Elements of a Sports Performance Program

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Sports performance is what we specialize in at Evolution Sports Performance in Easton.

But what does that even mean?

Sports performance is a type of fitness but fitness does not qualify as sports performance. This can get confusing for a lot of people to understand since most of their experience is with fitness.

Generally, fitness is some type of cardio and strength training. I know that is an overly brief definition but it fits what most people think.

Sports Performance is a lot more complicated and therefore some uncharted territory.

We have 5 elements to our performance programs. Our athletes have had a lot of success when combining these elements into one well rounded program.

Power Development

We like to start our sessions out with power development and absorption. Depending on our plan for the day, we utilize jumps and medicine ball work to produce and control power.

A few examples are as follows. Using a resistance to force a take-off would be great for acceleration, emphasizing perfect landing mechanics is a focus on deceleration, and combining all planes of movement helps with multi-directional movement.

This is an element that usually doesn’t get forgotten about. Most athletes will take the time to jump.

Speed and Agility Technique

I think this is the most important part of a good program vs. a bad one. Every speed and agility drill has a specific purpose.

A lot of people in the fitness industry, physical therapy, and related worlds do not know about this. They will pretend they do but they really don’t.

Ladder drills and generic cone drills are not speed and agility technique. They are pieces of the puzzle.

I was really lucky to learn this information from my fellow staff members at Evolution. We have a great staff that really understands this element. There are not a ton of great resources on this info so it is helpful to get the hands on help.

Speed and Agility Drills

Just as important as the techniques are, reinforcing those techniques is essential.

If you are doing a lot of technique work, but cannot use it, then what good is that?

We see it way too often. An athlete does really well with knee drive work but then doesn’t drive their knees when it comes time to sprint. Without reinforcement there is nothing.

The best way to reinforce technique work is to really coach it up in a non routine way. This can be done with reaction and decision making. I like pointing, verbal cues, different cone colors, and partner work for this.

Strength Training

It has not happened a lot in recent memory but there used to be a lot of resistance to strength training. Most people think that they do it on their own.

You definitely can, but 9/10 times it is not great. The best plan of action is to work with the same people for the whole program. Bouncing around to a bunch of different programs (or even worse, not having one) is not a strategy for success. You are best off sticking to one.

You also cannot ignore the effect of strength training. Fast athletes are strong. It takes strength to drive the knees, push into the ground, and change direction quickly. Combining strength with speed and agility is the best way to improve your performance.

Conditioning

Conditioning has to be the most misunderstood aspect of training. There are a thousand different ways to do conditioning.

We also have to consider the sport that is played. Riding a bike might be great cardio. It doesn’t do a ton for an athlete that is constantly changing direction. They must be good at that and use something like a bike as a complementary piece.

There is also a balance that we have to strike. You cannot only do conditioning. There has to be some speed and agility training.

Some athletes might be able to last from beginning to end at the same speed. The problem is that the speed is not very high to begin with. You may never get the chance to play beginning to end if speed limits your playing time.

Every one of our sessions for athletes in middle school and up will hit on these elements in a given session. It is rare that an athlete that has given themselves enough time to properly train has not seen tremendous progress.

We often get feedback that they performed near the top of their team. Sports performance training is really about complementary pieces. Athletes need to be fast, quick, strong, and conditioned. Well we need to hit on all of those things if we want them to improve.