Sunday, April 19, 2009

Athletes' Performance Training System: Movement Skills

Movement Skills: Transitioning to a Dynamic Environment

Within the Athletes' Performance Training System (APTS) we place a heavy emphasis on movement quality, performance and durability. For these reasons we have a session that is solely focused on developing movement efficiency and power in an effort to mimic the demands of an athlete’s sport in addition to addressing their individual needs. Each Movement Skills (MS) session will focus on linear movement qualities and/or Multidirectional movement qualities, and will be broken into movement technique (Motor Learning Emphasis) and movement application (Power and Speed Emphasis) components. Additionally, the movement application component can be further broken down into pre-programmed drills and random drills.

At Athletes' Performance we will have two days dedicated to linear speed development (ex. Monday and Thursday) and two days dedicated to multidirectional speed development (ex. Tuesday and Friday). The actual MS session will last about 30-45min depending on whether the athlete is with us twice daily or once daily. On a linear speed day we will address one or more of the following qualities: Starts (ex. Flying, Falling, 2pt and 3pt), Acceleration (ex. 5-20 yards), Transition, Absolute Speed (ex. 20+ yards) and Deceleration. Note that these individual components will initially be taught on separate days and as the athlete shows proficiency we will start working on linking everything together.

On a multidirectional speed day we will focus on one or more of the following qualities: Shuffle, Cutting, Crossover Patterns, Backpedal, Drop Step, and Base Position. It should be noted that linear speed components can still be addressed on multidirectional days. These drills will initially be taught individually in a pre-programmed environment and eventually will be linked together in a random environment reflective of sport.

The eventual randomization of drills will be essential to the athlete’s success. Within sport they will be faced with various stimuli that include (Harbin et al. 1989):
Average Reaction Time

-0.142s (Auditory Stimuli)
-0.155s (Tactile Stimuli)
-0.194s (Visual Stimuli)

The reaction that results from these stimuli can be broken into two phases that include the latency phase (i.e. Time from sensory input to EMG) and the response phase or electromechanical delay (i.e. Time from EMG to motor action or movement). It has been stated that the latency phase is highly genetic and the response phase is trainable (Siff, 2004). For these reasons we must eventually place the athlete in a random environment as the actual learning and motor response is different than that experienced in pre-programmed drills.

As previously stated the session will be broken down into technical and application components. The technical component uses methods that focus on motor learning and reactive neuromuscular training techniques (See Athletic Body in Balance by Gray Cook). Methods may include the use of wall drills, harness drills, resisted-assisted bungee work and sled pulling. Note that the initial use of these methods focuses on teaching the athlete how to move correctly and increase movement awareness, but eventually can be used to overload movements patterns as is the case with sled work. Following the technical work is the application component which focuses on developing movement speed and power. Within this component we will focus on full-speed drills under no resistance or assistance. The goal is to apply the movements at speeds and within environments that reflect the athlete’s sport. For example, on a linear speed day with an acceleration emphasis we may ask the athlete to do 4-6x10 yard sprints with an emphasis on speed of movement. Each repetitions time would be monitored and once we see a drastic time decrease then the session is over (i.e. 10-20% decrease in time and/or speed). It should be noted that a new athlete will spend the majority of their time working on technique and as they achieve mastery they will focus a greater amount of their time on the sport specific application of those techniques.

Athletes' Performance Training System: Movement Skills

Linear Speed Day: Acceleration Emphasis
Technical Component (20min):
Wall Drills (45degree body lean):
o Posture Holds 20s ea
o Load and Lift w/ Contra-lateral Hip Flexion x5-10ea
o Load and Lift w/ Contra-Lateral Hip Extension-Flexion x5-10ea
o Marching x10-20 contacts ea
o Single Exchanges 1-2x5-10 ea
o Double-Triple Exchanges 1-2x5 ea
Harness Drills (45degree body lean): Note that the videos depict the proper movements without the harness.
o Marching 1-2x10-15yds
o Skipping 1-2x10-15yds
o Acceleration Runs 1-2x10-15yds
Application Component (10-20min)
Free Acceleration Runs (Falling Start):
o 4-6x10-15yd runs (1-3+ Minutes Between Repetitions)
(Session will stop once form and/or speed has decreased below the desired level of the coach)

Additional Acceleration Workout Example

Cook, G. Athletic Body in Balance. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2003.

Gambetta, V. Athletic Development. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2007.

Harbin, G., L. Durst, and D. Harbin. Evaluation of Oculomotor Response in Relationship to Sports Performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 21:258-262, 1989.

Siff, M.C. Supertraining. Denver, CO: Supertraining Institute, 2003.

Verstegen, M. Coordination and Agility. In: High-Performance Sports Conditioning. B. Foran (Ed.) Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2001.

Nick Winkelman CSCS, *D; NSCA-CPT, *D
Education Manger/ Performance Specialist
Athletes' Performance (Tempe, AZ)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Developing a Plyometric System

Plyometrics: Connecting the Weight Room to the Field

Plyometrics play an essential role in the Athletes' Performance Training System (APTS) and are critical to the success of our athletes. Plyometric training is used for Performance Enhancement and Injury Prevention with a focus on high quality movement patterns. The ability to translate the strength and speed developed in the weight room to the field is paramount for our athletes. One of the primary ways we do this is through the proper implementation and execution of plyometrics. Within the APTS plyometrics will follow movement preparation and precede our movement skill session. This session will focus on specific movements, directions and strength-power qualities (i.e. movement initiation) based on the ability of the athlete in terms of that day’s movement session (ex. Linear focused plyometric session will precede a linear focused movement skills session). It should be noted that this session focuses on high quality movement patterns with an emphasis on maximal power production and rate of force development in an effort to potentiate the movement patterns used during the movement skills session.

Plyometrics may be defined as any movement that utilizes the Stretch-Shortening Cycle (SSC). The SSC can be defined as a concentric contraction that has been preceded immediately by an eccentric contraction. It is during the eccentric contraction or “pre-load” that we see multiple neuromuscular actions that facilitate greater force being produced during the concentric phase of a given movement. These actions include: (1) Increased time to develop force due to the eccentric and isometric “Pre-Load”, (2) Increased muscle stiffness and therefore the ability to store and release elastic energy during the concentric phase, (3) Potentiation of the Stretch Reflex due to the rapid lengthening seen during the eccentric phase of the motion. These actions result in greater force per unit of time (i.e. Rate of Force Production) being produced during the concentric phase. Researchers are still debating which variable is most responsible for the increase in force seen during the concentric phase and arguably these variables may be emphasized differently based on the plyometric movement being used (ex. Countermovement Jump vs. Depth Jump). For a great review on the SSC and the role of elasticity in human movement please see Wilson et al.

When designing a plyometric progression we must respect the demand placed on the nervous system and the tissue of the body. For these reasons we will use simple stability based progressions on the front side of a training program and move into more complex and power oriented progressions as movement mastery is achieved. Additionally, we will look very closely at not only the movement progressions, but also the volume of contacts used in a session and a week. Within the APTS we use plyometrics as a potentiator for the movement skill session and primarily focus on producing optimal power with every repetition executed. From a training adaptation standpoint we are looking for the following results: Improved landing and take-off quality; increased tissue tolerance and muscle stiffness (i.e. elasticity); and decreased amortization (time from the onset of the eccentric phase to the concentric phase) and coupling times (time from the end of the eccentric phase to the beginning of the concentric phase). It can be noted that if the focus is on power endurance, or the use plyometrics for work capacity, then you would see those executed after the movement skill session or directly integrated into an auxiliary circuit within our strength training component.

Plyometric Variables:

Movement Type:

· Jump: 2 Leg take-off with a 2 Leg landing
· Hop: 1 Leg take-off with the same 1 Leg landing
· Bound: 1 Leg take-off with the opposite 1 Leg landing
Movement Direction:
· Primary: Linear, Lateral or Rotational
· Emphasis: Vertical and/or Horizontal Displacement
Movement Initiation Progression-Continuum:

Drop Squat/Hop: From a standing position drop into desired landing position (ex. 1-Leg vs. 2-Leg Landing) with the emphasis being placed on movement mechanics. Strength-Power Quality: Low eccentric demand with landing focus

Non-Countermovement (NCM) to Box (3-12in): Not a true plyometric as there is at least a 2s pause prior to executing the concentric phase of the motion and therefore does not optimally use the SSC.
Strength-Power Quality: Contractile Focus (i.e. Starting Strength-Power) with moderate eccentric demand

Countermovement (CM) to Box (3-12in): True plyometric that uses an eccentric pre-load prior to quickly transitioning into the concentric phase of the motion.
Strength-Power Quality: Explosive Strength-Power focus with moderate-high eccentric demand

NCM on Ground
Strength-Power Quality:
Contractile Strength-Power (i.e. Starting Strength-Power) with moderate eccentric demand

CM on Ground
Strength-Power Quality:
Explosive Strength-Power focus with moderate-high eccentric demand

Double Contact (Stability): This initiation requires a person to set at the specific joint angles that they wish to take-off from and subsequently attack the ground to initiate a forceful SSC.
Strength-Power Quality: Contractile-reactive Strength-Power with high eccentric demand

Double Contact (Continuous): This initiation is executed in the same manner as the previous, but instead of stabilizing after each movement the person will land then immediately attack the ground to continue motion in the desired direction.
Strength-Power Quality: Reactive Strength-Power/power with high eccentric demand

Continuous: This initiation is executed with continuous contacts using the desired movements and directions.
Strength-Power Quality: Reactive Strength-Power with very high eccentric demand

Additional Load or Depth Work: To increase the eccentric demand a person can add load to the body or require that the person drop from a specific height prior to executing the desired movement. Both of these techniques are highly advanced and it can be recommended that you initially use simple movements, directions and initiation choices (ex. Linear-Vertical NCM-Jump w/ 20Lb weight vest).
Strength-Power Quality: Depends on movement initiation with extreme eccentric demand

From a cueing standpoint we will focus on hip, knee and ankle alignment in addition to proper trunk and arm action. Some example cues include: “Lock your ankle and land on ball of foot”; “Unlock your hips and sit behind your knee”; “Stomach tight when landing”; “Arms drive the hips up and pull the hips down”; “Drive your hips up through your chest”. We try to find the cue that maximizes results and minimizes paralysis through analysis.

As a general rule everyone will start with the base level progressions and move to the next level once they have reached mastery. This allows everyone within a group to learn the movements at the same time, but progress at an individualized level. A further note is that the initiations used are not only a progression, but also represent a continuum. For example, an NFL lineman may be at the level where they can use a continuous initiation, but they still need starting strength-power for there sport and therefore we would still want to use a NCM initiation within their plyometric program. Manage risk and maximize benefits while understanding that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to developing a seamlessly integrated plyometric progression.

Recommended Reading:
Aagaard, P., E.B. Simonsen, J.L. Andersen, P. Magnusson, and P. Dyhre-Poulsen. Increased rate of force development and neural drive of human skeletal muscle following resistance training. J Appl Physiol. 93:1318-1326, 2002.

McGuigan, M.R., T.L. Doyle, M. Newton, D.J. Edwards, S. Nimphius, and R.U. Newton. Eccentric utilization ratio: effect of sport and phase of training. J Strength Cond Res. 20:992-995, 2006.

Siff, M.C. Supertraining. Denver, CO: Supertraining Institute, 2003.

Stone, M.H., M. Stone, and W.A. Sands. Principles and Practice of Resistance training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2007.

Wilson, J.M., and E.P. Flanagan. The role of elastic energy in activities with high force and power requirements: a brief review. J Strength Cond Res. 22:1705-1715, 2008.

Zatsiorsky, V.M., and W.J. Kraemer. Science and Practice of Strength Training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2006.

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Nick Winkelman CSCS, *D; NSCA-CPT, *D
Education Manger/ Performance Specialist
Athletes' Performance (Tempe, AZ)