Education and Tidbits

Genetics and Nutrition (part 3 of 3)

Posted in: Nutrition

There are 3 body types each with unique differences and demands, though slight variations may exist due to genetic inheritance. It is our genes that determine our body type, and it is important for athletes to know the three body types so when they compare themselves to others they have a realistic perspective. We want athletes to compare “apples to apples” not to oranges. An Endo morph will never be an Ecto morph, and the opposite holds true as well.

Type 1: Ecto Morph

Long and lean; difficulty gaining weight; generally need a tremendous surplus of calories to gain weight and train moderate to heavy with maximal rest periods (distance runners)

This body type is more prone to needing to consume more complex foods and higher quantities of proteins and fats (scale up calories). These people have a naturally high metabolism and face the opposite problems of the Endo morph, though both should avoid sugars. The Ecto morph is fueled by sugar and desensitized to it, making sugar speed up metabolism as empty calories losing the body’s ability to recognize a positive glycemic response. Glycemic response is responsible for weight gain thus making it difficult for the Ecto morph to gain weight.

Type 2: Meso Morph

Optimal athlete; muscular; gains muscle easily; stays lean; X frame; maximum control over composition with slight adjustments in food and activity (sprinters)

Meso morphs are the most efficient and usually only need to make slight adjustments in consumption and activity to make immediate changes in either direction (direct control of calories). Their bodies metabolize food more efficiently and utilize it to maximum benefit.

Type 3: Endo Morph

Thick girdles; big bones; broad; gains weight easy; difficulty losing weight; naturally strong (power lifters, linemen)

Endo morphs generally struggle with weight gain and must maintain a regimen of reduced fat and carbohydrates with regular cardiovascular activity to manage weight (scale down calories). Endo morphs are highly sensitive to sugar with big insulin responses, which are responsible for weight gain and fat storage. They have to watch high GI foods and over-consumption of carbohydrates.

With an understanding of the body types an athlete can better apply the following standards:

Foods to Eat: (80-85 percent good = balance; 20 percent bad = 7 bad meals per week; based on 5-6 meals per day)

  • Keep it clean — Consume natural foods as much as possible; prepare your own foods and/or be specific when ordering out. The cleaner the fuel, the more efficient the burn.
  • Substitutions — Make simple substitutions, such as whole grains for white products; low- and no-fat products for full fat; lean sources of proteins (fish, chicken, eggs, etc.) for high-fat proteins; and reduced sugar or sugar-free products (Stevia or Splenda) for full sugar products.
  • Key nutrients — Eat quality foods with abundant sources of nutrients including: vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants
  • Limit processed foods — Limit or avoid foods in a box, bag, can, etc. and stick to natural foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, lean dairy and meats/poultry/fish.
  • Antioxidants — Protect the body against disease, infection, illness, free radicals and toxins; help bodily functions, immune system and sensory organs.
  • Foods to avoid — Sodas and most sports drinks (contain 3 evils: sugar/aspartame, caffeine, carbonation), processed foods (have a high glycemic index, contain fillers and preservatives), fast food, fried food, sweets, poor ratio foods (imbalance of fats, carbs, proteins)

When to Eat:

  • Frequency — Approximately every 3 hours, 5-6 times per day, starting first thing in the morning and concluding approximately 2 hours before sleep
  • Never full/never hungry — Never allow the body to get too hungry or too full, which causes binging, unstable blood sugar levels and metabolic slowdown.
  • Ratios/composition — Follow ‘Eat It When You Need It.’ Higher amounts of carbs should be consumed before activity to provide fuel, and a well-balanced meal should follow, including low GI simple carbs, such as a piece of fruit and lean protein or protein shake.
  • Portions — Consume larger portion of calories early in the day and smaller portions with fewer calories later.
  • Timing — Follow ‘Eat It When You Need It.’ Consume in accordance with demand and output. Do not eat carbohydrates before relaxing on the couch, watching TV or sleeping unless blood sugar levels are a problem or stores were depleted just prior.
  • Activity based — Proper fuel and recovery are essential to obtain a safe and effective performance at every level, including day-to-day activity.
  • Breakfast — Most important meal of the day to get metabolism started, blood sugar stable and fuel for the day; should be well balanced and proportioned in accordance with agenda.
  • Fix food with food — Do not justify or correct poor eating with more exercise. Doing so creates an ineffective dependency cycle of acceptability. Correct poor eating with quality eating; make caloric and nutrient adjustments to compensate and balance previous poor choices.
  • Calories (too many/not enough) — Over-eating creates a surplus of stored calories, and under-eating slows down metabolism, creating a “starvation mode” storage of calories and decreasing energy levels.
  • Insulin Response — Insulin is responsible for shuttling nutrients and plays a big role in body composition and determining food destination (store it or burn it). Insulin responds primarily to sugar, as most food is converted to fuel. The glycemic index (GI) determines the rate at which food turns to sugar and how fast insulin responds. Higher = Faster. Insulin also plays a role in determining fat storage, hypertrophy (muscle growth) and metabolic rate. Over-eating causes over-excretion, and under-eating causes low excretion. Balance is key.

Conclusion

Athletes tend to be all over the map when it comes to eating habits and food selection. The fuel we give our bodies helps determine our play. We can’t expect a car to run without proper fuel, just like we can’t expect our bodies to perform well without the proper food. The more balanced and regulated an athlete’s diet the better prepared they will be and the better they will feel and perform.

Coaches have the opportunity to help their athletes become not only better athletes, but also better, healthier individuals. Taking the time to talk to your athletes about nutrition is crucial. It affects not only their mental state but also the amount of effort and work you get out of them on the court or field. A properly fueled athlete is one of the keys to success.

We hope you have gathered important information from our three part series on nutrition, and that sharing this information with your athletes proves beneficial.

We wish you all the best and thank you for all you do for the betterment of your athletes.

Note: Participants should always consult their physician or certified/licensed specialist before beginning any nutritional program. The previous information is not a prescription or intended to cure, treat or relieve any problematic symptoms and/or health-related issues. The information was written by a weight management consultant and wellness expert and was influenced and co-written by dietitians and nutritionists.

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Macronutrients – Feed Your Body for Greatness (part 2 of 3)

Posted in: Nutrition, Uncategorized

Macronutrients are the primary components that make up nutritional intake.

  1. Proteins — contain 4 Calories per gram; 25 percent of the Calories are burned during assimilation (digestion); least likely to be stored as fat; contain amino acids (building blocks for tissue); Sources: whey, soy, fish, beef, chicken, dairy, seafood, pork, legumes
  2. Carbohydratescontain 4 Calories per gram; primary energy source; burn nominal amount during assimilation; turn to sugar as energy source at a rate dependent upon glycemic index (GI) rating (how fast it turns to sugar); if over consumed will store as fat; Sources: oatmeal, brown rice, whole grains, multigrain bread (gluten free is best), whole grain or wheat pasta, sweet potatoes (white potatoes only after workout)
    • High GI (Glycemic Index) Carbs: All carbs turn to sugar and the faster it converts the higher the GI. It is beneficial to keep GI mod-low <70 with the exception of after workout recovery. Example GI rates below:
      • Sugar =100
      • White potatoes/breads/rice = 75-90
      • Corn/corn products = 80-95
      • Chips/crackers = 75-90
      • Fruit juice (only drink diluted or small amounts, 4 oz) = 80-100
  1. Fatscontain 9 Calories per gram; depending on type of fat can stimulate or slow metabolism and assimilation rate; deep store energy source; good fats are Omega 3s (fish, flax, nuts) and Omega 6s (vegetable oil, seeds); Sources: Olive or flax seed oil, Nuts, Avocados, Fish oils

Ratios for Macronutrients

When assessing the intake of macronutrients, take into account the athlete’s activity level, lifestyle, expenditure and BMR. Several other factors also play an important role: age, gender, body composition, physical limitations, health issues, hormones, medications, disease and illness.

Percentage of Total Daily Calorie Intake Guidelines (Protein%–Carbs%–Fats %)

  • Endurance: 20%-65%-15%
  • Sprinter/anaerobic: 30%-55%-15%
  • Lean weight lifter: 40%-40%-20%
  • Growth: 35%-45%-20%
  • Weight loss: 45%-40%-15%
  • General fitness: 40%-45%-15%
  • Performance: 40%-45%-15%

These guidelines reflect the percentage of each macronutrient in relation to total daily caloric intake composition. When assessing caloric needs, consider all factors for accuracy. These assessments are approximate and should always be documented, tracked and reassessed for accurate goal orientation.

The numbers can be skewed according to need — generally, tweak carbs and fats, subsidizing calories with protein to avoid lowering overall calories too far and causing metabolic slowdown.

Remember: If macronutrients are not appropriately assessed and allocated, the body does not function properly, which has adverse effects on goals and can cause health issues. Balance is key. A steady, well-balanced diet maintains health and long-term success.

Establishing Caloric Intake

1 lb of body weight = 3500 Calories

The body uses three energy systems:

  1. ATP & CP (quick, 1 to 20 seconds work) — burns adenosine triphosphate & creatine phosphate
  2. Glycogen (30 seconds to 3 minutes work) — burns sugar
  3. Aerobic (20+ minutes, steady state work) — burns fat

Calculating Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

Calories are needed for bodily function. Calories can be adjusted based on individual assessments, physical assessments and goals, including weight loss, gain or extended performance accounting for excess expenditure.

Mifflin Formula

W = weight in kilograms [lbs. divided by 2.2]; H = height in centimeters [inches x 2.54]; A = age

Male: 10W + 6.25H – 5A + 5 = Resting Metabolic Rate

Female: 10W + 6.25H – 5A – 161 = Resting Metabolic Rate

To determine total daily caloric needs to maintain body weight, multiply BMR by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:

  • Sedentary (little or no exercise): Calorie Calculation = BMR x 1.2
  • Lightly active (light exercise or sports 1-3 days/week): Calorie Calculation = BMR x 1.375
  • Moderately active (moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days/week): Calorie Calculation = BMR x 1.55
  • Very active (hard exercise or sports 6-7 days/week): Calorie Calculation = BMR x 1.725
  • Extra active (very hard exercise or sports and physical job): Calorie Calculation = BMR x 1.9

Adjust Calories 300 at a time when establishing weight management. Do not create too drastic of a surplus or deficit to avoid shocking the system and interrupting the body’s adjustment and function process. Establish base lines and adjust accordingly without making too hard of a shift to allow the body to adjust. Additionally, learn what works, how, why and at what pace for the most effective long-term results.

Conclusion

Athletes need to understand how calories affect their body and establish a healthy relationship with food. Eating too few or too many calories, eating infrequently, and eating the wrong foods can adversely affect their performance, body image, and self-esteem. The more information and encouragement coaches can provide in this area will benefit the individual athletes and the team as a whole.

Remember that to maintain balance and avoid cravings, eat frequently, 5-7 times per day, and include all macronutrients while avoiding caffeine and consuming plenty of water.

We are all fallible human beings and creatures of habit and comfort. We all make mistakes and have poor judgment at times. The objective is to be consistent and learn, grow and gain strength — not to focus on perfection.

We hope you look forward to Part 3 “Genetics and Nutrition.”

Note: Participants should always consult their physician or certified/licensed specialist before beginning any nutritional program. The previous information is not a prescription or intended to cure, treat or relieve any problematic symptoms and/or health-related issues. The information was written by a weight management consultant and wellness expert and was influenced and co-written by dietitians and nutritionists.

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Nutrition and Athletes (part 1 of 3)

Posted in: Nutrition

Nutrition for Athletes

How Nutrition Affects Athletes

Every cell in the body depends on water, nourishment and oxygen to function properly. In a normal, healthy person, food determines approximately 65-70 percent of how he or she looks and feels. Approximately 10-15 percent of good health depends on exercise or activity; 10-15 percent depends on sleep, and 5-10 percent depends on genetics and health-related issues. A person can eat healthy and adequately with moderate activity and nominal exercise and easily maintain or improve the way he or she looks and feels.

Combining proper nutrition for athletes with adequate activity or exercise creates an optimal healthy outcome with minimal sacrifice. In a highly active lifestyle, such as an athlete’s, the fuel consumed greatly affects performance. Knowing and understanding proper nutrition is essential for optimal performance, recovery and growth.

Once an athlete reaches his or her peak and is competing at the top level, the playing field is relatively equal. One major aspect of training and performance that gives athletes a superior edge over competitors is fuel intake on and off the field. Athletes can only perform, recover and grow as efficiently as the body’s fuel utilization process permits. Any deficiency or inadequacy affects this process.

Basic Nutrition Rules – Nutrition for athletes is an important process that many seem to neglect. Food is fuel!

  1. Most people eat too much of what they do not need and not enough of what they do need.
  2. It is important to learn what is bad for the body and also what is good for it.
  3. Being calorie conscious is important, but understanding what the calories consist of is vital.
  4. Maintaining good nutritional balance is essential for proper fueling and nourishment.
  5. Eating 5-7 times per day creates stable blood sugar levels, energy levels and satiety, while managing hunger and preventing binging.
  6. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and should be one of the largest.
  7. Meals should correlate directly to activity, lifestyle and exercise.
  8. Consume food as needed to avoid becoming too hungry or too full.
  9. Eat clean, natural foods in reasonable portions as needed.
  10. Eat healthy and balanced meals 75 percent or more of the time.
  11. Avoid or limit caffeinated drinks when possible, including sodas. Drink plenty of water.
  12. Approximately 98 percent of fast food is bad for the body. A grocery store is a much better place to find meals and snacks.
  13. Going without food can be worse than eating a moderate amount of something less healthy.
  14. Fix food with food and exercise with exercise. Do not justify one with the other.
  15. Maintain blood sugar balance (with fruit and low carbs) and nitrogen balance (with protein frequency) to avoid crashes and cravings.

Conclusion

To maintain balance and avoid cravings, eat frequently, 5-7 times per day, and include all macronutrients while consuming plenty of water.

Athletes should log and track nutritional intake in a journal to understand what works in specific conditions. First, write down everything eaten for a week and calculate the findings. Additionally, athletes should journal how they feel and how they performance daily to see how nutrition may have affected both. Then, assess and calculate a new program according to the guidelines and repeat for 7 days to compare.

If target goals are not on track after 2 weeks, reassess program logistics. This is the only way to truly gauge progress. The more athletes track and log, the easier it will become to adjust and accept the new program and be the most effective in performance.

Remember these 5 rules:

  1. No or nominal caffeine.
  2. Sleep at least 7 hours each night.
  3. Eat 5-7 times per day.
  4. Drink as much water as possible all day.
  5. Make nutrition a priority.

We are all fallible human beings and creatures of habit and comfort. We all make mistakes and have poor judgment at times. The objective is to be consistent and learn, grow and gain strength — not to focus on perfection.

Nutrition plays a vital role in the health and success of our athletes. Look for our upcoming newsletters “Macronutrients – Feed Your Body for Greatness” and “Genetics and Nutrition.”

Note: Participants should always consult their physician or certified/licensed specialist before beginning any nutritional program. The above information is not a prescription or intended to cure, treat or relieve any problematic symptoms and/or health-related issues. The information was written by a weight management consultant and wellness expert and was influenced and co-written by dietitians and nutritionists.

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Linear Speed

Posted in: Speed Training

Why is Linear Speed Training so Important for Athletes?

What coach doesn’t want faster athletes? Typically the faster athlete gets to the ball first, wins the race, or gets in position to make the play before their opponent. You might have a killer first and second step, which are often the most important, but the rest of the steps (“linear speed”) determine if you get caught or whether you catch the other team.

To maintain top-end speed, and for that top-end speed to be fast, you must have good mechanics. There are 4 important elements to focus on when learning and executing linear speed:

  1. Posture

Run tall with a forward lean. Two common mistakes you see in many athletes are they may lean too forward with an improper bend at their hips or they may run too upright. This may also be a result of heel-running, which is death to speed.

  1. Knee Drive

Knee drive is a crucial component of sprinting. This requires powerful hip flexion and prepared hamstrings. This is why we put such an emphasis on those parts of strength development for athletes in lifting.

  1. Heel Recovery

Heel recovery is important because it keeps your foot contact light and brings your knee up into the proper position. Remember: if the heel comes up, the knee must come up. Six inch speed hurdle training trains heel recovery by presenting an obstacle to step over.

  1. Arms and Hands

Athletes tend to let their arms swing out with their wrists cocked out. Athletes need to learn to keep a 90-degree bend at the elbows with the wrists and hands in a neutral position. Then make sure the path of their arm swing is not going overtly sideways. We want thumbs taking a path through imaginary belt loops. We want to keep as much motion as possible going forward, not side-to-side.

Remember: mechanics produce efficiency, and efficiency produces linear speed!

DX3’s Linear Speed Training will make you faster from step 1 and 2 through the finish line. Whether training in small groups or private sessions, the cognitive lessons we teach instill mechanics that win the race. Don’t miss a step! Come find it with the Speed Training Team at DX3 Athlete.

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Hydration – The Battle We All Face

Posted in: Sports Training

Why is hydration important for athletes?Why is Hydration Important for Athletes?

Summer is here and the heat is unavoidable. Hydration is something most coaches are very good about promoting. However, some athletes, even those who play indoor sports or winter sports, fall victim to dehydration.

Water’s Role
Water is a macronutrient that supports metabolism, plays a big role in digestion and helps in thermoregulation (how your body regulates its temperature). It also helps lubricate joints and maintain proper cell and organ function.

Water has a big role in how our brains function. An athlete’s uncharacteristic loss of coordination could be a sign of dehydration. Have you experienced a time when dehydration was as impactful on the mental side of your athletes as it was on the physical?

Dehydration
Plain and simple, it can kill you. You could die. Fact. What starts with thirst, dry mouth, headache, and fatigue can lead to muscle cramps, dizziness, elevated heart rate, and unconsciousness. Dehydration is not something you want to play with.

Our thirst mechanism is simply our body’s way of telling us to drink water. Athletes should be in the habit of drinking more than their thirst demands. We don’t want their bellies sloshing, but if they hydrate properly this won’t be an issue. Once you’re thirsty you’re playing catch up. Proper hydration starts the day before the activity, not an hour before.

So how much water do we need? The exact amount depends on several factors including age, gender, and activity level, but 2-3 liters a day is a good estimation. Drinking too much is rare, you’re more likely to dehydrate than over-hydrate. Athletes need to prioritize taking in enough water and they probably need your reminder to make that happen.

A small portion of your water intake comes from food and other non-water drinks. That doesn’t mean eat a bunch of watermelon. Simply consider that a proper nutritional regimen, including fruits and vegetables, contributes to your daily water intake. Complex carbohydrates help us retain the water we drink, so having some carbs in the diet is also important for proper hydration.

The bottom line is, be diligent and disciplined about keeping hydration a priority. We have to put back in what our body sweats out and uses up. Make sure your athletes understand how water affects how they feel and how they perform.

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Summer Training

Posted in: Off-Season Training

Make Summer a Success!

More athletic gains can be made in the summer than in an entire school year. It is important to capitalize on the opportunity to take your athletes to the next level during the summer months which are technically “off-season” and “pre-season.” Summertime presents a unique opportunity for kids to engage in learning, developing and training with a dedicated focus on improvement.

Benefits of Summer Youth Sports Training:

  • You can train harder: training is the primary, rather than secondary, stress to be calculated
  • The best opportunity to learn
  • No or reduced school = No or less academic stress
  • Less social and peer pressure = More focus on self-improvement
  • No or less sport practice/play = Athletic Development as the primary sport
  • Better morale and positive state of mind
  • Longer hours of daylight to enjoy more leisure activities

You can always tell the athletes who worked hard over the summer as they return to practice much better prepared, and with a greater sense of confidence. One great summer training program can make a huge difference in a season for any sport. Of course with any training, there are advantages and challenges, and summer training is no exception.

Challenges of Summer Youth Sports Training:

  • Heat: Teach your kids to hydrate non-stop every day and eat accordingly
  • Time: Be efficient with planning and structure, make the most of what you’ve got
  • Compliance: Encourage your kids with positive motivation
  • Where to Train?: Choices abound but making the right choice is imperative

Many programs we have evaluated as consultants too often use the “herd the cattle theory… lots of kids so just run them and work them hard so the crème rises to the top.” Strategically, this one-dimensional approach results in overstress, taxation and excessive training of specific energy, nerve and muscular systems without safely and effectively developing athletes.   Always ask yourself “Is it HARD, or is it GOOD?” Anyone can implement HARD, but not everyone can do GOOD! The focus should be on improving your athlete’s overall athletic ability by ensuring they are learning, developing and mastering training as they physically perform it. At DX3 that’s what we do!

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In-Season Strength Training

Posted in: Strength Training

Understanding Athletic Development is about understanding progression, regression, anatomical adaptation and recovery cycles. Too often coaches alleviate or minimize their strength training during season because they feel it takes away from their ball time and/or will adversely affect their player’s performance. This is actually quite contrary to the facts. In strength training, science has shown that in approximately 96 hours the body will begin to regress in strength if muscles are not adequately stressed. However, cardiovascular de-conditioning doesn’t begin until after approximately 12 days without direct activity.

“A good athlete is born good, a great athlete is trained great.”

When addressing in-season training it is crucial to remain conscious of all stress bouts accumulated leading up to competition in addition to the type of training performed (practice, conditioning, lifting, competitive play, disciplinary activity, etc.). Coaches have to be conscience of not over-training athletes, the goal is to train them safely and appropriately year round. Athletes should improve each year, and attempt to maintain throughout the in-season with minimal loss.

Too often a player will work extremely hard in the offseason only to lose it during the season. This cycle leads to poor development and means there is a deficiency in the training program. Strength training should ALWAYS be part of a program year round to continue the player’s development, minimize risk of injury and continue positive progress.

A strength training program should have many facets with different levels of intensity to match the desired objective. The periodization process, or objective based segments, should be tailored to provide development year round while taking into account the demands of the current season. Segments will have different areas of emphasis such as heavy, light, Olympics, progressive, functional, conditioning, etc. but should work together for maximum benefit.

When you provide year round strength training your players will continuously advance and remain strong as they mature and become more skilled. Remember:

“Skill is great but the speed and strength of that skill determines the level of play.”

Important determining factors of that speed or performance are: muscle activation, range of motion and speed of contraction. All of these are positively affected by proper strength training coinciding with neuromuscular activity which trains the voluntary and involuntary response mechanisms of the body. By performing strength training you are able to activate these sensory mechanisms that will help prepare the body to perform higher, faster workloads in the weight room and in competition.

Generally in-season training consists of a 2 day per week lift schedule. One of the days is moderately intense early in the week and the second day is an “unload” day. Intensity can be determined by weight, rest periods or volume, and should be based on training schedule, work load and time until competition. An “unload” is a session performed 8-48 hours prior to competition involving primarily low weight, double-limb compound lifts and auxiliary lifts. The focus is on range of motion and contraction to unload the joints and activate the muscles. Additionally a post competition workout can be used as a third day of strength training. It is always a great idea to perform an unload day of stretching, yoga, range of motion and unload-lifting the day after a competition.

Coaches must understand that you only need 15-30 minutes of lifting to maximize the benefits of strength training and see real gains. At DX3 our programs efficiency and effectiveness accounts for one set per minute, so 15-30 minutes = 15-30 sets. Even on the 15 set day you are working five body parts for three sets of each in less than 20 minutes.

In conclusion, by incorporating in-season lifting, athletes will continuously develop, decrease risk of injuries, stay better tuned to training and not suffer such dramatic acclimation periods when transitioning season to season, or sport to sport. It is a FACT: Strength training is more beneficial to a developing athlete during and long after their career than the actual playing of the sport. (visit http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/strength-training/HQ01010 for supporting information)

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Change of Direction

Posted in: Sports Training

speed training drillsThere are two general categories of speed: linear speed and lateral speed. Lateral speed is oftentimes simplified as agility and quickness. A popular term for this is “change of direction” (COD). The ability to start, stop and start again at high speed is a critical factor in an athlete’s ability to put her in the best position possible to be successful. Here are 5 key points to remember for efficient change of direction:

1. Load and explode!

You load by getting low in the hips. If you don’t get low, the change of direction will be slow because you won’t have any leverage on your body weight. You can’t be high changing direction. Being too high will lead to balance issues and wasted time. After loading, coming out of it should be viewed as an explosion, much like being shot out of a cannon. Unload with power!

2. Transition your weight properly.

When shifting your weight, be sure to keep the hips between the knees and not let your weight, your center of gravity specifically; get away from the stability of your foundation. Don’t get top heavy and don’t let your hips get outside of your knees. Always squat when you stop and take your upper body and lower body down together.

3. Get the head around.

Wherever the head goes, the body will follow. Don’t forget: everything is connected. The eyes are an important part of this. Vision is important coming out of the turns, because it sets your balance. As you drive with your legs, use your eyes to find your target. If you keep your eyes down too close in front of you, you may stumble.

4. Get the hips around.

In a training scenario, ideally, you turn as you stop so that your hips are facing the direction you want to be going next. In a competition scenario, you simply need to get them around as soon as possible. Sometimes this must come after saving a ball. This is where strength training to get the hips more stable helps with speed.

5. Arms

Don’t lose the arms in all of this. Remember to keep them in a good position, to pump them and to keep them in. Be in control of your limbs. Don’t swing your arms recklessly when turning. If you aren’t controlling them and using them correctly, they are slowing you down.

Work on these basics and your lateral speed will improve.

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Connecting Speed and Strength

Posted in: Sports Training

speed and strength training

Speed and Strength Training

The speed and strength with which skill is delivered is what determines the level of play. There is a major connection between speed and the weight room, and strength training should not be neglected.

Aside from the injury management element by developing the skeletal muscle to reinforce the joints and endure the stresses of physical competition, resistance training is essential to improving an athlete’s speed.

If speed is stride length times stride frequency, and stride length depends greatly on leg length, then stride frequency development becomes a major focus. Turnover and rapid, controlled acceleration and deceleration require muscular strength.

Muscles like the iliopsoas, the most powerful hip flexor in the body, need attention. The quad itself is comprised of four muscles and the hamstring is comprised of three muscles. All of the quad, hamstring and hip flexor muscles are responsible for getting things up, down and around. A lack of strength in these muscles directly translates to a lack of speed.

Strength programs should be designed to create a strength balance throughout the entire body. Dexterity is crucial for athletes, as the non-dominant side must be as thoroughly developed as the dominant side, especially for rotational athletes like volleyball, golf, baseball and softball players. Oftentimes the anterior side gets too much focus, so in general the posterior is left needing to be addressed.

Pay particularly close attention to strengthening the muscles involved in two critical athletic movements:

  1. Deceleration – specifically the braking mechanics of the athlete
  2. Landing – as from a jump

The quads and hamstrings need to be able to withstand a high volume of eccentric load. They must be strong enough to absorb the impact and keep the joints from being over extended.

There is no such thing as injury prevention, there is only injury reduction. We may not be able to address certain factors such as Q angle, hormonal influences, field or court conditions or opponent behavior, however proper strength training can help mitigate injuries and better prepare athletes for competition. If we address these issues in the weight room or on the practice field/court then our athletes will be safer and will perform better. Two things we all want!

Understanding the importance of strength training for the benefit of speed is a step toward comprehensive athletic development.

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Building Speed: Power + Technique

Posted in: Sports Training

speed training

Speed Training

One question that sparks discussion amongst coaches and parents is how do they make their athletes faster? The conversation usually turns to whether they can be made faster or is someone just born fast or slow. Yes, a genetic predisposition toward speed is present in some athletes and is something to be nurtured, but at the end of the day it’s about maximizing genetic potential regardless of the natural ability.

With that said, every athlete can improve his/her speed through a blend of internal and external factors. Teaching kids proper technique and reinforcing those techniques through practice prepares them to be quicker to the ball and higher on the jump.

Improving speed is about applying power and technique. Power is the product of strength and speed. As science sophisticates our techniques for speed training, more athletes are benefiting from that increase of information. Internally, it is the natural growth and maturation process of a young person. From there, training stimuli imprinted through repetition help nurture the genetics. Genetics determine nerve impulse rates, muscle fiber types and combinations of muscular firing patterns – essentially: overall athleticism. Therefore, speed training should influence all of those factors as much as possible.

Remember, everything is connected.

Externally, speed training techniques are important because of the multitude of stressors the body experiences. Simply running as fast as you can as much as you can is counterproductive. Technical or developmental deficiencies repeated at high rates may cause imbalances in the body and lead to injury or other setbacks. Avoiding regression is key to any progression, especially with athletic development.

Part of making a person faster is building on a progression of training. If you are developing a youth athlete, technique is the first and only thing you should be concerned with. Their bodies are focused more on growing than competing, so don’t worry about setting land-speed records prior to puberty. Even after puberty, the fundamentals remain crucial. Your focus should be for the athletes to be as fundamentally sound as possible when they have reached proper maturity. Then they will be ready for even further physical development.

To a degree, this same concept can be applied to athletes that are getting a late start or have never been exposed to proper training techniques. When you take a sprinter with natural ability but has terrible technique, there is a great opportunity to improve speed immediately. Putting the body in correct posture, you are able to recruit the necessary muscle fibers to develop the aforementioned external factors.

Speed can be taught and you can never have too much speed!

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