3 Factors That Go Into In-Season Training Programs

Introduction: As the spring season is right around the corner, we’re sending off a large amount of our athletes to the arena of competition. While our population of athletes training in season has grown tremendously over the years, we tirelessly educate our athletes on how important it is in the year-round training process. While we can delve into the science behind injury prevention and performance maintenance and progress during in-season training, we must answer the question that concerns every athlete and sometimes even prevents them from beginning in season training… “what is my program going to look like?” For starters, the primary focus of our in season training is to prescribe exercises, sets, and reps in a manner that is going to mitigate the overall volume on the athlete. Overall volume is taking into account minutes played, time and intensity at practice, amount of conditioning done at practice, as well as the intensity of the training that we are going to complete at Athletes Warehouse. Think about it like this…

The Formula Overall Volume = Amount of playing time in game + Practice duration and intensity + Conditioning executed at practice + Training Volume executed at AW. 

As the strength and conditioning coach we are only one factor in this athletes overall volume. We allow our workout to be flexible, moldable, and as adaptive as possible in regard to all the other factors that are going into the overall volume of the athlete. So this is where our programming becomes very specific and individualized to that athlete. Here are some of the major implications to how an athlete’s in season training program is formed.

What does the athlete enjoy? Arguably the most important factor in terms of mitigating emotional and mental fatigue. Even though this factor is not as definitive or scientific, if an athlete feels as though they are coming into the gym and needing to grind through exercises they don’t enjoy it is going to be way more taxing from a psychological standpoint. 

What is their sport? Preseason field sports such as lacrosse or soccer are essentially track practice with the amount of running volume. Preseason baseball or softball can be thought of more of a power event. For our lacrosse, basketball, soccer, football, field hockey, and other field athletes, we will most likely avoid any form of sprinting, jumping, or high impact eccentric exercises. These programs will be designed around preventative and rehabilitative exercises, and strength work that promotes maintenance of performance. For example, they will find themselves utilizing resistance bands, sleds, and Keiser equipment alongside main strength lifts (Squatting, Pressing, Lunging, Pulling) in a manner which limit the amount of soreness the athlete experiences while maintaining strength.

When we talk about in-season training for our large baseball and softball population, we are able to prescribe more intense sprinting, jumping, and lifting. While we are still trying to mitigate soreness, the goal of these in-season programs is to continually allow them to peak throughout the season. Because of the fact that these athletes are participating in a power sport (requiring quick expression of force) with the absence of large amounts of running and jump volume, we can prescribe a good amount of sprinting, jumping, and high weight/low volume (e.i. Heavy set of 3) to these athletes. With consistent in season training, we almost always see baseball and softball athletes setting new personal records in events such as the 10 yard dash, 40 yard dash, and broad jump. These increases in power measures are indicators that these athletes are continuing to peak performance.

Sets and reps. This can often be the most structured way to describe in season training and we cannot discuss the topic without this. As stated before we prescribe volume based on sport and fatigue of the athlete, which can often be very individualized and varied. However, some consistent rep schemes and mini workouts that we will utilize are the following: that an athlete will find themselves completing are somewhat based on the Westside/Conjugate dynamic effort schemes. Sets such as 10×2, 8×3, 6×4, allow the athlete to perform squat, press, deadlift, and lunge at weights that are relatively high in load and maintain a moderate total volume (i.e. 10 sets of 2 totals 20 total reps). We will also utilize bands and chains to emphasize the concentric phase of the lift at moments where the athlete are stronger (i.e. heavier at the top of the lift). These sets are less taxing as they reduce the time under load, as these sets are not going to require the athlete to be under a load for more than 15 seconds. 

Final Thoughts: The greatest benefit to in-season training is injury prevention. At the end of this discussion of sets, reps, peaking performance, and exercise selection, regardless of what you get out of in-season training, we always find athletes stay healthy through the season. It doesn’t matter how strong, powerful, or talented you are in your sport, if you are not healthy you cannot perform. 

4 Change of Direction Drills Valuable to the Lacrosse Athlete

As the spring lacrosse season is upon us, we are prepping hundreds of lacrosse athletes for their up-coming season. While our goal is to not mirror the exact game of lacrosse, we utilize these drills in order to break down specific technique involved in the game in a controlled setting.

You will notice when we talk about agility through this article, there is no mention of agility ladders or complicated/rehearsed drills that are commonly seen on social media. These drills emphasize power production and reduction in ground contact time in order to move the body faster from point A to point B. Along with building reaction time, that is the true transfer of agility onto the field.

Lateral Shuffle to a Crossover Reach.

In a lateral shuffle drill that can seem as basic as it can be, I noticed Coach Matt June making a very slight, yet critical adjustment in the hand placement of the athletes. Notice when performing this drill when reaching to touch the cone with the same side hand you can notice how easy it is for the athlete to get lazy with their position and simply bend over to touch the cone.

Notice now when performing this drill with a cross-body reach with the opposite side hand. The change that this makes in the athletes position is massively different, and the latter mirrors the position we would deem optimal for sport. By crossing the body it forces the athlete to hinge at the hips and rotate through the mid-back, all while maintaining their universal athletic stance (Universal Athletic Stance = stable and upright chest + knees slightly tracking out + weight on the center foot if not slightly on the toes). 

Shuffle to Vertical to Shuffle

This drill is highly effective for any sport where one must utilize fast lateral movement in both a defensive and offensive positions. For example, if we watch this drill in real time, we can see how the vertical jump allows the athlete time to gain proprioception of when their foot is going to hit the ground. This offers a platform for the athlete to begin to decrease their ground contact time after landing. 

Say when we ask an athlete to split dodge (Split Dodge = A basic movement of offensive attack in lacrosse), the athlete must have incredible awareness of when their foot is going to make contact with the ground so that they can accelerate themself in the opposite direction. Simply put this drill teaches an athlete how to be faster out of their dodge.

Figure-8 Variations

We have found figure 8 drills to be incredibly effective in simulating play around the crease for both offensive and defensive players.

Acceleration to 180 Turn Deceleration (Advanced)

I began utilizing this drill with many lacrosse athletes as I realized this foot work can expose an athlete at incredibly high sprint velocity. A drill like this must be progressed, however by training this movement pattern in a controlled environment we can prepare the athlete to absorb these forces in a way that will greatly reduce the risk of injury on the playing field. During transition play in lacrosse (When there is a change in possession and the ball is moving to the opposite end of the field) athletes will often hit their max velocity sprint speed, which is very rare in sports other than track. In this play athletes have upwards of 60 yards of open field to reach max velocity sprint speed. During this phase the athlete is generating their peak forces during sprinting. These athletes must then stop on a dime and turn a complete 180 degrees to drop into a defensive position. By forcing an athlete to complete this footwork in a shorter distance, we reduce the speed and therefore the forces that they can generate while approaching the turn. As we progress this drill the athlete will take longer distances between turns, allowing them to generate more speed.

Dr. Nick Serio on Special Strength Training For Pitchers

Last week Dr. Nick Serio dropped some knowledge bombs on Joel Smith’s, “Just Fly Performance Podcast.” (https://www.just-fly-sports.com/podcast-183-nick-serio/

In this podcast, Coach Nick goes into detail on how he has developed special strength training methods for rotational athletes, especially for the baseball pitcher. This podcast was PACKED with information. It is necessary for all athletes, parents, and coaches in the baseball community to listen to this. Nick shares his most informed methods in training the baseball athlete and specifically the pitcher. Today I attempt to break down the mass of information stated in this 52 minute podcast. Here were my major takeaways.

With the alarmingly high increase in baseball/pitching related injuries, especially at the youth and high school level, there are a number of factors at play.

  • The recruiting and showcase format is not advantageous to the athletes recovery.
  • The pitcher’s performance is becoming highly predicated on velocity, and therefore many are striving to achieve high velocity with very high risk training methods.
  • While a degree of specialization is necessary to develop the required skill sets to pitch at a high level, there must be a necessary time away from throwing. This time off of throwing should include special exercises related to baseball (more details on this further on). 

As professionals in any field that works with athletes, we must do a better job of illuminating new research to the athlete and parent.

  • Many old school methods no longer have a place in sports.
  • Far too often our population of athletes and parents will never see necessary research and methods in a way that is digestible to them. 
  • The more informed our population is, the more equipped they will be to make good decisions in sport.

“Specialization” has become a villainous term. 

  • While time away from baseball is important, the athlete can gain tremendous strides in their performance by focusing on specialized strength training.
  • With more access to strength and conditioning at the high school level, it is not necessary for athletes to search for “cross-training” of benefits by playing multiple sports. Strength and conditioning should become a season in the athletes yearly sport participation.
  • By implementing special strength training methods during the off-season, and simultaneously giving throwers a 4 month window away from throwing, it has been proven that we can increase performance and decrease the rate of throwing related injuries. 

Pitch count is irrelevant.

  • The baseball community must take into account multiple factors beyond pitch count when monitoring a pitcher’s throwing volume. This includes the amount of pitches during high pressure situations, as well as physical preparedness of the athlete. In short, just as we would not prescribe the same weight to all athletes in the gym, all athletes should not be prescribed to the same pitch count when throwing.
  • A more accurate test to monitor fatigue of the pitcher would be grip strength. Due to the necessary force absorption capacity of the forearm and hand flexor group, monitoring this fatigue directly may be a better method to predicting overuse.

As coaches, we can give athletes a very accurate depiction of where their progress is solely by evaluating certain foundational movements.

  • SIMPLE, SIMPLE, SIMPLE when working with youth athletes.
  • The Overhead squat will tell us a tremendous amount of about everything from ankle mobility, to hip rotation capacity, to thoracic spine function, as well as arguably the most important for this population, how their shoulder functions in an applicable way under load and challenged position.
  • The Bear Crawl exposes cross-body coordination, as well as challenging the midline strength of the athlete. This movement has become crucial in return to sport from labral surgery, as it allows the athlete a controlled, yet dynamic way to load the shoulder joint.
  • The Reverse Lunge has become one of the greatest transfer strength exercises to throwing. Those who are able to increase their reverse lunge strength almost always are going to throw a baseball more effectively.
  • Finally, those that throw a baseball well also tend to sprint and run very well. 

We need to emphasize the importance of athlete screening and implementation of corrective exercises.

  • Our evaluation process begins with the belief that not all postural based dysfunction leads to movement based dysfunction.
  • Contrary to the old school belief that baseball players should not go overhead, we are constantly striving to improve the scapular and shoulder function through movements that get the athlete into the overhead position. (One of Nick’s favorites is the Landmine Press)

During the 4 month window away from throwing, throwers will partake in a very specialized medicine ball strength program that allows the athlete to improve sequencing of the actual action of throwing a baseball. (All of which can be found on the Athletes Warehouse movement library:

  • Through a progression of phases, we allow the athlete to be incredibly aggressive in their throwing actions.
  • While the drills may mirror the action of throwing, the athlete is able to disassociate from throwing a ball while still working on sequencing and power production.

There must be a massive focus on the front/blocking leg in rotational sports

  • Across the board, when looking at high velocity throwers, there is a common theme of a stiff front side after the front leg hits the ground.
  • In order for the thrower to do this, they must require a large amount of strength on the front leg. We will often take athletes through drills like single leg drop jumps to increase their eccentric capacity.
  • Forcing an athlete to land on an elevated surface on during medicine ball throws, we can force the athlete to generate force sooner, which in turn will allow them to create a stiffer front side.

If you are a baseball athlete in the New York City or Westchester area and you are not training under Coach Nick, you are doing yourself a massive injustice. He has maximized the potential of so many baseball players in this area. From the most elite recruits, to those just trying to make a high school team, this program has proven to succeed with athletes time and time again. Drop the ego, and hand over the reigns to Dr. Nick. 

Characteristics of Successful AW Athletes

Success in athletics is often defined by accolades, verbal commitments, or recruiting status. I want the reader (whether you’re a parent, athlete, or coach) to take a moment to reflect on how powerful an impact sports has had on their Athlete’s development. Athletics had a profound impact on shaping me as an athlete. They transformed me into the person I am today. At Athlete Warehouse, we pride ourselves on developing youth athletes into the greatest physical performers that they can possibly be, however success in our facility is not solely predicated athletic performance. As a former AW athlete and now AW Coach, I want to share my reflections on how I’ve seen success manifest itself in those who call themselves a part of team AW.


Training during this time of year is my favorite of all the seasons. It’s an opportunity we have to work with our new greenhorn high school athletes and our veteran college athletes at the same time. As we train our elite college athletes in awe of their physical feats, academic performances, and professional success, I often forget about where they came from. They were once those same inexperienced high school athletes. I find myself so impressed by their college majors, the jobs they are pursuing, or their athletic success that I forget about the children they once were. As we begin to impact more and more youth athletes each year, we are gaining new light on the impact our training environment has on the success of so many young athletes.

So during these two weeks where I have the ability to train both our newest high school athletes alongside our veteran college athletes, I can begin to pinpoint characteristics in both populations that are indicators for success. Here are the three that resonated most with me.

CONSISTENCY: Consistency is something that will undoubtedly drive a student athlete to success. This is one of the most important lessons that can be learned through training and carried over to other areas of life. It will show an athlete of any talent level, that relentless and unwavering effort will breed success in spite of external circumstances. Training is one of the few activities in life that we have total control over. There is no teacher’s opinion grading your performance and effort. At the end of a training cycle, your success is solely based on the relentless effort you put forth. The timer, weight on the bar, or the number on the scale does not have an opinion, it solely tells you the way it is. Many times, this is the first exposure a student athlete may have to evaluating their own effort and consistency in the absence of any external factors.

POSITIVITY: regardless of an athlete’s goals, the believe that one is in an upward trajectory in their life is critical. One of Coach Cassie’s biggest pet-peeves is negative self talk. An athlete doesn’t experience the immediate feedback of a negative mindset, it just slowly breaks them down and then slowly begins to leak into other areas of their life beyond sport. Whether a negative outlook is triggered by a team coach, a professor/teacher, or a social situation, we must encourage our athletes to find positive outlooks on situations that are out of their control. Athlete’s who are able to do this rarely find themselves in a training rut or hitting a performance plateau. They find enjoyment out of the process and therefore and pulled to their goals rather than pushing towards them.

IDENTIFICATION: At the moment where an athlete finds themselves breaking through their ego, is the moment when they will find themselves maximize the benefits to training at Athletes Warehouse. As humans, we are innately pack animals. We thrive in groups and this is something that we have lost in a world that is about “me” rather than “us”.  Identifying oneself with a highly motivated group is rare in this world. All athletes experience this at different times, but this was one of the greatest benefits I found to training at AW during my time in college lacrosse. 

I have felt and witnessed the impact that training at Athletes Warehouse can have from both an athlete and coach’s perspective. As I witness our experienced athletes train alongside our new athletes, I see both the short and long term effects of success in our facility. Going well beyond sport, facilitating this process is the greatest part of working with the student athlete. Through this blog post, I hope to shed light on how impactful sport and the training process can be in facilitating success in whatever the student-athlete chooses to pursue.

Three Ways We Utilize Isometrics at Athletes Warehouse

By Stephen Portee

When a new athlete enters our doors, regardless of previous training experience, they can find themselves executing Isometric exercise variations to some extent. In turn, this allows the athlete to spend time in very specific positions of a movement. We also utilize isometrics (in a somewhat different, but similar way) with some of our most elite athletes for a wide variety of benefits that they provide. Here is an article defining an isometric contraction as well as details of the many benefits we find by utilizing these exercises for every athlete, no matter of training experience.

Intro 

Muscle contractions can be simply broken down into two different phases or types. Isotonic contractions involve muscular contractions with changes in the length of the muscle. The word isotonic indicating iso=same tonic=tone. During these types of contractions one can see both shortening (concentric) and lengthening (eccentric) of the muscle fiber. Isometric contractions are muscular contractions without changes in the muscle length. When training Isometrics, it allows us to challenge very specific positions of exercises or sports.

Before going into more detail, we must first distinguish two very important types of Isometrics. Overcoming isometrics involve applying maximal force to an immovable object (think trying to push into a building wall), while yielding isometrics involve holding a load at a specific position with the goal of resisting eccentric forces (examples of this would be holding oneself at the top of a pull up bar, or holding the bottom of a squat position). Overcoming isometrics involve recruiting the maximal amount of muscle fibers and involve a higher level of neurological demand. They are generally performed for short durations and are closely related to strength and power potential. I generally utilize overcoming isometrics with more experienced athletes who are preparing for a power and peaking phase of their training program. 

1) Yielding isometrics are closely related to eccentric strength and are less neurologically demanding so they can be held for longer periods of time. Yielding isometrics can be used to teach proper technique/positions to beginner athletes with low training ages with minimal risk. Positional holds can be mentally and physically challenging, and gives the beginner athlete a modality where they can push to a great deal of exhaustion without the risk of high loads or complex movements that they are not prepared for. It allows me to prepare a beginner athlete both mentally and physically for higher volume training, as they are going to experience immediate fatigue, but will not experience extreme soreness in the days to come following their training session. Muscular soreness is generally caused by breakdown of muscle tissue during exercise. Isotonic exercises involve repeated changes in muscle length which lead to a greater amount of tissue breakdown. Isometric exercises generate maximal muscular contractions without the constant deformation of the tissue. Minimal tissue distortion leads to less tissue breakdown, which in turn prevents soreness. This is a very important concept when dealing with new athletes.

2) Yielding isometrics can also be utilized to train the Amortization phase of HIGHLY skilled and trained athletes. We train the amortization phase of movements to help to teach the athletes to absorb and transfer of force properly through the body. Imagine an athlete performing an overhead toss with a medicine ball. They will use what we call the “stretch shortening cycle” to stretch and load the muscle tissues then rapidly shorten and contract to produce force to throw the medicine ball as high as they can. Our objective in training the amortization phase of movement is to maximize that transfer of energy from the Stretch (Eccentric) to Shortening (Concentric) muscle action with maximal control. 

3) Finally, I utilize isometric exercises at end ranges of motion, in order to create strength and stability through positions that lack active range of motion. Our bodies are capable of both active range of motion, defined as using muscular contraction to achieve positions (hip flexion), and passive range of motion, think static stretching. End range isometrics involve setting your position to the highest point then creating a concentric muscular contraction in attempt to go further into that range of motion. For example, if we take a general hamstring stretch where we will have the athlete lay supine (on their back), and use a band to pull their leg up into hip flexion (INSERT PICTURE), it’s commonly thought that this end range position is the weakest for that hamstring group. Now, if we take the hamstring to that same end range and then force the muscle to create an effortful isometric contraction, we can begin to build strength through the muscle’s weakest point.

5 Introductory ISOMETRICS that we utilize in on-boarding programs

There are a variety of educational exercises that we use in our onboarding program for athletes. Each exercise is used to teach proper positioning and muscle activation. We start with these exercises because they are easily coachable and display minimal risk to the athletes. All of these exercises generally begin with no external load, then as the athlete progresses and acclimates to training we can apply load. 

Isometric Squat

Isometric Deadbug

Isometric Glute Bridge or Hip Thruster

Isometric Lunge

Pushup Plus Plank

5 Elite Level ISOMETRICS that we utilize in Specific training phases of high level athletes.

Pin Hold Deadlift

Split Stance Unilateral Load Drop Landings

Copenhagen Plank

Long Duration Loaded Iso Lunge holds

Loaded Chin Up Isometric Holds

Two Major Improvements I can expect in my sport after doing a phase of Isometrics

  1. Increased strength and stability in less mechanically advantageous positions
  2. Increased muscular work capacity and rate of force development during athletic movements.

Concluding 

There are many applications for the use of isometrics in an athletes training program. We use them as tools of education, physical and neurological prep for a heavy lift, and ways to increase strength and stability in difficult positions. For the in season athlete, isometrics are a way we can still train hard without the same level of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that might occur with general isotonic training. End range isometric contractions are used to increase both muscular strength and range of motion.

5 Ways to Utilize The 10 Yard Dash in Evaluating Athletes

By Coach Matt June

OVERVIEW

The majority of field athletes play a sport that requires them to accelerate quickly over a short distance. This alone is a reason enough for us to test a 10 yard dash. During the assessment of athletes, we have found benefit in utilizing the 10 yard dash for every type of athlete that enters the facility. 

-In a very short period of time, a 10 yard dash test will simply tell me if this athlete is fast or not. That’s for starters. I’ve found the 10 yard dash is a fantastic tool to expose technique, for good or bad. Looking at how an athlete attacks their first 3 steps can showcase the game speed of the athlete.

-In more detail, our 10 yard dash test is used beyond a metric of speed. Often times we utilize the test as a day to day measure of training preparedness. Done on our laser timing systems, we can get an objective measure to determine the recovery level of the athlete from previous training days. 

-From a safety standpoint, the 10 yard dash is one of the safest forms of sprint training you can be doing.  Once an athlete starts getting near max velocity, they run a greater risk for injury. Rarely do I see someone get a sprint related injury in the first 10 yards.

-Finally, Let’s also not forget about the general concept of a young athlete simply having fun, running fast and getting their time.  This goes a long way and the training intent increases when you start timing sprints.  

1: Are you fast or not

During assessment of athletes, we have found benefit in utilizing the 10 yard dash from youth to professional. In a very short period of time, a 10 yard dash test will simply tell me if this athlete is fast or not. That’s for starters. 

2: Tests Daily Preparedness of the Athlete

Often times I will have athletes perform a series of 10 yard sprints immediately following their warmup. This is a tool that I use to assess how prepared this athlete is to train that day. Major decreases in 10 yard sprint time will show me that an athlete may not be prepared to train at a high intensity that day. More importantly, if an athlete is consistently getting lower and lower times on a daily 10 yard sprint test, it may be time to adjust program volume and intensity and explore recovery and lifestyle strategies that they athlete may be struggling to implement.

3: A Functional Assessment tool

By watching an athlete run multiple 10 yard sprints we can get a pretty accurate idea of what TYPE of athlete they are. Are they elastic or muscle dominant? In short, elastic dominant athletes utilize stretch in fascia and connective tissue to produce force. Muscle dominant athletes utilize the contractile properties of the muscle itself to produce force. While both types of athletes may in fact run the same 10 yard dash time, a trained coach can see and hear the difference in the type of contact the athlete’s foot makes with the ground. This tells us how we will likely have to train them in the weight room. For example, an elastic dominant athlete might not need a large volume of plyometrics in their program where as a muscle dominant athlete might benefit greatly to an increased volume of jumps and plyometrics in their training.

4: A Personality Assessment Tool

What KIND of athlete are we training.  Regardless of age or training experience, we see a broad range of competitive expression when athletes perform a sprint test. I can identify the ego-oriented competitor, who may be overly concerned with another athlete’s time in relation to theirs. On the other hand, we have the confident competitors, who regardless of anyone around them they are on a mission to breaking their previous times. Lastly, I can identify the non-competitors, and more specifically, the nervous competitors. These athletes are those who generally fear failure and therefore don’t invest emotional energy into the task.  Regardless of the type of competitor, it is critical to time every 10 yard sprint to allow the athlete feedback in the intent they are eliciting every rep. In those who may shy away from being evaluated, it is important that the coach implements specialty exercises to allow the athlete to increase their acceleration ability. 

5: Answers the Important Questions

From a technique standpoint, the 10 yard dash is going to show me how this athlete accelerates. Are they standing tall, short, hunched over? How is their head position? What do their arms look like?  Are they moving too much side to side? Is their foot getting underneath them? What does their shin angle look like? How is their foot striking the ground? All of this happens in 8-12 steps. For many of our field athletes, this is sometimes all I need to see to assess whether or not this athlete is running with the proper technique that will allow them to maximize their speed potential.

Five Drills that Can Help Improve My 10 yard Dash

1. Bounding 

2. First three steps through low hurdles (working on foot placement shin/torso angle) 

3. Hill Sprints 

4. Resisted Sled Sprinting 

5. Barefoot Sprinting


Concluding thoughts

With so many different metrics being tested on athletes with incredible new technology, do we really know if any of these tests are answering the major question… Does the measurement have transfer to the field of competition? The 10 yard sprint is a simple test that I have utilized with all athletes in providing objective information in evaluating an athlete. From tracking speed and acceleration, to determining the functional and psychological predisposition of the athlete. More and more professionals in our field work tirelessly to create amazing, in-depth movement screenings, however my message to leave the reader with is to not forget about the simple tool of putting an athlete on the starting line. 

Teaching Agility and Game Speed

Game speed is an abstract concept. Sometimes athletes who are slow on the track appear as though they have a totally different gear on the field. For a long time, coaches struggled with this concept. They would often say, “That kid just has that type of speed you can’t teach,” or “That’s natural born speed.” But what is it about these athletes that makes them appear so fast on the field, when on a timer they are not nearly as impressive? This type of speed is called agility, and it is something that has been attempted to be taught through the use of speed ladders and complicated rhythmic drills. In Athletes Warehouse, we have the answer to unlocking agility, and it is no longer something that can’t be taught.

Agility is the ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction in any combination. However, we have found the number one determinant of agility to be reactive ability. This can explain how someone is able to continually gain a step on a defender who has faster acceleration times on the track. Once we determined that reaction determines agility, agility in game speed no longer becomes a skill that can’t be taught. In fact it can be taught very easily to athletes who are exposed to a specific training progression at a young age.

Agility drills that require the athlete to memorize and in-grain patterns into their memory fail to transfer to the requirements of sport. For example, if I’m a lacrosse defender and an offensive player is attempting to go 1-on-1 with me to the goal, there is no time for my mind to operate in a rhythmic order like a speed ladder drill. My subconscious mind is going act on the first hint of body language the offensive player gives away. Sports are chaotic, and therefore there are moments when we must train in chaos.

When we look at sports in terms of reaction to chaos, we realize how simple it can be to mirror this in training. No athlete should be in an agility drill by themselves because no athlete is on the field by themselves. Every action performed on a field is in response to another person. Utilizing a partner in our agility drills allows our athletes to accumulate repetitions reading another person’s body language. Even the best athletes will naturally express body language that will expose the direction they intend to move. When we progress athletes through a series of reactive agility drills they begin to become more efficient at reading their opponents.

Best Exercise to Improve Sprint Times

As coaches, we are constantly formulating and implementing new drills and exercises in an effort to increase the speed potential of our athletes. New and creative exercises expose our athletes to a broad range of movement patterns. This is important for overall athletic development. However, no matter the age, experience level, or sport, we are continually implementing sled pulling into our programs as we have found it to be one of the most powerful exercises in increasing sprint speed. It has become a requirement of our programs for those who are looking to increase speed.

Upon implementing our sled program, we have seen athletes show improvements in 20 yard and 40 yard dash times by up to 1/4 of a second in as little as 5 sessions. This is a drastic increase in speed. We have taken countless athletes through this protocol and have found these results to be consistent no matter how long the athlete has been training. As our program adjusts for age and body weight of the athlete, it can be completed by an athlete of any age or training status.

The sled works in a very unique way to strengthen musculature necessary for sprint. It is the most effective tool we utilize to improve backside drive as well as hip and posterior chain strength. It is a unique apparatus as the resistance never leaves the ground, and therefore becomes one of the safest exercises that a young athlete can do. When they are fatigued or their technique breaks down, the sled simply stops moving and there is no worry about an external load on the athlete.

If you are an athlete looking to developing speed in a completely unique way, reach out to our front desk by contacting team@athleteswarehouse.com. Our team of coaches is excited to share our secrets of speed with you.

Pain Management Guide For Athletes: By Coach Matt June

Coach Matt was a multisport athlete at Colonie High School in Albany, NY. He played Football, Basketball, Track, and Baseball. In college Matt studied Kinesiology and played second base for SUNY Cortland. He was a four year starter and two time captain.  He has some really good insight into pain management as an athlete. In this article goes into detail on how he believes there is a difference between discomfort and injury. Coach Matt states how discomfort is a part of sport and if he only participated when he felt 100%, he would have missed out on many opportunities to play.

The science of pain is not entirely understood. Regardless of how much research is done in the area, we’ve had trouble quantifying pain as something that is consistent across the human population. While pain manifests itself in the physical body, no two people experience it in the same way. This leads professionals to believe that much of pain management is associated with the mind. This is a theory that could potentially explain why some people experience identical dysfunction in completely different ways; and why some people may be able to play through certain discomfort that others can not.

Looking back, I have a very unique perspective on playing through some of my injuries. If I knew what I knew then… what I know now… I may not have played through certain things. However, being raised the way I was, pain was never automatically perceived as a threat. Growing up I was taught that pain was a part of sport. It was certainly not glorified, but it was simply part of the game. Only 2% of all college students have the opportunity to call themselves an NCAA athlete. Along with much of the hard work and time necessary to developing skills, often times one must pay the price of being in pain to consider themselves an athlete. As an athlete, as far as I was concerned pain is just part of the game.

Understanding the difference between discomfort and injury is a very important tool I used throughout my career. As a coach, I am a witness to a lot of athletes who are very quick to perceive their pain as an injury. We play sports in an era where athletes have tremendous ease of access to imaging technology, and therefore have a heightened focus on their internal structures which can create heightened symptomatology. No matter the athlete, we all have some degree of internal fear of injury. We identify with our sports and even just the fear of losing it due to injury can be debilitating in itself. In my experience, sometimes the more you know, the worse your symptoms. In college I remember having a relatively painful groin pull. While it was definitely a nagging injury, my approach was taking it day to day, rather than rushing to seek an immediate conclusion. If I only took the field when I was feeling 100%, I would never had the opportunity to play.

My advice to athletes is to always have the right healthcare resources available, however don’t be so quick to perceive your discomfort as an injury. Pain is a part of sports. It is incredibly important to check in with your body often, observing how you feel on a day to day basis. Understand that sports are taxing on the human body and each day you may feel different, but don’t be quick to judge it as an injury. At the beginning of the season you may feel 100%. It is very important to not believe this will be the case for the remainder of the season and therefore, check into your body regularly.

SATELLITE TRAINING

Satellite training is a service we offer to give athletes the chance to experience the Athletes Warehouse culture and training philosophy without having to physically come to our facility. In a perfect world, we would want everyone across the country to have the opportunity to be present in AW. Satellite training is an incredible option for athletes around the world to experience what Athletes Warehouse is all about.

A commonality between training in the facility vs. training satellite style is how customized the program is. This is beneficial to satellite athletes as the program can be tailored towards whatever equipment they have access to. We’ve had satellite athletes who have access to some of the top collegiate facilities in the country, as well as those who have had no equipment but a track and a set of resistance bands. There are so many creative ways our team of coaches can help an athlete achieve their performance goals.

Satellite training happens on the athlete’s time, and therefore we find great benefit in the number of training sessions an athlete can accumulate in a given week. With many commitments in an athlete’s schedule, we understand that it is not always easy to physically be in Athletes Warehouse more than 2-3x per week. Eventually, training even just 2-3 times per week is not going to be sufficient to push an athlete to elite status. We encourage many of our in-house athletes to take advantage of this service, as it can give an athlete supplemental training on days they are not physically in our facility. This can allow an athlete to realistically accumulate upwards of five to six training days per week.

For athlete’s who are currently training in Athletes Warehouse, beginning satellite training is simple. You can start by addressing interest with your primary coach. You and your coach can then discuss a program design to be completed outside of the facility. Your coach will adjust your program so that more complex and technical training will be completed with a coach’s eyes on you. Supplemental work can fill in the gaps in accordance with what type of equipment you have outside of the gym. This truly is the best way to maximize your training at Athletes Warehouse.

For athlete’s who do not currently train in Athletes Warehouse, there are several ways in which we can get started. First, we do an initial consultation and movement screening. Just like any of our athletes in the facility, we cannot begin to write a program for you if we do not take time to get to know you and how you move. For athletes who are within range, we encourage you to be in person for your initial consultation, where an athlete can talk with a coach about goals. The coach can put them through an in-person movement assessment. For those unable to be present in the facility, we can perform an initial consultation entirely via Skype or FaceTime. After the program is designed, athletes have total access to our video library, where each movement they are prescribed is demonstrated by one of our coaches. Utilization of video conference calls allow open communication between the athlete and the coach throughout their training process. Programs also encompass a large amount of testing and logging which allows the coach to track the progress of the athlete day to day. Satellite training is an amazing way to take a little piece of Athletes Warehouse everywhere you go. Not just do you receive a superior training program, but you have personal access to top coaches in the industry. If you are looking to take your training to the next level, reach out to team@athleteswarehouse.com to get started with you satellite training experience power by Athletes Warehouse.

THIRD PLACE

Many of us have come to know Athletes Warehouse as a sanctuary. Whatever your reason for coming, it’s safe to say that many of our athletes find assurance and safety coming through the doors. By allowing our athletes to feel such a level of comfort, we maximize what we get out of them. We break down the barriers pertaining to the stress of beginning off-season training for the first time, or potentially the last time. No matter what stage of an athlete’s career, this facility has become more than just a gym to so many. It has become a “third place.”

A third place refers to a third area in the student athlete’s life where they will find sanctuary. Creating such a sanctuary where athletes can come to improve themselves in so many different facets of life is an incredible way to maximize the potential of a young individual.

I have essentially grown up in Athletes Warehouse. As first an athlete and now as a coach. This facility has become a home to me. I can remember as an athlete, coming home from college, my first stop was my house to drop my bags off, my next stop was Athletes Warehouse for a training session. The coaches here became role models to me. I looked up to Nick, Matt, and Cassie. As a coach, it is my responsibility to create this environment for every athlete that walks into our building because I can reflect on how powerful an impact this facility had on my life.

When an athlete feels as though the training environment is their third place, it creates a motivation that is so purely intrinsic in the athlete. I am incredibly grateful that I had the ability to experience this as an athlete. It has given me a totally different perspective on how I treat my athletes to this day. Each athlete may have severely different reasons for training. Each athlete may have a different motivation for coming and some may even find trouble motivating themselves to walk in the building. Regardless, the team of coaches here at Athletes Warehouse have this incredible ability of making every athlete feel at home in the facility. I have experienced this, felt it change me as an athlete, and seen it change athletes each day as they come through the building.

In a society of sports that is so hierarchical where we program our athletes to respond to authority, it is so refreshing to be in an environment where a young athlete responds to a figure they truly trust and respect, rather than fear. Know that everyday the athlete walks in the building, a coach is greeting them with the utmost effort of developing a true and honest relationship with them. This is what creates a “third place”, a “safe haven”, a “second home”, for the athlete. This is merely one of the reasons that makes athletes warehouse special and why we will continue to produce phenomenal athletes.

Stay Strong,

Coach Jack

WHY WE FOCUS ON MOVEMENT PATTERNS BEFORE MAX EFFORT

Say you just bought a used car that you planned on fixing up as a weekend project. The car needs a ton of work. Regardless of your experience, intuitively, you may begin with getting the engine to run, change the brakes out, and change the tires. What you wouldn’t do is go directly to adding a turbo to the engine that doesn’t quite run yet. What we can come to realize from this article is that strength and conditioning can be thought of in a very similar way to working on a vehicle.

On “Just Fly Sports Performance Podcast”, I listened to Joel Smith interview French performance coach Jerome Simian on how he built a world record holding decathlete. There was one section of the interview where Jerome notes his viewpoint on how he is able to increase performance through movement rather than through strength and power maxes. While he would agree, there is a time and place for heavy strength lifts, I thought it was a fantastic point made that we can increase the performance of the athlete through creating better movement patterns. This can be thought of like the car mechanic. If we pursue max effort strength movements before addressing competent movement patterns, it’s as if we are increasing the horsepower of the engine while driving on bad brakes and tires. In both the human and the car, the expression of the engine’s horsepower must be facilitated by a structure that is optimal. If structure and movement is not addressed first, we are giving an athlete an engine that is way too powerful for what their frame can handle. This is how countless injuries occur in even the best athletes. Even for an athlete in a strength based training program, we must continually come back to movement focused work; just as we would bring our car in for an oil change and inspection from time to time.

Just yesterday on the training floor, Coach Matt was breaking down a lateral shuffle technique with one of our highest level athletes. I noticed him quietly observe the movement patterns of the athlete’s lower body and feet. I asked him what he was looking for. He noted how he did not like how this athlete was stacking their trail leg during a lateral shuffle as they went to change direction. He felt it placed the athlete in a compromised position. What they did was break down the movement into simple holds, allowing the athlete to feel the exact adjustment that they both agreed that her body should be in. Even though this was a very high level athlete, they struggled in making an adjustment to correctly aligning her body. I couldn’t help but think what a catch this was by Coach Matt. With the naked eye he was able to notice just the slightest leak in positioning of the athletes lower body during a high speed lateral shuffle.

Whether we admit it or not, many humans have this innate belief that more is better. Oftenly in the strength and conditioning field we fall into this trap of trying to squeeze more speed, more power, and more strength out of our athletes. After all, we call ourselves performance coaches. How can we know if we increase performance without a quantitative number to tell us that we are improving? The adjustment Matt made to his athlete’s lateral technique was more beneficial than any pro agility (a baseline agility test commonly used by strength and conditioning professionals) or sprint time. He facilitated a technique that increased the integrity of this athlete’s frame, allowing massive room for the addition of more horsepower. Like I said before, adding horsepower to a car that is out of alignment, is a recipe to end up back in the mechanics shop. When people come into our facility for the first time, this is not always what they want to hear. Most people come to us and say “I want to get faster”, “I want to build strength”, “I want to increase my agility”. Regardless of the athlete’s goal, it must be initiated with fantastic movement patterns. In turn we will develop a machine that runs reliably, efficiently, and will have a tremendous amount of room for after-market additions.