Applicable Strengths: Our Top Four

TAGS: Rick Daman, mobility, balance, speed, strength

When working with athletes, it can be a battle of egos at times. My job as a coach is to build the foundation of strength, make them faster, improve the balance of the athletes and increase mobility. I always get “when are we going to bench?” Or ”I maxed out at my high school at 365 lbs” and ” we did deadlift, squat, and power cleans today in the weight room.” At times, it makes me cringe just thinking about how their form must have looked with such heavy weight on their backs.

I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I've learned from my mistakes and will continue to learn. My overall goal is to help each athlete understand that it's all about long-term athletic development.

The athlete in this post has “our top four." He isn't the only athlete in the gym who has “our top four,″ but I wanted to point out Preston because he is going to be a freshman next year. Preston started training the first day I opened and hasn't left the gym yet (consistency, my friend!). While his other friends play video games, sleep in until noon, eat lousy foods, and just make every excuse possible, he is continuing to separate himself from his competition. Preston gets “it!”

1. Strength: The ability to exert force (Gambetta, Vern, Athletic Development p.180)

Strength can be defined in various ways. Not all your athletes will be strong in each phase of training. Some athletes need to pay attention to certain areas such as the upper body or lower back while sometimes you get athletes who seem to be strong at everything they do. If you pay close attention to those athletes they will need to improve on other areas of strength as well. As a coach, you need to know and understand what each athlete needs individually. You have to think quickly when they're training and put them at the advantage to improve.

2. Speed: The ability to move the body as quickly as possible When watching Shawn Moody of Game Speed coach our athletes, I've noticed a huge difference in two major aspects of speed. The two major aspects I'm referring to are straight ahead speed and multidimensional speed and agility. To keep it in simple terms, all the athletes have become faster and are able to change direction quickly, which will carry over on to the athletic field. Pushing around heavy weights all off-season will make you slow and lethargic! What good is being strong if you can’t apply your strength to the athletic field? It’s like going to a high school powerlifting meet and watching the same teams win the competition every year, but they have losing records each season.

GameSpeed from Rick Daman on Vimeo.

3. Balance: The maintenance of the center of gravity over the base of support (Gambetta, Vern, Athletic Development p.241)

Our athletes always come with some form of imbalances. We have a few basketball players who have the tendency to always jump off their left leg if they're right handed. Think about it. How many right handed lay ups does a basketball player do until he starts learning to use his opposite hand/leg for lay ups? Using the left leg over and over and over again is going to obviously make it stronger. When they come to the gym and perform unilateral movements, it’s easy to see which leg they favor. No big deal. It’s just time to correct the imbalance.

4. Mobility: The ability to move or be moved freely and easily Helping the athletes increase their mobility will enable them to move more freely during training and on the athletic field. I see a ton of lineman who can barely get into a stance during practice because they are so tight in their hips, groin, and low back. If your linemen can't get into an athletic stance, how can they fire off the ball and make a good block? Makes you think what is really important when training young athletes. This takes me back to always hearing, “Our linemen have to get stronger” and” Our linemen have to get more explosive off the ball!” Pay less attention to how much weight they have on their backs and more attention to how they move.

Preston Johnson from Rick Daman on Vimeo.

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