This is an alternative way to do back extensions if a back extension device in unavailable. A bench could be used also.
If you are training at home, here is an inexpensive piece of equipment that allows you to do chin ups.
Double Leg Bridge
Iso Back Extension
Iso Counter Balance Squat
Iso Chin Up Hold
Iso Standard Lunge
Iso Push Up
- M-W-F Lift during Class, T-TH Change of Direction and Acceleration Development During Class
- Club Team Practice two to three time per week
- Club change of direction and speed work two times per week before practice
- Tournaments on the weekends
- M-W-F Lift during Class, T-TH (Free Time/Recovery—altered change of direction due to their schedule)
- After school Varsity Practice M-TH
- Evening Club Team practice three time per week
- Club change of direction and speed work two time per week before practice
- Tournaments on the weekends
- M-T-TH Lift
- Varsity Practice M-T-TH
- Club Practice three days per week
- Club Tournaments
- Club Sand Volleyball Tournaments
- Athletic Position
- Dynamic Movements (walking toe touches, skips, shuffles)
- Body Weight Strength Movements (Lunges, Push Ups, etc.)
- Monday—5 Drills
- Thursday—5 Drills
- Flag Football
- Ultimate Frisbee
- Tag Games
Eric Cash, MS, SCCC
Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Dorman High School
As a young head strength coach in January 2007, I was under the impression that all athletes are ready for the demands and expectations of college strength and conditioning programs. The truth is, a large number of upperclassmen college athletes, while accepting the so called “grind,” are never ready for the initial demands and expectations from sport coaches, professors, and strength and conditioning coaches. When I began training my first crop of freshmen athletes in the summer of 2007, I quickly realized they are vastly different from upperclassmen in their maturity, training knowledge, and training experience. The way I was training my young athletes was not sound and after visiting Joe Kenn at Arizona State in the fall of ’07, the solution was Block Zero.
What is Block Zero?
As I have come to understand Block Zero, it is a systematic approach that safely develops and integrates athletes into a training program; it helps them prepare for the physical demands of sport. Block Zero takes into account an athlete’s training age and assumes that all new athletes entering a training program have a training age of zero. While an athlete may have great experience in a previous training environment, when they are new to your program, their training age is zero. Placing all incoming athletes into a Block Zero program accomplishes five things:
1) Acclimatization into your program
2) Allows for a period of assessment and evaluation
3) Provides a conducive teaching environment for proper technique instruction
4) Injury prevention through evaluation and technique instruction
5) Increased comprehension of application to sport and training
Where to Start
While there are many similarities in strength and conditioning programs across the country, most strength programs are unique and are a result of hard work and dedication from strength and conditioning staffs. Like any program, methods and philosophies adapt over time and from coach to coach but the underlying principles remain the same. Take the adage “Bigger, Faster, and Stronger,” for example. Most power and power-endurance sport coaches want their athletes bigger, faster, and stronger, so strength and conditioning coaches write programs with this ideology in mind. While one coach may use the Olympic lifts, another coach may use the power lifts, but both are training for the same purpose—Bigger, Faster, Stronger.
The same can be said with young athlete developmental programs. All strength and conditioning professionals would like to develop their athletes from year one to year four or five. In the high school realm, a strength coach can have athletes from 6th or 7th grade until they graduate as seniors Within your youth athlete development program, where do you start? How do you decide what to include in your program?
When developing programs for the young athlete, we first have to realize that incoming freshmen college athletes and young adolescent athletes are different from upperclassmen. They are generally immature, younger in training age, and have major differences in their physical development. So can we ask our young athletes to train at the same volume, intensity and tempo as our older athletes? Can we ask them to train the same exercises? The answer is no. Strength coaches have to adapt their current programming to meet the needs of young athletes; think basic.
Another realization for strength coaches to consider is the idea of sport specialization. When a college freshmen or high school freshmen athlete walks into the weight room, there is a great possibility they have only been involved with one sport for numerous years. With the arrival of AAU teams and travel ball, sport specialization is at an all time high. Young kids rarely have time to be involved in a strength and conditioning program, much less other sports or recreational free play. The multi-sport athlete and backyard football are becoming a thing of the past. For strength professionals, we have to start with the basics when they walk through the doors. In Block Zero, the starting point is the Athletic Position.
When developing strength programs, many variables are placed under consideration: time of year, progressions, loads, frequency, etc. Young athlete programs should be held under the same scrutiny. We have to consider how we want our young athletes to progress to and create the road map to get there. Following Tier System principles from year one to year four or five necessitates starting with the athletic position. Mastery of the athletic position allows athletes to comprehend how it relates to weight room activities and the field of play.
An athlete that understands how to set his/her hips, maintain a tight upper back, arched lower back, and lock their chest angle in over their knees is well on his/her way to understanding proper starting position on RDL’s, hang cleans, squatting and putting into place the proper mechanics for jumping and landing. From the athletic position, athletes learn to apply force from heel to toe and absorb force from toe to heel. An athlete’s understanding of proper force application and force absorption reinforces knee tracking with the toes (correction of valgus knee) and allows for greater force production which can transfer to the field of play.
In conclusion, Block Zero accounts for lack of training experience and knowledge. By placing an emphasis on the athletic position, strength coaches are preparing athletes for the physical demands in the weight room which will bridge the gap with sport specific demands.
Big House Power Staff Note:
In upcoming material, Coach Cash will be expanding on the importance of the athletic position. He will be covering jumping and landing mechanics and the importance proper mechanics play in need injury prevention, especially females. Other athletic position topics will include mastery of the athletic position and how it leads into change of direction and how the athletic position leads to proper posterior chain development.
Athletic Position Drill
Before Beginning please refer to (Don’t) Assume the Athletic Position article. This work should be done before starting mobility Quarter 1.
Athletic Position to Squat
Athletic Position to Adduction-Abduction
Athletic Position to Lateral Lunge
Athletic Position to Good Morning
3 Position Deadlift – Conventional – Frog/Modified – Sumo
Overhead Pull to Press
Block Zero Bullet Points
Kenn, J (2009). How to Prepare Your Athletes for Collegiate and NFL Weight Programs. American Football Monthly. 15(9).
What suggestions would you give to high school strength coaches to prepare their athletes for collegiate strength programs?
Joe Kenn MA MSCC CSCS*D
In an era where physical fitness is at an all time low, I feel it is imperative that coaches at the high school level understand they are not getting the same type of athletes coaches worked with decades before. With the de-emphasis of general physical education at the elementary and middle school levels we are seeing an alarming rate of youth obesity and lack of general “play”. The roles of unorganized after school play or pickup games where the kids are active are rarely seen in most communities. Almost all sport is played in some type of organized fashion and specialization of sport has become common place.
With that being said, I believe the following issues must be addressed to secure the overall health of the athlete throughout his sport career regardless of longevity. These 4 Bullet Points are the foundation of our incoming athletes program – BLOCK ZERO.
1. Don’t Assume the Athletic Position!
We use the term athletic position as it relates to the basic fundamental “stance” in competitive sports. In football it is easily referred to as the Linebacker stance. Coaches beware, many of the athletes we see cannot get into this position naturally. It must be taught even to the most gifted players. Generally we see three positions when we train the athletic position, A – knee bender [knees pushed forward, heels off the ground, hips still in full extension], B – waist bender [bent over at the waist, chest down, knees extended], C – hip and knee bender [athlete naturally can assume a basic quarter squat position]. Obviously “C” is the goal for each athlete.
2. Mobility and Stability
As we build off the Athletic Position, our athletes go through a series of mobility drills [similar to a basic running session prep work] and stability drills [isometric and quasi isometric holds, planks] to increase dynamic flexibility as well as kinesthetic awareness, balance, coordination, and core strength.
3. Internal Resistance over External Resistance
We consistently are seeing more shoulder and low back injuries from our incoming athletes. We feel this is because most of these athletes are being asked to perform movements with external loads with a disregard to their ability to handle internal loading or “relative/gymnastics” strength. This is the ability to perform movements with efficient technique with their own bodyweight. How can we expect a 300 pound high school lineman to squat 500 pounds when he cannot perform a bodyweight squat to parallel? How can we expect him to bench press 400 when he cannot perform a quality push up or dead hang chin up? Creating a relative strength circuit to develop proper movement qualities, full range of motion, and overall strength are critical abilities in establishing future technique success.
4. Exercise Technique
The more efficiently an athlete can move a resistance the greater the transfer ability to athleticism. It is extremely important to “slow cook” your athletes. Take the time to establish your teaching progressions for your foundation lifts and cycle these movements through a carefully organized plan. We must also teach them proper running, jumping, and landing mechanics realizing that most of these athletes have not experienced “jumping out of trees”. We are constantly talking to our athletes about applying force into the ground but, we must also teach them how to absorb force [landing]. Ask yourself this question, how important is it really for a 9th or 10th grader to post weight room numbers in their overall development? You will have these athletes for 4 years.
In closing we must remember as performance coaches that our athletes are football players first and foremost and that we are here to service them and give them the tools to become successful athletes and improve the general physical fitness and athletic attributes. Their sport coaches in particular their position coaches will give them the specific skills required to achieve success on the playing field.
Hiring a Performance Coach for Your Child – Questions Every Parent Should Consider
Adolescent athletic overuse injuries are at an all time high because adolescent parents are pushing at an earlier age for their children to be the next prodigy. Orthopedic surgeons have suggested that the increase in overuse injuries is a direct relationship to children beginning vigorous training programs at a physical demand greater than the development of the skeletal and muscular systems.
Most young athletes are not prepared for the vigorous training & athleticism most strength and conditioning programs demand. Unrealistic sports goals and aspirations can lead to increased burn out at early ages. When this happens, young athletes become disillusioned with organized sports and often incur chronic injuries.
As we all wish we had the next child prodigy, the truth is most of our children’s athletic careers will end at the high school level or sooner. Parents need to take a hard look at their children’s motivation as well as their own before making critical decisions on behalf of their child’s sports career.
Here are five major questions each parents should ask before deciding to begin organized training with their children.
IS YOUR CHILD READY?
Establishing a Sufficient Base
Most children begin organized sports at an early age prior to establishing a “General Physical Fitness” base such as BLOCK ZERO. Every parent should determine their own child’s fitness level before thrusting them into community and traveling sports teams. When this happens, children wind up learning “specific sports skills” before “general athletic skills”. It is important for children to learn basic sports skills because of the de-emphasis on physical education in most elementary schools.
What can you do?
- First and foremost promote free play. Free play is critical because it is during these moments that children learn balance, agility, competitiveness, confidence, and leadership. Free play helps establish general athletic skills that are the same most parents are paying for in private training centers across the country.
- Evaluate your child’s activity level. If he/she is constantly outside playing with friends or even alone, then you know they enjoy general physical activities. Free play is a good indicator as to if your child will enjoy organized sports.
- Have an open dialogue with your child. If she is begging to play soccer, she probably wants to play and will enjoy it. Ask your child if they want to participate in sports and certainly encourage outside activities over indoor television, computer or video gaming.
What Age to Start?
Assuming your family doctor has cleared your child to participate in sports activities, you can consider these suggestions for a basic starting age.
* I recommend a minimum age of twelve years old depending on the maturity level of your child. I have two sons who both train with me. My oldest son started organized training when he was thirteen years old and my youngest son when he was twelve and a half. Since girls mature earlier than boys they may be able to start slightly earlier
* Some sports, such as gymnastics and martial arts require and teach a tremendous amount of flexibility, agility, and ability to handle bodyweight. Therefore, I highly recommend an orthopedic and family practice doctor’s opinion when making this decision.
How to Begin?
At Big House Power we recommend our BLOCK ZERO Level 1 program. It factors in 3 of the major physical fitness abilities; mobility, stabilization, and relative strength that are tremendous building block for the more advanced training that lies ahead.
Will You Join Them?
Whether you are a competitive athlete or a weekend warrior you can begin an in-home training program with your child. Most of the drills recommended in the Big House Power BLOCK ZERO Level 1 Program can be done with minimal equipment at your house. Starting an in-home training program is a great way to build a relationship with your child. Ensure you foster a training atmosphere of encouragement and positivity and your child’s confidence and abilities will grow.
How Long Should a Session be in Duration?
This may depend on the intrinsic motivation level of your child. I started training my twelve year old, 2 sessions per week, each session 30 minutes in duration. Due to his high motivation level, I increased his training to 3-40 minute sessions per week. As motivated children begin to see improvement they will ask for more training on their own. Allow your child to dictate his/her training frequency. This will create a sense of ownership to the training program as well as an increase in motivation and self-confidence levels. When a child comes to you and says, “let’s train” you know that the program has had a positive influence on not just the physical but the mental development also.
For an example, my twelve year old has taken it upon himself to do extra training on his own. He has incorporated his own sense of fun by performing a pushup on each stair as he ascends to go to his room each night. This has the added benefit/s of improving upper body strength and in a small way promoting free play. He tells me sometimes he does every step sometimes every other step. He is making the rules of the game, which gives him ownership in his physical development. Most importantly he doesn’t see it as work!
I believe that the 12-14-age bracket should train no more than 3 sessions a week, with a maximum of 60 minutes per training session. A typical training session lasts between 20- 60 minutes. After 60 minutes depending on the conditioning level of an athlete fatigue generally sets in and most work from here is a marginal effort at best. Implementing a basic Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule allows ample time between workouts. 48-72 hours between training sessions is adequate rest for the body to recover between sessions. Also, it gives them more time to FREE PLAY.
If your child wants more – PROMOTE FREE PLAY!!!!
Hiring a Sports Trainer and Evaluating the Training Program?
How do you know it’s time? If you have started a Block Zero Level 1 program at home and your child has advanced to a point where he/she needs professional attention or he/she may have natural gifts that mean the slow cooking process can be slightly speeded up, then I recommend doing a thorough research analysis on training centers in your area and the individuals who operate and coach there.
You are now at the point that you feel it is necessary to join a facility. It is your parental right to ask questions when choosing a training facility and a training program. Even though your child is chomping at the bit a pre teen or early teenage has no clue what to ask. Ask the coach if you can watch and evaluate the training session. If the answer is NO, look for a different coach.
I believe in the slow cooking process. Take things very slow and build upon each drill in to complex action. I also believe in learning how to control and be aware of your own body’s, movement. If you see the group performing loaded exercises [lifting weights] or doing what you may term as fancy drills I would question that. You cannot ask a young athlete to perform loaded movements without them being prepared by being able to do the same movement pattern without a load [their own bodyweight].
Hopefully, this gives you a enough to think about when the time comes for you to take the next or maybe the first step in your child’s athletic career.
Questions, comments, start a discussion – head to the parent’s or open forum.