Thursday, October 27, 2011

Building the Athlete - Step 1

If you have read this blog before or researched any knowledgeable strength coach, you will find that establishing a foundational level of fitness is an absolute necessity for the beginner. Before we talk about what the foundation consists of, we first must understand what a beginner is.

Within the walls of Soar, a beginner is someone whose training age is ZERO. This means that they have never been exposed to a comprehensive, fully instructional lifting program. Sorry, doing P 90 X at home, going with mom to Pilates or going a few times to a “SAQ” camp does not raise your training age. Additionally, scoring 20 points per game in 6th grade basketball or hitting .500 in travel baseball does not raise your training age either. In the same light, I have kids who come to me with what I have deemed a “Negative Training Age.” This means that they have lifted weights before, but so terribly that they would have been better off not lifting at all. For these kids, I have a lot of work to do with them before we even reset to ZERO.

On to the foundation……What is it? Here is a basic checklist

• Mastering warm up techniques - jump rope, skips, shuffles, mobility drills, ect.
• Improving footwork patterns…..Yes, yes I know the agility ladder does not do anything for pure speed. But, for the uncoordinated 12 year old, it is a good place to start because it is an easy way to build confidence.
• Learning how to accelerate AND decelerate in all directions
• Proper jumping AND more importantly landing.
• Mastering our basic lift techniques - squat, push up/DB presses, pulling, hip extension. This is accomplished with body weight exercises, light DB lifts and isometrics
• Basic core strength - bridging
• Flexibility - stretching

Keep in mind that the foundational process will be much longer for a 10 year old then it will be for a 15 year old with a ZERO training age. For instance, I have had many 14 - 16 year old girls who could hardly do a good bodyweight squat to an 18 inch box on their first session. Within 8 – 12 sessions, I usually have them front squatting with a 35 -45 lb bar to a box height of 14 – 16 inches. The progression for a 10 – 12 year old would be much slower than that.

In a nutshell, if your training age is ZERO or lower, foundational techniques must be established. Older athletes (14 – 16) will progress faster and as a result, move onto Step 2 - Intermediate Strength. Younger kids, 10 -12 will be part of a more patient process, especially with being introduced to traditional barbell lifts.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What is SOAR Team Strength

Soar Team Strength launched this past week with great success. Does your team need more strength? Is it lacking that explosive capability that leads to big plays? Are your players constantly dealing with injury?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Strength and Conditioning for Wrestling

Acceleration Kills

Every good team has the kids that can just get to the ball faster than everyone else. Look at a youth soccer game and you will probably see the game being dominated by just a few kids who are a step faster than the rest. Watch a junior high football game and there is usually one kid that just sticks out because when he gets the ball....he is gone!

Is this speed? Is it agility? Well.....kind of.

What is it really? Acceleration!

Acceleration is the ability to go from 0 to 60 in the fastest time possible. Think about being at a red light in the left lane and you know you got to get to the right lane in less than 50 yards to make a turn onto your street. You know you have to step on the gas and fly past the person next to you in the right lane. Hopefully they are not driving a Corvette!

Team sports involve bursts of high speed. The kid who can get a rebound, land and immediately start pushing the ball up the floor past the defenders is a tremendous weapon for his or her basketball team. That is acceleration at its finest.

The problem with a lot of speed and agility programs is that they focus on track style drills that focus on top end speed. Top end speed is great if you run the 100 meter dash, but very rarely will a team sport athlete reach top end speed at any time in their game. It has been found that most track sprinters reach top end speed at 60 meters. How many times in a game does an athlete sprint straight ahead for 60 meters?

Below are two videos of acceleration drills that I use with high school and college athletes. I like to put them in awkward positions and tell them to get to their feet and accelerate as fast as possible. In a team sport, an athlete is always going to be in chaotic body positions. Why not train like that?

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