Does A Multisport Background Improve An Athlete’s Opportunity For Success?

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Written by FMS

After every championship game or major sports draft, data emerges supporting the benefits of a multi-sport background.

While multi-sport athletes aren’t nearly as prevalent in high school as they were a few decades ago, the voices and anecdotes around the virtues of sampling vs specialization are growing.

Hall of Fame athletes like John Smoltz and Wayne Gretzky are using large platforms to advocate against early sports specialization.  Famed-surgeon Dr. James Andrews cautions parents and kids against the perils of playing one sporteven backing an awareness initiative.

Before becoming Masters champion and golf’s next megastar, Jordan Spieth played point guard and was a standout pitcher.  Tom Brady was drafted as a catcher by the Montreal Expos out of high school.  LeBron earned all-state honors at wide receiver as a sophomore.  Physical traits like size, speed, explosiveness, coordination and kinesthetic awareness transfer from sport to sport.

While the justification for a multi-sport approach is sound, it’s important to acknowledge the data is probably a bit noisy.  Did these athletes become great because they played multiple sports?  Or did they play multiple sports because they were great athletes?  Probably a little of both.  Think about it.  If wide receiver is running by DB’s on the football field, the track coach will probably be interested in having him on the 4 x 100m team.  The size or athleticism that allows a volleyball player to play above the net would be useful on the basketball court.  Endurance developed playing soccer will likely carry over to cross county. And so on… Gifted athletes have early success which likely encourages greater participation and recruitment.

That said, we do believe there are benefits to having a broad sports background that relate to the FMS philosophy.

 

1) Injuries Related To Overuse

Of all the potential pitfalls of early specialization, exposure to overuse injury is arguably the most perilous.  A widely publicized study of 1,500 high school students in Wisconsin found that athletes specializing in one sport are 70 percent more likely to suffer an injury during their playing season than those who play multiple sports.  The potential exposure is even greater in rotational sports like baseball and golf.  It should be said, however, that the vast majority of studies don’t take into account the number of games an athlete is playing in a year or how they are training.  Those are HUGE factors.  An intelligent training program and reasonable competition period can go a long way in reducing exposure to overuse injuries (well said by Driveline Baseball here).

 

2) Movement Competency

A precursor to owning movement patterns is exploring those movement patterns.  Youngsters who participate in a wide variety of activities are exposed to a wide variety of movement patterns in comparison to kids who are specializing in one sport (or, even worse, are sedentary).    The association between movement variability and movement competency is observable at a young age too.  A 2016 study found that gymnastics-like movement training improved stability and object control in kids with an average age of 8.

Additionally, limitations in mobility or stability may impede skill acquisition.  As Dr. Michael Chivers states:

“If there are structural and/or physiological deficits in the joints involved in the skill to be learned, the process of motor learning cannot happen to the fullest extent. Skill acquisition is not about grooving a repeatable, symbolic representation of the skill. It’s about building the physical capacity first and then the coaching and technical applications of the skill based cognitive learning can aid in the acquisition process.”

 

3) Athletic Capacity

Want to increase your vertical?  Try jumping more.  Want to drop your 40 time? Research indicates that the best way to improve sprint speed is to practice sprinting.  Again, it’s a bit of a chicken and egg conundrum, but one reason why basketball players jump well is because they jump a lot.  Even if an athlete doesn’t end up playing competitive basketball, they will benefit from the explosiveness they learned from it, even if the sports look nothing alike.  For example, Dr. Greg Rose and TPI have found that vertical leap is one of the athletic indicators of potential swing speed in golf. What’s one thing that some of the longest hitters in pro golf have in common?  They all have a basketball background.

In conclusion, encouraging young athletes to play multiple sports won’t guarantee success or eliminate injuries, but encouraging kids to play multiple sports has the potential to improve movement quality, limit overuse and increase athletic capacity.

Let Your Kids Struggle

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Dear Parents of Young Athletes,

One of the most important skills your child can learn from sports and training is how to struggle with something and eventually overcome it.

Unfortunately, it can be pretty difficult for us to watch our kids struggle, and our natural instinct is to help them so they don’t have to experience that pain.  Trust me, I have a hard time with this as a dad, too, so I understand. It’s hard to watch my kids struggle and fail because it breaks my heart. But, kids grow exponentially faster, and become more resilient, when they learn how to work hard and struggle for something they want.

I recently heard Olympic figure skating champion Mark Hammill talk about the years leading up to his massive success.  He said that all anyone ever wants to talk about are his successes, but he talked about how important it was for him to lose and fail over and over again before that.  He talks about how it developed tenacity and a thirst for success because he hated the feeling of losing. The struggles are what turned him into a champion.

If we rush in to rescue our kids from every obstacle in their way, they’ll never learn how to do it for themselves, and they may never develop the grit it takes to succeed in any endeavor.  We all know that life is full of obstacles, so we better help them learn how to overcome them.

As hard as it is to watch your child fail, teach them how to turn setbacks into comebacks.  Michael Jordan often talks about how impactful it was for him to get cut from his high school basketball team.  That year, he probably grew more than any other year of his life because he wanted to prove his coaches wrong. That setback helped him develop a mindset, attitude and work ethic that propelled him on to become one of the greatest basketball players of all time.  Had he made that team, it’s possible that he would have never developed that spirit, and we might not even be talking about him.

There is a saying in sports that pretty much sums it all up – “skills from struggles.”

Growth comes when people are challenged just above their skill level.  This forces us to learn something new, try a little harder, and understand things more thoroughly because we have to keep up with those around us who can already perform the task we’re struggling with.  Of course, putting a child in a situation where they are completely over their head can be demoralizing, so it’s important to give kids appropriate challenges so they can feel a sense of accomplishment as they improve.

Kids who achieve early successes without having to work hard will often get passed up later in life as others learn how to work hard and overcome setbacks.  Early achievers need larger challenges than others at a young age to keep them constantly improving rather than being satisfied with simply being better than kids on their team.

I’ve seen this happen many, many times in my career, and I even see it in very talented high school athletes who struggle mightily in college because they have never had to work extremely hard to keep up. They get very discouraged, their confidence drops, and they often end up giving up on the sport they were so good at when they were young.

I also see the parents of these kids get very frustrated and wonder what happened to their super-talented child.

The same principle applies to other areas of our lives such as academics, work, and social situations.  We don’t necessarily need to “encourage” mistakes, but we often learn much more from difficult situations than when things are easy.  Let your kids learn that they may fail a test if they don’t study. Let them have friends get angry if they aren’t good friends. Let them get fired from a job for not working hard.  Let them sit on the bench when they don’t practice hard. Let them experience painful feelings.

And, don’t rush to rescue them from these difficult situations.  You don’t have to pile on and ridicule them for making mistakes, but try to look at these struggles as opportunities for your kids to learn valuable skills.  Just try to balance being “there for them” with letting them struggle.

So, while it may tear your heart out to watch your child struggle, it’s probably exactly what they need once in a while to help them learn how to dig down and figure out how to get better.  This is probably going to hurt you more than them, so good luck with this….and wish me luck too.

Sincerely,

Jim

Hockey Strength & Speed

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This Post is for all you Hockey coaches and parents out there.

I never cared for the term “sport-specific.”  I feel its a slick way to market strength and conditioning programs to parents who don’t know any better.  There are really no unique or individual exercises or movements specific to one sport.

With that being said, I do believe there are certain areas that must be addressed in order to improve performance and reduce the likelihood of injury in every sport.  In order to effectively prepare an ice hockey player for the season, it is necessary to have a thorough understanding of the specific demands of the sport.  The main differences for ice hockey reside in the playing surface, biomechanics of skating, and the substitution patterns. These differences require special attention for optimally preparing an athlete for the competitive season.

I have had the opportunity to work with some of the areas great ama

Specific Demands for Hockey Players

Energy System Considerations (this is way to geeky for most, but call if you have questions)
The energy system demands of ice hockey are unique from many sports due to the substitution patterns seen during game play. The game is played at a fast pace and players substitute “on the fly” during gameplay. This is in contrast to most sports where substitutions take place only during stoppages in play. Recent data reports that forwards average shifts about 45 s in length while resting 57 – 90 s between shifts. This results in about 6 – 8 shifts per period for a player. It is estimated that players spend about 23 s in some form of high-intensity activity (sprinting, striding, skirmishing, etc.) during each shift.

When looking at adenosine triphosphate (ATP) supply from individual energy systems, the phosphagen system is the dominant system for short, high-intensity activity lasting 0 – 30 s. After 20 – 30 s, the glycolytic system becomes the dominant supplier, while the oxidative or aerobic system supplies ATP for long duration, low-intensity activity. Comparing this information to the time and intensity demands of the hockey player, it can be inferred that the phosphagen and glycolytic systems supply the majority of ATP during a shift. During rest between shifts, the oxidative system is relied upon for clearance of hydrogen ions accumulated during anaerobic glycolysis and regeneration of ATP and creatine phosphate.

An hockey player with a large aerobic base may recover faster and more efficiently between repeated, high-intensity efforts, allowing them to skate harder and longer on the ice. Therefore we utilize high-intensity interval training to improve ice hockey performance and improve Vo2Max.

We always train all three energy systems in order to maximize on-ice performance.  We vary our methods by utilizing different modes (e.g., skating, cycling, running, rowing, slideboard work, etc.), work times, rest times, and volumes.

Strength Considerations

Skating requires powerful legs, strong hips, and a stable torso to allow efficient transfer of force from the body to the ice. Performance differences between lower and higher level hockey players of the same age group are suggested to be primarily due to disparities in rate of force development. This could be because athletes rarely have enough time to produce maximal force in most sports movements. In theory, an ice hockey player with a greater RFD will therefore be faster and more powerful than one with a lower RFD. This highlights the importance of training RFD for ice hockey athletes.

For these advanced ice hockey athletes, greater focus is given to explosive training to increase power and RFD. Power and RFD can be trained with many methods, including weight training with submaximal weights (40 – 80% one repetition maximum), plyometrics, sprinting, and Olympic-style weightlifting. Advanced athletes with sufficient levels of maximal strength can shift more of their training to focus on maximizing RFD and speed.

Injury Reduction

In order to prepare a hockey player, it is important to understand common injuries and causes of injury in ice hockey. Injuries during competition cannot be fully prevented as many injuries occur because of the inherent contact in ice hockey. Research shows that over half of all injuries during a game are caused by contact. Injuries to the knee, shoulder, head (including concussions), and face are commonly caused from contact. The most common injuries occurring in practices are non-contact soft tissue injuries including strains of the hip and pelvic muscles.

It is unlikely that injuries occurring from contact can be entirely prevented by any specific training. We spend extra time training the muscles of the head and neck to reduce the risk of concussions.

Hip and pelvic strains may be reduced by strengthening the hip flexors, extensors, abductors, and adductors. Along with strengthening, it is necessary to ensure ice hockey players have adequate hip mobility for all exercises in the weight room and for on-ice skating demands. Ensuring that the hips are both strong and mobile will allow the ice hockey athlete to perform proper and efficient skating mechanics on the ice.

Joint mobility drills for hockey

Ankle mobility is extremely important for hockey players, especially at the high school level if they are multi-sport athletes. I have several athletes who play hockey in the winter and lacrosse in the spring. These kids are basically going from having their foot and ankle in a cast (i.e. ice skate) every day for four months and then asked to sprint on the lacrosse field. This is a disaster waiting to happen. Our ankle mobility work typically consists of dorsiflexion and plantar flexion drills, which we perform during almost every session.

Hip Rotators

Hockey players have a tendency to develop tight external hip rotators, resulting in a toe out gait.  Joe Defanco’s Limber 11 warm-up along with Hip and Glute activation exercises usually works wonders for our Hockey players.

Movement drills and core work

The warm-up portion of each training session consists of basic movement drills such as skips, side shuffles with arm and leg movement, and cariocas. These drills serve to increase body temperature and ready the athlete for the work ahead. Warrior lunges and lateral lunges may be performed in addition to these drills on lower body days to work on dynamic flexibility prior to squatting or cleaning.

After the movement drills, we perform our core work. We all know that the core is important. This is the transfer station between the upper and lower extremities. I have been using core circuits as part of the warm up for my athletes for quite some time with great success.

Our core circuits typically consist of three or four exercises including Palloff cable press outs, anti-rotation landmines, front/side plank variations, barbell rollouts, and hanging leg raises.

Strength training template

Here is a variation of what I have used as a three-day strength training template for my hockey players. Again, nothing is set in stone and it isn’t uncommon to make some adjustments on the fly.

Workout 1

  • A1 Power clean, 5 X 3
  • B1 Front/back squat, 3 X 5
  • C1 Reverse cross-over lunge, 3 X 8 ea. leg. (Skate Speed)
  • D1 Glute Raise /Posterior chain, 3 X 8
  • D2 Single Leg/Arm cable row (Balance and Power)
  • E1 Med-Ball Push-ups, 3 X 6 Each Side
  • E2 Row variation, 3 X 12

Workout 2

  • A1 Pull-ups, 3 X 5
  • A2 Rotational Med-Ball 3 x 8 (Increase Shot Power)
  • B1 Incline bench dumbbell press, 3 X 6
  • B2 Rear delt rows, 3 X 8
  • C1 Elbow flexion, 3 X 8
  • C2 Elbow extension, 3 X 10
  • D1 Forward & Side cross-over sled drag, 8 X 50 feet

Workout 3

  • A1 Trap bar deadlift, 3 X 5
  • A2 Jump Lunges 3 x 5 (Dynamic Leg Movement)
  • B1 Weighted push-ups, 3 X 8
  • B2 Single arm dumbbell row, 3 X 8
  • C2 Landmine rotations 3 x 6 each side
  • C2 Dumbbell step-up, 3 X 8

Each of these strength training sessions ends with flexibility work. I typically have my athletes perform a combination of lower body and upper body stretches. This is also the time where we work individual movements and stretches into the program.

This article isn’t to market myself as some kind of hockey expert but a way to offer a glimpse at what I have used with some success with my athletes. I understand this isn’t the only way to approach it, and when I come across something I feel would better my programs, I make the necessary adjustments.

As always, feel free to contact me directly anytime

Coach Kevin Haag
Kevin@K2Strength.com
908-803-8019

 

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CREATINE RULES

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If you were to ask any dietitian, nutritionist or sports performance coach about the negative side effect of creatine, they would be silent.  Creatine has only produced positive results despite what many may have heard.

Creatine is a substance made up of three amino acids and is stored in the muscle and brain. It gets turned into phosphocreatine providing energy to the working muscles.

It is found naturally in foods like seafood and red meat and can be purchased as a supplement.  Creatine is widely popular and accepted among athletic and sports communities. It is generally recognized as a safe supplement to consume to improve muscle performance.

Creatine itself doesn’t improve performance but it does improve energy levels produced by the muscle. So an individual who uses creatine might be able to do an extra set of bench press, or push out one extra rep, increasing their work efforts which in turn
increases muscle strength and ultimately performance.

Creatine is one of the most widely researched and commonly used ergogenic aids. It helps in increasing energy in your muscle but also helps increase muscle mass by several mechanisms. In addition to increasing overall workload due to increased energy, it also can increase cell signaling to repair muscles and reducing muscle breakdown. Creatine can also increase cell hydration by pulling water into muscle cells also contributing to the appearance of muscle growth.

There are several studies showing an increase production of phosphocreatine in the brain helping to improve brain health and many neurological diseases. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, ischemic stroke, epilepsy, and overall brain and memory function in older adults.

There is also research on vegetarians supplementing with creatine showing improvements in memory. While more research needs to be done on humans to investigate the benefits creatine supplementation on the brain, we do know it can enhance athletic performance, strength, and muscle size.

Creatine is found naturally in meats and fish such as beef, pork, herring, salmon, and cod as well as milk. Creatine monohydrate is the best option for supplementation despite other product claims for different forms being superior. Evidence does not support other creatine supplements providing more benefit than the low-cost creatine monohydrate. It is important to stay hydrated when taking this supplement and always consult a doctor if there are preexisting conditions in the liver and kidneys.

Are you TRAINING or EXERCISING

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The principle of progressive overload is perhaps the most important concept for anyone to understand when developing athletes or simply getting stronger.  It is one of the most basic differences between training and simply exercising.

For both adult and youth athletes!!

Unfortunately, this concept is often misunderstood and misapplied, I’d like to simplify the concept of progressive overload and discuss how to most appropriately apply it as part of an overall training program.

The most simplistic way to explain progressive overload is to slowly challenge yourself to do more than you’re currently capable of doing.  Without some system of progression, we’re just burning calories and making athletes tired. Sure, they may benefit from exercise, but the process of training or developing athletes should be more systematic so they progress in the safest and most efficient manner possible.

The variables that can be manipulated when applying overload include:

  • Frequency – how often the stimulus is applied
  • Intensity – either the percentage an athlete’s maximum capability or the degree of effort that goes into an exercise
  • Duration – how long the workout takes
  • Volume – the total amount of work performed.  This is generally represented as the weight x reps for strength training, but it can also be represented by the total amount of sets, number of reps or distance traveled.

Most of this article will focus on progressive overload for strength development, but speed & agility will also be discussed briefly.

Linear Progression

The essence of progressive overload is that your body adapts to a stimulus and slowly grows stronger or more efficient, depending on the goal.  For example, if you can currently do 10 push-ups in a row, you would try to do 11.  You would try to complete 11 push-ups until you can achieve that goal.  The stimulus of attempting to do 11 forces the body to adapt and grow stronger.  When you can complete 11, you begin working toward 12.

This is a very simple version of linear progression.  Linear, meaning one variable, constantly moving in one direction.  Many experts turn their noses up at this basic concept because progress eventually stagnates with most people, but it is a simple way to understand the underpinnings of progressive overload.

The story of Milo of Croton is another simple example of linear progression.  Milo was a 6th-century Greek wrestler who picked up and shouldered a young calf when he was a young man.  He picked up the calf every day as it slowly became a full-grown bull.  Because he had lifted it every day, he gradually became stronger and was able to impress crowds of people by picking up bulls as an adult.  The slowly increasing size of the bull provided a constant challenge that his body adapted to, and the concept of progressive overload was born.

Many athletes were developed through rough versions of this basic concept, and this was the inspiration for the adjustable barbell where small weights could be added to a bar in order to provide increasingly challenging stress.

Many coaches still take advantage of this simple strategy with relatively new trainees as they have athletes perform as many reps as possible of a single set of certain exercises.  The results are recorded each day, and they are asked to “beat their score” in the next training session.  This has the potential to turn into high-rep sets, but it works well when there is limited equipment and/or beginner lifters who will respond to even the lowest volumes.  A basic workout for a young athlete could be one set of each of the following:

  1. Push-ups
  2. Chin-ups
  3. Sit-ups
  4. Single-leg squats
  5. Goblet squat
  6. Hanging leg raise
  7. Curl & press with dumbbells
  8. Inverted row

Something as simple as this routine could be a great way to teach beginner lifters how to slowly progress, execute quality reps, and push through the discomfort of strength exercises.  Many coaches use a “20-rep set” where they prescribe one set of 20 reps of each exercise.  Instead of giving the athlete a weight that can be lifted 20 times, they pick a weight that can only be lifted 10-12 times.  Once fatigue sets in and no more reps can be completed, the athlete puts the weight down, rests for a few seconds, then attempts a few more reps.  This is repeated until the athlete has performed all 20 reps.  Only the first “set” (when the weight was put down the first time) is recorded, but the athlete stays with the exercise until all 20 reps are performed.  If the athlete performed 13 reps on the first set today, the goal is 14 at the next session.

This is a way to utilize linear progression but also add extra volume to the workout because the athlete is essentially performing multiple sets.  When the athlete can complete all 20 reps in one set, weight is added, a new exercise is prescribed or something else changes to increase the demands placed on the athlete.

Double Progression

This system gets at the essence of the “double-progression” method of progressive overload in which the resistance is increased when a certain number of reps is attained.  A typical example would be to select a range of 8-12 reps.  You could choose a weight that could be lifted at least 8 times, but no more than 12.  Let’s say you can complete 10 reps today, but cannot do 11.  In the next training session, you attempt to complete 11 reps.  Once 11 reps can be completed, you attempt 12 reps at the next training session.  When 12 reps can finally be completed (which is the top of the rep range we selected), the weight is increased the smallest amount possible, and you start the process over again, gradually trying to perform one more rep than you were able to get in the last workout.

This is an excellent way to help young athletes choose appropriate weights for their workouts, which is actually a very common issue in many weight rooms.  Beginner lifters usually have no idea what an appropriate weight would be for each exercise, so they end up choosing weights based on what others are using.  Testing is another way to help athletes choose weights for certain exercises, where a 1RM is established and percentages of that number are prescribed.  But, this takes a lot of time, can be dangerous with inexperienced lifters, and often isn’t very accurate with young lifters.  It’s also difficult (and not recommended) to establish 1RM’s for every exercise.

So, this system of gradually increasing the number of reps performed, then slowly increasing the weight, is a great way to help athletes learn how to choose appropriate weights.

Multi-Set Double Progression

Another way to implement this system is by using multiple sets of each exercise.  Using multiple sets gives athletes more opportunities to practice technique, and the additional volume can provide a great training stimulus, especially for athletes who cannot push themselves hard enough to get maximum benefit from a single set.

In this case, prescribe a number of sets and reps for each exercise, for example, 3 sets of 8 reps or 3 x 8.  In this example, athletes will use the same weight for all three sets and attempt to perform 8 reps on each set.  When all 3 sets of 8 reps can be completed, the athlete gets to move the weight up the smallest amount possible at the next workout.  If an athlete using 100 lbs can only perform 8 reps on the first set, 7 on the second, and 6 on the third, he/she will stick with 100 lbs on the next workout.

Many coaches will encourage athletes to perform as many reps as possible on the final set as a way to challenge athletes to push a little harder.  This will also help you determine when they’re ready to increase the weight and how much the increase should be.  In the above example, an athlete who performs all three sets of 8, but cannot do 9 reps on the last set, should increase the weight the smallest amount possible.  On the other hand, an athlete who performs 15 reps on the final set is probably ready for a slightly larger increase in order to provide a more appropriate stimulus.

Different versions of this scheme have been used by intermediate and advanced lifters for many years with exceptional results.  The idea is that the first set should end up being fairly easy, and allows for some technique practice.  The second set becomes more challenging, and the third set is where the hardest work is done.

It’s also important for athletes to record their results somewhere so they can look back at how many reps they performed in the last workout as a way to set goals for the current session.  Most young athletes aren’t going to remember they did 7 reps on the second set of bench press with 115 lbs.  Most young athletes already have enough on their minds, so that needs to be recorded.  A workout card or training software like TrainHeroic are great options for recording workout results.

Super-compensation

Teaching athletes about progressive overload is also an excellent way to teach the value of slow progression so they begin to understand the concepts of gradual adaptation, recovery, and super-compensation.  Many young athletes think that they are going to get big and strong very quickly.  Teaching them the value of consistency and gradual adaptation is an excellent concept for young athletes to understand so they begin to value small gains and how to schedule their workouts.

The graph below should be drawn out and explained to every athlete beginning a strength training program so they have a basic understanding of how the process works and why consistent training is so important.

Teaching athletes about progressive overload also gives coaches the opportunity to explain the value of recovery in the process of adaptation.  Understanding how the cycle of stimulation – recovery – adaptation – super-compensation works is an invaluable lesson for athletes to learn.  Most young athletes simply do not understand this cycle, and they end up either training inconsistently or too often.  This also gives us the opportunity to explain how performance training fits into their overall schedule with sports practices, competitions, and other commitments.  They need to see that all stress should be accounted for so they can create schedules that lead to progress in all areas.

Speed, Plyometrics, and Conditioning

While most of this discussion has been about strength training, progression should also be used with speed training, plyometrics, and conditioning. With plyometrics and speed training, progression is not quite as simple and easy to explain because technique and volume are so important to progression. You’re not adding another rep in every workout or increasing the number of repetitions every day.

Conditioning programs are a little easier to quantify because coaches can easily manipulate variables such as number of reps, work;rest ratios, and total volume to gradually increase the demands placed on an athlete. It’s important to gradually build this volume rather than creating dramatic spikes just to make it extra difficult. Of course, there can always be a case made for making training difficult, but coaches need to be aware of how athletes will respond to large spikes in volume or intensity, and ensure that there is adequate recovery after this kind of session.

Periodization

As athletes get more advanced with their training, or enter their competitive seasons, we need to think about the concept of periodization.  Through the years, I’ve seen coaches try to overcomplicate periodization and progressive overload with crazy set/rep schemes, charts, graphs, spreadsheets, and percentages that require a calculator.  While certain systems of periodization can get very complicated for advanced athletes, we can (and should) keep things more simplified for most athletes who haven’t even entered college.

Most of these athletes would be considered beginners in the world of strength training, and some could be considered intermediate lifters at the very most.  These trainees don’t need overly complicated programs, but we should definitely change the demands placed on them throughout the year.  Off-season training programs (when athletes are not engaged in daily sport practice) can include a higher volume of strength training and the overall demands can be greater.  During the pre-season, the amount of conditioning and sport-specific work will increase.  Once daily practice begins during the in-season phase of the year, it’s important that we continue to train, but in a way that does not induce unnecessary fatigue.

This phase of training is difficult for both coaches and athletes to understand.  Both groups often feel like brief training sessions are difficult to schedule and not worth it.  Education is crucial here so they understand the importance of maintaining their strength gains without overly taxing their bodies.  Inducing unnecessary fatigue will have a negative impact on both practice and competition performance, so the volume and intensity will be reduced.  For example, an in-season athlete who has been training consistently for several months may still be able to squat during the season, but instead of doing multiple sets at a high rate of exertion, he/she may do only 1-2 sets, stopping each set before maximal fatigue sets in. This athlete also won’t train as often during the in-season phase. 1-2 training sessions per week are about all that’s possible during a demanding season.

Once athletes have a substantial training base, periodization becomes much more critical because experienced lifters will not make progress as easily as beginners. Complete books have been written on periodization, and many popular training programs have been devised, but most of these programs are unnecessary until athletes have trained consistently (without interruption) for at least a year and are no longer seeing significant progress. That doesn’t often happen before college, so we can do a much better with young athletes by simply monitoring training volume and intensity and understanding that strength training is meant to supplement a sport, not be the sport by itself.

Keep It Simple

When working with young or inexperienced athletes, it’s important for coaches to teach them about the training process so they have a better understanding of how they will make progress. Teaching athletes the basics of progressive overload, and using basic systems of progression, will give them an understandable framework in which to work from. They’ll be much better able to make consistent progress, choose appropriate weights, and train safely. They will also be much better prepared for more complex systems they may encounter if they advance in their athletic careers. It will also help them understand how to train for the rest of their lives.

Most coaches also see themselves as teachers or mentors, and teaching athletes the value of progression can be a gift that will pay dividends for the rest of an athlete’s life.

Strength Training During The Season

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March 26, 2019

Major League Baseball starts in full force today with a full slate of games. The college baseball season has been underway for weeks and high school baseball is about to begin for the non-warm weather states. Most baseball players have been diligent in their strength training during the off-season. Strength Coaches and Baseball Coaches understand that it’s important for players to continue their strength training exericse while the season is going on.

Many of the gains made during the off-season can start to diminish if proper in-season training is neglected. For baseball players, maintaining strength throughout the spring is crucial for their performance on the field. With the right approach to training, players will be primed and ready for each and every game.

A recent article on VeryWellFit.com, written by personal trainer Paul Rogers, provides tips on in-season baseball strength training. Rogers emphasizes that for baseball players, maintaining arm strength is everything—and not just for pitchers. “Training must be designed to strengthen and protect the throwing arm and shoulder at the same time,” he writes.

An article on batsfinder.com suggests these seven exercises to build and maintain arm strength for baseball players:

• Dumbbell Curls: 3 to 5 sets every day

• Bench Press for Triceps: 3 to 5 sets a day

• This Wrist-Throwing Exercise: 1) Include your forearm at 90-degrees to your shoulder and hold a baseball in your hand; 2) Support your elbow with the other hand; and 3) Throw the baseball by using only your wrist.

• Long-Distrance Throwing: Practice 20 to 30 throws on 30-feet distance, then 20 to 30 throws on 60-feet distance and then the same on the 90-feet distance.

• 45-Degree Raises, in which you hold a 5-pound dumbbell in each hand so that your arms are extended on your both sides and the hands are facing inward, then raise each hand at a 45-degree angle and bring your arms to shoulder height without losing the fixed position of the elbows.

• Push-Ups: 3 sets every day

• Fast Tossing: Work with anothe player, stand about 10 feet apart, and rapidly tossing a baseball to and from between each other

 

THROUGH IT ALL, REMEMBER THESE 7 RULES

Strength coach John O’Neal of Cressey Sports Performance shares seven simple yet effective ways for players to maintain strength throughout the baseball season.

1. Maintain Body Weight

According to O’Neal, Rates of Force Development (RFD) are a key factor in athletic performance, and athletes with more weight are generally more likely to produce greater force. That means it’s very important to maintain weight throughout the season. This can be difficult for some players, so they should bring food to the field, stay properly hydrated, and potentially have something to eat mid-game.

2. Manage Stress

It’s important to balance time on the field with time in the weightroom. During the season, players will often be practicing out on the field, which doesn’t leave much time for other types of strength training. O’Neal recommends sneaking weightroom sessions in on the same days you have extensive on-field work in order to balance high-stress days with low-stress days. That means certain days will be more demanding, but it will still allow for the same amount of off days for rest and recovery, which is key to reducing stress on the body.

3. Keep Sessions Short

It can help to keep weightroom sessions short during the season, for multiple reasons. For one, you want to allow for adequate on-field training. Secondly, three or four 20-40 sessions throughout the week are enough to maintain strength without over-exerting your players. Be sure to design full-body workouts so that athletes can hit all the key areas.

4. Know the Right Intensity

Athletes don’t need to be sore after a workout in order to build or maintain strength. In fact, during the season, constant soreness will only limit a player’s ability to perform at a high level. In order to reduce soreness, try to avoid brand-new exercises during these sessions and avoiding high amounts of eccentric stress. This might mean slightly modifying certain exercises so that it reduces some of the stress being put on the athletes.

5. Don’t Waste Energy

The season is a grind and having enough energy to both train and perform in games is key. When it comes to in-season training, focus should be put on quality over quantity. As players become fatigued, they are likely to start using bad form and technique, so it’s important that you stop doing reps once technique starts to suffer. This is just as true for on-field reps, such as swings and throws, as it is for exercises in the weightroom.

6. Condition Correctly

Baseball is a sport of short, quick action with a lot of rest in between. Therefore, endurance running will do little to help players prepare for the demands of the game. Instead, focus on keeping speed work fast with adequate rest time between reps. This will help to mimic the actual nature of the game.

7. Maintain Mobility

To translate training in the weightroom to performance on the field, players will need to have adequate mobility. According to O’Neal, having a mobility/stretching routine before and after every practice can go a long way in helping to keep players healthy and performing their best. These only have to be about five minutes each for players to reap the benefits.

What Will You Look Like on June 1st?

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Just for a minute consider something…

Consider who you want to be on June 1st.

If you were at the very top of your health and well-being, what would you feel like? What would your family members and friends say about you? How much energy would you have?

So fast-forward and paint yourself a picture: What do you look like on June 8th?

That’s what the Whole Life Challenge will do for you when you join my team and make a commitment to replace a few bad habits with good habits. You can learn more about it here.

Once you’ve checked it out, you can join my team here: http://www.whole.lc/wlc1904/t/k2-fitness-performance/join

For six weeks, starting on April 13th and ending on June 1st, we’ll work on all the areas of our well-being—like nutrition, mobility, and exercise, for starters.

The Whole Life Challenge is basically a game that challenges us to “try on” a whole life of health and fitness for six weeks. As a team, we can win points and lose points (hopefully we’ll win more than we lose). And the prize is … Well, it’s who you are on June 1st.

I hope you’ll watch the videos and join my team. In fact, I WANT you on my team!

Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbicemIo-Sk

To join my team: K2 Fitness & Performance

Our Team’s name: K2 Fitness & Performance