Posts Tagged ‘sports’

As an athlete becomes more advanced, the “whys” of doing a drill become more relevant. In addition athletes that travel a lot need to make their workouts super efficient and address any underlying issues. Time usage becomes more important

Example: With fall travel season approaching I watched an advanced High School middle infielder doing a long duration lateral 2 in(why?) in a ladder at full speed(took 10 seconds burst is now gone) sprinting(can’t go 100% at this point) to a cone diagonal 10 yards away(this is all counterclockwise) cutting at 45 degrees to another cone and another ladder 2 in sprinting diagonal to another cone, to a predetermined site(happen much?) to catch a ball. This is a glorified conditioning drill without any relevance to the sport. Something to do about 1% of your time and definitely not close to a season

Take some time and think about what you are doing or are being told to do by youtube or a bad “trainer”.

1 solution for a middle infielder: Not crossing over into technique of any sort but providing a resisted drill that is very relevant for the athlete that had a season coming up shortly to enhance relevant lateral movement. Bungees each side with medium drag so as not to interfere with already nice movement. Ground balls provided randomly. Simple, effective, efficient.

Lauren Vay EF Softball
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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’ve seen it before and I’ll see it again. I saw it when my sons played many years ago. Playing for 3 teams or going to endless open gyms will not make you a better athlete. Your skills will improve to a point but the bottom line will be how strong, powerful, quick and explosive you are. Best players will play. Period. Whether they attended 100% of open gyms or put in time with 4 travel teams best players will play. Period. Are you getting as strong, fast and powerful as you need to be? Or is endless mindless repetition getting in the way?

The following list is by no means all-encompassing but provides some insight into some of the most glaring points that have jumped out at me through the last 40 years of my own training as well as those that I have trained. By no means was I a gifted athlete but years ago at the age of 36 I ran a 4.6 40 yard dash and vertical jumped 36 inches. I also managed to dunk a basketball at a height of 5′ 10″. This was not by accident or due to a gift but because I have learned and observed training outcomes for a very long time. Please take a few minutes and look over my list.

1)Put more empahasis on strength, power, explosion and speed than muscular and aerobic endurance.

In other words more strength, fitness and speed and less crossfit and long slow distance running.

The most common question we get is, “Did he or she work hard?”. Did they sweat? Did they breathe heavy? Most of these questions are related to conditioning. Athletes have plenty of time for conditioning. What most lack is explosion. Who cares if you can finish the soccer or basketball or football game without being tired? Did you move explosively during it enough to have an impact on the game? It’s great to be able to get through the game, but were you quick enough during it?

Conditioning and speed, agility quickness training are mutually exclusive events.

When baseball players prep for the season, many teams run distance only.  3 miles per day, 3 times per week. What about speed in the field or on the bases? It would take 2 seasons to run what some teams condition with in a week. THIS MAKES NO SENSE. Especially when you lose 3 close games due to a ball dropping in or getting thrown out at second when stealing or not beating out an infield hit.

Puking during a conditioning workout is one thing. Puking during a speed workout is impossible. Here’s why. When you condition, your body produces a boat load of metabolic acid especially when video gamers start conditioning for the first time. Metabolic acid in copious amounts completely inhibits the firing of any fast twitch fiber that one is trying to tap for SPEED TRAINING. Puking=lack of conditioning, conditioning, eating bad food, virus, nerves. Not explosive training. Not anywhere remotely close.

All you have to do is look at what happens to vertical leap, 10 yard dash, broad jump and 40 yard dash after a 6 week bout of high rep band squats for time. Or what happens after a division I soccer player trains like a marathoner.

Decreases of 4-6 inches in the vert and worsening dash times of .2-.3 seconds are not uncommon.

You can do all of the plyometric and speed drills in the world but if you don’t have  a strong, stable base you will reap very little benefit.

2)Work your brakes!

Athletes work linear speed like crazy but the problem is unless you are a track athlete you will have to be able to stop and restart. Stay off of the leg press machine and spend more time in the squat rack. While you are in the squat rack, don’t bounce out of the bottom position, use your hamstrings and glutes down there.

Make sure your ground mechanics are appropriate when you are training. Knees over toes, dorsiflexed ankle on contact. Don’t  feel  for the ground with a pointed toe. Get your hips down! Avoid excessive vertical movement when you are moving laterally.

3)Rely more and more on “open” drills.

Ready….
Set……
Go…..
only gets you so far.
You need to perform drills that involve you reacting to a variety of stimuli including contact, visual and auditory. There needs to be a reactive component to your training. You can prove it to yourself by first reacting to a “go” command without false stepping. Next try doing it reacting to a clap or thrown ball. See what I mean?

Your ability to stop and start unpredictably is at the root of agility.

If you do not add the element of surprise(open drills) to your agility repertoire, you become good at a skill like you get good at a golf swing or dancing or a ladder or cone drill.

Multiple studies bear this out.

Once the foundation of good mechanics is laid, unpredictability must follow unless you just want to be a combine or showcase star only.

4)Spend more time actually developing your athleticism.

There comes a point in time when being in 2 leagues, for 3 teams and running around reaches a point of diminishing returns.

Your swing is flawless….but has no pop. Will playing for 3 teams make it better?

Your soccer foot skills are great…….but you run like a dump truck. Will playing rec, travel and cup all in the same season fix this?

You are running track to get faster…….will running the mile or throwing the discus make this better?

There comes a point in time when an athlete needs to focus on his or her athleticism. You can’t do this by demonstrating the skills that you have. You must overload with some strength, speed, and agility training and allow time to RECOVER. Try playing for one team, one sport at a time during season.

5)Continue training In season! A recent research study entitled, “DETRAINING AND TAPERING ADAPTATION ON STRENGTH AND POWER PERFORMANCE” was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Aug. 2007 and provides definitive scientific data that addresses your question of whether it is worth maintaining some level of training frequency versus stopping altogether and participating in a sport.  In the study, speed and strength training was conducted for 16 weeks prior to the experimental detraining (DTR) or maintenance (MT) work.  Following the training period, DTR stopped additional exercise; the other group, MT, performed low volume, high intensity work periodically.  Both groups continued to participate in their given sport.  Following 4 weeks of this modification, DTR lost some strength but had over a 15% decrease in muscle power (slower running speed and lower vertical jump), while  MT (the group that continued with their performance training) showed a small increase in strength and maintained power (maintenance of performance gains)

About the Author

Ed Wietholder is the founder and owner of Strength Fitness and Speed, Inc. Ed has trained many athletes and non athletes as well from the Pittsburgh area. In addition, many have benefited from his routine design and consultation across the United States.

Ed has authored many articles that have appeared in national and international magazines.

Ed has trained and consulted for many High School, Collegiate and Professional teams.

What others are saying about Ed Wietholder

Big thanks to Ed Wietholder of Strength Fitness & Speed for the workout and always taking care of me when I’m back in Pittsburgh! Great dude!
Thanks Ed for all the help getting here! If anyone sees this and is in the south hills of Pittsburgh, they should check out Ed Wietholder‘s work!

Chase Winovich
University Of Michigan Football #15
Cleveland Browns # 69

It is easy for our young athletes to find a place to “workout”. There are many places popping up from former athletes who know what worked for them and who may be “certified” by unofficial, substandard organizations.

But then there is SFAS…owned and led by Ed Wietholder and his team of critically certified training professionals who understand the biomechanics and physical responses of performance-based training. This understanding results in the human body’s best opportunity for building and maintaining progress throughout their sports careers. Yes, there is science behind exercise and training and this team knows it inside out and upside down. They do this through balancing growth with agility and strength improvements while reducing the risk of injury both during and between seasons of these hard pushing athletes. Many of the SFAS athletes play more than one sport or more than one role in the same sport. The SFAS team evaluates, prescribes, re-evaluates and adjusts for each sport, each season and most importantly, each athlete – not a cookie cutter service. SFAS trainers communicate as a team to deliver the best unique situational plan for each athlete.  And add to this, they push your limits with intensity but in a fun atmosphere. The banter with the training staff and other local athletes creates a motivating family-like atmosphere. In two words, THEY CARE. Beyond the technical aspects, the respect the SFAS team shows to coaches and programs to complement their directives and to push the athlete both mentally and physically is obvious and reflects their knowledge of sport-athlete roles and the game. The well-rounded approach has resulted in many, many successful high school, college and professional level athletes. Personally, I have a tri-sport female athlete who has to work on her current sport while coming off the previous season’s sport (always simultaneous) and with the mindset and plans of getting ready for the third sport season year after year. Her high school is blessed with many great athletes, especially in her graduating class, so the competition is real and the seasons are long. The strength and agility needs of one sport can be very different from another.  I would not trust her training to anyone else. The SFAS team has built her both mentally and physically and she carries it out. Her performance has improved consistently in each sport throughout her growth years (with some inherent growth issues and process of her own).  The mental and confidence growth support from her SFAS team is beyond words.  Recently, as her basketball team heads to states for another year, she was unable to schedule her SFAS sessions due to her commitments.  She finally, after 4 weeks, was able to go back to her routine.  She came home from her session and said (with a bounce in her step), “I really missed my SFAS training and my SFAS family.  I feel great and it makes me happy to go there.  I feel like they always know exactly what I need.”  They do. From dealing with the process of severe osgood-schlatter disease to school challenges to transitioning between sports while playing a completely different sport…they do it all!  Thank you Ed and your SFAS team for helping Lydia succeed as an athlete and as a person. It takes a village and you are definitely a big part of ours. 

Lydia Shaw           Thomas Jefferson High School, XC/Basketball/Track

Jefferson University, XC and Track, NCAA Division II, CACC

Major: Architecture and Design

By: Lisa Steiner Shaw, PhD, Industrial Engineering, Human Movement Studies

A Junior High School Basketball player name Gavin approached us to ask me to help him develop his game to be able to play at a higher level. After a functional assessment revealed some classic basketball imbalances we embarked on an interesting and what turned out to be record setting quest. Over the next 12 weeks we addressed inadequate knee punching, overstriding and inefficient shin angles and a lack of drive at the shoulders which can contribute up to 10% of an athletes “oomph” when they accelerate. We also woke up his hamstrings since we explained his brakes would be key as much as his engine. We also addressed back jumping where athletes try to recruit slow twitch fibers in the back mistakenly rather than the power legs and glutes. We also provided some suggestions for alterations to his strength program getting into rep ranges designed to encourage fast twitch and enhance intermediate twitch conversion.

We introduced some work on eliminating false step and reaction work to movement, sound and color. Acceleration and Lateral movement continued to be overloaded.

We covered transition steps that occur when you have to stop start, turn and lateral transition, etc.

It should be noted that this young man never missed a training session and always took care of strength training sometimes at the facility and sometimes on his own.

Excellent outcome.

12 weeks later…Vertical Leap +10inches………..10 yard dash……. .45 improvement……. shuttle .6 improvement

We train teams and players from all over Pennsylvania. We explode and react. After laying a foundation does it make sense to not focus on random movement drills? In other words repeating a know foot pattern then running to a spot where you know a ball or cone is becomes pretty useless? We see it frequently. Is there a reason to dance over hurdles before exploding to a known spot? Not really.

Here is what we choose to focus on:

1)Action: Dynamic warm Up, Stretch 

Benefit: Proprioception development,  Increased Core Temperature for better training performance 


 2)Action:  Mechanical adjustments, sprint techniques evolving to very specific basepath and positional speed. 

Benefit: Beating out infield hits, stretching singles into doubles, better reaction and getting to infield hits and fly balls. Better mechanics means more EFFICIENT movement.  

3) Action: Overloading the athletic movements with resistance and assistance. 

Benefit: Contrast training provides better neuromuscular recruitment and power in movements. Example:  pre training athletes exhibit much less muscle recruitment than trained athletes. Contrast training and complexing a plyo and a resisted movement enhances recruitment leading to a much improved “getting out of the box” and also exploding to a space. 

4)Action: Progressing movements from closed(predictable) to open(random). 

Benefit: Better transference to the field. There is very little ready –set- go in sports and softball. Movement must be reactive, not on your own cue. 


 5) Power development in the body, including lower core education and activation and development of explosive rotational core power using med balls and plyometric drills 

Benefit: All movement originates in the low core. The low core is your anchor. A stronger educated lower abdomen provides an anchor from which an athlete can turn powerfully on a pitch or launch a fast pitch. All movement originates in the lower abdomen. Rotational core power provides greater velocity off of the bat, a stronger throwing arm and a more efficient consistent swing. 

6)Leg strength and stability and ground contact work 

Benefit: Reduced chances of cruciate ligament knee injuries 

7)Upper Body strength and power transfer 

Benefit: Increased bat speed and better power transfer from legs to hands 

It is easy for our young athletes to find a place to “workout”. There are many places popping up from former athletes who know what worked for them and who may be “certified” by unofficial, substandard organizations.

But then there is SFAS…owned and led by Ed Wietholder and his team of critically certified training professionals who understand the biomechanics and physical responses of performance-based training. This understanding results in the human body’s best opportunity for building and maintaining progress throughout their sports careers. Yes, there is science behind exercise and training and this team knows it inside out and upside down. They do this through balancing growth with agility and strength improvements while reducing the risk of injury both during and between seasons of these hard pushing athletes. Many of the SFAS athletes play more than one sport or more than one role in the same sport. The SFAS team evaluates, prescribes, re-evaluates and adjusts for each sport, each season and most importantly, each athlete – not a cookie cutter service. SFAS trainers communicate as a team to deliver the best unique situational plan for each athlete.  And add to this, they push your limits with intensity but in a fun atmosphere. The banter with the training staff and other local athletes creates a motivating family-like atmosphere. In two words, THEY CARE. Beyond the technical aspects, the respect the SFAS team shows to coaches and programs to complement their directives and to push the athlete both mentally and physically is obvious and reflects their knowledge of sport-athlete roles and the game. The well-rounded approach has resulted in many, many successful high school, college and professional level athletes.

Lydia Shaw           Thomas Jefferson High School, XC/Basketball/Track

Personally, I have a tri-sport female athlete who has to work on her current sport while coming off the previous season’s sport (always simultaneous) and with the mindset and plans of getting ready for the third sport season year after year. Her high school is blessed with many great athletes, especially in her graduating class, so the competition is real and the seasons are long. The strength and agility needs of one sport can be very different from another.  I would not trust her training to anyone else. The SFAS team has built her both mentally and physically and she carries it out. Her performance has improved consistently in each sport throughout her growth years (with some inherent growth issues and process of her own).  The mental and confidence growth support from her SFAS team is beyond words.  Recently, as her basketball team heads to states for another year, she was unable to schedule her SFAS sessions due to her commitments.  She finally, after 4 weeks, was able to go back to her routine.  She came home from her session and said (with a bounce in her step), “I really missed my SFAS training and my SFAS family.  I feel great and it makes me happy to go there.  I feel like they always know exactly what I need.”  They do. From dealing with the process of severe osgood-schlatter disease to school challenges to transitioning between sports while playing a completely different sport…they do it all!  Thank you Ed and your SFAS team for helping Lydia succeed as an athlete and as a person. It takes a village and you are definitely a big part of ours. 

Jefferson University, XC and Track, NCAA Division II, CACC

Major: Architecture and Design

By: Lisa Steiner Shaw, PhD, Industrial Engineering, Human Movement Studies


The biggest warning flag that I have ever gotten as a former basketball coach and now Performance Coach was hearing this phrase from another coach or parent, ” He or she is the kind of kid that needs pushed.”

Ouch. That is probably the worst thing you could have ever had said about you.

This is from local sports writer Bob Labriola’s sports column and it references Hall of Fame Steeler Coach Chuck Noll views on self motivation.

“He would tell you, ‘My job is to teach you how to play this game correctly. I will never give you a motivational speech. If I have to motivate you, I will fire you.'”

I guess getting fired would motivate some to not get fired actually.

If you think about it why do you need kicked in the ass or screamed in your face? Motivate your own self.

Step 1 as a Coach is to determine what buttons need pushed in order to teach this person or athlete how to motivate themselves?

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” -possibly from Lao Tzu and/or others

The biggest warning flag that I have ever gotten as a former basketball coach and now Performance Coach was hearing from this phrase from another coach or parent, ” He or she is the kind of kid that needs pushed.”

Ouch. That is probably the worst thing you could have ever had said about you.

This is from local sports writer Bob Labriola’s sports column and it references Hall of Fame Steeler Coach Chuck Noll views on self motivation.

“He would tell you, ‘My job is to teach you how to play this game correctly. I will never give you a motivational speech. If I have to motivate you, I will fire you.'”

I guess getting fired would motivate some to not get fired actually.

If you think about it why do you need kicked in the ass or screamed in your face? Motivate your own self.

Step 1 as a Coach is to determine what buttons need pushed in order to teach this person or athlete how to motivate themselves?

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” -possibly from Lao Tzu and/or others

There comes a point in time when being in 2 leagues, for 3 teams and running around reaches a point of diminishing returns.

Your swing is flawless….but has no pop. Will playing for 3 teams make it better?

Your soccer foot skills are great…….but you run like a dump truck. Will playing rec, travel and classic all in the same season fix this?

You are running track to get faster…….will running the mile or throwing the discus make this better?

There comes a point in time when an athlete needs to focus on his or her athleticism. Athletes that are not naturally gifted can’t do this just by demonstrating the skills that they have. They must overload with some strength, speed, and agility training and allow time to RECOVER. Try playing for one team, one sport at a time as the sport follows it’s seasonal change.

DEVELOP SOME ATHLETICISM!!!!!

I have used visualization in my training for many years. Skeptical at first, but the results of it have been great for training progress.

I first started using it during the 1980s when I was learning to trade sleep for study time at the University of Pittsburgh. I would take a study break and find a quiet spot and visualize where I was going to lift that day including the sounds, smells and feelings.

I would close my eyes and feel what the weight would be like on the first rep including the lift off. I would feel each successive rep getting heavier and more difficult to accomplish. Most importantly what the last rep which was my extra rep or increased weight from the last workout would feel like. I would always visualize the succesful completion of the rep. You really have to get your confidence up and “buy in” for the completion of the final rep.

My workouts became more businesslike and matter of fact. I went on some great training runs with this technique and I believe it to be well worth a try. Think of it as a very effective free training supplement.

Your ability to stop and start unpredictably is at the root of agility.

If you do not add the element of surprise(open drills) to your agility training repertoire, you become good at a skill like you get good at a golf swing or dancing or a ladder or cone drill. I am dumbfounded when I watch speed “experts” have their athletes look like they are doing hopscotch Olympics preparation. Hop, skip jump over and over, backwards tip toe, repetitive, predictable and stupid.

Once the foundation of good mechanics is laid, unpredictability must follow unless you just want to be an instagram or combine or showcase star only.

Don’t play like a robot. Become an athlete.