Training for High Level Performance

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A lot of times when I talk about training it is to improve performance.

It does and it is really important for playing well.

Some athletes do not think that they need training because they are already good.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Everyone is also entitled to be wrong.

I was speaking with Josh Heenan of Advanced Therapy and Performance. Our discussion was about training and its relation to high level performance and injury prevention.

One of his programs is the 90 MPH Formula. The premise is that if you not only want to pitch 90, but also withstand the demand of that then you must have adequate strength.

A common theme with his athletes and consulted teams is that those that lack strength often do not perform at a high level but have a much more extensive injury history than stronger athletes.

We see the same thing at Evolution just with a much younger population. Instead of Tommy John surgeries, replace that with shoulder fatigue/little league shoulder.

Effect on Speed and Agility

We also see a lot of athletes that simply do not have the muscular strength to do the things that they want to. One of our high school athletes was having a tough time skipping through hurdles. The reason being that he simply was just not strong enough to really push himself into the ground.

This is really common. Over the summer we had some field hockey teams training with us. On both teams we saw that the younger girls were beating the upperclassmen in most drills. Maybe some of it was effort. Maybe some of it was that the girls slow down as they grow if they do not increase their strength to handle the new demands.

To sprint fast, strength is needed. Sprinting is a powerful movement and the best way to produce force is strength training. This builds the engine for speed.

Strength also greatly impacts injury risk. Every fall we hear about soccer athletes blowing knees out. A lot of the time these are non contact. I cannot think of any recent athletes, that committed to their training, that go down with ACL injuries. Contact injuries are a different story since there is nothing you can really do there.

When you run, you are being asked to handle 7x your body weight in force on the lower body. If you do not have the strength to withstand that force then something has to go, usually some kind of connective tissue in the joint.

This affects the “already really fast and quick” crowd because you need to train for durability.

Your Age Matters

Age is really important when talking about strength training. One of the most important is the case of the young stud athlete.

If you are 13 and better than everybody else, what is your plan for when everyone else catches up?

Kids develop at different rates so there is no guarantee that someone who is great at a young age will continue to be good through high school and beyond.

Starting training at a young age gives you an advantage throughout your sports career. When we teach a young athlete to squat with an 8 lb med ball they are not going to see dramatic increases in strength.

What we are doing is laying a great foundation to build off. Starting there and adding weight slowly and progressively is the best way to improve strength while being able to reinforcing it in your sport.

Avoiding the shotgun approach- waiting until entering freshman year to take care of this- makes the whole process a lot easier. Keeping up with training is essential because it doesn’t go anywhere if you maintain it.

That will allow good injury prevention and performance throughout your time playing sports.