Understanding Athletic Development is about understanding progression, regression, anatomical adaptation and recovery cycles. Too often coaches alleviate or minimize their strength training during season because they feel it takes away from their ball time and/or will adversely affect their player’s performance. This is actually quite contrary to the facts. In strength training, science has shown that in approximately 96 hours the body will begin to regress in strength if muscles are not adequately stressed. However, cardiovascular de-conditioning doesn’t begin until after approximately 12 days without direct activity.
“A good athlete is born good, a great athlete is trained great.”
When addressing in-season training it is crucial to remain conscious of all stress bouts accumulated leading up to competition in addition to the type of training performed (practice, conditioning, lifting, competitive play, disciplinary activity, etc.). Coaches have to be conscience of not over-training athletes, the goal is to train them safely and appropriately year round. Athletes should improve each year, and attempt to maintain throughout the in-season with minimal loss.
Too often a player will work extremely hard in the offseason only to lose it during the season. This cycle leads to poor development and means there is a deficiency in the training program. Strength training should ALWAYS be part of a program year round to continue the player’s development, minimize risk of injury and continue positive progress.
A strength training program should have many facets with different levels of intensity to match the desired objective. The periodization process, or objective based segments, should be tailored to provide development year round while taking into account the demands of the current season. Segments will have different areas of emphasis such as heavy, light, Olympics, progressive, functional, conditioning, etc. but should work together for maximum benefit.
When you provide year round strength training your players will continuously advance and remain strong as they mature and become more skilled. Remember:
“Skill is great but the speed and strength of that skill determines the level of play.”
Important determining factors of that speed or performance are: muscle activation, range of motion and speed of contraction. All of these are positively affected by proper strength training coinciding with neuromuscular activity which trains the voluntary and involuntary response mechanisms of the body. By performing strength training you are able to activate these sensory mechanisms that will help prepare the body to perform higher, faster workloads in the weight room and in competition.
Generally in-season training consists of a 2 day per week lift schedule. One of the days is moderately intense early in the week and the second day is an “unload” day. Intensity can be determined by weight, rest periods or volume, and should be based on training schedule, work load and time until competition. An “unload” is a session performed 8-48 hours prior to competition involving primarily low weight, double-limb compound lifts and auxiliary lifts. The focus is on range of motion and contraction to unload the joints and activate the muscles. Additionally a post competition workout can be used as a third day of strength training. It is always a great idea to perform an unload day of stretching, yoga, range of motion and unload-lifting the day after a competition.
Coaches must understand that you only need 15-30 minutes of lifting to maximize the benefits of strength training and see real gains. At DX3 our programs efficiency and effectiveness accounts for one set per minute, so 15-30 minutes = 15-30 sets. Even on the 15 set day you are working five body parts for three sets of each in less than 20 minutes.
In conclusion, by incorporating in-season lifting, athletes will continuously develop, decrease risk of injuries, stay better tuned to training and not suffer such dramatic acclimation periods when transitioning season to season, or sport to sport. It is a FACT: Strength training is more beneficial to a developing athlete during and long after their career than the actual playing of the sport. (visit http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/strength-training/HQ01010 for supporting information)