“As a result of strength training, the risk of ACL injury in female soccer players was decreased by 88% utilizing a 15-minute-a-day exercise regimen to strengthen the hamstrings and balance the thigh muscles (Mandelbaum et al., 2005).”
Cited from The American Journal of Sports Medicine
Strength and Conditioning
What is strength and conditioning?
In it’s simplest form, Strength and Conditioning is the practical application of Sports Science to enhance movement quality. Strength & conditioning is grounded in evidence-based research and physiology of exercise and anatomy. Contrary to popular belief, strength and conditioning is not something that solely benefits athletes. Research has shown that strength and conditioning improves quality of overall movement which is beneficial for non athletes as well.
Why is strength and Conditioning important?
Simply answered, Strength and Conditioning provides a stable foundation for a lifetime of movement. Research shows that youth (6-12 years) and adolescent (12-19 years) athletes go through many changes in life and in sport through the growth and development process. Many crucial decisions for long term athletic development are made during this time period. With the current trend towards early sport specialization becoming more prevalent in the youth and adolescent athlete, it is important to ensure that individuals are competent in a broad spectrum of movements so that they are well rounded and able to perform their sports activities in the safest manner possible.
What are some of the benefits of Strength and Conditioning?
As previously mentioned, Strength and Conditioning benefits extend well past the playing field. Athletes of sport and athletes of life all benefit from well rounded strength programs. Here are the top 3 benefits of Strength and Conditioning:
Reduced Injury Risk
Despite concerns in the past that strength training is harmful for the youth athlete, it has been revealed that strength and conditioning can make a developing athlete “more resistant to injury” (NSCA, 2008). A higher level of motor control and a better understanding of how their body moves in space, allows an athlete to take more control over their injury prevention. Strategies of how to correctly stabilize the core, distribute bodyweight and resist force are all areas which can significantly lower the risk of injury.
Increases in Strength
Developing athletes strength capacity can be significantly enhanced (gains of up to 74% have been reported) through a program that uses a variety of forms of resistance training (NSCA, 2009). The ability to coordinate movement and to efficiently recruit muscles in synchronized action are two of the main reasons for the strength improvements. As children age, this is a natural pattern of development but using forms of strength and conditioning training can significantly expedite the process.
The increases in muscular strength seen in childhood can be greater than the strength increases seen in adolescence (Joyce, 2014) which evidences why the early initiation of a formal strength and conditioning plan is an important step. Athletes who train twice per week, on average, have 33% higher strength gains than their once session per week counterparts. Stronger athletes perform better, are more resilient to injury and have greater long term success.
Smaller Incidence of burnout or overspecialization
With more coaches and parents pushing for children to specialize in a sport at an earlier age, it is important to make sure that health and fun are major components of the process. Ideally, specialization should be held off until adolescence so that the athlete has time to develop a large majority of “fundamental movement skills” before “sport specific skills” (Joyce, 2014). Early adoption of specialization can lead to burnout, overuse injuries and potentially social isolation.
One of the primary responsibilities of the strength coach to make sure that all of our athletes are proficient in all planes and direction of movement, not just the skill based movements involved in their sport. Becoming adaptable to all situations and being able to learn how to protect against unpredictable (and sometimes uncontrollable) forces that exist in sport allows the athlete to be successful through a longer career.
Our Approach to Strength and Conditioning
Here at Elite Performance Training Systems, we take an individualized comprehensive approach to our athletes Strength and Conditioning needs. We realize that there is no one size fits all method, and what has worked for one athlete may not work for another. At the foundation, all of our athletes go through an initial functional movement screen, and the results of the screen dictate the approach we take with the athletes programming. The ultimate goal of all programming is to reduce injury risk, maximize performance and reach individual goals.