood-Schlatter Disease (OSD), Sinding-Larsen-Johansson syndrome (SLJS), and Patellar Tendonitis

Both these problems involve the attachments of the patellar tendon, but which end is the defining characteristic? With OSD it is the involvement of the distal attachment of the patellar tendon into the tibial tuberosity. If there is sufficient tension to cause some disruption of the growth plate in the region it can begin to detach. The resultant attempts of the body to heal this by bone growth (similar to the bone callus which forms at other fractures of long bones) causes the classic lump that is often seen below the patella. SLJS on the other hand involves the proximal attachment of the patellar tendon at the patellar base, and the mechanics are similar in nature. Patellar Tendonitis is simply irritation of the patellar tendon itself, or either of its attachments, but without the involvement of the growth plate. As you can see, these conditions are very similar and are sometimes misdiagnosed. The good news is that the process of correcting them is actually the same!

Athletes will typically complain of pain with squatting, stairs, jumping, and running. With OSD there will also tend to be significant pain when attempting to kneel on the affected side.

Chondromalacia Patella/Patellofemoral Syndrome (PFS)

Rather than involving the patella tendon, this condition is actually an irritation of the cartilage lining the posterior surface of the patella as it contacts the femoral condyle. As with the above problems the athlete will report pain with squatting, jumping, etc. There may be audible crackling and popping (crepitus) with loaded knee flexion and extension, and one unique complaint is usually pain and a burning sensation with prolonged sitting. PFS is also a result of excess tension moving through the patella except that instead of the patellar tendon becoming irritated, it is the cartilage that breaks down.

Sever’s Disease and Achilles Tendonitis

Like the knee problems above, Sever’s disease is a result of excessive and/or repeated tension generated by the calf muscles into the heel (calcaneus) via the Achilles tendon. In growing children, there is a growth plate which like with OSD can become disrupted and painful. If only the Achilles tendon is involved then it is technically Achilles Tendonitis.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is caused when there is irritation of the tough plantar fascia where it attaches to the calcaneus (heel bone). Most often this a result of tight calf muscles, but weak intrinsic foot muscles as
well as biomechanical issues will also contribute to the overall loading of the tissue.

Tracking Down the Root Problem

While proper stretching is important (and you’d be surprised how many people are not stretching effectively), as mentioned earlier one of the most often overlooked factors is how the athlete moves. Almost without exception, the youngsters I’ve seen with these issues (especially the ones who have had one or more conditions for years, have been to PT, ortho, etc.) have significant movement deficits where they are not effectively using the hips. The net result is that greater force development and absorption demands are now required of the knees and ankles and causing the issue. Until certain movements are corrected it is much more unlikely that the problem will resolve; especially if the athlete is actively competing. This is where youth coaches can really play a huge role in helping athletes avoid these issues altogether.

What Movements are the Keys

From the Barbell Physio

There are two movements that are essential in getting the hips in the game: the hinge and the squat. I want to see athletes hinge to 90 degrees of hip flexion with the knees slightly flexed. If an athlete cannot perform a hinge properly, then it is quite unlikely the squat will be correct. There are various methods to train these movements, however, I will share my favorite techniques.

For the hinge, my go-to technique is using a dowel along the back to cue the athlete into proper position. The dowel helps the athlete get the lumbar spine under control because if they allow the back to round, the dowel will lift up from either the upper back or from the sacrum. The goal is to keep a bit of wiggle room for the fingers at the low back. I’ll have athletes practice sitting down and standing up holding the dowel. Every now and again an athlete really struggles with this, and I will have them practice moving the trunk as a unit in sitting which eliminates the need to worry about the knees and ankles. Then they can progress to the squatting movement.

When it comes to the squat, the deficits are typically the knees moving forward excessively as well as moving inward. When they are allowed to move forward excessively this is what functionally creates the extra tension in both the knees and ankles as they are in a more flexed position. If a simple squat has deficits, then you can be sure that jumping, landing, and direction changes will have similar motion. My favorite exercise to correct the squat is the Chinese Wall Squat. It’s actually quite amusing to watch athletes attempt this! Have them stand 2-3 inches from a wall with feet forward and about shoulder-width apart. The goal is for the athlete to squat to maximum depth without touching the wall. The knees should not be allowed to flare out (a common “cheat”). The beauty of this exercise is that it absolutely forces proper form, and I’ve told many athletes that I don’t want to see them with weight on their backs until they can perform at least 20 reps of this exercise. It is acceptable for the athlete to stand further away to begin. One alternative I will use is to have them squat while facing a chair so that the seat is just over the toes which will prevent the knees from moving forward. This is easier because they are able to lean forward a bit more to focus on the knees.

Conclusion

I hope that this information helps you understand some of the most common overuse injuries in athletes and gives you some ideas on how, through training movement deficiencies, they can be resolved and prevented! I am currently filming and hope to soon offer an online program for parents, players, coaches, and trainers. The pilot, which has been live video calls with several families around the world whose children suffer from OSD, has been very well received with several athletes reporting significant improvement in their pain in under 2 weeks. 

References:

  1. Janda D, The Awakening of a Surgeon: A Family Guide to Preventing Sports Injuries and Death,The Institute for Preventative Sports Medicine, 2004, p. 208.
  2. “Summer sports top injury list,” Orthopedics Today, 2002; 22(6):13

Jason Goumas

 

Jason Goumas is the owner and Director of Physical Therapy at New Direction Wellness and PT in Kentucky.  In addition to being an excellent PT, he is also a youth sports coach, referee, and a Certified Speed & Agility Specialist through the IYCA.  Jason prefers to treat injuries using exercises that can be done at home, and believes that education is the key to both rehabilitating and preventing injuries.  It is Jason’s mission to prevent overuse injuries in athletes.

 

To learn more about how to address overuse injuries in athletes and to be better at coaching young athletes, the IYCA Youth Fitness Specialist certification is the industry gold-standard for youth fitness and sports performance.  Click on the image below to learn more about the YFS1 certification program.

Top 3 Core Exercises – Jordan Tingman

Core exercisesContinuing our Top 3 series from Jordan Tingman, these are her Top 3 Core Exercise Variations.

While core exercises are certainly necessary in a comprehensive program, keeping core exercises exciting means trying different variations.  Athletes are always wanting something new or different, but variety has additional benefits beyond keeping athletes engaged.  Because the core is so complex and supports every movement we make, using a variety of exercises creates a greater challenge for the athlete, which will in turn provide greater transfer and gains. 

The first exercises I go over in this video are various Palloff variations. As stated in the video, the Palloff variations are great because they allow for the athlete to maintain an athletic position in the lower body whilst moving the upper body. You can make the Palloff press more complicated by adding in variations including chops and rotations. Feel free to mix these up and make up combinations. You could even cue each repetition. You can say “press,” “chop,” or “rotate,” and the athlete performs each variation according to your cuing, mixing it up and also challenging their mind to respond to the directions.

The next set of exercises are the crawling patterns. Crawling patterns are an excellent challenge because they not only address core posture and stability, but also challenge proprioception and scapular stability. The athlete has to maintain the crawl position with a neutral spine with knees one inch off the ground.  Simply holding this position poses a challenge for many. Have the athlete get comfortable with holding this crawl pattern first before adding in the variations. As explained in this video, you can change the variations with the crawl patterns. You can do leg lifts, shoulder taps, forward, backward, and sideways crawls, bird dog variations and more. 

Finally, the last group of exercises that I go over in the video are the Val Slide variations. These can be performed on a slick surface in socks, or with towels below the feet on a smooth surface.  Get creative with what you can use to perform the exercises if you don’t have Val Slides.  There are many core exercises that can be done utilizing this tool, but the ones included are plank sliders and mountain climbers. Ensure that your athlete can maintain a great plank position before adding in these dynamic movements. 

Enjoy the exercises, and leave comments about different variations you come up with or different ways you utilize each exercise.

Look for more Top 3 lists soon.

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, and is currently a Graduate Assistant S & C Coach at Eastern Washington University.

 

 

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.

5 “Non-crunching” Core Exercises for Kids – Brett Klika

It’s hard to have a discussion about athletic performance and injury prevention without mentioning the “core”. Despite what many have been lead to believe, the core is not so much a handful of specific muscles as it is a relationship of muscles involving the upper and lower body that work together to properly transfer energy and maintain the integrity of the spine.

When coaches are able to help young athletes properly develop this relationship of muscles involving both the anterior and posterior hips, shoulders, and torso, it creates a strong foundation for athleticism.

This requires much more than doing crunches.

It’s important to understand that in order for the core to do its job, the involved muscles must coordinate to stabilize and mobilize properly. The more we can facilitate this coordination with young athletes, the better.

Isolation-type exercises (think crunches and back extensions) do have a place when it comes to activating muscles involved with the core. However, movements that force kids’ brains and bodies to “figure out” how to coordinate the mobilization/stabilization actions of the core have a lot more ROI when it comes to athletic development.

The five exercises below are examples of movements that require young athletes to coordinate the muscles involved with their core as they move in different planes of motion and orientations with gravity.

Bear, Crab, Butterfly
This movement series not only challenges aspects of reaction and coordination, it provides a 360-degree challenge for the muscles involved with the core relationship.

Instruct athletes as to the following movement cues:

  • “Bear”: Athletes hold a crawl position with the knees off the ground
  • “Crab”: Athletes turn over into an inverted quadruped position with hips parallel to the ground
  • “Butterfly”: Athletes support their body weight in a “standing side plank” position with their legs apart

Alternate between the 3 cues in random order for 20-30 seconds.

Crab Rolls
In addition to providing a 360-degree core stability challenge, Crab rolls challenge and activate a young athletes vestibular system. This helps in improving balance and body orientation.

  • Begin in a “bear crawl” position with the knees of the ground.
  • Without letting their hips touch the ground, the athlete turns their entire body over so their hips are now facing the sky in a reverse quadruped position.
  • The athlete then continues to roll back to the “bear crawl” position without letting the hips touch the ground.
  • Continue for 15-20 yards
  • As the athlete rolls to change body orientation, cue them to keep their hips as high as possible

T-Birds
Proper movement of the scapula is often neglected in regards to its contribution to the core relationship. Many kids struggle with proper protraction, retraction, elevation, and depression of the scapula due to poor posture and thoracic muscle tone. This makes it difficult to stabilize the thoracic portion of the torso effectively, decreasing the amount of power than can be translated through the core.

This exercise engages the muscles of the scapula and thoracic area, both important components of posture and core strength/stability.

  • Begin with the athlete lying prone on the ground with arms out perpendicular to the upper body. Thumbs should be facing upward. The chin should be “packed” as if to be holding a large orange or small grapefruit between the chin and throat
  • Keeping their feet on the ground, cue the athlete to raise their thumbs towards the sky
  • After holding for 2 seconds, return to the bottom position
  • Repeat for 10-15 repetitions

Weighted Spelling Bee
The muscles involved with a young athlete’s core must be able to initiate and control movement in a variety of planes of motion. This exercise challenges core stability and strength in a variety of constantly changing planes of motion.

  • Provide a weighted implement (appropriately weighted Sandbell®, medicine ball, weight plate, etc.)
  • Instruct the athlete to begin in an athletic position with feet even with or slightly wider than shoulder width. The narrower the stance, the more challenging the exercise becomes
  • The weight should be held out away from their body
  • Cue the athlete with letters, numbers, shapes, and/or words that they must “spell” with the weight, using a range of motion from the ground to above their head
  • Repeat for about 30 seconds, or when you witness fatigue

Bird Dog Rodeo
This exercise is a dynamic, advanced version of the standard Bird Dog exercise.

  • Begin with athlete in a quadruped “all 4’s” position
  • Cue the athlete to extend their opposite leg and arm until they are parallel to the ground.
  • While the athlete attempts to hold this position, alternate pushing on their outreached arm and leg, attempting to knock them off balance
  • If there hand or foot touches the ground, the coach receives a “point”
  • Repeat for 20 seconds each arm/leg
  • If the coach cannot score any points, they do 20 push-ups after the activity is over

Consider these core movements and others that go beyond crunches to help your young athletes develop the tools they need to perform for life!

 

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:

Training the Hip Flexors for Sprinting Speed – Nick Brattain

The hip flexors are often neglected in training programs, and this article will outline the importance of training them and will give you several exercises to strength the hip flexors.

Sprinting is a movement that requires tremendous coordination throughout the body. Not only do the limbs need to move in perfect rhythm with optimal synchronization of the muscles, there also needs to be smooth transmission of the neurological signals sent throughout the body. hip flexors stretch

Unfortunately, a lot of coaches overlook important aspects of sprinting because they tend to focus on the big blocks of speed training such as technique, strength of the big muscle groups, and mobility through our major joints. 

While all of those things are important,  I want to address the hip flexor group which is one of the most often overlooked aspects of sprinting.  Hip extension has been getting a lot of publicity over the years, but many of us forget to include hip flexion exercises into our training programs.  

Understanding the Hip Flexors

The hip flexor is a muscle group made up of the Iliacus and Iliopsoas, with assistance from the Rectus Femoris and Sartorius muscles. The hip flexor muscle group is responsible for flexing the hip, or, bringing the knee up toward the shoulders. 

As you can imagine, this motion is imperative to movement. Even the act of walking requires this muscle group to lift the thigh with each step. You can also imagine the amount of work this muscle group does during athletic events. Not only lifting the leg repeatedly, but also doing so in a powerful and explosive fashion when the athlete is required to accelerate.  

More than just its ability to lift the leg, the hip flexor group is responsible for the body’s ability to slow the leg down as it passes behind the body after toe-off during a stride. The hip flexors go through a rapid lengthening followed by a rapid shortening as they help bring the leg forward during the swing phase.  

This motion requires a great deal of eccentric strength from the hip flexors in order to control the lengthening of the muscle before the explosive concentric contraction. This muscular quality can be the difference between a fast, efficient athlete and an athlete who will struggle greatly in competitive sport. 

There are multiple factors at play here including: hip orientation during movement, core strength and involvement, and the position of toe off relative to center of gravity. We’ll save these elements for another time in order to focus on how hip flexor strength affects running form and technique.

When you hear coaches talk about running mechanics you often hear them refer to front side and back side mechanics. This simply refers to what is happening to the leg on the front side or back side of the body and is an easy way for coaches to assess and cue athletes to understand their motion. As the leg passes under the body during the stance phase, it alternates from a front side to a back side position. As the leg passes under the body, the foot stays on the ground for a short period of time before it begins to travel upward and behind the hip. This backside position (circled on the photo) is the position I would like to address.

The characteristics and capacity of the hip flexor muscle group have a dramatic affect on what happens in this back side position. They will impact how far back the leg travels, the height of the foot above the ground, the path of swing back to the front side, the time is takes for the leg to travel back to the front side and eventually how high the knee travels upward in the front side before moving back down. 

Here are two examples of athletes, in stride, doing exactly what we are addressing. 

hip flexors weakness in running

As you can see with the athlete on the left, the back leg travels much further backward away from the body as compared to the athlete on the right. Also, you will notice the orientation of the leg compared to the timing of the stride. Both athletes are approaching touchdown within their stride, however, one athlete is still completely extended behind the body while the other athlete is in the mid-swing phase preparing to enter front side swing. This will obviously have an effect on the timing of the movement. For the athlete on the left, with the back leg extended at this point in the stride, she will have very little time to get the leg back into a front side position to prepare for the next stride. 

Now, as mentioned before, there could be a number of factors at play here, so I don’t want to make it seem like hip flexor strengthening will fix everything. 

Assuming the athlete is able to maintain proper posture and orient the hips in a neutral position, the hip flexor can now be evaluated in its effectiveness and control. 

When observing an athlete from the side during upright sprinting you can begin to evaluate the hip flexors capacities in movement. When you observe athletes that have an extended rear leg with a high heel kick (as you see in the athlete on the left), you can begin to assume that they likely have less eccentric strength within their hip flexors. 

As the foot travels backward under the body and into the air, the hip flexor is working to slow the limb in order to re-accelerate it forward. Athletes with good hip flexor strength will be able to move the leg back under the hip much earlier in the stride such as what you see with the athlete on the right.  

The concentric strength of the hip flexor is also very important and has the responsibility of lifting the knee upward prior to the leg driving down to the ground. However, like with the back side heel kick, there are many other factors to take into account. 

Training the Hip Flexors

Knowing the importance of hip flexor strength in running, what can we do about it? I believe one of the most beneficial and specific things we can do with athletes is high-volume form running drills. Whether it be the A series, B series, or C series, there is high demand on the hip flexors. Doing this over extended distances and/or times allows us to create a specific means of strengthening and conditioning the hip flexors. The technical benefits of these drills should not be overlooked, but the impact they have on the hip flexors is often overlooked. 

Other tools that can be used include hanging and supine leg lifts, ankle band resistance exercises, resistance band exercises, or a multi-hip machine if available. These are all very beneficial and should make their way into a training program especially when weak hip flexors are suspected. Incorporating isometric holds and eccentric resistance in the movements is also recommended. 

Here are some additional examples of hip flexion strengthening exercises that can be incorporated into your routines:

 

These are just a few examples of exercises, but how you choose to train the hip flexors will depend on how the rest of your training is implemented and the equipment available  The key is that it is being addressed.  High-volume training is unnecessary, and  you will typically train the hip flexors after your speed work and the main lower-body lifting exercises.  When athletes begin to sprint and train the hip flexors, they often get quite sore, so be sure to start slowly and give them time to recover between sessions while they adapt to the new stimulus.  

Take some time to assess your athletes running mechanics and hip flexor strength, and start to include hip flexion exercises into your programs.  You’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes as you watch your athletes improve both their mechanics and speed. 

 

Nick Brattain is the owner of Brattain Sports Performance in Louisiana. Nick is also the High Performance Coach for Isidore Newman School as well as the Louisiana State Director for the National High School Strength Coaches Association. As a graduate from the University of Indianapolis, Nick was an All-American Sprinter on the track team. Since then Nick has dedicated his career to speed development in athletes of all ages.

 

For even more detailed information about sprinting mechanics and speed development, 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 in all athletes.  Click on the image below to learn more.

speed & agility certification

 

Top 3 Squat Variations – Jordan Tingman

In this article & video I go over the ways that I personally coach each of the 3 squatting variations I chose. I understand that some of these may be done by other coaches, and while I respect other coaches opinions, this article outlines how I personally like to coach these exercises. 

While most people think about the back squat as their top squatting variation, I’ve taken a slightly different approach in this article.  Please don’t take my list to mean that I don’t love the back squat, but the three exercises I’ve listed are my personal favorites, and all of them give coaches plenty of ways to coach, assess, and progress.  I’ve also decided to choose three different bilateral movements because I wanted to stick with bilateral variations rather than get into all of the unilateral options that can be done.  Of course, I love unilateral squat variations, but I stuck with my Top 3 favorite bilateral options here.

Front Squat

The first exercise in this video is the front squat.  As mentioned in the video, this is a great exercise because you get so much from just one movement. Challenging core strength, posture and position while strengthening the lower body.  The front squat is the first squat variation, other than a goblet variation, that I utilize with my athletes, because it truly develops great movement mechanics and understanding of an upright posture with a barbell while squatting. 

Barbell Box Squat

The second exercise I go over is the barbell box squat. This is an exercise that can be done so many ways, but I cue my athletes to maintain tension in the core and legs throughout the entire exercise. This can be a great progression exercise when dealing with an athlete struggling to reach depth. Have the athlete start at a higher box height as shown in the video, and then progress them downwards by using lower boxes or pads to change the height they are squatting to. Controlling the movement down to the box, pausing slightly above the box maintaining tension, then exploding out is a great way to incorporate speed training into a squat pattern. 

Overhead Squat

The third exercise is an overhead squat.  I understand that this is potentially the most advanced squat variation, and I do not use this very often in my programming, but it is another exercise that you can get a lot out of if done correctly. This challenges posture and position, upper body strength and stability. This can be used as an accessory exercise or in a warm-up if performing movements like the snatch.  It can also be utilized as an assessment as explained in the video. If programming this for your athletes, ensure that they have good quality movement before loading the exercise itself. 

Look for more Top 3 lists soon.  In the meantime, give these a try in your programming.

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, and is currently a Graduate Assistant S & C Coach at Eastern Washington University.

 

 

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.

Top 3 Power Exercises – Jordan Tingman

This is the first installment of a short “Top Exercises” series from strength coach Jordan Tingman, where she will break down some of her favorite exercises from different categories.  This is more than just her personal favorites, as she’ll be providing explanations and rationale for the selections and how to best utilize each. 

Power exercises are important in any strength and conditioning program, however the Olympic lifts may not always be the correct or most effective exercises for an athlete. Though the Olympic lifts are near and dear to my heart, over the last year I have started to broaden my programming and exercise selection and focused on utilizing other exercises that may better suit the needs of a team or athlete.

Power exercises are defined as exercises where an athlete exerts maximal force in a short amount of time. Exercises that are commonly associated with power include the Olympic lifts, jumping and throwing. I have included in this video some of the exercises that I have been recently utilizing in programming with my athletes at Eastern Washington University.

Trap Bar Jump

The first variation I chose for my top 3 exercises is the trap bar jump. I have loved utilizing the trap bar because it keeps the weight in the center of mass of the athlete, and can be a great tool for overloading a plyometric movement like a vertical jump. The athlete is forced to apply maximal force in order to jump the trap bar off the ground, but also achieves triple extension. The stick at the end of the jump is a great deceleration exercise and can be an excellent reinforcement for landing. Individuals with valgus collapse of the knees can really benefit from this movement if done currently. 

Split Jerks

The second exercise I chose was the power and split jerk. These are not commonly utilized exercises, however I feel like they challenge athleticism in a great way with power, balance and coordination. Utilizing implements such as the landmine and dumbbells remove a lot of the discomfort and fears associated with barbell split jerks and power jerks. The split position requires both coordination and balance in addition to the power benefits. You can perform this exercise with the dominant leg forward, or you can change it up and have the athlete perform equal reps with each leg forward. 

Lateral Medicine Ball Rotational Throw

The third exercise I selected for my Top 3 was the medicine ball lateral rotational power toss. Med balls are such a great explosive throwing implement because they can be utilized by ANYONE! I love this exercise because it’s such a great combination exercise –  rotational core and rotational hip power in a 2-for-1 type exercise. As mentioned in the video, when performing these exercises for power, make sure your athletes are performing these exercises at MAX effort every rep in order to reap the benefits of maximal force.  

I’ll be bringing you more Top 3 lists soon.  In the meantime, give these a try in your programming.

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, and is currently a Graduate Assistant S & C Coach at Eastern Washington University.

 

 

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.

A Deeper Look Into the Squat – Joe Powell

The squat is often considered the most important exercise an athlete can perform in the weight room. It’s frequently performed by world-class athletes, the most novice of lifters, and everyone in between. Strength and conditioning professionals have long relied on the squat, and its variations, as a cornerstone of their programs, but its acceptance has not always been well received outside of S&C circles. It’s not uncommon for strength and conditioning coaches to receive push-back from people trying to vilify exercises in their program, with the squat being the target of the attacks. Whether it be sport coaches, athletic trainers, administrators, parents, or even athletes themselves, the squat is always surrounded by questions and opinions. It has been blamed for unrelated issues it hasn’t caused and even termed “dangerous” for reasons that many don’t know nor care to find out. To learn where all of this came from, it’s important to understand the history of the squat in America and how one particular researcher sparked a debate that continues today.

One would be remiss to discuss the history of squats in America without mentioning the name Henry “Milo” Steinborn. Steinborn is often credited with popularizing the squat in America. Prior to his arrival in 1921, the popular lifts in America were known as “power-type” exercises and consisted of lifts like bent presses, deadlifts, two-arm presses, and curls. After arriving in America, he quickly helped popularize the “speed’ and “quick” lifts that were more commonly performed on European shores. Among these lifts was the squat. Steinborn quickly garnered attention in the public eye by performing heavy lifts that were quite impressive, even by today’s standards. While Steinborn is notable for many reasons, it’s the way in which he performed the squat that will still shock many lifters today. Steinborn performed squat sets, as heavy as 550 pounds for 5 repetitions, without having any supports, wraps and most remarkably, no access to a squat rack. He simply stood the barbell up tall on one end, leaned under it and hoisted it across his shoulders. This style of squatting is aptly known as the “Steinborn Squat”.

While Steinborn helped bring the squat to America in the 1920s, it wasn’t until the 1950s where it became widely performed by weightlifters. Up to that point, the split stance was more commonly used to lift heavier loads. The squat was used, but more as a supplementary lift to help build leg strength. After 1950 the “odd-lifts,” which are now known today as the power-lifts, became vastly popular. Squatting, of course, became one of the main lifts. Lastly, those who performed what we now think of as the Olympic lifts used split stance squatting as their main method of lower body training because the rules dictated that a lifter could not come in contact with the bar during the lift. The rules changed in the early 1960s and thus the squat style of Olympic weightlifting took over as the predominant method as it was easier to perform heavier loads and was much more efficient.

By the early 1960s, the majority of Americans still did not partake in resistance training. The small minority who actually lifted weights were most likely bodybuilders, Olympic weightlifters, and odd-lift/power-lifters. Very few athletes who participated in mainstream sports lifted weights at that time. It was actually feared that it would make them bulky, slower and less competent at their respective sport. Outside of the fear of being a performance decrement, lifting weights and performing the squat specifically was thought to be harmful.

Around that time, K. Karl Klein, a corrective therapist, led the crusade hoping to prove that squats were harmful to the body and led to an increased risk of injury. His rationale being that full depth squats would actually stretch the ligaments of the knee, making them more “lax” and thus more susceptible to significant injury.

While enrolled as a graduate student in 1959, Klein conducted a study that altered the public’s perception of the squat for decades.  Klein’s study featured 128 experienced weightlifters who included full squats as a part of their training regiment, as well as 386 subjects who did not lift weights or perform squats of any sort. Klein’s study utilized a device that was built by Klein himself and was supposed to “objectively” measure the amount of medial or lateral “give” within the knee. The device was designed to brace the lower limb/shin region while the upper portion stabilized the quadriceps giving Klein the ability to manipulate the MCL and LCL manually.

After following up on his thesis, Klein published a series of articles on his research that concluded: “Full squats (where the top of the thigh is below parallel of the floor) damages the knee by stretching the knee ligaments.” His recommendation thus became: “No more than ½ squat should be used. In squatting the thighs should be slightly less than parallel.” His study and recommendation went on to be published in some of the most recognized journals for not only coaches but medical professionals as well. Publications such as Scholastic Coach, Texas Coach, Coach & Athlete, as well as The American Journal of Surgery featured Klein’s study.

Klein’s findings led many groups to deem the squat dangerous and thus unnecessary. Sport coaches saw it as a confirmation that lifting weights, in general, would make their players muscle-bound, and become slower, less flexible, immobile and more susceptible to injury. The medical community deemed it harmful and orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists, in particular, vilified the movement. Even the US military had a negative view of squatting. A letter sent to Klein from the US Marine Corps stated: “Our consultants agree that the type of exercise you condemn should probably be eliminated from physical conditioning programs.” The Army physical fitness test omitted anything that resembled a squat, and until recently, stayed the same for decades. While Klein had convinced many communities that the squat did more harm than good, there was still a strong contingency of professionals that saw Klein’s study as more subjective than objective.

As the years started to pass, new researchers began to conduct studies to determine if Klein’s claims were in fact true. With improved technology and a better anatomical understanding, the results began pouring in that in fact, Klein’s stance on the squat was incorrect. Between the 1960s and through the 1990s, researchers were coming to the agreement that squatting (and deep squats where the femur was below parallel to the floor) did not cause laxity in the knee ligaments and were safe to perform. These findings led to position papers put out by the NSCA and ACSM to help dispel the negative connotations that were set decades prior.

The Position Paper by the NSCA (1993 Chandler & Stone) states: “There is no objective evidence that full squats are harmful to the ligaments of the knee or the patellofemoral joint. When done correctly and under the supervision of a strength and conditioning specialist the full squat is safe and beneficial to athletic endeavors.”

The Position paper of the ACSM states: “In summary, the squat exercise is important to many athletes because of its functionality and similarly to athletic movements. If appropriate guidelines are followed, the squat is a safe exercise for individuals without a previous history of injuries. The squat is a large muscle-mass exercise and has excellent potential for adding lean muscle mass with properly prescribed exercise.”

Negative perception of the squat still exists to this day, and much of that perception can be traced back to a singular study performed by a graduate student in the late 1950s. By providing factual based evidence and understanding where the misconception arose so many years ago, strength and conditioning coaches can better defend the movements, including the squat, that they use in their program. The best way to defend a program is by educating. Continuing to do so will assist in showing others the benefit that a properly performed training program has in the world of athletics.

 

Joe Powell is an Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach for football at Michigan State University.  He held a similar position at Utah State University and has been an advisor to the IYCA for several years.  Before his stint at Utah State, Joe was an Asst. S & C Coach at Central Michigan University where he also taught classes in the Department of Health and Human Performance.  Joe is a regular contributor to the IYCA Insiders program and is one of 20 strength coaches who helped create the High School Strength & Conditioning Specialist Certification.   Join IYCA Insiders or get the HSSCS to learn more from Joe.

 

What We Can Learn About Athlete Development From Elite Athletes – Jim Kielbaso

As our NFL Combine Training program gets started, it is always exciting for me to get to know and help a group of talented, motivated athletes. It’s also a time that makes me examine athlete development in a different way.

Most coaches discuss athlete development in terms of working with young athletes in an effort to help them prepare for the future. With these guys, I get to look at the process backward and evaluate what they may have missed at some point in their development. So, it’s amazing to see these guys in the morning, watch 8-year-olds in the evening, and think about everything that happens in the years between.

Through the years, I’ve seen some interesting trends, and the training we do with the older guys always helps us train younger athletes more effectively because we have a chance to “look into the crystal ball” a little and see what they will need as they get older.

Sometimes you’ll hear coaches say things like “If he had used my methods, he would have been so much better.” I don’t look at it like this at all. So many things go into athlete development, that we don’t know exactly what would have happened if their training was different.

So, without judgment, I simply notice some trends in these guys that help me do a better job with younger athletes in an effort to clear up some issues before they are a problem down the road. While many of these guys will play professional sports, their development isn’t always as pretty as you’d expect.

Four things that I have noticed are:

  • Misunderstanding of strength & size
  • Lack of attention to movement quality
  • Lack of attention to flexibility/mobility
  • Under-appreciation for recovery

What’s interesting about this is the fact that we, as coaches, can help younger athletes avoid these errors before they become a problem. Let me briefly address each area so you understand what I’m thinking:

Misunderstanding of strength & size

Many high school and college-level athletes feel like they either need to get as big and strong as possible or they don’t value it at all. Some of that depends on the sport they play, and some depends on their environment or what their coaches value. We need to help athletes put strength/size into perspective, and teach them that these qualities should be developed as a PART of their overall development. In some cases, it’s a small part, and in other cases, it’s more important. But, concentrating ALL of your effort on lifting weights if usually not what athletes need.

Don’t get me wrong, MANY athletes lack strength, so they need to make this priority.  But, many others simply don’t understand how strength training fits into a comprehensive athlete development program, and it’s our job to teach them.

Lack of attention to movement quality

I’m always surprised at how few elite level athletes have gotten much coaching on the way they move. They often haven’t been taught footwork, running technique, or posture, and it’s incredibly rare to meet an athlete who has been coached on their overall quality of movement.

We spend a ton of time teaching acceleration and sprinting mechanics as we work on the 40-yard dash. In many cases, this is the first time they’ve ever gotten this kind of in-depth instruction.

We also give them feedback on the way they look when they move because scouts want to see fluid athletes who can move through space effortlessly. This is about footwork, posture, and the subjective qualities that make them appear to be more or less athletic. I’m talking about things like taking too many choppy steps, heavy feet, rounded backs, flailing arms, or robotic movements. These qualities need to be taught at an early age so athletes feel more natural moving this way. Trying to teach 23-year-olds how to change this in six weeks is not ideal.

This always makes me realize how important it is for us to teach kids these things when they’re younger, and I hope you do the same.

Lack of attention to flexibility/mobility

College coaches tell me all the time that their athletes come in stiff, and they wish there was more of a focus on flexibility/mobility in high school. Then, I hear high school coaches talk about how tight their kids are, and they wish they would have done something about it earlier.athlete development stretching

I see the same thing when training guys for the NFL – a lot of athletes simply don’t give enough attention to this.

So, we need to recognize this pattern and make sure we spend enough time keeping athletes mobile and supple. That doesn’t mean we need to turn kids into contortionists, but flexibility/mobility should be a part of every program. Whether that comes in the form of quality strength training, movement training, or direct flexibility/mobility work is up to you, but make this a priority before it’s a problem that affects everything they do.

Under-appreciation for recovery

Athletes often think that more is better and they believe that they can handle much higher volumes than they should. They rarely take recovery seriously. Instead, they have poor diets and severely lack sleep. The combination of high-volume training and poor recovery is a recipe for disaster.

Sometimes that disaster is obvious and athletes get sick or hurt. More often, it’s discreet and manifests itself as a lack of progress. Athletes train, train, train, but never get the results they desire because they simply don’t understand that recovery is the key to progress.

Athletes usually think that the stimulus (i.e. training) is where are of the gains take place. They don’t realize that the stimulus is simply a way to get their bodies to adapt and improve during recovery. Without adequate recovery, the stimulus won’t elicit great results.

We need to teach athletes the value of recovery, and how to schedule their training to maximize the results. We also need to teach them that all activity dips into their recovery, so their practice schedule, individual skill lessons, physical education classes, and performance training all need to be considered together not by themselves.

I hear athletes say it all the time – “I’m OK. I can do more.”

Yes, I know you CAN do more, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be helpful. Trust me, I’d rather have an athlete want to do more than one who doesn’t do anything, but motivated athletes just keep doing more until there is a problem. We can teach them the value of appropriate scheduling and how to maximize their recovery.

There are many things that go into athlete development, so I find it fascinating to examine the process from the top down just as much as from the bottom, up. We will always need to give young athletes variety, teach them a love for moving, and give them quality training at the right times throughout their development. Hopefully, understanding these trends will help you create programs that allow athletes to avoid these issues and become the best versions of themselves as they develop.

 

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 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: