STRENGTH & CONDITIONING PROGRAM
Strength training is the number one factor when developing a strength and conditioning program for athletes. Strength is the one fitness quality that has the ability to enhance all other qualities when improved to the appropriate levels. You can get faster, but it might not make you stronger or quicker. You can get quicker, but it won’t make you stronger or faster. Getting stronger can increase speed, increase explosiveness, improve agility, increase endurance, and decrease the risk of injury.
There is more to a strength program than just working hard and getting sore. Anybody can design a program that makes people tired and sore. To have a truly successful strength program, there must be a systematic way of increasing and decreasing volume and intensity in order to keep athletes from becoming over trained. Constant change and adjustment is needed to overcome plateaus and prevent stagnation.
There are only two ways to physically run faster. All drills and exercises are designed to increase these two factors: Stride Frequency and Stride Length. Unfortunately, research has shown that Stride Frequency (and agility coincidently) is pretty much set by the time a person is 13 to 14 years old. The good news, however, is that Stride Length is very trainable, and the biggest contribution comes from strength training. As an athlete gets stronger, they inevitably, cover more ground with each stride as their body propels them across the ground. Remember that Stride Frequency is set at a fairly young age, but athletes continue to run faster as they get older. This is clearly because of a natural increase in strength. Our job is to further increase this natural increase by means of strength training. In other words, speed starts in the weight room. Period!
The muscles we will be concentrating on are easy to find. If you look in the mirror, they are the ones you can’t see. The entire back (neck to low back), glutes and hamstrings are the most important muscles we train. These muscles are responsible for moving us fast and allowing us to jump high. For this reason, various forms of the back and front squat will be utilized as well as multiple variations of the dead lift. These are the lifts that most effectively recruit and build the posterior chain. Power lifting and variations of Olympic lifts are the most effective means for increasing proficiency in the area of strength. At the Olympic Training Center in Colorado, the Olympic lifters were tested to be just as fast for the first ten meters as the world class sprinters that train there. These athletes are able to be explosive because they are strong.
The explosive component in our program revolves around the power clean. It is a great exercise because it is explosive and emphasizes triple extension of the ankles, knees, and hips. Although younger athletes may not achieve true triple extension, it is still effective because it is a total body lift that must be performed fast. The power clean and its variations increase the Rate of Force Development (RFD). RFD is the ability to express force quickly. This factor is what is commonly referred to as explosive strength or power. If you increase your RFD, you will get faster and jump higher.
The cornerstone of the lower body strength training program is the utilization of the squat. It is the single most effective way to build lower body strength. We will use squats almost exclusively to achieve the desired results in our program. The Squat, when done correctly, places a tremendous amount of stress on the glutes and hamstrings. (Muscles used for speed and power) Using a medium to wide stance and sitting back to a parallel position, the exercise targets the muscle groups we need to hit. The sitting back motion also causes the shins to remain vertical (perpendicular to the floor) allowing for stress to be taken of off the knees. When an athlete descends, he or she is instructed to pause for a split second. This forces the athlete to overcome inertia at the bottom of the lift. This pause eliminates momentum further increasing explosive strength.
Increasing muscular tension is the goal of all strength training exercises. There are three different ways to increase muscular tension. The first is the Repeated Effort Method. To use this method, you will lift sub-maximal loads for multiple repetitions until you can no longer perform the repetitions in good form. This is used widely by bodybuilders. Doing chin-ups for 5 sets of 10 reps is an example of this method. The repetition method is the most effective method for gaining muscle mass. The next method is the most popular strength method. It is the Max Effort Method. In this method, the athlete will perform an exercise for a 6RM, 5RM, 3RM, or 1RM (RM denotes rep max). The last method is the Dynamic Effort Method. For this method, the athlete will move a lighter weight (sometimes bodyweight only) as fast as possible. The power clean is the most specific example of how we use the dynamic effort method. All types of jumps, throws, and tire flips are also examples of the dynamic effort method. Our goal is to include all three of these in the same training week. If you focus on one for a period of time, you will lose your abilities in the ones you are not performing. This is why Linear Periodization (Western Method of Training) has become less popular in recent years. Linear Periodization is characterized by starting with lighter weight and higher repetitions and week by week moving into the heavier percentages and lower repetitions. Abilities are better maintained if trained within the same training week and moved up together. Most programs only include one or two ways of increasing muscular tension. These programs are limiting their results by not including all three.
Performance Making the Play
Game Skills Effort
Practice Mental Technique Strategy
Ability Agility Power Speed Endurance
Conditioning Stretching Lifting Running Nutrition Resting
Character Faith Resolve Discipline Courage Work Ethic Unity
Our performance pyramid has six levels. We believe my pyramid resembles a lot of other pyramids. we like the basic pyramids because of the simplicity that it brings.
• The base level of our pyramid is character. This is not just for athletics but this should be how we live our life. We should put faith first, in Christ all things are possible. If we can learn resolve, discipline, courage, work ethic, and unity we can be successful in all walks of life through God. Most importantly we can serve God and one another become the best person we possible can.
• The second level is conditioning. The proper stretching, running, and lifting program can help us become bigger, faster, and stronger athletes. Also, this can help cut down on injuries. Using proper nutrition with plenty of rest we can strive to become the best athlete we can be.
• The third level is ability. By increasing our agility, power, speed, and endurance we can perform to our maximum ability.
• The fourth level is practice. Remember perfect practice makes perfect, not practice makes perfect. If you do not prepare like you should in practice with the mental aspects, technique, and strategic points of the game, you usually do not perform well during the contest.
• The fifth level is the game. By using their physical and mental skills along with their best effort athletes can be very successful during their competitions.
• The final level is performance. All the other levels lead to your performance. Being successful at the other levels, athletes will make the plays during the contest.