Archive for “Exercises” Tag

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


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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.

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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.

 

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Pushing Power in Athletics

Power in Athletics

When it comes to developing the ability to push someone around, a skill necessary for almost every team-based sport, there isn’t a better training tool than the push up.

I’m sure there are plenty of 5/3/1, Bigger Stronger Faster, or other weight room guys that will argue a big bench trumps someone who can crank out a bunch of push ups any day.

That’s when I refer to the great Earl Campbell and Herschel Walker, two incredibly successful and punishing running backs in the NFL, who reportedly were body weight training guys. They swore by push ups and body weight exercises and clearly had no problem pushing around the best in the world over and over.

Additionally, you have to look at the population of athletes in front of you. We have mostly late middle school or high school age kids who have a low training age and lack the ability to activate their entire body. The push up and its progressions give us an opportunity to teach that skill to our athletes.

More importantly, a girl that can crank out 10 full push ups and a boy that can knock out 25, in our experience, has a body well-prepared for sport and the contact typical of most team sports.

Finally, from a biomechanical standpoint, I look at the push up and see the direct correlation to pushing necessary for sport. The body stabilizes on the ground with four contact points, but the majority of the body MUST be active when pushing away from the ground. Otherwise, we might as well be doing the worm.

That pattern very closely resembles an athlete pushing someone on a field or court, with two legs on the ground and the entire body activated.

Conversely, when assessing the mechanics of a bench press, the back, glutes, and (sometimes) thighs are in contact with a stable surface. I don’t know of a situation in team sports where that much of the body comes in contact with a surface while pushing. The exception, of course, is being on the bottom of a pile of players after a tackle and pushing someone off you, which is not ideal for high performing athletes.

So let’s take a look at our progressions to get a young athlete crushing push ups on a regular basis!

Progressions:

Plank on elbows/hands

When doing a plank on the elbows or hands we are looking for rigidity of the entire body and will use various cues to teach each body part how to activate optimally:

  1. Active legs (straight as an arrow)
  2. Glutes (squeeze a quarter between the cheeks)
  3. Trunk (brace like someone is going to punch your gut)
  4. Shoulders (envision a towel between the elbows or hands and try to rip it apart)

The plank requires a lot of focus and should be difficult to hold for a long time. Therefore, we find it much more beneficial to teach athletes a plank by having them fire everything for brief periods (10-20 seconds) rather than hanging out in a plank for a minute with just enough activation to make it look good.


Mountain Climbers

Mountain Climbers, in our world, don’t differ greatly from a plank. The only difference here is that the athlete now must learn to stabilize in a dynamic setting.

By only moving one leg at a time, they get the chance to maintain full body bracing, like the plank, while actively driving the knee towards the trunk.  Here, the athlete must be on his or her hands. Thus we implement a new cue, “push the ground away.”

By using that cue, the athlete now aggressively pushes his or her body away from the ground, giving the leg more room to move and activate the scapular stabilizers that are generally very weak and assist in poor posture with young athletes.

We also ask athletes to “torque the ground” with the intent of turning the hands away from each other. The hands shouldn’t move, but when torquing occurs, the arms become more active and better prepared for a push up later on in the progressions.

Once an athlete shows quality movement with the mountain climber, we will have him or her start to move the leg with aggression while stopping it at 90 degrees to the body. The exercise then turns into an excellent front leg drive drill for acceleration training.


Assisted Push Ups

We use two main variations of the standard push up to help young athletes progress towards completing a push up that is repeatable and consistent through fatigue.

Our first and most common assisted push up is completed via the use of a resistance band attached to the athlete’s body and a point well above the athlete’s body (typically 7-9 feet high on a rig or hook).

There are some significant benefits to this variation. First, the movement is quite similar to an unassisted push up from the ground. Second, the athlete can torque the ground with his or her hands and arms like we cue during an actual push up.

Once an athlete has developed sufficient assisted pushup strength and can perform the movement without the band, there is almost no adjustment necessary for a body weight push up.

There are, of course, limitations to any assisted pattern.

First, the core is supported during the assisted pushup and for many of our athletes who are stuck in anterior tilt, core strength is the limiting factor and sometimes allows them to continue doing the worm instead of a push up once the band is removed.

Second, we often miss full range of motion (ROM) with our younger athletes, particularly boys. They want to crank out 20 push ups because, “that’s what I did when I tested for football!” However, the only way their chest would touch the ground with their “testing push ups” would be if they had a 60-inch chest. And I have yet to see a 16-year-old that looks like Lou Ferrigno.

**We started using bean bags (like the ones used for bean bag toss) to force full ROM. Our athletes need to touch their chest to two bean bags stacked on top of each other and then progress to one bag before we take the band away and have them train the full push up. **

The other variation we use is an elevated barbell on a rack.

Again, there are both positives and negatives to this assisted push up variation.

First, it is great for younger female athletes who truly lack upper body strength. They can see gradual improvements in strength since the holes on our rack are 1-inch apart. They can make small gains, sometimes within a singular training session, and certainly over a 6-week training program.

Second, because of the height, those athletes who lack upper body strength can start to make significant gains in chest, shoulder, and arm strength since they don’t have to struggle through the pattern and can truly focus on form, positioning, and muscle tension.

But this variation also leads to some potential issues of which coaches need to be aware.

First, due to the angle the athlete is at, the shoulders tend to elevate once the chest and arms have fatigued. So you either need to stop the set before that point or cue the athlete’s “shoulders away from their ears.”

Second, since the hands are on the bar, not on the ground, torquing is nearly impossible. I am not going to lie to you and say I haven’t seen it done, but generally those just learning a push up can’t start pulling apart a bar plus do all the other things they need to do correctly.

Remember, this isn’t our end all, be all. Instead, it is a stepping stone from a mountain climber to a full push up from the floor.


Push Ups

The push up is our end all, be all. I fully believe an athlete does not need to train bench press unless they are required to test for their sport. For the sports required to test the bench, like football, there is enough contact and pushing involved in practice and play that it justifies working the bench press into programming.

However, no matter how advanced our athlete is starting out, I want to PERSONALLY see them do ten perfect push ups before they put their face under a bar and start benching.  All too often we have athletes come in who bench and are stuck at a certain weight.

When they show me their push up, it’s evident they lack the full body activation necessary to do a push-up. Once we train the push up correctly, they go back to the bench and magically set a new personal best.

The things we coach in a quality push up stay consistent with everything taught in the previous movements, but we add additional cues to maximize pushing power.

  1. Create rigidity through the body (body is one long piece of solid oak)
  2. Torque the ground through the hands (rotate the hands away from one another)
  3. Pull the body to the floor (rip the ground apart to give the chest space)
  4. Push down as your body comes up (push the ground away)

Once an athlete shows the ability to accomplish this and get his or her chest to the ground for a reasonable amount of push ups, we may add resistance in the form of plates on the athletes back. We had some strong male athletes rep out ten push ups with 90+ pounds on their back, so if you don’t think you can overload the push up, you’re wrong!

By taking the proper steps in progressing a young athlete through the push up, you will create a powerful, stable athlete capable of pushing around anyone he or she chooses.

And when the athlete returns to his or her team and can crush all teammates in push ups, they walk a little taller. When we as coaches can create confidence like that, we win!

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

Push Ups Help Develop Powerful Athletes:

Learn more power evolution techniques today.

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Resistance Bands and Olympic Lifting

 

Olympic Lifting and Resistance Bands


By Dave Schmitz

 

On September 10th, Wil Fleming wrote a very powerful article on “Olympic Lifting” that I found very thought provoking.

 

I agree with Wil that when you begin to discuss Olympic lifting with coaches, red flags immediately goes up about concerns for proper teaching, concerns for safety, and the stigma that Olympic lifting is only for the highly skilled or older athletes. For those coaches I understand their opinion and will not argue those points. Instead I will pose the question, is there a way to achieve some of the benefits of Olympic lifting without struggling with the teaching challenges or putting athletes at risk for injury.

 

As I read Wil’s article I continued to see a strong correlation between the benefits of resistance band training and Olympic lift training. Therefore as a follow up to Wil’s outstanding article, I wanted to touch on all 5 of Wil’s key points and relate them back to how resistance bands could assist young athletes and coaches with “improving” Olympic Lifting skill sets.

 

Please note that I am not suggesting you replicate Olympic lifting with bands but rather that you can get some of the neuromuscular benefits of Olympic Lifting by training with resistance bands.

I also feel that performing certain movement with resistance bands will carry over to helping young athletes become better Olympic Lifting candidates.

 

Type II Muscle Development

 

Elastic resistance is an ascending resistance that increases as the range of motion increases. As a result a young athlete quickly learns that in order to complete the movement using a resistance band they must accelerate out of their loaded posture. This mind set of acceleration is what not only recruits Type II muscle fibers, as Wil noted, but neuromuscular also teaches young athletes how to accelerate a force which is a key skill set necessary with Olympic Lifts.

 

Improved Coordination

 

Resistance band training incorporates the use of compound multi-joint movements like squat to press, hip hinge to high pull, and squat to row. All these compound movements require neuromuscular coordination to effectively complete the movement. Teaching young athletes these compound movements initially using resistance bands will provide them the neuromuscular training to learn how to coordinate movements similar to those required in Olympic Lifting.

 

 

Improved Power characteristics

 

Attaching a band around the hips to create a horizontal or vertical force vector will proprioceptively teach young athletes how to perform full hip and knee extension. Applying the hip attached set-up with bands while performing a dead-weight swing or board jump will reflexively teach the skill set of full hip extension and knee extension with an upper extremity arm swing. Using the band belt system will proprioceptively create a more vertical load while performing some of the band exercises shown in the previous video. In both cases it will allow young athletes to train the Olympic lifting skill of getting full hip extension and knee extension with an upper extremity driver.

 

View Band Belt System

 

Band Belt combo training

 

Improved Force Absorption

 

Absorbing the force of the bar when receiving it overhead or at the chest requires the core to reactively stabilize in order for the body to maintain its center of gravity over its base of support and avoid excessive lumbar extension which can often be the case with Olympic lifts. This same reactive stabilization is seen when doing any type of horizontal vector upper body band exercise with the individual facing away from the band attachment site. For instance a simple horizontal chest press or overhead tricep press requires the core to reactive stabilize to avoid excessive lumber extension during the initiation of the concentric phase of the movement. Using bands to teach young athletes how to dynamic engage their core while performing an explosive upper body exercise with bands will neuromuscular replicate the core reaction needed with Olympic lifting.

 

Success Elsewhere

 

Bands are rarely seen in a high school weight room being used to augment or help train movement skills. Instead they are used to simulate machine based movements or assist with body weight exercises like pull ups. One of the greatest benefits of resistance band training is its impact in proprioceptively teaching young athletes how to feel movement, train movement and ultimately store it into the body’s muscle memory bank. Once permanently embedded into the muscle memory, these movement skills will easily transfer into any other lift or activity that requires that particular movement skill like with Olympic lifting or more field specific foot agility training.

 

Foot Agility Training Video

 

Resistance Bands are by no means a replacement for Olympic Lifts. However, incorporating them into a strength and conditioning program will not only allow coaches more training options but will also teach young athletes a skill set that could bring them closer to incorporating many of the movement skills needed to successfully implementing Olympic Lifts into their training program.

 

Special Thank You needs to go out to Wil Fleming for creating the original article on Olympic Lifting. ~ Dave Schmitz

 

3 Movements For Young Athletes

 

Preparing Young Athletes

 

young athletes weight training

 

By Wil Fleming

 

Can you recall walking into a weightroom for the first time?

 

I still can, it was my high school weightroom and I was maybe 14 years old. Men, four years older than me were lifting much more than I could imagine, grunting, cursing, and straining their way to be better at their sport. I was told what the workout was and went to it.

 

I remember that first workout. Three sets of 10 on the bench press, back squat, and incline bench press, and five sets of five on the power clean. I remember that my squats were three inches too high (no one back squats well the first day), my power cleans looked like reverse curls, and my bench press was 15 pounds too heavy for my strength levels.

 

This happens all the time, young athletes are thrown into programs about which they know nothing, for which they are completely unprepared, and from which they are likely to get injured.

 

It doesn’t have to be that way though.

 

The squat, the clean, and the bench press are the staples of programs for high school athletes in their school. There are three exercises that they can be taught beforehand that can set them up for ultimate success.

 

3 Exercises that every young athlete should be taught

 

Goblet Squat
We’ve all seen the picture of the baby in the perfect squat position. You know which one that I am talking about. The neutral spine and neck, the hips below the knees, the feet flat on the ground. So we all know that humans can squat…at some point. So at what point did people lose the ability to squat well? I can’t tell you for sure but typically it is before they hit the weightroom for the first time.

 

The first key that makes the goblet squat the best tool for re-teaching athletes is the un-weighted goblet squat or prayer squat. Have the athlete take a prayer type position with hands together and elbows down squat to the bottom. At their lowest point let their elbows push their knees out . This is the first lesson that the Goblet squat can teach us. We must create space to squat to. We do not need to bend over to squat, because you will run out of room. Squatting must happen between the legs with a vertical torso.

 

Move on to using the dumbbell or kettlebell and try the same thing. Squeeze the top of the dumbbell or kettlebell this time and see that your lats are turned on and because of this your entire torso is straighter. This is the second lesson of goblet squatting that other squats do not teach: The torso is just as actively a part of the squat as the lower body.

 

KB Swing
We all know that I love the Olympic lifts but before I even get to teach athletes to Olympic lift the swing is very often my first chance to teach explosive movement. The benefit of the swing is that it is also one of the first times that I get to teach the athlete to hip hinge.

 

Before getting to the swing begin by teaching the hip hinge pattern. The easiest way to do so is to grasp the kettlebell in a handcuffed position behind your back. This handcuffed position will start to teach the shoulders back, superhero chest position that will be important in the swing and in the Olympic lifts. The bell will be slightly below the glutes at this point. The athlete should unlock their knees and drive their glutes into the bell . There will be a tactile sense when this happens correctly. If the athlete gets into a back bend pattern the bell will remain below their glutes and make contact with their hamstrings throughout the movment. Actually moving the hips backwards in space will bring the bell up higher and in contact with the glutes through the movement.

 

Do this movement slowly at first and then teach them to forcefully drive their hips to stand up. You have begun to teach the athlete to swing, and given them a hip hinge pattern to base much of their movement on.

 

Next teach the swing and the snap that comes along with it. The swing is an excellent first explosive exercise to teach because it does not reward poor positioning. A relaxed core will lead to the athlete being pulled forward on their toes. The swing teaches athletes to make “something” move with their hip hinge and hip extension rather than with their arms, which will come in handy in the Olympic lifts later on.

 

Plank
The big 3 at the high school level are squat, power clean and bench press so why aren’t we using this space for a push up? Quite simply many young athletes are not ready for the push up. For this reason we choose to teach directed stability in the plank to prepare the athlete for the push up.

 

Most athletes that we encounter for the first time lack total body stability. Trying to place them in positions that require strength before they have stability will only build on top of deficiency.

 

The goal of the plank should be to find stability throughout the body. Have the athletes lock the lats low, and forcefully contract the glutes and the quads. The core will be locked in without many cues at that point.

 

With these three movements athletes will develop important patterns that can assist them in learning to do more advanced or more heavily emphasized lifts in the high school weightroom. Equipping athletes with these patterns can lead to fewer injuries and more success for the young athletes we coach down the road.

 

 

Evaluating Yourself As A Coach

 

Become The Best Coach You Can Be

youth coach evaluation

By Wil Fleming

 

There are a lot of great coaches in the world, and this newsletter reaches plenty of them. To become an even better coach evaluation is really important.

I think that coaching breaks down into four categories and seeing where you are an expert or could need some work is a helpful tool to become a better a coach.

 

  1. Anatomy and Kinesiology 

    This category is first as it is likely the first thing we learned in school that actually pertained to our development as coaches. For coaches that changed careers or don’t have a classic background in this area, this is typically the weakest. Coaches that are strong in this area, can do wonders in assessment, analyzing movements, and innovating new ideas.

     

    This is by far my weakest area and something that I strive to get better in everyday. Brushing up on anatomy, kinesiology, and biomechanics through reading is my primary way to get better in this area.

     

  2. Program design 

    Designing great programs can really make your athletes better. Putting the wrong exercises in the program can make your athletes unprepared for their competitions, or even get them injured. Incorrect rep schemes and volume can leave your athletes under or over trained. The right program can give each athlete a chance at giving their best effort when it counts.

     

    I think that I am fairly strong in this area, but could definitely use improvement. The easiest way to improve in this area is to observe and interact with coaches that are preparing athletes on a daily basis and glean what you can from their programming secrets.

     

  3. Practical Coaching 

    Practical coaching is what I have named the actual coaching on the floor. Seeing movements and cleaning them up to get the best patterns possible. Being a problem solver on the floor coaching the technique at every step.

     

    In my perspective, this is where I am strongest. I am able to identify issues in movements and make the modifications on the floor or to the technique that are necessary. Again watching good coaches in action is a great way to improve in this area, as is completing the movements yourself. Working through your own technical problems is a great way to get a feel for what you need to coach.

     

  4. Impact 

    Impact is all of the non-programming stuff. Are you making the environment fun? Are you setting the athletes up for life-long success by associating positive emotions with training?

     

    Also one of my strong suits, but probably the area in which I worry about the most. I want to make sure that the athletes love the experience and are excited to train. To improve in this area there are no secrets, it is always making sure that your energy is higher than the athletes’ energy and focusing on bringing them up with you through their training session.

     

Don’t be afraid to evaluate, and don’t be afraid to focus in on your weak points. You as a coach and your athletes will get better because of it.

 

Change Lives,

 

Wil

 

 

Coaching in the Weight Room

 

Coaching High School Athletes in the Weight Room

 

By Jim Kielbaso
 

Just about every sport coach now recognizes the fact that a strength program can help their athletes optimize performance, reduce the risk of injury, and improve overall health and self-esteem. Some coaches are very comfortable in the weight room, while others feel totally out of their element. Either way, there are a few easy steps to follow to maximize your effectiveness in this environment.
 

Many coaches get overwhelmed in the weight room and never really give their best instruction or encouragement. But, many high school athletes need you there to show proper technique, get through the routine quickly, keep traffic flowing, give safe and effective spotting, and maximize effort.
 

In addition to reducing the risk of injury and enhancing performance, the weight room is also an excellent place to develop relationships and create team unity. Unfortunately, many coaches miss out on this because they are sitting in the corner or absent from the room altogether. Never underestimate the long-term benefits of polishing your weight room coaching skills.
 

Here are a few easy steps you can take to optimize your coaching effectiveness and help your athletes get the most out of their training time:

 

1. Educate Yourself. If you haven’t implemented a program because you don’t feel knowledgeable enough, put that excuse to rest. You don’t have to be an expert to help your team reap the benefits of strength training, and there are plenty of books that can give you a decent understanding of technique, program design, and how to spot different exercises. Go to your local bookstore or at the very least get online to find something to fit your needs. There is plenty of mis-information online, so just be sure to read with a critical mind. Always check the source before you completely buy into something that sounds too good to be true.
 

Avoid the trap of feeling like your athletes need an incredibly specialized training routine. It’s best to keep it simple with high school athletes. They will benefit from a basic, well-rounded program, so just get them started and feeling comfortable in the weight room by introducing a few basic exercises that you can easily teach. Remember, you can always add more later on.
 

2. Teaching Sessions. Before you turn your athletes loose in the weight room, spend a couple of days teaching them how to perform all of the exercises and how to safely spot each other. Take your time up front to save a lot of time and energy down the road.
 

3. Record Keeping. Once you’ve created the training routine, give it to your athletes on a piece of paper or card-stock so they can record the amount of weight lifted and number of repetitions performed on each set. This serves a few important purposes. For the athlete, it tells them exactly what they should be doing on every exercise and gives them a goal each day. This will help them make progress and eliminates guess-work.
 

For the coach, a workout card quickly gives you a lot of information and tracks attendance. You are going to be bouncing around from athlete to athlete, spotting as many athletes as possible; you want to spot each athlete on at least one exercise each day so you have a little contact with everyone. As soon as you’re done spotting one athlete, look around the room, see who is ready to lift, and get there quickly.
Having the workout card available allows you to easily see the weight and repetition goal for each set before you begin spotting. You can assess progress and effort on each exercise by taking a quick look at the chart. This is a great way to increase accountability and improve your ability to coach multiple athletes in the weight room.
 

4. Exercise Selection. In an effort to keep your training sessions time-efficient, it is recommended to select exercises that utilize a large amount of musculature rather than focusing on isolation exercises. For example, squats, leg presses, lunges, bench presses, dips, pull-downs, rows, and military presses all use multiple joints and recruit several muscle groups. These exercises should be the foundation of your program.
 

Curls, wrist extensions, and triceps pushdowns are examples of isolation exercises that can eat up a lot of valuable time.
 

It is also highly recommend that you select exercises that are relatively easy to teach, learn and execute. Lifts like the power clean and snatch are very technique intensive, require a great deal of coaching expertise, and are often performed incorrectly, which can be dangerous. There is absolutely no need to include exercises that are problematic for your situation. Whether you don’t feel comfortable teaching an exercise or the athletes just aren’t getting it, drop any exercise that is causing problems.
 

5. Traffic Flow. I often see traffic jams in high school weight rooms. This makes for an inefficient, frustrating experience that can be avoided. Rather than performing several sets of each exercise, have your athletes perform one set of 2-4 different exercises for the same body part to keep traffic moving.
 

For example, instead of performing three sets of bench press, try doing one set of bench press, one set of incline press, and one set of push-ups. Not only will this keep everyone moving, it also allows the musculature to be trained at several different angles and is equally effective in developing strength. This eliminates a lot of standing around that ultimately creates distractions and decreases training intensity.
 

You can also create different versions of a workout. Change the order of exercises for some athletes so the equipment is being used at different times. This small change will allow more athletes to workout simultaneously without traffic jams.
 

The weight room can be the motivational hub of your program if you create the right environment, and these simple tips can increase your effectiveness as a coach. They will allow you to maximize your coaching skills and give your athletes what they deserve – your attention.
 

 

 

Around The World For Better Balance Training For Young Athletes

 

Young Athletes Balance Training

 

By Dave Gleason
 

In this video IYCA Expert and Athletic Revolution Pembroke Owner Dave Gleason discusses and demonstrates one of his favorite Activities for training dynamic balance in young athletes.

 

Progressions, regressions and even a way to make this exercise more fun for even the youngest of athletes is included in this short video coaching clip.
 

 

 

Let us know what you think of these exercises for improving the balance of young athletes below.
 

 

Coaching Young Athletes – It’s Not Business…It’s Personal

 

Young Athletes Need Support

Young Athletes

 

By Dave Gleason

 

The last month and a half I have been making more of a concerted effort to attend as many events that our AR Champions are involved in as possible. This includes sporting events, plays and concerts. I have quickly come to the realization that within reason – I need to do much more of this.
Why?

 

Quite simply the look on my young athletes faces when they see me, and the gracious comments from their parents, extolling how very excited their son or daughter is.

 

The games, activities, sets, reps and external loads we choose for our young athletes have obvious importance. Without our world-class long-term programming we do not distinguish ourselves from any other organization that serves young athletes.

 

The truth is that our program templates and endless list of exercises to plug in to those templates have little value if the overall experience we provide our athletes is not superior.

 

Keep in mind that beyond their athletic development, your young champions are developing from several different standpoints.
Bio-Socially – How they are responding to biological changes in their bodies including kinesthetic awareness and how they compare themselves to other children’s bodies.

 

Psycho-Socially – How their young minds are socially adjusting to learning new social skills, sportsmanship, fairness and the concept of efficacy (“what I can do”).

 

Cognitively – How and what their brains are storing information from new experiences.
All of these are factors that can break down and destroy confidence.

 

That said, the connections we make with our young athletes and their parents are the most important aspects of our business.

 

Coaching and mentoring young children comes at a cost. That cost is the value they place on you in their young lives. They look up to you, they admire you… they want your acceptance and praise. You become a very important part of their young lives.

 

Celebrating your young athletes outside of your facility is as easy as attending a tournament, a concert, an award ceremony, and even a personal event that you’ve been invited to such as a birthday party. Your attendance at these events will add to the culture of your AR, the strength of your AR family and the long-term health of your AR business.

 

The ramifications of your ability to network while being introduced to other parents and young athletes by your AR champion’s parents cannot be over stated. The levity of making your young champion feel special because you took the time to watch them perform is epic. The appreciation your AR parents display is a direct result of their realization that you care about their child(ren).

 

The opportunity to make your AR champions feel special will always begin within your program. Reaching outside that from time to time is a win – win for everyone!

 

Keep changing lives!

 

 

Non-Programming Elements of a Great Youth Fitness Program

 

Creating a Great Youth Fitness Program

Youth Fitness

 

By Wil Fleming

 

Non-Programming elements of a great Youth Fitness program

 

That sure is a mouthful for a title. Maybe the meaning is quite self evident or maybe it is a little more veiled. Either way I think that these elements are essential to making your AR successful and helping you to develop great athletes.

 

What do I mean by “non-programming” elements?

 

Sets, reps, exercises, and their order are all the things that you put on paper when you are putting together their training program., those are the traditional “programming elements”. There are things that don’t end up on paper that can make your program successful though.

 

Those things that don’t end up on the whiteboard or workout card are just as important to the quality of your program as what’s written down. They create the environment in which your athletes train.

 

Coaching
This is first. It really should always be first. Great coaching can change the way athletes think, can improve technique, and can inspire. Each day in your AR you should seek to instruct, teach, and inspire each athlete. In fact in my training sessions I aim to do these 3 separate things with each individual I encounter. Your interactions with your champions will be deeper and more meaningful if you approach each athlete with these 3 things in mind.

 

Communication
The way that we communicate with our champions is very important. Maximum uptake of information is dependent upon how we choose to transmit ideas to our athletes. I like to communicate training technique in a “do this, don’t do that, do this” way (first popularized by the AMAZING John Wooden). In essence I tell each athlete how we should do a movement or piece of a movement, then give them 1 way to not do that movement, and then repeat using different cues how to do this movement. For instance in the hang clean if I am verbally communicating technique I might say “Get full extension in your hips. We don’t want to leave your hips behind the bar. It might feel like you are going onto your tippy toes” I communicated the same point to the athlete in 2 different ways and let them know what the improper way to do things might look like.

 

Fun
We hear about fun all the time, but what does it look like? In my AR it is often impromptu competition between athletes or between athletes and coaches. A quick game of wall ball, with rules made up on the spot, as we wait to warm-up. A race with a sled, or relay will do the trick as well. Impromptu feels better than planned, and we try to do something like this everyday. Fun makes communication easier and coaching easier and is the underlying note to creating a great environment for your youth fitness program.

 

I cannot remember who said it to me but I was once told “A horrible program implemented well, will always out perform a great program implemented poorly. ” The non-programming elements are what makes this true, those things which create the environment. If poor programs in a great environment can do well, imagine what a great youth fitness program (your AR program) can do in a great environment (your AR).

 

 

 

Hybrid Movements for Killer 6-13 Year Old Programming

 

Hybrid Movements For Young Athletes 

 

By Dave Gleason 

Creating fun, imaginative and challenging activities for 6-9, and 10-13 year old can be a difficult task.  Keeping in mind that 6-9 year old athletes are still discovering movement and 10-13 year old athletes are exploring movement will help.  Combining 2 or more ‘traditional’ exercises to generate new, hybrid movements will put your programming over the top! 

Lunge walks (monster walks) combined with bear crawls for discovering balance, systemic strength, contra lateral coordination and with a progression even reactivity.  Log rolls and push up holds (progressed to push ups) will cover a variety of training factors including core strength, upper extremity strength, spacial awareness and more. 

   

Watch this short video below to see exactly how to put these hybrid movements together with progressions!

 



 

 

Alternative Methods for Training Explosive Strength To High School Athletes

 

 

High School Athletes Strength Training

 

 

high school athletes

By Wil Fleming

Nearly all high school athletes, with very few exceptions, need to
develop explosive strength.

 

 

The instances in which the skill of explosive strength are used in
sports are endless, but when used “explosiveness” is very apparent.

 

A linemen firing off from their stance.

 

A soccer player rising above his opponents to head a ball toward goal.

 

A volleyball player making a quick lateral move to reach for the dig.

 

Instances of explosive strength are very vivid when used and typically are a part of a game changing play.

 

Typically I would now talk about the importance of Olympic lifts, but in some instances using a barbell is not possible due to equipment limitations or even the readiness of the athlete. In those instances, the need for High School Athletes does not diminish, but the need for creativity does increase.

 

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Creating a Training System That Works

 

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by Wil Fleming

 

I remember vividly 3 years ago at this time Ryan and I were working our tails off to get ready for our grand opening that was only a couple weeks away. It was a really exciting time for us.

 

We were assembling all the equipment we ordered.

 

We were trying to figure out how to lay 1500 square feet of turf.

 

We were holding free workouts in our PARKING LOT to gain momentum.

 

We knew what we wanted our business to be, and we had a plan to make that happen:

 

A place that actually promised results to their clients and athletes.

 

A place for athletes to train to become the best they can be in their sport.

 

Three years later, we are doing just that, we have put 50 kids in collegiate athletics, we have helped a dozen high school teams reach their best seasons in years, and we have helped 1000’s of kids become better athletes.

 

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Sport Specific Youth Training: Part 1

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Insert/edit linkYouth Training

For Sports

As a given sport evolves and the participants within that sport begin to break records and perform what was once considered impossible, you can be sure that advancements in training and conditioning regimes have occurred within that sport. Very few athletes ever become great sport technicians without the inclusion of a comprehensive athletic development and conditioning program as part of their training package. Over the past decade, the type of training and conditioning performed by young, developing and elite athletes has gone from basic fitness to more functionally- based and developmental activities. Figure skating and all of the disciplines under that umbrella are such examples.

 

Youth Training

 

For example, many training coaches prescribe that their skaters practice landing jumps and performing balance based skills (such as spirals) off the ice. On the other side of the spectrum, there are the ‘athletic developers’ who tend not to concern themselves with producing specified strength gains but instead work more directly at improving the complete athletic profile of the skater. The general conception among these professionals is that the greater degree of athleticism the skater has, the more likely he or she will be able to carry out athletic skills. While traditionalists often incorporate basic and conventional exercises into their training programs, the athletic developers come from a more movement based perspective. This style of conditioning is often referred to as ‘functional’ training, which is in fact a misnomer. Let’s examine that.

 

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Young Athletes and the Guarantee


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When it comes to young athletes I’m confident for a lot of reasons…

 

I’ve field-tested the ‘Complete Athlete Development’ system with about 20,000 young athletes worldwide over the past 12 years.

 

The system itself contains more than 100 photographs of exercises I use every day in developing the best and most dominant young athletes in their respective sports.

 

You also get a complete ‘done-for-you’ sample program chapter and template that allows you to create (literally) thousands of training programs through my unique ‘mix-n-match’ structure.

 

Access to Videos of what training sessions must contain with young athletes (more…)

7 Steps to Kids Programming: Part 3

 

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Kids Programming

Picking up from yesterday…

 

Over the years, I have grown fond of referring to these issues as the ‘Likely Bunch’ and have created a training template intended to meet of the aforementioned needs as a matter of principle rather than what an assessment tells me.

 

Rather than programming for the day, week or month, my standard Training Template for a high school athlete looks as follows:

 

  1. Tissue Quality – 10 minutes
  2. ROM/Torso/Activation – 10 minutes
  3. Movement Preparatory – 10 minutes
  4. Movement – 10 minutes
  5. Strength/Power Technique – 10 minutes
  6. Strength Execution – 10 minutes
  7. Warm-Down/Active Flexibility – 10 minutes

 

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Young Athletes and Skill Sets

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KISS Me: Skill Setting the Jump Shot for young athletes (Part I)

 

My college kinesiology professor may have been the first to introduce me to the KISS Principle, but I have come across it many times since. “Keep it simple, stupid!” is a mantra we might all do well to give some thought as we develop our programming. In my opinion, there is simply no better way of “keeping things simple” than skill setting.

 

A long time IYCA staple, skill setting is the process of breaking down movement patterns into smaller elements, teaching and refining those elements, then reconstructing them back into a full sequence that may eventually be perfected. The fun part is that skill sets need not be confined simply to boring and/or repetitive exercises. They are equally effective in simplifying complex sport skills, as well. And just like kids will eat their vegetables on the promise of a tasty dessert at the end of the meal, we need not withhold all form of “sticks and balls” for the sake of long-term athletic development. Oftentimes a well placed sport drill can enhance attention and give razor sharp purpose to a particular conditioning session.

 

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Youth Training By Eric Cressey

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Eric Cressey youth training

Youth Training Done right 

Last November, a good buddy of mine who is a very accomplished college strength coach came up to Boston for a seminar we put organized on a Sunday.  He actually flew up Friday night so that he could observe on Saturday while we trained our clients – which was a nice blend of youth training, high school, college, and professional athletes, plus our adult clientele.  All told, I’d say that high school athletes are 70% of our clientele.

 

That Tuesday morning, I woke up to this email from him:

 

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The 3 Rules of Youth Fitness: Part 1

[wpfblike]Youth Fitness Rules to follow

When I look around the industry, I find myself becoming more and more discontented with the view.  It seems that there is a never-ending litany of new, innovative and advanced techniques in the field of strength and conditioning that are, in essence, just re-fabricated models and methods that have proved tried and true for literally decades.

 

This is especially true at the youth level where we tend to walk the fine line of wavering between dummying down adult-based prescription and creating ‘novel’ schemes of building the same results that can, and are developed through the standard basics.

 

When working with young athletes (aged 6 – 18) I implore you to resist the temptation of thinking too far outside the box and instead concentrate your time and effort on both pondering and answering these 3 specific questions:

  1. Is this Concept vs Cool?
  2. Is it Recipe vs Chef?
  3. What’s the difference between Athletes & Non-Athletes?

 

Let’s examine ‘Concept vs Cool’ today…

 

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