It’s that time of year again. Winter is officially upon us. Although the leaves have not fully vacated the trees and there is no sight of snow for (hopefully) a long time, the winter season at Athletes Warehouse started last week. This point of the year is marked by time our teams begin training with us. Our turf is usually packed from 3pm – 9pm and our gym is filled with hungry individuals who truly understand that in order to transform their game in the spring, the hard work and dedication begins now.
For each week of the winter we as coaches will be highlighting various individuals or teams, coaching concepts, or answering questions from our athletes in an attempt to engage conversation among other professionals in the field of strength and conditioning, parents, and or other athletes themselves. We will be keeping a more conversational vernacular in an effort to evoke responses and discussions.
So, without further ado, I present to you our first Coaching Chronicle Article:
Progressing The Athlete Through Movement
Our graphic of the week highlights our movement progression triangle that shows our considerations when coaching an athlete in the weight room through strength development, speed, change of direction, and power. This is our ultimate goal with every athlete that walks in the building:
The foundation of our triangle is POSITION. With this, we ask ourselves, “Is the athlete capable of achieving the positioning they need to in order to complete the exercise/movement?” This could be a structural issue or a competency issue. Either way, we are looking for the limiting factors of the human system. Once the athlete is capable of achieving the correct positioning, we ask ourselves, “Can this athlete move properly from position A to position B?” For example: The athlete may understand what they need to look like at the bottom of the squat but in order to get to the that position they load their knees first and then shift back into their hips. The movement from position A to position B is flawed thus our focus needs to be on progressing the proper movement pattern and teaching the brain how to tell the body how to move. Next, is speed. Everyone loves to talk about speed and how fast an athlete can move however, when we think of speed with this triangle we think of slow motion. In order to enhance our first two bases of the triangle, positioning and movement, we need to first tempo the movement. For example: We will require an athlete to take 10 seconds to get to the bottom of the squat. Then we will make them hold that position for 5 seconds before taking another 5-10 seconds to return to the start position. This is important because it gives us as coaches an opportunity to better see how the athlete moves and on top of that, the athlete will begin to learn their movement as well! Lastly, is load. So many times strength and conditioning is associated with adding a barbell with a ton of weight. This is our last consideration when working with a youth athlete. Unfortunately, many professionals in the field interpret training an athlete as this triangle flipped upside down with the weight being the most important thing. Remember, it is not how much weight you move it is how you move the weight that matters the most!
One of the most difficult things to do with our winter sessions is to decide on our evaluation protocol for each athlete, group, and team. Here are our concerns with looking at which tests to complete:
How many sessions will this team be coming for? 8, 12, 16 weeks?
How many times per week will the team be coming?
With keeping the first two questions in mind, how committed are the athletes?
This third one is important. If we have a 12 week program where the athletes are scheduled to come 2 times per week, that is a total of 24 sessions to get better. Improvement during that time frame should be tremendous! However, we have athletes who unfortunately won’t come but once every two weeks. If we have an entire team with this type of commitment and attendance it will severely alter our standards for evaluation protocol. Sometimes, our evaluation protocol for our younger population is just filming them perform a basic movement screening. Their technique and awareness of how they squat, lunge, jump, and run will be changed the most – factors that may not show up on a pro-agility test when working with a 10 year old.
What are the demands of the sport?
A 40 yard dash makes a lot more sense to test with our lacrosse athletes than it does our softball athletes. Should we radar gun our pitching group? Should we radar the shot of our lacrosse boys? Should we use bat metrics for any of our baseball or softball hitters when they swing? Are we becoming too goal oriented instead of process oriented with these? Is it safe to ever do a 1RM? Is it safer or more putting the athlete at a higher risk to do a 3RM or 5RM? Our goal is to still steer toward the realm of strength and conditioning while still being able to add the sport specific touch necessary for our more elite athletes. We also want to foster a strong and resilient mental game that is focused on improving themselves in the process opposed to just focusing on the numbers during evaluations.
How will we store and track the data we get from these athletes?
Keeping all of the information in one place for 800 athletes per week when you have 5 coaches can be a gigantic task. Fortunately for us, there are softwares like TrainHeroic that we have been utilizing and loving. We’ve tried out various softwares and yes, even tried to make our own, but TrainHeroic has been the most user friendly and detail oriented program we’ve found. They are made by people that get strength and conditioning and that helps a ton.
We’d love to hear your feedback. Feel free to comment on the types of evaluations you run for your athletes, how you determine which tests to run with them and if you have any other data collection techniques that work well!
See you guys next week,