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Training the Multisport Athlete

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Submitted By kyledeweese
Words 990
Pages 4
The article discusses the issues that the majority of high school coaches have to deal with on a regular basis – how to train a multi-sport athlete? Many high school athletes participate in more than one sport, with some participating all three seasons, leaving coaches with the dilemma for how to incorporate strength and conditioning program for the athlete.
One of the first issues the author discusses is the need for coaches to cooperate with one another. Every coach thinks that their particular sport is the most important, but they need to develop an overall strength and conditioning program that enhances the overall athlete ability of all athletes. It is also important not only for sport specific training, but also strength training for its benefits of improved muscular endurance and injury prevention.
The second issue is techniques that must be adjusted for increased strength levels. Techniques that are sport specific must be adjusted as strength levels increase. Ideally, these techniques can be adjusted early in the season as most strength programs should have been started two to three months before the competitive season begins. Arguably the most critical factor in training the multi-sport athlete is time. Finding time specifically for strength training, rather than sport specific technique (wrestling – double leg). Some of the most popular times for strength training are: before school, during physical education class/electives, before practice and after practice. Each one of these periods of time has their own strengths and weaknesses.
After deciding when the best time for strength training, the coach must then decide how to schedule workouts. This is where the coach needs to be extremely educated on strength training and periodization techniques that allow for different phases during the season. The coach must factor in practices, competitions and holidays (planned days off). They must also decide how many days a week two days versus three and what type of exercises will make up the training program.
Summer strength training is also discussed. The author notes that this is probably when most athletes can make the most gains. In many cases this is the only time the athlete can focus strictly on strength training. A good summer program should set a good base for the athlete that carries them through the following school year.
The strength gains made during the summer should try and be maintained throughout each season during the school year. Keeping those gains requires at least a two day a week strength program; along with exercises that stress multi-joint movements/core lifts (power clean, snatch, bench press, squat, push press, etc…). Application: As a coach you have to look at the overall end state for the athlete and your school’s athletic program. When I design a strength and conditioning program for my wrestlers, I not only want to improve them as wrestlers but also as overall athletes (this really helps the all the multi-sport athlete’s, but in particular the football players). This requires that ALL coaches have the same philosophy, for overall athletic program development.
When does a coach schedule strength training sessions? There are many factors that go into deciding; when is the optimal time for strength training? Before school is a really popular choice. The athletes can concentrate on strength training, and they are fresh. Drawbacks are waking up early, working out, and still have to go through the regular school day and practice. Another popular choice is right after practice. Coaches can dedicate an hour after practice for strength training. Lifting after practice might not allow for the athlete to get much out of the strength session because of energy exerted during practice. An athlete might just be too tired to get anything positive out of a training session after practice. An alternative to both of these times, are many schools are starting to offer strength training as an elective for Physical Education courses. This alternative has several positives: (1) an athlete can get a physical education credit for strength training (2) solves the dilemma of training before school or after practice (3) allows the student to get adequate rest – sleep before school and get home earlier to study/socialize and get to bed. One of the drawbacks is that coaches usually like to be present during workouts and instead they have to trust the physical education instructor is implementing the program correctly.
As a coach I schedule strength training throughout the entire season (along with Post-season, Off-season and Pre-season). This gets more into periodization of strength and conditioning workouts, which can be discussed in more detail at another time. The actual in-season program is broken down into different phases; with a pre-competition phase, competition phase I, recovery phase (holiday break), competition phase II, and peaking phase. The strength training is different in each phase and switches from three days a week during the pre-competition phase, to two days a week during the competition phase I and II. Volume, intensity, duration and specific exercises are determined by each individual phase. The program in general will be beneficial to both the seasonal and year round athlete who plays multiple sports.
I strongly agree with the article that most significant strength gains should/can be made during the summer months. Many coaches have strength training programs specifically for the summer, and have the weight room available for use several times a week. The summer is a great time for athlete’s to focus on strength training with little or no distractions (school, homework, etc…). This is also a great time to incorporate team building activities and cross training to break up the routine every once in a while.
Many coaches at the school I work at share the same philosophy and make it a very good environment for athletes to get stronger. All the coaches share the same strength training philosophy, which helps the multi-sport athlete develop their athletic potential.

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