Home Posts tagged "IYCA"

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/26/15

In light of the holiday weekend, I'm a day late with this week's recommended reading, but I promise it will be worth the wait:

The International Youth Conditioning Association High School Strength and Conditioning Certification - I very proud to have co-authored this resource for the IYCA, and it's on sale through the end of the day today (Tuesday). Just enter the coupon code MDCERTSALE at checkout to get $100 off.

iycacertification

It Won't Kill You to Grill - With yesterday being the "unofficial start to summer," Brian St. Pierre's article for Precision Nutrition is very timely. He discusses how to grill without any concern for health risks.

Memorial Day Musings on Player Development - Cressey Sports Performance pitching coordinator, Matt Blake, shares some great stories on success in spite of adversity, and highlights the importance of long-term views on development.

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20 Ways to Prepare Young Athletes for Success in Sports and in Life

It’s a challenging time to be a parent. My twin daughters just turned two, and I can already appreciate this fact.

You see, at the end of my own personal youth athletics career, I went directly to a career in coaching young athletes – and I’ve been there for well over a decade now. To give you a little idea of how times have changed since I was a high school athlete:

a. I’d never heard of AAU soccer (or elite travel teams) when I was playing as a teenager (or 8-year-old, for that matter). I think about three kids in my state were selected to the Olympic Development Program when I was a senior because they were pretty good, but the rest of us didn’t get a trophy for trying – and I don’t recall anyone complaining about this lack of hardware on the mantle.

b. I didn’t send an email or use Instant Messenger until I was a freshman in college (1999). Somehow, I miraculously still managed to have normal social interactions with other human beings. I didn’t get a cell phone until I was 23 and in graduate school. And, I’m pretty sure that the gerbil that ran around inside it to keep the power going wasn’t up for working overtime so that I could Snapchat (and the thing couldn’t take pictures, anyway).

c. The guy (Kevin Colleran) who lived next door to me my freshman year in college turned out to be one of Facebook’s first ten employees. So, you could say I had a Facebook friend before Facebook even existed.

By reading this long, meandering introduction, I hope you’ll realize (not that you didn’t already) that kids “these days” are different. They respond to a different style of coaching, and that surely means that parenting styles must be different, too.

One thing I’ve found quite interesting over the past decade or so is that the number of overzealous, pushy, high-pressure parents has increased exponentially. As we all know (and not surprisingly), burnout rates in teen athletes has gone sky-high in this same time period. However, on a more anecdotal level, I know I can speak for myself and many other qualified coaches when I say that the "typical" kid who walks through my door on Day 1 just isn’t as athletic as he used to be. Asymmetries are more profound, injury histories are more extensive, basic movement skill acquisition has been skipped over, and – perhaps more significantly – the athletes are a bit “desensitized” to the overall training process.

They view everything as just another game/practice, so the value of each training exposure is a bit less. This was something that just didn’t happen when I was younger and free play was so heavily emphasized; we got tremendously excited for each opportunity to get better, whether it was a summer soccer camp or a new drill or training approach that our coaches introduced.

Now, make no mistake about it: we aren’t going to end the Technology Era, and I don’t expect travel teams and showcases to go away, either. However, we can change our attitudes toward them and behavior surrounding them – and, most importantly, how we interact with our kids with respect to their athletic careers. To that end, I thought I’d throw out some examples of suggestions on strategies I’ve seen employed by parents who have young athletes who are well-mannered and successful while enjoying sports – from little league to the Big Leagues.

Note: while the overwhelming majority of these lessons apply to both males and females, I’ll be using the “he” pronoun for the sake of brevity. No gender bias here!

1. Never overreact - or underreact.

Sports are games, and games are supposed to be fun. If a kid works his butt off, but the outcome isn’t what he’d hoped for, you should talk about the value in the process rather than dwelling on the target destination he didn’t reach. Crack jokes to lighten the mood, and then try to find a learning experience in losing, as opposed to just reaming a kid out and then sitting in silence for the rest of the ride home. In my experience, parents and coaches who overreact and take the fun out of the game are the single most common reason kids give up a sport.

Underreacting can be equally problematic. The process is definitely more important than the destination, but if a kid doesn’t take the process seriously, he should hear about it – just like if he ignores his homework or refuses to take out the trash. If he is rude to a coach or umpire, doesn’t hustle, shows up late to practice, or poorly handles something that is 100% within his control, he should be disciplined for it. Blindly siding with your kid when he misbehaves or is lazy sets a very dangerous precedent, but it also puts a coach in a very uncomfortable situation of having to discipline your kid because you haven’t.

2. Watch competition, but not practice.

When kids play while parents are watching, they are much less outgoing. However, take the parents away, and they’ll let their guards down, make new friends, and try things they otherwise wouldn’t attempt. This is a big part of both physical and social development. When parents stick around to watch practice/training – even if it’s with wildly supportive intentions – kids won’t come out of their shell. Sports are a great way to teach kids to “roll” with different social circles, and it’s important for them to get this experience without helicopter parents interfering.

By all means, go to game and cheer kids on, but don’t stick around to watch practice. As an added bonus, you avoid the possibility of a coach looking over his shoulder the whole time as he wonders whether you’re second-guessing him.  Every coach dreads the parent who wants to live vicariously through his kid, so the more space you give your child, the less likely you are to be perceived like that.

3. Have your kid play multiple sports.

We’ve been telling folks for years now that early sports specialization doesn’t work as well as people think. Kids are more likely to get injured, and they miss out on a well-rounded sports experience that fosters better athleticism and social interactions over the long haul. However, to supplement this assertion, I’d encourage you to check out this fantastic post from Elsbeth Vaino: Does Early Specialization Help? Elsbeth found that 82% of the top athletes from the four major sports in the U.S. actually played multiple sports. Yes, you read that right – and it is verified by my experience with hundreds of professional athletes each year. Here's a great interview with Blake Griffin that Elsbeth posted:

4. Encourage play, not always practice/competition.

Even when the sport in question remains constant, play is different than practice, as it is far less regimented, and there is far more quality movement because there are fewer stoppages for teaching. It also presents a far richer proprioceptive environment and greater opportunity for social development. Kids need to play more – and in a variety of disciplines. Adolescent athletes need practice. Kids don’t need more competition, though; our modern athletic society already plenty of that.

5. Don’t allow kids to get desensitized to losing.

With more and more tournaments being round robin and double elimination formats, I think we have a generation of kids who has been desensitized to losing. It’s even worse when you have kids who play on multiple teams, as losing for Team A doesn’t matter because Team B has a game less than 24 hours later.

Losing is part of life, but that doesn’t mean that we should be satisfied with it. It should motivate us to work harder so that it doesn’t happen again. This doesn’t just apply to sports, either; it applies to life. As a business owner, I don’t ever plan to hire someone who is comfortable with sucking.

As a little example, my sophomore year of high school, I lost a tennis match in the state singles qualifier to a kid I should have beaten 100% of the time. It was an all-day event with several rounds on a hot day in May, and I cramped up badly in the third set of the match because I hadn’t hydrated well. That loss stung for months – but you can bet that I never forget to bring enough fluids to matches ever again. I beat the guy easily in straight sets the following year, too. Losing sucks, but it teaches you lessons.

6. Make kids do manual labor.

One of my best childhood friends grew up on a farm. He bailed hay, fed the pigs, shaved the sheep, dug holes, you name it. He was also a physical specimen who won a state championship in wrestling and would run through a wall in practices if you had asked him to do so.

Beyond the obvious physical benefits of manual labor, I think that it teaches you that a job isn’t over until the project is completed. You don’t just go out and shovel snow for 15 minutes; you shovel snow until you’ve shoveled all the snow that needs to be shoveled. This is true of almost all manual labor one would do around the house; it doesn’t have to be an official job.

I love seeing kids who are task oriented and not time oriented.

7. Get kids involved in charity work.

If you’re reading this, your kid is spoiled. What do I mean?

You can actually afford to have the internet. A lot of parents and kids don’t have that luxury – or any of a number of other ones that we take for granted.

This past fall, one of our pro guys was telling me about a mission trip he took to the Dominican Republic. While there, he was volunteering to do baseball clinics for local kids – and he said that they came out in droves for the opportunity to be coached by anybody, and certainly a recognizable professional player.

His exact words: “It completely changed my life. I had no idea what my Latin teammates in pro ball had gone through.” And, this came from a guy who was already one of the most humble players I’ve ever coached.

Whether your kid winds up successful in baseball or not, I feel strongly that it’s important to embrace the concept of giving back – both in one’s own community and beyond. Perspective like this is also important because it makes you realize that making an error in the ninth inning isn’t the end of the world – when you have a roof over your head and food on the table.

8. Make kids get up 10-15 minutes earlier to make and eat breakfast.

It drives me bonkers when I hear a kid say that he can’t find time for breakfast. Don’t find time; make time!

My most productive time of day is 5:30AM-9AM. I didn’t realize this until I was in my mid-20s. I only wish that I’d learned much sooner that good things happen when you get up a little earlier:

a. When you get up earlier, you learn to go to bed earlier. Look at research on shift workers’ long term health, and you’ll quickly realize that sleeping more hours before midnight is great for your health.

b. The morning world is a more enlightened world. As an example, look at TV shows at night versus in the morning. In the evening, you get sitcoms, comedy, violence, and infomercials. In the morning, you get the news.

c. Intermittent fasting discussions aside, the research pretty much supports that people – and particularly kids – who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight. Whether it’s because it leads to eating less later in the day, or because people are more likely to eat quality food at home remains to be determined.

d. The world is a lot quieter in the morning, and silence almost always equates to increased focus and productivity.

9. Set an example.

Overweight parents are more likely to have overweight kids. This is just one way in which kids model parents’ behaviors. Work ethic, attention to detail, punctuality, and a host of other factors follow suit. I love it when parents come in to train at the same time as their kids at our facility - and the kids do, too (contrary to what parents usually assume).

10. Don’t contest grades in school.

Teachers don’t give grades; kids earn grades. If you start contesting grades, where do you stop? Do you call college admissions counselors when kids aren’t accepted to the school of their choice? Do you call potential employers because they won’t hire little Johnny – who is now 23 years old and still has Mommy doing his laundry and cooking him mac ‘n cheese?

If you don’t respect a teacher or coach’s authority and appreciate their good intentions, then your kid won’t, either.

11. Don’t brag about your kid.

A while back, my buddy Bill Hartman said something along the following lines: “No matter how strong you think you are, there is still a 120-pound woman warming up with your max somewhere.” He was spot on.

If you are proud of your kid, tell him so. And, feel free to tell your family members. However, it should stop there. There is absolutely, positively nothing that is a bigger turn-off to a coach or scout – or even another parent – than a parent that brags about his kid. Why?

They have always seen someone better. And, to take it a step further, I’d say that most folks “in the know” actually realize that there is an inverse relationship between how much a parent brags and how talented a kid really is. Anecdotally, the best players with whom I’ve worked all have tremendously humble parents who have worked hard to keep them grounded even if others always told them how good they were.

Bragging is entirely different than giving valuable feedback, though. If a parent has thoughts or suggestions that can benefit me in training a young athlete, I am absolutely all ears. Don’t by shy; just use discretion.

12. Never send college recruiting emails on behalf of your kid.

I have a ton of friends who are college coaches who deal with recruits every single day of the week. I have zero friends who are college coaches who prefer to deal with parents over kids during this recruiting process.

Candidly, when you send an email on behalf of your kid, you’re saying, “I want you to give my son a scholarship to play XYZ sport even though I don’t think he’s qualified to put together a 4-5 sentence email for himself. Also, I wipe his butt for him, and he still wets the bed.”

Coaches love kids that show initiative and aren’t shy about asking questions. And, I can guarantee kids who are more heavily involved in their own college selection process are far less likely to transfer in the years that follow. They get the information they need, not what you need.

At the end of the day, this is about educating kids on how to be proactive and decisive. These two traits go a long way in sports and beyond.

13. Don’t tell coaches to “kick his ass.”

If your kid isn’t tough by his teenage years, it’s not because a coach hasn’t pushed him; it’s likely because parents have let him get away with murder early on and not held him accountable. Me simply kicking a kid's ass increases his risk of injury and the likelihood that he’ll hate exercise and develop a sedentary lifestyle when his athletic career ends. I will, however, challenge him, educate him, and hold him accountable for his actions in my presence.

14. Don’t allow limp handshakes or conversations without eye contact.

This point shouldn’t warrant any explanation, but I would just add that coaches and scouts really do pay attention to things like this. Sprinting out to your position on the field, picking up equipment after a game, and cheering on teammates are all little things you can do to show that you really care. If you approach one part of your life apathetically, who is to say that it won’t carry over to everything else that you do?

15. Surround kids with unconditionally positive people.

Check out this awesome article about the positive response Colorado Rockies players had to the hiring of Dante Bichette as hitting coach a few years ago. I’ve gotten to know Dante pretty well, and he’s one of the most down-to-Earth and optimistic guys you’ll ever meet. In this article, they quoted Carlos Gonzalez – one of the top players in Major League Baseball – as saying, "Just being honest, I don't want a guy who's always being negative. He's been really good for me already." Guys in the big leagues are conditioned more than anyone else to learn to deal with failure; after all, the best hitters on the planet still fail 60-70% of the time! Yet, they STILL generally respond more favorably to people who are positive. Don’t you think that kids who are less prepared would need that unconditionally positive influence even more?

The secret is to find unconditionally positive people who know their stuff and then put your trust in them. You wouldn’t tell your accountant how to do your taxes, and you wouldn’t tell your lawyer how to write up your contracts. So, don’t tell coaches how to do their jobs after you’ve already recognized that they are experts and mentors in their area.

16. Make kids write thank you notes.

A note of appreciation goes a long way, particularly if it is written or typed with proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

17. Educate kids on how to read a situation as casual or formal.

Remember back in high school when you had to dress up on game days? Usually, 90% of the team did it the right way – and there were 1-2 schmucks who stubbornly resisted. They didn’t tie their ties tight enough, wore sneakers with dress pants, or continued to let their khakis hang way too far down on their butts. They’re also the people who have to be forced to write the aforementioned thank you notes, and it usually begins with “thx 4 ur gift.” We’ve even had kids submit internship application essays that consisted of one long paragraph with no capitalization at the beginning of sentences. I’m not making this up.

They live in the texting and tweeting world and have no idea when it’s appropriate to be casual versus formal. I’d wager that most of those guys are still living in their parents’ basement, too. Even more now than in previous decades, it’s important to hammer home that kids need to be more formal in writing, conversation, and dress.

18. Educate kids on the dangers of technology.

This was not something that most of us encountered during our younger years, as Twitter and Facebook weren't around until just recently.  Kids have said stupid things since the beginning of time, but not until now was it easy for something dumb on the internet to "go viral" so quickly.  Every week, we hear stories of professional and collegiate athletes getting into trouble for what they post as status updates on social networks.  Athletes have been fined, released, and not signed in the first place because of stupid things they've said online.  While college and professional teams are doing their best to include social networking training in their education of players, it should start well in advance with some common sense talks with parents.  Otherwise, it's possible to undo a lot of good with one bad post.

19. Don’t give participation trophies.

My good friend Alwyn Cosgrove has written in the past about how there are always "overcorrections" in the fitness industry, as the pendulum goes too far in one direction after a long period at the other end of the spectrum.  He cites the public's perception on aerobic exercise, carbohydrate intake, and static stretching as good examples.  We want them all to be bad or good; there is no middle ground.

Participation trophies are the "yin" to the "yang" of the overbearing parent or crazy little league coach.  Rather than bring the pendulum back to center by educating kids that the true reward is the satisfaction that comes from knowing they did the best they could do, we've given every kid a trophy to make him feel special - even though all the kids get the same trophy.  Yes, the kid who shows up late to practice and swears at the coach gets the same trophy as everyone else.

A trophy is something a kid should look back on years later as a reminder of fond memories of hard work, teamwork, and a job well done.  It shouldn't be something that gets thrown in a box with a few dozen other participation trophies that have absolutely no sentimental or educational value.

My biggest concern with participation trophies, however, is that they a) diminish the value of exceptional performance/service and b) condition kids to think that things will always work out okay in the end. Sorry, but the sooner we make kids realize they don't deserve a party every time they accomplish anything, the better off we'll be.

20. Give kids opportunities to demonstrate responsibility – and monitor performance.

I can only imagine how tough it is as a parent to walk the fine line between doing something for your child and just telling him to figure it out for himself.  From my vantage point, though, there needs to be a lot more of the latter.  Maybe I just see it through this lens because I am often going out of my way to encourage parents to force kids to be proactive during the college recruiting process.  And, I like it when kids schedule their sessions with us, rather than the parents sending the email or making the phone call for them.

That said, I love it when I hear about parents giving kids challenges for them to demonstrate responsibility. Whether there are chores with checklists, or they have to take care of pets, I think it's awesome for kids to be faced with new challenges with monitored performance.  Are all the boxes checked?  Is there dog poop on the floor or a dead guppy in the fish bowl?  Candidly, I can't remember the last time that I hear of a kid earning an allowance; does that even happen anymore?  Fostering accountability at a young age is a powerful thing.

Closing Thoughts

It's taken me over 3,800 words to spit out all my random thoughts on this front, but I wanted to finish with one last thought that isn't so random: I think there is a lot that is right about youth sports these days.  More girls are playing sports than ever before. There are loads of wildly passionate coaches out there who are trying to do the right thing. Information on training and coaching is more readily available than ever before. Sports medicine has improved dramatically to help kids with injuries more quickly and effectively. I could go on and on.

We have to remember that at the end of the day, less than 1% of the kids who participate in youth sports will become professional athletes. However, sports are still an outstanding medium through which to instill a variety of favorable qualities beyond just athleticism. To that end, I hope that some of the suggestions here will help to make kids not only better athletes, but better people, too.

For more information, you may be interested in the International Youth Conditioning Association High School Strength and Conditioning Certification; I was a co-author of this resource.

 

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 2/26/13

Here's this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reading:

What's in a Toe Touch? - This outstanding article from Gray Cook and Don Reagan serves as an awesome adjunct to my static stretching post from two weeks ago, as I talked about some of the ways to "cheat" a toe touch.

Ultimate Speed Drills - I think Jim Kielbaso is one of the best guys around for teaching speed and agility development. I've enjoyed his previous publications, and he just wrote up this new resource for the International Youth Conditioning Association.  It's very affordably priced, so I'd encourage you to check it out if this is an area of your coaching development that needs improvement.

5 Loading Protocols Under the Microscope - In light of a recent conversation I had during a recent training session, I thought it would be a good time to bring back this T-Nation article I wrote back in 2011.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 8/1/12

Here's this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reading:

Four Must-Try Mobility Drills - In case you haven't already seen this, it's a article I had published at Arnold Schwartzenegger's website yesterday, including a lengthy video.

"He's a Big, Strong Kid" - With the $100 off sale of the IYCA High School Strength and Conditioning Coach Certification this week, it seemed like a good time to "reincarnate" this popular one from the archives at EricCressey.com.

Everything You Need to Know about the Hip Thrust - This is a thorough blog post from Bret Contreras on "everything hip thrust."  Bret's devoted his career to glutes and pioneered this exercise, so you could say that he's an authority on the matter.

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Get $100 Off the IYCA High School Strength and Conditioning Coach Certification

A lot of people know me as the guy whose products and articles have helped strength training enthusiasts prevent and correct movement inefficiencies that ultimately lead to injuries.

Others know me because we train about four dozen professional baseball players each winter.

The truth, though, is that the majority of our clientele at Cressey Performance is high school athletes.  Each year, we have dozens of athletes go on to play college sports, as well as kids who are selected in the Major League Baseball draft.

For every kid who gets drafted into professional baseball or commits to play a college sport, we have 2-3 young athletes who train with us simply to build confidence, stay healthy while they play their sports, and foster fitness habits that will hopefully carry over to the rest of their lives. I take that job extremely seriously not only because I genuinely care about each teenage and enjoy my job, but because it is a huge deal for parents to trust me with part of their kids’ physical and mental well-being during a crucial developmental time in an adolescent’s life.

This is one reason why I was so excited to be a contributor to the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA) High School Strength Coach Certification.  This resource, which includes a textbook and DVD set, covers topics such as:

Strength Training Technique, Functionality and Programming
Speed and Agility Mechanics or Sport Specificity
Mobility: Isolate and Integrate
Coaching the High School Athlete
Administration for the High School Strength Coach
Sample Programming for football, baseball, and basketball
 

And, I'm happy to announce that the certification is on sale for $100 off from now through this Sunday, August 5, at midnight EST.  Be sure to check out this comprehensive resource at a great price HERE.

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Strength Training Programs: The 7 Most Common Power Clean Technique Mistakes

In response to my article, The 7 Habits of Highly Defective Benchers, I had a few reader requests for a similar article on power clean technique.  Fortunately, I knew just the guy to write it for us: my buddy Wil Fleming.  Wil did a tremendous job writing up the International Youth Conditioning Association Olympic Lifting Course, and he shares some of his knowledge along these lines with us below. 

I had the unbelievable good fortune of learning to Olympic lift under the guidance of a former Olympian and a couple of national team coaches. Unfortunately, many athletes learn how to do the Olympic lifts from a coach who hasn’t had that type of training.

As a result, the power clean may be the single worst looking lift in most weight rooms.  Seriously, I know you can picture it.

Walking into many high school weight rooms, and you’ll invariably see some kid who has WAAAY too much weight on the bar getting ready to show off what he thinks is pristine power clean technique.  He’ll roll it around for a minute on the floor, then muscle it up and catch it in a position that makes you wonder how he has so much flexibility in his adductors (history in gymnastics?).

I am by no means the most explosive athlete; in fact, I definitely wasn’t at one point, but I learned from the best.  And, just as importantly, I learned to not make some of the mistakes that plague athletes trying to do the power clean.   Let’s look at some of the most common ones.

Power Clean Technique Mistake #1: Missing too many lifts

I actually had a coach recently tell me about his plan for having athletes max out. It went like this.

“Well we put about 15-20 lbs more on the bar than the athlete can do and then have him try it. He usually misses it, then we do that same thing again. Once they miss it a second time, we drop about 5-10 lbs and try it a 3rd time.  Sometimes they get it.”

Wait, what?

Exactly.

The sad part is that I think this is the mode that a lot of athletes get into when training. They think that just a basic overload in the lift is a good thing.

In truth, the power clean is a really complex pattern and overload isn’t always rewarded; technique is rewarded.  If you train knowing you are going to miss lifts, you are…drumroll here…going to miss lifts.

Something I learned – and something I instill with my athletes – is that missed lifts are a part of training, but they are not a consistent part of training. You’ll learn far more by completing lifts than by missing lifts.

Power Clean Technique Mistake #2: Starting from the floor when you can’t make it there in good position.

Is a power clean a power clean if you don’t start from the floor?

This is a mistake that I see all too often and with serious consequences.  Athletes are told and made to start from the floor with the power clean when in truth they have no ability to get down to the start position and maintain any semblance of structural integrity.

The true start position for the clean is uncomfortable, to say the least.  It requires hip mobility, ankle mobility, thoracic spine mobility, and tremendous trunk stability.  Most athletes are lacking in at least one of these areas.

Lacking the mobility and stability to actually achieve these positions means that an athlete will default to easier patterns to get to a bar resting on the ground. Typically, this will mean that they will achieve the movement from lumbar flexion, and then the cycle of back injuries occur.

As you can see in the photos below, this isn’t a position that you often see in the local high school weight room. (Photo Credit:  http://nielpatel.blogspot.com)

Fortunately – especially in young athletes – working to improve mobility in each of these areas can help tremendously in getting lifters in the right position.

In the meantime, just beginning the lifts from a slightly elevated (but static) position (A low block or another bumper plate) can help athletes get into a start position that does not include lumbar flexion.

Power Clean Technique Mistake #3: No consistency in the start position

In any movement – from a golf swing to a bench press – we preach consistency. The pattern that we create time and again is the one to which we will default when the going gets tough.

The power clean is no different, but if I walk into most weight rooms and training facilities, I see something entirely different.

Roll the bar around for a minute, hop up and down, roll the bar around some more and LIFT!!!

“But wait, I do three rolls every time, so my pattern is the same.”

The approach to the power clean should be the same every time you approach the bar.  Early on in training, I sought to eliminate inconsistency by crouching by the bar before beginning the lift.  Still, I found difficulty achieving a consistent position in my lift off from the floor.

My training really took off when I took a three-step process to get the bar in my hands.

1, Cover my laces with the bar, brace the core and lock in the lats.
2. RDL to my knees.
3. Squat to the bar.

The first step is really about verifying that I have the proper relation to the bar and that my body is prepared to maintain a stable position throughout the lift. Keeping the bar close to the body on the initial lift-off will allow for the most efficient bar path while maintaining the right position.

Making an RDL movement to the knees allows my hips to be behind the bar. Getting the hips away from the bar will allow the hips to remain loaded throughout the lift.

Squatting to the bar maintains a consistent torso angle down to the start position, meaning that on lift-off the shoulders will remain forward of the bar.

With this three-part pattern, I am able to guarantee that I, or any athletes I coach, make it to the start position consistently.

Power Clean Technique Mistake #4: Pulling the bar too fast off the ground.

Lots of weight on the bar? Only one way to pull it: HARD. Right?

Not really.  The first pull off the ground is all about maintaining consistent position and gaining momentum into the second (more aggressive pull).

As a beginning lifter, I don’t think that there is any mistake more common than pulling too fast off the ground.  Speed is king in the Olympic lifts and coaches preach it from day one.

There is only one issue. A bar that is moving too fast will inhibit an athlete’s ability to make an aggressive second pull.

Think of it this way: If a car were driving past you at 90 miles per hour and you were asked to push on the bumper to make it go faster, you would have very little time to improve upon the speed of the car and therefore have no effect on its acceleration.

Imagine the same car moving past you at 5 miles per hour.  If you were to push on the bumper of this car, you could greatly improve its acceleration and velocity.

The same is true with the Olympic lifts. Pulling too fast before reaching the mid-thigh will make your second pull much less effective.

Power Clean Technique Mistake #5: Pulling around the knees

This is another really common problem among novice lifters.

The bar trajectory off the floor should be back. Struggling with this is pretty easy to do because the overall “feel” of the power clean is straight up.

The bar must always start in front of the center of gravity (on the floor away from the hips), and the first pull should be used to align the bar with the center of gravity.  Aligning the bar even more to the front of the center of gravity is a common problem that leads to a lot of missed lifts and poor catch positions.

If the knees do not go back on the first pull, the athlete will be misaligned forward of the toes in the above the knee position and not be able to put the full power of hip extension into the lift.

Power Clean Technique Mistake #6: Not finishing the Second Pull

Pretty early on, some athlete that you train will realize that the lower they can go to catch the bar, the greater likelihood they will have in being successful in catching the lift.

Not finishing the second pull (the fast pull) from the mid-thigh upwards means that the athlete did not reach full hip extension and did not close the gap between their body and the bar.

Not reaching full extension with the hips is a big no-no because it is the primary reason that athletes do Olympic lifts in the first place.  Explosively pulling on the bar to hip extension in the point right?

The Olympic lift happens fast, and as coaches we can miss things like this.  Assuming you don’t have Superman vision, the easiest way to spot this problem is watch for an athlete jumping forward in the catch.  A complete hip extension will result in the athlete catching the bar in the same position on the platform or slightly behind the starting position. Jumping forward is the red flag for an incomplete pull.

Power Clean Technique Mistake #7: Catching the bar like a starfish

The starfish is a magnificent creature, but it likes to spread its appendages all over the place, and that has no place in the power clean.  And, we all know that we have seen a starfish in the weight room before.

We talk and talk about the force production that is such a valuable part of Olympic lifts, but equally valuable is the force absorption that must occur at the moment of the catch.

When an athlete catches like a starfish they are putting themselves in a position that will lead to injury.  If this pattern is the reaction to absorbing a stress on the body, then I really fear the moment when they come down from a maximal effort jump in competition.

So, do yourself a favor and don’t allow any starfish appearances in the weight room.

Conclusion

Try as we might, some of these things will always occur when you have people doing power cleans. Eliminate the majority of the problems and you will have people safely pulling a lot of weight, fast.

About the Author

Wil Fleming, CSCS, is a member of the International Youth Conditioning Association Board of Experts, and co-owner of Force Fitness and Performance in Bloomington, IN.   To learn more about Wil's teaching system for the Olympic lifts, be sure to check out the IYCA Olympic Lift Instructor Course. To follow him on Twitter, click here.

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The Best of 2011: Stuff that was Fun to Write/Video

Today, I'll wrap up my "Best of 2011" series by highlighting the pieces that I enjoyed creating.  Check them out: 1. 11 Years, 11 Lessons, 100 Pounds - This T-Nation article recapped my long journey in the strength and conditioning world to get to where I am.  It was definitely one of my most popular articles of all time at T-Nation. 2. The Fitness Business Blueprint - This product was a blast to create because I think it filled a gaping hole in the market.  Until we launched it, nobody had created a fitness business product that didn't just discuss how to grow a business, but also how to improve as a trainer/coach.  I had a blast collaborating with Pat Rigsby and Mike Robertson on it.

3. What I Learned in 2010 - I enjoy writing these articles every year, because they serve as a great opportunity to revisit some of the most valuable lessons from the previous year.  And, as the saying goes, the best way to master something is to teach it to others. 4. Strength and Conditioning Program Success: The Little Things Matter - This was a fun blog to write, as I did so right around the time when several of our athletes were recognized for some awesome achievements.  It gave me a chance to reflect on why they were successful - and why many other folks aren't.  There will be some valuable takeaways for you, regardless of your athletic or fitness goals. 5. Oblique Strains in Baseball: 2011 Update - I'd written about oblique strains in the past, but they continue to be the big fat white elephant in the corner that is being ignored in the context of baseball development.  Hopefully this article got some people to start paying attention to the fact that it's just the fallout of a lot of things that are wrong with the current approaches being employed with respect to baseball strength and conditioning. 6. The IYCA High School Strength and Conditioning Coach Certification - I was fortunate to be a contributor on this awesome resource that will hopefully change the tide of how high school athletes are trained.  Based on the feedback we've received thus far, it's already helped tremendously in this regard.

7. Strength Training Program Success: How Dr. P did at 47 What He Couldn't Do at 20 or 30 - This blog (and accompanying video) were awesome because our entire gym got involved on this goal - and were there to see our good friend accomplish it. 8. The Everything Elbow In-Service - This was an in-service I filmed for our staff this summer to prepare them for all the elbow issues that may come through our doors.  It lasted 32 minutes, and sold far better than I would have imagined - and led to a lot of requests for us to continue filming staff in-services and making them available for sale.

9. Strength and Conditioning Programs: Think the Opposite - This has a few tips about a counterintuitive way to achieve success in training and in business. 10. Hip Pain in Athletes: The Origin of Femoroacetabular Impingement - FAI is becoming more and more common (especially in young athletes), and in this blog, I talk about some of the reasons why. That wraps up our "Best of 2011" series.  Thank you very much for your support of EricCressey.com in 2011; I'm looking forward to making 2012 even more memorable! Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!
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Youth Strength and Conditioning Programs: “He’s a Big, Strong Kid.”

Recently, while discussing one particular athlete we encountered at Cressey Sports Performance, my staff members and I got on the topic of how it's more of a challenge to train bigger (taller and heavier) young athletes than it is to work with smaller guys.  Interestingly, the challenges come less from the actual physical issues they present and more from the social expectations that surround their size. Here are seven reasons why I cringe when I hear parents say "he's a big, strong kid" when describing their children on the phone.

1. Bigger kids are often forced into sports and positions that may impede their long-term development - When you're the heavy kid, you're automatically pushed toward football and put on the line.  If you're playing baseball, it's first base or catcher.  If it's basketball, you're the power forward.  You get the picture - and similar "pushes" are made on tall kids to play basketball or volleyball.  The problem is that in most cases, these sport and positional "predispositions" put bigger kids in situations where they don't develop in a broad sense because there simply isn't enough variety.

2. Bigger kids usually start weight-training on their own - This point relates closely to point #1.  Unfortunately, when you're already labeled as the next star offensive lineman or power forward and you can already push your buddies around, chances are that you learned to lift with Dad in the basement, from a misinformed football coach, or be screwing around with your buddies.  I would much rather have a completely untrained 16-year-old start up with me than be presented with a 16-year-old with years of poor strength and conditioning programs and coaching under his belt.  This is true regardless of body type, but especially problematic in bigger kids for reasons I outline below.

3. "Strong" has different meanings - Sports require a combination of absolute and relative strength.  Strength is also highly specific to the range of motion (ROM) in which one trains. There is also a difference between concentric and eccentric strength.

What do most big young athletes do when left on their own?  Focus heavily on absolute strength (train what they're good at) through small ROMs (rather than fight their bodies) with concentric-heavy workloads (because pushing a blocking/tackling sled is sexier than a properly executed lunge).

I can count on one hand the number of teenage athletes who were called "big and strong" who have actually showed up on their first day and demonstrated any appreciable level of strength in any context - let alone usable strength that will help them in athletic endeavors.  Usually, we wind up seeing a sloppy 135-pound bench press with the elbows flared, legs kicking, bar bouncing off the chest...in a kid who can't do a push-up.

And this is where the problem arises: kids who have always been told they were strong don't like coming to the realization that they really aren't strong.  We don't have to directly tell them, either; taking them through basic strength exercises with proper form will reveal a lot.  And, there is typically an example of a smaller athlete like this kicking around not too far away.

The kids who check their egos at the door will thrive.  A lot might never come back until they're injured from poor body control or riding the pine because it turns out that their "strengths" really weren't that strong.

4. Bones grow faster than muscles and tendons - In young athletes who haven't gone through the adolescent growth spurt, you often don't have to do any additional static stretching, as a dynamic warm-up and strength training program through a full ROM can cover all their mobility needs.  Unfortunately, when kids grow quickly, the bones lengthen much faster than the muscles and tendons do, so we run into situations where bigger kids have truly short (not just stiff) tissues.  Effectively, this adds one more competing demand for their time and attention - and it's the worst kind to add, as most kids hate to stretch.

5. Being bigger changes one's stabilization strategy -  As I described in great detail in The Truth About Unstable Surface Training, the taller one is, the further the center of gravity is away from the base of support.  As such, taller kids are inherently more unstable than shorter kids - although this can be partially remedied by gaining muscle mass in the lower body to lower the COG and learning to "play lower" in appropriate situations.

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Not surprisingly, though, being heavier - particularly with respect to having a belly - can dramatically change one's stability as well.  Carrying belly fat shifts the center of gravity forward - which is why individuals with this "keg" instead of a six-pack appear more lordotic (excessively arched at the lower back).  Compensations for this occur all along the kinetic chain, but the two things I'd highlight the most are:

a. An increased need for anterior core strength - As evidenced by the high incidence of spondylolysis (lumbar spine fractures) and how badly most kids perform on basic prone bridging and rollout challenges, the inability to resist lumbar hyperextension (and excessive rotation) is a serious problem.  The bigger the belly, the more extended the lumbar spine will be.  Just ask any pregnant woman how her back feels during the last trimester.

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b. Substitution of lumbar (hyper)extension for hip extension - You'll see a lot of big-bellied kids who can't fully extend their hip and instead just arch their back to get to where they need to be.  This is a problem on multiple fronts.  First, the hip extensors are far stronger and more powerful than the lumbar extensors, so performance is severely impaired.  Second, there are huge injury implications both chronically (lumbar stress fractures, hip capsule irritation) and acutely (strained rectus femoris or hamstrings).

Simply dropping some body fat and improving anterior core strength is a huge game-changer for many overweight athletes.  It's not always the answer they want to hear.

6. Bigger kids usually have less work capacity - I've never been a guy who jumped on the work capacity bandwagon, as I feel that it's very activity-specific.  However, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to observe that the more body fat one carries, the more work he'll do oxygenating useless tissue, and the less oxygen he'll get to working muscles.  More importantly, though, try doing your next training session with a 60-pound weight vest on and see what it does to your work capacity.

The lower the work capacity, the less quality work one can accomplish in a strength and conditioning program.  Gains simply don't come as quickly on the strength and fitness side of things - even if body fat is pouring off heavier athletes.  In other words, they've actually sacrificed one window of adaptation (athletic development) in order to make another one (fat loss) larger.

7. I speculate that bigger athletes have an increased prevalence of "subclinical" musculoskeletal pathologies/deviations from normalcy - I've written in the past about how many athletes are just waiting to reach threshold because their MRIs and x-rays look terrible - even if they are completely asymptomatic.  You can see this just about anywhere in the body; most basketball players are just waiting for patellar tendinosis to kick in, and many football lineman are teetering on the brink of a lumbar stress fracture or spondylolisthesis (or both).

The heavier one is - especially in the presence of insufficient relative strength, as noted above - the more pounding one will place on the passive restraints such as the meniscus, intervertebral discs, and labrum.  A bigger belly and the resulting lordosis will drive more anterior pelvic tilt, femoral/tibial internal rotation, and pronation.  How would you like to be the plantar fascia or Achilles tendon in this situation?

Tall athletes tend to slouch more because they have to look down at all their peers.  Get more kyphotic, add some scapular dyskinesis, and see what happens to the rotator cuff, labrum, and biceps tendon over time.

There are countless examples along these lines.  And, to make matters worse, obese individuals are more likely to have inaccurate diagnostic imaging.  In an interview I did with radiologist Dr. Jason Hodges, he commented:

By far, the biggest limitation [to diagnostic imaging] is obesity. All of the imaging modalities are limited by it, mostly for technical reasons. An ultrasound beam can only penetrate so far into the soft tissues. X-rays and CT scans are degraded by scattered radiation, which leads to a higher radiation dose and grainy images. Also, the time it takes to do the study increases, which gives a higher incidence of motion blur.

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I want to be very clear; I love dealing with bigger kids just like I do all my other athletes.  We don't lock them in a closet with celery sticks and an exercise bike; we work them hard, but make training fun and support them fully in their quest to fulfill their athletic potential.  Having been an overweight teenage athlete myself, I know that weight management in young athletes is a hugely sensitive subject that must be approached with extreme care.

I also know, however, that in my overweight years, I would have much rather been worked hard like the other athletes and given the opportunity to choose my sport and position of interest rather than pigeonholed into one specific avenue because of my build.  That's where the "big, strong kid" label really concerns me and makes me want to plan out my strategy - both in terms of the physiological and social approach to training - very carefully.

For more information on how we train young athletes, I'd encourage you to check out the IYCA High School Strength Coach Certification, which I co-authored.

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Pitching Injuries: It’s Not Just What You’re Doing; It’s What You’ve Already Done

A while back, this article on pitching injuries became the single-most popular piece in EricCressey.com history:

Your Arm hurts?  Thank Your Little League, Fall Ball, and AAU Coaches

In that feature, I made the following statement:

We can do all the strength training, mobility work, and soft tissue treatments in the world and it won’t matter if they’re overused – because I’m just not smart enough to have figured out how to go back in time and change history. Worried about whether they’re throwing curveballs, or if their mechanics are perfect?  It won’t matter if they’ve already accumulated too many innings.

While athletes might be playing with fire each time they throw, the pain presentation pattern is different.  You burn your hand, and you know instantly.  Pitching injuries take time to come about. Maybe you do microscopic damage to your ulnar collateral ligament each time you throw – and then come back and pitch again before it’s had time to fully regenerate.  Or, maybe you ignore the shoulder internal rotation deficit and scapular dyskinesis you’ve got and it gets worse and worse for years – until you’re finally on the surgeon’s table for a labral and/or rotator cuff repair.  These issues might be managed conservatively if painful during the teenage years (or go undetected if no pain is present) – but once a kid hits age 18 or 19, it seems to automatically become “socially acceptable” to do an elbow or shoulder surgery.

Sure enough, just yesterday, reader Paul Vajdic sent me this article from the Shreveport Times. The author interviews world-renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews about the crazy increase in the number of Tommy John surgeries he'd performed over the past decade.

A comment he made really jumped out at me, in light of my point from above:

""I had a kid come in, a 15-year-old from Boca Raton, (Fla.), who tore his ligament completely in two,' Andrews said. 'The interesting thing is when I X-rayed his elbow with good magnification, he has a little calcification right where the ligament attaches to the bone. We're seeing more of that now. He actually got hurt with a minor pull of the ligament when he was 10, 11, 12 years of age. That little calcification gets bigger and, initially, it won't look like anything but a sore elbow. As that matures, it becomes more prominent. It turns into an English pea-size bone piece and pulls part of the ligament off when they're young.'"

In other words, it takes repeated bouts of microtrauma over the course of many years to bring an athlete to threshold - even if they have little to no symptoms along the way.  Injury prevention starts at the youngest ages; otherwise, you're just playing from behind the 8-ball when you start training high school and college players.

In addition to walking away with the perspective that young kids need to be strictly managed with their pitch counts, I hope this makes you appreciate the value of strength and conditioning programs at young ages, too.  For more information, check out my post, The Truth About Strength Training for Kids.

We can't prevent them all, but I do think that initiatives like the IYCA High School Strength Coach Certification in conjunction with pitch count implementation and coaching education are a step in the right direction.

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Dean Somerset Interviews Me – Part 2

This is the second half of an interview I did for Dean Somerset's website.  In case you missed part 1, you can check it out HERE. DS: What are the best supplements for the money, in your opinion? EC: For most folks, fish oil, vitamin D, a decent low-carb protein powder, creatine, and a greens supplement (I prefer Athletic Greens) will get the job done.  I’d add in probiotics for many people as well.  The longer I’m in this field, the more of a minimalist I become. DS: There are a lot of misconceptions and misinterpretations on core strength and core training out there. Some say you have to lay perfectly still and think happy thoughts while flexing your belly button, while other say you need to use stability balls to get anything, and other say heavy stuff on your shoulders does the trick. Also, the definition of where the core is and what it does seems to be either incomplete, or somewhat lacking in common sense, as most of the anatomical diagrams will show the core as a hollow vessel, and eliminate the internal organs from the picture. What do you consider to be important in the anatomy of the core, and what would be your go-to core training exercises? EC: I tend to fall in the camp that it encompasses just about the entire body.  We can all agree that the hamstrings probably deserve a place in the role of the core, since they attach to the pelvis via the ischial tuberosity and sacrotuberous ligament, right?

Well, those same hamstrings attach below the knee on both the tibia and fibula.  They share a function (knee flexion) with the gastrocnemius, clearly are in close “fascial proximity,” and have neural innervations from the same origin at the lumbar spine (sciatic nerve).  The gastrocnemious attaches on the calcaneus – so we’ve established “hip to foot” relationships of the “core.” Add latissimus dorsi to the picture.  It attaches to the iliac crest, thoracolumbar fascia, thoracic spine, ribs, scapula, and humerus.  That would be a “hip to arm” connection, right?

Add in the trapezius, which runs from as far down as T12 to the base of the skull, and you can argue that you’ve got a “hip to head” relationship, too.

We’ll just train it with crunches, though, right??? I don’t think it’s as simple as just memorizing the anatomy of the muscles surrounding the lumbar spine; it’s about understanding the complex, functional relationship among all the muscles and their tendons, the ligaments, the fascia, the nerves, and the bony structures to which they attach.  Things are more complex than we try to make them – which is probably why a lot of people have chronic back pain that goes misdiagnosed and mistreated. While much of the industry has gone to the “don’t move the lumbar spine” end of the continuum, it’s really not that black and white.  It – like any other body segment – should have some movement.  The problem just becomes when we add load to that movement.  And, more specifically, things get dangerous when we add load to the end range of that movement.  Going into full lumbar flexion with an 800-pound deadlift isn’t going to make your intervertebral discs very happy, and not controlling violent extension and rotation during an athletic movement like swinging or throwing could very well leave you with a stress fracture, oblique strain, or spondylolisthesis at some point. That said, there should be movement during daily activities; otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to tie our shoes, and my puppy wouldn’t be able to lick his unmentionables for twenty minutes every night before he falls asleep.  When we start adding resistance, crazy velocity, and high volumes to the equation, though, we change the game.

To that end, I’ll continue to train anti-rotation and anti-extension exercises in the gym because the favorable outcomes we’ve seen with this approach have been tremendous.  If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. DS: Chewing tobacco: help or hindrance?? EC: I’m probably not the best one to ask.  I dipped once when I was about 18 and booted a few minutes later – and then felt miserably for about four hours afterward.  It wasn’t one of my finer moments. DS: I had a client who I was training for hockey a few years ago, and he forgot to go to the washroom for what I like to call a "pre-game." During the middle of his heavy squats, while I was spotting him, he, well for a lack of better term, he "released," and had to go change his shorts. Any training blooper highlight moments from CP? EC: Honestly, there are too many to list!  Most of them take place when our pro baseball guys are just shooting the breeze in the office.  Throw in a British golfer, pro boxer, or Ironman competitor, and you get enough people from different walks of life to make any conversation memorable and absolutely hilarious.  To that end, we actually have a quote book in the office; it’s got dozens of pages of stupid things that have been said over the past three years or so. DS: Who is the bigger prankster, you or Tony? EC: I’m not sure that I’d say that either of us are huge pranksters, but Tony is definitely the brunt of a lot more jokes at CP.  We always joke that every 2-3 months, we have a “Tony Moment” where he learns about something and is absolutely blown away to find out that we had already known about it for months. That said, the CP jester is definitely our pitching coordinator, Matt Blake, as some of these videos show:

DS: You have a lot of people looking up to you and aspiring to hit the level of professional success that you've been able to attain in a relatively short period of time. Who do you look up to so that you're continuously motivated to push and achieve more? EC:  That is a tough question to answer because my goal has never been to “be” someone else.  If I was to blindly follow someone else’s steps, it wouldn’t be the career I had in mind.  So, I feel like if you are going to be successful in what you do, there has to be some degree of innate motivation in you. That said, I look to a lot of people for inspiration. My father owns his own business and that had a more profound impact on me than you could possibly imagine as I opened my own facility.  Without even knowing it, he taught me that your business problems are your own and that you never make them anyone else’s problems.  And, give your employees autonomy, and as long as you’ve picked the right people, they won’t let you down. My mother is a high school teacher and administrator – and is pretty much the Mother Teresa of my hometown.  Over the years, I’ve watched on numerous occasions as she has fed some of her students who couldn’t afford to eat.  I’ve gone to the grocery store with her countless times – and it always takes an extra hour or so because she runs into so many grateful parents and students she’s dealt with over the years.  She established the first International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum in the state of Maine at her school.  She didn’t have to do any of this; it wasn’t mandated by her salary, and it certainly isn’t something a lot of other teachers do.  She taught me that your job has to fulfill you in some way far more significant than money, and that good will never runs out. My grandparents were married for over 60 years before my grandfather passed away this fall.  They taught me that family comes first – and my wife and I have had many talks about how they educated us on how a marriage should work. In the industry, there are quite a few people I look to for advice.  Alwyn Cosgrove has taught me a ton about how to run a business.  Mike Robertson has been a guy with whom I’ve collaborated a lot – and we’ve both gotten better in the process.  I look to guys like Bill Hartman and Charlie Weingroff as very bright individuals who simply enjoy learning for the sake of learning – and that’s something I enjoy. Pat Rigsby is a guy who has shown me more about how to balance all of life’s demands – from family time to various business endeavors. I could go on and on, but the point is that I draw inspiration from a lot of sources – both intrinsic and extrinsic. DS: You've stated that for baseball player, olympic lifting and vertical jumping aren't really necessary as the sport doesn't require it. Most trainers gave you hell, but you stood your ground and proved them all wrong. What other concepts have you brought to the table that have helped re-form many common misconceptions about training and sports development? EC:  It’s funny; right after I published that piece at T-nation about how power is “plane-specific,” I got an email from a researcher who was studying the exact same thing – and finding preliminary data that completely verified what I’d said.  Sometimes, research is out there to validate what we’re already doing. Whether I’ve made people changed their thought processes or not, a few things I’ve tried to bring to the forefront are: 1. The Difference Between Inefficiency and Pathology – We’ve always been taught that if an x-ray or MRI tells us that we’re structurally out of whack, then we’re screwed.  The truth is that all of us – even when we’re asymptomatic – have structural issues on diagnostic imaging.  The people who are in pain are the ones who don’t move efficiently on top of these structural flaws.  I see this every day with the pitching shoulders that come through my door; I assume that they’re all “broken” and that we are just managing them to avoid them hitting a painful threshold.

2. The Concept of Long-Term Athletic Development Beginning with Strength – This is an area where I’ve tried to lead by example with our training model at Cressey Performance.  I’m not interested in running a group of 20 14-year-olds through a bunch of agility ladders.  If we want the best long term results and safety, our #1 job in a youth population is to improve strength.  Sure, they run faster, jump higher, and throw harder – but they also decelerate better and change directions more efficiently.  You can run all the "quickness drills" that you want with a young population, but the truth is that you’ll never improve speed or agility unless you teach them to put more force in to the ground.  It’s like polishing the hub cabs on a car with no horsepower; you’re studying for the wrong test. Unfortunately, there are a lot of facilities out there that are just about finding a training model that allows one to run a ton of kids through the same program without much concern for the actual benefits to be gained (or lack thereof).  I’m not interested in babysitting. 3. The Differences Between Flexibility and Mobility – This was a key portion of my contribution to the recently released IYCA High School Strength Coach Certification. Mobility refers to the ability to reach certain positions, whereas flexibility refers to just one factor (joint range of motion) that affects that ability.  Mobility is also dependent on stability, the foundation for which is neuromuscular recruitment.  When we test flexibility, we’re talking about isolated testing of relaxed muscles/tendons.  To be blunt, we’re ignoring the nervous system.

Mobility encompasses multiple joints and therefore likely involves fascial contributions to movement, whereas flexibility may only involve 1-2 joints and may therefore minimize the impact of fascia on an assessment. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we can easily assess mobility in a general sense – but determining the cause of limitations is more challenging.  Flexibility, too, is a quick assessment – but correcting the limitation discovered doesn’t guarantee that movement quality will improve. 4. The belief that there is always something you can do to get better, regardless of injury – I’ve never been a fan of doctors and physical therapists telling injured patients to “just rest.”  First off, rest alone is rarely the answer.  Just as importantly, though, this recommendation ignores the fact that there are endocrine, immune, functional, psychological, and social benefits that are still to be derived from exercising.  When I’m working with clients who are injured, I feel that it’s my job to show them what they can do and not just what they can’t do.  And, there is always something you can do to maintain a training effect. 5. Weighted baseballs might actually be safer than traditional 5oz baseballs – and at the very least, they can be a beneficial training addition. This article sums it up quite well, so I won’t reinvent the wheel.  A lot of people can’t believe it when I saw that we used weighted balls, but the results have been nothing short of fantastic. These are just the few things that came to mind right off the top of my head.  I’d like to think that there are more! Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a deadlift technique tutorial!
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