What is a complete athlete? Or what does it take to develop one?
- Sport-Specific Training
- Power Development
- Speed/Agility/Quickness (SAQ)
- Multiple Joint Movements
- Closed Chain Movements
- Invisible Muscles
Sports Specific Training
The highest level of this is the practice of sport skill—preparing for what you will do during competition. But what you do out of competition and practice is what Athletic Revolution focuses on. It’s also known as Specialized Physical Preparation or SPP. The training program must mimic as closely as possible the metabolic/energy demands used in the sport. It must create an environment that uses similar movements during competition. And it needs to lead to muscular/neural adaptations that will deliver superior sports performance. Sports are unpredictable, if your put in a position you’ve never been before, chances are you’ll get hurt. But if you’ve been there, it’s a lot easier to get back up (this is where our regeneration/mobilization section will help). You have to make sure that your sport coach knows what he is doing and not just following the herd because everybody does it–everybody is not making/creating champions. One of the biggest problems with youth sports is having athletes run for conditioning or warm-up; this is fine if they are a cross country runner, but not if they are a power sports athlete (which includes: football, basketball, base/softball, soccer, tennis, swimming, volleyball, lacrosse, hockey, etc…..) Read our post Running is NOT conditioning for more. Question what your sports coach is doing with your child; ask WHY.
Power is defined as the ability to apply force to an external object as quickly as possible; Force x Velocity/ Time. This ability is essential in sports. Throwing a shot put, a ball, a punch, kicking, swinging are just some of the examples of power in sport. There are two types of muscle fibers in the body—fast and slow twitch. Fast ones are responsible for power. The more fast twitch fibers that fire at the same time and the more total number you can recruit the more powerful you become. There can be several different types of power—mean power, peak power, power at a specific instant, etc– so it is crucial to develop a training plan on what is called for in your sport. Olympic lifts, plyometrics, jump training (is not the same as plyometrics), medicine balls, sub-maximal weights, are some of the best ways to increase power. Stretching before a training session or before a practice/game is one of the best way to lower peak power production- SO STOP IT if your child is doing it. Distance running is also a great way to reduce peak power production.
Speed is the rate of movement. Agility is the ability to change directions rapidly. And quickness is measured by the time it takes you to react to a stimulus to the time you actually move. All three are crucial in sport, with speed probably being the least important; most parents and coaches are shocked to hear that for the 1st time until you actually discuss the WHY. An exceptional athlete will take up to 6 seconds to reach top speed, and unless you’re a sprinter, very rarely will you ever run in a strait line for that long during a game or match. Most sports are about stopping, starting, change of direction, running laterally, running backwards. And in that regards acceleration also leaps into the mix. Acceleration is defined as the ability to build up force as rapidly as possible. You’ve heard the expression speed kills; this saying needs to be updated to agility, quickness, and acceleration kills. Through power development, strength training, regeneration/mobilizations, running form/technique, and overall fitness all of these abilities can be trained and vastly improved.
The body is one. The body moves as one. Isolation training is for bodybuilders. As an athlete you want to be able to run, jump, and move effortlessly without even thinking about it. Everything in the body works together to cause movement. Exercises like squats, cleans, snatches, presses, pull-ups, rows, lunges, swings, and deadlifts all train multiple joints. Think about all the joints used when you sprint. When you isolate the muscles you are getting away from sport specific training and getting into bodybuilding training. Bodybuilding type training does have its place during certain times of the year, mostly in the off-season. But think about you’re sport and think about the movements you perform, do you ever isolate a single muscle during those movements—NO! And if you can email me cause I can’t think of one.
I once had a Hilliard Davidson High School Football athlete come into our program and I asked what type of lifting he did with the school for that day. He said ‘curls, pullups and deadlifts.’ First thing out of his mouth was biceps curls. If biceps curls is a regular exercise in your child’s strength & conditioning program you need to you need to find a new program. Same thing with any isolation exercise. Or ask the coach WHY those exercises are in there, if they can’t explain it find a new program.
Closed chain movements are movements done standing up—on you’re feet, just like how the majority of sports are played. A lot of these movements are going to incorporate other factors of making a complete athlete, like: SPP, Power development, multiple joint movements, and multiple planes. Exercises need to be selected that will increase the rate of force development (RFD) an athlete can exert into the ground, hence creating a better athlete. A lot of exercises are done on you’re feet, but only a select few are far and away the best for RFD. The kettlebell swing/snatch/clean, Olympic lifts, squats, deadlifts, pulls, rows, presses, plyometrics are just a few. Learn to love them– they will make you better.
Due to the fact that kids sit for most of the day (at school, eating, watching tv, video games, homework) it is vital that you understand what this is doing to their athletic ability/career and their long-term overall life. Sitting is now considered to be the ‘new smoking’. You can check out our sitting post here for some tips and tricks for you and your child to negate the negative effects that sitting has on their performance.
Another factor affecting closed chain movement performance will be our feet. We were not designed to wear shoes as much as we do. I see all types of issues with kids and their feet and ankles. The most common being ‘Donald Duck Feet’, where whenever they stand or even walk they cannot keep their feet pointing straight. Having duck feet or tight ankles destroys power production in the hips and butt which is our Super Power– they together make the strongest force in our body. Here is a quick remedy:
Fitness can be subdivided into 3 categories- work capacity, fitness, and preparedness. Together the 3 make General Physical Preparedness, or GPP. You need to train your body’s ability to perform the task/exercise with increasing intensity and/or duration using the appropriate energy systems. Which will allow you to deal with the demands of a more specific task, SPP, more efficiently. This happens over time, and as you’re GPP increases you will be able to deal with the stresses that are put on you during practices, competitions, and during training much better. You won’t feel as fatigued or drained, and you’re level of performance day to day will increase dramatically, both on and off the field.
Conditioning is probably the easiest factor to improve, but it’s also the quickest ability to decline when not trained. It involves the training of the anaerobic system (without oxygen) and/or the aerobic system (with oxygen). To break it down even more there are 3 energy systems: short term energy system (anaerobic), intermediate energy system (anaerobic and aerobic), and long-term energy system (aerobic). The majority of conditioning these systems depends on your sport, and sometimes your position in that sport. Examples would be a wide receiver versus an offensive lineman, or a midfielder versus a goalie. Conditioning would not be the same for these two players, although some coaches think so. Most competitive sports rely more on the anaerobic system than the aerobic system. But developing both systems are of vital importance to sporting success. Like I said conditioning is sport specific and position specific. Conditioning is no longer taking a baseball or basketball player, and having them run a mile under a certain time, and if you do, your considered to be in condition. When does a baseball player or basketball player ever run a mile nonstop? Please see our post running is not conditioning for more info.
With conditioning we will sometimes use it as a way to develop mental toughness. It’s also how we can tell just how mentally tough a child is and how bad they want it. It’s easy to do. When you see them fighting and struggling to get through it that is toughness, when it starts getting hard they quit. Mental toughness can be developed however, which Athletic Revolution helps to do (Mental Toughness Post)
Rest and recovery. Probably just as important as the actual training. Improper regeneration of you’re muscles and mind will eventually lead to overtraining. If you don’t recover from you’re previous training session performance decreases. There are many methods that can be used, a lot of people train, wait till they’re body recovers, then train again. As an athlete you don’t have time to wait. With practices and games, waiting is not an option. At Athletic Revolution-Hilliard our athletes become proactive in their recovery and actually do something about it. Things that can help with recovery include mobilizations (see video below), massage, stretching, foam rolling, ice, heat, different kinds of baths/showers, feeder workouts, and most importantly—sleep.
Below is a playlist and some pics of some of our athletes going through some mobilizations. We ask that all athletes come early to perform these. Mobilizations are movements, stretches, exercises that help to keep the body injury-free, improve posture, eliminate/reduce/fix pain, reduce soreness, and keep the body mobile/flexible/supple.
Defined periodization is the formation of training into different blocks/cycles with a specific goal(s) defined for each block/cycle. It is a scientific approach to training that varies multiple aspects; reps, sets, intensity, mode, frequency, and rest are the most common. It will periodically increase you’re performance on and off the field, avoid training plateaus, keep you out of an overtraining state, keep you from getting injured, and most importantly peak you for competition.
The training model for sports looks like this
- Fall Sports
- Post Season: December-January (REGENERATION PHASE)
- Off-Season: January-May (Base Phase)
- Pre-Season: June-August (Developmental Phase)
- In-Season: September-November (Peak Phase)
- Winter Sports
- Post: April (Regeneration)
- Off: May-July (Base)
- Pre: August-October (Development)
- In: November-March (Peak)
- Spring Sports
- Post: June (Regeneration)
- Off: July-November (Base)
- Pre: December-February (Developmental)
- In: March-May (Peak)
With Athletic Revolution Training every 5 weeks we will be testing our athletes to see the improvement they have made since the last testing period. Week 4 of each phase is our combine training where we test their speed, power, agility, and strength. Week 5 is our FitRanX strength and conditioning level tests. They should be improving on each of these tests/weeks. Any weaknesses that are shown here we are able to implement our training towards that weakness to bring it up while maintaining or improving the athlete’s strength.
Every training session starts with a general dynamic warm-up, this helps prepare the body for the vigorous activity to follow. It basically is a series of simple movements. But a lot of times athletes have difficulties with these simple movements, so it is also a form of GPP. It helps increase blood flow throughout the entire body, increases joint mobility and flexibility, prepares the nervous system, improves posture, lubricates joints, and increases core temperature. It’s basically pre-habilitation. You’ve all heard of rehabilitation, which is the process an injured athlete goes through to get back to competition. Prehab helps to keep you from becoming a rehab participant; mobilizations will also help a great deal here. But it’s only the first step in prehab. Other areas included in prehab are injury prone areas such as the shoulders, knees, and low back. The general warm-up is completed in about 10 minutes.
What I refer to when I say invisible muscles are the muscles on the backside of an athlete. A lot of uneducated athletes will train their pecs, quads, biceps, and abs because they can easily see the gains made in the mirror, then they half ass the back of the body with a couple of sets and call it a day. This leads to muscle imbalances and eventually injury. There’s a saying that you can always spot an exceptional athlete if he/she looks better going then when coming. The muscles of posterior chain—the glutes, the hamstrings, the low back muscles, and the calves—all are a superb source of strength, power, and speed just waiting to be unlocked. Most athletes can’t even activate these muscles correctly, because of the barrage of front-end training. These muscles probably have more to do with athletic success than any others.
In the video below one of our star football players and another one of our star tennis players works the invisible muscles of the upper body and the lower body respectively. As you can hear we are always working on posture at all times 🙂
Defined is the process of absorbing nutrients from food and processing them in the body in order to keep healthy and grow. I stress healthy and grow because you simply cannot do this eating snickers bars, donuts, pizza, cereal, and mountain dew. And YES I did put cereal there, cereal is not the breakfast of Champions. I put this last in the complete athlete structure not because it’s the least important, but really because it ties everything together. It probably is the most important aspect in your development. As an athlete without proper nutrition you basically are in a canoe without a paddle. What does nutrition mean to you? As an athlete it should mean only one thing—helping to improve your performance. And as an athlete you need to think of it as performance nutrition. You need to think about the food and drink you consume as unfair advantages over you’re competition instead of just food and drink. I’m not going to get into what and when you should eat, or breakdown the perfect macro nutrient split for you here because unfortunately it’s different for everybody. What most athletes lack in terms of performance nutrition is simply education—they simply don’t know how to eat. At Athletic Revolution-Hilliard we will educate you about nutrition and help you implement a nutritional plan to help you become a complete athlete.