September 9, 2005, Newsletter Issue #224: THOUGHTS ON CONDITIONING PROGRAMS

Tip of the Week

SPORT SPECIFIC- When putting together a total conditioning program, try and make sure that the exercises are “sport specific.” The drills, lifts, and movements should mimic those that are used in the game of basketball.

AGE APPROPRIATE- The program should also be appropriate to the age of the group that you are working with . What was appropriate for the youth league team you once coached may not be strenuous enough for your high school team. Vice-versa, the high school program may be too tough for the AAU travel team you might coach in the off season. Adjust the program to the ability of the players.

MOTIVATING- It is a benefit if the conditioning program is motivating to the athlete. Rather than having a coach yelling and screaming to, “go, go, go” or “push, push, push” it will help if the athlete can see improved results. Always call out times, post results, or have the athlete chart his own performance. This will create a “self-motivated” athlete who will continue to work, even after the coach stops yelling.

TIME REQUIREMENTS–I’m not a big proponent of mandatory times when running. A perceptive coach can tell if a player is running hard, and he should push his players to do so. Superior effort and personal bests are what should matter. Always encourage players to “catch the person in front of you”, or “don’t get caught”. Doing this will push players enough, as opposed to running a certain distance in a specific time.

PROPER WARM UP AND COOL DOWN- It is of utmost importance to have an effective warm up in order to prevent injury and maximize performance. I like my players to be in a full sweat prior to doing anything at 100% speed. Dynamic stretches before a workout have been proven to show the best results and a static stretch can be used as a supplement or as a morning routine. A cool-down period, where the athlete gradually slows down, seems to prevent muscle soreness the following day. Static stretches can be used at this time, as well.

HYDRATION- Drink enough fluids. I repeat, "drink enough fluids. This is one of the most overlooked aspects of physical health. By the time you`re mouth is dry and you are thirsty, it`s too late. You are ALREADY dehydrated! To help ensure the proper state of hydration, drink at least 16 oz of fluid before sleeping the evening before exercise and another 16 oz first thing in the morning. To help "top off" fluid stores, drink another 16-32 oz 1 hour before competing. The type of fluid you consume before exercise is important. Make sure you drink fluids containing small amounts of sodium, such as water or sports drinks, avoiding soft drinks or fluids high in sugar content. The sodium in these drinks will cut down fluid losses and better maintain hydration.
For optimal rehydration, you should drink a carbohydrate- electrolyte drink as soon as possible after training or competing. The carbohydrates and sodium in these drinks provide flavoring that helps to stimulate consumption. The result is better hydration, which has performance implications for your next training session or competition.

REST AND RECOVERY- Be conscious of rest and recovery times. This holds true for in between intervals, as well as in between workouts. Participants need to have enough time to replenish their oxygen intake in order to perform the next repetition.

The frequency at which exercises are performed is also important to avoid injury and over training. They may need to follow heavy days with light days, or work alternate muscle groups. Legs one day and then upper body the next day. Sprints one day, endurance the next. Or better yet, running one day, and a weight workout the next. Bottom line: Know when to push and when to ease off.

ENJOYABLE- The program that works best is one that the players show up diligently to do, and will put maximum effort into. For that reason, Try to make the program as enjoyable as possible for them. Push them and motivate them, but try not to be a “drill sergeant.” At some point you get to a point of diminishing returns. You may push them so hard that the players actually turn off and stop working to their potential.

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