Athletic Development:What Athletes Need…
By Ian Cutting
Over the past few years we keep hearing about the increasingly competitive nature of youth athletics. More parents are investing time and money on their children’s athletic development in the hopes they’ll be able to play on the all-star travel team, be a varsity starter, earn a college scholarship or professional contract.
The health and fitness industry also continues to grow rapidly. There are more fitness facilities and training certifications available than ever before.
The result of focusing on athletic development is the reason we now see a boom in the fitness industry with more gyms offering programs labeled as “sports performance”. These programs consistently involve high levels of intensity, flashy jumping, and a lot of fancy words and exercises that do a better job of selling the parents on their methods than actually helping the athletes. They’re good at opening your wallet, but not always unlocking the potential of your child. Passing the eye test for intensity doesn’t mean it fits the bill for effectiveness or safety.
How can you tell what’s for show versus what actually has substance?
What is training?
Training consists of what an athlete needs, versus what the tricks are and what athletes don’t need. Athletes need a training program which helps them get stronger, and stay healthier. A program that keeps things simple, covers basic movement patterns, improves durability, addresses weaknesses, and is varied based on the sport, season, and individual needs. This is a program, and doesn’t shift focus every day, week, or even the first day of every month.
Athletes, and kids need a well-rounded program that focuses on strength training, and includes appropriate levels of conditioning and mobility. They need guidance on nutrition, hydration, sleep, and recovery and to learn about how those things are just as if not more important than the work they put in in the gym. They need attention to help address the individual needs and concerns that every young and developing body has.
Athletes need a program with a long-term focus that accounts for changes in sport season.They need periodic assessments on variables that translate into improved on field success. This program has varying levels of intensity to allow for recovery and adaptations to take place.
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What athletes don’t need
Daily HIIT workouts with countless jumps and landings. They don’t need exhausting metabolic sessions and to always be leaving the gym battered and broken. They don’t need endless circuits targeting every single body part day after day after day. They don’t need to leave every session wondering how they’re going to make it up the stairs or survive the next practice. They don’t need complicated terminology, and don’t always need more, more, and more training.
Those type of workouts performed day after day, season after season hurts their progress, and their prospects. There is a difference between workouts, and following a training program. A body that doesn’t recover properly cannot grow. If intense training is stacked on top of existing health problems or injuries, things will get worse. If a poor movement pattern is loaded with heavy weight, something (their body) will break.
What athletes DO need – A training program based on goals
These things have to be met in order to improve a skill or perhaps hit a standard. This requires different methods than the series of workouts put together to help a middle aged man get back in shape, the stay at home mom lose 10 pounds, or satisfy the grumbling employee who only has a gym membership because it means a deduction on their insurance, nor will please the exercise enthusiast who loves all activity and will do whatever the workout of the day happens to be.
A strength and conditioning program will improve an athlete’s output and longevity. What they need is strong fundamental movement development. It’s the strength that lets a player stop without their body weight forcing them to fall down, or to tear an ACL or MCL when changing directions. The benefits, and knowledge behind the recovery phase of their programming that keeps them in top form throughout their competitive season.
Unfortunately there are now more trainers out there than ever advertising sports performance without the knowledge and skill to be able to back it up. Most movement is better than no movement, but ever varying, high-intensity workouts, in large groups of constantly exhausted athletes with different needs and pre-dispositions to injury does not constitute an effective training program, and are not safe training environments.
Are they workouts, or is it training? Is it good for the athlete, or does it just look good for the parents? It’s easy to make someone sweat, it’s hard to make an athlete better. There are tricks, and then there is training. One first one leaves kids broken down, the second one builds kids up.
What Contemporary Athlete does differently
For the last 5 years we have been helping athletes become more complete athletes. Through comprehensive programming that is simple to understand, and falls in line with their athletic season. Because we have great communication with our student athletes and their parents its easy for us to adjust for critical events, and rhythmic changes over the course of a competitive season or the off season. The fundamentals are key for progressive development. The squat, hinge, plank, push, and pull all correlate to managing ones potential short comings and leave their strengths to be able to shine. The hardest thing to do is to learn how to recover, and when to do so. If you don’t understand how to stop, then you are just like everybody else that just can go fast. Which down the road leaves you getting passed by, by those that learned fundamental skills. These things are key for those looking to move onto the next stage either into the collegiate ranks or into elite levels of play.
This difference means athletes that will be healthier, happier, stronger, faster, more confident, prepared, and successful. Seriously, don’t take our word for it though check out some of our success stories.