Training athletes goes well beyond standard crunches, push-ups, and squats. Coaching athletes requires an intimate knowledge of their sport, the biomechanics involved and the type of nutrition required for optimal performance and recovery. Training programs vary by sport and trainers must grasp the specific movements associated with each sport.
A brief overview of key factors associated with athlete-specific training:
Football – Known for sheer mass, football players require heavy weight lifting and explosive cardio training. Concentrate on training large muscle groups and using a heavy weight/low repetition plan. Cardio should focus on short sprinting intervals with intermittent periods of rest. Strong core training is essential to maintain balance on the field.
Basketball – Evasive moves are a key element of basketball and players must have the biomechanical strength to move laterally and quickly. Aerobic capacity is also critical because of game length. Mass isn’t important but speed is. Explosive exercises like box jumps, clapping push-ups and kettlebell swings build up fast twitch muscles needed for abrupt and nimble movements.
Running – Training programs depend on whether your client is a sprinter or a marathoner. Sprinters need power from solid muscle mass while marathoners require steady state aerobic training to ensure they’ll be able to go the distance. Assess your client’s current abilities and examine their goals before designing a training program.
Cycling – Although it seems like leg strength is the real star of cycling, it’s actually the core. Core stabilization is key to delegate strength where it’s needed most. Cross training is essential for cyclists because training rides tend to be long and specific muscle groups are at risk for overuse. Implement alternative cardio sources (and other forms of exercise) to prevent overuse injuries and strengthen the entire body.
Hockey – Hockey is unique in that it encompasses nearly all of the elements mentioned above – explosive strength, speed and stabilization. Core flexibility is necessary in order to have the best range of motion on the ice. Interval sprints should be incorporated to increase the athlete’s anaerobic threshold.
Soccer – Because soccer games can be lengthy, endurance training is particularly important for soccer players. Explosive power is also a key element of soccer and plyometric training should be part of a soccer player’s training program. Functional training in addition to speed and agility drills are essential components of sport-specific training that translates to the field.
Tennis – Tennis is a full-body sport – nearly all muscles are engaged during a tennis game. A strong core is necessary to keep the body stable while moving across the court and to more evenly distribute effort required for swings. Strong shoulders and biceps help reduce the possibility of being sidelined with “tennis elbow.” Balance training is also fundamental for strong tennis skills.
Most sports require some type of periodization training. On-season training will differ from off-season training and athletes must accept that agility and muscle loss may occur as part of keeping the body in peak shape during sport season. Cycling the athlete through training periods keeps them in peak condition for their sport and reduces the chance of injury or overuse. Athletic training continuing education courses are available to help you coach your clients to success!