Strength Training In Athletes

Dr. Peters was fortunate to sit down with two NCAA Division I strength and conditioning specialists covering a variety of topics including in-season training, sports specialization, movement basics, and much more. A brief summary with some of my favorite quotes can be found below!

What areas can youth / high school athletes improve prior to arrival on campus ?

“In general, learning how to move well is important before you get to this level. Because with the kids that can move well and have a good balance of mobility, flexibility, and strength, we can really help them accelerate at a fast pace and catch up to upperclassmen.”

“They need to learn to do basic movements well and then we need to teach them to get strong in those basic movements.”

Take home point: Many of the athletes show up on campus with an inability to perform basic movements like running, skipping, and lunging which limits their ability to progress with a strength and conditioning program. Both coaches emphasized the basics including strength, mobility, and flexibility. 

Do you feel like sports specialization has something to do with what you are seeing?

“With the sports specialization thing, we pigeon hole people so early. We will bring in a men’s soccer player that can’t skip or jump right but if you put the ball at his feet, It’s like cinderella at the ball.” 

Many times I tell athletes, “Just lift, don’t worry about your weight and we will see how you perform.”

How much needs to be sport specific vs general athleticism?

There is a lot of good crossover between the sports. Most sports rely on speed and power and being strong in a squat will help that. 

Where people tend to get confused on sports specificity is they think we are doing something that mimics the exact movement on the court. Instead, we are focusing on the central nervous system and neural drive. Being able to produce patterns similar to the sport like triple extension that are needed to jump and swing a bat while we focus on timing and  preparing the athlete to fire at high rates.

The difference is with volume. A general rule of thumb is our male athletes can recover from a high volume faster than our female athletes. 

What do you tell an athlete playing a year round sport?

It is ok to drop off a little bit. With periodization in our training models we will have athletes in their peak strength some time during the offseason. 

You aren’t going to fall behind if you take a month off and participate in something else. It allows you time to process and reflect on areas you can improve.  

I strongly encourage you to check out the full video. Drop some comments on YouTube or below if you have any questions.  Be on the lookout for upcoming blog post on sports specialization. 

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