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Archive for “Athlete Development” Category

Ditch the Line in Youth Sports

Coach Jim tells us to Ditch the line in Youth Sports if we want our athletes to get better.

If you are a youth sport coach, teaching skills… then take a listen to what he means by “Ditch the Line”

Jim Kielbaso

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.

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:

3 Massive Benefits of Warm-Ups

Warm-Ups, why bother? Great question! In this blog I share 3 Massive Benefits of warm-ups.

In my last blog, Effective Sports Practices: Pre-Practice Steps for Every Coach I spoke about the importance of YOU preparing for practice. Consider this your ‘warm up’.

Now, let’s talk about the athletes and how we can help make their practice more effective, starting with the warm-up!

I have been told many times that “warm ups are boring and monotonous” or “I don’t have time for that”.

Well, to be fair- that may be true. But then I’d say, it’s also boring sitting on the bench because of an injury, pulled muscle or lack of ability to perform.

So, if you or your athletes want to stay in the game and even play at a higher level, read on.

3 Massive Benefits of Warm-Ups

Massive Benefit #1: The Transition

Warm ups can serve as a Mental Transition

Simply put, the warm-up is a mental transition from “day-to-day” to “it’s time to play”.

A transition, is a change from one thing to the next, either in action or state of being. It’s important to understand that this is a skill that can be developed.

Have you ever had that athlete or team that seems to have a hard time paying attention at the start of practice/performance?

You aren’t alone. Transition times can generally take between 5-15 minutes depending on the task at hand and the age of the athlete. Knowing this, providing athletes with a good 15 minute warm up can work wonders on helping them transition from ‘their world’ into ‘our world’.

Warm ups can serve as a Physical Transition

Let’s talk about the more obvious, physical transition.

A well designed warm-up, should leave every muscle…well, WARMED UP!

This may seem obvious, but I still see the old school ‘sit and reach’ stretching happening. Do you?

If you answered YES, then there is a huge opportunity for us to become a bigger part of the solution. If you are performing these ‘static stretches’, no worries- we’ve got you.

One of my favorite mantras for proper warm-ups I heard 15+ years ago at a Live IYCA Certification: “We prepare to move, by moving to prepare”

Massive Benefit #2: Reducing Injury Risk

There is a quite a bit of research out there that reports data on the effects of warming-up and reducing injury risk.  I’d encourage you to do your own research if you want to delve deeper into the concept of Dynamic Stretching reducing Injury Risk.

Many injuries are out of our control and it’s accepted as ‘part of the game’. Warming up before physical activity increases muscle elasticity, improves blood flow and lubricates/loosens joints. But like anything else, too much stretching can lead to injury.

It’s up to you as the professional to monitor and provide proper warm-ups no matter what age you coach.

If you’d like some examples, please comment below what sport you coach and what ages!

Massive Benefit #3: Develops Athleticism

This benefit goes nicely with benefit #2, but I thought it deserved it’s own ‘shout out’.

I spent the morning training a high school football team, and in my days of working with 1000’s of athletes, I’ve always found it fascinating how their movement quality in their warm-up period is a leading indicator to their quality of performance over time.

As a former collegiate athlete, I now wished I took Dynamic Warm Ups more seriously!

Depending on the ages you coach, you may watch Athleticism develop right before your eyes in a very short period of time. Although warm-ups like High Knee Walks, Toe-Touch Walks, Butt Kicks, etc, may seem awkward at first, the body almost always ‘figures it out’ with minimal cueing, over time.

Give it time, and trust the process!

As I write, I’m reminded how incredibly important it is to incorporate warm-ups at all ages.

I hope this helps you re-affirm what you are already doing, or perhaps enlighten you to an opportunity that can amplify your athletes.

Julie Hatfield-Still

Julie Hatfield-Still

Julie Hatfield-Still

Brand Executive for the IYCA.

Julie is an Entrepreneur, CEO, Coach and Author.

She is founder of the Impact More Method for entrepreneurs and the Inner Game Framework for Athletes.

 

If you are a new coach or parent who wants more ideas about ways to play to develop athletic ability! Check our these 4 free games for performance from IYCA CEO Jim Kielbaso!
 

 

Power Development for Athletes

In this article we are discussing power development for athletes.

What is power?

How can you increase power output?

How can you test for power?

What is Power Development:

The equation for power is Power= Force x Distance/Time or Power=Force x Velocity.

Power Development can be described as the development in the ability to exert force in the shortest period of time leading to the ability to produce higher velocities against a given load.

The ability to exert large amounts of force in various directions, within a shorter time period, is a vital skill for athletes to develop.

How to Increase Power:

  1. Increase the amount of force athletes can produce. This can be done through traditional strength training methods.
    • Examples: squats, lunges, presses, pulls.
  2. Elicit neurological adaptations like faster firing frequency of neurons and stronger activation threshold of motor units through training methods with higher velocities.
  3. Use of higher and lower loads from 25%-80% in all planes of motion to provide varying stimuli.

How to Measure/Test Power:

The use of technology like force plates, Velocity based technology, and Keiser equipment provides true power numbers for a variety of movements in the measurement of Watts.

For the many that don’t have access to this kind of equipment, distance measurements for power will be effective ways to track and measure development.

Distance measurements include:

  1. Vertical Jumps
  2. Broad Jump
  3. Rotational Broad Jump
  4. Med-Ball Over Head & Rotational Tosses

If athletes can increase the total distance they can cover within the same test, then this is an indicator that they have increased their total power output.

Author: Lucas Mayo, MS, CSCS

Lucas Mayo is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Brighton High School for Impact Sports Performance. Lucas is certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Lucas earned his Master’s degree in Sport Coaching and Leadership with a concentration in Strength and Conditioning.

Using methods based on research and experience, his mission is to aid in the positive mental and physical development of the athlete or individual over the course of their lifespan.

Power Development for Athletes is essential. Check out how this Free Resource on how to develop speed and power like the pros

Rotational Power Development for Hitting & Throwing Sports

Rotational Power Development for Hitting & Throwing Sports can be overlooked but it is extremely beneficial for sports like baseball, softball, football, track, basketball and many others.

In this blog we will cover four movements to develop rotational power.

Rotation movements help to develop coordination in young athletes by learning how to use the kinetic chain (whole body) to develop force.

The ability to develop more ground reaction force and transfer that force to the other side of the body, is a beneficial skill to develop. Typically movements are performed with a lighter percentage of weight (Barbell, Cable, Medicine Ball) at a high velocity.

It is important that movements are performed with maximum intent to achieve greater stimulus.

Four Movements to Develop Rotational Power

Landmine Rotational Press (VIDEO)

Using a Barbell with a landmine attachment the athlete will start in a hip hinge position with one hand on the end of the bar facing laterally. The goal is to transfer the bar into the opposite hand in full extension as quickly as possible.

Athletes have to drive force into the ground and use the hips to rotate while transferring weight to the lead leg. This movement requires power and coordination to move the bar fast.

Cable Rotation (VIDEO)

Having power and stability throughout the core of an athlete is an important component to performance and injury prevention.

This exercise involves using the core along with the hips to rotate the load of the cable with the arms with high velocity.

Perform cable rotations from various heights and angles to develop power in planes of movement the athlete will use in their sport.

Rotational Box/Broad Jump (VIDEO)

Rotational box/broad jumps are bodyweight movements where athletes can learn how to load and drive off mostly one leg, while controlling their upper body/landing mechanics.

These movements include a quick eccentric to concentric transfer of force to jump vertically or horizontally.

Track progress by measuring broad jump length/box jump height.

MB Rotation/Scoop Toss (VIDEO)

Medicine ball slams/tosses are an extremely versatile tool for rotational power development.

Standing rotation slam includes lifting the ball overhead and rotating the hips to slam the ball to the side of the foot as hard as possible.

Allow the hips to rotate while transitioning overhead to develop more power in the slam.

MB Scoop toss is another great exercise that includes setting up lateral to a wall and rotating the torso and hips to throw the ball with high velocity against the wall. A MB of 6-20 pounds is a good range for high school athletes.

Author: Lucas Mayo, MS, CSCS

Lucas Mayo is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Brighton High School for Impact Sports Performance. Lucas is certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Lucas earned his Master’s degree in Sport Coaching and Leadership with a concentration in Strength and Conditioning.

Using methods based on research and experience, his mission is to aid in the positive mental and physical development of the athlete or individual over the course of their lifespan.

It’s time to Develop Speed & Power like the Pros with this Free Resource

Four Exercises to Increase Vertical Power-Lucas Mayo

Increasing vertical jump height, force production, and reducing ground contact time is important for many sports.

There are several main points of emphasis when coaching vertical power exercises.

First,  we are working to train triple extension of the hips, knees, and ankles driving up through their toes.

Second, creating full extension within shorter periods of time to increase power.

Third, we want athletes to execute movements with great intent and speed. When an athlete executes a countermovement jump, we want to emphasize the ability to snap down quickly and transition back to triple extension quickly as well.

Lastly, we need to reduce ground-contact-time. Emphasizing the athletes ability to pop off of the ground as quickly as possible. The longer the athletes foot stays on the ground the slower their reaction will be.

4 main exercises that increase vertical power:

Resisted Vertical Jumps (VIDEO)

With the use of DBs, bands, or a trap bar we can add resistance through our jump to enable the ability to produce more force in the vertical direction.

The movement starts with a quick eccentric into quick concentric movement completing triple extension at the top of the movement.

The goal is to use lighter weights to be able to still produce a high velocity movement. Resisted jumps also increase the amount of force athletes have to absorb upon landing, which leads to adaptations of being able to absorb more force in gameplay.

Hang Pulls or Trap Bar High Pull/Shrug (VIDEO)

When it comes to power development coaches often look to the Power Clean, but we like to use the hang pull/power shrug variations to further isolate developing vertical power.

Eliminating the catching component can allow for greater intent and less technicality. The movement starts with a quick hip hinge then transitions into triple extension of the knees, hips, and ankles.

During the pull athletes will perform a big shrug followed by the pull of the arms. The goal is to float the bar level with the chin. These exercises produce some of the greatest amounts of power.

Landmine Squat and Press (VIDEO)

Using a landmine attachment with a BB, the athlete will hold the bar in a front rack position, squat down to just above 90 degrees and transition into full extension, while simultaneously pressing the bar and leaning forward at the top.

This movement gets the arms involved in full extension and is similar to a jammer press if you do not have access.

Pogo Jumps (VIDEO)

Pogo Jumps are one of the best exercises to reduce ground contact time and get athletes used to popping into the ground and reproducing that force quickly in the upward direction.

Athletes pop into the ground with the balls of their feet, keeping the legs straight, dorsiflexing the toes while in the air, and plantarflexing quickly when the feet hit.

These jumps can be done with an emphasis on height or quickness off of the ground. When going for height you will use less reps and when going for quickness you can use a greater volume.

Author: Lucas Mayo, MS, CSCS

Lucas Mayo is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Brighton High School for Impact Sports Performance.  Lucas is certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Lucas earned his Master’s degree in Sport Coaching and Leadership with a concentration in Strength and Conditioning.

Using methods based on research and experience, his mission is to aid in the positive mental and physical development of the athlete or individual over the course of their lifespan.

It’s time to Develop Speed & Power like the Pros with this Free Resource

IYCA Zoom Workshops

IYCA Zoom workshops bring the craft of coaching, science of sport, long term athlete development, psychology and nutritional principles to your business, organization, school or institution.

Our workshops are accessible education & resources for Sports & Governing Organizations, Institutions & Schools, and Sports Performance businesses.

Are you Interested in more information about our workshops?

Contact the IYCA at theiyca@gmail.com SUBJECT: WORKSHOPS

Below are the following topics we have available for Sport Coaches & Performance Coaches

For Sports Coaches:

If you are an association, organization or school that has sport coaches, these topics are for you and them. You can pick one workshop or a series of workshops to suit your needs. Plan on 60-90 minutes for all workshops. Email theiyca@gmail.com to pick and set your dates.

We do encourage a small financial contribution, but it isn’t mandatory to gain access to our experts and concepts.

Topic: Warm Up for Athletic Development

Participants will learn how to develop a warn-up routine that will help their athletes develop a more well rounded base of athleticism without taking time away from their sport practices

Topic: Long Term Athlete Development- Keeping them In the Game

Coaches will gain a comprehensive understand of long term athletic development , what is needed at each stage of development and will gain practical action steps for each stage of development.

Topic: 10 Ways to Improve Your S & C Program for your Team

Participants will gain practical, easy to implement ideas on how to improve their S & C programs alongside sport practice, school and technical skills.

Topic: The only three strategies your athletes will ever need to conquer the mental blocks

Coaches will be equipped with 3 strategies that their athletes can use to overcome mental blocks.

Topic: Face any situation with unshakable desire, belief, and focus

Coaches will acquire the tools to help their athletes ‘flip the switch’ in any situation.

Topic: The six tools you need in your mental toolbox as a coach and how to maximize their impact on your life.

Coaches will elevate their potential with 6 applicable tools to maximize their positive impact in their own lives and the lives of their athletes

Topic: Managing Behaviors in a Group or Team

Coaches will learn some practical skills and mindset for managing the different behaviors and juggling act that training a team can be.

Topic: Creating a Culture of Champions

Coaches will learn How to Set, Guide and Anchor Expectations for optimal behavior and performance

Topic: Speed Development-Acceleration

Participants will gain a thorough understanding of how to develop acceleration in athletes participating in all sports.

Topic: Sport Specific Agility Training

Coaches will learn how to create agility programs that are specific to their sport, but can also be used for multi-sport athletes. They will learn how to alter drills to make them more appropriate for different positions or sports.

EMAIL theiyca@gmail.com  SUBJECT: WORKSHOP to pick your workshop or workshop series for your organization. Suggestions welcomed!

 

For Sport Performance Businesses-Staff

If you are a business owner and/or performance coach, these topics may be for you and/or your staff. Plan on 60-90 minutes for all workshops. We do have marketing, sales and business strategy workshops that are not listed.

Email theiyca@gmail.com to pick and set your dates for your team of coaches.

Topic: Programming Curriculum for 6-9 yrs

Performance professionals will understand the specific needs as it relates to the age, and development and how to use a templating system to effective program for this age and development.

Topic: Programming Curriculum for 10-13 yrs

Performance professionals will understand the specific needs as it relates to the age, and development and how to use a templating system to effective program for this age and development.

Topic: Creating a Culture of Champions

Performance Professionals will learn How to Set, Guide and Anchor Expectations for optimal behavior and performance

Topic: Speed Development-Acceleration

Participants will gain a thorough understanding of how to develop acceleration in athletes participating in all sports.

Topic: Sport Specific Agility Training

Performance Professionals will learn how to create agility programs that are specific to sport, but can also be used for multi-sport athletes. They will learn how to alter drills to make them more appropriate for different positions or sports.

Topic: Improving your relationship with Sports Coaches

Performance Professionals will learn practical tips for improving their relationships with sport coaches in their community.

Topic: Understanding the Business of Strength & Conditioning

Performance Professionals will gain an understanding of main concepts involved in owning a private strength & conditioning facility. They will gain practical tips for how to improve their businesses.

Topic: Periodization for the HS sports team

Performance professionals will understand periodization as it pertains to the sport and how to program and design based on assessments, then determining how to decide which model is best to use.

Topic: Recovery and Regeneration for Sport

Performance Professionals will learn which methods of recovery work for the athlete and how to incorporate these methods within the program. And how to create buy in for athletes.

Topic: How to incorporate sports science into your company

Learn what technology is needed to produce quality assessment. Understand What level of knowledge you need to have to perform good scientific assessments and how do you use the information to build a program.

EMAIL theiyca@gmail.com  SUBJECT: WORKSHOP to pick your workshop or workshop series for your organization. Suggestions welcomed!

Nutrition: For Coaches & Athletes

Our nutritional topics are delivered by a Registered Dietician. We do ask for a small financial commitment from coaches & performance professionals but it’s not required for our nutritional seminars.

Topic: Hydration and Athletic Performance

Participants will be able to calculate how much fluid they need daily. Participants will be able to calculate how much fluid they need to drink before, during, and after athletic events. Participants will learn what fluids work for and against athletes.

Topic: Nutrient Timing

Participants will be able to identify the function of each of the macronutrients. Participants will learn the importance of nutrient timing in athletic performance. Participants will be able to create a healthy meal plan for themselves.

Topic: Healthy Eating for Busy Athletes

Participants will be able to identify healthy food choices vs. empty calories and how they impact athletic performance. Participants will learn quick and affordable healthy meal and snack options.

Topic: Are Supplements Necessary for All Athletes?

Participants will learn fact vs. fiction about popular supplements. Participants will be able to identify the different types of protein supplements.

Part 1: Principles of Soccer Speed

In soccer, speed is a multidimensional skill that goes beyond mere running speed.

It is an essential element that has the power to separate players at different skill levels and have a big effect on how well they perform on the field.

As a seasoned strength and conditioning coach with a focus on youth soccer fitness, I am aware of how critical it is for young athletes to develop their speed.

This article, the first of four, will examine the many types of speed needed for best performance as it delves into the principles of soccer speed.

The Different Types of Speed in Soccer

Pure Speed

Pure speed refers to the raw, unadulterated ability to get from point A to point B in the least amount of time. It is the most fundamental type of speed and is frequently associated with quick players.

In soccer, pure speed is essential for breakaways, chasing down an opponent, and making runs to create or close gaps.

Technical Speed

Technical speed refers to the ability to perform soccer-specific abilities swiftly and efficiently. It entails controlling and manipulating the ball at high speeds, maintaining possession under pressure, and making rapid passes and shoots.

This level of speed is required for players to perform well under pressure and sustain a fast tempo of play.

Reaction Speed

Reaction speed is the ability to respond quickly to inputs such as an opponent’s movement or a ball’s change of direction. It refers to the quickness with which a player can digest information, make a decision, and then act on it.

Goalkeepers, for example, rely heavily on reaction time to make saves, whereas outfield players use it to intercept passes or avoid tackles.

Mental Speed

The speed of mind is a factor that is sometimes underestimated. It refers to how rapidly a player can understand the game, predict the next move, and make sound decisions. 

Mental quickness enables athletes to stay one step ahead, positioning themselves efficiently and capitalizing on openings that slower-thinking opponents may overlook.

Practical Applications for Youth Soccer Training

To develop this type of quickness in young soccer players, trainers and coaches must use a range of training approaches that address each facet. Here are some practical applications of each type.

  • Pure Speed: Use sprint drills (iyca.org/store) that focus on acceleration and maximum velocity. Incorporate resistance training to improve leg strength and power.
  • Technical Speed: Implement ball control drills that require quick footwork and fast decision-making under pressure.
  • Reaction Speed: Utilize reaction drills that challenge players to quickly adapt to changing scenarios, such as random ball ejections from a machine or coach-led visual cues.
  • Mental Speed: Encourage small-sided games that force players to think quickly and make rapid decisions in tight spaces.

Soccer speed development is more than simply physical conditioning; it is also about producing well-rounded athletes who can think, react, and move swiftly.

Understanding and practicing the various forms of speed allows youth soccer players to improve their performance and obtain a competitive advantage on the field.

Stay tuned for the following piece in this series, where we will explore the science behind speed development and provide evidence-based training methods to improve soccer speed.

This article is guided by the principles of the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA) and supported by scientific research and practical experience in the field of youth soccer conditioning. It aims to be educational, engaging, and practical, providing coaches and players with the knowledge and tools to develop speed in soccer effectively.

Author: Beni Brannigan

Beni is an IYCA Ambassador, Entrepreneur and CEO. He’s earned UEFA coaching badges and a BA in Physical Fitness & Sports Conditioning. He has professional experience across soccer, golf, and rugby, expanding programs in Texas and Ireland. He has founded GameLikeSoccerCoaching and BBsports Fitness and Nutrition.
His coaching ethos revolves around instilling core values in young athletes, emphasizing the importance of practice, play, and the pursuit of perfection.

Want to learn more about SPEED Development and/or Mechanics?

VISIT iyca.org/store today and GET 15% off ALL of the IYCA RESOURCES by using code: BBRANNIGAN15

 

References:

(1) Validity and reliability of speed tests used in soccer: A … – PLOS. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0220982.

(2) Enhanced sprint performance analysis in soccer: New insights … – PLOS. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0217782.

(3) Speed and Agility Training in Female Soccer Players – A Systematic Review. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/c8f9/7f5e7644418dd472c5c343fdb3aba62077b3.pdf.

(4) Validity and reliability of speed tests used in soccer … – ResearchGate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335186596_Validity_and_reliability_of_speed_tests_used_in_soccer_A_systematic_review/fulltext/5d556127a6fdccb7dc3d0b70/Validity-and-reliability-of-speed-tests-used-in-soccer-A-systematic-review.pdf.

(5) How to improve your speed, stamina and strength | Soccer training drill | Nike Academy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEUAlipS298.

(6) Acceleration Training For Footballers/Soccer Players | Reach Top Speed Faster | Individual Drills. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Dt2DbjAKbo.

(7) 🎯Speed – Agility – Quickness Training Soccer (SAQ). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Asi1EgzvgA.

(8) Speed training in football (soccer): How to develop this game-changer. https://www.scienceforsport.com/speed-training-in-soccer-how-to-develop-it/.

(9) Speed Drills for Soccer: Full Training Guide – Overtime Athletes Blog. https://blog.overtimeathletes.com/speed-training-soccer/.

(10) Soccer Speed Spectrum: Exploring the 4 Types. https://www.discoversoccer.info/speed/4-types-of-soccer-speed.

(11) Soccer speed drills – 8 tips on how to get faster for soccer. https://www.blazepod.com/blogs/all/soccer-speed-drills-8-tips-on-how-to-get-faster-for-soccer.

(12) Fitness & Conditioning for young soccer players – Soccer summer camps …. https://www.ertheo.com/blog/en/fitness-conditioning-young-soccer-players/.

(13) Gym Workout for Soccer Players: Enhancing Field Performance with …. https://soccercoachtheory.com/gym-workout-for-soccer-players/.

(14) 6 Steps to Building a High Performance and Soccer Specific Training Program. https://blog.bridgeathletic.com/6-steps-building-a-high-performance-soccer-specific-training-program.

(15) Strength Training for Young Soccer Players — FC Game Changer. https://www.fcgamechanger.com/blog/strength-training-for-young-soccer-players.

(16) Best Drills For Youth Soccer | Soccercrate. https://soccercrate.co/blogs/news/best-drills-for-youth-soccer.

(17) undefined. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0220982.

(18) undefined. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0217782.

The Five Pillars of Athletic Development-Cole Walderzak

Over the past couple decades, we have found ourselves in an exponential shift from developing total athletes to developing “specialist”.

Younger and younger it seems that kids are moving to being single-sport athletes and becoming specialists to particular a position. While this is not necessarily a problem, since many athletes might just enjoy that one sport, it has opened the door to a world of training toxicity and misinformation.

The world has become so engulfed in sport-specific training that we cold-shoulder total athletic development. It’s no wonder we are where we are now…an athletic community of exponential over-use injuries and young athletes who burn out before they even get to graduate high school.

Not to mention the toll it takes on the mental health of our young ones.

It’s long overdue that we get back to the roots of developing whole, well-rounded, athletes because the stats don’t lie. The better ATHLETE will make more plays. The better ATHLELTE receives more scholarship opportunities.  The better ATHLETE will be more equipped to succeed at the higher levels of competition.

So, let’s dive into the Athletic Development Pathway and discuss how each pillar affects the other and how growth in ALL areas is the real secret to unlocking your athlete’s potential.

Pillar 1: General Athleticism

This is really the base, or foundation, for all athletes. While I know we could sit here and name off a dozen or so traits that could fall under this category, I think it’s best to narrow it down to a handful that I am sure we can agree make up the dominating percentage of athleticism. Those traits are:

a. Coordination
b. Balance
c. Basic Movement Skill
d. Spatial Awareness
e. Body Control

Unfortunately, general athleticism seems to be one of the most overlooked training pillars. Typically swept under the rug by many due to its lack of intensity, or maybe it’s the simplicity, many think is below their capabilities.

Many younger athletes have become so “Sport Specific” with their training throughout the whole year that they seldom go back to basics and just work on being a better MOVER.

This is unfortunate because this is also one of the easiest pillars to improve! It can even be just a part of your warm-up. Some of my favorite things to add into a training session to work on general athleticism are skip variations, crawling, single-leg balance work, mutli-directional lunges, and even juggling.

Games such as Tail-Tag and Knee Tag are also great options when it comes to spatial awareness, body control, and basic movement skills!

The time spent on this pillar is very dependent on the age of your athletes (both biological age and training age). Athletes 8-12 years old should spend significantly more time here than most 15+ year old athletes, but they, too, should still be spending some time here.

It appears that general movement skills are easier to develop at younger ages, before movement patterns have been fully ingrained in an athlete’s nervous system. If this training is ignored for too long, especially in younger athletes, you end up closing a very important window in their development and lowering their overall performance potential.

Pillar 2: Strength, Speed, Fitness

The second stop on this journey through the Athletic Development Pathway is Strength, Speed, and Fitness. Just like General Athleticism, this CAN and SHOULD be trained throughout the entire year…yes even during the competition season.

Athletes who consistently train speed and strength through the year have a significantly higher performance ceiling than those who choose to focus purely on sport- skill and/or playing as many games as possible. Athletes who continuously work on their strength, speed, and fitness are also more likely to move on and succeed at the next level.

By increasing the strength, speed, and fitness of our athletes over time we help them kick down the door to improving their on-field performance by purely being more physically capable of doing more work than their opponents. This is the goal!

We want to create athletes who can practice harder, longer, and more often without breaking down, and this kind of work helps make that possible. We want our athletes to be stronger, more explosive, faster, more conditioned, and overall more prepared to dominate the task at hand than their opponents.

All things being equal, the correctly prepared athlete will beat the unprepared athlete.

Pillar 3: Skill Development

Pillar 3 is Skill Development, also known as sport practice. This, along with Pillar 5, has become the focus point of many athletes throughout their entire training year. This has caused many of the issues I pointed out earlier. Don’t get me wrong, skill development is SUPER important…I will never disagree with that. But when skill development starts to take precedence over the other 4 pillars all the time…well then there is an issue.

Here is what an Off-Season training program SHOULD look like for MOST athletes

Versus what you currently see with many Off-Season training programs:

Skill Development should be the biggest beneficiary from Pillars 1 and 2. As our athleticism, strength, speed, and fitness increase so does our ability to “dial in” and make corrections to much smaller details in sport skill training. As our skill development increases, so does the POTENTIAL for better On-Field Performance. Whether or not that potential is seized is largely dependent on our 4th Pillar.

Keep in mind that the amount of skill work needed will be determined by the current level of skill, the age of the athlete, and which sport is being played. For example, a 15-year-old athlete who is just picking up basketball will probably need more skill work than a 10-year-old off season football player. Sports like golf and tennis also lend themselves to performing more skill practice. The point is to not forgo Pillars 1 & 2 and spend all your time on Pillar 3.

Pillar 4:Mental Skills

One of the key determining factors on whether the growth in Pillars 1-3 will transfer to our 5th Pillar is number 4…Mental Skills.

In a perfect world, growth in the first three pillars would give us the confidence to perform and dominate our competition physically and mentally. Often, however, athletes will struggle in this area.

A lack of confidence or negative self-talk will drastically hinder an athlete’s ability to perform at their highest level. Therefore, it is important to work with your athletes and teach them to “Flip the Switch”. This means that, when the time comes and the game is on, they are out there with the highest confidence in themselves, their training, and the right mindset to DOMINATE.

Be mindful though, this is not the same for ALL athletes. While some may prefer to be “amped up” and vocal, others may respond better to a fun and light-hearted environment. Some may even prefer to be in their own space listening to some music or just enjoying the silence.

Recognizing and incorporating this practice into training will drastically help the athlete’s on-field performance become more and more
consistent.

Pillar 5:In Game Performance

As a coach, this is a very special pillar because we get to witness our athlete’s success and growth after all their hard work and time put into training. It is also where we will get a lot of feedback on what changed over the course of the training and what still needs work.

Do they need better body awareness?

More speed/agility?

More skill development?

More confidence?

Which pillar is lacking the most?

By breaking down their performance in their sport we can equip ourselves as coaches with the beginning knowledge for the next training focus. It is important to keep in mind that the prioritization of each pillar is fluid. It will change through the year depending on what is needed and where the athlete is in their calendar year.

Careful evaluation will help coaches decide which pillar requires the most attention.

Athletes who are in-season will not be spending as much time in Pillars 1 and 2 as off-season athletes but more so Pillars 3, 4, and 5…but it is important to still include some of 1 and 2.

The opposite is true for off-season athletes where more time/energy will be spent improving 1-3/4 and minimal of Pillar 5.

In conclusion, we can see how all five pillars work together in the pathway and how the improvement, or lack thereof, can affect the others.

The goal should be to grow each one every year which will lead to a significantly higher athletic potential, increased on-field performance, and likelihood of moving on to the next level.

-Cole Walderzak-BS, HSSCS, CSAS, CSCS

Cole is Director of Training for Impact Sports Performance-Brighton and Director of online training. Cole interned with Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Jason Novak (who is now the Head Football Strength and Conditioning Coach at MSU) before interning at Total Performance Training Center in Wixom, MI with Jim Kielbaso.

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:

The Cornerstones of Coaching Athletes

The first coach a child has is likely to be the most unqualified coach the child has. This has it’s ramifications.  We can’t over look the fact that every coach has the opportunity to improve THEIR game.

Look, it’s important for every coach to equip themselves with a high level of knowledge and education. No matter how long or short the stent is as ‘coach’ or how young/old their athletes are, this holds true.

Coaching youth, is a specialist role and we must treat it as such. Obtaining the label “coach” doesn’t make a instantly qualified coach.

Kids are not “mini-adults”, and having a coach that understands the nuances of coaching our children, is game changing!

Matter of fact, we’d argue that the first coach a kid has should be one of the most qualified when it comes to understanding the nuances.  It’s in these early days that a child will likely develop a love for their sport or not. The tone can be set, and often times the coach is key player in this.

We can’t take this lightly, as this is a BIG responsibility.

The influence of a coach can be powerful in a positive way, and in a negative way. Being an effective coach is important. This can be defined a number of ways but we thought it best to ask some athletes’ themselves, and get their take on it.

Here are some of the answers.

Stated by a Multi-Sport, 15 year Old

“An effective coach is someone that knows how to say what they mean exactly how they mean it, an effective coach loves what he does but knows how to create a hard working athlete, a true athlete, they don’t take it easy on their athletes and they know exactly how much to work them and when, how to teach them to deal with any situation that is thrown at them “

Stated by a Multi-Sport, 12 Year Old

“An effective coach is someone who cares about their players but will also push them to be the best no matter what.”

Stated by a Multi-Sport, 13 Year Old Female

“An effective coach means being a good communicator, setting high standards, having a balance between yelling and not”

Stated by a Multi-Sport, 15 Year Old

“An effective coach is relatable, understanding, supportive, pushes you to get better, allows you to be you, and inspires you to keep playing.”

Stated by a Collegiate Baseball Athlete

“An effective coach is positive, smart, helpful and experienced”

Stated by Multi Sport 17 Year Old

“Maintains a good mix of seriousness and fun, cool-headed, makes intelligent decisions, maintains good relations with the players, defends the players, no (negative) yelling, does their best to actually teach and help players grow game IQ”

Conversely, ineffective coaches were described as bias, selfish, inexperienced, unfair, lack of game knowledge, discouraging, unclear in what they wanted of the team, got mad easily, gave in to parent-player politics, disorganized and the list goes on.

It was no surprise that the athletes polled expressed that their favorite coaches were those who were most effective and that their least favorite coaches had more of the characteristics expressed as ‘ineffective’.

Although these are merely a snapshot, and they are opinions, we truly believe there is some merit to them.

What we can also conclude is that there are some cornerstones that, when coaches ‘practice’ them, they will improve the experience for athletes.

Cornerstone #1:

Cultivate a Culture That is Positive & Caring

A culture of approachability, autonomy, fun and learning can be highly motivating and encouraging for young athletes. The kids want to be there and they carry the ‘culture’ beyond the game and even within other friend groups or families.

This kind of culture promotes development and transformation within each individual athlete. It must be done consistently and coaches who do this, often become known for how they lead their teams, and what their values are.

They may even be, ‘sought out’.

Cornerstone #2:

Be a Pro at Communicating

A youth coach has to be able to effectively communicate with parents, players and other professionals. The most successful coaches consistently work towards mastering the craft of communication.

Unfortunately, although this cornerstone is so incredibly important, many coaches don’t prioritize it and may even blame others’ for not understanding them. If you find that your message isn’t landing with others’, it may be time to assess your approach.

Communication is a skill that we can all build!

Cornerstone #3:

Specialist Knowledge Suited for the Position

This is one of the most overlooked cornerstones. It’s not enough to have ‘played the sport back in the day’ to sufficiently and successfully coach our kids.  Being labeled coach doesn’t mean you are suited for the position and the greatest coaches know this and seek out support & education.

What many don’t realize is, there are many developmental nuances that require the coach to understand and practice when it comes to our youth. Not only that, consider all the different ways that kids need to be coached & taught.

A “cookie cutter approach” is a disservice to young athletes.

It’s also not enough to know just about the ‘technical’ aspect of the game. Sure, you can teach someone how to throw and catch, shoot, dribble, or the number of other technical skills but that doesn’t make them a good athlete.

This cornerstone is integral for the coach who wants to truly develop athletes to their fullest potential!

Check out this free resource to learn more about Training Athletes Through the Ages and some of these nuances we must consider.

Cornerstone #4:

Demonstrate Proficiency in Applying the Knowledge

It’s not enough to know, you must also apply the knowledge. The greatest coaches can distill down their education and translate it to our youth, at THEIR level in a way they can apply it.

Over complicating and over coaching on the delivery, is detrimental.

Those who can demonstrate proficiency in the delivery and application of that which they have learned, are on their way to becoming an exceptional coach who is the catalyst for exceptional experiences.

Keep working on this! It’s a skill that we can all build.

Top 3 Priorities of Coaches

Coaches are the catalyst for transformation. They help a child become better tomorrow than they are today. In order to do this well, it essential for a coach to take care of themselves.

Here are a few Priorities of a coach when it comes to that:

  1. Prioritize their own mental fitness & Personal/Professional growth.
  2. Prioritize their own physical well-being.
  3. Prioritize their own emotional health.

Coaches are playing a very important game. Every day they show up to coach our future generations.

Now let’s get after it!

We’d love to hear from you. Comment below which Cornerstones are your strongest and which ones you need to work on.

Also, don’t forget to snag our Free Training on Developing Athletes from Start to Finish

-Thank you

The International Youth Conditioning Association

Why Youth Sports is a Losing Game and We Must Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you with us?

So, where do we go from here?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The first step is awareness, then education and action!

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

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

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

 

Now, let’s go WIN THIS game!

– The International Youth Conditioning Association

 

References:

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

 

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

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

Physical Literacy: The Game and Beyond

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will you join the mission with us? 

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

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

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

References:

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

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

Athlete Development through the Ages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ultimate goal, wouldn’t you agree?

 

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

References/Resources:

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

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

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.