How to Prep your Youth Athletes for the Spring Season
Even though we are only a month into Winter, Spring will be here before we know. If you are a Spring sport athlete, the preparation for your season should begin 6-8 weeks before your first full practice. That date typically falls somewhere around mid January. While there is no replacement for a well thought out exercise program designed specifically for athletic performance, there are some key areas you can focus on to help prepare for the upcoming season. Here is a breakdown of 2 important aspects that will help you prep for the Spring season:
A healthy set of shoulders may be the most important part of any spring sport. The majority of spring sports are either overhead sports or involve a heavy amount of shoulder activity. Two exercises stick out as vital to a healthy and strong shoulder complex: The double arm carry and the band wall slide.
To perform the double arm carry, simply grab two weights, one in each hand, and walk. Don’t allow the weights to touch your legs and keep as your posture as upright as possible. It may not feel like a whole lot is going on, but you are essentially performing a walking plank, working grip strength, and getting all the small rotator cuff muscles in your shoulder to fire.
To perform the Mini Band Wall Slide you’ll need a small loop band. Place it around your forearms and head to a wall. Place your forearms on the wall and stretch the band a bit. Slide your arms up, pushing from your shoulders and upper back, then back down again. This exercise works the necessary ability to protract your shoulder blades. In a healthy shoulder small muscles will fire and allow your shoulder blade to glide over your rib cage. When this does not happen we commonly end up with tennis elbow or other nagging arm injuries.
Defined as a reduction in speed or rate, this is usually the missing link to being considered “fast”. Coaches and trainers often focus too much on the acceleration portion of speed training. Think sprints, agility drills, or jump training. Everything done is focused on acceleration or force production. The ability to go fast or jump high is nothing without the ability to absorb and redirect force. Imagine having a fast car with brakes off a golf cart, it probably isn’t going to end well.
Perform these two very easy drills to work on deceleration: The Box Drop and an Up 2, Back 1 Cone Drill.
For the Box drop, start by standing on a 12 inch box. Hop off of the box and land on the ground with both feet contacting the ground at the same time. You should land in a ready position, accepting the force of the fall. A good way to know if you landed correctly is by freezing and asking if you were to jump from that position, would you have to move at all. If you decide yes, you aren’t bending enough.
The Up 2, Back 1 drill is a very simple one. Set up 3 cones in a straight line with about 5 yards between each cone. Start at cone 1 and sprint to cone 3. Once you near the cone begin to decelerate and at the cone reverse direction into a backpedal until you pass cone 2. Transition from the backpedal to a sprint back to cone 3. The focus should be placed on a smooth breakdown at cone 3 and an aggressive transition from backpedal to sprint. Drive your knees and extend as you transition into the sprint.
These drills and exercises are simple enough to implement on your own and will help to get you physically prepared for the spring season. If you are looking for further guidance and complete programming, consider one of our Sports Performance Institute programs or our upcoming Spring Camp!
Written By: Matt Pudvah
SPI Head Strength Coach