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In my last 2 posts, we covered the Fundamentals of Nutrition and the Fundamentals of Weight Training. Today I will be covering the Fundamentals of Training for Sports. I want to include this section on my site as I feel it is a large part of overall training, especially for those who play sports and are looking to improve. A good portion of training for sports does include weight training, however, there are other avenues that need to be used in my opinion to maximize the effectiveness of your training. Let’s explore what these different avenues are:
- Power – Needed to be explosive for a variety of situations
- Speed – Needed to move fast to achieve different actions
- Agility – Needed to move quickly in all directions to allow for adjustments during different situations
Power, speed and agility all have their place in sports, there is power in a hockey stride or jumping in basketball. There is speed required for running the bases in baseball and sprints on a track, there is agility for running routes in football or controlling the ball while moving in soccer. As you can see, these 3 athletic attributes are apparent through almost every sport, and no single one of them can be accomplished optimally without the other. Let’s take a look at these different athletic attributes more closely below and find out how they relate to each other, as well as how to train for them most effectively!
Power is where the base of all athleticism occurs in my opinion. You need it to move explosively off the start and throughout sprints for speed and be ready to shift in all directions for agility. Even your strength can’t be used to it’s fullest potential without being able to use it explosively.
So we know the importance of power, but how exactly do we train for it with the goal of developing our explosiveness? There are two main places to start, using either body weight or weights to train. These 2 methods ultimately give variety when training, which will help to strengthen your power as a whole. The goal of training for power is to move whatever weight you’re using (bodyweight or added weight) at the fastest speed you can while maintaining proper form. This will help your body move as explosively as possible during game situations. Here are a few techniques I like to use when I am training for power:
- Plyometrics – These refer to moving at maximum speed and maintaining proper form while leaving or letting go of whatever weight you’re moving (e.g. feet leaving the ground in a box jump, or med-ball leaving your hands in a med-ball throw). This helps your body to apply more force and explosiveness as it knows it has to “launch” the resistance.
- Weighted Descent & Bodyweight Ascent – This is when you use weight on the decent of a movement, then release the weight at the bottom and explode up on the ascent portion of the lift (e.g. using kettlebells when you load up for a box jump, dropping them, and then performing the box jump with just your body weight). I find these to be extremely beneficial in generating power as your body is controlling a weight, when all of a sudden it drops, leaving you to explode up with just your bodyweight.
- Powerful Flow Movements – These are movements in which allow you to “absorb” a weight with several muscles working together. I find these allow me to then push the weight back with great force and explosiveness because of the tension created from the muscles that absorb the weight.
Speed is very important for a wide variety of sports, therefore incorporating this into your training is huge. Speed has carry over to all 3 athletic attributes.
Now we need to talk about how we actually train for speed. Well for one, you need to be incorporating power training as that will allow you to move explosively/quickly. Of course you need to be doing direct speed training as well. I like to use different training varieties for speed, this could be a straight-up 50-metre sprint, 3 squat jumps into a sprint, or get up off the ground and into a sprint. These all focus on different aspects of speed. I always train with variety, I find it to be the best because you are working on and strengthening different aspects of a specific exercise or movement. These will come together to strengthen a specific exercise or movement as a whole. Here is an example of a speed training session I have used, the ideas originally came from @the_speed_doctor on Instagram who I was told about by my friend, here it is:
- 5×30 metre sprints
- 5×30 metre sprints with 3 squat jumps at the start
- 5×30 metre sprints with 3 jumping lunges at the start
- 5×20 metre sprints from a seated position
- 5×30 metre sprints
As you can see, I used shorter distances as I was training for hockey and that is most relative to my sport. If you want to use something like this, you can tailor the distances to your needs and use different starting positions to gear it towards what you are training for, and to add variety.
Agility is a very important and often overlooked part of sports. Especially for ones that require heavy footwork and quick change of direction. A great tool that I have used a ton for agility is an agility latter, it is extremely helpful for foot speed and coordination (the 2 main pillars of agility)! Here is an example training session, with all of the exercises being ones I have used myself!
Please refer to this video by Xceleration Fitness to see how to perform each of the movements. I have included timestamps beside each of the numbers so you can see where each exercise listed appears during the video. I would suggest performing 3-5 rounds of this (3 if starting out and progressing to 5 as you advance). I usually take 1-2 minutes of rest between rounds with the intent to keep performance up as much as possible between them.
- (0:30) – Forward Sprint – Good warmup to prepare for the harder movements to come
- (3:35) – Slalom Jumps – Good for 2-foot coordination, as well as stability, also working on side to side movement
- (1:48) – Lateral Scissor Hops – Good for single-leg coordination and quick movements
- (0:49) Icky Shuffle – Good for quick foot speed and control, as well as shifting directions with speed
- (0:37) – Lateral High Knees – Good for side to side movement, as well as quick individual foot coordination
- (1:15) – Lateral In & Out – Good for very quick foot movement and coordination, a good way to finish of the group of exercises in a speedy and coordinated way
I like to start my agility workouts with an easy drill to get myself warmed up and primed to perform the rounds! In this case, it was the forward sprint. I then like to include a simultaneous 2-foot movement drill to work on stability and start getting into the side to side movements. I included the lateral scissor hops and icky shuffle for numbers 3 and 4 to start working on quick single foot coordination as well as foot speed. Next were the lateral high knees for the same reasons as numbers 3 and 4, but to work in a different direction, lateral in this case. I used the lateral in and out for number 6 as I always like to finish the round of with a very quick foot speed, and a high demand for coordination movement. This also allowed for a third lateral movement.
It is very important to be training in different directions. This is because in an actual game, you will almost never be moving in only one plane of motion. I will be including more detail on this in my future articles!
Please ensure you learn how to perform all movements/exercises safely, this will help to reduce your risk for injury.
I hope this article was able to give you a solid, fundamental understanding of how to train for sports! This information was meant to help give you the basics on sports training! As always, if you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to leave them below and I will be sure to reply!
Until Next Time,
Please refer to my liability disclaimer to ensure you know who is responsible for use of this information after reading.