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3 Things Athletes can do Everyday to Increase Performance

There are many things athletes can do to help themselves other than what seems to be obvious. Athletes are expected to be at practice, train hard in the off-season and be prepared for their sport. There are a few key hidden factors that an athlete can do that may help the previously mentioned things above.

 

  1. Writing their goals down
  2. Better nutrition
  3. More Sleep or proper sleep

 

  1. Goal setting is very important for an athlete. Goals give a sense of purpose and when finished, accomplishment. Goals should have 3 levels:
  • Immediate
  • Short term
  • Long term

 

Immediate goals would be something on a weekly basis. Whether a to do list or a weekly check off list.  These goals are great to have a sense of accomplishment and will help a student athlete get more things done. Things on this list should be homework, weekly workouts, chores and anything else that is of immediate concern.  Short-term goals can range from 3-6 months. These goals should be long projects for school, applications to school, weightlifting goals, nutrition goals, school choices, big exams coming up and other things that are in the near future. Long-term goals are generally 6 months and out. These goals might have bigger picture thoughts. Making the team, getting into a certain school, being prepared for next season. These goals allow the athlete to realize there is a big picture and that you should prepare for that future the best you can.

 

  1. Better nutrition is always something any athlete should be concerned about. Whether your goal is to gain weight, lose weight or maintain you must have a sense of proper nutrition. Going on a “diet” is not recommended for athletes because that is a short-term fix. An athlete needs to change a lifestyle and accept living without junk food everyday. You can eat things in moderation and in a controlled manor. No strength and conditioning coach will tell a 15-year-old kid not to enjoy life; you just have to control it.

 

  1. More Sleep to help Recover – One of the best ways to recover is proper sleep. Sleep is beneficial for many reasons. For an athlete recovery is vital to help you reach your goals. Sleep allows your body to rejuvenate energy systems and help you build muscle. The reason it will help build muscles is because it allows the body to release natural growth hormone. This release is the reason muscles get replenished, how new skill is helped learn (cognitive) and also helps your bones.

 

Goals, proper nutrition and adequate sleep should all be part of a complete athletes regimen. These 3 things can be vital to an athlete’s performance and are very simple to implement right away.

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The Shortest Distance Between Two Points is a Straight Line

Baseball and softball require the ability not only to run straight ahead but also the ability to run diagonally from point A to point B.  The old saying that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line can be the difference between a single, a double and sometimes even a triple. Learning to read the flight of a ball is a great talent and should not be undermined, but the ability to turn and get to the point of the ball is a huge advantage in fielding.  In this article we’re going to talk about 3 things you can do to help create a better jump on the ball for outfielders and infielders.

 

  1. Overall Mobility – When you’re talking about crossover running or running in a diagonal pattern, hip mobility and strength come into play. Being mobile and flexible has its benefits as we have discussed, but especially the hips in baseball. This type of movement plays a huge role in your lateral speed and the ability of the body to move in a fluid pattern towards the ball.
  2. Lateral speed training – Working on acceleration in a linear (straight ahead) pattern is great and very, very beneficial to baseball. However, more often than not you will run laterally in a game. You will crossover step and you will turn and sprint. So working on speed work in a lateral way will pay off huge when needed in a game. Also, some drills to consider would be lateral movements to a linear sprint. Here are some examples below:
    1. Shuffle to sprint – Athlete will shuffle 5 yards, pause and sprint 20 yards. You can also add some reactive movements as well. For instance, shuffle 5 yards, shuffle 2 yards back and go.
    2. Crossover pause to sprint – Crossover sprinting should not be confused with carioca. We’re just using the front side of the carioca, never trailing the back leg behind. So in this drill you will do 2 crossovers pause and head to a linear sprint of 20 yards.
    3. Lateral falling starts to sprints – the athlete will be on his/her tiptoes and stand tall, fall and crossover to a sprint. We want to work on getting the head around and focused on the linear sprint.
    4. Tennis ball drop from a leadoff position – have a partner about 10 yards away with a tennis ball at shoulder height. The athlete will be in a leadoff position. When the partner drops the ball the athlete will react and get the ball before it bounces 2 times.
  3. Single leg training – All athletes should be doing this. Working on strength training your legs individually has a huge benefit. When you look at crossover running or turning and going for a ball you have to see the transfer from one leg to the next. Training your legs individually will allow a better transfer because of an increase in strength unilaterally. An advantage of unilateral training is that you can see which leg is weaker and needs some more strength. You can manipulate that by changing weights or rep schemes based on your weaker leg.

 

These 3 things can be implemented right now in your training and will allow you to get from point A to point B faster.  Getting to the ball quicker will not only allow you to make better plays but also limit your opponent from stretching a single to a double or preventing a run from scoring.

 

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Why Warm Up? What are the Most Effective Ways to Warm Up for Sport?

 

The most important part of any sports performance program is the warm up.  This is because we want our athletes to be injury free, ready for the workout ahead and work on the corrective work they need to that showed up on their Fitness Evaluation that is booked on our website. The evaluation really leads into how we warm up our athletes. A warm up should be functional in nature working from the ground up and in a slow to fast manor. There are 6 main steps to an effective warm up:

  • SMR
  • Static flexibility
  • Mobility
  • Correctives
  • Dynamic flexibility
  • Cns activation
  • Movement preparation for linear or lateral movements

These 6 foundations of a proper warm up ensures the athlete is getting enough blood flow to the muscles that injuries is greatly reduced, body is prepared for the workout of the day and the athlete feels prepared as well mentally for the workout.

 

  1. SMR – Self Myofacial Release is a technique we use with the foam rollers. The foam rollers are used to elongate the muscle, relive the muscle of waste products and to increase blood flow into the muscles.
  2. Static Flexibility – Works on the muscles and elongating them into a stretch and holding that stretch for a period of time. An example would be our table stretches we do. We stretch our hamstrings, adductors and glutes for a period of 20-30 seconds. This allows us to open the muscle up even more and work on flexibility as that is a huge part of being a great athlete.
  3. Mobility- we work on bringing Range of Motion (ROM) to the body. ROM in the joints and muscles are crucial to prepping the body for movement that will take place during the rest of the warm up and the workout. Mobility also is important for injury prevention as it allows the body to work through its ROM in a controlled manor, not forced.
  4. Correctives- these are what we give the athletes as we see fit based off their FMS screen the performed on the first day of their program. It is important we incorporate them when they’re fresher. This will help them because they have the energy and the mental capacity of not being tired yet.
  5. Dynamic Flexibility – Moving the muscles in a rhythmic fashion across the body. Dynamic flexibility is important because it preps the body for increasing blood- flow, waking up the CNS and getting flexibility through ROM.
  6. CNS Activation– The Central Nervous System is important for getting the muscles firing in a proper pattern for movement. The way we prep the CNS is working on the agility ladder. The movement patterns on the ladder really help fire the muscles and also work on spatial awareness.

 

These 6 steps in your warm up will help you get prepped for the workout ahead for the day. You should feel warm, a little sweat and loses when the actual workout begins. The flow of the warm up is essential and in a certain way because we have to hit every link in the body in order to be fully prepared for an intense workout.

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The Importance of Screening Athletes

There are many ways to train athletes and prepare them for sport. However, before we start looking at program design, power, speed and agility, we must look at the evaluation process. All Sports Pro Fitness is one of a few gyms that incorporate a 3-prong evaluation per athlete. The evaluation has 3 steps in the process of its evaluation; 1st a Par Q questionnaire, 2nd an FMS screen and 3rd an athletic profile.

The Par Q questionnaire is a simple yet affective form that evaluates the athlete’s medical background. This information will help us look at any internal issues you as an athlete may have. Some things that we are concerned about when reviewing your Par Q are asthma, recent surgeries, any type of medical conditions dealing with joints, and other symptoms that might be an issue during training.  If there are any concerns we will make sure to ask your parents and/or doctor if you’re ok to exercise.

The FMS screen is a battery of tests designed to evaluate the athlete’s body awareness, mobility, flexibility and strength. This test uses a battery of 7 movements that will help us recognize movement patterns that need to be fixed. Why is this important? Well we want to design our programs so that your weakness that you may have whether its balance, flexibility, mobility or strength become something of value to you. Based off the FMS screen we can look at your results and create a fix for those problem areas. It is also important that we can see if there are any issues that might lead to injuries. For instance, when doing a test called the inline lunge we can see if there are some issues with your knee and its movement pattern. This is important especially for our female athletes to correct so we don’t have an acl tear.

The final phase in our testing is the Athletic Profile. This profile uses a battery of tests that evaluates their physical abilities. We use 5 major movements that test your power, strength, speed, agility and core. These tests include 10-yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump, dynavision and fit light.  Again we want to have some base numbers so as your strength and conditioning coaches can write your program based on your needs not strengths.

The three-prong evaluation for All Sports Pro Fitness is very unique and beneficial to the athletes new and returning. We believe that an athlete needs to work on their weakness and turn them into strength. Whether it’s an issue with balance, strength, power or flexibility we will design a program based around getting you better. The 3 phases of the evaluation will not only assure that your able to handle the class in a safe manor because of the Par Q but also will help us recognize what areas we can work on with you to bring you to your full potential.

 

By: Brad Leshinske MS CSCS

A Guide to Supplementation

One of the most frequent questions we get as a strength and conditioning coaches is: what should I take for supplementation?  Supplementation is very confusing to most people because of all the big names out there and the publicity some receive just because of commercials. In this post, we want to talk about what every athlete should take, when to take it, and how to recover.

The biggest supplement that I believe every athlete should take, in fact everyone should take, is a multi-vitamin. This is because most people do not eat 100% clean and even if they try, they do not get all the nutrients that they should. This is crucial especially for athletes making sure they get everything their body needs. For the female athlete, this is even more important as new studies have come out with regards to ACL tears being heightened during the menstrual cycle. Starting or maintaining your vitamin intake is important for joint health and overall body regulation.

During a workout is also a crucial time to help replenish. Things like Gatorade are great for electrolytes but are extremely heavy in sugar.  So, with that being said, if you’re stuck on Gatorade I suggest using half Gatorade and half water to help with sugar intake.  I do suggest something that you can drink which has some BCAA (branch chain amino acids) and SCAA (simple chain amino acids).  This type of drink will help you in not only recovery with the addition of amino acids but also help you keep moving during the workout.

Immediate recovery post workout is ideal. Something that has more than just protein, I suggest whey protein in this case, is important. Another thing to consider is a protein or recovery drink that has some glutamine for your recovery. This amino acid is crucial for muscles to recover and help regenerate. Whey protein is great in this instance because you want it in the muscles as fast as possible. Protein like casein is great but also takes longer to absorb.

ZMA is a supplement to use for sleep time recovery.  It is a combination of zinc, magnesium and vitamin b6.  This combination helps with recovery but also muscle building. This product was founded by a scientist who thought nighttime recovery was crucial to muscle strength, which is correct. As we sleep our bodies are still working.

These are the supplements that I would recommend. They are safe, proven and personally I know they work. If you have any questions on supplementation or dietary needs, do not hesitate to call.

 

By: Brad Leshinske MS CSCS – Program Director

File photo by Russ McCreven  Max Russell during his days with the Orange American Legion baseball team.

Baseball Strength Training – What are the Top 5 Lower Body Exercise Every Pitcher Should Do

We all know that velocity for any pitcher is acquired with a strong lower body. Strength training for pitchers goes far beyond the old squat, leg press and leg extensions. Today’s pitcher gets stronger by incorporating various movements and making adding movements like single leg strength training. This type of training is not only more applicable for the pitcher but helps increase velocity and decrease injury.  In this post were going to give you the top 5 lower body strength exercises a pitcher can implement right now. Here at All Sports Pro Fitness we like to focus on getting stronger in order to not only raise velocity but prevent injuries.

 

  1. Hex Bar Deadlift – This variation of the conventional Deadlift is crucial for building a strong athlete. Pitchers specifically can benefit from this because the distribution on the hex bar makes it more safe and easier to load heavier. Using the hex bar puts the athlete in a great position to gain strength bilaterally while keeping the back safe.
  2. Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats (RFESS) – This exercise takes on a new meaning when talking about strength training for pitchers. We know that the pitcher needs to be able to transfer his power from one hip throughout the body to the front leg. This transfer needs to be worked on by each leg individually. Suspending the back leg is great because it takes the one leg out of the equation. As opposed to a lunge or split squat, were the athlete can accommodate, this movement forces the athlete to drive through the single leg being used. This is also great for balance and many variations can be used in this movement. From posting of the dumbbells, to barbells being used and using tempo to change up and focus on what the athlete needs.
  3. Hip Lift Variation – having your posterior chain strong is needed for all baseball players but specifically pitchers. Not only during recruitment of the lower chain to gain power but also in the deceleration of the throw and the weight bearing generally put on the front leg during that movement. Also, the hip lift will strengthen the lower back is important for all athletes. Many variations can be used from eccentric training to loaded barbells.
  4. Single Leg Deadlift (SLDL) – The sldl is a great lift for the posterior chain. Working on strengthening the hamstrings while also working on balance is a great bang for your buck. The posterior chain is an essential component for a pitcher’s deceleration post pitch. The balance aspect as you can imagine if important for loading the back hip for the pitcher and then the transfer of energy from the back to the front hip during the throw. This is an essential lift needed to be done by any pitcher. There are many variations to this movement as well.
  5. Depth Jumps – Plyometrics or jump training is crucial for power development. With the lack of Olympic lifting for pitchers, this takes the place. The most important aspect of plyometric jumping that will have the best results is depth jumps. Depth jumps requires the athlete to stand on a 6-inch box step down and jump to another box approximately 24 inches high. The reason why depth jumps are the best is because it requires the athlete to land, create force and re apply the force from the ground and land on the box. The time in between the first box and the second box is the determining factor of becoming explosive. this is why this is a great exercise for pitchers. Teaching the body to create and transfer force is just like recruiting your power for any pitch and transferring that power through the ball to the plate.

These 5 strength exercises if implemented will have a profound affect in your velocity, decrease in lower body injuries and an overall improvement in performance.

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How To Stay Focused As An Athlete

Here at AllSports Pro Fitness we believe in Programs that last longer than 6 weeks. This is because our body needs to adapt to change and this change whether in speed, agility, power or strength takes time depending on many factors.  These factors include;  biological age, training age, gender and maturity.  Our typical athlete will go through a 12-week Program tailored to the individual. For younger athletes particularly, 12 weeks seems like a long time filled with much repetitive work, especially if these athletes are recovering from an injury or have movement issues which require significant work.

Therefore, Program development is critical for coaches.  We must make sure that Programs are engaging while maintaining the point of the workout or the goals of the Program. To make sure this happens and to protect against boredom or loss of motivation we consider 3 factors which keep athletes motivated and focused on attaining their goals. These 3 factors directly impact our main objective for all athletes, which is to become more powerful, faster and stronger – all centered on force production.

  1. Strength
  2. Movement Skill
  3. Regeneration

 

  1. Strength

Maximum Strength – The ability to move weight through a range of motion.

Reactive Strength – The ability to control weight on the eccentric phase and press through the concentric phase.

Strength Endurance – Maintaining a load over a period of time.

 

  1. Movement Skill

Speed – The ability to move in one direction as fast as possible linearly or laterally.

Agility – Movement of the body within angles. Learning to cut properly and adjust force into the ground to accelerate and decelerate properly.

Coordination – The ability to move efficiently throughout speed and agility movements. The ability to control ones body to effectively move properly.

 

  1. Regeneration

Sleep Patterns – An athlete needs to be able to recover during sleep. A high level athlete sleeps between 8.5hrs and 9.5hrs for optimal recovery

Nutrition – Eating properly with grains, vegetables and protein is important. Nutrient timing is also crucial.  You need to eat 45 minutes prior to workouts, delivering your body protein to aid in recovery.

Flexibility – The ability to keep your muscles loose, your ability to help your recovery by rolling out your trigger points.

 

The hidden secret is in this last factor, Regeneration. Maintaining proper sleep and nutrition is a challenge, especially for athletes. Commitment to proper sleep and proper nutrition is guaranteed to bring your training to another level.

In summary, if athletes adhere to the principles above not only will you avoid complacency in your fitness Program but you’ll also realize your goals more quickly. Proper Strength, Movement Skill and Regeneration are key to achieving your goals and becoming a better athlete. At AllSports it is our mission to provide you with the knowledge of the principles here. Through these principles dominance in your sport is a reachable goal for athletes.

 

Brad Leshinske MS CSCS

Program Director

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Speed and Agility for Lacrosse

Lacrosse is a game that incorporates many sports into one. It is a fast paced game in which momentum changes rapidly and the speed of the game changes in the same fashion. There are great articles written on speed but not many on deceleration of speed and the ability to change direction. Becoming fast is a great thing and learning to accelerate is another benefit that any athlete needs and should work on. The ability to accelerate, cut and then re-accelerate is desired. This capability is a benefit and one that trumps pure speed, especially in a sport which involves significant movement and multi direction play.

Deceleration is the ability to decrease velocity, or to decrease force production. Teaching athletes to decelerate properly is important for their sport but more importantly it’s key to injury prevention. Teaching proper angles and breaking is more valuable than instruction on how to run in a straight line.  In most sports running a continuous straight line is rare beyond the 10 yard mark. With over 200,000 ACL injuries a year, excluding MCL/LCL injuries due to rapid or improper deceleration techniques, instruction on deceleration is critical.

There are 3 main ways we move as an athlete:

  1. Concentrically – to create acceleration and force production
  2. Isometric – to stabilize or balance
  3. Eccentric- to decelerate and decrease force production

The majority of sport’s performance programs focus heavily on the first 2 components. In contrast, few strength and conditioning coaches, or athletes, train the 3rd component, eccentric strength. There are two ways to train eccentric strength;  1. In the weight room, and 2. Actual cutting on the field.

Quality strength training incorporates a focus on eccentric strength through movement tempo. Tempo is a rarely trained element in most programming due to many factors. The main factor is time. Athletes have a tendency to want to get in and out of the weight room quickly. Training the eccentric strength portion of the lift is just as important as concentric strength. To train tempo you can start by adding that into your programming through the main accessory lifts. We tend to emphasize movement in the first phases of the program making athletes aware of what muscles are working and being affected. Our general tempo is a 3 second eccentric, followed by a 1 second pause, followed by moving the weight thought the concentric phase.

Regarding field deceleration requirements we concentrate on COD (Change of Direction) and the importance of learning how to stabilize and move with proper angels. This supports improved and safer athlete transition, decreasing the chances of knee injuries. There are multiple deceleration techniques.  Observation of field play in a controlled environment is optimal. We counsel on full speed movement deceleration cautiously gauging an athlete’s readiness closely. A lot of our work begins on the ladder with ickey shuffles – carefully watching ankle, knee and hip alignments. We check for full 3-point alignment and a readiness to push off. If good knee alignment is missing we work to remedy this through other training drills. When we address cutting, or COD, in our sessions we concentrate initially on linear or ‘straight ahead’ stops. We place a ladder 10 yards in front of an athlete and instruct them to run to the left of the ladder at about 75%, come to a complete stop and go into ickey shuffles, and then sprint out of the ladder. Watching an athlete in this environment at controlled speeds with an absence of angles is beneficial to spotting and correcting alignment issues. After the movement demonstrates sound mechanics we introduce drills which begin laterally and advance to linear patterns. This drill counters, or balances, the previous drill with a focus on the lateral component first and then a linear movement. We follow with lateral mini hurdles paused at the end, leaving the inside leg up and in, and the outside leg stabilized on the ground. This allows us to assess lateral deceleration. Focus on lateral deceleration links closely to injury prevention. Where linear breaking reveals potential angles impacting the knee. Once an athlete manages these drills demonstrating proper alignment we advance to a 3rd phase of deceleration which introduces cutting and movement. This will be highlighted in our next blog.

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Top 5 Mobility Stretches You Can Incorporate Right Now

Joint mobility is one of our foundations for training any athletes or non- athlete. Before we dive into what joint mobility is, we must define it. For strength and conditioning there is always confusion between joint mobility and flexibility. According to the NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association) Flexibility is a measure of range of motion and has a static (in place) and a dynamic (with movement) components. Static flexibility is the range of possible movement about a joint. Dynamic flexibility refers to the available range of motion during active movements and therefore requires voluntary muscular actions. Mobility, which is the movement about the joints. Mobility and flexibility work together during any warm up, today were going to look at the top 5 mobility exercises you can do right now.

  1. Ankle Mobility Stretch on the wall
  2. Kneeling Thoracic Spine Rotation
  3. Cook Squat
  4. Spider Stretch to Thoracic Rotation
  5. Knee Hug Drop Lunge to Rotation

 

  1. Ankle mobility Stretch on the Wall: Ankle mobility is important because this joint is the first thing we need to be flexible while moving. From sprinting to lunging the ankle is important to us. We need to have a flexible joint for proper movement in all planes to occur. If we have poor flexibility in the ankle, the body will accommodate and adjust. This may cause more harm then good, putting more athletes in a quad dominant state. That quad dominant state can lead to injuries. Immobilizing the ankle specifically with the wall, allows us to put the ankle through dorsiflexion range of motion, stretch out posterior muscles of the lower leg and finally prep the ankle for the dynamic warm up. Some coaching cues would be;
    1. Hands at chest height against the wall
    2. Chest tall
    3. Bend the front leg slightly keeping the heel on the ground
    4. The back leg is slightly bent
    5. Focus on the front leg getting the stretch not the back leg
    6. If the front leg can not keep the heel on the ground move closer to the wall
  2. Kneeling Thoracic Spine Rotational Stretch: The thoracic spine, which is the area of the vertebrae between the neck (cervical) and the lower back (lumbar vertebrae). There are 12 segments to this portion of the vertebrae. Why is the thoracic spine so important? Its primary job is rotation, flexion, extension and a place for the ribs to connect to protect our internal organs. For many sports that are upper rotational such as golf, baseball, hockey, volleyball and softball flexibility of the thoracic spine is very important. A lot of athletes believe we rotate with the lower back; this mistake leads to many injuries and does not allow the body to move in its natural and normal pattern. Creating great rotation in the thoracic spine will help the athlete increase shoulder strength, increase shoulder movement, decrease shoulder pain and help with overall sport specific movements. The thoracic stretch on the knees will isolate the thoracic spine and really focus on that set of joints. Some coaching cues are:
    1. Begin on all fours
    2. Back flat butt back
    3. Hand on the back of the head keeping the opposite arm locked out
    4. While the hand is on the head bring the elbow down to touch the opposite arm
    5. As you touch begin to bring the arm in rotation up to the sky keeping your hand on the head
    6. Do not force the movement go comfortably
    7. Rotate through the thoracic spine keeping lower back from moving and still in alignment.
  3. The Cook Squat: This squat was designed or named after Grey Cook one of the founders of the FMS, the screen we use for everyone that comes to us. The idea behind this squat is to work on the total body of movement in our basic patterns. The idea is to get great flexibility and mobility through the ankles, knees, hips, and thoracic spine, shoulders and put the muscles at work as well. We want the athlete to be able to perform this over time; the athlete usually does not perform this well at first and has to be cued properly for this to occur. Cues are as follows:
    1. Hands to the air deep breath
    2. Exhale come down and touch the toes, elbows inside the knees
    3. Keep chest tall toes able to wiggle
    4. But down
    5. One arm up, keep chest tall head straight
    6. Next arm up stay on the heels
    7. Stand up
  4. Spider Stretch to Thoracic rotation: The spider stretch is something that helps stretch out the ankle, hips, adductors and hamstrings. The stretch also incorporates a thoracic stretch at the top of the movement. As we do our dynamic warm up we want to make sure were going from basic to advanced. This stretch would be towards the end of the warm up. The cues would be as followed:
    1. Good lunge drop back leg into a straight line full extension that is comfortable
    2. Get the arm inside the knee, slightly press leg out
    3. Back flat, chest tall
    4. Take opposite arm and rotate, keeping in line with the body
    5. Bring arm back down, switch legs and repeat
  5. Knee Hug with Drop Lunge to Rotation: This movement is very high skilled and is placed just like the Spider Walk towards the end of the dynamic prep phase. We are utilizing a total body stretch from the ground up. We are trying to incorporate as many muscles as we can provide them with ROM in flexibility and mobility. Coaching cues are as follows:
    1. Bring the knee up to you, don’t grab the knee first
    2. Slightly pull below the knee and coming off of your foot slightly creating a full extension with the back leg
    3. Release the knee and drop down into a controlled lunge
    4. While in the lunge position keep the chest tall and rotate with the upper body towards the knee that is in the lunge position

Theses movements above create a great avenue for flexibility, mobility, strength, balance and a sense of body awareness. We are always trying to move better with every step. Everything we do as an athlete we must make sure it’s for a purpose of getting better. Stretching is one of the things that we have to work on and become more proficient at. Becoming more flexibly and mobile will allow you to move faster, cut quicker, have better body awareness and become stronger in the gym.

 

 

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Should We Specialize Our Youth Athletes?

There are many sport performance facilities in the United States as our field is one of the fastest growing in the world. It is no doubt that there are many who do sports performance great and some that just miss the point of training youth athletes. Ever since sports performance has become a big thing to do for athletes and parents, the question always has been asked, should you specialize your athlete? The answer for the majority is absolutely NOT!!

The reason for the NO is because the athlete you will get is your average youth. An athlete who may be fast, jump high, move quickly or is strong, but you hardly get the athlete that possesses all of that. You have to work on your weakness to become the best. Will you get an athlete that just plays baseball? Probably, that doesn’t mean you don’t train them in other aspects of movement. Just because he pitches does not mean you just work on throwing mechanics. He needs plyometric work, speed work, strength training and finally conditioning. Most of our youth athletes play multiple sports which, in turn is fantastic, but makes our job harder to program.

 

Benefits of specializing in youth sports performance would be very slim but here are some points of interest:

  • Increase movement pattern in a specific sport or position
  • Increase flexibility in a specific muscle or chain of muscles
  • Specific injury prevention
  • Ability to excel at that 1 sport

Negatives of specializing in youth sports performance for 1 sport:

  • Not overall flexible in muscle wise
  • Conditioning can suffer if wanting to transfer to another sport
  • Getting bored with the sport and training because they have to not because they want too
  • Not gaining overall injury prevention for all sports and play
  • Not experiencing other sports for fun
  • Strength suffers do to specificity of the sport

 

As you can see there are some positives for specialization in one sport, but you can also see the negatives far out way the positives. When dealing with the youth and sports we must remember they are kids first and foremost. We need to treat them as such and not train at 14 year old like a professional athlete. Will there be some instances that a “special” athlete comes along, of course we then have to plan things out with the athlete, the parent and of course our staff. Youth athletes should play multiple sports, train for general sports performance (speed, agility, power and strength) and have fun while doing it.

 

There is an old saying that you only have one shot to be an adolescent, lets give them that opportunity while still producing results in sports performance across the board, not just for one sport.