Beginners Guide to the Hip Hinge – Brett Klika

The hip hinge.  While this is one of the more foundational movement patterns for young athletes to learn for both the field and weight room, it’s often one of the hardest to introduce. The fact is, young athletes naturally hip hinge during horizontal jumps and other movements with a horizontal component. It’s when we break down the movement and make it a conscious pursuit that kids struggle. Struggling with this myself for many years, I developed a step-by-step series to help athletes as young as 6 years old develop the basic foundations of a really good hip hinge.  Step 1:.. More »

Developing Athleticism in Your Warm-Up – Erica Suter

I have hope for kids. Sure, we can complain that playgrounds are vacant, physical education teachers are being laid off, and recesses are becoming shorter, and kids are doomed, but I beg to differ. There is a glimmer of light in the youth athletic development world. Since kids spend most of their time with their primary sports teams, team coaches have the opportunity to incorporate skills into practices that build athleticism. But why is this important? Kids are not getting enough movement variety at team practices to develop the totality of their bodies, from coordination, to flexibility, balance, strength, and.. More »

Letter to Parents – From Jim Kielbaso: Handling Sports Injuries

Sports Injuries Dear Parent of a Young Athlete, Your kid got hurt playing sports.  It happens. Now, what should you do about it? While it’s true that sports injuries are common, there are two things I’d like you to consider: How did it happen?   How is it being handled? Some sports injuries are pretty much unavoidable if your kid is playing sports.  Kids will fall, run into each other, or have a fluke accident occur. You take certain risks in sports, and this is one of them.  If an injury occurs that you feel was simply part of the.. More »

How to Perform Face Pulls – Greg Schaible

Face Pulls are on the top of my list for upper back exercises to help develop healthy shoulders, backs and necks. The problem is that a lot of people do them poorly and actually irritate the shoulder or upper back when performed incorrectly. This article and video will help you understand some of the key considerations when performing face pulls, and how to avoid the most common errors. Many people choose to use bands, especially in rehab because so many physical therapy places just have bands. However, you must consider that the tension of the band increases as you.. More »

T-Spine Mobility – Jordan Tingman

Incorporating a small amount of mobility each day will eventually turn into great gains over time. Mobility can be easily thrown into a complete warm-up, within the workout or at the end of a workout. It is much more important to do a little of something, than doing nothing at all. The upper back/thoracic spine is made up of a lot of different musculature. The muscles surrounding the thoracic spine tend to tighten up, and often get neglected when working on mobility. When ignoring working on mobilizing these areas, the upper back can get tight, limiting overhead exercises and movements… More »

PNF Stretching – Joe Powell

PNF Stretching is one of the most effective, yet often overlooked, training techniques that coaches can employ to enhance flexibility. For being recognized as an essential pillar of strength and conditioning, flexibility seems to lack the same attention and interest generated by other physical qualities that are developed through training. For example, look no further than the world of strength and conditioning on social media. You’ll be much more inclined to find strength coaches showcasing impressive feats of strength, power, speed or even balance.  How often do you see coaches talking about amazing flexibility routines? It isn’t the fact that.. More »

Letter to Parents: From Jim Kielbaso – Let Them Struggle

Dear Parents of Young Athletes, One of the most important skills your child can learn from sports and training is how to struggle with something and eventually overcome it.  Unfortunately, it can be pretty difficult for us to watch our kids struggle, and our natural instinct is to help them so they don’t have to experience that pain.  Trust me, I have a hard time with this as a dad, too, so I understand. It’s hard to watch my kids struggle and fail because it breaks my heart. But, kids grow exponentially faster, and become more resilient, when they learn how.. More »

Competence: Building Relationships & Buy-In – Jared Markiewicz

In the first installment of this mini-series surrounding the Self Determination theory, we discussed using relatedness to better motivate your staff, athletes you coach and structuring a system so you can teach your staff how to better motivate athletes.  It’s highly recommended to go over Part 1 first, so take a few minutes to review that if you haven’t already.   The second part of this mini-series focuses on competency and using it in the same way to drive motivation. So let’s dive in! Competence: Coach to Staff Motivating your staff to continually improve can be challenging at times. They may.. More »

Letter to Parents – From Jim Kielbaso: Balancing Skills & Athleticism

Dear Parents of Young Athletes, I get it.  You want your kid to be better at sports.  And, taking a lesson this week (hitting, shooting, dribbling, etc.) from a sports skills coach will produce a quick results so your child will experience success this weekend.  I have three boys who play sports, so I definitely understand where you’re coming from.  We all want our kids to succeed.  It makes logical sense: work on a skill + use it in a game = success & happy kids. It seems easy, and it’s not necessarily wrong.  It’s just not a complete equation.  .. More »

How to Develop Mental Strength in Youth Athletes – Jill Kochanek

A common question that I get from coaches is: How can I make my athletes more mentally tough? For as big of a buzz word as mental toughness is though, the concept is a black box. In this post, I’ll open up that box and bust 4 harmful myths about mental toughness. Dispelling these myths is vital for coaches to actually help young athletes develop mental strength and support their overall mental well-being. Before we get there, however, it’s important to consider our current context. That is, why are coaches concerned about developing mental strength in this generation of youth.. More »

Letter to Parents – From Jim Kielbaso: What Did They Do When They Were Young?

Dear parents of young athletes, I know you want your child to be the best, so I can understand why you like to watch training videos of world-class athletes so you can have him/her do what they’re doing.  You’re probably assuming that whatever the best athletes are doing is what your child should be doing, so they will end up like them. I get it.  And, I know you just want to give your child the best, so they can be their best.      Unfortunately, it seems like you’re missing one key component here – your child isn’t a world-class athlete.. More »

Hip Stretches for Lower Back Pain – Jordan Tingman

It is very common for athletes to experience lower back pain, especially when they begin a new training program or train harder than they have in the past.  As muscles get sore and/or stiff from training, they will “hold onto” certain positions as a way to maintain different positions.  Often, tightness in the internal hip/back muscles throws postural alignment off, which can lead to even more pain.  This pain can be felt in various parts of the spine, but in this article, I will mostly focus on stretching muscle groups in the hips and lower back. When stretching tight areas,.. More »

Fun Games for Athletes – Erica Suter

Using fun games for athletes is a big part of the IYCA training philosophy, but many coaches simply don’t have enough games or fresh ideas in their repertoire to keep things interesting. “Left foot here!” “Decelerate!” “Sprint!” “Dribble!” “Faster!” “Accelerate!” “Be aggressive!” Ever watched a youth sports practice and heard the coach instruct so much that it sounded like an ongoing commentary? Nowadays, over-coaching runs rampant and is killing the fun, creative, and competitive nature of our youth. As much as coaches think they have every ounce of control over their players and are making them better from the flood.. More »

Overlooked Keys to a Great Push Up – Greg Schaible

The push up is one of those exercises that everyone loves to do, but few athletes or clients do them exceptionally well…. This video goes over three of the most important technical aspects of the movement:  Most people understand the first point. The elbows should be at 45 degree angle or slightly under. Not too in close to the body or flared out really wide either. Scapula thoracic positioning is a high priority during a push up. Rib cage retracted at the top of the push up with scapula sitting flush on the thorax.  An important part of the serratus.. More »

11 Ways to Manage Challenging Parents and Coaches – Brett Klika

When youth strength coaches discuss their barriers to success with young athletes, dealing with difficult parents and coaches is often high on the list. In nearly 20 years as a youth strength and conditioning coach, I’ve had thousands of positive experiences with parents and coaches. It’s amazing to work as a team to create a 360-degree support system that functions to amplify a young athlete’s success in sports and life. I’ve also had experiences that left me questioning if I wanted to remain in this profession. Overbearing parents, undermining coaches, and a dysfunctional interaction of all of the above can.. More »

Relatedness: Building Relationships & Buy-In – Jared Markiewicz

Setting the Foundation for Motivating Athletes I want to walk you through a situation that happens to me often in the gym: I see my athlete, Drake, and his heels are coming off the floor as he transitions from the eccentric to the concentric portion of the squat. So I cue him: “drive down through the floor to stand up.” Now I walk away to coach someone else since his set is done.  A few minutes later, I am watching from a distance and I see after his second rep, his heels come off the floor. But then rep 3,.. More »

Is Olympic Lifting a MUST? – Jim Kielbaso

Power/explosiveness is one of the most important attributes a strength & conditioning professional (SCP) can develop in an athlete. One of the most important decisions the SCP can make is how power development will be accomplished in his/her program. For years, coaches have debated over the need for Olympic lifting to develop power. Proponents of Olympic lifting cited huge power outputs and the importance of power being generated with high force production, or against high external loads. Loading the triple extension in an “athletic” movement like an O-lift was a staple of many programs. On the flip side, other coaches.. More »

Cluster Training, Part 2 – Karsten Jensen

In Part 1 of Karsten Jensen’s article on Cluster Training, he explained many of the elements that lay the foundation for cluster training.  In Part 2, he goes into more depth on the 5 steps to effective use of cluster training so that you can immediately begin to utilize this concept in your training programs.  Be sure to go back and read Part 1 before your begin reading Part 2. SECTION 5 Tactic #3: Auto-regulated Training The definition of the word auto includes self and spontaneous, used  in  the  formation  of compound-words. (24)  Thus, auto-regulated training is self-regulated – or athlete/client.. More »

Cluster Training: Break Down the Set to Build Up the Body, Part 1 – Karsten Jensen

A few years ago I consulted briefly with a young woman who wanted to learn Olympic Weightlifting. From our first session it was clear that she had great motivation, adequate flexibility, solid coordination but little muscle mass. At the end of the first session she was given technical exercises to work on as well as Front Squats that were to be performed in the following way: The safety pins were placed corresponding to the height of her shoulders in the bottom position of the Front Squat. She was to perform one repetition at a time by stepping under the bar,.. More »

Keeping Shoulders Healthy – Jordan Tingman

The shoulder is a highly complex joint with many muscles and ligaments surrounding it for stability and protection. Because the shoulders are so inter-connected with the torso, I consider the shoulder joint part of the core. Proximal stability is required for safe execution and protection of the shoulder joint, and left untrained can lead to injury or pain at some point in an athlete’s career. Shoulder stability and strengthening exercises should aim to strengthen the rotator cuff and structures surrounding the shoulder.  When performing any shoulder exercise, it is important to emphasize retracting the scapulae to ensure that.. More »