Stronger, Faster Teen Athletes
By: Clark Bartram
In respect to giving some insight to training your student athlete we've provided some tried and true exercises that are not just safe, but also very effective as it relates to speed, agility, strength and coordination – all important components of developing athletic prowess regardless of the sport. These exercises are not gender specific and can be done by every teen athlete. Always use proper form.
2-in-1-Out Ladder Drill
In any sport, quickness of feet is one of the most important skills an athlete, of any age, can develop. The “ladder” is a “must have” tool in which the user can perform a variety of movements all geared towards quicker foot that will ultimately improve speed and coordination. Ladder drills are great for a “dynamic” warm up as well as being a staple for speed and agility.
To Do It: This exercise requires you to combine both speed and technique as you move through the ladder by placing the outside foot just outside the ladder, bringing it back inside and then placing the opposite foot outside the opposite side. To become effective at any ladder drill, divide the ladder in thirds. The first third is to develop a rhythm, the second third will slowly increase your speed and the final third is meant to be performed as fast as possible under control.
Go up the ladder once and walk back and do it again. (Note: There are many different kinds of ladder drills that you can find online through a quick search.)
Conditioning and upper body strength is vital for any sport and battle ropes combine both very effectively. Of course these won’t build the overall strength like a bench press would but endurance is equally important when developing strength for any sport.
To Do It: Position your feet hip-width apart with knees slightly bent, with chest elevated and eyes to the horizon. Begin to move the ropes up and down in a violent and controlled fashion. In this particular exercise, combine a “burpee” to increase the intensity.
Shake the ropes for 30 seconds and then drop into a burpee and then pop back up and continue with the ropes. Do this for up to 3 minutes.
Trap Bar Dead Lifts
Lower body strength is truly the base of any great athlete and trap bar dead lifts are a safe and effective movement for athletes of all levels, if done correctly. With this exercise, you’re actually getting a squatting movement without putting too much strain on the spine.
To Do It: Stand inside the bar with feet hip-width apart, toes pointed forward or just slightly outwards, either way the knee should always track directly over the second toe to keep proper knee alignment. With a flat back (this is where most of the problems occur with any lift so always be aware of this positioning) and eyes to the horizon or slightly up, lift the weight. The final part of the move is to drive your hips forward and return.
Perform this for 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps depending on weight.
TIP: This is something I tell my athletes: pretend you are pushing the earth down with your feet as opposed to lifting the weight with your hands. This does two things: 1). Keeps your position correct. 2). Gives you a mental advantage to lift a heavier weight. Bottom line, use proper form and be safe.
Seated Form Running
Sprinting is an excellent activity for anyone looking to lower body fat and increase cardiovascular conditioning. This exercise is used by athletes to tighten “form” in an effort to reduce “wasted motion” by focusing on arm position while sprinting.
To Do It: Sit on the track, field or floor with your feet directly in front of you. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees and “lock the L” in your arms throughout the duration of the movement. Rapidly move arms back and forth, as if you were running, and emphasize rotation at the shoulder. The purpose of sitting on the floor is to ensure you don’t extend at the lower arm. If your hand hits the floor you have “broken form” and need to adjust. By doing this you will eliminate excessive “cross body” arm movement, therefore increasing speed and effectiveness while sprinting.
Do this for 30 seconds for up to 4 sets with a 30 second break between sets.
Stand Tall and Fall
The purpose of this drill is to ensure the athlete has a “forward lean” at the start of the sprint to help increase explosion and efficiency.
To Do It: Stand on a line and go up on toes, slowly lean forward to the point you are falling forward and then take off, opposite arm/opposite leg. Sprint at half to three-quarters speed for up to 30 yards, walk back and repeat.
Do this four times.
Hi Knee Jumps
This exercise is designed to increase explosive power and is great for the glutes.
To Do It: The idea is to drive one knee up and high while exploding off the other foot. Use the same form as in running but obviously the form is exaggerated to create a plyometric movement. The idea is to explode as high as you can, not forward.
Perform these for up to 40 yards, walk back and repeat six times. MS&F