Sports Performance Training has grown exponentially over the past decade. This approach has resulted in an increase in athletic achievement and a reduction in injuries, however, this reduction in injuries hasn’t kept pace with the increases in athletic performance. In fact, in certain sports the incidence of injuries has increased. One Gray Institute adage is that performance training and injury prevention are one and the same; suggesting that the best training programs decrease injuries while increasing performance.
What should performance training encompass?
We should start by working backwards.
It’s TRAINING that improves PERFORMANCE for a specific SPORT. Sports performance training can be designed for a specific position within a team sport, as well as a desired goal whether it be flexibility, power, or endurance. Let’s examine what a comprehensive program should look like:
- A comprehensive program should include foundational training movements that will build success in all athletic endeavors. These global exercises utilize the entire body to challenge the neuro-musculo-skeletal system to load and explode.
- Success in the foundational movements can then be manipulated to enhance performance based on the movement requirements of a specific sport. Different team roles will influence the choice of exercises. This is also where the desired goal will alter the plan of action.
- Finally sports performance training will incorporate the body’s resources built during the foundational and sport specific movements into “skill-focused” training sessions. Training programs are altered for different team roles or positions.
Sports Performance Training in Golf
If our challenge is to improve a specific goal (balance) for a specific sport (golf) to ultimately improve performance (swing and score), what might a “sports performance training” program entail?
Let’s focus on the balance required at the top of the backswing for a right-handed golfer. At the Gray Institute, we would utilize the mobility and stability global movements of 3DMAPS to build the foundational resources. Lunges and arm swings are combined to challenge and build the body’s capabilities in all three planes. The general mobility (motion) and stability (control of the motion) produced will benefit all activities.
Then the Analysis and Performance program of 3D MAPS would be tweaked for golf by changing the starting position to the golf posture. The arm swings of 3DMAPS would be altered to mimic the hands and club going to the proper position “at the top”.
Lunges of the left foot could be utilized to create the proper motions in the right hip (and vice versa). These lunges would be tweaked into toe-touch reaches, and eventually reaches without touching the ground to emphasize the balance component at the time when the body must transition to the downswing; transform the load into the explode.
As the sports performance training becomes more focused towards skilling, range drills are created to incorporate balance challenges while actually hitting the ball. Examples would be:
- Hitting balls with one foot in the “toe-touch” position
- Lunging as the club reaches the top (load)
- Lunging as the hands and club starts down (explode)
These balance challenges go beyond the normal requirements to swing a club, and build a robust capability that can overcome the uneven surfaces of the course. The regular swing becomes relatively “easy”.
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It’s important to recognize that the different parts of the training program (foundational, sport-specific, skill) aren’t mutually exclusive and can be overlapped. The strategies described above for increasing performance are the same for injury prevention and functional rehabilitation.
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Stay tuned for part two of our Sports Performance Training series, where we take a look at making strength functional in football!
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