Improve Speed and Agility with These Drills

14 Sep

hqdefault[1]Here are two variations of a speed and agility drill we use with the athletes who train at our facility.  Both iterations of this drill focus on acceleration, deceleration, change of direction, and foot speed.

Sprint/Lateral Slalom-Shuffle Drill

In this drill, our athletes start with a five-yard sprint; lateral (side-to-side) slalom-shuffle five yards (cones placed one yard apart); sprint five yards; lateral slalom-shuffle five yards; and finish with a five yard sprint.

Sprint/Linear Slalom-Shuffle Drill

In this drill, our athletes start with a five-yard sprint; linear (forward-backward) slalom-shuffle five yards (cones placed one yard apart); sprint five yards; linear slalom-shuffle five yards; and finish with a five yard sprint.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Eat Clean, Get Lean, Feel Great

7 Sep

50-clean-eating-superfoods-[1]Eating clean isn’t about being extreme or fanatical about the foods you eat.  It’s about making better choices and realizing that moderation is the key.

Eating clean means opting for more of the foods we know are good for us — whole grains, leans meats, fruits, vegetables, and good fats (the kind that come from nuts and seeds) — and less of the stuff we know is not so good — processed foods, sugar, sodium, and bad fats (for example, trans fats).

Here are some basic rules for eating clean:

Stick with the Basics

The closer foods are to their natural states, the better.  That means unsalted, without added sugar, grass-fed, free-range, meats, and whole fruits and vegetables.  Add more “real” food to your diet, and improve your overall health.

Beware of Boxes and Cans

Most foods that come in a box, and many that come in cans, are processed in some way.  They either add “bad” stuff or strip away “good” stuff.  As a rule, the closer a food is to its original form, the better it is for you.

Be a Label Checker

Try to spend a little time reading the ingredient lists of the foods you and your family eat.  Generally, the healthiest foods contain the fewest ingredients.  If you can’t pronounce an ingredient, don’t eat it.

Avoid Bad Ingredients

Trans fats, food coloring and dyes, artificial sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup, and nitrates and nitrites have been linked with everything from heart attacks and strokes to tumors and certain cancers.  Steer clear of foods that contain these ingredients.

Be a Smart(er) Shopper

Foods that are low in sugar and fat, and high in fiber, are great choices as meals and snacks.  Add to your grocery list foods like hummus, tuna and salmon, whole-grain breads and pastas, chia seeds, quinoa, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and lean meats; and spices and condiments like peppercorn, canola oil, and garlic powder.

Eat at Home

It takes a little forethought, planning, and preparation, but home cooking can help you cut calories and improve nutrition.  There are lots of online resources that can provide quick, easy-to-prepare, nutritious recipes for you and your family.  Try “one-dish” meals, which contain a vegetable, protein, and complex carbohydrate.  Use a slow cooker or Crock-Pot and program the time you want your food to be ready.  Cook large, family-sized portions and freeze leftovers for meals later in the week.  Try new foods, combinations, and preparations.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Training Variety Stimulates Strength Development

31 Aug

Football-Team-Lifting-300x200[1]“Novelty or training variety are important for stimulating further strength development,” according to research from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. (Harries, et. al.)

Although this information is not necessarily new, it reinforces the fact that a good strength and conditioning program should incorporate variety of exercise selection; and be periodized and progressive, in order to ensure the athlete’s physical growth and development.

Training periodization is a program design strategy in which the strength and conditioning professional incorporates variations in training specificity, intensity, and volume organized in planned periods or cycles within an overall program, to promote long-term training and performance improvements.

An example of a practical application of training periodization to an athlete’s sport season would be to adapt his or her training to address the relative demands of the sport — over an entire year — including the off-season, pre-season, in-season, and post-season phases.

Obviously, the goal of a periodized training strategy is to help the athlete achieve and maintain optimal strength and power during his or her competition period (in-season phase).  Typically, this requires further increases in training intensity with additional decreases in training volume.

As the athlete adapts to the training stimulus, the strength and conditioning professional must have a strategy of advancing the exercise loads so that improvements will continue over time.  This is referred to as training progression.

A conservative method that can be used to increase an athlete’s training load is called the 2-for-2 rule.  If the athlete can perform two or more repetitions over his or her assigned repetition goal in the last set in two consecutive workouts for a certain exercise, weight should be added to that exercise for the next training session.  (Baechle, T. and Earle, R.; Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning)

It’s worthwhile to note that post-exercise muscle soreness is related to training variety more than intensity or volume.  For this reason, strength and conditioning professionals should be careful about adding excessive, novel training movements during the athlete’s in-season phase.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

YOU Are Your Best Motivator

24 Aug

mountain-climbing-accidents-deaths-on-lhotse-person[1]Any endeavor requires motivation in order to make it a success.  Typically, we begin the pursuit of a goal with lots of energy and enthusiasm.  Unfortunately, many of us abandon our dreams, in part because we fail to realize that this high energy won’t last forever.

We may feel highly motivated to begin a new diet or exercise plan, or perhaps a new job or other project.  We are excited about the possibilities.  Then, after a while, we become tired and our initial enthusiasm fades.

That’s when self-motivation and discipline become important.  That’s when we need to push ourselves.

We shouldn’t allow our motivation to be too dependent on what the scale or mirror says, or what other people say or think.  There’s nothing wrong with external (extrinsic) motivation — sometimes it can be effective — but we need to work on developing our internal (intrinsic) motivation.

Being motivated doesn’t mean we won’t have to struggle with adversity along the way.  There will always be demands on our lives and our time.  There will be obstacles and temptation to derail our efforts.  Things are rarely as easy as they initially seem.  Remember that even when your motivation is low, you are still able to accomplish something.  Low motivation doesn’t have to mean paralysis.

Conversely, when your motivation is high, take advantage of it by taking on more (or more difficult) tasks.

Occasionally, there will be a “bad” day.  There are times in all of our lives when we find it challenging to stay motivated and on course.  Don’t allow yourself to focus on the negative.  Focus instead on what really matters and learn from a negative situation in order to create a better outcome next time.

We can improve our self-motivation when we acknowledge and embrace the realization that we own our thoughts, feelings, behavior, and choices.  We are in control of what we think, feel, and do.  Reflect upon times when your motivation was high and try to determine what you did to feel that way.

Your motivation will be much stronger and consistent when you focus on making conscious choices about what you can do consistently to achieve all your dreams and goals.

Be accountable when looking at how you define problems and situations.  Think about what you can do — given what is reasonably and realistically within your power — and do it.  Be open-minded and willing to try different things.

Preparation — and the effort you put into preparation — will make it easier for you to follow through, even when taking on more difficult tasks.  Advance planning and forethought can help you to be less dependent on extra motivation.

Focus on progress, rather than perfection.  Incremental change is the key.  Avoid alternating bouts of productivity and inactivity.  Be consistent — do what you can — on a daily basis, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you can achieve over time.  Slow and steady wins the race.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Eat More of These Power Foods

17 Aug

top-10-fat-burning-foods[1]If you’re looking to maximize the return on your nutritional investment — and I know you are — you don’t have to look much further than these power foods.

These foods will energize you; cut your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other diseases; strengthen your immune system; relieve pain and reduce inflammation; help your muscles recover after exercise; and boost brain function.

  • Apples — contain quercetin, a tissue-protecting antioxidant, and a dose of belly-filling fiber.
  • Bananas — for fiber and potassium.
  • Beans — a great source of fiber, protein, vitamin B, zinc, iron, and magnesium.
  • Berries — loaded with heart-healthy, cancer-fighting antioxidants.
  • Dark Cherries — ease inflammation, relieve pain, and can help you sleep better.
  • Dark Leafy Greenskale and spinach are great sources of iron, calcium, vitamins A, C, and K, and folate.
  • Salmon — heart-healthy omega-3s (good fats) and serotonin (a good-mood neurotransmitter)
  • Kiwi — as much potassium as a banana and more vitamin C than an orange
  • Oatmeal — add it to your protein shakes for more fiber and omega-3s.
  • Whole Grains — healthier carbs like brown rice and quinoa (a complete protein).
  • Yogurt — especially the Greek variety.
  • Spices — like ginger, mustard, garlic, and honey.
  • Black and Green Teas — can lower stress and block fat absorption.
  • Avocados — rich in “healthy” fat and powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Eggs — eat this “smart” food for the vitamin D and choline.
  • Beets — high in fiber, magnesium, and vitamin C, and may help reduce blood pressure.
  • Nuts — like almonds and pistachios, make a great snack.
  • Chocolate — the dark variety gets all the good press, but new research shows that milk chocolate also lowers risk of heart disease.

Add some of these foods to this week’s grocery list.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Improve Lower-Body Power with Resistance Band Warmup

10 Aug

0809_posterA1_200x200[1]Pre-workout warmup with an elastic resistance band (band squat) is just as effective as the barbell box squat, in augmenting acute jump power, according to research from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.  Both modes of warmup were superior to static stretching.

Power output significantly decreased from pre-warmup to post-warmup for the static stretch protocol.  The static stretch was detrimental to jump performance.  There is a consensus in the scientific literature to suggest a negative relationship between static stretching and acute power performance (sprinting, jumping, etc.).

The barbell box squat protocol involved 3 sets of 3RM; the band squat protocol involved 3 sets of 3 repetitions using highest resistance elastic bands; and the static stretch protocol used two 30-second stretches of muscles of the lower limbs.

Since elastic resistance bands are relatively inexpensive, portable, and accessible (compared to less transportable equipment like squat racks and free weights), strength and conditioning professionals may consider them for athletes training at various competition levels.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Success Requires Commitment

3 Aug

kid-success[1]

Some people dream of success while others wake up and work hard at it.” – Winston Churchill

com·mit·ment
/kəˈmitmənt/
noun
the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.
synonyms: dedication, devotion, allegiance, loyalty, faithfulness, fidelity

 

Everyone wants to be successful.  But not everyone wants to commit themselves to do what’s necessary to become successful.

Lots of people dream about and wish for success.  But you can’t be successful if all you do is think about it.  At some point, you have to convert those thoughts, wishes, and dreams to action.

You may be waiting for inspiration or motivation to commit yourself to your dreams and goals.  Don’t wait… just get moving and take a step in the direction of your aspirations.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but action precedes motivation.

It starts with your mindset.  You’ve got to make the decision that nothing will hold you back or stand in the way of your success.  Be determined and expect success.

Don’t be vague about what you want to achieve.  It’s hard to commit yourself to something if your vision is not clear and your goal is not specific.

Eliminate distractions and unimportant details, and focus on what’s important.

Be prepared for some challenges and setbacks along the way.  Learn from those experiences.  Focus on those areas you can control, and do your best to stay on track.

Hold yourself accountable by setting short-term (daily, weekly, etc.) goals; telling others (family, friends, etc.) about what you are doing; and surrounding yourself with like-minded, supportive people.  Keep a journal of your progress, and review it regularly.

At times, commitment requires some sacrifice.  If you believe in and are fully committed to your goal, you will be willing to sacrifice. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Build Power and Speed with Horizontal Jumps

27 Jul

StandingLongJump[1]There is a positive correlation between vertical and horizontal jumps (broad jumps, standing long jumps) and muscular performance in athletes, according to research from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR).

At our facility, we favor contrast training — a strength exercise immediately followed by a biomechanically similar power (explosive) exercise; for example, the squat followed by the squat jump.  Our athletes perform vertical and horizontal jumps, and plyometrics as the preferred modes of lower-body power training.

In the JSCR study, both vertical and horizontal jumps showed a significant correlation to sprint speed.  Bilateral and unilateral (single-leg) countermovement jumps, drop jumps, and squat jumps improved muscle architecture and sprint performance.

Unilateral jumps appear to have an even larger correlation to sprint speed than their bilateral counterparts.

In addition to the aforementioned benefits of vertical and horizontal jumps, they are beneficial and effective for injury risk reduction, given their appropriate focus on deceleration and landing mechanics.

Based on this information, strength and conditioning professionals can further improve their athletes’ performance by incorporating horizontal jumps — including unilateral jumps — into their training regimen.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

You Can’t Do It All in the Weight Room

20 Jul

Speed-Resistance-Training-Parachute-1[1]Strength and speed development start in the weight room.  Stronger and faster is the foundation for athletic performance improvement.

But you can’t do it all in the weight room.  What you do outside the weight room will also have an impact on your performance.  Speed and agility training, sport-specific skill development, nutrition, rest and recovery, and mental preparation also complement and play an important role in your development as an athlete.

Speed and Agility Training

Speed development involves a combination of 3 components:

  • Technique — running form and mechanics
  • Assisted and resisted sprinting
  • Strength and power training, including plyometrics

Agility training utilizes exercises and drills that require acceleration, deceleration, change of direction, and reaction.

Sport-Specific Skill Development

Strong and fast is important, but it won’t help you overcome weak ball-handling and shooting skills.  Regardless of the sport(s) you play, skills practice — with proper technique and lots of repetition — will be critical to your progress and success as an athlete.  Time spent on the court, in the batting cage, etc. should focus on quality, and a knowledgeable, experienced coach or trainer can be a valuable resource to make the developmental process more efficient and effective.  Video is also a great tool for performance development (the camera never lies).

Nutrition

Eating the right foods — quantity and quality — is important for two reasons: energy and recovery.  Before you exercise, practice, or play, your nutritional choices help to ensure that you will have adequate energy to perform optimally.  Afterward, the proper balance of nutrients helps with your body’s recovery process, preparing your body for next time.  You should aim to get most of your nutrients from whole foods, and nutritional supplements (multi-vitamin, protein) can also be helpful — especially since active individuals and athletes have a considerably higher need for nutrients to support an active metabolism.

Rest and Recovery

When it comes to strength and speed development, more is not necessarily better.  The goal should be to avoid burnout and injury caused by over-training, doing as much as you need to do to reach your performance goals, and not necessarily as much as you can (please note this does not mean do as little as you can).  Since training places physical and metabolic stress on your body, rest and recovery is necessary for your musculoskeletal system’s regenerative process.  Generally, there is a correlation between the intensity of your training and the amount of rest required by your body to continue to perform at an optimal level.  Make sure you allow for adequate rest during and between workouts, and get a good night’s sleep.

Mental Preparation

In addition to preparing your body, you’ve got to prepare your mind.  Elements of effective mental preparation include goal setting, visualization, focus, confidence, and commitment.  Be a smart athlete — a student of the game.  Be positive and adaptable, and utilize positive self-talk as a motivator.  Expect success and prepare accordingly.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

It’s Gotta Come From Inside of You

13 Jul

horsewater[1]You can lead a horse to water…

Can passion, enthusiasm, and desire be taught?  How about aggressiveness and confidence?  Can these traits be coached and developed?

Without some seed of inner motivation and desire… I don’t think so.

If you don’t want something as much as someone wants it for you, it’s probably not going to happen.

If you’re not self-motivated, it’s unlikely that anyone else will be able to motivate you.

You’ve got to believe in yourself before you can expect someone else to believe in you.

You’ve got to want to make it happen before someone else can help you make it happen.

Basically, there are two types of motivation that are important for achievement and success:

  • Intrinsic motivation is important for any athlete.  The athlete who is intrinsically motivated is self-motivated because he or she loves the game.  The intrinsically motivated athlete wants to be there.  Coaching team sports can be much more effective when athletes are self-motivated.
  • Achievement motivation is fueled by an athlete’s competitiveness.  All things being equal between two athletes, the one with greater achievement motivation will be the better athlete because of his or her “appetite” for competition.

Keep in mind, intrinsic and achievement motivation are not limited to athletic achievement and success.  Both apply to academics, career, and every other aspect of our lives.

Conversely, extrinsic motivation, as the name implies, come from “outside” and usually involves changing behavior through reinforcement and/or punishment.  I’ve come to believe that this is ineffective, especially long-term.  Reinforcement and punishment can be effective, but only if the individual on the receiving end is motivated.

  • Positive reinforcement involves the use of rewards – praise, helmet decals, prizes, and awards – to increase the probability that a particular behavior will be repeated.
  • Negative reinforcement also increases the probability that a behavior will be repeated, by removing an event that is perceived to be unappealing or undesirable.  For example, if a team has a productive practice, the coach could announce that no sprints will be run at the end of the session.
  • Positive punishment describes an action that is presented after a behavior, that could decrease the behavior’s recurrence.  Reprimanding a basketball player after a turnover is an example of positive punishment.
  • Negative punishment is the removal of something valued.  Loss of privileges or playing time (benching) are examples of negative punishment.

Carpe Diem! Believe in you! Push yourself! Make it happen!

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

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