1. We're working on perfecting the Olympic lifts to take advantage of the potential power benefits associated. Quality pulling and catching. Making sure it starts right and ends right.
2. Getting athletes to continually progress towards heavier and heavier loads in overhead, front, and back squats. Teaching the importance of a controlled descend/eccentric and an extremely powerful and fast ascend/concentric. Focus on lots of lateral heel pressure throughout, knee alighment and hip drive, great depth with great spine posture. There's only one way to squat: right.
3. Utilizing some real posterior chain movements; deadlifts with an RDL pattern for returning the bar to the ground. RDL's of course. 'Old-school' straight-leg hip extensions off the glute-ham with again controlled eccentric with an explosive concentric movement, making sure athletes are moving precisely at the hips. Eccentric glute-hams (3-4 second), used at the end of the week to allow for the longest recovery before the next microcycle of training. Heavy kettlebell swings done with minimal knee flexion and focus on powerful hip drive/snap.
4. Weighted chin-ups, pull-ups (all variations), and push-ups. Again, controlled eccentric with a powerful concentric. Spine posture is paramount in the push-ups with maintaining a subtle, slight posterior tilt of the pelvis to keep the anterior torso 'engaged', good hand positioning (under the shoulders, touching the chest to the ground with full 'extension' at the top. Head position stays in 'neutral' throughout. For the chin-ups: NO 'air' bicycles. legs motionless, full 'extension' at the bottom, chest to the bar... EVERY rep. Last rep is always finished with a very focused and controlled eccentric.
5. Balanced dose of single-leg work. Lunging of many sorts, but mostly reverse lunging. Back-loaded, front-loaded, overhead barbell lunging. Maintain as vertical spine throughout all forms of lunging so as to keep the glutes "interested" in helping with the movement. Making sure the lunging is hip led and not knee led. Same as usual: controlled eccentric (big step), and fast, powerful concentric. Making sure our trail-leg knee "kisses" the floor on every rep (even if the front foot is elevated). I tell the athletes that the trail leg is only for balance; 90% of the load needs to be on the lateral aspect of the front heel.
6. Sprinting. We sprint a lot. Maintain proper eye gaze on the acceleration aspect, proper head/neck position (in line with the spine). Powerful arm action; front to back motion. Correct foot interaction with the ground, staying on the forefoot, making sure the foot strike is under the hip at top speed. Keeping nice, tall, relaxed posture throughout. Making sure we are actually running fast when we do run (times).
7. Agility. Change of direction, similar foot interactions with the ground. Teaching athletic positioning using the hips for power. Soft, but violent feet. Get the toes and hips pointed where you want to go.
8. Developing the ability of the athletes to jump well, high and far and to land those jumps with cat-like precision and ability to be able to "live" to jump and play another day. "Catching the ground".
9. Conditioning. Whether it be running of different sorts or circuits. Getting athletes the necessary work capacity to handle not only the demands of their sport but the practices that the different sport coaches run.
9. Really, much of my job, especially the younger athletes, is teaching them how to train. How to approach each set, rep, drill; focused, quality effort. Technique. How to lift weights with purpose. How to "own" the loads being used. How to spot their teammates. How to get strong, how to conditioning, how to run fast, how to jump high, how to control movements, how to do everything we do in training.
Why we do the things we do. Teaching the "science" of training. Basic stuff, but necessary for the athlete. Teaching them how to recruit more motor units, what targets fast-twitch fibers, what targets what energy systems. This helps create a "sense of purpose" with what we are doing.
Education on lifestyle skills. Why and how these can effect their performance in not only athletics, but school and life. Developing the relationships to get athletes to comply to these lifestyle skills and to be able to honestly discuss their "downfalls".
Attitude. The attitude it takes to get strong, fast, explosive, quick, etc.
Commitment and discipline. Committing to being great at a few things and not average at many. Having the discipline to do the things necessary to maintain that commitment. Right now, for many of the athletes I coach, it's sleep and limiting and/or eliminating the negative nutritional intakes (processed food and alcohol).
As the coach it's important for me to stress these things EVERY day, not just once in a while. Learning is on-going and repetition is so very important. And more importantly, it's necessary for me to do my best to demonstrate the things I am trying to teach. It's easy to talk the talk, but walking the walk is the way to teach the lessons. It seems we live in a culture of ever-increasing talk, and less and less walking. Words are great, but action gets it done. Simple, but not easy. Easy sucks.
Well, this post turned into something longer than I was planning to spend time on. What this whole training thing comes down to though, is that it's a process. The process doesn't happen over night, or even months and sometimes in 1 year; it takes years. I try to get the athletes to "buy-in" to this process and find the enjoyment in it. It's about continual striving for perfection. Perfection is impossible, but having that ideal gets one heading in the right direction.
... and to honor one of my heroes and mentors, whose birthday was yesterday:
"The journey is better than the inn."
"Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming."
-the late Coach John Wooden, who would have turned 100 yesterday.