Archive for “multi-sport athlete” 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.

Assessment
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:

 

Developing Athletes for Multiple Sports

A Holistic Approach to Developing Athletes in Multiple Sports

One would think that with the sports specialization “epidemic” in the United States, there would be very little need for an article discussing better ways for developing athletes in multiple sports. In reality, MANY of our high school athletes are indeed playing multiple sports in high school.

Thanks to the information provided by the IYCA and other educators in the strength and conditioning field, more and more coaches and parents are being exposed to the Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD) model and promoting the multi-sport athlete.

I have the very rare opportunity to be on both sides of the sports performance training industry. I work as a private strength and conditioning coach at my own facility. I am also a High School Strength and Conditioning Specialist (HSSCS) at a small school in South Carolina.

Due to the size of the high school (about 300 students), most of our athletes play multiple sports in order to field full teams. As such, I have worked out effective strategies for properly developing athletes who play multiple sports. Here are some tips for training the multi-sport athlete in the high school environment.

Incorporate the Functional Movement Screen (FMS)

FMS is a powerful tool for developing athletesOne important goal of the HSSCS is to keep athletes safe and help decrease the risk of injury. The multi-sport athlete could be arguably considered “in-season” at all times, with most playing club or travel sports in the summer, as well. This high amount of sports participation increases the likelihood of injury.

The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) can be a valuable tool in helping the HSSCS identify potential risks and inefficiencies the athlete may demonstrate. Such information is critical in making the most of the limited training time available.

Give Developing Athletes Homework

Giving athletes exercises to do at home is a great tool for the highly motivated athlete at any skill level. One way to do this is to provide “travel packets.”

In these packets, athletes will find mobility sequences, soft tissue/self massage programs, and body-weight exercises that can be performed independently at night. This is a great reason to start a YouTube page for any strength and conditioning program.

Get Them Stronger

high school strength program for muti-sport developing athletes With the multi-sport athlete, the focus in the weight room should be strength. Most of these developing athletes participate in the in-season conditioning that the sport coach requires.

After all, coaches usually cannot tailor the program for a few specific athletes. Programming for strength gains around competitions with multi-joint exercises—such as deadlifts and squats with single leg and shoulder strengthening exercises—can help the HSSCS take advantage of this key developmental stage.

Implement a Sport-Specific Agility Program

Very rarely will I use the term “sport-specific” but I feel it is necessary here. There will usually be a two-week transition period for athletes who are moving from season to season unless they go deep into the post-season (which is always a good thing).

For example, after football season, the athlete may have a brief transition period moving from football to basketball season. During this time, it is important for the HSSCS to implement an agility program that will meet the needs of the basketball player in order to improve performance and also assist in the prevention of injuries.

In the previous example, the athlete would perform the agility program on the basketball court to get used to the surface along with movements specific to basketball.

Meet with Coaches

The topic of getting coaches to buy into a program will be addressed in future articles. It is a critical topic that is imperative in helping build a strong sports culture at the high school level.

Meeting with coaches to discuss the needs of the multi-sport athlete is not just good for the athlete, but will also build cohesiveness and improve communication among the staff. This is a time to share the need for athletes to “do their homework” as well as address any other issues that may arise. Getting your school’s Athletic Trainer involved is a great idea, as well.

Reinforce Proper Nutrition and Rest

Fruits for developing athletesMulti-sport athletes are seemingly on the run all the time. Constantly having practices or games after school along with academic requirements and an ever-increasing social calendar can lead to decreased sleep and recovery as well as inconsistent eating habits.

Such behaviors increase the risk for injury, over-training and increased fatigue. Working with other school staff members and educating multi-sport athletes on the need for appropriate sleep, hydration, and nutrition is an important key in optimizing health and preventing injury.

A great tip would be to organize a “field trip” to the school cafeteria to educate athletes on appropriate lunch choices.

Bottom Line for Developing Athletes

I love the fact that this article is about developing multi-sport athletes. It is a refreshing topic in a time where sports specialization is impacting youth at an alarming rate. With that said, the multi-sport athlete has their own needs and risks that the HSSCS must plan around in order to trigger optimal results.

Josh Ortegon


About the Author: Josh Ortegon

Josh Ortegon - 5 Tips to a Healthy Football SeasonJoshua Ortegon is co-founder and the Director of Sports Performance Enhancement at Athlete’s Arena in Irmo, SC. Joshua earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Western Michigan University in 2000.

As an IYCA-certified High School Strength and Conditioning Specialist, speaker, and writer, Joshua has helped establish Athlete’s Arena as the premier high-performance center in South Carolina since 2005.

Joshua has worked with a wide range of athletes from youth to professionals specializing in the areas of injury prevention, return to play and performance enhancement.


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