Dynamic Stretching is best
Flexibility is the ability of joints to move through their full range of motion. Flexibility, like strength, provides protection against joint injury and increases performance. There are several methods of increasing flexibility. These incDynamic Stretching is bestlude Static Stretching, Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF), and Dynamic Stretching. PNF is a great way to go, but generally requires a partner. Dynamic Stretching is superior to Static methods for athletes. There is evidence that Dynamic Stretching can increase muscle contraction force and reduce soreness. Stretching in and of itself is not a warmup, but is most effective after a short warmup activity. Easy Jogging, Dot Drill, or JumpRope are great warmup activities.
Move your joints through a full range of motion in the movement patterns that you will be practicing. The over head squat is a great flexibility screen. If you can perform an overhead squat with your feet flat on the floor, you are likely sufficiently flexible for just about any activity.
Endurance is the quality that allows a champion to win in the final period. Basically, for our purposes, there are two types of endurance, Aerobic and Anaerobic. These describe the ability of your body to deliver oxygen to the muscles to sustain a high level of performance.
Aerobic activities require sustained oxygen delivery over a prolonged period of time, 5 minutes and longer. These sports include Cross Country and Long Distance Events in Track. Aerobic fitness is built by raising the heart rate to 140-160 beats per minute and maintaining that for 20 minutes or more. Activities such as Running, Jogging, Biking, Swimming, or even brisk walking can improve or maintain Aerobic Fitness. These types of activites done in extended low intensity fashion have the effect of developing slow twitch muscle fibers instead of fast twitch fibers. This means that sports that require explosiveness such as Football, Volleyball, Basketball, Baseball and Softball, Wrestling, and most Track and Field events; should avoid excessive Aerobic training. Long and sub maximal speed distance running will only train your body to be slow. Slow running is slow practice and a great way to lower your vertical jump.
With the expceptions of Cross Country and Distance Events as mentioned, the majority of high school athletes shold focus on Anaerobic training. This has all the health benefits of Aerobics, as heart rates are elevated and sustained, but train the muscles to be explosive as well.
Anaerobic training requires short, all out bursts of activity, repeated with little rest. That is how most high school sports are contested. In Football for example, the average play lasts 5-7 seconds with 20-30 seconds between plays. Time outs and time to move the chains…etc. extend the time between plays often. Volleyball has intense rallies, but seldom do they last for 30 seconds or more until a side out. Even durng intense rallies, many players are not directly involved. The movements required are quick, explosive, and take place in a small space. Basketball consists of intense play around the basket interspersed with breaks in the action for foul shots and in bounding the ball…etc. Baseball and Softball players as well have short burst of activity when a ball is hit, then long periods of waiting. In Track and Field, the sprints range from 12 seoconds or less to just over one minute, while the field events are conducted in single, maximum, explosive efforts, with a lot of time in between attempts.
Therefore, it is vital to condition with shorter repeated maximum efforts, such as interval sprints. These are best done with a 3:1 rest-work ratio. In other words, if a 40 yd. sprint takes 5 seconds, then about a 15 second break between sprints allows enough recovery for a repeated maximum effort, but still taxes the bodies ability to deliver oxygen and maintains an elevated heart rate. Repeating sprints or any anaerobic activity without sufficent recovery only has the effect of making the athlete less explosive as the muscles will learn to move slowly.
The most efficient way to condition is to devise intense drills that mimic actual sports skills, like live wrestling for timed periods or repeated fast breaks in basketball or two minute drills in football. Excessive distance running is not only a waste of time for most events, but is counter-productive as well.
Speed can be improved. While some individuals are obviously born with more speed than other, we can all improve upon our abilities. Running speed is determined by two factors:
Stride frequency- How fast you can take strides.
Stride length- Longer strides cover more ground.
Stride frequency is determined by your neuro-muscular system so it is important to choose the right parents to be really fast. If it’s too late for that, then there is not a great deal you can do about it, although there are drills that will allow you to maximize your potential. You will never know what your maximum potential is until you have worked hard for a long period of time.
On the other hand, there is a great deal you can do about stride length that can increase your speed dramatically.
Increasing your leg strength will allow you push off harder and longer with each step. Increased flexibility will also make longer strides possible. Proper running form will also allow you to maximize stride length and develop an efficient technique which will increase your speed.
Here is an 8 point check list to improve your running technique:
Head- Should be upright
Eyes- Should be fixed looking straight ahead
Back- Should be erect and slightly arched with chest out.
Shoulders-Should rotate vigorously with elbows fixed at a 90 degree angle.
Arms- Should swing at the sides and not across the body. Arm speed determines leg speed.
Legs- Initial action is to lift forward, not up. Lower leg should hang before planting.
Feet- Should make the initial plant directly under the hips and not out in front of the body.
Knees-On the follow-thru or end of the leg drive, the knee should fully extend
To practice this sprint system, concentrate on one area of the body for each sprint repitition, On the last few sprints combine all 8 points for an all-out effort. This will improve your speed if you concentrate and make it a habit. Strive for perfect form whenever you run regardless of how tired you feel. Dedicate yourself to breaking bad habits and form correct new ones. Concentrate on correct form every time you run.
Skills and techniques
As important as strength and conditioning is, it has little value if not accompanied by adequate skill and technique development in the sports in which you wish to excel. Your sport coach can help you identify the basic skills that you, as an individual, need to improve on. An average athlete works the things that he/she are already good at. A champion works on his/her weaknesses. The difference between performing a skill poorly or perfectly is usually about 1,000 repetitions. Don’t get caught up in the “sports specificity training” in the weight room. The weight room is the place to make your body stronger and more powerful. Then use that improved body to practice the specific skills on the track, field, or court.There is a cliche that “All things being equal, the stronger athlete will win.” All things are never equal. The athletes who win are the ones who are most skilled and able to execute those skills with power. Get strong and powerful in the weight room, then develop your skills to the superior level in your sport.
Supercompensation is the principal upon which progress takes place. The human body is unique in that is adapts to the stresses placed upon it. When you apply stress to your body in the form of training, it will adapt by becoming stronger. This is not immediate however. The immediate effect of a hard workout is to become weaker. We all know that if we complete a truly heavy set of any given exercise that we cannot immediately repeat that performance. But, if we give our body time to recover and the materials to rebuild with, that it will rebuild itself. Not only back to the level it was, but beyond that. That is Supercompensation, compensation above and beyond the starting point. We see evidence of this process on our hands. When we do something beyond what we are used to, like swinging an ax or shoveling, our hands get sore and may even blister as the stress exceeds the normal wear of everyday living. However if we continue to chop or shovel, our hands will begin to callus, laying down extra skin to compensate for the extra stress. The same process happens internally as our muscle fibers, nerves, and even bones adapt to training.
In order for this to happen the body needs the materials it needs to rebuild and it needs time.The materials come from the food we eat and the rebuilding happens mainly when we sleep.