Jul 7, 2017
Essential Elements

Though each sport has it’s own demands, there a number of fundamental elements that should be part of every training program. These are beneficial to all athletes and will help prepare for taking the next step towards improving performance. As written about in a blog by Chris Holder, Strength Coach at California Polytechnic State University, after mastering these elements, athletes will be fully prepared to take their training to the next level, says

1. Hip Flow

Along with the more traditional static stretching and dynamic warm-ups, hip flow is rapidly gaining popularity among athletes and coaches because of its ability to restore motion and improve flexibility. These 5-6 minute warm-ups can be tailored to the specific movements that your athletes are performing in the weight room and during competition.

“Quickly we found the athletes began to show levels of restored motion in the basic lifts we’d been trying to correct for years…the payoff has been tremendous,” says Holder, in regards to the immediate benefits of incorporating a hip flow warmup. “When putting together your flow, identify bundles of general movement that restore motion through different planes within a variety of movement-based poses.”

2. Squat

There are a variety of reasons why squatting can benefit all athletes. Not only does it strengthen the legs and hips but it also teaches full-body tension, which is essential for many other movements. Other benefits include increasing flexibility and teaching athletes how to use proper breathing techniques that will help them increase power and get the most out their weight training.

3. Romanian Deadlift

“The Romanian deadlift is the perfect exercise for anyone who needs to sprint in their sport,” says Holder, who has over 30 years of coaching experience. “Hamstrings are critical for developing speed and power in running.”

With speed being an essential tool for almost any athlete, building hamstring strength should be a focus. The Romanian deadlift targets the hamstrings and will help athletes build explosive power in their legs. And when you’re faster than your opponent, you have the ultimate advantage. Variations of the Romanian deadlift can also help improve hip stability and protect the lower back.

4. Pull Ups

A strong upper back is essential to building upper body strength. When athletes lack upper back development they are much more likely to encounter shoulder issues and other upper body related injuries. Pull ups are a great way to build upper back strength, but only if they are performed with correct technique.

Here are two technique tips to keep in mind when athletes are doing pull ups:

  • Lock the scapulae down prior to pulling in order to protect the elbows.
  • Bring your chest all the way to the bar instead of simply getting your chin over the bar. This will give you a much more complete range of motion.

5. Kettlebell Swing

“The swing is the jack-of-all-trades exercise for athletes,” says Holder. “Your athlete wants to become faster? Check. He needs to lose weight? You have it. You have an athlete who wants to jump higher? Got it. Perhaps you need deeper levels of cardiovascular fitness? On it. How about power development and quick twitch? You bet.”

They key to the kettlebell swing is being able to teach it properly. This versatile exercise can be a tremendous benefit to your athletes, but be sure that you are confident in you ability to teach it.

6. Meditation and/or Yoga

Fifteen minutes a day of meditation of yoga can go a long way in reducing both mental and physical stress that athletes may be experiencing. Athletes are constantly putting stress on their body and yoga is a great way to improve flexibility and actively recover after breaking down muscles during training and competition. Accompanied with meditation, athletes will be able to relieve mental stress, and the more relaxed athlete is the more likely to succeed.

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