Posts Tagged ‘Sports’

rsLogoAnthony Darmiento
Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach
United States Olympic Committee

As the National Strength and Conditioning Association states in their position statement on youth resistance training, “Strength training youth athletes needs to be safe, effective and enjoyable. In order for strength training to be safe it’s more than the method of strength training, but rather how it is being implemented.”

For example, important factors such as proper form when lifting and moving are overlooked when a coach simply follows a plan on a written document or tries to implement a training program they once performed.  For this reason, Responsible Coaches seek help and guidance from qualified strength coaches to assist in the development of athletes of any level to ensure that strength training is performed in a proper and appropriate manner.  The risks of strength training are similar between youth and adults and strength training is only effective when it is done in a safe environment with proper supervision.

In order for strength training to be effective Responsible Coaches realize that strength training must complement sport training. For example, eliminating practice time to introduce or implement an effective strength program and developing basic movement skills are safe investments. The off-season and preseason are ideal times to implement a strength program. Responsible Coaches recognize athletes need to have the appropriate motor control to perform basic exercises such as a squat, lunge and pushup before progressing to loaded exercises. Although these movements and others may seem rudimentary and common most young athletes lack the ability to execute them with proper form.  Another reason for stressing the importance of such training is that these skills and movements transfer to many different sports and across all levels of sport.

In order for strength training to be enjoyable two very important factors must be considered: Athlete’s must understand and see benefits from the strength program while also training in a fun and enjoyable environment. Any athlete is more likely to continue training when they understand the benefits and see results. This highlights the importance of a sound and effective program. This is especially important considering it may take a few weeks of progressing before performance increases are seen or athletes begin to feel the positive effects of training. Until then it is important to keep training fun and enjoyable by mixing in games or challenges that keep athletes focused. For example, performing walking lunges on a row of printer paper without stepping off could be enjoyable and challenging for younger athletes.

On the other hand older athletes might enjoy keeping a log of their vertical jump height as each athlete attempts to beat their own personal records over time. Setting goals that are both attainable and challenging for the team or each individual is very important when trying to keep athletes motivated and driven. Thus coaches should be prepared with progressions and regressions for different exercises or activities based on ranging abilities of their athletes. If all this is kept in mind it shouldn’t be hard to keep things in enjoyable and fun while still performing strength training in a safe and controlled manner.

References:

Fagenbaum, A. D., Kraemer, W. J., Blimkie, C. J., Jeffreys, I., Micheli, L. J., Nitka, M., et al. (2009). Youth Resistance Training: Updated Position Statement Paper From the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 60-79.



Physician; Writer; Associate Professor,
Georgetown University
Posted: 08/29/2012 8:17 am

A single rebound changed teenager Tracy Yatsko’s life. It was Jan. 10, 2005. Two minutes to go till half time in a hard-played game where she — a tenth-grade starting forward for the Tamaqua Lady Raiders of Penn Township, Penn. — left the ground momentarily while jumping for the ball, and then, on her descent, ball in hand, the collision: the back of her skull smacking into the head of the opponent who’d been guarding her. She recalls a brief visual blackout — less than a second — but she didn’t lose consciousness and even managed to get off another shot at the basket. Even so, feeling dizzy and nauseous, she opted for the bench for the rest of the game, just as a precaution.

Next day, though, the dizziness and nausea were still there. She attended school, finding that “I couldn’t concentrate, and I just wasn’t there,” but after a second night’s sleep, feeling better and hoping she’d weathered the worst of that head bump, she decided to suit up and start another game for the Lady Raiders. That was the breaking point. She made it through the game, but afterward, while changing in the locker room, she blacked out and fell to the ground. “I couldn’t hold myself,” she recalls. It was frightening, as it was now clear this was something she wasn’t just going to shake off.

From that first trip to the emergency room, says her mother, Linda McCarroll, “life was never the same.” Or, as Tracy puts it: “That’s when everything started.”

It was a concussion, and Tracy knew it, because she’d suffered one before, while still in the seventh grade. An MTBI, or Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, as it’s known in the medical literature. That earlier MTBI she did shake off — or at least the symptoms went away after 10 days or so. But “mild” can be a misleading term. Yes, there are more serious types of brain injuries, but the concussions that occur in contact sports can have effects that — despite the “mild” label — last a lifetime.

As Tracy has experienced for herself. Initially, she spent the rest of her junior year at home, literally on the couch. “I couldn’t go to the bathroom by myself. I had to cover the windows with sheets because of the light.” She has suffered constant migraines, nausea, vomiting, and had difficulty concentrating. She had to spend many days in the hospital, seeing dozens of doctors, getting all kinds of diagnostic tests. She had been on hundreds of medications, her mom says, some of them with terrible side effects. She lost many friends “because they were out having fun and I was stuck at home.”

As kids return to school and embark upon a new school sport season, stories like Tracy’s have put MTBIs — as well as other sports-related injuries — at the center of a debate that asks whether the price of getting hurt for the game is too high.

Journalists have begun focusing extensively on the toll among professional athletes, especially football players. But other experts — including the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which held a special meeting on Capitol Hill in 2010 — are concerned about the effects on younger athletes.

For student athletes, studies are producing alarming numbers. One estimates that between
2001 and 2009 more than 2.6 million children in the U.S. were treated for sports-related injuries. Of them, more than 170,000 suffered from traumatic brain injuries.

That sounds like a lot, but they’re the tip of the iceberg, says, Dr. Dawn Comstock, of the Center for Injury Research and Policy, at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio. Many injuries, she says, are never reported: “Nobody really knows how big of a burden sports-related injuries are.”

Part of the story is a lack of awareness — even now — says sports-medicine expert Dr. Clarke Holmes, of Nashville, Tenn. “Many young athletes don’t know what concussions are,” he says. Many, he says, may experience a head injury, but then believe “that if they haven’t lost consciousness then they should be okay.”

Except that they’re often not okay, a fact that may be especially important for girls to understand. Says Dr. Holmes: “There is some evidence to suggest that girls may be more likely to have concussions and that their concussions may be more severe.”

Severe is certainly what Tracy’s concussion turned out to be. Grade III. The worst. It’s been more than seven years since that fateful game and she’s still paying for it — paying for wanting to play the game she loved. Perhaps the hardest part was being told she couldn’t play sports anymore. Ever. Sports was everything to Tracy: “I was a huge athlete. I was really good in basketball and track.” So when the doctor announced her sports days were finished, “it ruined my life. That’s when the depression set in. I thought my life was over,” she said, holding back tears even now.

Indeed, many young athletes would agree that sports are what defines them. It gives them a certain social cachet and represents real achievement, as well as embodying real-life values like teamwork and competition. Sports can also be a ticket to scholarships, higher education, and exciting careers — if you’re really that good. Tracy was that good.

That’s why many athletes are reluctant to report their injury. They risk being misunderstood as weak or lacking in motivation. They fear being sidelined, losing their chance to shine, to show what they are made of. “That’s just how we grow up,” says Tracy today. “We grow up saying ‘suck it up and get back in the game.'” Remembering the winter of 2005, Tracy says she was worried that her trainer would “sit me out of the game” if she said too much. “I kept quiet, but I shouldn’t have played.”

“There is no shame in being hurt,” says Dr. Holmes. “If you hide an injury then you are not only hurting yourself, but also your team. Because you’re out there playing and you are not 100 percent, and you can let the team down. You could miss an assignment, not know a play that you should, you could be a step slow.” More importantly, he says, “You could predispose yourself to another injury, or even a second concussion.”

This is an important piece of the picture. Once a concussion has occurred, the player becomes as much as four to six times more likely to suffer a second concussion. And having a second concussion, studies have shown, can be even more traumatic, resulting in permanent brain injury from the cumulative trauma.

That’s why medical and athletic organizations are quite serious about when the appropriate time is to return to play. Guidelines vary, says Dr. Holmes, and each case should be looked at individually, but in general the athlete has to be completely symptom free for some time before being allowed back in the game. Depending on the initial symptoms, it can be as little as 20 minutes for a very mild first concussion with no loss of consciousness, to more than three months for a third concussion, according to some guidelines. Or it can be, as in Tracy’s case, never being allowed in the game again.

The guidelines, from organizations such as the American Academy of Neurology, and the Colorado Department of Education, vary. But they all agree that athletes should take time off following an injury and that premature return to play can harbor serious consequences. As serious and catastrophic as brain herniation and death.

Unfortunately, says Dr. Comstock, not many are taking heed. According to one study she authored, 40.5 percent of high school athletes with a concussion returned to play too soon. And males — true to stereotypes of being more “macho” — were more likely than females to not follow these guidelines. That study, in the journal Brain Injury, also showed that during the 2007-2008 season alone, 15.8 percent of football players who suffered a concussion and lost consciousness returned to play the same day.

But it is not just the athletes themselves who are eager to put injury aside and get back in the game. Coaches and parents are as much to blame. “I see how parents can get so involved in a game,” says Linda, “and sometimes coaches and parents can make the wrong decisions.”

She and Tracy are trying to tell their story to anyone who would listen. Tracy even testified before a congressional committee and told her story at the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania. “There have been a lot of coaches who’ve changed the way they’ve coached because of Tracy,” says Linda with pride in her voice. “They’ve been much more careful. They don’t put their player back into the game if there is any injury, whether it’s a head injury or it looks like they have a sprained ankle. Because of Tracy they’re really thinking twice and just admiring the message that she’s been putting out there.”

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a brain injury caused by a bump, jolt, or blow to the head. It can happen due to a fall, or after hitting another player.

Symptoms of Concussion

Early symptoms may include: Headache, Dizziness, Confusion, Nausea, Vomiting, Vision Changes, Ringing in the ears, Sensitivity to light.

Late symptoms: Memory disturbances or loss, poor concentration, irritability, chronic migraines, sleep problems, personality changes, chronic fatigue, depression.

If you think your child had a concussion:

– Seek medical help at once. The doctor can help assess the severity and help determine when it is safe to return to play.
– Keep your child out of play until a health care professional says it is okay to go back.
– Report all concussions to your child’s coach, including previous ones, or those suffered playing another sport.
– Consider baseline neuro-psychiatric testing at the beginning of the season. Repeat testing after an injury can more precisely show the degree of damage and help with rehabilitation.

A concussion can happen in any sport activity. The top offenders are contact sports. “Player-to-player contact is the number one mechanism for injury,” says Dr. Comstock.

Higher injury rates, including concussions, are found in: football, ice hockey, boys lacrosse, soccer, basketball, girls lacrosse and field hockey.

For more by Ranit Mishori, M.D., MHS, click here.

For more on personal health, click here.

Follow Ranit Mishori, M.D., MHS on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ranitmd

Softball game

Softball game (Photo credit: JoshBerglund19)

By Tamara Browning
Posted Apr 16, 2012 @ 01:17 PM

In 29 years of playing softball, Brad Fanale has experienced his share of injuries, including a swollen knee, pulled hamstrings and muscle injuries.

Fanale has seen other softball players with traumas such as a twisted ankle, injured rotator cuff and pulled groin.

“You see a little of everything,” said Fanale, 47, who plays left field on the Track Shack/709 Liquors team in Springfield, Ill.

With softball season gearing up, overuse and traumatic injuries can be in store for players.

Overuse injuries occur over time due to stress on muscles, joints and soft tissues without proper healing time, according to www.sportsmedicine.about.com. Traumatic injuries occur from sudden force or impact.

“The various motor skills associated with softball, such as pitching, batting and fielding, place considerable perceptual and physical demands upon players,” according to the “Guide to Softball Injury Prevention.”

Injury prevention measures that athletic trainers offer young softball players also can give adult players something to think about before they take the field.

Deconditioning injuries

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association suggests that high school softball athletes do conditioning training at least six weeks before the start of practice, according to “Guide to Softball Injury Prevention.”

Fanale said the off-season is a good time to start preparing for softball.

“I think in the off-season, if this is something that you’re really passionate about, you need to have some cardio training, and I think some strength training,” Fanale said. “You should be in the gym or you should be running. As you get older … you should stretch a lot before and after the game.”

Nagging aches and pains seen at the beginning of the season result from what the “deconditioning of athletes” who are not ready physically for softball, said Devin Spears, lead athletic trainer for Memorial SportsCare in Springfield, Ill., which has athletic trainers assigned to eight high schools in the area.

“They go out there, and they have a very short window to prepare for the season. They have to do a lot of running. They have to do a lot of throwing,” said Spears, who added that at the beginning of the season, players can suffer muscle pulls and strains, hip flexor injuries and hamstring pulls.

Spears suggested that softball athletes try to get their outdoor legs back and do some throwing in preparation in late February and early March.

“You’ve got to start doing a little bit of throwing … . Go out in the backyard with your dad or with your friend or whatever and just start throwing a ball a little bit,” Spears said.

Traumatic injuries

Common traumatic injuries include ankle sprains.

“Somebody missteps on a bag or somebody slides hard into a bag and injures an ankle,” Spears said.

“Every sport anymore is a contact sport. You see collisions on the base paths. You see collisions in the outfields. You have individuals get struck either by thrown balls or batted balls, so those are all things that we deal with.”

The force of collisions that occur in softball can be just as big as those generated on the football field, Spears said.

“The difference is you’re not wearing any padding,” Spears said. “A lot of girls are starting to wear a face cage. A lot of times your pitchers will be wearing one of these or your third baseman will wear one of these.”

Wearing proper equipment to protect the body while on the playing field is one of the best ways to avoid softball injuries, according to http://www.Livestrong.com. Proper batting helmets with face guards can prevent head or face trauma from batted balls or mishandled bats. Mouth guards are recommended, and catchers should wear proper safety equipment.

“The key to injury prevention is not letting injury happen at all,” Spears said.

***

To prevent injuries, adult athletes should take the following precautions:

* Don’t be a “weekend warrior,” packing a week’s worth of activity into a day or two. Maintain a moderate level of activity throughout the week.

* Learn to do your sport right. Using proper form can reduce your risk of “overuse” injuries such as tendonitis and stress fractures.

* Remember safety gear. Depending on the sport, this may mean knee or wrist pads or a helmet.

* Accept your body’ limits. You may not be able to perform at the same level you did 10 or 20 years ago. Modify activities as necessary.

* Increase your exercise level gradually.

* Strive for a total body workout of cardiovascular, strength training, and flexibility exercises. Cross-training reduces injury while promoting total fitness.

Source: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

By Tommy Sutor, BS, CSCS

English: SAN DIEGO (Nov. 8, 2010) Marine Sgt. ...

Image via Wikipedia

Many track and field athletes incorporate plyometrics into their training, such as jumps, hops, bounds, or box jumps.  However many athletes only do lower body plyometrics when in fact they could also benefit from upper body plyometrics.  Throwers can benefit from upper body plyometrics since having more powerful muscles in the upper body could facilitate greater release velocities, provided their technique is sound.  Sprinters and many jumpers could benefit from a more powerful upper body as well.  Research has shown that the explosive swinging of the arms facilitates leg drive, enhances momentum and helps the body overcome inertia (the resistance to acceleration) when sprinting(1). So, what are some exercises to make the muscles of the chest, shoulders, and back more explosive?

Beginner/Low Intensity Exercises

Plyo push-ups: This is the most basic upper body plyometric exercise.  Simply perform a standard push-up, except make it quick and explosive enough to launch your hands a few inches off the ground.  A good way to make sure you’re pushing yourself high enough is to clap your hands in-between each rep.  Remember, do not stop between each rep – plyometrics are about being quick with one rep coming immediately after another!

Chest Passes: with a medicine ball, stand facing a partner or a wall.  Holding the ball at chest level with elbows out, throw the medicine ball to your partner or the wall.  As soon as the ball comes back to you, throw it again – there should be no hesitation between catching and throwing the ball.

Overhead Passes: Hold a medicine ball in both hands. Take a step forward, bringing the ball up over your head, and throw it as far as possible.  Make sure to lead with the legs and hips.  Because this exercise primarily involves the smaller muscles of the shoulders, only light medicine balls should be used – no more than a few pounds.  Stronger, more advanced athletes could gradually progress to heavier medicine balls.

Advanced/Higher Intensity Exercises

Depth push-ups: This is essentially a push-up version of a depth jump.  Start in push-up position with each hand elevated on a small plyo box (about 6″) or any surface a few inches off the ground, then drop down to the ground, landing on your hands in push-up position, and immediately pushing yourself back up on to the box.  An easier variation is starting on the boxes and just landing in push-up position, or starting in push-up position and pushing on to the boxes.  The height can be increased as the athlete becomes better at the movement.

Medicine ball drop: Lying on the ground with your arms extended up, have a partner stand above you at your head, and drop a medicine ball towards your chest.  Catch the ball and immediately throw it back to your partner.  The intensity of this exercise can be increased by increasing the weight of the ball, or having your partner stand on a box.

These are just a few upper body plyometric exercises – for more exercises, just be creative!

Work Cited:
1. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 3rd edition. Thomas R. Baechle, Roger W. Earle. © 2008 National Strength and Conditioning Association.

By Wayne L. Westcott
Posted Oct 17, 2011 @ 02:56 PM

This is the time of year when many outdoor exercisers transition to indoor aerobic activities. Once the temperature falls below 50 degrees, bicycling becomes less pleasant; temperatures below 40 degrees convince many runners to seek indoor alternatives.

Although outdoor endurance exercise is more interesting, there are several ways to make indoor aerobic activity less boring and more beneficial. You can, of course, watch television, listen to music or read the paper while you ride the stationary cycle. But you might also consider cross-training, circuit training and interval training, all of which have significant advantages over standard, steady-state exercise.

Standard, steady-state exercise

Most aerobic exercisers follow a consistent pattern of training, known as standard, steady-state exercise. A typical training session begins with a few minutes of the aerobic activity (cycling, running, etc.) at an easy level. This provides a warm-up for both the cardiovascular system and the muscles involved in the endurance exercise. The warm-up segment is followed by a 20- to 30-minute period of continuous, moderate-effort exercise that elevates heart rate to approximately 75 percent of maximum. This is the steady-state component of the exercise session; it provides the cardiovascular conditioning effect. The steady-state period is followed by a reduced-effort cooldown segment, lasting about three to five minutes, or until heart rate is within 20 beats per minute of resting level.

Steady-state endurance exercise is effective for increasing cardiovascular endurance, but there are alternative aerobic activities that offer a lower risk of muscle overuse/imbalance injuries and provide a greater cardiovascular training effect. Just as important, they are more interesting to perform.

Cross-training

Rather than spending 30 minutes on a single exercise, try performing three successive aerobic activities for 10 minutes each. For example, a cross-training session could consist of a few minutes walking to warm up, then 10 minutes of stationary cycling, 10 minutes of elliptical exercise, and 10 minutes of stair stepping, followed by a few minutes of walking to cool down. By changing exercises, you reduce the risk of muscle overuse/imbalance injuries that often result from performing the same movement pattern every workout.

Also, by using different muscle groups for different exercises, cumulative fatigue is reduced and your performance level may increase. The following aerobic activities could be part of a cross-training program: recumbent cycling, upright cycling, treadmill walking, treadmill running, elliptical training, stair stepping, stair climbing, rowing and rope jumping.

Circuit training

Circuit aerobic training is similar to cross-training, but it involves a more systematic exercise selection/sequence and much shorter activity segments. Successive exercises emphasize different muscle groups so that some muscles are resting while others are working. Because successful circuit training requires relatively high effort levels throughout the workout, each exercise is performed for just three to five minutes at a time. Consider this sample program for a 32-minute session: walking warm-up (four minutes), recumbent cycling (four minutes), treadmill jogging (four minutes), rowing (four minutes), elliptical training (four minutes), upright cycling (four minutes), stair climbing (four minutes), walking cool-down (four minutes). In addition to the physical benefits of performing seven different exercises, the brief training segments make circuit aerobic workouts more interesting from a mental perspective.

Interval training

The most challenging and productive form of aerobic activity is called interval training. Whether you are a beginning exerciser or an advanced athlete, interval training is the most effective means for improving your present level of cardiovascular fitness. The basic principle of interval training is alternating periods of higher-effort exercise and lower-effort exercise.

Let’s say that you normally ride the stationary cycle at 50 watts for your three-minute warm-up and cool-down segments, and at 100 watts for your 20-minute steady-state period. Do the same warm-up and cool-down protocol, but divide your steady-state period into seven intervals of three minutes each. Cycle your first, third, fifth and seventh three-minute intervals at 125 watts (higher-effort training), and cycle your second, fourth and sixth three-minute intervals at 75 watts (lower-effort training). You should see results after as little as three weeks of interval training, especially if you perform at least two interval training sessions per week.

Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., teaches exercise science at Quincy College in Massachusetts and consults for the South Shore YMCA. He has written 24 books on fitness.

In the January issue of InFlight I wrote about one of my favorite exercise machines, the NordicTrack Ski Machine.   In this post we are going to discuss my other favorite piece of training equipment – “the Crabsuit.”.

There are so many many different types of exercise machines, workout videos, and training products on the market today. Each one promising specific benefits like increase speed, vertical increase, core strength, increased stamina and endurance, total body toning or muscle strengthening.  However, no product promises overall improvements in all these areas, except for one….. the Flex Nimbo™ or as one of my guys calls it – “the Crabsuit.”

Recently hosting a training for a division of the armed forces, exhibited at the National Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (NSCA) Conference in Orlando and seen being used by celebrity football playerslike Marvin Mitchell linebacker for the 2010 Superbowl Champion New Orleans Saints, martial artists and professional boxers like “Bad” Chad Dawson on YouTube, Flex Nimbo™ is not just another exercise device, but is a full body, cross-training assister created for the serious athlete, but easy enough for the everyday workout.

The Flex Nimbo™ incorporates the  lightweight but powerful use of rubber band resistance training with the unique patented harness design that enables the wearer, regardless of their position or training goals, to work all of the muscles in their body simultaneously. Fully adjustable for a custom fit, the Flex uses foot straps and hand flex grips to allow the user a full body resistance workout. Providing up to 19 lbs. of resistance per arm and levels at 35, 50 and 75 lbs. of total body resistance, traditional weight training cannot push through the total body thresholds like Flex.  Another unique feature of the Flex is its neuro muscular training development and its excellence in promoting balance, coordination and agility with a full range of motion using both major and smaller muscle groups. This has been an excellent resource for chiropractics and rehabilitation therapists. The Flex has also been found to be excellent for improving explosive strength, increased flexibility, speed training, footwork, vertical jumps and starting strength while burning twice the calories of those other methods.

Completely portable and lightweight, Flex Nimbo™ goes with the athlete wherever they go, so no more conflicts with gym schedules or having to “go to” the workout. Flex Nimbo™ allows the workout to come to you! Featured in the March 2009 issue of Stack Magazine, Flex Nimbo™ shows itself adaptable to all sports and recreation such as football, soccer, lacrosse, boxing, mixed martial arts, basketball, track, running, hurdles, tennis, volleyball, baseball, softball and more.

Sean Robbins, Flex Nimbo trainer and two-time US Olympic track and field alternate in the long jump says “the Flex provides resistance with every movement you make, something you’re not typically used to dealing with.”   The Flex Nimbo says Robbins “forces you to stay in an upright position, giving you an activation in the lower back as well as the core.  If you’re doing a movement, then stop and stand, the Flex Nimbo is still being activated.  That helps you maintain your posture, even at rest.”

Geoff Kaplan, director of sports medicine and head athletic trainer for the Huston Texans, adds that the Flex “incorporates functional movement and multidirectional patterns much like sport.” When Kaplan was the athletic trainer for the Tennessee Titans he used the Flex for total body conditioning.  He explains, “When you’re working with athletes and doing a lot of sport-specific training, the legs have to work with the hips, the hips have to work with the trunk and the trunk has to work with the shoulders and the shoulder girdle.  The Flex Nimbo helps to activate and incorporate these different component to try to work more in unison.

We here at Flight101 Sport Speed Development have been using the Flex with some of our athletes for over two years now and I’m really impressed with the results.  Every athlete that we’ve trained with the Flex has shown significant improvement in their respective sport. I had one sprinter in particular who had difficulty maintaining forward momentum because he spent to much time in the air when he ran.  In the beginning of the 2010 season we had him perform all of our sprint drills with the Flex.  The Flex helped him add more power to his drive phase  while  allowing him to maintain good posture without floating or over striding during the sprint and lift phases of his race .  He finished the season placing third in the State Championships and anchored our sprint relay teams to 4th place finishes and 2 school records.

Like we did with this sprinter, the Flex allows you to increase the level of difficulty in your normal training program each week to continually stimulate your athlete in a progression that is appropriate for his or her sport and can be combined with other pieces equipment at the same time.

In conclusion, I am a firm believer in functional strength training to enhance over all athletic performance and there are many resistance training devices out there today.  However,  it takes imagination to devise a functional strength training device that mimics the particular movement of just about any sport.  The Flex is designed biomechanically to mimic the human musculoskeletal structure.  Because it is not used for static position movements only, the Flex offers the most accurate and realistic stimulus possible to lead to maximal gains in athletic speed performance.

For more information on the Flex Nimbo feel free to contact me at jmurdock@flight101ssd.com

Where to Buy Flex Nimbo!

Explosive power is all about how fast an athlete can generate power from a stand still.  Short sprinters, offensive lineman in football and shot putters are examples of explosive athletes.  An athlete’s explosive power can be improved using plyometric drills

Plyometric Drills Overview – The term plyometrics comes from the  European research conducted by Soviet sport scientists in the late 60’s  and its effectiveness  centers around overloading the bodies extremely fast eccentric-concentric muscle contractions. This form of training involves rapidly stretching a muscle (an eccentric contraction) followed by a fast, powerful concentric contraction.

Whenever you lengthen a muscle, this is called an “eccentric” contraction.  For example squatting down to sit on a chair, essentially contracts the tops of the legs, or the quadriceps muscles. When a muscle shortens, you are concentrically contracting it.  When you push with your legs to get out of the chair that is a concentric contraction of the quadriceps.

This is important to understand because whenever a muscle undergoes a very fast eccentric contraction; its built-in defense system will go into gear and cause a very powerful concentric reaction to counter the stretch. It’s the body’s way of protecting itself from damage. Your body senses this very fast stretch and sends a signal to your muscles telling them to concentrically contract to avoid injury this action is called the “stretch reflex”.

Plyometrics force this “stretch reflex” to occur by using a large amount of force against the muscle in a very short period of time. A great way to do this is to use gravity. Whenever an athlete starts in the air and comes back to the ground, gravity provides additional force on the muscles. If the joints are locked, then the shock will be absorbed by the bones, which is definitely not good for the athlete. But if the joints are not locked, the muscles, tendons and ligaments absorbed the extra force generated by gravity. In particular, the muscles will rapidly contract eccentrically, meaning they will get longer.

If the athlete can eccentrically contract the muscles rapidly enough to cause the stretch reflex, and at the same time simulate movements used in sport, then the athlete will be taking advantage of the body’s natural defense mechanism to aid in speed and explosion training.  This is accomplished by jumping off the ground, jumping over objects, rapid jumps, bounding, and jumping off objects of varying heights.

Due to the amount of force generated by the muscles from plyometric training, it is important to follow some basic rules before training.

1.          Established a good strength, speed, and quickness base before advancing to plyometric training. This takes several weeks of regular speed and quickness drills along with a good weight training program.

2.          Began with level one plyometrics and slowly advance and to levels two and three, which will gradually increase the stress load on the muscles.

3.          Some experts believe that the athletes should not perform Level 3 plyometrics and so they can parallel squat 11/2 – 21/2 times their body weight.

4.          An athlete should never do a plyometric drill when they’re tired. Each exercise and each rep should be done with maximum power and effort. The drill should not be done when the athlete is still recovering from a previous drill.

5.          There should be at least 48 HRS before training the same body part with plyometric exercises.

6.          The athlete should warm up and stretch before conducting plyometric exercises.

7.          An athlete should not do plyometrics if they have had previous injuries such as muscle strains, ligament damage or spinal compression injuries

8.          Some experts believe that pre-pubescent athletes should not do plyometrics due to the incomplete formation of the growth plates. It’s recommended that an athlete consult their Physician to determine the appropriateness of plyometrics for their age.

9.          It’s important that the training surface be free of holes or other obstructions, and the drills should not be performed on hard surfaces like concrete or too soft like say for instance a trampoline.  Firm ground, gym floors, or rubber mats, are better types of surfaces to perform a plyometric drills.

10.       Athletes over 220lbs. or obese athletes (30% or higher body fat) should avoid depth jumps of over 18in. due to the force exerted on the body.

Difficulty Levels – plyometrics drills should increase in difficulty over a period of several weeks, and as previously stated should not be started until a good strength, speed, and agility base have already been established.

Flight101 HIGH PERFORMANCE TRAINING plyometric training routines are divided into three levels of difficulty. Starting from level one and slowly working the athletes to level three. The drills within each level are also listed in order of difficulty.  For a complete 24 Day Plyometric Routine see the chart that follows.

  • Level One

1.         Knee Tuck
2.         Standing Long Jump
3.         Hip Twists Ankle Hop

  • Level Two

1.         Bound for Height
2.         Bound for Distance
3.         Multiple Long Jumps
4.         Split Jumps
5.         Standing Long Jump with Sprint
6.         Running Long Jump
7.         2 Foot  Lateral Hurdle
8.         1Foot Lateral Hurdle
9.         2 Feet Front-Back Hurdle
10.     1 Foot Back-Front Hurdle

  • Level Three

1.         Toe taps
2.         Depth Jumps
3.         Depth Jump Sprint
4.         Depth Jump React
5.         Rapid Box Jumps
6.         Hurdle Jumps – Increasing Height
7.         On Box Jumps – Increasing Height
8.         Over Box Jumps – Increasing Height
9.         Lateral Hurdle Jumps – Increasing Height
10.     Lateral On Box Jumps – Increasing Height
11.     Lateral Over Box Jumps – Increasing Height

Plyometric Drills Grouped by Function – grouping the drills by function helps more clearly defined the athletic goal behind the drill. Some drills have more than one function category because they help the athletes improvement in more than one way.

Each of the explosion functions can be described as either:

1.    Lateral – the ability to quickly move to either side or quickly change direction.

2.    Vertical – jumping ability

3.    Forward – generate quick and powerful drive moving straight ahead.

4.   Quick Recovery – the ability to execute powerful movements one right after the other with minimal time in between

  • Lateral Explosion –

1.  Hip Twist Ankle Hop
2.  2 Feet Lateral Hop
3.  1 Foot Lateral Hop
4.   Lateral On Box Jumps
5.  Lateral Hurdle Jumps
6.  Depth Jump React
7.  Lateral Over-Box Jumps

  • Vertical Explosion

1. Knee Tuck
2. Bound for Height
3. Split Jumps
4. Hurdle Jumps
5. Depth Jump
6. Depth Jump Sprint
7. Depth Jump React
8. Rapid Box Jumps

  • Forward Explosion –

1.  Standing Long Jump
2.  Bound for Distance
3.  Running Long Jump
4.  Multiple Jumps
5.  On Box Jumps
6.  Depth Jump Sprint
7.  Over Box Jumps

  • Quick Recovery Explosion –

1.   Hip Twist Ankle Hop
2.  Toe taps
3.  2 Feet Lateral Hurdle
4.  1 Foot Lateral Hurdle
5.   2 feet Back-Front Hurdle
6.  1 Foot Back-Front Hurdle
7.  Multiple Long Jump
8.  Rapid Box Jump
9.  On Box Jump
10.  Over Box Jump

HIGH PERFORMANCE TRAINING (HPT) Routines OverviewOur HPT Training is set up to be performed three days a week over a nine week period with the opportunity for the athlete to do some training independently on their off days. The training sessions began with mastering sprinting basics or form work. For more information  on our  Speed and Agility Routine – 12 Day Cycle email me at jmurdock@flight101ssd.com

HPT Training can be performed every day of week provided that the athlete follows a few basic rules.

  1. Do not  perform the drills tired
  2. Always perform a full flexibility routine when training for speed and quickness.
  3. Work on speed, agility, and plyometric drills before lifting weights
  4. Do not perform Level 2 or Level 3 plyometrics drills on consecutive days.  Like weight training, the body needs to recover from these intense drills.
  5. Trained for quality, not quantity it is better to do three drills perfectly than ten with poor form.
  6. Train with weights and performs speed and agility drills for the least four weeks before starting plyometrics.
  7. When performing a plyometric routine make sure the athlete understands and meets all the safety requirements before starting training.
  8. Perform plyometric and speed drills on different days.
  9. Allow for at least 48 hours recovery between plyometrics training days. If time a does not allow for full recovery, and speed and agility drills have to be performed on the same day as plyometrics then do the plyometric drills first.
  10. Do every single drill and jump with maximum effort treat every repetition like its own exercise.

If you have any questions or would like some instruction oh how to properly perform these drill feel free to contact me at jmurdock@flight101ssd.com.

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