Time waits for no man…at least that’s how the saying goes. We all have time pressures.
As an athlete you may be balancing the time required to train, study, socialise, relax, eat and sleep! As a coach you’re probably balancing time required to plan, deliver sessions, eat, sleep, maintain a relationship with your partner/kids as well as some time to yourself!
We all wish we had more than 24 hours in the day, but the reality is we can’t stretch that 1 day, 24 hours, 1440 minutes or 86400 seconds any further!
Unfortunately Strength and Conditioning in youth sport is not really any different. Often we are at the mercy of the technical coach to determine how frequently and how long we see athletes for. This can determine the success or failure of your S&C program. It’s not ideal but it’s the truth. So how do we get more bang for our buck?
To give you an idea of the reality, on a Tuesday evening I will coach 40-60 athletes in 2 hours on a basketball court with no real equipment. This is done in groups of 10-12 for 30 minutes each maximum. In this time, I am supposed to deliver some sort of meaningful training stimuli that brings value to the individual, the team and the club as a whole. Sounds like a bit of a challenge right? Throw in some less than cooperative teenagers and you have the full picture.
So this may provoke the following questions:
- What (if anything) can I do in 30 minutes with no equipment?
- Will there be any meaningful adaptation to the program?
- How can I increase the impact of my program beyond the 30 minutes each week
Well, here are some answers to chew on…
What if anything can I do in 30 minutes?
Actually you can do quite a lot. It depends on mental maturity and attitude of the group. But as a bare minimum we get through the following:
- Mobility drill (modified inchworm, spiderman and thoracic rotation)
- Running drills (A march, A walk, A skip, B march, B walk, B skips)
- Jumping/landing mechanics (hop + stick, jump + stick, broad jumps, single leg hops)
- Single leg strength work (forward/lateral lunge)
If the group is doing well on the night, most of the time we also get through:
- Upper body pushing (press-ups)
- Trunk/Glute work (press up plank, glute bridges)
Now, it isn’t perfect and there are definitely people who would do it a little differently. But here it is plain and simple – 30 minutes of work, and some progressions.
Will there be any meaningful adaptation to the program?
Well I’ll let you decide. Since the beginning of 2016 the players have progressed from 3 x 6 reps of static lunges to 3 x 12 reps of walking forward lunges. They’ve also progressed from 3 x 6 reps of basic press-ups to 3 x 12 reps of incline press-ups with a mandatory instruction to lift the hands of the floor (concentric focus) at the end of each rep. They are also about to shift from double leg glute bridges to single leg. Add to these facts that the players have repeatedly mentioned that they felt DOMS in their legs/butt in the 2 days post-session… For me these are all promising signs. But why?
Well it comes down to what is the minimal effective dose required to produce an adaptation? We are talking about a group of growing athletes, with little to no strength training history, a favourable hormonal profile and a new motor control task. These guys are arguably at the most training-sensitive period of their life. They will be accruing gains on a neural level as their motor control improves in each task. Add to that that they will be gaining from increased levels of testosterone during puberty and it’s a win-win scenario.
How can I increase the impact of my session beyond the 30 minutes each week?
This is an easy one. The best way to get more bang for your buck, is to work WITH the technical coaches to design a training and matchday warm up. Within this warm up you will strategically place the key motor skills you want to reinforce within the players. For example:
- Pulse raiser – A/B skips, ankle taps
- Mobility drill – modified inchworm, spiderman and thoracic rotation
- Activation – 6-8 reps of glute bridging/squatting/forward and lateral lunging
- Power – single leg hop + stick/hopping or broad jump/counter movement jumps
I’ve seen this done before in a previous role and it worked pretty well. Really well if you can get a member of the team (ideally the captain) to lead it. Then you get bonus points for getting the team to be autonomous!!
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