1. Sport-Specific Training
The purest form of training for any activity is the activity itself. To be effective, a training program must reproduce the functional movements and metabolic demands of the sport being trained for. Sport-specific training challenges athletesí to perform specific movements and patterns safely, efficiently and subconsciously; develops the appropriate energy systems; and promotes muscular adaptations that lead to superior sport performance.
2. Multiple Joint Movements
No single body part works in isolation during sport. The body works synergistically (with muscles, joints and proprioceptors all working in an integrated fashion) to produce complex movements. Running, jumping, skating, tackling and throwing all require multiple joint actions timed in the proper neuromuscular recruitment pattern. Therefore, integrated movements should be trained, not individual muscles, if the goal is to maximize function and performance.
3. Multiple Plane Movements
Movement in sport occurs in three planes: linear (forward-backward), transverse (up-down) and sagittal (side-to-side). Training should incorporate exercises and movement patterns that develop efficiency in each plane. Only free weights allow movement in these three planes simultaneously. Machines isolate muscles and work single joints in single planes of movement. Movement training should emphasize agility, in addition to straight-ahead speed, since this is the factor that has the greatest impact on sport performance.
4. Ground-Based Movements
Most sport skills are initiated by applying force with the feet against the ground. The more force an athlete can apply against the ground, the faster they will run, the higher they will jump and the more effective they will be in sport. Thus, lifting exercises and conditioning drills should be chosen which enhance this ability. The squat and the Olympic movements (hang clean, hang snatch, push jerk) are recognized as the best movements for increasing force output. Plyometrics and sport-specific agility drills are also important.
5. Explosive Training
The ability to generate force rapidly is crucial in sport. Power production is the result of motor unit recruitment. There are two types of motor units- fast twitch and slow twitch- that vary greatly in their ability to generate force. Training explosively, using ground-based, multiple joint movements allow more fast twitch motor units to be recruited and in return improves performance potential.
Performance gains will eventually plateau and even diminish if the same training prescription is continually followed. Periodization is a scientifically proven model, which uses different combinations of volume and intensity to progressively overload the body and bring about specific adaptations. A program generally begins with a base phase, progresses to a developmental (or strength) phase and ends with a peak (or power) phase.
7. Nutrition and Recovery
No training program can be successful without a commitment to good nutrition and rest. Usually a decrease in performance can be traced to a poor diet and/or a lack of sleep. Before, during and after exercise athletes must understand what needs to be done nutritionally. Getting enough sleep must also be a priority. The body cannot recover between workouts and overtraining becomes a concern when sleep is compromised.
To be the best athlete you can be requires more than raw talent, a sound training program and good nutrition. A foundation that includes resolve, discipline, courage, perseverance and selflessness is essential for true success. These attributes must be emphasized, developed and rewarded during training.