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Strength Training For Athletes

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Strength Training For Athletes

Strength training for athletes is not primarily used for improved strength and power, however for injury prevention. What they don’t realise is that you can not build strength and power without a body that is balanced left to right and trying to add heavy loads to an already faulty structure can lead to injuries. If an athlete is injured they can not train in the gym and even more importantly they can not train at their particular sport. If an athlete is not assessed after each season, their chances of injury get higher each season.

Cam Bolton’s - Germany World Cup Win - February 2019.

Cam Bolton’s - Germany World Cup Win - February 2019.

One thing that needs to be understood from the start, is that all sports have certain patterns that cause imbalances. Take basketball for instance, most basketballers will tend to jump from one leg and land on the other leg. This means that their jumping leg is always working very powerfully and their opposing leg is absorbing the landing, causing it to take a huge load and stress. Over the corse of even one season, this is always going to result in an imbalance between the jumping leg and landing leg. If we multiply that by many seasons, the imbalance becomes even more pronounced.

Firstly, the role of a strength coach is to ensure the athlete can perform training and games in an injury free state. If they get injured at any point of the pre season or season this is time away from their sport training, which will decrease their ability. It is very hard to be a value if you have to miss training each week, just in order to play each week. If an athlete is in a balanced state their likelihood for injury is much less. You only have to use professional sports as an easy example, the teams with the least amount of injuries are usually the ones in the finals and take out the ultimate prize. Any athlete that has played injured will understand that they can not perform to their full ability when they are injured.

Matt Targett & Hayden Stoeckel - 2012 Olympic Medalists

Matt Targett & Hayden Stoeckel - 2012 Olympic Medalists

At Energie4 we train athletes from junior levels all the way to the Olympic podium. All of these athletes do at least one if not two phases of structural balance work in a competition year. This is why we have had so much success at all levels of competitive sport. Energie4 athletes are educated and understand the importance of having are balanced body and notice it’s value to their strength, power and performance throughout the season of their sport.

To move into more detail about strength training for athletes, we first have to look at having a solid base/foundation from where we can build on. Athletes at Energie4 always start with unilateral work, meaning using single leg/arm exercises, like a split squat and dumbbells like a dumbbell bench press before they are progressed to barbell work like a barbell squat or barbell bench press. Any time you create balance between the legs or the arms and go back to a squat or bench press, the athlete has not got weaker, in fact they get stronger, even without doing the exercise the coach was concerned that they would lose strength.

The second major point when you consider the balance between left and right, is that power can’t be developed without first having strength. For example, any athlete who has had an ankle injury that has not been rehabilitated properly, they will have trouble pushing off the ground, effecting running, changing direction and jumping. As the body is extremely clever, it will look to other muscles to try and generate the strength and power it needs in order to perform at the level the athlete is use to. The result however, is that this compensation, causes the exact imbalances that we have been discussing, which can directly relate to an injury in another part of the body. This only frustrates the athlete, as they only want to train and play their sport. Athletes are generally very impatient, as is their competitive nature, so they need to be educated on the value of what you are trying to achieve, in addition to encouraging their patience, so they can be a bigger, stronger, faster athlete.

Thus, strength training for athletes is ALL about injury prevention. If the body is balanced, there is less chance of an injury to the athlete. If they strength train and build a solid, balanced base, they are able to train in the gym and also fully train for their sport. This already gives them a huge advantage over their team mates and competition. Finally, the more base and foundation they have the less time they have to work on structural balance and the more time they can use strength training to increase strength and power.


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Attitude Is Everything!

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Attitude Is Everything!

With the 2019 Australian Open finishing last night, there were contrasting performance in both the women’s and men’s finals. When you coach you want to see your athlete have the right positive attitude, especially as you know the work they have put in to reach the pinnacle of their particular sport.

As we all witnessed last night, talent and hard work will only take you so far, if your head isn’t in it then you won’t win at the elite level. Now Nadal is no first timer to a Grand Slam Final, as he has 17 Grand Slam Titles. However, he never looked like he wanted to be their last night, as his performance was well below his best and the way he had played for the 2 weeks.

Attitude - Nadal just doesn’t look positive before the match even started.

Attitude - Nadal just doesn’t look positive before the match even started.

In his post match acceptance speech, Nadal actually confirmed that he was having some personal issues and that indeed his head wasn’t in. This was evident from the very first game and eventually going down 0-3 games to Djokovic in the first set. Being off his game to a player who has won 6 Australian Opens is a place that you don’t get over. Djokovic could sense the blood in the water and didn’t stop the onslaught until he won his record seventh Australian Open.

In the womens final both players had moments when they were positive and negative. In the Women’s Final Osaka had 3 Championship points, which she lost them all and it went into a third set. If you look at it at a basic level, she only had to win one point out of three. If you told her that at the start of the game, she would back herself to only have to win 33% of her chance to win the 2019 Australian Grand Slam Title. After that she lost the plot, screaming, hitting her racquet into the court, walking with her head down and was looking like throwing the match. However, to her credit she found her positive attitude in time, to come back and win the 2019 Australian Open.

I am not a fan of the huge congratulations players make of themselves when they win a point. If it is the set or a tough game yes, and of course the match. Now I get they are trying to fire themselves up, but I feel they are using too much energy and also losing focus on what they are there to achieve.

Women’s finalists - Osaka & Kvitova - firing themselves up!

Women’s finalists - Osaka & Kvitova - firing themselves up!

Attitude is everything when it comes to sport, as there can only be one winner. This whole notion of trying your best and winning doesn’t matter, which is what our kids are being taught these days. I really don’t understand this mediocre approach of so many people. Ask Kvitova or Nadal, are they happy putting in days, months and years of training, 2 weeks of competition to get to their dream game, only to lose.

The takeaway of these matches are if your head isn’t in for a moment, your opposition will take you down and swiftly at this level. It is all relative and the principles apply over all sports and even life. It is very hard to be successful at anything if you don’t have the right positive attitude. Everyone is going to have a bad or negative things happen at some stage, but it is the time it takes you to turn that into a positive. Keep your head up and look positive, it will do as much for you as it will to distract your opposition and make them doubt themselves, because they don’t know why you won’t lay down and just lose.

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