Archive for “in-season training” Tag

Creating a Program for the Multi-Sport Athlete – Jordan Tingman

Multiple-sport athletes in the high school setting are extremely common. However, coaches may find it hard to create a training program that can cater to the various requirements each sport demands.

As strength and conditioning professionals, our job is to create a comprehensive training program for these athletes. The goal is to build their baseline of training, make them fundamentally sound and progress their movement throughout their program.  Multi-sport athletes should be able to learn their weaknesses, balance them out structurally and exercise different degrees of motion to become a better overall athlete. These concepts are key when creating a program that will increase performance but also decrease the likelihood of injury.

Getting Started
As you get started with a new, multi-sport athlete, ask these questions:
What have you done to train in the past? What sports do you play? Have you ever worked with another strength and conditioning professional/had any formal training outside of your sport?

No matter the age of the athlete, it is important to consider the training age of the individual that you are working with to help you gauge the intensity of the program.  More often than not, the high school athlete has limited resistance training experience, speed and acceleration work or conditioning anywhere outside of their school sport coach.

Asking what sports they play can help you understand the demands that are being placed on them and the types of movement preparation or accessory exercises you may want to incorporate into their training program.

What injuries or structural issues have you had in the past?

Many athletes have experienced some sort of pain or injury throughout their young career and need help regaining strength or motion, so it is important to create programs that will aid in resilience. Having a complete knowledge of their injury history allows you to prepare for specific imbalances or overcompensations that we can help fix.

What are some things you would like to improve?

Try to have the athlete get specific.  Drill down by asking follow-up questions like “Are their plays you feel like you can’t make that you’d like to be able to next season?”  Depending on their goals, they may want to focus on gaining greater performance in specific areas and you must create a program that can cater to those needs.

If they’ve trained in the past, what kinds of training have they enjoyed/hated in the past?

Incorporating their interests is a great way to engage and empower an athlete. If they have had no formal training, ask what types of things they enjoy doing in their sports practices or have a list of ideas ready to discuss with them to gain a better idea of what they like.

How often can they train with you each week?  What is their practice schedule?

This will help you know how long you will be training with them, what your program goals can be and how to program around the demands of their practice schedule.  Athletes often forget how much they’re doing outside of training and don’t understand how it all affects their results.  As a professional, you’ll have to explain this to them and help them balance all of their competing demands.

Before starting any training program, you’ll want to have an assessment session to help you parse out any glaring concerns. You can not build a program for an individual before you have watched them move and observed their limitations.  This can be a formal assessment or simply an observation during a dynamic warm-up.  Here are some things you can do to see how the individual moves:

Take them through a basic dynamic warm up:
High Knees, Butt Kickers ,High Knee Hugs, Pendulums, Quad Stretch and Reach, Runners, Lateral Lunge and Pivot, Figure 4 + Air Squat, Carioca, Skips, Backward Run, Side Shuffle, 2 10 yard sprints

Watching an individual move through a dynamic warm-up can help you spot imbalances or movement deficiencies immediately.

Squat Assessment: Air Squat, PVC Front Squat, Back Squat, Overhead Squat

Press Assessment: PVC Overhead Press

Lunges: Lunge in place, forward lunge, backward lunge, side lunge

Mobility/Flexibility: Ankles, Hamstrings, Hip Flexors, Back, Shoulders

These are just a few exercises that can be used to spot imbalances/deficiencies before you start a training program. Understanding their needs and limitations will help you create a program that will build a better athlete.

Start Programming!
Once you have all of the things you need to know about your athlete, you can start programming.  Considering that the individual has most likely never trained outside of their sport, we need to build up their base of strength, mobility, stability, speed, change of direction and conditioning.  Because you’ll probably have very limited time with a multi-sport athlete, keeping introductory programming simple and straightforward is the most effective way to make progress.  If you plan on working with this athlete throughout the year, you’ll want to keep the volume relatively low so they can make progress without creating unnecessary fatigue.

The goal should be to elicit a training response without compromising their performance.  This can be tricky, so you’ll want to have an open line of communication regarding their competition and practice schedule.  Working them extremely hard right before an important competition can ruin their performance and possibly set them up for injury.  Instead, you’ll want to time the training sessions in a way that doesn’t overly interfere with important events.  For example, if games are played on Tuesday and Friday, training sessions would probably take place on Wednesday and Saturday so there is ample time to recover before the next competition.  Not only will this help the athlete, it will keep you in good graces with the sport coach.

It’s especially important to balance the fatigue of areas that are used heavily in a sport.  For example, you don’t want to use high-volume lower body training on an in-season track or soccer athlete who is running every day.  Similarly, you don’t want to get a baseball pitcher’s upper body sore/fatigued when they have to throw a lot the next day.

Dynamic Warm up: Get their blood flowing. Whether or not they are currently in season for a specific sport will change the way you approach the dynamic warm up. You can make it extremely basic or add elements that relate specifically to the sport they are currently playing.

Movement Prep: Use belly breathing, flow progressions and stretch variations that move through a range of motion focusing on structural imbalances, glute activation and activation of specific muscle groups desired.  Pick specific exercises that the individual can work on to increase their range of motion in troubled areas.  Your assessment will reveal these areas and allow you to pick the most important exercises for each athlete.  There are a million exercises to choose from, but you need to be extremely efficient with multi-sport athletes because they don’t have a lot of extra time and energy for training.  Address the “big rocks” first by picking the exercises that are most important.

Speed/Change of Direction: Footwork of any sort is always beneficial. Incorporating reaction drills, line drills and change of direction/acceleration drills can help prime the nervous system for training.  Communicate with the athlete and/or coach to ensure you’re not doubling up on drills that may be done during practice.  For example, a soccer coach may do a bunch of sprint work in practice.  If that “box is checked,” don’t spend as much time on linear speed work.  Instead, you may want to include more agility or reactionary work.

Resistance Training Elements: Hinge, squat, push, pull and core are simple highlights of a training program that can be done easily and efficiently. You can use dumbbells, medicine balls, kettlebells and resistance bands to build up strength before loading an athlete with a barbell.  Examples include:

Hinge: Power Exercises, Kettlebell Swings, Trap Bar Deadlift
Squat: Squats, Lunges, Single Leg Variations
Push: Overhead Presses, Bench
Pull: Row, Pulls, DL
Core: Pick exercises such as anti-rotational, core Stability, anti-extension core work.
Assistance Exercises: Include any-sport specific exercises each season that you would like to work on or movement correctives that you see fit for the individual. Fixing imbalances and utilizing smaller muscle groups can help achieve correct functional movement.

The goal of resistance training for multi-sport athletes is to focus on building up the overall strength/athleticism, not building up a sport-specific athlete. Focus on joint stability and mobility through different exercises without creating unnecessary fatigue.  You’ll want to stick with moderately heavy weight, but not take sets to failure very often.  An example would be using 80-85% of a 1RM for just 3-4 reps.  Not all exercises need to be done with heavy weight, but using a relatively high intensity with low rep ranges allows the athlete to maintain or improve strength without creating excessive fatigue.  Higher-rep lower body training, for example, can cause excess fatigue that may be great in the off-season, but can over-tax an athlete during a season.

Simple plyometric exercises: Hops, bounds, skips, pogo jumps, jump to stick, squat jumps, single leg variations, vertical jumps, medicine ball throws and tosses.

Conditioning (if necessary and time allowing): Depending on the time you have with your athlete in a training session, conditioning may or may not be a priority. Challenging your athlete with various types of conditioning that they have not been exposed to is a way to train them differently, build up their work capacity and can be a great finish to a training session.

Mixing up the Training Stimulus
Try to stay away from solely using barbells and dumbbells for every exercise. For example, instead of a walking lunge using a kettlebell in a goblet carry or various carry, try a medicine ball held to the chest, or in a different position, or using a weighted vest.  Changing it up can also be beneficial when working with younger athletes because it keeps them interested and focused on the task when it’s something they haven’t done before.  The body doesn’t care if it’s a 15 lb medicine ball vs a 15 lb weight vest, but this can keep an athlete engaged in the training because it’s interesting.

Key Notes When Training the Multi-Sport Youth Athlete
• Build up the athlete as a whole from the bottom up, build a sound-moving body, not necessarily a better football, softball, baseball, soccer player.
• Find movement or muscular imbalances that you can fix that will help them perform better in all of their sports
• Mix it up often, using various training stimuli to better train the overall movement
• Teach them to move through a full range of motion and slow things down to emphasize proper musculature firing and technique.
• Proper core stability and firing, joint stability and strength are important when it comes to injury reduction and should be highlighted in every program
• Teach healthy recovery protocols early on
• Create enough stress to stimulate adaptation without inducing unnecessary fatigue

Allowing athletes to play multiple sports is a great way to prevent overuse injuries, but training them to become better all-around athletes can be the best way to produce long-term health and success.

Jordan Tingman – CSCS*, USAW L1, ACE CPT, CFL1 is a graduate of Washington State University with a B.S. in Sports Science with a Minor in Strength and Conditioning. She completed internships with the strength & conditioning programs at both Washington State University and Ohio State University, and is currently a Graduate Assistant S & C Coach at Eastern Washington University.


The IYCA’s Principles of Athletic Strength & Conditioning textbook covers how to train the multi-sport athlete in great depth as well as many other topics related to developing athletes.  The PASC book includes contributions from 17 top professionals including college, high school and professional-level coaches.  Click on the image below to learn more:


Optimizing Your Team’s In-Season Training Program

Optimizing In-Season Training Programs

If you have ever been a part of or watched a high school team for an entire season, I am sure you have experienced this scenario: the team starts strong and looks great only to finish the season clinging on for dear life with half the team sidelined at one time or another with injuries.

However, some teams seemingly always finish the regular season at their peak and then continue to improve in the post-season. They are, for the majority, healthy and their energy levels alone help them to crush their opponents.

Why does this happen and what are the latter teams/coaches doing right?

Answer: Some coaches are far more effective in managing training stress and utilizing effective in-season strength workouts.

I am going to talk specifically about high school based sports programs. The principles I discuss below apply to club seasons and off-seasons. But, high school athletic programs have to smash five days per week of practices plus games plus other academic responsibilities into a 10-16 week window.

This is an incredible burden on the athlete but also on the coaches. With properly managed training stress and workouts, though, the injury-riddled team can become the perennial post-season powerhouse.

There are two different groups that can affect an athlete’s in-season success and I want to discuss both.

  1. Private sector coaching individual athletes who are in-season
  2. Team sport coaches working with a group of athletes over a brief high school season

Exercises for Athletes

Private Sector Coaches

This is where I spend my time since I own a private sector performance facility not directly affiliated with any local high schools.

Our biggest in-season conflict is the lack of contact we get with our athletes due to the massive time commitment associated with high school sports. Therefore, our time with them is precious and we need to do as much as we can to assess and increase performance during the one or two times per week we see them.

The ultimate goal with each of our athletes is making sure they are working hard enough through the season to peak at the end of season. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are lifting heavy weights and trying to set personal bests in our gym.

Instead, this means they are working on getting faster and more balanced within their Central Nervous System (CNS) without overstressing their aerobic/anaerobic energy systems so they can practice and perform normally.

Dr. Mel Siff once said, “To me, the sign of a really excellent routine is one which places great demands on the athlete, yet produces progressive long-term improvement without soreness, injury, or the athlete ever feeling thoroughly depleted.”  His statement embodies our exact goal with all high school athletes, in-season or otherwise.

Unfortunately, the more common scenario we come across is making sure our athletes aren’t overreaching and heading towards overtraining. This is typically something that is completely out of our hands but we have come up with some unique strategies to combat overreaching and overtraining when we catch it.

In-Season Training Program Strategies in the Private Sector

If you read my previous article about tempo training, you realize I am a big fan and utilize this strategy for every athlete at some point of his or her training.

By incorporating long eccentric periods and explosive concentric periods we can improve an athlete’s deceleration patterns while improving acceleration congruently. Think 30X or 31X (3 counts on the eccentric, no hold or 1 second isometric hold and then explosive concentric return to start).

This accomplishes our first mission, which is making sure our athlete is getting stronger as the season wears on. It won’t force the athlete to overexert with massive load but the CNS will learn how to load the body, increase the stretch reflex, and release tension sequentially for maximal force production.

Our super-secret strategy to monitor and manage our athlete’s in-season training stress is…..drum roll please……self-limiting exercises.

Okay, so it is not THAT super-secret but it really does work great as a secondary assessment tool for us.

When we write an athlete’s in-season training program, there will be at least one self-limiting exercise as well as one accessory single arm and single leg lift.

To understand the source of stress on young athletes you need to look for insights in how they perceive the world.


  1. Self-limiting exercises: jump rope, Turkish get up, bottoms up anything, crawling patterns
  2. Single arm: alternating dumbbell bench press, single arm row, landmine pressing
  3. Single leg: split squat, lunge, single leg RDL

We program these at the start of the season and use our eyes as the assessment tool. If we see that split squats or single leg RDLs have suddenly become difficult to balance, the athlete’s nervous system is likely overburdened and likely to get worse if we don’t take action.

At that point we can either regress the movement or substitute a recovery position. If we recognize CNS fatigue in our athlete, our goal is to reset them back to neutral and leave our gym more recovered than when they entered.

Sometimes it is important to just talk with your athlete and ask them how they feel. Most high school athletes that train at a place like ours aren’t looking for a way out, so if they tell us they are beat up, they most likely are and need some recovery.

In our ideal situation, every athlete we work with in-season finishes stronger than ever, is able to play the entire season and peak when it matters most.

Team Sport Coaches

I want to start this part of my article by admitting that I don’t have a lot of experience on this side of the coaching line. However, I have talked with many team coaches over the years from the professional ranks on down to high school coaches.

As with any profession, there are very good coaches out there raising the bar daily and there are many who have fallen behind the times, so my objective here is to raise the level of awareness and generate some discussion about how to improve in-season training at this level.

Team coaches must deal with many athletes that have different personalities and motivation levels. Coaches at this level must recognize which athletes fall into high skill/low skill and high motivation/low motivation categories. There are optimal ways to manage each different category of athlete, which the IYCA does a great job of identifying in their Youth Fitness Specialist certification.

For our sake today, I am going to assume the coach has a good grasp of these concepts.

In-Season Team Sport Programming Strategies

Speed and agility for athletes

When a coach decides to dive into strength training for his or her team in-season, the goal should be to decrease injury risk and bring the entire team’s strength and confidence up as the season progresses.

By focusing on these qualities in a strength program, the coach has the best chance to keep their top athletes injury free and increase younger or less talented athletes confidence and strength to drive competitiveness during practice.

This ultimately increases the chances of winning and develops a culture of strength and success.

One of the most important parts of injury risk management is recognition of and adjustment to each individual’s training stress, particularly during conditioning.

Again, I recognize I don’t have a lot of experience in this field but I do understand energy systems and what is required of athletes in different sports. Very rare is the case where an athlete needs to do long, sustained conditioning. Most high intensity events in sports last no longer than 10 seconds.

So if I have 10 minutes of conditioning with a soccer player, I would much rather do 20 sec ON/40 sec OFF of 10 yard change of direction sprints for 10 reps than 10 minutes of running laps around a soccer field. The carryover to sport is substantially greater.

When coaches condition like this, three things happen:

  1. It becomes more fun for the athlete rather than seen as a punishment for not paying attention, etc.
  2. Athletes are faster and better conditioned during games
  3. There is far less opportunity for burnout or overtraining

So a team coach does not necessarily need to individualize conditioning programs for each athlete, but rather re-think the way they approach their conditioning.

As the team moves into the weight room for their strength portion of the practice, there are some simple methods that can be used to individualize the training while getting everyone better:

  1. Movement training
  2. Progressive overload
  3. RPE scale

Movement training means doing things like squats, hip hinges, lunges, pushing, pulling and carrying exercises. Simple alternatives are usually the best and most effective. Even top-level athletes constantly work on the basics to become the best at what they do and a team is no different. Strength doesn’t need to look sexy to be highly effective.

Progressive overload is something the coach needs to program before the season starts. The in-season training plan should be created so the athletes have a period where they are pushing harder than usual in the weight room. This typically coincides with the regular season winding down so they have time to recover and feel as strong as ever heading into the post-season.

Finally, a rating of perceived exertion (RPE) (i.e. 1-10) scale of difficulty makes it easy to program design for a large group of athletes. When an exercise that is supposed to be a 7 or 8 on the difficulty scale becomes a 6, the athlete needs to add weight or make the movement more challenging.

For a team coach, the ideal outcome of an in-season strength program is seeing the entire team get stronger, faster, more bulletproof over the duration of the season, and have a rejuvenated, healthy team heading into the post-season.

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