Why In-Season Weight Training is Important?
The Importance of In-Season Weight Training
“You either get better or worse. No one stays the same.”
Today In-Season Workouts are considered a necessity for most coaches that must compete at the highest level. For others, especially outside of football, it seems to be another “problem” during the season that coaches have to deal with. Most coaches in other sports, particularly in the south, are short handed. So this leaves the head coach of the sport in most high schools to plan, program, and implement a weight program when their expertise is coaching the sport and NOT the weight room. Many people mistake these two different fields in combining into one mostly because when they went to school they never had a strength and conditioning coach.
Many programs are starting to recognize the importance of having a strength and conditioning coach that is educated and certified in human performance, strength and conditioning, and exercise science. In today’s world strength and conditioning has become much more of an expertise. Even down to the area of sports performance. Most colleges and universities have a head of sports performance that oversees the entire program. There is speed coaches, sports scientists, sports nutritionists, strength and conditioning, and even sports psychologists. Sports have become a big money game. And the effectiveness of In-Season Workouts are a key indicator of the success of programs from middle school to high school to universities and professional level athletes because there are is a need for improvement every day. And without resistance and weight training we couldn’t have reached our potential.
I even believe that youth athletes need to be in some kind of sports performance program throughout the year. With specialization at earlier ages every year, lack of physical education, and continual attention health risk of youth athletes this is a major priority. We offer once a week for athletes that are in-season.
Benefits to In-Season Workouts
Great programs have great In-Season Programs created specifically for the needs of the athletes on the team. Without In-Season Workouts teams would be starting over after every season. And those athletes that didn’t play very much would not progress to “playing level” and programs would not be developing the talent and athletic programs that need to be successful over years. Teams would be starting over every year. This is NOT the case for the great programs. These programs have specific goals in the weight room in mind.
- Staying Healthy- Great programs keep their athletes healthy. Over 60% of athletes will miss a practice or game due to an injury. Is this so bad? Absolutely! Without participating in the sport with the team there will be missed assignments lack of repetition and lack of mental preparation. Staying healthy is a major priority to any team that wants to be successful. The back-ups should be just as important as the starters because of the 60% statistic shared before.
- Continuing Progress- It is critical to continue improving throughout the season. Of course the athletes that play a lot will NOT progress as much as the athletes that don’t but having an attitude of continual improvement can be the difference in a program that makes the playoffs and competes for the championship every year and the team that competes for the playoffs which is a big difference. Developing athletes is critical in any program. Many times this is ignored in programs and coaching staffs that are understaffed, underdeveloped, and undereducated.
Characteristics of Great In-Season Programs
- Strength Based– the major goal of all programs must be strength. Strength is the biggest loss throughout the long competitive season. In many good programs you’ll see low reps and high weight. A minimum of 3 days a week in the weight room should be a priority for most programs that want to be great.
- Movement– Knowing the injury risk for the sport can be very helpful. And recognizing the trends in each team can also be very important to movements that might be missed out on during the season. Movement of all planes of motions are important because it helps to address certain weaknesses that can be exposed in performance of the individual athletes. When we, MVP or Team Sports Performance, create in-season programs there are daily movements that we MUST address.
- Bilateral, Unilateral Movements in all planes of motion– Bilateral Movements are things like Squat, Bench, and Cleans are examples of sagittal plane exercises. For In-season programs there will be sets and reps of 5×3 and 3×5 at the highest intensity weight. Frontal plane exercises are lateral side raises, upright rows, side bends, and side planks.
- Rotational Movements– Rotational Movements are exercises like Russian Twist, Medicine Ball Rotational Throws, and Anti-rotations. These exercises are done in the transverse plane of motion.
- Lunging Patterns– Lunging is an exercise that should be a must. Lunging and Sprinting go hand-in-hand. In order to continue speed development coaches must include some lunging or Split Leg exercises.
- Squatting– Squatting Patterns are usually a first and sometimes over done for some coaches. Examples of squatting patterns are overhead squat, single leg squat (unilateral), Back/Front Squat, and Zercher Squat.
- Hip Hinge– Hips are the most ignored in most under developed weight rooms. Exercises that are hip dominant are RDL’s (Romanian Dead Lift), Hip Bridges, and Clam Shells. Hip Strength is a BIG indicator of lower body injury occurrence.
- Lateral Movement– Lateral Lunges, Shuffling, Cross Squats with lower and upper body are all examples of Lateral movement. In my opinion, lateral movement doesn’t get coached enough.
- Core Development– Many coaches mistake core with Ab workout. Wrong- core invovles certain movements that create a Pillar of Strength. Without strength in the midsection (including hips) athletic development will continue to be limited. This means exercises that are anti-flexion, anti-rotation, anti-extension and the opposite; flexion, extension, rotation, as well as lateral flexion and extension. Exercises include farmer walks and suitcase carries, band anti rotation, stability ball planks, V-sits, Superman’s, good mornings, and even hip bridges, hip flexion, hip extensions, bird dogs can be included in the Core movement and development.
- Testing and Assessment– Movement, Strength, and Performance should always be tested. In-Season Programs need to be constantly monitored to see where progress or regression is being. Many coaches DON’T assess the athletes during the season because it is another thing to add to the To-Do List and their major priority is preparing for the next game. BUT if we don’t monitor our In-Season programs how do we know what is important to us.
- Development of the Young Athletes– Great In-Season Programs have a separate program developed for the athletes that aren’t playing. Universities are good at this but middle and high school programs can be just as good. In my opinion, this is where the champions separate themselves. To coordinate Junior Varsity, Scout Teams, and seperate games can be a huge task. But the coaches that develop the young players over a long period of a time create a “Program” and NOT just a seasonal team that is successful one year and unsuccessful the next year.
*It is important to note that there is no cookie cutter In-Season program that works for every sport, team, and gender. Each program has there own needs and injury trends.