It’s almost March. For young athletes who are college bound that means that the summer conditioning and physical preparation packets will be arriving in a while. They’re often received with a mix of excitement, confusion, shock and anxiety. Natural reactions to the challenge of moving to the next level.We work with a lot of players to make the leap. Over the years we’ve found three things that help in the transition and give our players a leg up on the process when they arrive on campus in the summer.
Interpret and Translate
When you open that E-mail or packet it can be overwhelming. The language is new, there are calendars, standards, workouts, schedules, and often information on nutrition, rest and mental preparation. Even our most successful club and high school players find it daunting. So, the first thing we do is help them understand what’s there and put it in context. There’s a logic, goals and a set of principles behind the plan. Seeing the plan as a coach’s way of helping the team and players be successful can change something like the fitness standards from an obstacle to a stepping stone on a path toward contributing and accomplishing goals. It doesn’t make it easier but it becomes a challenge to rise to more than something to fear.
We often take all the pieces and lay them out in one place on a single calendar and help players see how the pieces fit together; how one phase leads to the next and how the elements like speed, agility, strength and stamina fit together. If there are standards or tests they need to pass we help them understand what they are, what they measure and how to prepare for them. Making the unfamiliar more familiar helps reduces some of the emotional static and makes the plan feel challenging but doable.
Once we have a sense of where we’re going, we get a sense of where we are. If the program has hang cleans in the work out and you’ve never been in the weight room then we need to build a bridge from here to there. If you’re expected to run ten 110 yard striders and you’ve never done one, then we need to start there. When we know where we’re starting we can create the steps to get players on the coaches plan and get them to campus ready to go.
On the physical side we look at what parts of the plan can you do on your own or with your team and what parts make sense for us to do together. Then we build a schedule. Every player is unique. Some will train with us 4 or 5 days a week, indiviudally or with a group. Others maybe once or twice a week. We create the workout schedule to fit the player and their needs. Certain lifts make sense to do with coaching, other parts of the strenght training they may do in our space but on their own. We’re there if they need it and they learn to work independently. If there’s a standard or a test to pass we’ll practice it to become familiar with it and benchmark it.
The mental side is often the bigger part of support. Having someone who is trained and experienced who can stand outside the process while you go through it is huge for a lot of players. Sometimes we challenge and sometimes we encourage. A lot of it is helping them reframe and deveiop habits that they can draw on when the get to school.
When we’re feeling challenged one of the most important things we can do is stay connected with our goals and values. Why am I doing this? What do I want? What am I expecting or hoping for? Those conversations happen both inside and outside the gym. Being able to go back to that is even more valuable in some dorm room in August when you’re away from home and exhausted.
The Best Time To Start Is Now
If you begin now you can put the things in place that you will need to start working on your college program when it arrives. What you may not realize is that the plan you get is the same plan that the rest of the team gets, players who have been training at a college level for a few years. You’ll be building the capacity to train at the next level and get the most out of your plan when it arrives. It’s a great feeling to be able to jump into that packet when it arrives with confidence.
For those who are moving to a new level it’s an exciting and challenging time. It’s supposed to be. Having a plan, being supported and remembering why it’s important can make it immensely rewarding as well. If you’re going to be taking that next step and you want some help. Let us know. We love getting players ready to leap.
Growing as a player means growing as an athlete. Getting stronger, faster, fitter and more agile go hand in hand with improving your technical and tactical skills. Developing those qualities is also one of the most important ways to help reduce the likelihood of injury and stay on the field training, competing and having fun. Whether it’s training or games you want to come to the field healthy and prepared to give your best.
Getting better together. When we ask our players what they love about playing the game one of the things they say is, “being part of a team.” A great training environment builds on that. It’s working with other players to challenge and support each other as they go through the process of getting better together.
A healthy, straight- forward approach. We focus on creating that space; a positive environment with quality training and a long term approach designed to help players flourish. Some of our players have worked with us from their freshman year in high school through their senior year in college. No shortcuts, quick fixes or “hacks”. Just good training, good coaching and players like you who love the game and enjoy getting better.
Our next training group for U15-17 girls starts March 6. To find out more and sign up on line CLICK HERE
Two years ago I met Kelly Quist. Kelly works for the Minnesota Twins as their massage therapist and stretching specialist. She had been practicing something called Fascial Stretch Therapy™ and invited me to experience it for myself. The results were so noticeable that I sent one of the track sprinters I was working with to see her. A strained quad from a year and a half earlier was healed but, tightness in it kept her from reaching top speed and anxious about straining it again. With one session she was able to train and compete with confidence. She continued with FST for the season.
Mobility is a huge issue in both the health and performance of an athlete. Ranell Hobson of the Academy of Sport Speed and Agility in Australia gives an example of the connections in a helpful blog post here https://playerdevelopmentproject.com/football-mobility/ . As she points out, if the hip flexors are tight, the hips are pulled into constant flexion and the gluteals can’t perform their function. There is a loss of power, stability and an increased likelihood of injury.
Coaches and trainers will often tell players to stretch and may even take time before or after practice to do it. I know we do. It can help in some cases. But, it tends to focus only on specific muscles and not on the net of connective tissue and muscles that work together to help us move. So the effects while beneficial are limited.
That’s what is so impressive about FST and why I spent time in Phoenix this January getting trained and certified. It is great to be able to bring it back to our Kick-It! Athletes.
While traditional stretching addresses specific muscles, typically in a static way, FST addresses full fascial lines throughout the whole body. Because FST uses a whole-body concept based in anatomy and functional movement, it results in improved flexibility gains over traditional stretching.
If you watch the NFL on Sundays or you’ve watched the summer Olympics you’ve most likely watched athletes who use FST.
For players who are interested, I’m offering times on Sundays and Wednesdays to come in for half hour sessions to get a quick assessment and begin the process of increasing mobility and flexibility. In the past few weeks I’ve been able to help athletes increase ankle and hip mobility and improve their vertical jump and squat. There is no extra cost or charge for this for players who are currently training with us although there are a limited number of slots right now due to current training schedule.
To sign up just click here, pick a day and time and hit submit.
Looking forward to unlocking speed, strength, and power with FST.
I gathered the girls in the soccer training group in a corner of the gym after a workout and gave them each a pumpkin seed. “Do we eat these,” one of them asked? ” Not yet,”I told her.
I asked them what do you have to do to make this grow? The obvious answers came quickly – plant it; water it; feed and fertilize it; weed around it, give it sunlight.
In a sense it’s how we grow anything. We decide want to grow it. Then we give it what it needs, in the right amount, at the right times, over time. Then we pay attention, respond to what we see and adjust.
For an athlete to develop their potential we do the same things. Give them the right things, in the right amounts, at the right times, over time. Then we pay attention, respond to what we see and adjust. It’s as simple and as complex as that.
That tender seed won’t benefit from the same amount of water or fertilizer that a mature vine needs, in the same way that the workouts or plans or exercises that a 25 year old elite athlete needs are appropriate for a 16 year old. What our college coach did with us is usually not what we need to be doing with our young players.
But, if we do the right stuff, in the right amount, at the right time, over time and then pay attention and adjust – wow, the results can be truly amazing. And, we have the seeds for another generation.
OK. You can eat your pumpkin seeds now.
Every athlete knows that in order to develop and make progress we need to be challenged. Whether it’s speed, strength, conditioning or agility we have to take ourselves outside the comfort of what we’re used to. In meeting the challenge our bodies respond and we get faster or stronger or more fit. It is important meet the right challenge in a healthy way so the response is positive and sustainable.
Three things that are helpful in taking on a new challenge.
Coaching ~ Every athlete is one of a kind. We need the right challenge in the right dose at the right time to improve in a healthy way. Experience and expertise helps coaches recognizes the individual differences in each athlete and helps them focus on the right challenges in the right way to accomplish their goals. Training is work with a purpose, not just a matter of doing more or trying harder.
Positive Environment ~ Research has shown that young athletes accomplish more, participate longer and feel better in an environment that is player centered and goal focused with positive relationships. Sounds simple but it takes conscious effort to create and sustain that environment.
Connections ~ There’s an old saying, “If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far stick together.” Training consistently with good partners can take you to some surprising places. A recent article in Outside Magazine reported that a team mate or friend to train with is more important than any app, device or program. Working together, over time some of our athletes have accomplished some pretty cool things for themselves.
Our training groups aren’t classes. They are groups of young athletes working together in a positive environment with good coaching to grow, and develop in healthy ways to accomplish their goals and contribute to their teams. We have groups starting a new round of training in January. You can check it out HERE. It you’re looking for an opportunity to be challenged in a healthy way it might be a good place to start.
We’re wrapping up a good fall with our current training groups. Our plan is to take a little time off for most of our groups over the holidays. We’ll be working with individuals, athletes home from college and any of our “reconditioning” or “return to play” folks who need to continue over the next few weeks to help them work on their individual goals.
Training groups for the January – February block are forming now for the High School Girls Soccer Group, the High School Boys Soccer Group and, the Middle School Boys Group. New times for the Middle School Girls group will be up shortly.
You can click on any of the links above or go to the Training page for more details and to sign up. We’re really looking forward to helping our athletes build on the progress they’ve made over the past few months. If you weren’t able to train with us this past fall that’s no problem. Our groups are small and we’ll start you right where you need to get back up to speed. Contact us here with any questions and we’ll help you get set.