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Archive for “youth fitness” Category

Lower Body Power Generation for the Junior Golfer – Nelson Morales YFS1

The number one thing that a golfer looks for when they seek an outside professional in the fitness world is to increase their power off the tee.  For those foreign to the game of golf, this is the home plate or line of scrimmage – the first shot on each hole. Tiger Woods ushered in the concept of performance training for golf, and as more and more professionals are seen training, it is becoming a normal part of the golf community. Because of this, parents are more apt to get their junior golfer involved in performance training, which represents an exceptional opportunity for the youth fitness professional.

Many children become enamored with the sport of golf as early as 3-5 years old.  Many want to focus solely on the game before their 10th birthday, which means fitness professionals will need to be familiar with the concept of long-term athlete development (LTAD) in order to give them more of a multilateral approach to their development.  

We must consider the needs and past experiences of a young golfer.  They may be experiencing some success at a young age, but have they developed a strong foundation of balance, coordination, strength, and mobility?  They will all want to increase their rotational power so that they see immediate improvements in their game. This can be tricky because you have to give them a little of what they want, so you can also give them what they need.  

Here are a few examples of how I create habits to generate power with the junior golfer and tie in the IYCA LTAD Model so you can gradually progress athlete to more challenging activities, or versions of each exercise.

Keep in mind that these are just a few exercises that can be used, and none of them require equipment or weights.  While traditional strength training can be beneficial for young athletes, it is wise to start with bodyweight exercises.  This will allow them to develop body control and technique, and it is also a much easier way to introduce training to the parents of young golfers who may be resistant if they think you are trying to “bulk up” their children.  While there are training misconceptions in all sports, the golf world is still very new to resistance training, so starting with bodyweight exercises is a great way to begin.

Ages 6-9

Game/exploration-based fitness activities:

Frog Hops:

Cueing should be limited at this age so they learn how to explore movement options, but you can say things like “get down like a frog and show me your best hop for distance” or “jump over the lily pads.” This helps them create mental images.  

Here you can lay out cones or agility dots/hoops as visual reference points and call them lily pads. Here is where you need to set your perimeters and let them know they can’t jump out of the “pond.” See where they take it and allow for exploration and self-discovery. You can add an element of excitement and intensity by adding an “alligator” that chases them.  This is just you running after them, but it will get them to jump faster and farther and the laughter will be contagious.  We are also nurturing the concept of spatial awareness at this stage. They will be learning different movement patterns and creative movement options to solve this “movement puzzle” as they get across the pond and evade the alligator.  

While simply jumping from pad to pad may not seem difficult for every child, it will improve lower body power as well as decision making (to decide which lily pad they can get to), distance perception and body control.  You can challenge athletes by only jumping with one foot or spreading out the lily pads.

Ages 10-13

Cueing should still be somewhat limited for this age group, but you can definitely start to connect the dots between training and better performance on the course.  Of course, you will also give enough instruction to ensure a safe training experience. Here’s an example of how you could use “golf language” to win over the attention of an elite junior golfer.   It’s important for them to feel that the training is relevant to their sport and that you know a little about it.

Broad Jumps:  Step 1: “We’re going to do an exercise that will help you with your strike at impact.  More leg strength equals more power into your drive.” Every golfer wants a strong drive to set them up for the next shot, and they know that strong and straight equals lower scores. Step 2: “Crouch down into a deep squat like you’re looking at your target line for a putt.” Of course, you want to visually demonstrate as well due to the modes of learning. At this age, they should have a decent understanding of the squat. They’ve most likely done it in gym class or seen it done in some manner. Step 3: “Explode out the way a ball explodes off the tee down the fairway. Land in the same position you started in, and aim the body to be in the middle of the X or Crack. Soft knees and think ninja-like “set-up posture.”

While this exercise is very similar to the frog hops over lily pads described above, athletes in this age group can handle a slightly greater volume of training, so more repetitions can be performed.

You can also put a challenge in front of athletes this age. Lay down a measuring tape and do a “best out of 5” or “beat your score” challenge.  Challenge and reward is huge with this age group. The positive reinforcement gets them geared up to better themselves the next time they attempt the task as well.  The feeling of accomplishment and a “Great Job” goes a long way.  You can progress to a 3-jump or 5-jump version (3 or 5 consecutive jumps) and even into single-leg hops to add bot intensity and kinesthetic challenge.  Constantly find small ways to push them just past their comfort zone in an effort to achieve slightly better performances.

Ages 14-18 years old:

In the golf world this age group is still largely considered in the “Junior” arena, but this is where training will become more intense and sport specific. Every little minor thing at this stage means the difference between Top 5-10 or Cut after the first day of tournament play, so detail is enhanced at this stage of development. What we tend to find at this age, especially at the younger side of the spectrum, is a “wonkiness” within the realm of balance. So, here is an example of taking an exercise that can be used even for the younger age groups and bringing it to the older ones.

Plyo push-up to a 2-foot and 1-foot land & stick:

Here we try cover a few areas at once. They’re beginning to develop upper body strength and with appropriate level push-ups they can really create some explosive power. Yet we still want to emphasize lowe- body power, balance and athleticism.

Start face down, straight legs, one line from head to heel on the floor. With arm at side and elbow slightly tucked at chest height, explode up as quickly as possible, and land in an athletic stance as softly as possible. Emphasize quickness and reactivity in addition to fighting to maintain balance. When the movement is mastered, progress to closing the eyes in order to challenge the athlete’s balance, proprioception and kinesthetic awareness.  Start with the 2-footed landing, and eventually progress to a 1-footed landing. Start with eyes open, and move to eyes-closed.

Here you can see the “eyes-closed” version:

Here is the 1-foot eyes-closed version:

These are simple examples of explosive exercises that can be done for the junior golfer.  Of course, the progression and slow build-up process that the IYCA teaches is the best approach for long-term results.  While these exercises can be used for any athlete, speaking their “sport language” will help develop buy-in and enhance their perception that the program is helping them at their sport.  

So as you see the exercise variation can be the same at all ages but is in the nature of the instruction and intention of the exercise where your overall results will stem from. The IYCA Model represents a build-up approach and as we know slow and steady does win the overall race to a well-structured athlete. Within universal exercises but the language of the golf world you can truly affect the development of junior golfer and the creation of their power.

 

Nelson Morales is the owner of KFS Fitness & Performance in Orlando, Florida and S & C Coach for the Henry Brunton Golf Academy. He works with Junior golfers ages 4- 18 as well as players on the Pro Golf Tour Circuits.

Athlete Development Model – Jim Kielbaso

Athlete Development ModelLong term athlete development has been discussed for years, but the concept is still incredibly confusing for practitioners.  Part of the reason for this confusion is that the models are missing details and coordination of efforts between coaches, trainers and parents.

At the 2018 IYCA Summit, Jim Kielbaso offered a new way of thinking about athlete development and offered a solution for how we move forward.  He spoke about where we’ve been, what has been done and outlined a model that will add to the already existing LTAD models.

While most of the theoretical models have great thoughts and rationale behind them, we still find that professionals hide inside their own “silos” without coordinating their efforts with the other important parties involved.  If a S & C Coach can’t coordinate with the sport coach, the athlete is ultimately going to suffer and results will not be optimal.

Youth sports has become a business that is often more about the adults involved than the kids.  Because of this, early specialization gets shoved down everyone’s throats, and complete athlete development is ignored.  Numerous articles, books and videos have been produced describing the problems associated with the current sports industry.  But, instead of making changes, we seem to be stuck in a rut of complaining.

We also know that most athletes don’t start a formal performance training program until they have already shown some athletic promise or strong interest in improving.  Instead of waiting, what can we do as a profession to help enhance the opportunities and experiences of all young athletes?

We may not love the systems that are in place, but we need to be pro-active and work towards changing youth sports systems from the inside instead of complaining that things “aren’t the way they should be.”

The video above is meant to get coaches to think about how we can begin working together to create exceptional experiences for athletes and help them reach their true potential.  Most coaches have great intentions but get stuck in their own silo because there is so much to be done in their area of expertise.  It’s time to make a change.  Watch the video and leave your comments below on how we can make this happen.

 

The old “windows of opportunity” Long Term Athlete Development model doesn’t explain what to actually do at each stage of development.  Learn the truth about long term athlete development and how to approach athletes at every level in the IYCA’s LTAD Roadmap.  This is the most comprehensive approach to long term athlete development available.  Click on the image below to learn more.

Also visit http://LongTermAthleteDevelopment.com for more information on Long Term Athlete Development.

Rethinking Long Term Athlete Development – Jim Kielbaso

The concept of long term athlete development (LTAD) has been around for several years, but it has more recently become a hot topic amongst youth sports and training organizations.  It seems that everyone now needs a formula for how to develop great athletes so they can represent their countries and succeed as professionals.  Several academicians have taken the lead on reviewing the relevant literature and have written articles and books about the topic.  They have used this literature to create several different models for developing athletes.  While these models were a great start, their oversimplification of athlete development seems to be steering coaches, trainers and parents in the wrong direction.    

To begin, the entire premise of LTAD theory needs to be examined.  When it originated in the late 1990’s, academician Istvan Balyi identified some very important issues in many countries and sporting organizations, so he created a 3-stage model that emphasized long term athlete development over winning competitions.  This premise challenged the approach of many coaches and got a lot of people to open their eyes to the problems in youth sports.   

Balyi’s original model included three phases – Training to Train, Training to Compete and Training to Win.  A few years later, he realized that a fourth stage – FUNdamentals – should be added to address the fundamental motor skills that should be developed early in a child’s life.  

Sporting organizations latched on to this theory and quickly started talking about it as a formula that would create great athletes.  As these theories picked up steam, other academicians decided to jump on the train and create their own models.  They included talent identification, more in-depth discussion on early childhood, and there was a strong emphasis on taking advantage of hypothetical “windows” of opportunity where different training methods would supposedly have a greater impact. The models told coaches when to emphasize strength training, speed training, endurance training and when to emphasize competition vs. training.  

Eventually, some groups realized that an LTAD approach may also give children great sporting experiences that would lead to lifelong enjoyment of physical activity.  Because of the childhood obesity and physical illiteracy epidemics, this idea seemed very attractive.  

A few organizations came out with their own versions of LTAD that included 7-9 stages of development, and they felt good about adopting this approach because they believed it was the “right thing to do for kids,” even though it was nothing more than words on paper for most groups.  These organizations would hire an expert to put together a model, but they didn’t seem to put much effort into the actual implementation.  Education and coordination of efforts were left out of the models.

Eventually, the stages looked like this:

  • Stage 1 – Active Start (0-6 years old)
  • Stage 2 – FUNdamentals (girls 6-8, boys 6-9)
  • Stage 3 – Learn to Train (girls 8-11, boys 9-12)
  • Stage 4 – Train to Train (girls 11-15, boys 12-16) 
  • Stage 5 – Train to Compete (girls 15-21, boys 16-23)
  • Stage 6 – Train to Win (girls 18+, boys 19+)
  • Stage 7 – Active for Life (any age)

More in-depth models described when each training method would elicit the best results.  USA Hockey did a much better job with their American Developmental Model that looked like this:

Still, a lot was left out, especially any details on implementation.  For the most part, LTAD has remained theoretical, and implementation has largely been missing.  

To be clear, the models aren’t necessarily “wrong” as much as they are incomplete and misleading.  Most of them give the reader the impression that they have been thoroughly tested and proven, and that they contain a formula for success.  This may not have been their original intent, but that’s how it has been taking by the sporting world.

The strength & conditioning/sports performance profession has taken notice more than just about any group because a lot of these models talk about “training” and “movement.”  The term “athlete development” resonates with these professionals, so this is where many of the thoughts have become popularized.  

These professionals have tried to implement these already-flawed, theoretical models by attempting to use different training methods at certain times to take advantage of the “windows of opportunity” outlined by academicians without coordinating their efforts with other important players in this process.  This is one of the biggest mistakes made today, and the lack of integration with other groups has stymied progress and severely limited outcomes.  

While the theory of long term athlete development is well-intentioned, the models have yet to produce exceptional athletes in real life.  In fact, even the researchers admit that there was no real data to support any of the models.  In a great review of some of the relevant literature, Guy Razi and Kieran Foy showed that the data does not support these models.  It was all a great idea, but these models were nothing more than theoretical. To this day, no athlete has gone through the entire model the way it was originally laid out, and achieved a high level of success.

The models are also not very realistic in many situations.  For example, the models include a lot of talk about peak height velocity (PHV) as the optimal time for the adaptation of certain traits.  What is not addressed is how coaches are supposed to know when an athlete is experiencing PHV.  In most sporting situations, kids’ height is not constantly monitored by coaches, and most of the training decisions described in the literature are related more to strength & conditioning than sports skills.  Sports coaches might have contact with kids year-round, but most kids are not engaged in year-round strength & conditioning at an early age (this can be because of money, availability, beliefs, time restrictions, etc.).  So, how would the strength coach know when PHV is occurring?  It may not even matter since most performance coaches only see young athletes in limited spurts.  Typically, parents come to a performance coach after PHV when they recognize altered movement.  

If every child was in a “sporting academy” situation from a young age where they were constantly coached, trained and monitored, this may be possible, but it’s not realistic in most cases.  An argument could be made that we should move toward these type of year-round academies so that everything can be monitored, but that’s beyond the scope of this article and it carries as many negatives as positives.  

The most popular LTAD models propose “windows of opportunity” in which certain athletic traits may respond better to specific kinds of training.  For example, it has been theorized that speed is best trained just before PHV, and that strength is best trained directly after PHV.  These models lead many coaches to believe that worthwhile adaptation only occurs during these periods, and that is absolutely not true.  Young athletes are always open to adaptation and can always enjoy the benefits of proper training no matter where they are in their maturation.  

Every physical attribute can be trained at any time.  Most practitioners just need to understand how to best address each attribute during maturation to achieve the best long-term and sustainable outcomes.  

So, “missing” a window of opportunity does not mean progress in certain traits cannot be made.  On the contrary, long term athlete development is much more individualized than these contrived models suggest.  

Even more concerning is the fact that long-term implementation has not been thoroughly studied, which is ironic given the name of the theory and the fact that academicians created it.  It is typically written/spoken about by people who do not coach athletes, have not successfully developed great athletes, and many don’t even have children of their own in which they’ve tested their theories or developed athletes into champions.  

There are far too many factors involved in creating a great athlete to boil the process down to a few simple steps, and several key ingredients have been missing from the recipe.  Developing athletes is highly individualized, and included many factors beyond those that are described in the current literature.  These missing factors include:

  • The child’s interest/passion for sport
  • The psychological approach used with each athlete
  • Parental support and their role in the process
  • Environmental/societal influences
  • Access to the coaching/training at the right time
  • Genetic factors & talent identification
  • Coordination of development with all parties (parents, coaches, trainers, etc.)
  • Having the “right coach at the right time” or at least the right approach at the right time

Some of these factors cannot be easily controlled by coaches, rendering them “too messy” for academics to even attempt to address.  Yet, these factors will determine the long-term outcome to a much greater extent than any theoretical model of when to train each physical component.  

Kids are not robots, and developing athletes is not a science experiment.  long term athlete development

We don’t need models – we need coaches….great coaches.

If we’re truly interested in developing great athletes and/or adults who enjoy physical activity, we cannot do it alone as strength & conditioning professionals.  We must look at the entire picture, address physical, psychological/emotional and social aspects and include everyone involved in the development of the athlete – coaches, trainers and parents.

Much has already been addressed regarding the physical training of young athletes.  The materials available through the IYCA and others are exceptional and give in-depth information on strength development, speed & agility training, flexibility/mobility, conditioning and even skill development.  Rather than summarizing these methods, let’s explore the missing factors listed above and how each may be addressed.

Before we do that, two things need to be made clear:

  1. The term “youth” refers to anyone 18 and under.  When people are first introduced to the International Youth Conditioning Association, they often assume we are focused on very young children.  The process of athlete development begins at a very young age and continues until at least 18 years old, so it’s important for us to understand how to properly address each stage of maturation. Of course, athletes continue to develop past 18, but the process changes dramatically at that time.  
  2. Great training and coaching are absolutely essential to the process of athletic development.  This should be obvious, but it needs to be stated since it will not be addressed here. Training and coaching are addressed in many other IYCA materials and this is well beyond the scope of this article.  Athletes need physical development, so speed, strength, sports skills, etc. are critically important.  These topics are what most LTAD models focus on exclusively, and they should not be ignored.  

Now, let’s examine the aspects of long term athletic development that are NOT included in most models, but must be understood if we are truly interested in overall development:

Passion

Enjoyment of sport is one of the most important underlying factors in long-term athletic success.  If a young athlete does not find joy in a sport, the likelihood of him/her giving the long-term effort to excel is very small.  He/she may go through the motions and experience some level of success, but it is very difficult for a young person to stay motivated to excel in a sport if passion is not part of the equation.  

Without passion, the entire LTAD model comes to a grinding halt, so this cannot be ignored.

At some point, a child has to be willing to pursue a dream for themselves, not simply because he/she is talented or others want the success.  In most cases, there needs to be a burning desire within a person if high levels of success are going to be achieved.  Even more importantly, that passion needs to be fueled in order to sustain it long enough to achieve any real success.  Playing for the wrong coach, not getting enough playing time, having poor teammates, lack of parental support and year-round play are some the reasons the flame burns out for many athletes. If the sport is no longer fun for a young athlete, it’s almost impossible to expect continued progress.  

In his book The Talent Code, Daniel Coyle refers to a concept he calls “Ignition.”  Essentially, this is what creates a deep passion for sport in an athlete.  It might be exposure to a particular person, participation in an event, watching a sport, family involvement or something else.  It will be different for every person, which is why this isn’t a formula.  But, that ignition needs to exist if long-term success is the goal.

Parents, family and friends typically play the largest role in establishing a love for sport.  Exposure to sports (live or on TV) and attitudes toward sports often start in early childhood.  They can establish emotional feelings before they ever participate in a sport.  There’s no right way for parents to approach sports with their children, but positive exposure to a variety of sports seems to be optimal.  

As stated earlier, children are not robots, so there is no single formula for producing passion about a particular sport.   Intense parental feelings about sports have the potential to influence children in both positive and negative ways.  Some parents actually push kids away from sport because they are so passionate about it, while others create a healthy feeling of excitement.

Coaches and trainers often don’t even meet an athlete until some amount of exposure to a sport has been made, so feelings have often been established to some degree before a child’s first practice.  Youth coaches, however, play an enormous role in whether or not that passion continues.  

A child’s early exposure to sports and coaching often influences their desire to continue participating.  Early coaching needs to be both positive and effective.  Coaches need to balance making practices/games fun and improving athletically so the child develops feelings of self-efficacy associated with the sport.  Few things are more motivating to children that the feeling of proficiency – when a child thinks he/she is good at a sport, they enjoy it more.  

This can be a very delicate balancing act, and factors like stature, enjoyment and fundamental movement skills (FMS) play large roles in developing feelings of proficiency.  Typically, athletes who have good FMS’s excel early on, and have greater early enjoyment of sports.  Parents can greatly assist this process by working on FMS early in a child’s life and providing positive exposure to sport.  

Coaches can recognize the importance of establishing passion by making sports enjoyable and productive.  Possibly the most important goal of a youth sports coach should be to make each season so positive that the kids want to play another season.  This keeps them in the “system” and allows them to progress.  

Coaching

Having great coaches should be the first thing mentioned in any long term athlete development model.  Unfortunately, it is not. Great coaches trump theoretical models every time and should be discussed before anything else in this process.  

The approach used with each child may have more to do with long-term athletic success than any physical training method.  Yes, the right training methods will elicit positive physiological responses, but the wrong coaching approach can make the athlete lose interest, confidence, and enjoyment of the sport.  

Getting this wrong will render LTAD models useless, so having the right coach at the right time is essential to the process of athlete development.  The right coach will be different at each stage of maturation and for each athlete, so there is no single solution.

The right approach, however, has the potential to increase self-efficacy and passion, and can establish positive traits such as work ethic, perseverance, coachability, and a healthy outlook toward sports.  These positive traits and feelings may be the keys to sticking with a sport through tough training and the ups & downs associated with sports later in their development.  

Great coaching should be used by both sport coaches and strength & conditioning professionals (SCP) alike.  A SCP has the ability to balance out a poor coach and vice versa. Optimally, all coaches will be positive influences and contribute to the success of an athlete by teaching skills and making the process enjoyable enough to keep the passion burning.  

The importance of having the “right coach at the right time” cannot be overstated in the development of an athlete.  The right coach at 8 years old probably won’t be the right coach at 18, and the right coach for one athlete may not be the right coach for all athletes.  

Typically, young athletes and parents don’t even know which coach is the right fit or if that person is even available.  More often, we realize the negative experience when it’s too late and the damage has been done.  For example, a young soccer player can be on a terrific path of development from age 8 to 14 until a poor coach absolutely ruins soccer for her.  This can occur when athletes change clubs, move to a different age group, or have a coach who is simply a bad fit. This has the potential to make athletes lose passion/interest, decrease confidence or quit the sport altogether.  Anyone who has been involved in sports for any length of time has seen this over and over again.

Coaches who value winning above development too early in an athlete’s career can stifle the developmental process and get athletes to focus on things that limit long-term success.  These coaches often play favorites with young athletes and push certain athletes to excel (often their own child) while relegating others to less-important roles on the team.  While this may work for some athletes, it can also have a negative effect on overall development.  The “favorite” child may have false confidence in their early success and he/she may not learn how to work hard for that success.  Other children may feel decreased confidence and end up quitting because the sport just isn’t fun anymore.  

Unfortunately, high-quality coaches often feel compelled to work with older, more developed athletes because that’s what society deems as “better.”  To be sure, some coaches are simply better-suited to work with older athletes, but a great youth coach has the potential to be one of the most influential figures in a child’s life.  A year, early in life, with a bad coach could have easily derailed the careers of great athletes like Wayne Gretzky, Magic Johnson or Lionel Messi.  

If we’re truly looking to develop great athletes through a long-term process, we must encourage great coaches to spend time with young athletes.  This means that quality coaches may need to volunteer their time to work with young athletes, knowing that the payoff may not occur for many years.  

It also means that SCP’s need to be aware of how each child is being coached and approach them with what they need.  A child who has a negative sport coach may need a more positive approach from the SCP. Conversely, a talented child who has been coddled his whole life may need a hard-nosed influence to push him to be great.  

Social/Environmental

It is impossible to ignore the fact that a child’s surroundings influence his/her sporting experiences, but this is also ignored by every LTAD model available.  Spending time with friends is very important to most children.  Sometimes, kids may be better off playing a sport with their friends than on a travel team comprised of kids who don’t know each other.

Geographic location will also influence long term athlete development.  For example, a young child with a passion for lacrosse, but who lives in an

area with limited coaching/competition, will probably not have the opportunity to reach his potential like he would if he grew up in Maryland.  A young gymnast may be identified as a potentially great diver in middle/high school.  If she doesn’t like the coach or the other athletes on the diving team, she may never even give it a chance, and a potential Olympian may never try a sport.  How many exceptional rugby players, fencers or team handball players have been born in America and were simply not exposed to these sports?

Access to quality experiences and identification of talent plays a huge role in the long-term success of an athlete.  

Strength coaches may not have much control over this, but it’s certainly something we need to consider if the goal is to develop great athletes and achieve long-term success.  Even if the goal is to create enjoyable experiences, the fact that opportunities are often limited should not be ignored.  

An experienced coach may be able to suggest sports and/or coaches to families when talent is identified.  While there is no guarantee that these suggestions will be acted upon, we should always think about what we can do rather than complain about a problem after the fact.  

Parental Support

Parents have more of an influence than anyone in the process of long-term athlete development, and both sports coaches and SCP’s may need to step in to help guide them when appropriate.  Some parents push too hard, while others expect too little. This is a delicate balancing act that must be considered as part of any long term plan.

Simply providing transportation to great coaching/training may be the difference needed to keep the flame burning in a young athlete.  Conversely, negative conversations after a game may poison the well and create negative emotions related to a sport.

Sports satisfaction surveys reveal that “having fun” is the main reason that most children like to participate in sports; however, the parents’ perception of why their children like to play sports is to “win.”

SCP’s and sport coaches can help create balance when support is not present.  By making practice/training an enjoyable, positive experience, a child’s “emotional bank account” can be built up.  Coaches may also need to have hard conversations with parents sometimes or at least talk to the athlete about how to communicate with the parent.  

Coordination

With all of these factors in mind, it appears as though long term athlete development is much more complex than just the training methods used at different points in the maturation process or how many games to play each year.  Of course, great training and sport coaching are necessary. That should be painfully obvious by now. But, besides great training and coaching, it also appears that many critical factors need to come together in a coordinated effort if we are truly looking for optimal development and great sporting experiences.

We have created “silos” that don’t have enough interaction with each other.  Parents, sports coaches, and strength & conditioning specialists each have their silos where they do their work independently.  This approach creates a lack of continuity for the young athlete. Sports coaches don’t know what kind of training is occurring outside of their practices.  SCP’s have no input on the number or duration of practices, and parents often don’t know what’s best for their child, so they simply drop them off with a coach and hope he/she is doing the right thing.  

Unfortunately, many adults seem to think that “their way” is the best approach, so there is little coordination between parents, coaches, and trainers.  

It also goes without saying that the entire youth sports system is broken and has become more about the adults than the kids.  Many books and articles have been written on this topic. Web sites have been created and Ted Talks were given. Even the US Olympic Committee is now supporting pediatric sports psychologists to help young athletes deal with the stresses of youth sports and to help parents and coaches deal with the challenges.

 

The problems are obvious, and rehashing them here seems pointless.  

We are not going to fix this problem by complaining about it or attempting to tear it down.  

In order to fix this broken system, a much more coordinated approach needs to be taken.  Someone must intervene and change the system from the inside.

Most parents simply don’t know how to handle this overall development, so guidance is needed.  Sport coaches usually have great knowledge of a sport, but lack knowledge in the area of complete athlete development.  Many strength coaches are aware of the needs, but don’t have enough influence over the process, aren’t involved until later in an athlete’s career or simply want to stand on the outside and complain about it.  

It is time for strength & conditioning professionals to step up and become coordinators of athletic development.  

The SCP is armed with the knowledge to coordinate long term athlete development.  It is up to this group to take a more active role in the education of parents and coaches.  We need highly-qualified professionals who can effectively communicate and coordinate the “silos” in an effort to create positive experiences.  

complete athlete development

The SCP can teach coaches and parents how each aspect of athleticism is linked, and plans can be put in place to create well-rounded athletes.  

This shift will require the SCP to get out of his/her comfort zone and think about athlete development as more than just lifting weights.  The SCP will need to work within the structure of youth sports by educating parents and coaches, and taking their own egos out of the equation.  We need to spend time teaching parents and coaches about fundamental motor skills, skill acquisition, strength and speed development, and all-around athletic development rather than specialization.  With overuse injuries ranging from 37% to 68% depending on the sport, we can help reverse this trend.

This education will not put us out of jobs.  On the contrary, educating coaches and parents about how to properly integrate strength & conditioning into a long term athlete development plan will secure our places in every organization.  More coaches and parents will understand the need for training which will increase the demand for our specialized services. More trust will be placed in our hands because we will be viewed as allies rather than adversaries.  

Without this coordination, the important people in this process will remain in their silos.  But, a collective approach will yield far better results for everyone involved.

As you can see, long term athlete development cannot be distilled down to contrived models.  The process is more complicated and many factors need to be addressed.

We have a great opportunity to influence a broken system from within, and make the changes that are needed for long term success.  We need great coaches and coordinators to help develop athletes. It’s time to stop complaining and take action.

Jim Kielbaso is the President of the IYCA and Owner of Impact Sports Performance in Novi, MI.  He is a former college strength & conditioning coach and the author of Ultimate Speed & Agility as well as dozens of articles published in various publications.  Jim is also the father of three boys and has helped coach all of them in different sports, so long term athlete development is very important to him.

The old “windows of opportunity” Long Term Athlete Development model is a thing of the past.  Learn the truth about LTAD and how to approach athletes at every level in the IYCA Certified Athletic Development Specialist, 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:

Early Sport Specialization: Getting Them To Listen – Brett Klika

Early sport specialization has been a hot topic for years, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.  As strength and conditioning coaches, it’s baffling when we see parents and coaches embracing the notion of early sport specialization despite the mountains of data, expert opinion, and well- reviewed evidence highlighting the downfalls.

Our heart breaks when youngsters in these situations get injured or depart from sports and physical activity altogether. The last thing we want to have to say is “We told you so.”

But, well…. “We told you so.”

Despite us “telling” parents, coaches, and our local communities about the importance of long term skill development and a well- rounded approach to athleticism, it feels like many don’t listen until it’s too late. Overcoming this communication breakdown is essential for youth strength and conditioning coaches if we are going to truly create a positive impact on the kids in our community.

How do we get the world of youth athletics to not only hear our message, but embrace it?

I discovered this communication disconnect early in my career directing the youth athletic program at Todd Durkin’s Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego. I would send kids home with printed manifestos on the importance of long term athletic development. I would share the latest research and training paradigms with coaches and parents during team meetings and “parent night” promotions.

Despite some success, I quickly realized that the volume of information provided was not the limiting factor in creating change. It wasn’t until I changed the delivery method that I was able to actually impact more parents, coaches, and teams.

The overwhelm of daily life leaves adults with a limited capacity for absorbing new information. With the opinions, recommendations, and even outright facts we hear every day, we have to apply a filter for what we trust, understand, and believe to be relevant. It’s essential we keep these three components in mind when talking with parents, coaches, and other influencers in the community.

Get Them to Trust Your Message
Obviously, parents wouldn’t let their children work with us if they didn’t trust us. However, trust is hierarchical. When it comes to information, a parent may trust what we say more than someone on the street, but the family doctor, a former or current pro athlete, or someone they hold in “celebrity” regard is going to invoke their greatest level of attention.

 

If this isn’t you yet, it’s important to find out where the parents and coaches you work with get the information they trust. Can you develop a relationship with these people? Letting local pediatricians and orthopedic surgeons know about your program can create both a network of trust and referral.

You may need to go broader and find/share interviews or articles with celebrity athletes or professionals associated with them that back up your approach. I’m not saying it’s fair, but a parent will pay more attention to a short interview from the Rock saying, “The People’s Elbow thinks kids should be kids” than a 5-page research-cited thesis from you on the same topic.

Developing relationships with and sharing information from people high on a public information trust hierarchy increases the likelihood this information will be absorbed. It also slowly increases your social validation as an expert and one day you won’t need the middle man!

It’s also important to continually seek opportunities to write, speak, and educate. The more your name and face is in public, the more people recognize you as an expert and take heed in what you say.

Get Them to Understand Your Message
Founder of Precision Nutrition, John Berardi once wrote “With everything you send to a parent or coach, envision them reading or watching it while waiting at a red light with a minivan full of screaming kids, radio blaring, and coffee in hand. In other words, keep it short and simple.”

Long term athletic development, or LTAD, may be the hottest water cooler talk of our industry niche. However, this term means nothing to parents. They acknowledge and react largely to what is in front of them.

For information to be absorbed and understood, it needs to be delivered concisely and in the simplest terms. If you use video, shoot for 60 seconds or less with clear visual-based information. Boil down a complex concept into terms a grade-schooler could understand. Remember, the goal is not to impress colleagues. It’s to create a ground level understanding for people with no background in our field. Just imagine if you were learning how the stock market works in 60 seconds or less. How would you want that information presented?

For written information, use a single-sided page with large-font bullet points. Infographics are more shareable across all platforms and are by far the most effective. As far as the info, consider hard statistics, clear research findings, and bold data.

Make Your Message Relevant
In order for coaches, parents, and even ourselves to value information, relevance is key. Our information should inherently answer the question “Why do I need to know this?” While general concepts provide valuable insight, adults are surrounded by general concepts. In order to make it through the filter, information must be presented in a near “first-name” basis.

For example, if sharing general statistics on injury and early sport specialization, parents may or may not raise an eyebrow. They know the information is pooled through various ages and sports across the country. However, sharing sport-specific or age/sex related statistics particularly after someone on the team has become injured has a much greater impact.

I have actually contacted local leagues and gotten injury numbers for the reported concussions, ACL injuries, and shoulder/elbow pathology and compared them to national standards. These were some of the most impactful pieces of information I ever shared.

If there is a simple movement, mobility, or other evaluation found in the literature linked to injury prevention or performance, share it with parents. I’ve done these during live “parent nights” for teams knowing 90% of the room will fail. It puts the notion of “Why is this important to me” right in front of everyone’s face.

Most importantly, listen to parent’s questions and answer them. Write down the 10 most common and answer them through the “trust” and “understand” filters. When parents solicit questions, then trust and understand the answers, it’s a win.

As you can see, educating the public takes much more than posting rants about early sport specialization on social media and bashing the local coaches who buy into it. As youth strength and conditioning coaches on the right side of the cause, we have to be lighthouses of trustworthy, understandable, and relevant information. This station is arrived at through constant learning, educating, and most importantly, listening.

Strive to improve how you share your message and soon your entire community will join your mission to inspire the kids of today to become the happy, healthy, active adults of tomorrow!

Brett Klika is a youth performance expert and regular contributor to the IYCA.  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 old “windows of opportunity” Long Term Athlete Development model is a thing of the past.  Learn the truth about LTAD and how to approach athletes at every level in the IYCA’s LTAD Roadmap.  This is the most comprehensive approach to athlete development available.  Click on the image below to learn more.

Pre-Puberty Performance Plan – Brett Klika

Training youth isn’t merely “miniature-izing” adult programs.

Prior to puberty, youngsters’ physiology, psychology, and a host of other factors are significantly different than adults. As a matter of fact, the training effect of a program could be drastically different between a 10- year old and a 14-year-old.

These differences are well documented in the literature, however, practical program strategies to account for these differences are not.  In this article, I will be highlighting some of the unique  physiological and neurological aspects of pre-pubescent athletes, and how to program for success.  

Supercharging the Sensory System

As humans, our sensory system is the underlying mechanism that enables us to accurately take in input from the outside world and apply an action based on that input.  We are constantly adjusting our motor output based on what we see, feel, hear, and otherwise observe.

This system begins developing in the womb and experiences a drastic opportunity for further development during a child’s early years.  Notice the word “opportunity.”  Hours of active play while interacting with a variety of both indoor and outdoor environments was once the stimulus for tremendous development of a variety of athletic senses.

Unfortunately, the amount of time children engage in active play has been drastically decreased over the past 20 years.  The result is an observed decrease in the development of the wide variety of sensory capability needed to develop overall athleticism.  Additionally, behavior disorders such as ADD, ADHD, and aggression have witnessed an uptick, possibly due to widespread inactivity in youth.

 

What can we do?

Many of the critical periods for development of the sensory skills take place during the years prior to puberty. As the neural system develops, matures, and myelinates, it is critical that youngsters develop a relationship between perception and action.

Understanding the various sensory or “perceptual motor” skills and how they develop can broaden our impact with children. Check out a list of nine of the most prominent perceptual motor skills HERE. Creating warm-ups and activities that highlight sight, sound, balance, body awareness, directional awareness, and other sensory skills can help fine-tune this foundational skill-set of athleticism.

Additionally, provide opportunities for kids to make their own games, activities, rules, or even movement interpretations.  For example, call out three nonsense words, and have the kids immediately create movements for each, and tie them together in a movement sequence.  This can help “internalize” their sense of coordination and movement awareness.

These activities may not be directly related to perfecting game tactics or movement technique. They can serve merely to challenge different aspects of the sensory system in a fun, engaging environment.  Make it a goal to integrate at least 1-2 perceptual-motor focused activities into training each day.  Below are some group and individual examples.

Auditory Warm-Up Using Partner Cross Sound Tag

Movement variable warm up using Guided Discover

Zoo moves

Switch tag with visual cues

 

Developing Speed and Strength

Prior to puberty, kids have limited anaerobic capacity.  They often display a higher proportion of Type I muscle fibers and they preferentially use fat as fuel.  Lack of anabolic hormone interferes with an ability to increase muscle cross sectional area, which is generally associated with gains in strength. As one can see, children’s hormonal physiology doesn’t necessarily favor the development of speed and strength prior to puberty.

However, a child’s neuromuscular system is highly plastic and adaptable. It’s like a sponge for exploring, acquiring, and fine-tuning new skills.  Improvements in speed and strength prior to puberty stem from improved neuromuscular coordination as opposed to structural or hormonal physiology.  In order to improve coordination, practice makes perfect.  

Considering this, our primary goal prior to puberty should be to help create quality movement patterns and basic biological capacity (GPP anyone?). Puberty, then, supercharges this well- made machine.  Unfortunately, many well-intending coaches lose track of this when working with young athletes.  In a race to justify our work to parents and coaches, our assessment protocols often have more to do with maximal numbers than movement assessment.    

When considering the long- term impact of training a young athlete, an assessment of movement quality should be an integral aspect of a program.  Maximal numbers should be assessed, but developing quality motor patterns should be paramount.  

 

What can we do?

Begin with a simple checklist of 2-3 criteria for each movement, and progress to a more involved checklist as a child develops.  This helps both the athlete and the coach learn to become aware of the critical aspects of movement.   

Take the squat pattern for example. While there are numerous criteria that make up a proper squat, initially, merely bending the knees and lowering the hips to move under a barrier helps lay a foundation for the movement. These two criteria may represent a “level 1” category of assessment.  This may progress to a checklist involving spotting, use of an Olympic bar, proper depth, and even benchmark load criteria by “level 5”.

During the introduction of skills during the early years, it’s important to limit the coachable criteria and allow kids to explore the movement for themselves.  Again, skills are much more ingrained and adaptable when they are internalized. For example, skipping is an important movement for developing sprint technique.  Allowing, and even prompting, kids to skip with different body orientations (arms/legs wide and narrow, on heels, on tip toes, high knees, low knees) lets them form a context for effective movement.  They feel the difference between wide, flaying arms and narrow, driving arms.  They feel the propulsion of proper vs. improper movement of the knees and hips.

Creating obstacle courses that prompt children to move over, under, around, and through various barriers can offer a fun, natural environment to explore the different ways the body can move.  These “play” based approaches are also an opportunity for a high volume of practice with the basic precepts of a movement.

As a youngster progresses, create criteria that allow them to “earn” use of certain equipment or activities. If they want to push the prowler, they have to demonstrate the criteria for a perfect skip.  If they want to “use weights” they have to display passing criteria for the bodyweight versions of certain exercises.

The more children learn, practice, and truly feel the most efficient ways to move, the more opportunities they have to improve speed and strength before puberty and beyond.   

 

Conditioning

Pre-pubescent youngsters’ physiology favors the use of aerobic pathways (using fat) vs. anaerobic pathways (using glycogen) for providing the energy for performance. Children have limited intramuscular glycogen stores and observe higher levels of intramuscular triglycerides. Even their metabolic enzyme ratio favors the use of fat as fuel.

What does this mean in regards to improving aerobic and anaerobic capacity through targeted conditioning?

Due to the fact that most energy for movement is derived from aerobic pathways, pre-pubescent children observe far lower lactic acid accumulation than pubescent age children.  This suggests that children are able to recover quicker between bouts of exercise. Additionally, children are able to regenerate phosphocreatine faster than adults during rest.  Lower sympathetic nervous system activity during high-intensity exercise (compared to adults) also contributes to faster recovery times for pre-pubescent children.

On the other hand, during high intensity exercise, children are not able to re-synthesize ATP as fast as adults.  Due to this, they fatigue relatively quickly. Keeping high intensity bouts of exercise short and purposeful can optimize the positive training effect with children.

 

What can we do?

Prior to puberty, it makes very little sense to cater conditioning programs to the demands of a specific sport.  Repeated 40-yard sprints can reinforce running mechanics, but won’t necessarily alter physiology to favor anaerobic power output for a specific sport.  The early years of development represent a critical period for the development of a wide array of general, lifelong physical skills.

Consider creating conditioning circuits that focus on different aspects of athletic skill.  Incorporate the highlighted movement skills of the day, in addition to others.  Allow children the capacity to focus on proper execution by keeping work times relatively short (around 15 seconds).  Keep them engaged by keeping rest times relatively low as well (try a 1:1 work/rest ratio).  

Whenever possible, reinforce the proper development of skills and monitor for excessive fatigue. The greatest contributor to improving athletic performance prior to puberty is found in improved neuromuscular coordination.  When conditioning creates fatigue over function, it loses effectiveness.

Gamifying conditioning can improve performance and increase engagement.  Relay races, competitions, and other games provide an opportunity for the development of different movement skills in a fun format.

A well-run, targeted training program shouldn’t require extended daily training time for “conditioning”.  When a coach creates an opportunity and expectation for engagement within a training program, conditioning is merely an aspect of training with more tightly observed work to rest ratios.

Use these tips to maximize your lifelong impact with young athletes!

Brett Klika is a youth performance expert and regular contributor to the IYCA.  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.

Sport Specialization for Youth Athletes: Missing the Mark

True athlete development and sport specialization is more than just year-round training and competition. It should be part of a comprehensive approach that involves both cognitive and physical development through childhood and adolescence.  It should be a well thought-out, long-term pedagogic approach that fosters the acquisition of fundamental and sport specific skills while developing physical attributes such as speed, strength and endurance.

Unfortunately, a comprehensive, long-term approach is rarely implemented in youth sports.  Instead, coaches and parents get distracted by trophies, elite clubs and early successes, and they lose sight of the end goal.  This article will discuss a comprehensive approach to long-term development and sport specialization and dis-spell some of the misconceptions in athlete development. 

Fundamental motor skills start to emerge early in life and consolidate through childhood providing the playground for sport-specific skills to improve. Dr. Esther Thelen from Indiana University wrote about pre-adolescence as the “golden age of motor development,” representing a time for young and athletes to consolidate the foundation of movement while fostering the natural development of physical attributes such as strength, speed and endurance. Maria Montessori, a pioneer in the modern era of physical education said that “in the first three years of life, the foundations of both cognitive and physical development are laid.” Athleticism develops throughout childhood, moving from the spontaneous development of fundamental motor skills – walking, running/sprinting, jumping/landing, throwing/catching, striking, kicking and batting – to the acquisition of sport-specific skills and eventually mastery in sport. The process of learning new skills represents a fundamental component in developing young athletes.

Motor control significantly improves during childhood creating the foundation of a learning process that will eventually support the development of sport specific skills” (Blume, 1982).  According to Jean Cote, one of the leading experts in the field of youth psychology, early sport specialization seems therefore to contradict the physiological process of growth and maturation taking place during childhood and adolescence, by limiting the opportunity to develop a wide, solid foundation of functional motricity.

According to Henkel (2010) the consolidation of basic motor patterns among children and pre-adolescent athletes provides the opportunity to acquire new motor skills. Fundamental motor skills foster the natural development of general coordination, static and dynamic balance, rhythm, and proprioception while fostering optimal physical development through a process known in the literature as “deliberate play.”

Based on the original taxonomy of motor skills described Antoinette Marie Gentile in 1972, these fundamental motor patterns include proprioceptive skills such as coordination, balance and rhythm, locomotor skills such as leaping, hopping, bouncing and skipping, non-locomotor skills such as bending, curling, turning and twisting, as well as object-control skills such as catching, kicking, throwing and tossing. Fundamental motor skills evolve from simple to complex, from discrete to serial and from closed to open skills as children “learn how to learn.”  Motor control moves from general to specific according to the nature and the complexity of the movement in a learning process that evolves alongside with the physiological process of growth and maturation. For most young people, pre-adolescence is a time of heightened motor learning and development of general motor skills, and many physical improvements are attributed to neurological adaptation.

According to the youth sport specialization model described by Istvan Balyi and Ann Hamilton from the National Coaching Institute in British Columbia (Canada) pre-adolescent athletes should take full advantage of this time of intense motor learning by “acquiring general overall sports skills that are the cornerstone of all athletic development”.

Graph: Accommodation-Assimilation. The acquisition of sport specific skills throughout childhood and adolescence. The youth sport specialization model.

The acquisition of new skills represents, therefore, the endpoint of a process of assimilation and accommodation that bridges the gap between “learning to train” and “train to train.” This is the adaptation process described by Jean Piaget (1896-1980) as the “force driving the process of cognitive and physical development during childhood and adolescence”. Piaget described the first decade of life as a time of transition, or “a time of leaps and bounds” that reflects the effort of assimilating changes – both physical and cognitive changes – to accommodate a period of intense physical development.

In his “storm and stress theory,” G.H. Hall described the unpredictable sequence of physiological and psychological changes occurring during adolescence that affect the ability to tolerate stress, a key factor in the process of assimilating new skills.. Normative data has validated this model by describing what appears to be a common, predictable pattern of physical development for athletes through childhood and adolescence.

Cognitive skills rapidly develop after the age of three while physical attributes such as strength, speed and endurance follow a less predictable path that seems to suffer from a certain degree of discontinuity between times of intense linear growth (times of proceritas, from the Latin word procere meaning to increase in length ) and times of remarkable ponderal growth (turgor, from the Latin word turgere meaning to gain size). Such a discrepancy results in a temporary disruption (the storm) in what otherwise would be a continuous process of developing physical and cognitive skills.

 

GROWTH, MATURATION AND PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

Linear growth, ponderal growth and age-related physical development.

AGE MALE FEMALE PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT
2-4 Turgor Primus  

Fundamental Motor Skill

Coordination

 

5-7 Proceritas Prima
7-9  

Turgor Secundo

Turgor Secundo
9-11  

Proceritas Secunda

 

Speed and Agility

Anaerobic Power

 

11-13  

Proceritas Secunda

13-15 Turgor Tertius Relative Strength
15-17 Turgor Tertius  

Adult Age

 

Absolute Strength

Aerobic Power

17-21 Adult Age

 

Table: Growth, maturation and physical development. Linear growth, ponderal growth and age-related physical development.

It is not until peak height velocity (PHV), the apex of the physiological process of growth and maturation occurring between the age of 11 and 13, that the development of sport specific skills starts to match with the development of the fundamental physical attributes needed to compete in sport.

According to the youth physical development model described by Dr. Rhodri S. Lloyd and Dr. Jon L. Oliver from the Cardiff Metropolitan University (Wales, United Kingdom), the time that immediately follows PHV (sometimes referred to as the circa-pubertal phase) provides the perfect opportunity to introduce more structured, sport-specific training and competition.

Training effects before PHV seem to be mainly attributed to neurological components, while structural changes seem to occur after PHV when the endocrine response is greatly enhanced.  It appears that there is laying effect that occurs during maturation, and that skipping the foundational development of general movement skills may lessen the ability to master more complex sports skills during maturation.

According to David Kirk from the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow, Scotland) “by focusing on the training process rather than the end product of it – competition – pre-adolescence represents a time to invest in the development of those physical attributes that are necessary to compete in sport.

While all physical attributes seem to be trainable, the following appears to be the most appropriate general sequence of training focus and structure for most children (depending on the timing of PHV):

Ages 6-11:  The focus will be on general motor development, speed/agility, and learning technical sports skills such as dribbling, shooting, etc. with relatively low structure in the training process.

Ages 11-13:  Continue with speed/agility training and increase the time spent on relative strength/power.  Competition, training volume and overall structure begin to slowly increase during this time.  Sport specialization is considered and athletes may move toward this during this period.

Ages 13-16:  Structure & competition increase and the development of strength and/or hypertrophy are introduced.  Training volume continues to increase.  Sport specialization often takes place during this time.

Ages 16-18:  Structure & competition are heightened dramatically.  Strength/power development and overall work-capacity can be more highly emphasized, and the volume of training increases as work capacity improves.

Based on this information, diversification, rather than specialization, seems to represent the most rational approach to develop young athletes. The consolidation of a solid foundation of functional motor development at an early age provides the best opportunity to acquire sport-specific skills alongside with the natural development of physical attributes such as speed, strength and endurance during maturation. Italian scientist Carlo Vittori once said: “Sport specialization is the rational, well-organized process of developing young athletes that moves from general to specific skills, from simple to complex tasks, in the effort to foster, rather than override, the physiological process of growth and maturation. Specialization should be the consequence, and not the meaning, of developing athleticism.”

When coaches/parents skip important steps in a young person’s development, the layering effect of physical development can be compromised, leading to sub-optimal development of athleticism and sport skills.  By understanding this long-term approach to developing athleticism, we can potentially create greater long-term sporting success and do a much better job of implementing a true sport specialization strategy.  This can help young athletes enjoy sports and achieve optimal results throughout the maturation process.

Antonio Squillante is the Director of Sports Performance at Velocity Sports Performance in Los Angeles, California. He is in charge of the youth development program which includes over 100 athletes 17 years old and under competing in many different sports. Antonio graduated summa cum laude from the University San Raffaele – Rome, Italy – with a Doctorate Degree in Exercise Science.  He has worked in college and professional athletics, has written numerous articles and holds certifications from multiple organizations.

 

The IYCA Youth Fitness Specialist certification is the industry gold-standard for youth fitness and sports performance.  Click on the image below to learn more about the YFS1 certification program.

 

 

 

Youth Athletic Development Fundamentals

Youth athletic development and youth fitness are often talked about as “being important,” but truly understanding the foundations of these topics is critical if we’re going to make a difference in the lives of young people.  IYCA contributor and co-founder of SPIDERfit Kids, Brett Klika, created this in-depth video for the IYCA to lay out some of the fundamental principles involved when working with athletes 6-10 years old.

In the video, Brett discusses youth athletic development and youth fitness in ways that most parents and coaches don’t fully understand.  He lays out the concepts of motor development, games and play, fundamental movement skills, applied movement skills, body awareness, spatial awareness and more so that we can have a better understanding of how to integrate all of these factors into our training programs.  Taking advantage of all of these concepts will allow coaches to create more engaging programs for young athletes that will also improve overall physical literacy.

In addition to being a featured presenter and contributor for the IYCA, Brett takes puts these principles into practice with his SPIDERfit Kids program as he works with kids on both youth athletic development and youth fitness.  These aren’t just things he talks about – he has used these principles with thousands of young people.

This video will help you understand how to integrate information from the IYCA Youth Fitness Specialist certification with the concepts of game play and long-term athlete development.  All of these concepts work together to help foster complete athletic development and youth fitness, but it’s often difficult to know how to incorporate all of this when you’re actually working with a young athlete.

Sometimes, great coaches shy away from working with young athletes because they don’t understand how to keep them engaged.  Other times, it’s because these coaches simply don’t understand how to develop a young athlete.  The more we learn about and understand the importance of youth athletic development and youth fitness, the more we will have quality coaches working with young people.  Take a few minutes to watch this video on Youth Athletic Development Fundamentals and start integrating these concepts into your programming.

 

Powerful Play in Sports Performance, Part 2 – Brett Klika

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the physical and neurological benefits of facilitating play in your work with young athletes.  In case you missed it, here’s the Link to Part 1.  In Part 2, we’ll delve into some simple framework to make gamifying drills and activities quick and easy.

As performance coaches, we are often well versed in the pedagogy of teaching specific movement skills.  We’ve acquired a few fun-yet-fruitful activities and games along the way, but we can exhaust these rather quickly when working with kids on a daily basis.

The good news is that in order to maintain and build an arsenal of fun, engaging, and effective play-based activities, there’s no need to study and memorize the sacred almanacs of kids games.  With some simple guidelines, you can take the activities you’ve already had success with and make them a new, novel, and fun challenge.


While these guidelines tend to work best for grade school aged children, they are also effective for high school, college, and even adult populations.  


Consider the following game creation guidelines in order to engage your young athletes and develop the “intangibles” that play such a tremendous role in long term athletic development.

Guided Discovery- The Movement Variables

Play is a great teacher.  When we as coaches can guide play a bit, we can use it as a strategic tool to develop important skills.  

Guided discovery is the process of providing just enough direction so kids can experience not only the skill, but the process of learning.  During guided discovery, the focus is not so much on the precise development of a skill, but in the actions taken during the learning of that skill.  

Take a movement like a “skip”.  As a coach, we have a checklist of what a proper skip movement should entail.  However, instead of barking these commands to our athletes, guided discovery would walk them through the process of developing the skip movement on their own.

In order to do this, we would use “movement variables” to help them establish an internal context for the parameters of the movement.  “Walk with your knees high. Now walk with your knees low.  Walk like you’re on the moon reaching your hands up to the stars when you step.  Now leave the ground with every step, but keep your arms at your sides”.  

Through this “abstract” process, kids are developing an internal sense of movement efficiency and effectiveness.  They realize when they keep their arms at their sides, it’s harder to move.  They develop a feeling for the advantage of high knees.  

Instead of constant external correction, they are able to internalize and modify movement to make it better and more efficient.  

Infusing movement variables into warm-ups and familiar games not only makes them novel and fun, it further develops the body/brain connection within young athletes.  

To do this simply and quickly, merely take an established fundamental movement skill (squat, skip, lateral shuffle, push up, etc.) and pair it with 1 or more variables for effort (hard, soft, fast, slow, etc.), space (limbs, movement path), and/or relationships with people and objects (over, under, around, etc.).  

For example:

Fast-crawl backward while matching a partner in a zigzag path

Or

Play Tag while skipping backward, arms remaining wide

Or

Play dodgeball from the knees, crawling to the ball, only throwing with the left hand.

In both instances, a familiar activity is combined with a novel demand. The kids are learning context and parameters for movement while having fun with something “new”.  

Consider how this could be integrated into the activities you already do to increase engagement and coordination.

Watch guided discovery in action!

Creative Discovery- Word Adventures

While guided discovery activities have general parameters for movement, during creative discovery, no guidance is provided as children are free to discover different movement parameters on their own.  

Consider the words hop, roll, and explode.  How could each of these words be represented with movement?  How could they be combined in smooth transitions? What would adding punctuation do to the transitions between words?

For example: Hop. Roll, Explode!

Allowing the kids to interpret these movements and transitions on their own (with a general understanding of the vocabulary and punctuation conventions) combines powerful coordination and cognition.  

Since the concepts are completely novel and unfamiliar, kids must manually develop new movement patterns.  More learning, more coordination, more sensory awareness.  

And lots of fun!

With young kids, consider telling a story where they interpret movement words as part of an adventure.  Use nonsense or completely unfamiliar words to challenge them during warm ups or other activities.  Instruct them to move like animals, cartoon characters, or other objects.  

Realize the complex inner workings of a young child’s neuromuscular system when they have to create a new movement pattern from scratch.  

Powerful stuff!

Watch creative discovery in action!

Object Modification

While guided and creative discovery work best with grade school aged children, object modification is a simple game creation strategy for all levels of children (and adults)!

Consider games that require a ball or implement.  Merely by changing the size, shape, or other characteristic of the ball or implement, a whole new set of neuromuscular demands is created.  

For example, think of your favorite team “keep away” game.  How would the parameters of the game change with different implements? A tennis ball? Soccer ball? Frisbee? Balloon?

With young or uncoordinated children, this could give them a greater opportunity for success (i.e. balloon volleyball, beachball baseball).  For more advanced kids, this could highlight certain game tactics, improve conditioning, and/or develop additional skills sets.

A few years ago I was working with a women’s soccer team, I was playing a team keep-away game similar to soccer, but they were throwing a tennis ball to one another.  I replaced the tennis ball with my baseball hat.  

Immediately, they had to change tactics.  While they could look for a long shot with the tennis ball, they had to move constantly in close quarters with the hat. Successful exchanges required quick decisions, anticipation, and field movement.

Not only did it increase the conditioning demand, the coach loved the tactics it highlighted!

Consider how familiar games could be modified with different objects!

As you know, gamifying activities and drills can be a powerful way to increase athlete engagement while enhancing skill development.  Creating new games and activities does not have to be complex.  

The suggestions above provide a quick and simple framework to create games and other fun, novel activities to develop lifelong athleticism with your young athletes.   

 

Brett Klika is the CEO of SPIDERfit Kids and is an expert in Youth Development.  He was named the 2013 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year.

Brett is giving away a free pocket-guide with hundreds of movement variable combinations for warm ups and other activities,

CLICK HERE to get SPIDERfit’s Ultimate Youth Warm Up Cheat Sheet.

Powerful Play in Sports Performance, Part 1 – Brett Klika

“Coach, can we play Power Ball?”

I was a strength and conditioning coach for a High School football team, and the reward of 10 minutes of a chase -and- evade game with a tennis ball could get my players to do just about anything during training.

This is despite the fact that this particular game, with elements of soccer and rugby, required everyone on the field, including linemen, to run constantly.

As a performance coach, you have undoubtedly witnessed this phenomena  working with athletes and non-athletes from kids to adults.

The miracle of “gamifying” has now extended from athletics to the fitness industry and beyond.  Corporations are now paying a kings ransom to organizations that can help teach business concepts through interactive games.

So why are games and other forms of play so effective for teaching, developing, and reinforcing concepts of performance and competition?

In the world of sports, coaches and athletes are actually immersed in the world of play.  After all, athletic competition has been embraced for centuries as what Stuart Brown M.D., Author of Play and founder of the National Institute of Play, refers to as “War play”.

Prior to sports being widely embraced, competition among individuals most often took on the form of war or battle.  Societies discovered that from the demands of war, certain positive aspects were developed among individuals and groups.  To decrease the “cost” of developing such aspects, non lethal ways of competing were developed.

Additionally, “play” behavior appears to be in our DNA, as well as in organisms as simple as insects. Scientists believe this tendency has evolved to allow species a physical and emotional outlet, allowing for greater social and cognitive development.

While sports once served as a play-based, “release” for the tensions otherwise associated with war, our kids are often placed under increasing pressure to perform athletically  at younger and younger ages.  Instead of an outlet, athletic performance is becoming the currency that stratifies many life opportunities for youngsters.

Play has become work for many children.

The rigors of athletic preparation are a tremendous tool for developing traits of teamwork, commitment, resiliency, and tactical proficiency.  However, by letting our athletes “play” within the confines of training, we can facilitate motivation, creativity, and camaraderie, in addition to other coaching “intangibles”.

These intangibles culminate to create an athlete’s individual desire to not only compete at a high level, but continue competing.  Looking at various research and the available data, it appears the number one determining factor in long term athletic success is most highly correlated with a child’s overall enjoyment with an activity.

Consider as well children who are not athletically inclined.  The physical benchmarks naturally established by sports and regimented athletic preparation remind them daily of their ineptitude.  Unsurprisingly, these kids often abandon physical activity altogether and contribute to the statistic suggesting nearly 1/3 of our countries children are obese.  For these kids, play-based activities often strip the status quo of athletics and allow them to explore endless opportunities to be active.

Aside from the “obvious” advantageous offered by infusing novel games and activities into an athletic preparation or physical activity program, consider the underlying neuromuscular mechanisms below that make play so powerful.

Development of the “Perceptual Motor Skills”

The ability for our senses to perceive, send a message to the brain, and have the brain create the appropriate response is the true underlying foundation for athletic, cognitive, and even social development.

As humans, we depend on input from a variety of senses to inform our physical, mental, and emotional decisions. These sensory skills, or “perceptual motor skills” create an important link between our body and brain.

Consider the following perceptual skills that help make up our ability to move and learn effectively:

Body Awareness:  Understanding the parts of the body and various ways they can move.

Directional Awareness: The ability to understand the directions of the body (right, left, up, down, etc.) and to be able to move in all planes of motion.

Spatial Awareness:  A concept of how much space the body occupies in relation to the surrounding environment.

Temporal Awareness:  The sense of timing, rhythm, and precision.

Vestibular Awareness:  An internal sense of the head and body’s position in relation to gravity.

Proprioceptive Awareness: The ability to interpret the internal sense of where the body and specific joints are in space and in relation to each other, and how much force/velocity they are exerting.

Tactile Awareness: The ability to appropriately respond to touch, in addition to differentiation of objects by size, texture, and shape.

Visual Awareness:  The ability to visually focus, track, and take in broad fields of view.

Auditory Awareness: The ability to accurately interpret and respond to sound.

When these skills are in tune, the “perceive- relay- respond” mechanism is optimized, allowing for improved overall physical and cognitive performance.

We begin developing these skills in infancy and continue throughout life.  While different sensory skills develop at different rates, research suggests a “sensory rich environment” not only helps fully develop these skills, it accelerates the process.

Consider how broad development of the sensory skills intertwines with play and performance in youth sports.

When children filled their time with unstructured play and multi-sport participation, every aspect of their sensory system was developed as they rolled down hills, threw baseballs, dribbled basketballs, kicked kickballs, and participated in any number of novel activities on a daily basis.

Currently, data suggests that a growing number of children are narrowing the physical activities they participate in on a daily basis.  They either are inactive, favoring video games over unstructured play, or they are funneled into early sport specialization.

Both of the above situations result in confining the sensory rich environment required to fully develop the perceptual motor skills of learning and athleticism. Novel games and activities during practice, training, or exercise sessions can help combat this trend, broadening the sensory skills these children have the opportunity to develop.

Consider an 8- year- old baseball player that has been convinced (against your advice as a development coach)  to forgo other sports in favor of year-round baseball.  Within the baseball environment, this child will practice and hone a small set of sensory skills.  While this can help baseball performance at a young age, a more broad spectrum of skills will be required to perform at a high level at an older age.

Facilitating targeted activities and games that require these children to use the senses outside of the small set required for baseball can help create an environment that optimizes overall development.

Pro sports are full of athletes attributing their on-field success to activities outside of their primary sport.  Dance, martial arts, gymnastics, and other surprising activities during their youth are often credited for shaping the unique athletic ability they ultimately developed.

It’s obvious that aside from an outlet from the demands and expectations from their “money” sport, these activities helped develop the underlying sensory skills that allowed them to become adaptable, resilient, and proficient.

As you can see, facilitating play within practice and training is a powerful tool to fully develop and engage the youngsters you work with.  In part 2 of this article, discover a framework to quickly and easily gamify drills and other activities to supercharge your training sessions!

 

brett klikaBrett Klika CSCS is the Co-founder and CEO of SPIDERfit Kids and an international expert in the area of youth development.  He has spent many years working with Todd Durkin at Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, CA and was named the 2013 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year.

The IYCA’s Game Play Performance by Dave Gleason and Dave Jack gives you the tools to easily gamify your drills.

Game Play

Your Opportunity for Impact in Youth Fitness & Performance

Making an Impact in Youth Fitness and Performance

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

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

Watch this video for more!!

Comment below!


Help Your Athletes Get Prepared to Perform by Checking This Out

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A Message from Dave Jack

Dave Jack’s Powerful Message

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


About Dave Jack

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

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

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


Check Out the IYCA Store!

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

First Movement, Then Stability, Finally Mechanics

Movement, Stability & Then Mechanics

“Proper Body Mechanics” is a hot topic in any sport. Perhaps because over decades of research, video analysis and studying elite athletes there are seemingly very common trends on how to exceed in sports.

Whether throwing a baseball, shooting a hockey puck, or putting in a header, there is an “ideal” way to perform these tasks to optimize results. So the most important thing for any coach or trainer to focus on is body mechanics? Not necessarily.

Do you have a tennis player that always falls short of full extension with a serve? How about an athlete that can’t keep proper knee alignment with a squat?

There is a concept that precedes body mechanics, something much more fundamental than the correct foot position when lining up with a 7 iron.

It is this: Can your body physically do what you are asking it to do?

Movement: Making Motion

lacrosse-165576_640The human body is designed with 200+ bones that provide structure for movement to occur.

Among all those bones are a bunch of different joints, with distinct functions that allow various types of movement.

Hip and shoulder joints are designed for motion in all directions, knees and elbows in one direction, and ankles and wrists use a series of joints and bones to make little circles.

Laying on top of this structural support and center of movement are muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissue that puts humans into motion. Functional movement is very important.

PRO TIP: If an athlete cannot functionally move in the way that is ideal for athletic performance then that has to be addressed first.

Stability: Controlling Movement

Stability in a broader sense is the ability to generate motion while remaining in control. You want a car with a “stable chassis” which allows for moving at high speeds while keeping everything together. The athletic body craves the same ability to produce ideal body mechanics.

Most relevant to sports and strength conditioning, stability comes from core control. This is the ability to control the arms and legs while providing a stable platform and base of support.

It can be said that you only are as fast as your ability to stop. This perhaps is not true where there is plenty of time for the body to slow down, such as a 100m sprint. Otherwise, if an athlete has to change directions quickly, speed will be limited by the brakes.

This extends to throwing a baseball as well, as the rotator cuff has to prevent the shoulder from dislocating after a throw. Sports performance is limited by the ability to stop efficiently, an important consideration when we talk about controlling motion.

PRO TIP: Control is key to sports performance. The ability to control one’s body effectively is what creates an ideal environment for sports success.

Mechanics: Mastering Performance

If an athlete is capable of moving and stopping motion appropriately then everything else is about performance.

Humans have a phenomenal capacity for neural plasticity. This means we are capable of adapting the brain and nervous system to learn new tasks and master them.

So why is mechanics training so important with young athletes? Because learning carries for life.

PRO TIP: Keep preaching the mechanics! In baseball, for every odd throwing style or batting stance there are 99 that all do it pretty much the same way. Proper mechanics is not only about producing home runs, 3 pointers, and touchdowns but it is also about reducing wear and tear.

Every athlete will succumb to the limits of volume at some point, but those limits are significantly reduced when mechanics are crappy.

Dr. Keith Cronin, DPT


About the Author: Keith Cronin

Keith CroninKeith J. Cronin is a physical therapist and owner of Sports and Healthcare Solutions, LLC. Keith currently supports US Operations for Dynamic Tape®, the “Original” Biomechanical Tape®, providing guidance for education, research and distribution. He graduated with his Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) from Belmont University in 2008 and later earned his Orthopedic Certification Specialist (OCS).

Prior to graduate school, Keith was a collegiate baseball player and top-level high school cross country runner. He also had the opportunity to work as a personal trainer (CSCS) prior to his career in physical therapy, providing a very balanced approached to educating fitness and rehabilitation. Keith has focused his career on the evaluation, treatment, injury prevention, and sports conditioning strategies for athletes, with particular attention to youth sports. He currently lives in the St. Louis, MO area with his wife and two daughters, Ella and Shelby.


Prepare Your Athletes To Perform

Learn how to leverage the Long-Term Athletic Development Model to ensure your athletes are prepared to perform. In expert Wil Fleming’s free 7-minute video and PDF checklist, he covers how to create a training system that prepares young athletes to move better, get stronger, and enhance their performance.

Learn More

 

3 Reasons To Become A Youth Fitness Specialist

Reasons To Become A Youth Fitness Specialist

youth trainingAt the International Youth Conditioning Association we are proud of the fact that we provide education for coaches and trainers just like you.

It is important to us to provide research-based information coupled with practical application.

Our Youth Fitness Specialist Certification does that, and there are many reasons that being a Youth Fitness Specialist can be a benefit to you and the athletes/kids you work with. Here are just a few:

Reason #1: A Youth Fitness Specialist is Confident

Working with young kids can be challenging, from programming to exercise selection and timing, there is a lot to know.

Training kids like “mini adults” is simply unacceptable. This is why it is important for the Youth Fitness Specialist to know all the details on working with kids during crucial developmental phases to provide them with the optimal training.

Confidence is reflected in the quality of the programs and presentations as a coach. The Youth Fitness Specialist knows how to coach each athlete as an individual, even in a group/team setting. They can provide customized experiences and build long lasting relationships with clients based on research and practical application.

The Youth Fitness Specialist can be confident in getting results.

Reason #2: A Youth Fitness Specialist is Marketable – Be the Go-To Coach

Look around your community, do you know any Youth Fitness Specialists? It’s likely that there are very few that specialize with kids. Specializing can differentiate you from other coaches and trainers in the area.

Of course, becoming the go-to trainer takes a lot more than a certification, but becoming a Youth Fitness Specialist will give you the tools and resources to prove just why you ARE the go-to trainer in your area.

Use the credential to expand your programming, coach athletes in the way they need to be coached and build a network of trusting clients.

Reason #3: A Youth Fitness Specialist Can Educate Others

Probably the most important thing you can be when working with kids is a “student”. Simply put, coaches should never stop learning.

One of the greatest benefits of becoming a Youth Fitness Specialist (or in educating yourself on any topic), is that you can educate others. Answering the “whys” of youth fitness and performance is an important component of any coach’s job.

Educate yourself so you can educate others.

Julie Hatfield


Want to Become a Youth Fitness Specialist?

Become a Youth Fitness Specialist today for $100 OFF.

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Performance Training Issues Solved by Standardizing?

Can Performance Training Issues Be Solved by Standardizing?

The goal of Performance Training programs for young athletes is simple: create more injury-resistant and higher-performing athletes.

After years of coaching parents and youth, it is evident that performance training is still not held as an essential or non-negotiable part of an athlete’s career.

How can performance training become a non-negotiable activity for athletes?

Let’s look at other activities that are common with youth, like karate, gymnastics, and boy/girl scouts. In all of these, you can find achievement progressions exemplified in the use of belts, levels or badges.

These progressions provide a clear guide for how a participant can achieve success. Performance Training programs could be standardized in a similar fashion. However, we need to first address some of the current issues.

Current Issues

Stopping When Functional

Many training programs utilize a program model that has the athlete completing achievement, and there is no longer any room for improvement. Typically, this occurs once the athlete appears to be moving and functioning fundamentally.

So…now what?

Pro Tip: Create a “ladder” of achievement for young athletes. This ladder will allow them to continue to move toward a Performance Training program. Once they have qualified for this program, there is a new set of criteria for advancement.

No Mastery of Skills

Over the last decade or so, the onset of “functional strength” has meant that young athletes are introduced to a wide variety of movements including unstable surfaces, single leg exercises and more.

These variations are meant to induce “sport specific” characteristics. While that is great, the athletes never become masters of any one skill because they only scratch the surface of multiple variations.

Pro Tip: Focus on the “big bang” movements: squat, dead lift, bench, power clean, overhead press and loaded carries. These movements provide the foundation of the program until mastery is achieved.

Athletes need to learn the basics before moving on to a more complex exercise. You would not have a basketball athlete practice a cross-over dribble when they cannot dribble a ball with one hand.

Lack of Next Level Necessities

karate-502384_640As athletes grow and develop, they may have aspirations of playing their sport(s) at a collegiate level. This may be seen as an opportunity to earn a scholarship.

As a result of the focus on sport-specific training, oftentimes, an athlete never properly learns or completes the functional lifts.

Pro Tip: Focus on teaching the basics and doing “simple things savagely well” (as Mark Verstegan says), then athletes will be optimally prepared for the strength demands and the rigors of performing at the next level.

Focusing on Simply “Moving Weight”

There seems to be a trend in the youth strength and conditioning world of simply lifting a “specific weight”. This creates numerous concerns.

  • The focus on this “number” may create a situation where a teammate or coach assists with a lift, and the athlete is actually not capable of lifting this weight.
  • Larger athletes might not feel compelled to progress past a specific weight.
  • Smaller athletes may feel less confident as they are not able to reach the weight.

Pro Tip: When determining measuring metrics, consider each individual’s strength relative to their body weight. For example, a 300lb squat for a 300lb lineman is a lot different than a 300lb squat for a 150lb athlete.

No Positivity

There is a lack of emphasis on positive reinforcement for proper movement or great performances in many programs. This can have a negative impact on the athlete’s confidence levels, create a negative learning environment and/or stall or decrease progress, to name a few.

Pro Tip (BONUS!): This may be the most important item to take away. You must praise and provide feedback to your athletes. This does not have to mean “everyone gets a medal,” but for example, you earn colored bands as you improve.

Higher-level bands are a sign of proficiency and progress, the athlete becoming more self-aware, confident, and stronger. We should provide reinforcement for these attributes!

SUMMARY

By creating a standardized system, you provide athletes, parents and coaches with a simplistic and organized path to athletic success in your program.

ADAPT and Conquer,
Coach Jared


About the Author: Jared Markiewicz

JarredJared is founder of Functional Integrated Training (F.I.T.). F.I.T. is a performance-based training facility located in Madison, WI. They specialize in training athletes of all levels: everyday adults, competitive adults and youth ages 5-20+.

The long-term vision for F.I.T. is recognition as the training facility for those desiring to compete at the collegiate level in the state of Wisconsin. Alongside that, to also develop a platform to educate those in our industry looking to make strides towards improving the future for our young athletes.

Find out more about Jared’s gym by visiting F.I.T.

Career Highlights

  • 2014 Fitness Entrepreneur of the Year – Fitness Business Insiders
  • 2014 IYCA Coach of the Year Finalist
  • Volunteer Strength Coach for West Madison Boys Hockey and Westside Boys Lacrosse
  • Helped develop dozens of scholarship athletes in 3 years of business
  • Instructed Kinesiology Lab at UW-Madison
  • Houses an internship program at F.I.T. that started in 2013
  • Member of Elite Mastermind Group of Nationwide Fitness Business Owners

Want to Learn More about Standardization?

Check out Jared’s Module in INSIDERS with this Exclusive Trial.

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Kettlebell Complexes for Conditioning: Important Factors

Kettlebell Complexes for Conditioning

Pamela MacElree provides us with a lot of content on kettlebell training for kids. She mostly talks about kettlebells being a great tool for introducing strength training to athletes and learning movement mechanics.

In her recent INSIDERS EXCLUSIVE post, Pamela spoke about how easy and simple it is to switch from one exercise to another, providing a great avenue for complexes and challenging all ranges of abilities and levels.

She mentions, that “there are many different ways to program conditioning into athlete workouts but adding in kettlebell complexes is a great way to get a lot of work completed in a short period of time. There are two distinct ways to do complexes and they each have their own level of difficulty.”

Check out the complexes in Insiders today!

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Important Factors for Kettlebell Complexes

Here are important factors to “check off” and consider when applying kettlebell complexes in your programs:

  • Transitions are important – One kettlebell exercise should put you in a good position for the next kettlebell exercise in the complex.
  • Athletes should be proficient in each exercise in the complex – You do not want to introduce new exercises in a complex. Be sure that the athlete is proficient in individual exercises prior to putting them back-to-back in a complex.
  • Ability to recall exercises – Complexes should make sense to your athletes. You don’t want to compile a boat-load of exercises into one complex. They will spend most of the time trying to remember what is next, losing focus on the form and mechanics.
  • Find the balance – Balance the number of exercises in the complex with the complexity of the exercises themselves. Keep it simple.

Pamela has provided our Insiders with exclusive videos on two complexes. If you are currently an Insider, log in and check them out! If not, you can snag them for a month at only $1.


About Pamela MacElree

Pamela has owned and operated her own fitness business in the Philadelphia area for the last decade. In addition to training clients, she has spent the past 4 years coaching other fitness professionals through FR Nation.

Pamela has her Masters degree in Sports Performance and Injury Prevention, and also has expertise in kettlebell training, women’s fitness training, time management, goal setting and accountability. Pamela lives in Mt Airy, PA with her husband and their three furry, four-legged children: Bella, Leo & Max.

Overcome Summer Programming Hurdles [High School]

Overcoming Summer Programming Hurdles

Programming for the high school athlete during the summer has its challenges. Does it seem like the summer is getting shorter and shorter?

Here are 6 hurdles you will see if you work with high school athletes. More importantly, check out the Pro Tips for ways to overcome them!

Hurdle #1: Vacations

Families want to use the summer for vacations and let’s face it, they can’t always plan it around a strength and conditioning program.

Often they are planned around work schedules and other siblings. As a performance coach, it is challenging to adjust for every athlete when there are 30, 40 and up to 100 kids involved in summer programming.

summer-814679_640Pro Tip: Set the expectations at the beginning of the program. For example, expect athletes to make a certain percentage of the summer workouts.

You can also give athletes a supplemental workout for vacations, so they are still getting the benefits of your program, even if they can’t attend.

Hurdle #2: Sports Camps

It’s summer camp season, which is not a bad thing. However, it can have its challenges for the performance coach. Consulting with parents and players about which camps the athlete attends is very important.

Too many sports camps can have a negative outcome, not because they are a “bad camp”, but because it can be too much in combination with a summer strength & conditioning program. There is a balance, which will reduce the risk of over-training and burnout.

Pro Tip:  Work with the athlete and parents to find the balance, be flexible and do your research on opportunities that are appropriate for your individual athletes. Be sure to know when the athlete will be gone and adjust for that in their programming.

Hurdle #3: Lifestyle

Summer days often take kids out of any sort of routine. Sleeping habits, eating habits, etc. can all change. Let’s face it, it can get pretty sloppy.

Pro Tip: Provide morning workouts! Athletes that train in the morning will start their day off on the “right foot”. This “Get Up and Train” mentality will ultimately provide athletes with a structured morning routine that will also prep them for their respective sports.

Hurdle #4: Summer Teams

catcher-377677_640Summer travel teams are full-force right now. It is necessary that it is acknowledged. This will be a challenge in respective athletes’ programming, but don’t fight it…look at it as an opportunity to educate parents and players!

Pro Tip: EDUCATION! This is the most important thing you can provide your athletes in their programming. They will play on travel and club teams, but do they understand how to balance practices, games, skill and their strength & conditioning? This is where you provide valuable insight and knowledge.

Don’t be a “my way or the highway” coach. Communicate and educate athletes, parents and even other coaches on the value of athletic development as they progress through their high school careers.

Hurdle #5: Summer Jobs

Summer jobs are something to encourage. This is a great time for athletes to get a glimpse of the real world. They will learn to balance their time and set priorities.

Pro Tip: Help athletes find the balance between work and training. This may mean they need to leave early or come late. Don’t discourage this opportunity, they can do both.

Hurdle #6: Transportation

Lastly, some will have transportation issues. If they can’t drive themselves, they have to rely on someone else.

Pro Tip: Suggest car-pooling and have flexibility.

Summary

There are many challenges that performance coaches can face during the summer months. These 6 show the possible hurdles in participation, and ways that they can be overcome.


About the Author: Joshua Ortegon

Joshua OrtegonJoshua Ortegon
Joshua currently consults and programs for athletes of all levels. He operated Athlete’s Arena for 10 yearsa sports performance and fitness center in Irmo, SC and sold that business in 2015. Josh is currently Director of Performance at Dual Threat Training Group in Albany, GA.

His career highlights include training over 100 athletes who moved from high school to college and 15 professional baseball athletes. He also developed 36 return to sport programs to help bridge the gap between rehab and performance for the athlete. He can be reached at JoshuaLOrtegon@gmail.com.


Need Help With Your Summer Programming?

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5 Injury Myths You Need to Know

Injury Myths: What You Need to Know

football-619243_640Does it just seem that some people are more injury prone than others? I know this from personal experience, I was one of them.

Perhaps that’s what drove me to become a physical therapist—a yearning to understand what was wrong with me.

Along the way I learned a few things and with that, I now share with you my favorite 5 Injury Myths.

5 Injury Myths

Injury Myth #1: “A Torn Rotator Cuff is a Torn Rotator Cuff. Doesn’t Matter How It Happened.”

 
The cause of injury is just as important as the injury itself.

I remember once having a 45-year-old male construction worker and an 18-year-old baseball pitcher both in rehab at the same time for reconstructed rotator cuffs.

What stood out in that moment was the athlete saying, “Oh, he has the same thing as me.” Not even close.

The construction worker was carrying a ladder over his shoulder and turned a corner, hit a wall, and it jerked his arm backward causing a forceful twisting of the shoulder, shredding the rotator cuff.

The baseball pitcher was the result of throwing 150+ pitches a game, back-to-back days for several years. These two injuries are not the same.

The construction worker’s injury was the result of instantaneous load that exceeded his ability to control motion. The baseball player’s injury was from years of microtrauma. The former was an accident, and the later was more deliberate.

These two are not rehabilitated the same way or for the same purpose due to age, cause, and desired return to a specific activity.

Injury Myth #2: “Kids heal faster than adults. You don’t need to worry about them as much.”

 
Oh contraire! Adults have fully formed, constructed body parts that when damaged, a blueprint exists to reform the broken parts.

It sure won’t occur as fast as children but the body’s healing mechanisms have an idea of where everything is supposed to go.

Children, particularly athletes, are in the process of writing the blueprints.

There is a pre-determined set of instructions that is being edited daily by the forces of physics. With enough beating and breaking, even the most resilient athlete may result in having these blueprints messed up.

I am not talking about legs and arms that are 3 inches shorter or longer. I am referring to subtler things such as lower legs that are prone to shin splints or bony formations in the shoulder from inappropriate friction. This stuff shows up later.

It is imperative that the body tissues get to the finish line, fully completed, and ready for the decades of life to come.

Injury Myth #3: “The more it hurts the worse the injury is.”

 
Pain is not input, it is output. Past experiences, desire, experience with handling injury, mood, environment, and education are just a few of the things that cause pain.

In our multi-billion dollar youth sports world that is high competition and high volume (both of which need a bit of balancing but that is for another blog post) this idea of pain is tricky.

Pro Tip: If there are concerns, it is best to leave it to the professionals. When your car starts making funny noise, unless you are a mechanic, you don’t open up the hood and start moving things around. Same with your young athlete—take them to the shop for a diagnostic and tune up.

Injury Myth #4: “Swelling is not a big deal as long as the body part is wrapped.”

 
Swelling does something funny to body parts, particularly joints: it makes them work pretty crappy.

Swelling is the body’s natural response to damage—starting an inflammation process to get rid of damaged tissue and restore parts to normal working order. It also shuts down muscle activity to help facilitate this regeneration.

Pro Example: Clinically, if I have an athlete recovering from an ACL surgery and during the course of sports conditioning the knee gets really swollen, I will shut everything down. Why? Because I know that thigh muscle is going to fire as fast or as strong due to the joint swelling. That could impact the stability of the joint, putting the ACL at risk. This could also be true that the same swelling makes the knee less responsive, sluggish if you will.

Fluid is not compressible, which is why we have hydraulic systems in our cars. It helps transfer energy from one area to the other because fluid cannot compress.

Everything else in your body, including nerves, ligaments, muscles, even bones are compressible and that fluid pressure wreaks havoc on all the parts affected.

Injury Myth #5: “If it hurts, just take some anti-inflammatories and it will be fine.”

 
I would like a few doctors to give their two-cents on this one but I am happy to stick with this simple statement: Stop it.

Children are not adults. If you have an athlete that is taking fifteen 200mg tablets of ibuprofen every day to get him through hockey season, just sit down and ask yourself, why?

bandage-1235337_640If your doctor made this suggestion then follow orders.

There is a reason for this, but if it’s because this OTC, cheap treatment gets your athlete through the day and without it they are miserable, limping blobs of pain, then there is no understanding of “the why”.

Almost every serious overuse injury that resulted in missing whole seasons or having surgery before the age of 20 has a similar backstory.

Many times parents and athletes do not report this to the doctor. They weren’t hiding anything, they just thought this was the norm and wasn’t worth mentioning. THIS IS NOT NORMAL!

A drug that has interactions on the body should not be taken lightly just because the athletic world has been eating them like Skittles for decades.

Dr. Keith Cronin, DPT


Get Your Prepared to Perform Free Gift Today

Learn how to leverage the Long Term Athletic Development Model to ensure your athletes are prepared to perform. In expert Wil Fleming’s free 7-minute video and PDF checklist, he covers how to create a training system that prepares young athletes to move better, get stronger and enhance their performance.

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About the Author: Keith J. Cronin

Keith CroninKeith J. Cronin is a physical therapist and owner of Sports and Healthcare Solutions, LLC. Keith currently supports US Operations for Dynamic Tape®, the “Original” Biomechanical Tape®, providing guidance for education, research, and distribution. He graduated with his Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) from Belmont University in 2008 and later earned his Orthopedic Certification Specialist (OCS).

Prior to graduate school, Keith was a collegiate baseball player and top-level high school cross country runner. He also had the opportunity to work as a personal trainer (CSCS) prior to his career in physical therapy, providing a very balanced approached to educating fitness and rehabilitation. Keith has focused his career on the evaluation, treatment, injury prevention, and sports conditioning strategies for athletes, with particular attention to youth sports. He currently lives in the St. Louis, MO area with his wife and two daughters, Ella and Shelby.

 

3 Ways to Optimize Performance of the Mind

Optimizing Performance of the Mind

Get three case-study examples and mental toughness tips from Sport Psychology Expert, Dr. Haley Perlus…for FREE!

Who else wouldn’t want the ability to help athletes develop the mental side of their game and eliminate the fears and roadblocks that may be preventing them from their true potential?

Mental toughness training is becoming more prevalent in the youth fitness and performance arena. With the pressure to “be your best”, coaches, trainers and parents are looking for the edge.

Packaging physical and mental toughness into one athlete is a rare thing, but the athletes that have this are certainly among the ones that stand out. The good news is you have the ability to train athletes to use their brain in any game.

3 Things that will Improve Your Athlete’s Mental Toughness

Below are three things that you can start talking about today that will improve your athlete’s mentality and mental toughness.

#1: Practice Being Present

BrainPresence of mind is important in all training. We may channel this into focus in some cases. In their younger years, kids are familiar with what focus means, but don’t realize that practicing it can improve effort and outcomes.

To be truly present, no matter the age, an athlete can channel their thoughts into one bucket or one area. This could be a focal point or an idea.

Practice having your athlete focus on one thing. For example, a single leg hold is a great tool to demonstrate the importance of being present. If their eyes are wandering and mouths are chattering, it’s likely they will not be able to accomplish the hold.

Identify this as an example of being present and focused. This skill will be integral as they grow into their bodies and future movements.

Pro Tip: Use this exercise with older athletes as well. Take it one step further and relate it back to their sport or training. Adjust the amount of time that you require focus, depending on their age and abilities.

Question for Your Athlete(s): When will you need to use this kind of presence/focus during a game or during training?

#2: Retrain Your Brain

MindsetPatterns and habits are all shaped and molded by experience. Often, athletes think that “what is” is “what has to be”.

It is possible to retrain your brain, and as a performance coach you need to recognize when and how to help your athletes do that.

Reframing thoughts can be challenging, and it takes patience and practice. It’s about turning “I CAN’T do that” into “I CAN do that”.

Eliminate certain vocabulary that negatively impacts the athlete’s mind.

Words like can’t, won’t and don’t can trigger negative responses. Think in terms of can, will and do. Here is an example:

WHAT YOU HEAR: I can’t hit the ball.

REFRAMED: I can hit the ball when I focus on seeing the ball into the zone.

Pro Tip: Focus on the can’s, will’s and do’s of training.

Question for Your Athlete(s): How can you turn that statement into a statement that is positive?

#3: No Thinking Allowed

stupidOverthinking leads to underperforming. Parents and coaches fill the brains of athletes with things they need to think about and instructions like “do this” and “do that”.

It’s time to put the brakes on.

Pro Tip: Create cue words that elicit a response that you want, but doesn’t overcomplicate the process.

Athletes should know that they don’t need to think about things all the time. Sometimes they need to stop thinking in order to let the real magic happen.

Recognize the athletes that overthink innately, and be tactful in your approach to teaching. Overcoaching leads to underperforming too…which is just another way of saying, stop filling their heads with useless information.

When the outcome is there, let it be. If it isn’t, and you aren’t getting there…let it go for the day and say “no thinking allowed.”

Summary

There are many practical and applicable ways to help your athletes achieve mental toughness. Get free access on how to discover ways to help your athletes overcome their greatest fears and conquer obstacles.

Julie Hatfield

Baseball Season is a Marathon – Not a Sprint

As baseball season is well underway in most areas of the country, youth athletes across the country are dusting off gloves and bats and have geared their arms up for the spring season.

At any age, there is a sense of urgency to make every toss faster and further than the one before it. No matter the position, throwing can cause wear and tear on even the most prepared arm.

Here are THREE recommendations that every athlete should follow to keep them ON the field and OUT of the doctor’s office.

#1: Mechanics over Throwing More

The idea that to throw better you just need to “throw more” is rampant in the youth sports arena. It seems the same goes for all sports. Shoot more baskets, hit more slap shots, or simply jump until you can’t jump higher.

There is some truth to this but the key word here is some.Boy Throwing

Pro Tip: There are volume limits of which the shoulder and elbow can tolerate before breakdown sets in and thus the title of this article.

Young athletes come out of the gate sprinting in late winter/early spring and wear their arms out before things really heat up.

Teaching proper mechanics is one great strategy to reduce wear and tear on the arm. No different than a car with poor alignment where one tire wears faster than the others, the same is true for throwing. A great way to do this is to focus on throwing mechanics at the beginning and end of each practice. Perhaps it’s odd to focus on mechanics when the arm is exhausted but this is where education is most important.

The goal here is two fold.

First, having the athlete focus on throwing correctly, even for short distances, will reinforce correct mechanics while tired. Second (and most important), if a baseball player cannot throw correctly because their arm is too tired or it hurts, then it’s time to stop!

Too often athletes will just “sling” the ball or alter mechanics to keep throwing. This is a very bad idea. This is another solid education moment for any athlete because fatigue and pain seems to help absorb words better than when things are going well.

#2: Strengthen the Support System Throughout the Season

Once the season starts, the strength and conditioning that was done in preparation seems to go by the wayside. This makes sense, as there are so many hours in the day and hitting your cutoff man takes precedent over crunches.

Throwing requires a complex series of movements and too often we focus on only a few parts of the chain. Postural and scapular muscles are very important to position the shoulder correctly. When these muscles are strong, the rotator cuff doesn’t have to work as much to maintain good positioning while throwing.

Strengthening the postural muscles in the middle of the spine, obliques, and lower trap muscles helps. The combination of these muscles rotates the trunk and creates ideal arm angle during throwing. As long as these muscles are all working together, the rotator cuff doesn’t take as much of a beating.

Pro Tip: Simple exercises will do the trick such as superman’s, prone shoulder flexion with light dumbbells, and supine single leg adduction drops from side to side to engage the core.

What does swinging have to do with it?

Child at batThousands of swings over the course of the season reek havoc on the hip, pelvic, and lower back. This is because all the force transfers from the legs, up through the back, into the arms, and then contact is made with the ball, sending a jolt of energy back through the system.

This is important to throwing because many hitters and athletes will start to develop tight psoas, chest, and lat muscles from swinging and sprinting. When all these muscles become over-tightened, they tend to pull the lower back into extension and then shoulder into a downward rotated position.

What does this mean? Thousands and thousands of throws will become challenging, reducing the efficiency and quality of every throw.

Pro Tip: Be sure to keep the hips, chest, and lower back muscles nice and loose to maintain ideal body mechanics with throwing.

#3: It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Every long distance runner knows they have to pace themselves because training only for 20 miles won’t finish the race. Baseball is no different. Having and executing a long-term game plan to ensure that a young athlete’s body is working from start to finish is paramount to long-term athletic success.

Too much of youth sports focuses on a game, a tournament, or a showcase. If attitudes and habits only address the now, the future for baseball—or any sport for that matter—is nothing more than a crap shoot.

At work, we put money into a 401k for retirement, we exercise to keep the heart strong and pumping, and we take vacations to keep stress from eating our body’s apart.

Do all the little things right and the big things will take care of themselves.

Play ball!

Dr. Keith Cronin, DPT


Want to help make sure your athletes are prepared to perform for the long-run?

Learn how to leverage the Long Term Athletic Development Model to ensure your athletes are prepared to perform. Sign up today to get instant access to our free 7-minute video and PDF checklist.

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About the Author: Keith J. Cronin

Keith CroninKeith J. Cronin is a physical therapist and owner of Sports and Healthcare Solutions, LLC. Keith currently supports US Operations for Dynamic Tape®, the “Original” Biomechanical Tape®, providing guidance for education, research, and distribution. He graduated with his Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) from Belmont University in 2008 and later earned his Orthopedic Certification Specialist (OCS).

Prior to graduate school, Keith was a collegiate baseball player and top-level high school cross country runner. He also had the opportunity to work as a personal trainer (CSCS) prior to his career in physical therapy, providing a very balanced approached to educating fitness and rehabilitation. Keith has focused his career on the evaluation, treatment, injury prevention, and sports conditioning strategies for athletes, with particular attention to youth sports. He currently lives in the St. Louis, MO area with his wife and two daughters, Ella and Shelby.

Additional noteworthy items about Keith:

  • Keith is currently a reviewer for the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy (IJSPT) on a variety of topics including throwing athletes, concussions, and ACL rehabilitation.
  • Keith has produced several online CEU courses for PTWebcuation.com on the topics of running injuries, ACL rehabilitation, Patellofemoral Syndrome, and injuries to the Foot and Ankle.
  • In 2012, Keith participated in a concussion education program in Newcastle, OK that resulted in the documentary “The Smartest Team: Making High School Football Safer” which had several runs on PBS worldwide.
  • Keith has also been published in a variety of media, publishing almost 100 articles through venues including MomsTEAM.com, Advanced Magazine, the 9s Magazine, the American Coaching Academy, and Suite101.
  • Keith was also featured on Fox2News several times on topics of concussions and ACL injuries.
  • In 2008, Keith was a winner of the Olin Business Cup at Washington University for his product innovation “Medibite” a jaw rehabilitation system designed to improve the outcomes for individuals suffering TMJ dysfunction.

Monitoring Part 2- Monitoring Tools That Every Coach Needs

In Part 1 of this blog I discussed why we monitor and considerations for monitoring your athletes.  Part 2 is going to deal with how we monitor at the high school level.

Monitoring can be an expensive venture, but there are also less expensive ways that can be implemented by virtually anyone at any level.

This blog will detail two practical and inexpensive ways in which, monitoring can be implemented to help you make decisions, allowing you to meet your athletes where they are at on any given day.

#1 Surveys

Having your athletes take quick daily surveys can help create awareness regarding their habits.  These surveys can be simple  and ask as few or as many questions as you would like. Keeping it simple is best. Here is an example of some of the questions to ask:

  • How many hours did you sleep?
  • Did you eat breakfast?
  • How many bottles of water did you drink?
  • How tough was practice yesterday on a 1-5 scale with 5 being the hardest?
  • How tough was your workout yesterday on a 1-5 scale with 5 being the hardest?
  • How do you feel overall 1-5 scale with 5 being the hardest?

You could make a survey through excel pretty quickly and log your information there to keep track of long term trends with your athletes. There are a couple of ways in which this can be beneficial for you.

  1. Make educated adjustments to your plan dependent upon feedback from the athlete
  2. Identify, where you feel they are at from a readiness standpoint that day.
  3. Look at long-term trends both individually and globally to make better decisions in programming for your athletes.

Individually, you may find that your athletes do not get enough sleep on Monday nights due to practice and academic obligations. Globally, you may find that the football team’s toughest day is on Tuesday every week. Knowing that your athletes average 6 hours of sleep on Monday nights and also have their toughest day on Tuesday allows you to adjust and make the best decision for your athletes that day.

It is very important that you use the data that you collect!

Pro Tip: Collecting data for the sake of collecting data is counter-productive. The adjustments you make off of the data collections is what is of real significance.

You can also up the ante and implement technology to take surveys. There are programs that exist where athletes can enter survey information into their phones, and it collects and organizes the data. This is a real time saver for busy trainers.

Here is an example of a survey:

Monitoring Part 2 Image- Fred Eaves

#2 Autoregulation (APRE-RPE Scales)

A second cost-effective way to monitor your athletes is by using an APRE/RPE scale in their strength training programming. APRE is defined by Dr. Bryan Mann as Autoregulatory Progressive Resistance Exercise.  APRE is a method that takes the daily readiness of the athlete into account through adjustment protocols that dictate working sets.  

There are two warm up sets, and then the third set is a set to failure at a prescribed rep max (RM). The results of the third set dictate the weight used on the fourth and final set.

As a coach, this can be used to help the athlete train to the highest level possible for that specific training session according to the physical state of the athlete.

We do not use strict percentages in our program but rather we use them as a guide.

Use this auto-regulation method to dictate our training loads for the day.

Pro Example:

I always use the example of the athlete who slept 3 hours the night before a hard training session that is under tremendous personal and academic stress when describing the need for this type of training. This athlete may have a prescription to hit 2 reps at 95% that day, but due to his physiological state that 95% is really more like 105% that day. This is why autoregulation can play such a key factor in the development of your athletes.

Dr. Mann from the University of Missouri has done a tremendous amount of work in this area, and has written an E-book specifically on APRE methods. 1

Mann’s Example:  

Here is what typical APRE protocol according would look like:

2016-02-29_1609

SET 4 ADJUSTMENTS- REFER to this chart after set 3

2016-02-29_1611

An RPE scale in conjunction with APRE methods is another effective manner in which to implement RPE. RPE  stand for rate of perceived exertion.  Athletes use this rating scale to rank the difficulty of a set in training.

Pro Example: Sample RPE rating scale

2016-02-29_1607

Pro Example:

An example would be an athlete does 155lbs. for 10 reps. When he finishes this set on set three, he rates whether or not he had one rep, two reps, or multiple reps left in the tank. Then picks an appropriate weight to finish his fourth set, using the adjustment chart below.

Here is an example of what this looks like:

2016-02-29_1604
SET 4 ADJUSTMENTS- REFER To This Chart after set 3

2016-02-29_1603
Look at long term trends when recording their numbers to make sure there is consistent progress.  Do not worry about disp as this is common due to the variable nature of the high school athlete.

Conclusion

Two simple and cost-effective measures in which to monitor and adjust for your athletes have been outlined.  Use these tools to tremendously impact your athletes in way that is both feasible and practical.

 


Are your athletes prepared to perform?

Download our free PDF and Overview video on the long term athletic development model.

WFIYCA


About the Author: Fred Eaves

Fred Eaves, Ed.S, M.Ed, CSCS, RSCC, IYCA, USAW, USATF, BIOFORCE Conditioning Coach Certified,  2015 NSCA H.S. Strength Coach of the Year, 2013 Samson Equipment & AFM H.S. Strength Coach of The Year
References

  1. Mann, B. (2011). THE APRE: The scientifically proven fastest way to get strong.