Archive for December, 2015

Progressing to Bodyweight Plyometrics

Posted in Injuries, Low Back Pain, MBSC News, Strength Coach Podcast, StrengthCoach.com Updates, Training with tags on December 30, 2015 by mboyle1959

If you are a strength and conditioning coach, you know that power matters. Plyometrics, Olympic lifting and medicine ball throws probably are used in some form in your athletes’ programs.

But, what about your adult clients? Did you know that adults need power training as much or more than athletes? Adults are losing strength and power as they age, however power is lost at a much faster rate. In fact, it’s almost twice as fast. (1.7 to be exact). What does that mean in numbers? It means that if you are losing 10% of your strength you would lose 17% of your power? When you double that loss (20 and 34%) you can see how the loss of power is quickly magnified.

So, does that mean we want to get our adult clients doing box jumps and Olympic lifting? Probably not. There is a little concept we call risk-reward or, risk-benefit. The risk of adults starting a plyometric program or trying to learn to Olympic lift may outweigh the reward? Obviously, you are going to have some adult clients that are fit and healthy and simple plyometric exercises may be fine for them.

But what about older clients, or overweight clients? How do we help these folks stop the loss of power and in fact begin to regain it?

To do this we need to defeat our big enemy, gravity. The combination of body mass and gravity can create some real problems when training older clients, overweight clients or clients that combine the two (older and overweight). We need to find a way to get these folks to move with speed but, safely. We need to find a way to reduce both weight and gravity.

totalgym

Sounds a little bit like a high school science experiment, doesn’t it? We can obviously reduce weight with diet but, that takes time. We can fight gravity by gaining strength, particularly in the lower body, but that also takes time.

Thankfully, there are two tools on the market that do in fact allow us to move with speed using loads less than bodyweight. One is the Total Gym Jump Trainer, the other is the MVP Shuttle. Having at least one of these pieces in your facility is essential if you are going to be training adult clients or, doing any type of rehab work.

The two pieces are somewhat similar. Both appear at first glance to be some version of a leg press machine but, they are far more than that. Both pieces actually allow horizontal jumping in an environment that reduces the effect of gravity.  Both also incorporate elastic bands to create resistance. For years, the MVP Shuttle was the only commercial grade piece that allowed jumping in a gravity reduced environment. Total Gym has recently entered the field with a commercial piece that has a few features not present in the MVP Shuttle.  The Total Gym Jump Trainer allows the user to move from a horizontal position toward a more vertical position.   Load can be strictly bodyweight and increased by changing the incline of the machine or, elastic bands can be added in each position. The Total Gym adjusts toward the vertical to increase the percentage of bodyweight being used.

The Total Gym Jump Trainer (as assembled for fitness) begins at 46 % at the lowest angle of 20 degrees and then adjusts up in 7 increments topping out at 78% of bodyweight at an angle of 36 degrees.  Assembled for rehab it begins at 27 % at the lowest angle of 12 degrees and then adjusts up in 7 increments topping out at 66% of bodyweight at an angle of 30 degrees. Up to 70 lbs of bungee can be added to any of these levels.
shuttle

The Shuttle instead remains basically horizontal and increases resistance via the elastic bands.

The result in both cases is that a rehab client, an older adult or an overweight client can begin to jump with loads far less than bodyweight.

Both the MVP Shuttle and the Total Gym Jump Trainer can also be used in a rehab setting to introduce single leg plyometrics to injured clients and athletes. In fact the application of both pieces is probably more limited by the imagination of the coach or trainer than by the machine itself.  An athlete returning from an ACL injury can begin jumps or hops far sooner when one of these pieces are used than would be possibly with bodyweight as the load.

Although I would not consider myself a machine person, I would go so far as to tell you that one of these two tools is an essential machine for every facility.  If you have adult clients, young clients or rehab clients I would encourage you to “test drive” one of these two pieces.

Agility Ladder, Speed Ladder, Warm-up Ladder

Posted in MBSC News, Random Thoughts, Seminars, Strength Coach Podcast, StrengthCoach.com Updates, Training, Training Females, Youth Training with tags , , on December 30, 2015 by mboyle1959

I’m not sure what prompts people to write the things that they do but, periodically the old “ladders are useless” post pops up on Facebook or Twitter. I need to be honest, if you think getting good at ladder drills makes you quicker or more agile, you are probably wrong. However, if you think ladders are useless and a waste of time, you are definitely wrong. Ladders are great for kids as they can help improve coordination and brain-muscle connections. For higher level athletes they are simply a great tool for multi-planar warm-up.

Take a second and read this article I wrote for my StrengthCoach.com site a few years ago:

A couple of threads on the StrengthCoach.com forum got me thinking about the question of foot speed and athletes. I can’t tell you how often I hear a parent or a coach ask, “How can I improve my son’s/daughter’s/ athlete’s foot speed or agility?” It seems everyone always wants the shortcut and the quick fix. The better question might be “Do you think you can improve foot speed?” or maybe even the larger question, “Does foot speed even matter?”

to finish reading, click here

Are Box Jumps Even Plyometrics?

Posted in MBSC News, Seminars, Strength Coach Podcast, StrengthCoach.com Updates, Training, Training Females, Youth Training with tags on December 21, 2015 by mboyle1959

Box jumping has been the subject of the week. I’m amazed that a simple post could generate so much interest. The truth is that box jumps are just that, a jumping exercise. They lack the reactive component that distinguishes a plyometric exercise from just jumping. Here’s an article that will get you thinking and learning about plyometric training.

Plyometric Training

Numerous articles have been written about plyometric training for athletes. Very few have detailed progressive programs that take into account the need for a system of training that can be applied to a broad range of athletes. Although the works of Chu, Radcliffe and Gambetta were outstanding at the time of their writing, very little has been written in the last ten years that connects our current knowledge of functional training with how to design and implement a system of plyometric exercises. In order to fully understand plyometrics, we must look at basics like terminology, volume and frequency.

Terminology:

The first area that needs to be addressed in the area of plyometric training is terminology. The language of plyometrics must be universal so that any coach or athlete can view the program of any other coach or athlete and understand the exercises without photos or video. The discrepancies in terminology were first brought to my attention by Mike Clark of the National Academy of SportsMedicine. Clark pointed out in a 2000 lecture that many coaches currently used names to describe plyometric exercises that were not properly descriptive of the movement. Clark went on to detail the types of exercises and the specific actions:

to continue, click here

 

Great Stuff From the Guys at Changing the Game Project

Posted in Guest Authors, Hockey, Injuries, Strength Coach Podcast, StrengthCoach.com Updates, Training, Training Females, Youth Training with tags on December 16, 2015 by mboyle1959

I DID NOT WRITE THIS. It is from the guys at Changing the Game Project. However, I do agree. My daughter went from town sports, to a select hockey team at 12 to a full college scholarship at 15. What these guys say works. My daughter did not play in a summer hockey tournament until the week before her 13th birthday. She had never been to Canada to play etc. However, she had excelled at town hockey, town soccer, and local summer swimming and diving. In addition, she had won a state judo championship. My 10 year old son plays hockey, baseball, lacrosse, flag football and rec basketball. Most of these are very inexpensive and provide great fun and great competition.

5 Ways Youth Sports gets the Math All Wrong

 
1.Youth Sports Costs Way Too Much, Way Too Soon: We are creating barriers to entry to sports that should have very few. Soccer, for example, needs a round object and some space to play. Instead, we have tryouts, “elite” clubs and travel teams for 6-7 year olds. Author Mark Hyman phrases it perfectly in the title of his great book about the cost of youth sports, The Most Expensive Game in Town. It costs thousands of dollars plus travel for some kids to play a sport that could almost be free. I am not saying that tryouts, travel, and high-level, long distance competition do not have a place in the game, but not before age 12 at the earliest. Local play and town leagues are disappearing. And worst, we have ramped up the pressure on parents to pay, coaches to produce, and kids to perform. As former NFL punter turned college professor Travis Dorsch has found in his research, our kids are acutely aware of the money we spend on sports, and it adds pressure, and takes away enjoyment for them.
2. Youth Sports Makes Poor Use of Our Kids’ Time (and Ours): Let’s compare the average day of pickup games/free play to today’s hyper-organized sporting scene. In other words, lets look at the return on investment in time.
In a pickup/free play environment, a child might walk 10 minutes on a Saturday to the park or pond to meet with friends. They organize teams and play, taking breaks every once in a while to change teams, get a drink, eat, etc. Six hours later, the child goes home. His 6.5 hour investment yields about 5.5 hours of child directed sport.
Now take our highly organized environment. A child gets in the car at 9am, and drives ninety minutes to his travel game. He arrives a minimum of one hour prior to kickoff, and a warm up commences 30 minutes prior to game time. He plays a 60 minute game, and for arguments sake he plays 40 minutes (a hockey team with 3 lines might yield 20 minutes of play or less with a coach who does not think every kid needs to play.) The coach/team spends 30 minutes changing and debriefing after the game, the player grabs a bite to eat, and he arrives home two hours later. A 5.5 hour investment of time, for one hour of play.
In a nutshell, instead of spending the vast majority of his day at play, making rules, calling fouls, playing fearlessly, and involved in self-directed learning, our kids spend most of it in a car (and so do we). We pay a lot more for a lot less time on task.
3. Ratio of Games vs. Training: Games and competitive matches certainly have their place, but our overemphasis on competition, especially at the youngest ages, is detrimental on two fronts.
First, our current environment yields a ratio of one game for one practice in many sports, which is not ideal. A well run hour of baseball practice might get every player a few dozen swings, and dozens of attempts at throwing, catching and fielding. A one-hour game might see him get 8-10 swings, and depending upon position, 3-10 additional touches of the ball. I cannot think of a sport where an athlete does not get more reps in training. Yet, at the critical ages of development, where kids need as many touches and attempts as possible, we are choosing to play competitive games that give them very few, instead of practice that will help develop technical mastery. Why do we play so many games? According to former NBA player turned youth sports advocate Bob Bigelow, “Adults want to win; kids want to play. That’s the difference. The more adult needs you add to these sports, the more adult vision, the more adult needs have to be met.”
Second, and I think this is critical; our massive emphasis on tournament play is developing slow players. Three-time World Cup soccer coach Raymond Verheijan, one of the world’s experts on periodization, training and injury prevention, first stated this idea to me. “Think about it,” he said. “In your first tournament game, everyone plays full speed, 100%. But your second game of the day, you are at 90% because of fatigue. Your third and fourth game of the weekend, you are at 80% speed. If you make the final, everyone is tired, sore, carrying injuries, and playing 70-80% of full speed. Not only are your players increasingly susceptible to injury, but in four out of your five games, they have played at a slower speed due to fatigue. Your players are rarely playing at maximum pace or making maximum decisions per minute. In a mental game like soccer, they are learning over and over to play slowly.”
4. The Age of Specialization is Way Too Young: I have written articles on this subject, and the book “Is it Wise to Specialize” so if you want more on this topic click the links. Until there is compelling science, and not simply outlier, one-in-a million examples like “look at Tiger” to show that early specialization is a better path for player development, I believe the science shows that the multi-sport pathway prior to age 12 gives your child the best chance of long term success. Outside of female figure skating and gymnastics, playing a single sport prior to the age of 12, especially when it is the decision of the parent or coach, and not the athlete, only serves to decrease ownership, enjoyment and intrinsic motivation, while increasing the risk of burnout and injury. Let your kids play multiple sports, and help them find their passion instead of trying to determine it for them.
5. Talk About College Sports Starts Too Young: As evident by the letter I received from the mom quoted above, too many coaches and parents are talking about scholarships at an age they should be talking about love of the game and developing excellence. As the mom noted, her daughter had no idea what she wanted to study, where she wanted to go to school, and likely had been to very few college campuses, yet she was being told “commit soon or else.” I have yet to meet a college coach, especially on the women’s side where the problem seems exacerbated, that likes this current system of evaluating and recruiting middle schoolers, and committing scholarships to kids 3-5 years before they will ever step on campus. Yet they also feel powerless to stop. As a result, we have a generation of college athletes heading to schools that are not the best fit, majoring in subjects they have little interest in, and transferring at a very high rate.
Its time to get the math right in youth sports. don’t you think? Here are a few steps to do so that will make it better for our kids, and better for the adults as well:
Do not force, or be forced, into having your child specialize too early. The evidence supports a multi-sport pathway.
Have your child play one sport per season, and play it with full effort and commitment.
Do not be in a hurry to get on the team that travels the farthest, or collects all the best players as soon as possible. Save your money and time until your child’s ability and desire demands it, and your family and finances can support it. Performance prior to puberty is not a great indicator of performance after it.
Find local free play opportunities, take your child and friends to the park, and let them play. Have your kids play futsal, or 3v3, do tumbling and martial arts, and build those hours on task through more efficiently through child-centered fun.
Look for quality of competition, not just quantity. Don’t be mesmerized by the coach that tells you about all the games they play, and all the tournaments they go to. Find a coach and club that talks about how much they practice, and how much every player gets to play and how they develop on their own time frame.
Stop talking about college sports too soon. Worry about your child becoming a good player, and developing a burning desire to play. College sports are hard, and demand a ton of time;, if sport is a job and not a passion, they won’t make it. Yes, some schools and sports want early commitments, but they also want great players. If your child is good, and patient, chances are she will find a school that is a much better fit then one she was in a hurry to commit to 3-4 years prior.
Let’s hit the reset button, and get the math right. Let’s start investing our precious time wisely, and our precious dollars in the right things, and at the right time. We can make the math work.
Our kids need us to.

Box Jump Stupidity Part 3

Posted in Injuries, MBSC News, Random Thoughts, Strength Coach Podcast, StrengthCoach.com Updates, Training, Training Females, Uncategorized on December 15, 2015 by mboyle1959

The internet is an endless supplier of blog fodder. Parts one and two of  my Box Jump series got 1000’s of views and lots of comments. You can look back in the previous posts for part 1 and 2 if you haven’t read them. Check out this picture ( it was in the first post)

aromasfgbbox3-th

This might be the ultimate in foolishness. The guy in the picture is jumping onto a pile of bumper plates while the training partner tries to steady the shifting pile with his foot. This is a lawsuit waiting to happen. You have to love the internet.

Box Jump Follow Up

Posted in Uncategorized on December 12, 2015 by mboyle1959

Wow, yesterdays traffic was huge. 14,000 views here and over 60,000 reached on Facebook. Guess Box Jumps are popular.

I got an interesting response yesterday that made me realize that I should take this post a step further. The video below shows a good box jump. Interestingly, the athletes vertical jump approximately corresponds to the box height ( 24″ box, 25″ vertical). Sorry for the injection of logic.

The next video shows what a “too high” box jump looks like:

As I said yesterday, it’s not how high the box is, it’s the movement of the center of mass. High boxes can be dangerous.

To learn more you can order my Plyometric Training DVD from Perform Better.

Stop The Box Jump Stupidity

Posted in Injuries, MBSC News, Media, Random Thoughts, Strength Coach Podcast, StrengthCoach.com Updates, Training, Youth Training with tags , on December 11, 2015 by mboyle1959

Here’s my second repost of the same blog. Obviously not seen by enough coaches yet!

1369

The top box in the stack is either a 36 or 42 inch plyo box.

If you have one, please put it away. In fact, unless you are training some great athletes, put your 30 inch box away too. I have dubbed the big plyo boxes “Idiot Boxes”. Idiot boxes are jumped on by young men ( it is always young men) looking to show off. I have begun to refer to them as “skin donors”. I can tell you something for sure. If CSI showed up and dusted the high plyo boxes for DNA most of these boxes would test positive. There was a time when my athletes and I were foolish just like everyone else and did these foolish exercises. After coaching a few “skin donors” I realized that what mattered was the movement of the center of mass, not the height of the box. I no longer own a 36” box but, own lots of 18’s, 24’s and a few 30’s.

Our rule is simple. Jimmy Radcliffe said it best; “jump and land from the same position”. This means that take off and landing should look identical. If you jump from a ½ squat, land in a half squat.

I could post a few videos but, don’t want to get sued. Just Youtube “box jumps” if you want to see foolishness in action.

And please, don’t stack up a bunch of stuff to jump on. That’s even dumber. I just saw an article with a multi-million dollar athlete jumping on a collection of boxes and plates. Try to explain that during your deposition.

AromasFGBBox3-th

Remember, jump and land from the same position.