Thursday, October 18, 2012

Training the Athlete that Trains at School Revisited

As a strength coach in the private sector, the majority of my clients are required to train with their teams at school to some degree.  This is something I have dealt with for 10 years and I wrote a blog about it a few years back.

Click here to read.

Like any other solid strength coach, my program has evolved since I last wrote that.  Even though there is nothing in the old article that I don't do, there are many other things I now do more of and some things I do less of.   I have also found that more and more athletes other than football players are required to lift at school.  As a result, I am seeing even more eyebrow raising workouts being put into play and as a result I have gotten more creative with my program design.

Just like wrote before, I must know what my athletes are doing on each day at school.   Sprinting?  Long distance running?   P90X?  Insanity?  Benching?  Squatting?   I need to know all of the particulars and I usually wait to make a program until the athlete fully informs me of their weekly training regimen.  Once I have all the information I need, I make a program that usually contains exercises from the categories listed below.

1. Sled training.    We push sleds and drag them in all imaginable directions.   For one, I know it is not being done at school.  For two, it eliminates eccentric stress so my athletes will not be sore for their school workouts.


2. Bent leg hip extension.    Google that term and you will see many of the top coaches talking about how that movement directly influences speed.   However, very few coaches have their athletes perform bent leg hip extension exercises.  Various forms of bent leg bridges and extensions are performed at Soar on a weekly basis.

 3.  Shoulder and Hip Prehab movements.   Again, very little of this is done at school so they are an easy add in to our program at Soar.

4.  Horizontal pulling  -  In my experience,  the push to pull ratio of my athletes that lift at school is at least 2 to 1.   This means that twice the amount of pressing is being done in comparison to pulling.   Usually they mix in Lat Pull Downs and Chin ups, so I add lots of rowing and suspended horizontal pull ups to offset all the benching.

5.  Submaximal Work on the Big Lifts  -  This has become a staple for me.   So you say you can squat 315 for 3 at school?   Show me 185.   98% of the time, their technique is mediocre at best.   Since their already doing max effort work at school  (with incorrect load), the submaximal lifting just serves as technique practice.  You can squat and dead lift a few times a week if you do it correctly!

6.  Warming Up  -  This one is laughable.   It shocks me how many teams do not go through a proper dynamic warmup before their workouts at school.   Since most of my high school clients have terrible mobility and flexibility, its a no brainer to have multiple warm- ups in place.

7.  Lateral Plyometrics   -  I wrote a blog on this topic a few weeks ago.   Lateral plyometrics are often neglected and very necessary for the any team sport athlete.  Like anything else, volume and progression is key.

I will acknowledge that supervising a weight room full of 40 high school kids of various sizes and strengths is a daunting task.   Even the best strength coach in the world would struggle to give individual attention to every kid in the program.  But, the reality is that most high school weight rooms are supervised by the sport coaches.   I give credit to them for trying to implement a program, but if quality work is not being performed  - are the kids really getting stronger?    Or are they adding strength to dysfunctional movement?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Introducing Lateral Movements to New Clients

During any training week, most of our clients will participate in some form of lateral movement training at least once.   Our sessions are approximately 90 minutes in length and the way the sessions break down goes like this:

10 minutes  - foam rolling, static stretching

15 minutes  - Dynamic Warm up

15 minutes  -   Early in week   -   Linear/Vertical plyometrics,  Linear speed work
                       Later in week  - agility ladder drills,  lateral plyometrics, lateral movement training

50 minutes   - strength and power work

This is just a template we follow for our average 12 - 15 year old client that comes to the gym 2x per week.  For our more advanced athletes that train 3 - 4x per week, their regimen might be different depending on their training cycle.

I feel that lateral movement training is one of the most neglected aspects of  strength and conditioning by a lot of coaches.   As you can see by the template above, we are not spending hours running around cones for the sake of calling it SAQ, Performance Training or whatever BS term is popular to use now.   We are giving kids the right dose of what they need to be well - rounded healthy, strong and fast athletes.  At Soar,  we have a progression of lateral plyometrics that we use to improve lateral explosiveness and deceleration.   Our lateral movements (agility) from week to week could focus on resisted movements, reaction, deceleration or a combination of all.  Typically a lateral day will consist of a few sets of lateral plyos and then 8 - 12 reps of agility work with each rep being 3 - 8 seconds long.

What about our new clients?   Do we just throw them into a class and expect them to keep up in some of our more advanced movement drills?   Absolutely not.    We make sure that the new athlete is first assessed and then prepped with some foundational lateral drills.

This first video is a clip of our two most basic lateral single leg hops.

This next video shows our basic progression for teaching lateral deceleration.

If you are training young athletes as a coach of a team or in the private sector, make sure you are introducing them to all the necessary concepts that will make them a well rounded athlete. The key is using the right progressions and applying the right dose. Remember, less is usually more! Nobody needs 30 minutes of agility ladder training.

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