Home Posts tagged "Complete Youth Training"

Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training – Installment 31

It's time for this month's installment of my random thoughts on sports performance training. In light of this week's $50 off sale (ending tonight) on Mike Boyle's outstanding resource, Complete Youth Training, I thought I'd focus this edition on the training of young athletes.

1. Puberty changes everything.

The best players at age 11 usually aren't always the best players at age 18 for two reasons:

a. They're usually the ones that get heavily overused by an overzealous coach who wants to win now - and end up injured, missing crucial developmental time periods.

b. Puberty changes absolutely everything. The hormonal and biomechanical changes that kick in during adolescence massively impact how one controls the center of mass within the base of support.

Prepubescent training is all about having fun and establishing solid foundations of movement that set young athletes up for future success.

2. Some training practices are more about establishing routines as they are about creating adaptation.

All our athletes begin their training sessions with self-myofascial release work: foam rolling, lacrosse ball trigger point work, the FMR Stick, and the Acumobility Ball. This includes younger athletes who honestly probably don't really need it.

Why do these youngsters do it, too? Because I want it to become a habit. I want them to realize that the gym isn't just about lifting heavy stuff, throwing med balls, and running fast. Rather, it's also a place where you can go to take care of soreness and actually leave feeling better than when you arrived. This proactive approach at age 13 helps us tremendously when they're age 18 and have more legitimate stresses on their bodies.

Just shorten that rolling series up and get right to the good stuff!

3. Youth training should be all about linear progress for the first two years of organized strength training.

It drives me crazy when kids have to re-gain initial strength. As an example, let's say a kid comes in at age 15 and takes his trap bar deadlift from 135 to 225 over the course of three months. His technique is pristine and he's learned how to put force into the ground.

Then, his sports season starts and he disappears for six months. At the end of the season, he comes back in and starts all over at 135 pounds. Sure, this time around, there's a bit of a technical foundation, and he makes those gains a little bit faster than the first time around. Really, though, we're talking about a situation where he wasted 1/8 of his high school development window.

We've all seen this graphic in the performance realms before, but the truth is that the image on the right applies to intermediate and experienced athletes. The goal is to never have setbacks in beginners because the positive adaptations are so easy to come by with consistent training, even if it's only two days per week of in-season work.

This is one reason why I've added a new component to every young athlete evaluation I do: a discussion about expectations and timelines. Every kid who walks in our facility will say that they want to play Division 1 sports. Very few truly appreciate the consistency and work ethic it will take to get to that point.

4. Make sure your medicine balls are the right weights.

I'm often asked what weight medicine balls we use for our training - and I always respond with a range: 4-8lb for our rotational work, and 4-12lb for our overhead work.

This range accounts not only for the type of exercise, but also the size of the athlete. A 13-year-old athlete will do best with a 4-pound ball for rotational med ball scoop tosses, whereas a 250-pound MLB player will handle a 8lb ball much better.

This, however, might be the most impressive med ball video you'll ever see from a 13-year-old, regardless of weight!

5. With skinny young male athletes, competition works amazingly on the nutrition front.

If you're training teenage male athletes who want to gain weight, nothing works better than having weekly weigh-ins that are charted for everyone to see. We've done it two years in a row with our college development program, and it's also proven extremely successful in our high school athletes. These quantifiable changes not only help to evaluate progress, but they also drive camaraderie among your athletes. Since we starting doing this, we see more guys going out to meals together, chatting each other up on the nutrition front, and discussing what has been working well for them.

Another interesting observation on this front: young athletes are often very out-of-touch with huge swings in body weight. As an example, earlier this week, I had an athlete tell me that he was 145 pounds during an evaluation. When we actually weighed him in, he was 133 pounds. That's an 8.3% loss of body weight! I'm 183 pounds, and if you dropped me by 8.3% to 167.8 pounds, I'd feel absolutely miserable. Young athletes aren't in-tune enough with their bodies to recognize this, though. It's up to us to make them consciously aware of how big swings in body weight are bad for not only performance, but also health and academic performance (dehydration has a massive impact on brain function).

Wrap-up

I could go on and on about lessons learned in training young athletes (and I might, at a later date), but in the meantime, I'd strongly encourage you to check out Mike Boyle's new resource, Complete Youth Training. I loved this product as both a strength and conditioning coach and a parent. Mike did a tremendous job of outlining the problems in the current youth sports landscape while also including practical solutions to these concerns. You can learn more - and get $50 off through tonight at midnight - HERE.


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Strength in the Teenage Years: An Overlooked Long-Term Athletic Development Competitive Advantage

Earlier this week, I posted this Tweet, and it got a pretty big response:

Of particular note to me, though, was one reply:

"The worst thing youth developmental athletes can do is to max out one biomotor ability and save themselves from developing ALL abilities. A long term program must develop all, not just strength. Strength, endurance, speed, flexibility.... No exploitation allowed."

This is one of the most glaring misconceptions about long-term athletic development, and I think it warrants a thorough response.

To be clear, I am all for prioritizing a host of biomotor abilities at a young age and continuing to develop them over the course of the athletic lifespan. You can't just turn athletes into powerlifters.

However, where I do disagree with this statement is that it implies that all these separate qualities are their own unique domains that must be trained separately. In reality, we have to look at things as a pyramid, not a collection of separate silos. The foundation of that pyramid is undoubtedly maximal strength.

I cover this in great detail in my e-book, The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual. Here's a quick excerpt with respect to power development:

"...maximal relative strength has a “trickle-down” effect to all things athletic. If you took your best squat from 200 pounds to 400 pounds, a single body weight squat would feel a lot easier, wouldn’t it? How about a single vertical jump? You have about 0.2 seconds to exert force on a classic vertical jump test; you’ll never make use of all the strength that you have, regardless of how good your rate of force development (explosive strength) is.

"However, let’s say (hypothetically) that you can put 50% of your maximal strength to work in that short time period. If we keep that percentage constant, isn’t an athlete with more maximal strength automatically at a great advantage? The 200-pound squatter can exert 100 pounds of force into the ground; the 400-pound squatter can exert 200 pounds. Is there really any question as to who can jump higher?"

This assertion has been consistently validated in the research world: a lack of maximal strength limits one's power potential. Having a strength foundation allows you to make the most of your plyometric, sprint, and agility progressions.

There are implications on the endurance end of the continuum as well.

"Now, let’s take this a step further to the endurance end of the spectrum. If you go from 200 to 400 pounds on that 1-rep max squat, wouldn’t a set of 20 body weight squats feel easier?

"If you could do lunges with 100 pound dumbbells in each hand, wouldn’t running five miles with just your body weight feel easier? You may have never thought of it, but every athletic endurance endeavor is really nothing more than a series of submaximal efforts."

Obviously, these strength numbers are unrealistic for the overwhelming majority of high level endurance athletes, but they aren't for competitive athletes from other sports requiring a blend of strength, power, and endurance. If you need further proof, check out the research I cited in my article, 5 Resistance Training Myths in the Running World.

Strength has implications for how well athletes move, too. The initial reply mentioned flexibility, which according to Wikipedia) is "the range of movement in a joint or series of joints." This is a static measure, whereas athletic success is more governed by mobility, which is one's ability to reach a position or posture. The difference is the presence of stability in a given circumstance, and that's impacted by muscular control. In fact, I would actually argue that the biggest "trickle-down" effect of maximal strength is joint stability, which in turn impacts mobility. As an example, this 6-11 athlete couldn't squat well when he first came in, but after eight weeks of training built a foundation of strength, he was able to do this:

All athletic qualities are important, but to say that they should all be trained equally at all times - especially in young athletes with a huge window of adaptations in front of them - is extremely short-sighted. Imagine a child that tried to take math, science, and history courses before mastering language skills. If you can't read and write, you will struggle to pick up these more progressive challenges. Strength is foundational in this same way, and this is the pyramid through which I view it:

The closer the items are to the bottom, the more heavily impacted by strength they are. We can debate where each of these items should be positioned on the pyramid (and it likely depends on the athlete in question), but nobody can debate that strength is an important foundation for all these other qualities. It's rooted not only in anecdotal experience of many elite coaches, but also in loads and loads of research.

As a closing thought, several months ago I reviewed Mike Boyle's great new resource, Complete Youth Training. After reviewing it, I told Mike that I enjoyed it not only as a strength and conditioning coach, but also as a parent of twin daughters. I think the most compelling statement Mike made in the entire resource is that one of the most impactful things he's done with his daughter (an accomplished D1 hockey player) was to strength train a minimum of two days per week since she was 11 years old. When you've got strength at a young age - and you preserve/build it over the years - the rest of your training becomes that much more productive.

Mike's put this resource on sale for $50 off this week, and I'd strongly encourage you to check it out, whether you're a strength and conditioning professional, rehabilitation specialist, sport coach, or parent of a young athlete. There's some excellent information in there for everyone. You can learn more HERE.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/18/18

Happy Friday! I'm a few days late with this post in light of our spring sale as well as some speaking-related travel I had this week. The good news is that the travel gave me some time to do some reading/viewing/listening and come up with some additional recommendations for you. Check them out:

Complete Youth Training - This is Mike Boyle's great new resource for those who work with young athletes. He touches on everything from the problems with early specialization to age-specific training stages. It's a good investment for parents and coaches alike. I loved how his perspective as a parent coalesced with his commentary as a strength and conditioning coach and business owner. It's on sale for $50 as an introductory discount.

The Best Team Wins - This was a recommendation from my buddy Josh Bonhotal, who's spent the past several years at the Purdue basketball strength and conditioning coach. Whether you're a coach or involved in a business in any way, this is a great book that'll teach you a lot about your interactions with athletes, fellow coaches, employees, and co-workers.

Prioritization and Success for Strength and Conditioning Success - I was reminded of this older post of mine this week when chatting with an up-and-coming strength and conditioning coach about how I've approached career development since I entered the industry.

Top Tweet of the Week

 

I think the long head of the triceps is a really overlooked structure in the development of both shoulder and elbow pain in throwers. Many people forget that it crosses the shoulder joint - and therefore effectively links the scapula to the lower arm. 🤔 In the late cocking phase of throwing, it's working eccentrically to prevent excessive elbow flexion while storing elastic energy that can be released on the subsequent elbow extension of the delivery. In other words, you can view the long head of the triceps as somewhat of a "mini-lat," as the lat serves this similar store-release function (albeit with different functions) - and they both work as shoulder extensors. 💪 It's also interesting in that it's one of the few muscles where the trigger point referral patterns can work up and down, as opposed to just down. I've seen some throwers where treating triceps has been a game changer in terms of everything from elbow, to shoulder, to neck pain. 👇 The long story short is that you have to give the triceps some love with quality self-myofascial release/manual therapy and make sure that you preserve tissue length (by stretching into shoulder flexion and elbow flexion simultaneously). Swipe right for some ideas. Thanks to @andrewmillettpt for the dry needling and manual therapy and @oneilstrength and @sooo_deep for the exercise demos. #cspfamily

A post shared by Eric Cressey (@ericcressey) on

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