Friday, October 1, 2010

Prehab? How much is too much?

Injury prevention is a top priority in Sports Training at every level.  Dan Riley, a long-time NFL Strength Coach with the Washington Redskins and Houston Texans once said. "It's my job to protect the owner's investment, the players."

This brings us to the point of prehab or movement prep training. Yes, it prevents injuries, but the question of how much is too much?  Does that mean one, two or three exercises for each joint or specific movement pattern? The real question then is how much devotion within each workout do we place on prehab/movement prep training.

First, this should be determined prior to starting a workout program.  Your assessment of the athlete's coordination and mobility are vital in determining the training volume and intensity within each workout.  This is why preparing the athlete for movement is vital.  In sport each athlete needs to be available at any even time.  This mindset makes preparing to play important for the major joints, especially  the shoulders, hips and spine. 

The shoulders need to move in every plane and the spine particularly the thoracic spine controls multiple movements of the torso and rotational movements.  Then you add the hips to control lower body movement and rotation.  All sports have emphasis on one movement pattern or joint more than the other. Our job as Strength and Conditioning Coaches is to maximize each athlete's potential. 

Vern Gambetta was one of the first to write about movement prep in America though we know the Eastern Europeans did extensive movement drills in sport training.  It is important to develop a philosophy, and mold it to your athlete's needs.  Whatever we need to keep our training sessions within blocks of time.

Blocks of time allow a coach to stay on task and we continually want to challenge athlete's.  Competition within the workout can push an athlete to another level, and our goal is to have each athlete reach a higher level of achievement.

I stay within a 15-minute period max for all movement prep and prehab and these anything from individual hip abduction to incorporating dynamic flexibility movements as long as we keep these goals in mind.

1.   Incorporate movements within all three planes: transverse, sagital and frontal planes.
2.   Minimum of one movement for each major joint: spine, hips and shoulders.
3.   Emphasis the joint(s) trained the most for the particular session.

What does this mean.

Foam roller shoulder be a major component each training session. Then joint movement at the hip or shoulder in the form of circular motions. (Look for my next blob on clubbells) Then add an additional one or two exercises for the joint of emphasis. All in all an athlete should be able to complete 4-6 exercises of low resistance and joint movement within this 15-minute period.

That's all for now.  Let me know what you think.

Train hard,

Todd Baden, MS, C.S.C.S., USAW Senior Coach, USATF Level 1

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Posture and Explosive Training?

Posture, we've all been told sometime in our lives to sit-up straight, stand-up soldier. Yes, good posture exhumes confidence and with regular strength training we can develop self-confidence in our athletes, especially girls.

The other aspect is how posture effects optimal acceleration and explosion in an athletic movement.  Many sports require an athlete beat an opponent or catch a ball at a specific point. So angles are key aspects of catching a ball or being a would be tackler.

Where is this going?

Posture is tied to core and yea we have all heard it before. Well, its true core is vital and not just for posture, but deceleration explosive movements.

Posture is the ability to maintain correct spinal and muscular alignment whether sitting, standing.  We will focus on the athletic stance.

The athletic stance requires a correct alignment and synergistic use of all muscles. Since our upper and lower body is linked via our spinal column we must use the core musculature correctly. This entails linking our musculature and bones.  The upper body, more specifically the rib cage controls flexion and rotation of the upper body.

The lower body is held en tack by the hips or more importantly the glutes to maintain posture.  The glutes are the most important spinal muscle especially for ground based sports and explosion.  Remember we push through the ground to take off when sprinting or jumping.  This mean the old saying, "Head over Chest over Knees over Toes". Keep this alignment and one has the best opportunity to create maximum power.

The glutes are the most powerful muscle in our body and with that hip extension is needed to reach maximal power.  If we create excess flexion or extension anywhere along the spine then one can alter power production and change body mechanics running or jumping.

This is why posture is so important.  When taking off from either a three-point or two-point stance one needs to push the ground and drive the arms, however athletes will raise their head or stand up.  The best explosion is achieved through body alignment throughout the acceleration phase. Newton's Laws at there finest!

This body alignment allows one to use the reverse kinetic chain to it optimum. What is the reverse kinetic chain?  Your glutes, hamstrings and low back musculature and any change this alter power production.

Throughout my 20 years of training athletes this is one of the number one things I need to correct.

That is why getting the glutes to fire is vital for optimal explosion and posture alignment.  Keep this and you have a better chance of success down the road. 

Remember you are only as your weakest component.   Strengthen the weakness!

Look for our Exercise of the week section coming this week.  Up first is glut prep.

See ya soon!

Train hard,


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Training The High School Athlete?

High School athletes are oh, so intriging. When a 14 year old enters high school he or she is at the prime of their training pyramind. Now is the time to train and get the most out of a young developing body, and if one has progressed training properly the key ingredients are explosion and speed.

Now I am not going to talk about what exercises or percentages or whether you need to train a certain method. Save it for another blog. What I do know is the key ingredients to determine an athlete most important needs.

If you have followed my last two blogs you have noticed they all fit together since training is like a puzzle. It has specific ingredients to assist young athlete development. As a strength coach we do our job and develop coordination and agility during the early years, we do not see weaknesses later. The middle years are more for general strength and teaching instruction to foster good work habits.

The high schools years are about maximal strength, speed, explosion development. Training is like a pyramind if your foundation is good it makes everything else easy. So by now we should have good relative body strength, flexibility, coordination and agility. Now we fine tune these skills into a highly explosive athlete who has the components to excel.

What do I mean by excel? Maximal strength makes it easier to decelerate or cut and go into a faster move more posture correct body position to explode and beat someone in your first step. Correct posture goes a long ways in making an explosive athlete. I will get into explosive details in my next blog.

So it is simple build the pyramid of training from the ground up focus on mobiilty, flexibility, coordination and agility. If a high school athlete is weak in any one of these areas the weakness must be corrected before optimal performance can be reach the peak.

The second teir is quickness, general and maximal strength, body posture or for modern training terms CORE TRAINING.

Finally, If these weaknesses are corrected the athlete then has the opportunity to reach maximal speed and explosion, otherwise a weakness will limit their performance.

If you have any question or comment to any of these blogs, send me a reply I love feedback.

Train hard,

Todd Baden, MS, C.S.C.S.
Synergy Sports and Performance
3350 N. Holand-Sylvania Rd.
Toledo, Ohio 43615

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Part 2: When do kids start Training?

In part 1 I talked about starting kids in training and "Fun" and games or exploring exercise the most important aspect, not worrying about whether they got the skill totally correct, but still teaching safety and technique.

Now our kids are older and becomes confusing when to we "play" and when we "work". Actually they are mutually one and as each child ages the dynamics of these aspects change.

When our kids reach the ripe old age of around 10 or 11 years old the body changes. Does that mean we turn the barometer up and start working them harder? No, it means the dynamics of how we train kids changes. There cognitive and motor skills are better so we can now challenge them more.

What I mean is now we "teach" motor skills because they to relate them to specifics of sport. No, I do not mean sport specific training, that is later. We want them to understand a little about the positive impacts of training on sport.

This means fun with relays and games that require specific tasks like hopping or back pedal and change of direction via verbal or visual command. When they were younger we ask certain skill be performed more to see their reaction and help us determine the next direction.

Between the 10 and 13 years of age we have a pretty good idea of how one learns via visual, auditory or kinesthetic (doing) and now we teach movements patterns such as crossovers and simple cuts through games.

We still want "fun" with the games and relays. Now we can start structure into their training. Some will get this and others may still want to explore. The structure is strength training, and yea we were doing that before now we can start to use external load, first with sticks and then lightweight bars.

See, training is starting to be like building a bridge. We need the foundation first then we add more dynamic skills as we age.

If you have any questions please shoot we a line and I would be happy to talk training.

Train smart,

Todd Baden, MS, C.S.C.S.
Synergy Sports and Performance
3350 N. Holland-Sylvania Rd.
Toledo, Ohio 43615

If we are a good Strength and Conditioning Coach we learn to adapt the situation and teach weakness into a person's strength. This only makes them better.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

When do kids start training?

I get asked this question on a weekly basis, and as a parent we always want to do the best for our children and provide every opportunity to grow and develop.

We also want our children to develop a strong work ethic just as our parents instilled in us. This is where the question arises, and I want to emphasize kids are developing and training is development and goes hand-in-hand with skill development.

Children under the age of 9 are still exploring exercise and sports through trial and error. My job as a Strength and Conditioning Coach takes on many hats and this age group I am the supervisor of play. This is exactly what the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA) and Brian Grasso recommend and I totally agree. Our job as coaches is to introduce play in as many different forms as possible.

Now some children are more motor inclined or ahead of the curve. These children can possibly learn formal exercise, but here again we need to let them explore, use sticks or bean bags or water bags as weights.

Then you have the other end of the spectrum, low self-esteem and motor skills. It is our responsibility to help every child and build them up. What they may lack in one area they may be more coach able or teachable than the high motor kids (I have seen this).

Whatever the activity or the child, the play must be fun, furthermore the first experience must be positive and all activities be at a level that all participants can perform the skill. My job is to teach, challenge, and entertain so I am able to assist in building self-esteem. This brings kids back and make it a win-win for everyone.

Formal exercise is good, but lets kids explore and have fun!

If you have any questions or comments they are always welcome.

Train hard and have fun!

Todd Baden, MS, C.S.C.S., IYCA level 1, USAW Senior Coach, USATF level 1
Synergy Sports and Performance
3350 N. Holland-Sylvania Rd.
Toledo, Ohio 43615