By Chad Moran
Personal Trainer at Granite Health and Fitness
As the school year winds down and summer approaches the question on many parents’ and athletes’ minds is what type of training is best for summer. It’s a question I have received many times over the years. My answer for off-season training always starts with teaching athletes to move better so that they can perform better.
I look at training for athletes just as noted physical therapist Gray Cook explains, a pyramid. The base of the pyramid is our movement ability. How well do we squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, and twist? How well do we balance and move through the hips? How stable is the core? These are the foundational movements and requirements that all athletes should excel at, and in some fashion are mostly found in all sporting activities. The second level of the pyramid is fitness, how long can we perform those movements and with how much strength and control? The top level is skill. As a trainer and strength coach my focus is on the movement and fitness levels of that pyramid. Moving better and being more fit builds better athletes and allows for the coaches to focus on skills to get better performance out of that athlete.
Movement ability is at the bottom of the pyramid for a very important reason. If an athlete moves poorly, his or her fitness or skill level can put them into a position that can directly lead to injury.
Quite simply, their level of fitness and or skill can allow them to compensate for that inability to move well; and compensation not only leads to injury but also hinders performance. If an athlete has poor balance or cannot move through the hips, it is very easy to injure the knees or lower back. Obviously, an athlete won’t be performing well while sitting on the bench recovering from a hamstring pull, or sprained knee. It’s for this reason I want to see athletes spend time on their basic movement patterns. The bigger the foundation of movement that is built, the higher the pyramid of movement, fitness, and skill can safely rise.
When we focus on the big movement patterns, there is added benefit of developing better fitness. The athlete that moves well and is fitter will generally outperform the higher skilled athlete that either moves poorly or is less fit. Squatting, lunging, pushing, and pulling all work multiple muscle groups and the entire body. The more muscle groups that get involved in the exercise, the more challenging the workout and the faster fitness levels will improve. These exercises also train athletes the way they move out on the field or court. This is the same focus that the Elite SST program takes at Granite Health & Fitness. Create a better athlete by training the way athletes move on the field or court. By training movement patterns core strength and control will improve and as I like to think of it, we connect the hand to the foot via the core.