What really happens in sports?

How to train for the true demands of a given sport?

How to create an authentic environment, where the body can be prepared for a competitive and aggressive movement task?

What kind of positions, angles and forces are present when catching, evading, dribbling or changing direction?

Does the knee always point to the same direction with the toes?

What really happens in sports?

This.

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Tommi the Trainer

"“A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for.” William Shedd.

3 Key elements that make a high performance warm-up

1. Activate, don't pacify! - Avoid sleepy and boring warm ups -

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"So, jog around the field two times and sit down for 10 minutes and do static stretches." No way! 

We would have just spent a total of 15-20 minutes of valuable practice time doing stuff that does not optimally activate the body or the mind for the practice or the game. If you have been doing "slogging" (slow jogging) and the same seated hamstring stretches as a warm-up for the past 8 years, it might be time for a change and I will tell you why. The "passive warm-up" radically underestimates what our bodies and our minds need for optimal warm-up and activation.

After the warm-up the athletes should have elevated their level of physical preparedness as well as mental level of focus. According to studies some warm-ups increase the performance by up to 20% and some decrease the performance by up to 17%. What kind of a warm-up would you like for your team?

2. Sequence it! - Use a pre-movement check list to turn on all the systems -

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"Wing condition: check. Fuel quantity: check. Flight controls: check. Runway ready: check."

When the pilot getting ready for take-off, he checks all the systems of the plane and turns each one of them on while going through a step by step check list. We can use this concept for movement preparation as well. But what does the check list for a dynamic warm-up look like?

Well, here is one example.

A) Flexibility and mobility of each of the six anatomical stations: check.

B) Stability and proprioception by activating the nervous system: check.

C) Fundamental movement pattern activation: check

D) Elastic elements preparedness with low to medium level plyometrics: check. 

E) Rehearsing the movement and locomotion skills related to the activity: check.

3. Be consistent in long-term! - An enormous accumulative training effect -

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How many practices you or your team have per week? How about in a year? Imagine the accumulative training effect of a 15-minute dynamic warm-up routine 3-5 times a week for 365 days. That is what I call a great tool for long-term athletic development. Step by step you are taking your athletes to a greater level in flexibility, core strength, speed and agility and it is all built-in in your practice routine.

With correct progressions in exercises you can do a really big portion of your supplemental training and conditioning within your regular movement preparation. How many times do we complain that we don't have time for doing everything; injury prevention, speed training, strength and flexibility and so on. Let me ask you this: Is there an any easier way to include vital part of training in your sport than this?   

Stay activated!

Tommi the Trainer

Running with purpose and power in every step, part 1.

368-Concept can help develop training and conditioning strategies that are effective and enrichening for the movement of running. In this first part we take a look at the "chains" within the runner's body. These kinetic chains describe how the different parts of the body work together in real life and sports and also how they are connected via muscles and fascia.

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8 chains according to 368 conceptLet's examine the diagonal chains (marked black) as part of the running movement. First observe the excellent running mechanics demonstrated by Carl Lewis. We can draw a line from his left knee across his abdominal wall to his right arm. That diagonal front chain is now stretched out, loading elastic energy and ready to explode. The other side (right knee to left shoulder) is shorthened in order to create the opposite action. The same occurs with the diagonal back chains.    

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The diagonal chain system, a.k.a. the Double-X, is essentially important for the power and force production in running. Instead of only strengthening individual muscles it is crucial to integrate the whole kinetic team and work to improve the "stretch-shortening cycle" of the whole chain of muscles and fascial components. These diagonal chains have a huge role in creating the powerful rotational action in running.

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In 368 -Training Systems diagonal chains are being challenged particularly by utilizing horizonal resistance exercises. The horizontal resistance applied from different directions/angles with different speeds allows the diagonal chains to be activated and strengthened in a way that is beneficial for a runner. Here are some of our basic exercise variations (1-arm press, 1-arm row, 2-arm rotation) performed in a split stance. These exercise variations emphasize the team work of all the body parts connected into one kinetic chain.

Run with purpose in every step!

Tommi the Trainer

Sources of inspiration:

Thomas Myers, Anatomy Trains.

Gary Gray, Grayinstitute.

368 Training Systems -principle: Always train all planes, stations and chains!

368 - Training Systems answered to my own need of developing a system that makes the complexity of human movement a bit more simple to put into practice in terms of training and conditioning.

The backbone of 368 is based on the following concepts:  

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- that human movement occurs in three planes

- the body can be divided in 6 anatomical stations

- the muscles, ligaments, tendons and the fascia form integrated chains that are anatomically connected and that work together functionally (our system uses 8 chains)

368 concept is inspired mainly by three wise men, Gary Gray, Thomas Myers and Gray Cook, the mentors that have made the dynamic miracle of human movement a little bit easier to understand for a coach/trainer such as myself.   

368 gives me a tool through which I can observe movement and be reminded of its dimensions when planning exercise protocols and coaching athletes. 

How does 368 help me in practice? Here is a en example of Vern Gambetta's (another wise man and a great coach) Superlegs-series flavored with 368 and a medicine ball. The idea is to combine some of the fundamental movement patterns with total body muscular endurance. This superlegs targets particularly the anterior and posterior chains as well the diagonal/rotational chains.  

This routine also challenges our athletes in the areas of muscular endurance as well as cardiovascular and metabolic systems. We do not use this series until the basic movement patterns/skills are complete, strength foundation is solid and energy systems have developed sufficiently. In other words it is not used for beginners or for children.  

Train smart!

Tommi the Trainer

Sources of inspiration:

Gary Gray www.grayinstitute.com

Thomas Myers www.anatomytrains.com

Gray Cook www.functionalmovement.com

Vern Gambetta www.gambetta.com/blog.html

The Dynamic Warm-up revolution

THE DYNAMIC WARM-UP REVOLUTION

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Active and dynamic warm-ups and movement preparation routines are replacing the old and the mentally and physically more passive warming up practices. The general idea of (just) elevating the body temperature by slow jogging followed by a few static stretches is being revolutionized by a more focused and involved movement preparation.

An athlete spends between 10-20 minutes a day preparing the body for the competition or practice. This time accumulates slowly but surely and functions not only as a primer for the sport performance but as an opportunity to learn and develop various motor skills.

The activation of the movement system correctly prior to sport performance or practice has been found crucially important. Discover Movement has been researching and developing optimal warm-up and movement preparation protocols for years.

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HOW TO OPTIMIZE THE MOVEMENT THROUGH DYNAMIC WARM-UP

A systematized approach helps the coach and the athlete in practical execution of the warm-up. The correct sequence of the phases also improves the results gained from the active warm up routine.

The objective of the system is to elevate the body's ability to provide a desired training stimulation and ensure that the provided training transfers into a training adaptation. Thus, the dynamic movement preparation should improve the absorption of training on neuro-muscular, cardio-vascular as well as metabolic levels.    

Discover Movement Dynamic Warm-up consists of six phases that are designed individually for each athlete's goals in mind. The following gives a general idea of the dynamic warm-up sequence. Each athlete and each sport requires often slightly different warm-up exercise routine. 

CONTACT us for help in designing the optimal dynamic warm-up routine for your athlete or team.

Skipping + carioca = Skippioca dynamic warm up

I learned some fantastic locomotion patterns from Todd Wright from the University of Texas basketball program.

As a part of the dynamic warm routine it important to stimulate both the mind and the body and even the spirit. These movement patterns will do exactly that, they will challange the coordination, make you focus, build your athleticism and make you laugh in the process.

Here is a short sample of one locomotion pattern called skippioca, which combines the movements of carioca and skip. Try them out. I felt ridiculously uncoordinated myself in the beginning but I am getting better and so are my athletes.  

        

You can get more brilliant information about movement and athleticism from www.train4thegame.com
Thank you Todd!

Tommi the Trainer

PS: Coordination is the act of coordinating, making different people or things work together for a goal or effect. Wikipedia.

TRX suspension training for soccer conditioning

Fraser Quelch giving some ideas on TRX suspension training mixed with some soccer flavor.

     

In order to make the conditioning benefit a specific sport movement:

1. Think of the planes of movement that the sport requires.

2. Think of the anatomical stations that are involved.
(foot/ankle, knee, hip, lumbar region, thoracic region, cervical region)

3. Think of the myofascial chains that need to be strengthened.  

View the Discover Movement 368-system to help analyze movement

The Worlds Greatest Stretch - Dynamic Warm-up

I remember it like it was yesterday... I attended a functional training seminar several years ago and saw Mark Verstegen present on the subject of Movement Preparation and Dynamic Warm-up. It was not like I hadn't tried or heard about it before but during those hands-on workshops my eyes (and my hips) opened to see the potential of an optimal activation and preparation sequence of the movement system.

The "worlds greatest stretch" was an essential part of Mark's movement preparation sequence. It was one of those concepts that got absorbed by my brain and my body very well. Several years now, some of the same dynamic flexibility sequences are still in use in our programs and they are still producing the desired results of increased active range of motion and activation of the correct muscle groups prior to training or sports.

       

Thanks Mark!

Tommi "The Trainer"

Medicine ball lunges as part of the Dynamic Warm-up

Lunges combined with various upper body patterns are some of the most versatile and effective exercises for an athlete. They activate and strengthen the myofascial chains of the body.

Here are a few examples of lunges that improve some of the most important movement patterns needed for function and performance.

        

More about lunging:

General theory: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunge_(exercise)

Variations and videos: http://www.coreperformance.com/search/?keywords=lunge

Shoulder stability and upper body plyometrics

How many times and with how much power a tennis player hits the ball during the game?

What is the true impact of a golf swing on the shoulders and arms?

In how many different positions a goalie of any sport has to demonstrate upper body strength and stability while receiving the forces of a fast flying ball or a puck?   

These are the questions that I am pondering when designing exercise programs for athletes of specific sports. I try to go through a process of analyzing the upper body movements and the arm positions that my athletes need to be able to generate force through.

Today's weekly warm-up is a demonstration of speed ladder exercises for the upper body. It is a mix of shoulder stability and upper body plyometrics.

Take care and brace yourself for impact!

Tommi

   

Medicine ball rotational throws for warm-up

Some of the most powerful anatomical and neurological linkages within the body are crossing over the body's center line. They are involved with rotational movement patterns.

Most movements that require power in sports are rotational, such as running, throwing, kicking or punching.  

So how to activate the essential muscle connections that are involved in rotation? 

In other words, what kind of exercises might help us prepare for rotational sports or even for a functional conditioning workout?

Here are some of the rotational medicine ball wall throws that we really like as a part of the dynamic warm up.

               

Recommended reading for accurate anatomical descriptions of the myofascial connections: Anatomy Trains by Thomas Myers. 

Tommi

PS: Check out Discover Movement Facebook page and become a friend!

Throwing movements - An effective approach to Abdominal Training

Why do the back-related pains and injuries often occur in the context of low-intensity, miniscule tasks, like picking up a pen from the floor?

Why didn't the musculature around the spine suddenly brace and support the lumbar region the same way as it did when doing crunches, deadlift or squats at the gym?

A research paper by Craig Liebenson,A modern approach to abdominal training might shed some light in this issue. Among other things the research paper states how important the involuntary muscle contractions are in the core musculature, especially in unexpected and reflexive situations. Those who have delayed in-voluntary contraction around the lumbar region were more prone to have back problems.  Feel free to sink your teeth into this research paper before moving on...

Based on all this, I have to ask myself the following. Do my training and conditioning practices include exercises that prepare the body for the unexpected (read: life, sport) or have I just created a nice setof beach muscles that only contract when I flex them? And if so, what kind of training would "heal" this only-contract-when-told-by-me -syndrome?

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One of the practical answers in creating involuntary abdominal stimulation is THROWING.

Throwing movements are task-specific exercises and create same involuntary contractions to support the spine. However, in order to avoid too familiar and too voluntary training, we should probably perform these exercises in a variety of ways and in multi-planar fashion to create an environment that would simulate a reactive sport or a true life situation.

Various medicine ball throwscan function as true and functional abdominal training. Here are some of the basic throwing movement patterns. Progressions include for example: A) A narrower base of support (1-leg) B) Combinations tasks (jump and throw) C) Load, distance and accuracy variations.

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1. Overhead throw

2. Underhand throw

3. Rotational throw

4. 1-arm "shot put" throw

5. 1-arm slam

Hurl, cast, toss, fling, thrust, slam and have fun!

Tommi

PS: "Don't throw away the old bucket until you know whether the new one holds water." Swedish Proverb.

The latest news on Youth Fitness and Health

Young Athletes overuse their bodies and strike out too early

Healthcare, Business Leaders and Professional Athletes Join Forces to
Help Young Athletes Play Safe and Stay Healthy

Rosemont, IL –– Today, leaders in healthcare, wellness, safety and fitness came together to launch the STOP Sports Injuries campaign. The campaign will educate athletes, parents, trainers, coaches and healthcare providers about the rapid increase in youth sports injuries, the necessary steps to help reverse the trend and the need to keep young athletes healthy...

More at http://news.yahoo.com/s/usnw/20100401/pl_usnw/DC79389

Movement Patterns and Young Athletes

 by Dr. Kwame M. Brown

First, we need to understand how the human body works during movements. In a nutshell, the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) controls the muscles so that they can move efficiently to use energy wisely and to avoid injury. The central nervous system, in turn receives information about what’s happening from the muscles. Because of this process, movement patterns become important...

More at http://iyca.org/wordpress/movement-patterns-young-athletes

Get Up, Get out and Go: Research tackles childhood obesity

ScienceDaily (Apr. 4, 2010) — Getting children involved in finding ways to become more physically active can not only make them more aware of local recreational opportunities, but can even help increase their own physical activity...

More at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100311123535.htm  

Jamie Oliver and the Food Revolution: Teach every child about food

Three must-exercises for rotational sports

Does your sport involve rotation?

If you answered no, I would like to ask for a permission to prove you wrong.

Why such an overly confident attitude about the issue?

Probably because pretty much every human activity involves rotation in some level. Most of the sports certainly do. Running is rotation, throwing is rotation, hopping is rotation, catching is rotation, kicking is rotation and so on...

Training the component of rotation is crucial as is of course the ability to eliminate rotation at times.

Here are three rotational movements perfomed in a cable column:

1. As part of a comprehensive dynamic warm-up sequence

2. As part of a strength and conditioning program (with heavier loads)

Life is a rotational activity!

Tommi

PS: Remember to do both sides (left and right) so that you won't be walking in a circle post-workout :-)

FUNctional warm-up games and drills with bean bags

"The more boring the exercise is, the more effective it must be. "

"Games and drills are for recreational use only, not for real athletes. "

"Focused athletes do not have fun while training for serious goals."

"No laughing!"

Really?

 

We would use these reactive and task-specific bean bag exercises after...

1. Dynamic Flexibility

2. Muscle Activation/Stability

3. Movement Skill Practice (For example overhead squat, lunge, single leg squat or hand stance)

Have fun!

Tommi

PS: "The only way a kid is going to practice is if it's total fun for him... and it was for me."
Wayne Gretzky