News & Events

How Do You Define An Athlete? It’s Not What You Think

Without fail, it happens about once every couple of weeks.  I meet a new patient and one of the first things they say is “I am not sure why my physician recommended me to come here. I am not an athlete.”
As the conversation progresses, the patient tells me about how they go to the gym and work out 3-4 times a week and how during the summer they regularly play in a golf league.  But, you’re not an athlete? I think maybe you are.
In this blog, I will explain three reasons why you fit our definition of being an athlete. 

Two men playing paddle tennis in wide angle shot image

I get it.  Normally, when we think about an “athlete”, we think about someone who participates in organized sports, are between the ages of 12-22 years old, or are paid, professional athletes.  
But what about the police officer who (injured his back on duty as a patrol officer) is on patrol?  
What about the (mother of three who is ready to get back to her pre-children fitness level to keep up with her family) stay at home mom who works out regularly at the nearby gym?  
How about the guy who can get a senior discount at most restaurants but lives to play tennis with his buddies three times a week?  
Or how about me? A 41-year-old (at the time of this writing) who enjoys working out a couple times a week, plays men’s league hockey, and has frequent wrestling matches with his kids?
In my eyes, everyone listed is an “athlete”.
Being an athlete is not defined by our age or whether we are in organized sports.  It is a mindset. It is a mindset that you want to perform at your optimal level, regardless of where you are in the cycle of life.
Every single person, traditional athlete or not, is on a performance continuum.

On one side of the continuum you have an injury or pain that is limiting your function and performance.  On the other end of the continuum is when you are feeling great and you are physically performing everything in life you desire to do.

How high your continuum reaches might vary compared to someone else, but you are still somewhere on it.  
I founded Athletes’ Training Center Sports Performance & Physical Therapy with that continuum in mind so that we had solutions for anyone who wanted to shift their place on the continuum to the far right. We don’t just see professional athletes or 12 to 22 year old athletes who are in organized sports.
We see so many more “athletes.”
Here are 3 easy ways to know if you are our kind of athlete:

1. You value feeling good and performing at your best 

2. You want to be challenged in a way that helps you reach your best

3. You want an environment where like-minded people come striving to get better
Help us continue to be the destination where athletes and their families could turn to get unmatched rehabilitative care, training, and service by commenting below in our feed or sharing this link with a fellow athlete. 
Thanks for reading! 
Written By: Travis Manners, PT, SCS, CSCS, President and Founder 

Featured Success Story – Donald Chamberlain

Meet Donald. He’s 38, a basketball player, an avid shoe enthusiast, works three part-time jobs and is committed to reaching his fitness goals. 

Donald’s Story

Donald, how did you hear about Athletes’ Training Center?
“I saw a commercial while I was at work and I was convinced this was the place to help me reach my goals. At the time I was playing on an all Native-American traveling, basketball team. I wanted to improve my vertical, get stronger, quicker and improve my stamina. I came in for a free trial, met my coaches and after that, I was hooked and came to workout three days a week for 23 straight months.
Then, I took a 7-year break and really didn’t do anything fitness wise.
And with 7 years of not doing anything, I started to notice a decline with my strength. That’s when I knew that I had to start back up with my fitness routine again, and I knew just where I wanted to go.”
Can you tell us about where do you work?
Currently, I work 3 part-time jobs at Chesterman Company (Coca-Cola), UPS and the Cheesecake Factory. I am called a sweeper at UPS where I throw up 50-150 lbs of materials. I have really noticed a difference with my strength there. 
What goals do you have set for yourself?
Currently, I am working toward squatting 500 lbs, improving my 10-yard dash and benching 300 lbs. I’m a very committed person, so once I have my mind set towards something I have to achieve it. 
What do you want people to take away from your story? 
“I’d say for anyone who is thinking about working out and making a positive change with their fitness routine, you just have to get started.  There are days where I don’t want to come in, I really dread it. But, that feeling once I am done with the workout – it is simply rewarding. When I wake up the next morning sore I knew it was worth it. It’s tough, it is a lot of work, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without challenging myself and by working with the coaches at Athletes’ Training Center.
Now fitness is a part of my life again. I passed my 500th workout session at Athletes’ Training Center! I couldn’t do what I loved without getting back in shape. Fitness is just a part of my life now and it’s been rewarding. 
We have had the pleasure of working with Donald for the past year and a half. In that time he has reached the milestone of accomplishing 500 workouts. Today, he is still working towards his 500 lb squat goal and his bench goal of 300 lb.  
Donald is committed to staying healthy and wants to continue to get stronger.

How To: Perform Your Best All Season Long – Benefit 1

We can all probably imagine what an off season training program looks and sounds like. It is probably something like this scenario:

You walk into your training facility and you are greeted with the familiar sound of weights clanging off of platforms and the ‘sweet’ smell of sweat in the air. You see someone in the corner desperately trying to catch their breath after setting a new personal best. All the while you can barely hear your own thoughts and the conversations of people talking around you because someone is blasting their favorite “pumped-up” Pandora station.

This scenario just comes with the territory of many off season training programs. Off season training programs are no secret to athletes and to sport coaches, but what about the benefits of in season training programs?

Today, we will reveal the 1st of 3 benefits of training while in season and why it is important to continue to train during this time.  

A well-disciplined, dedicated athlete has already conditioned their body to be ready for the season. But it never ceases to amaze us coaches that once their season starts the athletes suddenly stop their training programs all-together. It is understandable as their schedules fill-up with games and practices.

But as their season progresses, they start to notice that their muscles become sorer with each game and they begin to lose the advances they made during the off-season. Why is it that?

With all the work that athletes’ put in during the off season, it is assumed that everything that they worked on should carry them through their season, right? Unfortunately, it does not work that way.

Why In Season Training? 

During our in season programs we turn the intensity level down. An athlete should be able to devote at least two hours a week for in season training outside of their sport practices, just ask any Division 1 or professional athlete or coach. The answer to feeling and playing your best all season long, is to incorporate a strength and conditioning program!

With that in mind, let’s look at the first benefit of training while in- season. 

Benefit 1)

Maintain off season gains

During the off season, athletes are building valuable strength and power to improve their performance. It wouldn’t make sense to work so hard on your speed, power, and strength development during the months leading up to your season and then completely stop doing those exercises that gave you the advances you needed. 

That is why the goal of in season training is not to improve upon those adaptations, but rather to maintain them.

“Some strength, speed, and power abilities can decrease in as little as two to three weeks, so if you refrained from in-season training for months you will for sure fall behind your opponent later in the season.” – Trenton Clausen

Because of this, the length of sessions and exercise volume (number of repetitions performed) can be reduced. Perfect for the busy in-season athlete! 

As athletes and as performance coaches, we understand that it is difficult to know the right training program, frequency, and duration to continue performing at your best with training in-season. I would recommend that you find a strength and conditioning professional that knows exactly what to do and has experience training high level athletes during the in-season.

Stay tuned in the next few weeks as we reveal the 2nd and 3rd benefit for training in season. 

How To: Perform Your Best All Season Long – Benefits 2 & 3

Written By, Performance Coaches:

Trenton Clausen – MA, CSCS, USAW-L2SP, Director of Sports Performance
Mike Servais – CSCS, USAW-L1, Performance Coach
Gus Thiel BS, NASM-CPT, FMS-L1, Performance Coach 

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Offsetting the Negatives of Sports Specialization

Specializing in only one sport is becoming more and more popular among youth athletes. Some would call it an epidemic.

Parents are gravitating towards putting their kids in year-round practice in one sport with the hopes that their child will develop the necessary skills to gain a scholarship, professional contract, or simply be recognized for achievements in that particular sport.

Unfortunately, the side-effects of sports specialization are often overlooked by parents.

Specialization can lead to a number of negative outcomes for a child. The child will have more potential for injury due to over-training for one sport, or the child could suffer from a ‘burn out’ and not want to play the sport when they become older.

Parents fail to realize that multi-sport athletes tend to develop their athletic skills much better than single sport athletes. The diversification of movements needed between different sports helps a child become a well-rounded athlete. Participating in more than one sport will help a child achieve their full athletic potential.

How do we offset the negative effects that a child may succumb to if they are only exposed to one, year round sport?

The answer is Integrative Neuromuscular Training (INT). The child must perform basic strength training and multidirectional speed training exercises to help reach his or her full athletic potential. This will help diversify the child’s motor skill that may not develop if they are only exposed to a single sport year round.

A well-rounded Sports Peformance class can help negate the effects of sports specialization. It should also be noted that a child should never participate in sports for more hours a week than his or her age, and never over 16 hours regardless of age.

Following this rule will help reduce the number of over-training injuries that may occur. Our Sports Peformance athletic development focuses on meeting the goals of each athlete.

We accomplish this by utilizing a comprehensive evaluation to gain valuable information to develop a custom program that is progressed to meet the athlete’s specific goals.

In today’s competitive world, sports specialization may be unavoidable. Parents need to know that there are options out there to negate some of the negative effects of sports specialization.

Be involved and know the facts. Sports performance training may be the missing link in keeping an athlete on the field and off the training table.

Written By: Gus Thiel, Performance Coach BS, FMS-L1SP

Question: What are your thoughts on sports specialization. Do you have any questions for our Performance coaches?

The Ultimate Power Workout

Time To Train

The combination of medicine ball work and max-effort jumps will create that ridiculous power your are searching for! Plyometrics are drills performed with max-effort in order to increase power output and promote body control. At Athletes’ Training Center we use medicine ball drills and max-effort jumps to make these improvements. Let’s take a look at these two drills in action and see how they can dramatically benefit your workout session.



Medicine Ball Work

The medicine ball drills that we use consist of slams, tosses or throws aimed at teaching athletes how to produce force using their whole body as one kinetic chain. Here are two drills that we use to promote this concept.

medball slam2MB Overhead Slam

Athletes use a counter-movement to transfer energy from their lower body into their upper body and then into the slam. Notice the finishing position for this drill (pictured in the max-effort jump finish position below). More on this later!


medball start throwMB Rotational Throw –

Athletes load the ball to the back hip and then rotate to release the ball into the wall. If done properly, the athlete will feel a weight shift from their back hip into their front side. The releasing (upper body) and accepting (lower body) of force will allow for athletes to produce their maximum power.

Max-Effort Jumps

Max-effort jumps teach athletes how to produce force into the ground in a vertical or horizontal direction. Below are the proper starting and finishing positions when performing any type of max-effort jump.

jump2Start -The athlete starts with arms overhead and on the balls of their feet. (See the finish picture below).

Next, the athlete quickly loads their hips and hands back while keeping the chest up. The knees remain pointed straight ahead and the eyes remain forward.


– Upon landing, hips and hands go back while keeping the chest up. The knees remain pointed straight ahead and the eyes remain forward.The jump is landed as soft and quiet as possible.This is similar to the position right before the athlete jumps. It is also similar to the finish position of the MB Overhead Slam.

As mentioned in Achieving Great Speed is Not Just for Superheroes by Coach Trenton Clausen, force production is a key component of speed. The more force an athlete can produce into the ground, the higher/farther they will jump and the faster they will run. Also, performing plyometric drills will teach athletes how to properly absorb force and decelerate. Absorption of force is a key component in change of direction movement and lowers the risk of injury.

When performing plyometrics, proper body control must be developed before power can be increased. If an athlete does not have sufficient control, attempts to increase power will result in a breakdown in mechanics and ultimately, injury. Similar to a strength training exercise, athletes must master a plyometric movement before progressing to a movement that is more complex.

Written By: Mike Servais, CSCS, USAW-L1SP, Head Performance Coach – Papillion

Question: Do you know which sports are served well by the MB Rotational Throw with a medicine ball?


Listen up Seniors – Savor The Moment

With high school graduation season soon to be upon us and my 10-year high school reunion (the year or writing this blog) on the calendar for this year, I felt it was an appropriate time to think back to my transition from high school basketball to collegiate basketball.

I remember many emotions during this transition, but just to name a few…

  1. Excitement, to have made it to another level of competition.
  2. Nervousness to leave my parents and strike out on my own.
  3. Fear of failure.

I remember vividly the first day of basketball practice at UNK, mostly because it was a brutal wake up call to what college sports was going to entail. Within the first few minutes of practice I was utterly exhausted. And throughout the practice I was getting schooled by upperclassmen. I remember multiple days after that during my freshman year, just counting down the minutes to the end of practice. Is it over yet?

DunkThinking back on this now, it seems that time of my life flew by. I say this because the next vivid memory I have from my collegiate career was when I was a Senior. The first couple practices of my final season; it was my turn to deal out my own “reality checks” to the freshman.  Distinctively, I can remember wishing that time would simply slow down. I was hoping that every practice, every moment spent with my teammates and that the season would just last forever. I was wishing the time would slow down because I knew sooner or later my athletic career was going to come to an end.

Looking back, if I could offer one piece of advice during this time it would be to savor the moment. At that time in my life, I was constantly looking forward to the next big event: high school graduation, the first day of college, the first day of practice, the first college game, and so on. The days in-between I always wanted them to go by as quickly as possible. Now, as I am a little older and debatably a little wiser I realize that time ALWAYS moves quickly and if you don’t enjoy every moment it will speed by before you know it.

This is the time in your life where you will develop many life-long friendships and will learn many lessons, which will serve you for the rest of your life. So get out there and savor every moment, because before you know it you will be in my place and wishing you could go back and experience those moments one more time!

Written By: Josiah Parker, PT, DPT

Question: Seniors, do you have any questions about collegiate sports or preparing for college?

9 Signs your Athlete is Being Over-Trained

Are We Missing the mark as Parents and Coaches?

I have the great fortune to be around sports every day.  Professionally I work with young, injured athletes and help them get back to competing with their teams again.  Personally, I have a young son who has started the process of playing organized sports.  Being a physical therapist for many years, I am in a unique position where I have contact with a variety of different people and organizations that are involved in a vast spectrum of sports all across Omaha.


Because of this I get to hear about what teams are doing for practices and games. I receive newsletters on what my son’s organization is up to. I coach and collaborate with other coaches across multiple organizations. And I get to see first-hand, the intention of the coaches and organizations to make kids better at that respective sport.

But, I have to admit at times I find myself wondering if sometimes we as parents, coaches, and organizations get so caught up in helping and motivating our kids to become better athletes that we miss the mark in what they need from a health perspective at their young age. 

To illustrate why these thoughts have come about, let me give you some examples.  Recently, I was speaking with a dad who was telling me about the great success his son’s U9 baseball team had that season.  I do not remember their exact record but it was something like 56-7.  My first thought like probably everyone else was, “wow, those kids crushed it this year!”  But then it struck me, these are only 8 and 9 years old kids, and they just played 60+ games of baseball.  Not only did they play 60+ games of baseball, they also practiced a couple times every week beginning months before their first game even started. I have no doubt in my mind these kids improved their baseball skills,  but I have to wonder if practicing for that length of time and playing that many games was the best thing for a group of kids that age.

The second example comes from a conversation I had with a 13 year old injured athlete. We were in the clinic one day discussing all of the sports she was currently playing.  She was doing “off season” indoor soccer mixed with footwork for her select soccer team in addition to being “in season” with her select basketball team. She told me she was doing 3 or 4 90 minute practices a week along with playing multiple games between the two sports every weekend.  I get it she loves sports and being with her teammates.  But again, I wonder if her best interest was being served playing two select sports at the same time.  I have a hunch that she was over-doing it since she was sitting in my office hurt.

There is no research out there in the medical community that says for any certain age an athlete should play sports “X” number of hours a week. It is simply impossible to measure.  It honestly boils down to common sense.  In both examples, the athletes were being over-trained.  There were signs and symptoms of it happening that were not picked up on.

9 Common Signs and Symptoms of Over-Training.

1. Personality and Mood Changes – As the U9 dad said “my kid was an a*#hole for a month at the end of the year.”

2. Lack of Enthusiasm – especially toward the sport but could be toward general events as well

3. Increased Restlessness – kids not consistently waking up refreshed

4. Decreased Appetite and/or Undesired Weight Loss

5. Decreased Performance – increased mistakes, declined skillfulness in the sport, less speed or explosiveness

6. Worsening Performance in School – inability to concentrate, uncharacteristic mistakes

7. Decreased Immune System – seems to be getting sick more easily or can’t recover from minor illnesses

8. Persistent Muscle and Joint Soreness – Don’t be fooled, there is no such thing as growing pains

9. Increased Injuries – often growth plate injuries, but can be muscle, tendon, or ligament injuries

Youth sport seasons are getting longer and more compact.  On top of that, our kids want to play multiple sports; but in doing so their sport seasons tend to overlap more.  And now here we are, heading down a path where our young athletes have little to no break and they can’t physically, mentally, or emotionally recharge.  I can tell you from professional experience, over-training is a reality in our community.  Look for these signs to help you know if your young athlete is at risk.

Written by, Travis Manners Owner – PT, SCS, CSCS

Question: As a parent, what steps can you take to make sure you’re catching these 9 signs?

Jennie A., Collegiate Track & Field Athlete

Athletes’ Training Center has worked to specialize workouts to fit my athletic needs. The strength coaches have a one on one personal connection to fix minor details that have had a major impact on my athletic performance.