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.
2. Testing & Evaluation/Movement Screening
Testing and evaluation of each athlete allows us to establish a baseline of strengths and weaknesses. We can monitor progress over time, determine the effectiveness of the training program and set training loads/intensities. Movement screening helps us identify movement dysfunctions/muscle imbalances and serves as an indicator of what pre-habilitation work is necessary for each athlete. Testing should be performed at the start of the year and at the end of each training phase. Test selection is based on what is most relevant to the sport being tested.
3. Multiple Joint and Multiple Plane 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. Movement in sport occurs in three planes: linear, lateral and rotational. Training should incorporate exercises and movement patterns that develop efficiency in each plane.
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 are recognized as the best movements for increasing force output. Plyometrics and sport-specific agility drills are also important.
5. Explosive Training - Rate of Force Development
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.
6. Speed & Agility
An essential link between the weight room and the playing field is speed and agility training. Speed (straight ahead) and agility (lateral movement and change of direction) are a crucial component to the training program.
Being the best conditioned athlete means not just having great strength, power, and speed, but also requires that you have the work capacity to sustain a workload during competition and practice. Each athlete will go through comprehensive work capacity training (conditioning) based on their sport’s demands. During the off-season, work capacity will be general, and, as the competitive season approaches, work capacity will become more specific.
8. Regeneration & Nutrition
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 accomplished nutritionally. Getting enough sleep must also be a priority. The body cannot recover between workouts and overtraining becomes a concern when sleep is compromised.
Rehabilitation and reconditioning is a team-oriented process that requires the sports medicine specialists, athletic trainers, and sports performance coaches to work together toward the goal of quickly and safely returning the injured athlete back to a full-go competition status. It is through effective communication with the athletic training staff that the sports performance coach may administer an effective reconditioning program to contribute in their role in the rehabilitation and reconditioning process.
To be the best athlete you can be requires more than talent, a sound training program and good nutritional and sleep habits. A foundation that includes commitment, discipline, courage, perseverance and selflessness is essential for true success. These attributes must be emphasized, developed and rewarded during training.