Explosiveness and Sport Training

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It seems like the strength and conditioning field is beginning to make some good progress towards creating better athletes.

Before, it seems like the whole idea was to get big and strong. Later, it seemed like corrective exercise and functional training were all the buzz and people forgot to actually train.

We are now at a point (even though many coaches have been doing this for years) where athletes are looking to become more explosive and training is dictating that.

No matter which sport we watch, it seems that the athletes are doing things that past generations just simply cannot. Humans have not changed for the better but training has.

One weak point in the industry is training for power or explosiveness. This is unfortunate because a lot of young kids do it unintentionally and then lose their ability to develop it.

Jumping is a great way to develop power. Young kids are always bouncing all over the place and even though it is not structured, they are improving their ability to be explosive. This is a benefit of starting young.

As the kids get older and introduced to TV, iPads, and video games, they lose their ability to be powerful.

Let’s train to get it back.

Today I want to jump down a different route and blend power development with an athlete’s sport.

When we typically train in the gym, we do not use the athlete’s sport to conduct the training. What I mean by this is that we do not have hockey players suit up in their gear and run around with their sticks. We treat them as separate methods.

Most of the time it should be that way.

A small percentage of out of sport training could involve the sport to help transfer the skill.

Some examples of what I am talking about:

  • Swinging a golf club
  • Taking slap shots
  • Kicking a soccer ball
  • Shooting a lacrosse ball
  • Sprinting

stamkos shot

In order for this to work we must have some guidelines.

  1. All efforts need to be as hard as possible

To develop power we must be fast. If the activity is too slow then it will not be powerful. In the goal of power development, these efforts should be all out to get the most out of it.

The best golfers in the world talk about when they were young and learning how to develop power. They would hit the ball as far as they could and then go find it since it didn’t usually go straight. When they are young this did not matter because they were just trying to learn how to develop swing speed, the control comes later.

  1. There has to be some skill training to refine this

If an athlete does not have any source of skill training to refine the motion then this could be disastrous. If a young golfer came to me looking to improve their swing speed and I took the last 5 minutes of the session to let them swing out of their shoes, the hope would be that they have a swing coach to go to that can refine the technique.

The athlete will only get worse and lose control without that swing coach to hone in on the pattern.

The same goes for slap shots, soccer, and sprinting. An athlete that has bad technique will not benefit from this kind of power training, if not addressed.

  1. This cannot be a huge out of sport focus

The things that I am proposing should consist of about 5% the total training. If a young soccer player just doesn’t seem to get enough power behind their shot, then the shot is not my focus. We are going to spend a lot of time training for strength, power, and stability in order to build the engine to kick the ball harder.

Having an athlete take some really hard swings may be for only 3-5 minutes before or after a session.

A good analogy is shooting a cannon from the ground versus a canoe. The canoe is not stable and cannon ball is not going to go anywhere. 90% of athletes in high school or below are canoes. They need a foundation of strength and stability to build power on top of.

To get more powerful we have to be able to swing, throw, sprint, and jump quickly. This can get ugly without the proper technique and control. We cannot just arbitrarily go out and take 100 shots at the soccer net and hope to get better.

We can however use that skill as a way to reinforce the athlete’s training.