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Clinically Pressed Ep. 59 - Hockey Training



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ti_igKUCEvM&feature=youtu.be&utm_source=Clinically+Pressed+Episode+Mailing+List&utm_campaign=347aa58189-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_05_07_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e91bc99944-347aa58189-445544773



Dr. Sean Gallagher is a former high level hockey player that has turned into a hockey training and treatment guru. His experience of playing at the highest levels along with a full academic career in chiropractic school have brought him a unique perspective on how to approach training hockey players.




This episode we get further into hockey training and what all goes into it. The planning for the year of training is difficult when it the playing season never ends. We also dive into the specific demands that the sport places on the body and the unique ways that you have to approach exercises without forgetting to focus on injury prevention and resilience. If you play hockey at any level you want to listen to this episode.




This episode we get further into hockey training and what all goes into it. The planning for the year of training is difficult when it the playing season never ends. We also dive into the specific demands that the sport places on the body and the unique ways that you have to approach exercises without forgetting to focus on injury prevention and resilience. If you play hockey at any level you want to listen to this episode.




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Podcast Notes:

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Clinically Pressed Podcast Episode 38

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oAEjdiQK1A&feature=youtu.be[/embed]

Clinically Pressed Podcast Episode 38

Had the opportunity to sit down with Joel and Kyle of Clinically Pressed and answer their questions.

Clinically Pressed is committed to sharing as much useful and applicable information as possible to their audience. Comprised of a PhD, DC and ATC, the CP podcast that seeks to make the complicated simple. CP wants to connect you with experts in their fields - all at no cost to you. They want their audience to be able to access information as easy as possible. Be sure to check them out on the web, on their social media, and support them on Patreon. Also be sure to check out their free weekly newsletter - Total Athletic Therapy.

Website: clinicallypressed.com
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From the Clinically Pressed website, here the notes from the show:

0:00- Episode introduction and check out Paragon Nutrition for some of the most effective and well done supplements on the market. Use code “CP15” for 15% off at check out.

1:26-CP Intro Video: Courtesy of Justin Joy of “Elder Pine Media” Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2:04-Welcome Sean Gallagher DC of Gallagher Performance and the connection to Palmer College.

3:38-The sports injury department at Palmer and it being one of the only in the country.

6:00-Dr. Juehring of Palmer and his clinical experience along with his athletic background make him one of the hidden gems in the industry.

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Sports, Training, and Life After

When it comes to writing and keeping up a blog, demands of life and business can make it challenging to find time to sit down and put some good thought into something you hope your readers will either find a degree of value or connection with in reading. Sometimes the best inspiration for writing comes through simple conversation. In this case, I was having a conversation with a parent that generated some thought that got me to thinking I should sit and put my thoughts down.

Knowing some of the physical ailments I deal with on a regular basis from sports, this particular parent of one of our athletes asked me, “Would you do it all again?”

Essentially their implied question being, “Was it worth it?”

Easy answer. I said, “Yes.”

The sports of ice hockey, powerlifting, and Strongman have provided me numerous friendships, lessons, memories, and helped shaped how I approach life. I would never change that.

Keep in mind, while some injuries I sustained playing hockey were severe, what I deal with to this day is relatively minor compared to other athletes.

In fact, while I did sustain injuries during sport participation, I received just as many injuries and set backs in the weight room or in training. This is what I would have changed the most. I would want to go back to change my training habits and attitude when I was in high school and college.

In the late 90s and early 2000s, I was fully invested in training for hockey and had minimal resources. The Internet did not provided the amount of information it has today. I was using magazines or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding to find guidance on what to do when it came to working out and lifting weights. There was truly a lack of training info out there. Similar to most kids my age, reading over the monthly Muscle and Fitness was the closest thing we had to authority on all things bigger and stronger.

There were no seminars. No YouTube tutorials. No blogs or online forums. No ebooks. These didn't exist as a reference to help young, aspiring athletes guide their understanding of training.

Books on training were just as hard to find. As a kid, I absolutely hated to read books. But I had one exception. I loved reading autobiographies on athletes I looked up to. Athletes like Jerry Rice, Herschel Walker, Jaromir Jagr, and Mario Lemieux.

At times, these athletes would discuss what types of workouts they did growing up or still performed in the offseason. I recall reading that Jerry Rice, as a kid, would run after horses to get faster. During his career as the greatest receiver in NFL history, Jerry Rice was well known for always coming into the season in phenomenal condition from brutal offseason workouts. Herschel Walker did 1,000 push-ups per day and was an absolute force on the football field. Jaromir Jagr did 1,000-2,000 bodyweight squats per day as a kid growing up in the Czech Republic and he attributed that to the speed and strength on the puck which made him the arguably the greatest European-born player in NHL history.

At 14, I remember being obsessed with what highly successful athletes did as young kids and I put it all down on paper, writing up my own workouts based on what they did. Lots of bodyweight squats, push-ups, running hills and biking for miles.

So I got to work. I biked 11 miles around my hometown on some days. Others I would run a hilly 3-mile course. And everyday I did bodyweight squats and push-ups, working up to eventually doing 2,000-2,500 squats and 400 push-ups within 75-90 minutes. Plus, my brothers and I would just go outside and play for hours. Didn’t matter what it was. We just played for fun.

I got my first weight set and bench around that same time and took on more of a bodybuilding focus thanks to Arnold and Muscle and Fitness.

The mentality was pushing yourself as hard as you can. More was better. Soreness meant you were doing something right. Complete exhaustion or puking meant you had a good conditioning workout. This was my mentality through high school and into college. I figured if it worked for some of the best athletes on the planet, it surely had to work for me.

The problem became I wasn't getting much bigger or much stronger. Sure there were initial benefits during the early years. See when you are young; if you show up, train hard and keep adding weight to the bar, it works! It works so well that it’s what I figured I could keep doing. But what no one ever told me was it only works for so long. You eventually reach a point of diminishing returns.

At a certain point, I had to seek out the help of a sports-trainer and that was hard to find back in 2000. My brother and I were heading into 12th grade and had a big showcase tournament coming up that summer. My dad was able to track down a guy for my brother and I to train with in preparation for that tournament. Under his guidance and direction, I was able to see improvements in size, strength, and speed that I was unable to achieve on my own.

What did he do for me that I couldn’t figure out on my own?

He knew that I needed to get more explosive, more dynamic, better conditioned for my sport. What I didn't understand is that sometimes success from things you have done in the past is the worst indicator of what should be done next.

Lesson learned.

Then I think back on my college hockey career and the years I have spent competing as a strength athlete in both powerlifting and Strongman. The muscle imbalances and movement restrictions that started to creep in because of poorly structured training programs. There were plenty more lessons I learned about intelligent training structure and program design from a number of various injuries and setbacks.

Hockey, Powerlifting, and Strongman have all influenced me somehow from a training perspective. I wouldn't change anything about participating in these sports; I would change my preparation for them.

I feel bad for kids these days. I feel they have it worse then my generation. They have been duped into thinking they will be better athletes from participating in one sport. They are being sold speed ladders, specialty camps, and mass marketing fitness trends. I grew up with out any experts, now kids today are growing up with “experts” everywhere. They are being robbed of the option of playing multiple sports by coaches who demand their involvement in one sport throughout the calendar year. They are forced into specialization too early. And when it finally is time to specialize, they have no base of athleticism or strength because those attributes have been ignored due to lack of free play. You can’t build upon a poorly established base and that is why youth sport injuries are continually on the rise. I share the opinion that this is why the fastest growing surgery is pediatric.

So to answer the question of a concerned parent, don't be concerned about the game or the sport or whatever your kid chooses. You should be concerned about the lack of free play, the lack of movement and variability, the lack of smart training. Take interest in that. I believe this to be the important part.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/interview-with-mike-odonnell-dc-ccsp-cscs/

https://gallagherperformance.com/attitude-is-everything/

https://gallagherperformance.com/performance-training/athletic-development/

FAQs: Frequency Avoided Questions of Strength & Conditioning

It’s time to understand what training for an athlete is all about. Parents and athletes are seeking out training services in great numbers and are confronted with more options year after year.

A real problem for people is that they see stuff like P90X, Crossfit, bodybuilding style training, or any kind of general fitness training and they get confused into believing that it is good training for an athlete. What they need to understand is that these training styles do not necessarily give you high performance. Many times adults and their young athletes fall into the trap of pursuing training without truly understanding if it will be beneficial or detrimental to their athletic development. What we have compiled below are some common FAQs or Frequently Avoided Questions that should be answered before you begin an organized training program aimed at developing a young athlete.

1) What are the demands of the sport?
Does your strength coach/personal trainer actually account for the sport you participate in, understanding the biodynamics and bioenergetics of the sport and adjusting your training accordingly? Or do they simply plug you into their system and make you workout based on what they know how to do, not what you need as an athlete? Understanding the anatomy and physiology of sport is highly critical in the design of athletic and sport performance training. If you’re coach or trainer does not understand these concepts as they relate to your young athlete’s sport(s) of participation, they will fail to produce significant results.

Don't buy into "functional training" hype. Simply ask them, how exactly is this functional for my young athlete? You'll be surprised at the sales pitch you may hear.

Read more:

What is Functional Exercise?
Training for Elite Athletes
Identifying Strength Needs for Athletes
Guidelines for Selecting a Strength Coach or Personal Trainer
2) How does training impact a young athlete’s muscle fiber typing?
Muscle fiber typing is specific to slow and fast twitch muscle fibers. Understand that slow twitch muscle fibers are highly resistance to fatigue and do not produce much force, making them more favorable for use during distance/endurance training and lighter resistance training workouts. Fast twitch muscle fibers are more easily fatigued but they produce a great deal of force and are needed to be fast, explosive, and strong.

Coaches and trainers can run the risk of any transitional muscle fibers being pushed to low threshold, high endurance-based muscle fibers when they make power-speed athletes do far too much distance endurance training or high rep weight training. Power-speed athletes make up the bulk of team sports such as football, hockey, baseball, basketball, and track & field events such as sprinters, throwers, and jumpers. This is not a comprehensive list, but none the less provides you with an understanding of just how many sports are highly dependent on power-speed qualities.

Athletes need to utilize training methods that push transitional muscle fibers to a more high-threshold, fast-twitch muscle fibers. Transitional muscle fibers are highly sensitive in the young athlete, especially in the teenage years. If improper training methods are utilize, you will lower their ceiling of athletic potential.

Read more:

Common Mistakes in Developing Young Athletes
Success or Failure: What Are You Setting Your Young Athlete Up For?
Two Common Misconceptions in Endurance Training
3) Does quick feet training make sense for an athlete?
The majority of quick feet training involves the use of dot drills and speed ladders. These drills do nothing to reinforce proper mechanics of sprinting or ice skating. Just watch for yourself. When these drills are performed, kids are standing upright with minimal hip and knee bend utilizing short, choppy strides that impart very little force into the ground. This is completely contradictory to what any sprint or skating coach would demand from their athletes. The fastest guys are the strongest guys because they put more force into the ground. Quick feet training makes no sense.

Read more:

Don't Fall for the Speed Trap
Choose Consistency and Intelligence in Training, Forget the Rest
4) Does high rep weight training for time make sense?
The whole point of strength training is to improve the efficiency of how your nervous system works. The heavier the weight, the more motor units and muscle fibers your brain needs to call upon to execute the movement. The more motor units and muscle fibers in use, the more force you produce. But we just don't need force, but athletes need to produce force quickly. The faster they produce high amounts of force, the faster and more explosive they become. Pretty simple.

Your brain will not call upon a lot of muscle fibers to execute a movement against light weights. This process of selection exists on a continuum and you don’t get to high-threshold, fast-twitch muscle fibers until you start hitting close to 80% of your 1RM (rep max) or higher. It doesn’t matter how many reps you can do against light resistance. So while the P90X and Crossfit people are doing tons of reps with light weights and little to no rest intervals, you’ll never tap into those muscle fibers that power-speed athletes thrive on for success in their sport.

It’s the complete opposite training you want to do for athletics like football, baseball, hockey, basketball, and just about every power-speed track & field event. Especially for teenagers because you can influence the muscle fiber make-up and the ratio of slow twitch to fast twitch fibers of young athletes. This will have tremendous impact of the athletic development or destruction. Again, high rep weight training with little to no rest serves no purpose for a young athlete and contradicts the demands of athletics.

Read more:

Drop the Confusion, Athletes Need Consistency for Efficiency
Have You Mastered Your Movement?
3 Reasons You Should Train for Maximal Strength
Why Athletes Should Avoid HIIT Programs
 

Two Years at Gallagher Performance

April 2015 marks two years since Gallagher Performance opened and with the anniversary on the horizon, I thought it was time to start reflecting back on our second year in business.

All our services from chiropractic to massage to personal training to sports performance training continue to experience steady, consistent success. Sure we do not operate at the volume of more established businesses, but our business model places a greater focus on individualized instruction over pure numbers. To us, business success is not simply measured in terms of client volume or monetary gain. For us, success is also measured by identifying how others have been positively impacted by their experience at GP. This could be in the form of clients experiencing improved self-image and confidence that extends beyond the weight room, improved markers of health, improved ability to perform activities without pain or limitation, avoided surgeries, or learning how you inspired a young athlete to pursue a career in chiropractic or fitness. This is exciting to us and it is humbling to learn how you are making a difference.

In regards to our services, it has been another great year. GP’s chiropractic and rehab therapy has been recognized as one of the best in the Pittsburgh area. Our personal and performance training services continue to generate tremendous results for our clients and athletes. The results keep our clients loyal and the referrals coming in. We have truly cared about delivering quality in all services since we opened. It’s a great feeling to see how much our clients appreciate the attention, know-how, and confidence they receive while working with us. When you focus on quality of service and improving the consumer experience, only good things can happen.

Of all our services, this is most easily observed with our sports performance training. In only two years, we have seen our sports performance training services utilized by a variety of athletes from a growing list of amateur/club organizations, high schools, and colleges. In addition, GP continues to direct the Strength & Conditioning program for the Franklin Regional Hockey Organization.

Here is a glimpse into what types of athletes we have worked with and where they are coming from:

Sports/Events

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Cross Country
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Hockey
  • Lacrosse
  • Physique (Bodybuilding, Bikini, Figure)
  • Powerlifting
  • Soccer
  • Strongman
  • Track and Field (sprint event focus)
High Schools
  • Franklin Regional
  • Greensburg Central Catholic
  • Hempfield
  • Penn Hills
  • Plum
  • Seneca Valley
College Athletes
  • Andrew Brncic, Alderson Broaddus University (NCAA DII) - Football
  • Colin Jonov, Bucknell University (NCAA DI) - Football
  • Colin Childs, California University of Pennsylvania (NCAA DII) - Football
  • Jake Roberge, Northwestern University (NCAA DI) - Soccer
  • Ben Dipko, Slippery Rock University (NCAA DII) - Football
  • Christian Wilson, Mount St. Mary’s (ACHA DIII) - Hockey
  • Ryan Grieco, Lake Erie College (NCAA DII) - Baseball
  • Evan James, Penn State University Greater Allegheny (NCAA III) - Baseball
  • Dante Luther, Washington & Jefferson University (NCAA DII) - Football
  • Charan Singh, University of Massachusetts (NCAA DI) – Football
We could continue on about each of these athletes, but suffice it to say that we are very proud of each of them, their work ethic, their character, and what they’ve accomplished.

Another Year in the Books
In wrapping up, we acknowledge that GP would not be what it is without the consistent support we receive. A sincere thank you goes out to all you – clients/athletes, parents, family, friends, social media followers, and professional colleagues – for your continual support over the past two years. Special thanks to our marketing firm, 4C Technologies, for their continual support and expertise. We also want to extend a huge thank you to Diamond Athletic Club for being second to none and providing us the venue to operate as a business. Without you all, GP would not be what is today, and we look forward to many more years to come.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/four-years-gallagher-performance/

A Few Words on Athletic Development

We get asked quite often about our training philosophy when it comes to athletes. Many parents want to know if the training their child will receive at GP is going to be sport-specific. While specificity in training matters, many of our athletes and their parents are surprised to learn how general or fundamental their training must be in the early phases. What needs to be clarified is understanding how much training experience the athlete has and the physical traits that must be developed. The vast majority of athletes we work with are involved in the sports of football, hockey, baseball, and basketball. Success in these sports are highly dependent upon power-speed qualities. We must train these athletes to develop the abilities that allow them to jump, sprint, cut, and dominate their opponents with brute strength. It's our job to make them bigger, faster, stronger, and more durable. It's our job to physical prepare them for the demands of their sport.

Aspiring young athletes are in need of building a broad foundation rooted in movements that will develop strength, speed, flexibility, and body awareness. For the evidence-based fans out there, we use movements and exercises that all have been proven through research to work. But more importantly, the exercises used have stood the test of time and have served as the backbone to athletic development programs for decades. Sprints, jumps, throws, compound strength exercises, Olympic weightlifting movements when appropriate, and general calisthenics have all play a role in the training of some of the greatest athletes in the world.

But the exercises are not simply enough. Almost every single one of our athletes must be exposed to a high volume of training without a high degree of variation. It's important to respect the neural adaptations young athletes or novice trainees undergo during the training process. High volumes of training will help ensure motor learning and skill acquisition while developing the connective tissue strength needed for more intensive training down the road.

This template serves to lay the foundation for the neuromuscular qualities required to meet the increasing needs for speed and power development. It's simple math really. If an athlete improves relative strength, that athlete will be faster and more explosive. Keep in mind that that other factors can be at play too. For instance, that same athlete must also maintain or improve movement quality to improve speed and explosiveness.

However, these are only portions of what goes into a quality athletic development program. It's much more than simple "strength and speed". This is why we feel the value of a qualified strength and conditioning coach or athletic development coach is severely under appreciated. Unfortunately, far too many people have been misinformed by either poorly educated trainers or by the internet. They haven't experienced the difference guided athletic development can make in their performance. Having a coach to guide young athletes not only in their development, but also in areas such as nutrition and cultivating the mind set needed to achieve their goals can give them a huge advantage over their competition.

That's why we love what we do at GP. Not only do we get to work with clients and athletes that have big dreams and big goals, but we also help them develop habits that create a healthier lifestyle. When we have them giving us their best, they deserve nothing less than our best!

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/understanding-the-benefits-and-concerns-of-youth-strength-training-programs/

https://gallagherperformance.com/periodization-keep-athletes-track-fo-success/

https://gallagherperformance.com/the-essentials-of-speed-training/

The Greatest Lesson of Competition

 

"I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
- Michael Jordan

Sport and competition have a way of teaching lessons that are not only valuable in athletics, but often times crossover into life as well. Those that compete do so with simple objectives: to improve and to succeed. Who doesn’t love trophies, awards, and acknowledgements? The pursuit and achievement of a goal is a tremendous feeling. However, while success has its perks, there is something truly special that can come from failure.

But there is an interesting dynamic that is occurring nowadays when it comes to failure. Somewhere along the way, failure developed negative connotations. Many seem to want to shelter themselves or their children from failure, as if failure should be avoid. Failure cannot be associated with one’s name, right?

One can only speculate as to where this mindset has grown from, but it is pervasive in our culture. I came across an interesting discussion on this very topic while listening to the Dan Patrick Radio Show last week. The discussion centered on Kobe Bryant setting the NBA record for most missed field goals and the notion that somehow this record is a blemish on his career. You could see the point, I mean who wants a record like that? However, as Dan Patrick pointed out, you have to be a pretty great player to miss that many shots. To make his point, he went on to list the names of quarterbacks who have thrown the most interceptions in NFL history. The list included some of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, including names like Farve, Tarkenton, Elway, Manning, Unitas, Namath, and Bradshaw. Despite the amount of interceptions, these are championship caliber players, many of them current or future Hall of Famers.

The message was clear, even the great athletes endure their fair share of failure.

But what makes them so great despite how often they seemed to ‘fail’? What allows them to rebound from failure, daring to take the same risks?

There are some that respond to failure by going into a shell. They can’t cope with failure and allow it to get the best of them, while others embrace failure. They understand why they failed; they accept responsibility, take action and work toward improving. They don’t cower in the face of failure; rather they use it as a driving force to fuel improvement. They learn from their mistakes and work on their weaknesses. They continually take risks, not afraid of failure.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has a terrific speech on the “6 Rules of Success”. In this speech, he identifies his third rule as “Don’t be Afraid to Fail”. Here are his words:
“Anything I’ve attempted in life, I was always willing to fail. You can’t always win, but don’t be afraid of making decisions. You can’t be paralyzed by fear of failure or you will never push yourself. You keep pushing because you believe in yourself and in your vision and you know it is the right thing to do and success will come. So don’t be afraid to fail.”
This is well stated and everybody could benefit from reading these words. Like many who have participated in competition, I learned this lesson over and over again. However, nothing more clearly demonstrated the concept of pushing yourself and not being afraid of failure than when I was playing college hockey. My sophomore year at Ohio University, we were the hosts of the ACHA DI National Championship Tournament. Playing in front of our home crowd, our fans, we lost the National Championship game to Penn State 5-0. Penn State dominated us in every aspect of the game. It was the most disappointing sporting failure I had every experienced.

However, something came from the failure that was unlike anything else we had experienced before as a team and as individuals. By the time my junior year rolled around, the group of guys who returned had a drive and a determination to get back what we failed to accomplish the previous year. There was a hunger and a desire born that could only come from that type of failure. We acknowledged our weaknesses and short comings, determined to make them strengths. This mindset fueled our work ethic all the way from training camp through the regular season and into tournament play as we went unbeaten in our final 24 games, setting the stage for a rematch against Penn State in the National Championship game. Again, we fell behind early in that game. We could have cowered, fearful we would experience another lose to arguably a more talented Penn State team. But, that was not the case. Despite the early deficit, we battled back to win 5-4. That moment was the greatest sporting memory I have. Nothing felt better than realizing you were National Champions, thanks in large part to the taste of failure and the lessons learned from defeat.

That became a powerful illustration of what one can accomplish from failure. To me, this is why the greatest lesson one can earn from competing is experiencing failure and defeat. Failure not only builds character, it reveals character. Failure develops a quality of mental toughness and resilience that success will not. I forces you to be honest with yourself about your efforts and about the many areas in need of improvement. I feel these traits are tremendously valuable in sport and life. As a coach of young athletes, you realize that developing these qualities is a valuable part of the coaching process. We want our athletes and clients to embrace failure when it occurs. We want to educate them on why they may have fallen short of their goal, involve them in the corrective process, and allow this to bring about the drive needed to pursue and accomplish their goals.

There is nothing better than seeing one who takes ownership of their outcomes, who isn’t afraid to take risks or fail, and endures despite previous defeat.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/sports-training-and-life-after/

https://gallagherperformance.com/why-we-arent-popular/

How to Develop Physical Fitness

Recently, I was having a conversation with one of our clients about what it takes to be ready to compete in sport. The conversation mostly centered around athletics and how to be in the best "condition" possible. Specifically, this client was talking about certain people they know and hold in high regard as having a high level of physical fitness. All was going well until they said something very interesting.

In regards to someone they know, they said, "Man, are they fit. They are probably the most fit person I know."

When I asked them what makes that individual the "most fit" person they know, they just stared blankly back at me. There was no response and you could see the wheels churning away trying to figure out the answer.

Fitness is a craze nowadays. Women want to be fit. Men want to be fit. Athletes want to be fit. People want to be fit. Health clubs, personal trainers, smart phone apps, and infomercials want to sell you on becoming more fit. Slogans such as “Forging Elite Fitness” and titles such as “Fittest Man on Earth” or “Fittest Woman on Earth” make the concept of fitness very intriguing. Many people have come to believe fitness is a complex process. To most, the idea of “fitness” brings to mind someone who is muscular, lean, strong, and has stamina for days. This “idea” of fitness seems to be nothing but mere marketing and often leads people down the road of overcomplicating their exercise or training program.

So, that begs the questions, "What is fitness?"

Physical fitness is actually quite simple if we define fitness as “the quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular physical task”. If your task is to compete in the 100m dash, then your fitness levels must enable you to successfully compete in that event. If your task is to start in the NFL, then your fitness must enable you compete at your highest level possible week after week.

Developing Physical Fitness
Physical fitness is achieved during the process of physical preparation or how prepared you are for competition. The ultimate goal of physical preparation is to have each athlete at their best during competition and is accomplished via a systematic process to promote adaptations that raise levels of both fitness and preparedness. Fitness adaptations thus follow the SAID principle (Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands). Meaning, if you want to gain muscle, get stronger, and be more explosive, you better be sprinting, jumping, throwing, and lifting weights to allow those specific adaptations to occur. The SAID principle also means that an athlete’s level of fitness should always be specific to their sporting demands.

Debating who is the most “fit” athlete or individual on the planet is a ridiculous conversation. How can someone say that an NHL defensemen who plays almost 30 minutes per game over an 82 game is more or less fit than an Olympic caliber decathlete? How is that Olympic decathlete more fit than a Navy SEAL? How is a Navy SEAL less fit than the “Fittest Man on Earth”? How is the winner of the Boston Marathon more fit than the World’s Strongest Man?

Do you see what I am getting at?

An athlete’s fitness levels (strength, power, stamina, energy system development, etc.) will always be specific to what is required by their primary sport form. Just because someone is the “Fittest Man on Earth” does not mean they will have the ability to withstand the demands of competing within another sport at elite levels. Personally, the “Fittest Man/Woman on Earth” title would be better renamed to “Fittest CrossFitter on Earth” because that’s all the title means. The notion that elite fitness in one event or sport is somehow superior to the fitness required in another is either arrogant or ignorant (possibly both).

Understanding Physical Fitness Adaptations
To better understand physical fitness and the specific adaptations that result from training, we must first consider the training system commonly used to achieve improvements in endurance, strength, and power. This training system is known as concurrent training. Concurrent training is defined as, “the simultaneous inclusion of strength training and endurance training within the same program.” Concurrent training may be a necessary means for some athletes and individuals. However, for most, the application of concurrent training is widely misunderstood and poorly organized in the pursuit of all things “fitness”. They want to improve endurance, so they do a lot of aerobic exercise. They may run, bike, or swim for hours each week. They also want to get lean and strong, so they lift weights 2-4 times per week. These are the people who train and train and train, yet fail to see significant improvements in any number of neuromuscular adaptations.

Aerobic and strength adaptations are very divergent. The human body is simply not capable of adapting appropriately to two very different training stimuli. You can go run for a long period of time or you can be explosive and strong from weight training. Now, I understand nobody wants to be both an elite marathon runner and Strongman. However, there are people who want high levels of aerobic capacity while also becoming muscular and strong at the same time. Unfortunately, many of these same people plateau quickly or fail to see significant improvements because concurrent training attenuates muscular growth, strength, and power gains. There is an interference effect created when one attempts to simultaneously improve both aerobic fitness and neuromuscular qualities such as strength and power. The training approach is doomed from the beginning if specificity and attention to detail in training organization does not enter the picture.

To understand why, we must then understand the competing long-term adaptations that occur from strength training and endurance training.

Competing Long-Term Adaptations
1) Strength Training (short duration, high force output)

  • Neural Adaptations – synchronous firing, recruits large populations of motor units, rapid rates of force development, improve rate coding
  • Endocrine Adaptations – Growth Hormone (GH) and Testosterone release, anabolic environment, stimulation of satellite cell activation and muscle protein synthesis
2) Aerobic Training (long duration, low force output)
  • Neural Adaptations – asynchronous firing, recruits small populations of motor units, slow rates of force development
  • Endocrine Adaptations – impaired anabolic hormone signaling, elevated Cortisol and catabolic hormone production, inhibition of mammalian target of rapamyacin (mTOR), essentially shutting down the pathways for stimulating muscle protein synthesis
This means that regardless of whether you perform aerobic exercise and strength training in separate sessions or during the same exercise session, the results can be negative depending on your “fitness” goals or needs as an athlete.

Fitness is Specific
Physical fitness is thus specific to the end goal of physical preparation. The physical preparation of an American football player should be different than that of an MMA fighter. Football players do not need to have the "fitness" levels of MMA fighters. Each of these athletes must develop their physical fitness qualities to meet the demands of their sport. Consider that American football players must develop power-speed qualities that are essential to their success at high levels of competition. Some trainers and coaches feel that some of their football players need better aerobic fitness or conditioning, so they have them perform high volumes of gassers or long distance runs in the off-season. As said before, this can prove to be a huge mistake. Being "fit" for football has very little to do with how many gassers you can complete, how fast you can run three miles, or what your Fran time is.

The same is true for other power-speed athletes (hockey, baseball, lacrosse, sprinters, throwers, etc.) Senseless and poorly implemented aerobic conditioning will have negative impacts on the neuromuscular qualities needed for successful participation in these sports. These qualities are important to their “fitness” as an athlete. Sure, go ahead and perform endless miles of running or biking. Go on with your absurd amounts of circuit-based training. But when you rob these athletes of their ability to develop higher levels of strength, speed, and power, it should be no surprise as to why it happened. Aerobic fitness cannot be prioritized to the point that more important qualities (strength, speed, and power) suffer.

But, isn’t a decent aerobic conditioning base essential for these athletes as well?

Yes. However, there are more optimal ways to develop their aerobic energy systems to meet the demands of their sport. Don't make the mistake of assuming aerobic capacity is the same as being "fit". Aerobic energy system development will always be specific to the athlete's needs. Similar to resistance training, aerobic development should be periodized and appropriately dosed to developed the specific energy system demands without impairing performance.

Conclusion
Fitness is not simply achieved by going nuts, but rather being productive in specific approaches to your sporting demands. If you are unsure of how to appropriately address your fitness goals or needs as an athlete, then first start with a knowledgeable coach who understands the complexities of physical preparation for sport and is able to guide you in the process. For some, the concept of fitness requires a bit of a “reality check”. Sure you may want it all. You want the elite level endurance, strength, speed, and power. But, often this is not realistic. Prioritize your fitness goals and address them accordingly in specific phases of training. This process requires patience.

Remember, fitness is a highly specific quality that is ultimately dependent upon the physical preparation process for your sport of participation. Understand your training must mirror your demands for sport. If training is not addressing your specific needs as an athlete, you are wasting your time. Don't let some general or poorly defined concept of "fitness" guide your training.

More related reading:

https://gallagherperformance.com/physical-preparation-vs-fitness/

https://gallagherperformance.com/the-truth-about-functional-exercise/

https://gallagherperformance.com/ultimate-runners-guide-to-injury-prevention/

Physical Preparation vs Fitness: Know the Difference

For athletes new to GP, physical preparation is a term that is unfamiliar to them. Sure they are familiar with “strength and conditioning” or “speed and strength” programs. Many of these athletes come from high schools and colleges that have a strength and conditioning (S&C) coach. If they do not have the luxury of having a S&C coach at their high school, they are often familiar with the “Bigger, Faster, Stronger” programs that many coaches hand out to their players, especially our football players.

There is a movement within the S&C industry that has more and more coaches referring to themselves as coaches of “physical preparation”. The concept of physical preparation, as it pertains to athletes, incorporates much more than simply strength and conditioning. Buddy Morris, current Head Strength/Physical Preparation Coach for the Arizona Cardinals, has said:

“We're coaches of physical preparation. What we do encompasses more than just conditioning and strength. There are a lot of variables we have to look at it with each individual athlete and each individual group. In this country, I think if anything, we place too much emphasis on strength. I'm not downplaying the importance of strength, but I think we put too much emphasis on it and too much volume."
Physical preparation accounts for both performance enhancement as well as injury reduction measures. It's important to us that our athletes understand the concepts of physical preparation and why the services and training they are receiving at GP have only one goal in mind: to prepare each individual athlete to meet the demands of their sport and competitive season.

From an outsider’s viewpoint, our programs may look very simple. And depending on the athlete’s age and training experience, our programs can be very oriented on the fundamentals. But the biggest mistake our athletes can make is assuming simple means easy. Our programs are very demanding.

Physical preparation is one area where many programs fall short in their attempt to develop athletes. Young, well-intentioned athletes want to improve their current fitness and/or strength levels. This is all well and good, but what some coaches and athletes must understand is there is a difference between fitness and preparation. It's one thing to be "fit", it's an entirely different story when it comes to be prepared for sport competition.

Preparation vs Fitness
I recently was given the privilege of developing and coordinating the off-season strength/physical preparation program for the Franklin Regional ice hockey teams. To say I am honored would be an understatement and it is a huge compliment to our business. This is a tremendous undertaking and one that comes with many challenges. Many of these young hockey players are novices when it comes to strength training, needing a solid foundation of stability, strength, and neuromuscular control. Others have more training experience and also play for other amateur hockey organizations in the Pittsburgh area. Some of these kids play 60+ games a year. Understanding the stress their bodies endured during the competitive calendar and collision nature of the sport must be considered in the development of their training program to promote continual adaptation and proper preparation for the upcoming season.

This is where the development and preparation of the athlete must match the biodynamic and bioenergetic demands of the sport of ice hockey, not merely developing “fitness” or “strength” levels. Considerations of biodynamics (biomechanics, kinematics, and kinetics) will govern what exercises are used in the development of the athlete. Bioenergetics characterizes the nature and contribution of the human bioenergy systems towards training and competitive actions.

The development of physical abilities and specialized work-capacity will be specific to the training stimulus. This follows the SAID principle (Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands). To help us understand the concept of specialized work capacity and how truly specific the development of “fitness” levels can be, let’s consider the nature of most team sports.

When considering the physical abilities that make an athlete successful in sports such as hockey, soccer, basketball, and lacrosse, what comes to mind is speed, power, strength and anaerobic-alactic capacity. To achieve athletic potential, all these abilities are necessary to train and develop so that physical abilities match the demands of sport.

What is not listed above and often a missing component in many S&C programs is developing the athlete’s ability to accelerate or how quickly an athlete can increase their speed. It is a rare occurrence in hockey, as with other team sports, that an athlete reaches top speed and must sustain that for an extended period of time. What you see far more often is that the ability to accelerate is a constant factor in athletic success.

Charlie Francis stated that most 100m sprinters do not reach top speed until 60m into the race. In other words, these athletes are accelerating for the first 60m of the race. This is not just true of sprinters, but the majority of other athletes as well and this has implications on their training.

According to Coach Francis, the major requirements for the 100m race are broken down as follows:
  • Start/acceleration: 0-30m
  • Speed/maximum velocity: 30-60m
  • Speed endurance: 60-100m
Training Implications
In this day and age, the marketing of gimmick products or programs towards athletes is driving much of the training industry. High-speed treadmills, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) programs, speed/agility schools are designed to increase pocket books, yet often can fail to deliver promises on performance enhancement when it comes to speed, acceleration, power, strength, or energy system development as they relate to a specific sport.

The ability to accelerate has major implications for explosive, alactic-aerobic sports. Athletes participating in these sports must have the ability to perform repeated bouts of acceleration and recover quickly. Acceleration ability is trained through plyometrics, acceleration training, and strength training. The ability to recover quickly is developed through proper energy system development of both the aerobic and alactic components. This doesn’t mean that an athlete needs a separate and specialized program for each of these components to be trained. Rather it means a well-organized and structured program must account for biodynamic elements, acceleration/speed, plyometrics, strength training, and an understanding of the positional bioenergetic (energy system) demands of the sport. These attributes must be understood and trained accordingly.

 
Related Articles:

Are You in Need of More Intelligent Training?
Why Athletes Should Avoid HIIT Programs
Common Mistakes in Developing Young Athletes
Don't Fall for the Speed Trap

Athletes Must Understand This to Be Successful

The emphasis of many athletic development programs is typically rooted in developing the physical qualities needed in the sport of competition. Physical qualities usually emphasized are endurance/work capacity, strength, body awareness, agility, quickness, speed, and explosive power. Improvements made in any of the previously mentioned physical qualities can certainly improve an athlete’s fitness and physical preparedness for competition. But great athletes are rarely defined by their level of fitness and how ‘in-shape’ they are. They are defined by their ability to play the game and perform the skills of the sport. Great coaches and trainers understand this, being able to take an athlete’s newly developed physical qualities and transfer them to into improved skill execution or technical mastery of sport related movements.

This is accomplished by specificity of training.

In order to ensure specificity of training, it is first necessary to determine the exact physical qualities an athlete is in greatest need of. Many coaches and trainers refer to this as ‘identifying the deficiency’. Once the deficiency is identified and an understanding is developed as to how the deficiency is limiting on-field performance, the deficiency can be trained appropriately.

To identify deficiencies, the majority of coaches and trainers utilize tests to determine an athlete’s level of strength, endurance, explosiveness, and even flexibility. While these tests are often necessary and provide quantitative information that will help assess how an athlete stacks up in comparison to others, what these tests fail to indicate is how efficiently an athlete can perform sport-specific skills or maneuvers.

Physical performance tests fail to indicate an athlete’s needs in relation to game performance. To ensure transfer of training into improved sport performance, identifying an athlete’s developmental needs must take into account an analysis of all components involved in successful competition. Often, this involves a complete biomechanical analysis of movements related to sport-skill execution.

For example, the deep squat is often a staple of many strength and conditioning programs. It can be a tremendous exercise for building hip strength and power and for a variety of other reasons. But when you examine the sport-related movements of many athletes, one can come to the determination that the need to deep squat is not a priority for many athletes. Consider hockey and basketball players. These sports require hip external rotation strength and power to execute sport-specific movements (skating, lateral cuts, change of direction, etc.). Rather than placing greater and greater emphasis on improving strength in the deep squat, these athletes will be better served in developing hip external rotation through other exercises which more closely mimic the external rotation demands of the hips in competition.

Again, great athletes are rarely the strongest or the fittest. There are studies that demonstrate Olympic-level athletes and World Record holders are not the strongest athletes (with the exception being in strength sports such as powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting). Athletes on the highest levels of performance do not lift the greatest amount of weight in commonly used exercises, such as the clean, squat, bench, or deadlift.

More commonly, athletes will fall in the midrange of strength numbers. What this is demonstrating is a ‘point of diminishing returns’. Many athletes reach a point at which increases in strength or other physical qualities do not always equate to improved sport performance.

Successful athletes must be able to execute sport skills with technical mastery and precision. Regardless if you are a hockey, football, soccer, lacrosse, baseball, tennis or track athlete, you need great acceleration, speed, agility (ability to change direction quickly), and the ability to jump high (which also requires explosive power). But arguably most important is the ability to perform all sport skills with mastery and precision of movement.

An athlete will never be successful if they do not have the ability to execute sport skills successfully. This is why technique must be closely analyzed and why the training of physical qualities must directly enhance the performance of sport-specific skill execution.

Analyzing an athlete’s sport skill technique and the demands of game play becomes a necessary first step to determine exactly what their training program should consist of. Often to correct and/or enhance technique, special strength exercises are implemented to develop the specific strength an athlete needs to execute movements more efficiently.

We addressed special strength exercises in this article. Special strength exercises are intended to replicate the exact neuromuscular pathways utilized in the execution of specific sport skills.

With proper analysis and identifying the ‘deficiency’ of the athlete, it enables the training program to have greater transfer into sport performance. The training program is continually adjusted as improvements in strength, speed, agility, and explosive power are integrated into technical mastery of skill execution.

Related Articles:

Training for Elite Athletes
Common Mistakes in Developing Young Athletes

Is Weight Training Inappropriate for Young Athletes?

It seems almost routine now that we come across parents who are curious about what type of ‘training’ their child should be doing to become a better athlete. Ultimately, the majority of parents are concerned about their child lifting weights. Typically their child is 12-15 years of age and the parents feel that weight training at that age is inappropriate and could be potentially dangerous (e.g., stunt their child’s growth). Since this idea is so widespread, we felt it would be valuable to address the topic and the determining factors of whether weight training is suitable for a young athlete.

To start, let’s set the stage for our discussion by simply stating that weight training is one form of ‘resistance’ training. There are plenty of ways to apply ‘resistance’ to the body. From bands to weighted vests to body weight exercises, they are all considered resistance training. If you asked most parents if they had a problem with their child doing push-ups or walking lunges, the majority of them would likely reply, “No”. Lifting weights, at times, can provide less resistance than common body weight exercises yet lifting weights is somehow deemed more dangerous.

Why?

The majority of parents are primarily concerned about the risk of growth plate fracture and the possible result of stunted growth.

To address these concerns, the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) published a position statement. They determined that resistance training is safe, even for children as young as 6, and that the risk of growth plate fracture and stunted growth is completely unsupported. Simply put, it does not happen and weight training is safe with appropriate coaching and progression. Additionally, research has demonstrated significantly higher injury rates in youth sports (football, basketball, soccer, baseball, hockey, etc.) when compared to weightlifting.
When it comes to coaching and progression, this is where considerations from Long-Term Athletic Development (LTAD) models become invaluable in helping to understand sensitive “windows” during an athlete’s development. These windows identify when to capitalize on certain physical qualities. Looking at LTAD models, children around 12 years old are in a critical window for their speed development. This means that while they can improve in all athletic attributes (balance, coordination, rhythm/timing, relaxation, strength), speed development will experience faster rates of improvement. Speed simply comes down to putting a lot of force into the ground quickly. Explosive movement requires high power output and this relies on your “fast twitch” muscle fibers. Resistance training is one method to efficiently train “fast twitch” muscle. In this context, certain exercises aren’t always what they appear to be. For example, a young athlete performing squats may not be simply performing squats, but rather “speed training” because it’s a tool to teach them to produce force quickly and utilize their muscles in an explosive manner. Improve an athlete’s ability to produce force and they will get faster. Force production is directly controlled by the nervous system. Neural development is very sensitive for children 12-13 years of age. This means that the nervous system, which coordinates all movement, is primed for learning and improving efficiency of complex movements. This is one reason why resistance training is appropriate for athletes during this time period; it can capitalize on a sensitive period of neural development to help kids move with improved body awareness AND coordination, thus resulting in increases in qualities such as strength, power, and speed.
Concluding Thoughts
There are many factors to consider when it comes to “appropriate training” for young athletes. While there are safety concerns, age-appropriate and developmentally specific training methods can be extremely effective. For young athletes, weight training is a safe and effective means to develop body control/awareness and improve athletic qualities, such as speed. Weight training, as part of an athletic development program, should follow a structured approach under the supervision of a knowledgeable and qualified coach.

To ensure the highest quality outcomes and safety, GP understands and utilizes LTAD models in the training of their young athletes.

Related Articles:

Success or Failure: What Are You Setting Your Young Athlete Up For?
Don't Fall for the Speed Trap
Identifying Strength Needs for Athletes

6 Tips for Hockey Training

When it comes to athleticism, there is a sad misconception among far too many individuals that athletes are "born not made". People that believe this will often say, “You can’t teach speed” or “That’s just a gifted athlete”. While genetics can play a role in athleticism, arguably the greatest impact on an athlete’s development (or lack thereof) is the training system that is implemented. This would include all elements from its organization to exercise selection and other variables.

While all sports have their own unique considerations, ice hockey demands high levels of athleticism. The transfer of training from off-ice preparation to on-ice performance presents a host of challenges. With the nature of today’s game, proper off-ice training can provide youth and elite level hockey players with the advantage they need to elevate their game.

Here are some tips:
1. WARM-UP PROPERLY
In preparation for exercise, the body should be moved through large ranges in all three planes of motion (sagittal, frontal and transverse). Movement prepares the brain and body for exercise by activating the nervous system, warming tissues such as muscles and tendons, and lubricates joints. Movements performed in all planes of motion on a consistent basis will improve stabilization patterns, mobility, coordination, balance, and movement efficiency. Making the time to properly warm-up with allow you to get more out of your training. Simply put, it makes training more productive and will reduce the risk of injury.

2. TRAIN MOVEMENTS, NOT MUSCLES
The human body operates as an integrated system. Joints and muscles are all coordinated by the central nervous system to produce movement. Muscles never work in isolation, meaning that there is always a pattern of muscle recruitment that occurs with every movement we make. Depending on how we recruit muscles, movement will occur in efficient or inefficient ways. Athletes require mastery of movement. Unlike those who train to for basic fitness or simply to ‘look better’, athletic development and performance-based training programs aim to improve how an athlete moves. Goals focus on strength, stability, mobility, speed, and skill execution with a high degree of movement efficiency. Sure many athletes look good, but this is often a by-product of their training, not the primary goal.

There can be a mistake in young athletes simply go to the gym and “working out”, either by themselves or with their friends. Especially when they have no plan. If most young athletes are honest, they don’t know what to do during the off-season. Even some trainers have no idea what they are doing with athletes and just “make-up” a training session as they go or select a random workout off the Internet. As the saying goes, “One program on a dry erase board for your group of clients/athletes isn’t training, it’s babysitting.” Higher quality strength and athletic development programs are becoming more available to young athletes; those athletes not involved in those programs will be left behind.

This concept was detailed in our article on Training for Elite Athletes.

3. GET IN TOUCH WITH THE GROUND
This point builds off the previous one. The majority of sport movements and skill execution are initiated by applying force to the ground with the feet/legs. As with land-based sports, the more force a hockey player applies to the ice, the greater acceleration and speed they generate. Strength and power development exercises should be selected based on their ability to enhance ground-force reaction. The same can be said for both speed and conditioning drills.

Utilizing squat and deadlift variations, Olympic lifts, medicine ball throws, jumps, plyometrics, sprints, and hockey-specific agility/change of direction drills would be the most beneficial in developing ground-force reaction. Unilateral movements such as single-leg squats and jumps, lateral bounds, split squats, and lunge variations will also help to develop the movement proficiency need for a powerful skating stride.

4. TRAIN THE CORE FOR FUNCTION, NOT LOOKS
The core is the body’s center of force transfer and movement control. The core is not simply your abs. It includes almost 30 muscles that attach to the spine, shoulders and hips, which function to stabilize the areas during movement. When the function of the core is compromised, inefficient movement results and risk of injury is increased. Hockey and its movement skills require high levels of core stabilization, endurance, strength and power transfer. The demands of athletics on the core will never be met by performing thousands of crunches. Your core training needs a more specific, specialized focus.

Stabilization exercises should focus on things such as maintaining proper lumbo-pelvic posture and the ability to resist or control movement in all planes of motion. Once proper stabilization is achieved, greater attention can be given to rotational power and force generation exercises for increased transfer of training into sport.

5. BE SMART ABOUT YOUR CONDITIONING
The sport of ice hockey places demands on both the anaerobic (alactic and lactic) and aerobic energy systems of the body. For the most part, hockey is an anaerobic game, characterized by intense bursts followed by periods of rest. The anaerobic system is challenged during these intense bursts while the aerobic system is utilized during the recovery period between shifts. This illustrates the need for both systems to be well developed for optimal performance.

Thus conditioning for hockey should focus on an interval-based approach to meet the energy system demand of the sport. Place a priority on developing the capacity and power of the anaerobic-alactic system along with the use of tempo runs/bike sessions to develop the aerobic system. Anaerobic-lactic training is extremely taxing on the body and difficult to recover from. This form of exhaustive conditioning should be used less frequently in the training program.

Remember, conditioning does not mean the same thing as speed training. For more information of developing hockey speed, read this article.

6. RECOVER, RECOVER, RECOVER
Recovery from exercise can be accelerated with proper attention to flexibility, mobility, massage, chiropractic treatment, nutrition and sleep. These approaches facilitate the body’s ability to recover from exercise. Nutritionally, ingesting the proper amounts of whole foods and supplements at the appropriate times during the day can prove to be a huge part of the recovery process. Replenishing energy stores (i.e. muscle glycogen) and providing the building blocks (i.e. protein, fats, vitamins, minerals) for tissue repair and regeneration are just some of the primary goals of proper nutrition. Self-management strategies such as foam rolling and stretching/flexibility work are valuable components in the recovery process. Maintaining proper muscle function and joint range of motion is critically important to minimize injury risk and ensure that you get the most out of your training.

Conclusion
Keep in mind the above tips serve as guidelines. Individual considerations cannot be met in an article of this nature. However, if applied correctly, these guidelines can serve to provide aspiring hockey players with a better understanding of how to go about their off-ice training. For those interested, GP specializes in the training and preparation of hockey players. Contact us for more information.

The Essentials of Speed Training

What you need to know:

  • Training for speed is not the same as conditioning. Speed is an entirely separate physical trait than being "in shape".
  • Sport-specific speed requires an understanding of the sport and the individual athlete to help maximize their speed potential.
In our opinion, the most misunderstood and poorly implemented aspect of training athletes is definitely speed. Athletes are in need of practical and proven speed training methods. After all, if a player can't keep up with the speed at their current level, they run the risk of being cut or not playing much. Every athlete has the ability to improve their speed if they train the correct way. Below are some simple tips to help take your speed to the next level.

# 1 - Train Powerful Legs NOT Quick Feet

This can be said for any athlete. The world’s fastest athletes don’t have "quick feet". They have powerful legs. Unfortunately, many athletes have been coached to "move their feet quickly" and they now equate quick feet with speed. Ultimately, this creates an athlete who moves their feet quick, but they don't move very fast. It's important to understand the difference between speed/acceleration and quick feet because it will have tremendous implications in your training.

For example, many trainers and players automatically default to using agility ladders as a means of developing quick feet. This is nothing more than a gimmick when it comes to developing true speed and we discussed that here.

Want quick feet? Take up tap dancing. Athletes need powerful legs.

Toss the quick feet exercises in favor of some explosive strength training. As your strength and lower body power development improves, your speed will thank you.

# 2 - Focus on Short Distance Accelerations (10-20 yards)
Most sports are a game of quick, repeated bursts of speed coupled with changes of direction. Outside of track & field, most sports favor acceleration and deceleration over top-end speed. It is important to have top-end speed to stay competitive at any level, but if you aren't able to win the small area battles on the court, field, or ice, the chances of playing regularly are not in your favor.

This means athletes must be explosive and capable of reproducing the same explosiveness during the course of a game. Short distance sprints are an excellent tool to develop acceleration. This allows for a higher level of transfer to athletics due to higher degree of specificity. Short hill sprints, sled drags, sled pushes, and a variety of acceleration drills will also be highly effective because they will reinforce ideal acceleration mechanics.

# 3 - Speed Work and Conditioning Are Not the Same

"Explosive, not tired." At GP, that is a concept we communicate to all our athletes. Nowadays, young athletes assume conditioning and speed are the same thing or that by improving their conditioning, they will get faster. For many athletes, suicides and gassers come to mind. Players are instructed to sprint with minimal rest, pushed to exhaustion. Sure you want your athletes to last an entire game and not get out worked, but this will not get them faster. Actually, it is counter-productive if speed is the objective since it is physiologically impossible to perform at your maximal effort without adequate rest.

There is a such thing as training parameters and workload capability. These concepts demand consideration when training athletes. Sadly, if you asked the majority of trainers and coaches what those two terms mean, you will get a blank stare in return. True speed is only develop at near maximal effort. Maximal effort depletes energy systems and strains the nervous system. All these need adequate time to recover between sprints. This must be monitored closely to ensure that a speed training session does not become a conditioning workout.

# 4 - Make Lateral Starts and Transition Drills a Priority

Sport, namely team sports, requires movement proficiency in all directions. Most may seem like a linear sport to the observing eye, but watch closely and you will see otherwise. That said, speed training cannot be simply performed in a linear fashion. To make your speed training more specific, use lateral starts and bounds to reinforce explosive leg drive in lateral or diagonal directions. There are a number of lateral start variations that can be effective, such as lateral standing, lateral standing on outside leg, and side lunge position.

Building on the idea of multi-directional movement and explosive direction changes, you can progress your speed training to include transition drill exercises. These will allow you to replicate body positions and transitional movements that will directly impact your speed on the field or ice.

Seal the Deal
Following these tips will help you make more progress in less time and ensure that your training has the best chance to transfer into true speed development.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them below.

Gallagher Performance has a proven track record of improving speed time and time again. There is a reason why so many athletes come to us for speed development. If you’re interested in learning more about GP's approach to training athletes, our contact information can be found at www.gallagherperf.wpengine.com.

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  • Murrysville, PA 15668

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