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.

5 Reasons to Prep For Football During Baseball

I got a great question from a parent the other day I wanted to share with you:
 
“What are your thoughts about strength and conditioning during baseball season to prepare my 14-year-old son for football?”  
 
I think every parent has an assumption about this topic that is either rooted from their personal experience as an athlete and what they were exposed to and/or what they have researched on the internet.   
 
What is your assumption?
 
The truth is, if your player is in a good program that is tailored to them, then strength training and conditioning can be powerful in helping their performance in-season on the field or court.  In breaking down this parent’s question as it pertained to her son, here are five reasons why I said “yes” he can and should be training.
 

football, baseball glove and baseball
5 Reasons to Train For Football During Baseball Season

 
1. Helping to maintain body weight
 
Often baseball players will lose weight over the course of a baseball season. Some of that weight will be water volume and some will be lean muscle tissue. Losing body weight via water or lean tissue loss will negatively affect performance.  A dehydrated and thinner body will not produce the same power and explosiveness as a healthy, hydrated body. This parent’s son will be transitioning right from baseball season into football. This transition time is not enough time to likely restore the body to where it was prior to baseball season.
 
2. Maintaining strength
 
Maintaining strength directly ties to the first point.  Strength training is the stimulus the body needs to continue to build lean muscle tissue and reverse the natural decline that happens when strength training is stopped.  Maintaining strength really is not the most accurate way to phrase it.  In reality, we are either gaining strength or losing strength.  For this parent’s son, to walk into a football season in the “losing strength” mode is not going to lead to the performance outcome he is looking for.
 
3. Helping the body adapt to football demands faster
 
Football and baseball are very different in their physical demands and athletes transitioning from baseball to football will have a shock to their bodies that they will have to overcome.  That shock comes from the lack of preparation of the specific physical intensity football creates.  An in-season program has the opportunity to progressively build the athlete’s body up to those more intense requirements without overtaxing them physically for their in-season sport.  This preparation will help the athlete adapt sooner, be less sore, and perform closer to top performance right away when football practice starts.
 
4. Preparing the athlete to get into “football shape”
 
The fitness demands in football easily exceed that of baseball.  In baseball, there could be upwards of a 1:20 work to rest ratio whereas in football the ratio is closer to 1:6.  In football, a 1-way player will have about 70 plays while in baseball there might be 30 balls put into play in a 9-inning game.  In football, a player will run twice as many plays with 70% less time between plays.  An in-season strength and conditioning program will help the athlete’s fitness to be gradually built up so they will be at or close to “football shape” when making the transition between sports.
 
5. In-season training should not affect your performance
 
The first goal of in-season training is to make sure the athlete can continue to perform when it matters at a high level.  An athlete cannot do that if they are sore. 
 

Soreness comes from inappropriate exercise selection, inappropriate progressions in volume and/or intensity, and an inability to recover from previous bodily stresses (which could be exercise or sports induced).   

 
In a youth baseball season the schedule can be erratic, so the in-season program has to be constructed in such a way that takes into consideration the weekly volume and intensity as well as game and practice schedules.  
 
If an athlete normally trains Monday and Wednesday and this week only has games on the weekend, then our volume and intensity could be a little more intensified as the athlete will have time to fully recover.  On the flip side, if a makeup game is scheduled for Tuesday then we know we need to have less volume and intensity Monday but on Wednesday we could amp it back up and focus on those key area needed to prep for football.  
 
In-season training is something that many parents and coaches tend to overlook the value in.  For a multi-sport athlete who goes from one in-season to the next, they inevitably will see a drop in performance.  
 
Remember, your athlete is either “gaining” or “loosing”. 
 
Written By: Travis Manners, PT, SCS, CSCS, Owner & Founder 

Shin Splits, How to Reduce Your Risk – 3 Strategies

I have two words for you.  Two words which give runners everywhere nightmares.  “Shin splints”. Most people are familiar with this diagnosis; and if you have had them before, you know that they are highly irritating!

In this blog, I want to talk about three strategies you can use to help reduce your risk of developing shin splints symptoms. 

1st: Buy a Good Pair of Running Shoes

Just like anything else shoes break down and need to be replaced. How often they need to be replaced depends on how far you are running in a week.

As a general rule of thumb, running shoes should be replaced every 300 to 500 miles, which means you can’t simply replace them once a year (if you are averaging 50 miles a week).

2nd: Slowly Ramp up Your Running Distance

Have a plan for building up your running distance. If you want to run a half-marathon this summer, but have not been putting in any miles during the winter, you should not start off running 30 miles a week.  You should instead begin by building up your walking tolerance, move to walk/run intervals, then build your running distance from there.

Going from spending most of your time sitting on the couch and binge-watching Netflix straight into hardcore run training is a sure fire way to end up with a case of shin splints.

3rd: Stretch Your Calf Muscles 

Finally, make sure you stretch out your calf muscles before and after your run. When stretching out your calves, it is important to ensure you stretch out both of the major muscles which reside there, your gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.

The gastrocnemius is stretched when your toes are pulled toward your head with your knee straight as this muscle spans across the knee. In order to stretch the soleus, you must have your knee bent as this muscle stops short of the knee.

soleus stretch

gastrocnemius stretch

 

Each of these three strategies can play an important roll in helping you to avoid shin splints and helping runners everywhere to get a better night’s sleep!

 

 

If you or someone you know is already dealing with this condition, then set up an appointment today to be seen by one of our physical therapists.  There are many strategies to help speed up recovery!

Written By: Josiah Parker, PT, DPT

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 


Join Our Blog List

Enjoy this blog post? 

Get blogs delivered to your email inbox every few weeks with topics relevant to: fitness, healthy living, nutrition, youth sports, best physical therapy practices and more!

Winter Block – Testing Results

Our athletes have been training hard with us these past 12 weeks during Winter Block and as a group they have seen major improvements
 
Winter Block 2017-2018 
“Average Improvements” 
*These stats are an average from all of our Jump Start and Total Performance athletes
 
Vertical Jump: + 1.6 inches
Overhead Medball Throw: + 1 feet 5 inches
Medball Shot Put Throw: 2 feet 2 inches
10 Yard Sprint: – .07 seconds
Pro Agility: – .14 seconds
300 Yard Shuttle: – 1.3 seconds
 
Top Athletic Improvements:
*These stats are from our top performing athletes from Winter Block
 
Vertical Jump: + 6.5 inches
Overhead Medball Throw: + 7 feet 4 inches
Medball Shot Put Throw: 12 feet 3 inches
10 Yard Sprint: – .38 seconds
Pro Agility: – .74 seconds
300 Yard Shuttle:  – 7 seconds
 

Wouldn’t you like to see these same results for your athlete? 

Our Spring Block begins February 12th!
 
Our athletic development programs focus 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.
 

At Athletes’ Training Center our athletic development programs offer the most comprehensive performance enhancement training in the Midwest.

  • We are the first and only facility in the area that integrates medical research and strength and conditioning research into all of our programs making injury reduction a top priority.
Learn More  about our programs. 

What Everybody Ought to Know About: Concussion Protocol Evolution

Around 2004, while the head athletic trainer at a Class A high school in Lincoln, NE, I had the good fortune of being part of a research study that was looking at the use of a computerized tool for assessing concussion. The name of the program was ANAM and it assessed things similar to what we know today as ImPact.  In watching football players take this test after sustaining a concussion and comparing it to their baseline, I started to notice something that made me sick to my stomach.

Kids were not recovering in the 7 day window which we used at the time as the standard for clearing them to play again after concussion.

Especially freshmen and sophomores.

Concussions Early 2000’s.

Dr. Lori Terryberry-Spohr, a phenomenal practitioner and researcher at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, was instrumental in helping me understand what this program was finding and why it was starting to concern me.   I was noticing athletes were still symptomatic even after returning to play.  They were struggling with quick and accurate decisions – which is something essential to playing sports effectively and safely.  I was starting to question how I was handling concussions and wondered if we needed to start doing things a little differently.  The other athletic trainers in my school district were wondering the same thing. 

I was starting to question how I was handling concussions and wondered if we needed to start doing things a little differently.  The other athletic trainers in my school district were wondering the same thing. 

 

At the same time, the national landscape was changing drastically in regards to managing concussions and in a very short amount of time we are where we are today.  No longer do we rate concussions in severity and no longer do we use a variety of grading scales that vary from liberal to conservative. You either have one or not.  Terms like bell rung, dingers, and stuns are not used any longer.

Concussions Today

All sorts of technology exists to aid athletic trainers and other sports medicine practitioners with concussion management.  There are state laws in place with the hope of protecting young athletes from continuing play after sustaining a concussion Nebraska LB 923.  Most importantly, we have much better approaches to return to play and now return to learn.

The more interesting point is all of this new information has streamed, really flooded, into mainstream media and the households of America.  Yet I still have to endure the verbal lashing from a parent when I explain why their athlete can’t finish the game and will probably be out for a minimum of 2 weeks. I still have to drum like the Energizer bunny advocating on behalf of the kid whose parents refuse to associate the decline in school with the concussion their athlete sustained months earlier.  I still have to read doctor’s notes clearing kids a day later.  

Yes, I said doctor.

I still have to drum like the Energizer bunny advocating on behalf of the kid whose parents refuse to associate the decline in school with the concussion their athlete sustained months earlier.

 

The good news is the greater majority of athletes, parents, and practitioners get it now and this has led to some really great multidisciplinary approaches to helping athletes recover from concussion.  A great example is the team of providers in Omaha that participate in Concussion Focus.  My colleague Josiah Parker leads that team.  He has immersed himself in knowledge and practice techniques to provide post-concussion physical therapy and for the small percentage of cases that don’t resolve normally he can make all the difference in the world for their recovery.

Obviously I did the best I could back then based on the information we had at hand.  I also feel extremely grateful the kids I sent back out did okay.  Today, though, I know so much more and am appreciative for all of the resources that exist for kids in relation to concussions.

Written By: Danielle Kleber, ATC Director of Marketing & Operations

Question:  Do you know which sport has the second highest incidence of concussion (next to football)?

Save

How to Pick the Right Physical Therapist

Today’s blog post comes at the request of my father.  My answer to him was to simply call his son! Unfortunately this strategy will not work for most of you reading this post, and the decision may seem daunting. 

It seems over the last 10 years a physical therapy clinic has popped up on every corner in Omaha and the surrounding communities, which gives you a plethora of options. Going with the closest clinic may sound convenient but also may not deliver the results you are looking for. Today, I want to share my thoughts on how to narrow down your search!

IMG_9199_smallerjpg

First and foremost,

I would talk to former patients and see what their stories are along with asking several questions.

  1. Did they return to their desired activities?
  2. How long did it take?
  3. Did they get along well with their therapist?
  4. Did the therapist make adjustments if the initial plan was not quite meeting the patient’s needs?

Each of these questions can reveal important information about your potential therapist and what better person to ask than someone who has already worked with that person.

Next, see if you can get along with that potential therapist!

Therapy at times can be a long process. If you are recovering from a serious surgery you may work with your therapist for 6 months or longer. 

Stopping at the clinic and spending five minutes talking to your potential therapist can help you see if your personality meshes well with that person and if you can see yourself putting up with that person for the long haul.

Finally, set up an initial evaluation. 

During that evaluation the therapist should:

  • do a thorough history of your injury
  • take the needed measurements to show deficits and track progress
  • develop a plan of care

At some point during your first appointment the therapist should explain the “why” behind their plan of care.  If they don’t volunteer this information then feel free to ask them.

If the therapist cannot satisfactorily answer this question then I personally would find someone else to treat me. If you don’t understand why you are completing your exercises then it will be very difficult for you to buy in and give 100 percent effort.

Once a therapist has passed all these tests you should feel comfortable that you have a good person on your team to guide your road to recovery!

If you are reading this to start your selection process then I encourage you to give us a try! Stop in with any questions or use our website contact form to send an email.

Written By: Josiah Parker, PT

10 Things We Treat Besides Shoulders

As anyone knows who has ever been in one of our clinics, our physical therapists including myself like to chat it up with our patients.  I feel like in the 9 years of Athletes’ Training Center being open I have talked with patients on just about every topic…many times over.  
 
Therefore, most things do not tend to catch me off guard.  However the other day during a conversation with a patient of mine, I heard something I was not prepared for.  
  
Without going into much detail, I have seen this patient and his wife for multiple problems including the one I am treating him for right now. However, about a year ago he did not come to Athletes’ Training Center after his knee replacement.
 
At first when I started seeing him recently for this new problem, I didn’t ask him where he went or why he went to a different rehab facility for his care. But for some reason, today seemed like the right day to ask.
 
 His response completely caught me off guard…
He said, “my surgeon told me that you guys just do shoulders and that I would be better served at his physical therapy clinic.”
 
 
I do not think I have been speechless since my wedding day, but I was at that moment. 
 
My mind was racing. Is this seriously how we are seen in the physician community and in the Omaha community? 
 
Hearing this news, I feel compelled to speak up and destroy this stigma.
But, I NEED your help in doing so. I will get to that part in a minute.
 
The truth is I do see how this surgeon could have thought all we see is shoulders. The fact is we do see a lot of shoulders (over 800 new cases last year) and our shoulder patients do amazing and that word travels. BUT we see so much more than just shoulders! 

 

Top 10 Things We Treat Besides Shoulders:

 

1. Knee Replacements

 
How could I start the list off any differently?  After all, it did motivate this blog.  

I completely understand that when people (physicians and community) see our name, they see “athlete” and think we treat 10 to 18 year old’s who play sports. Being an athlete is not an age. It’s a state of mind. Our knee replacement patients come because they know they aren’t going to be treated like some recliner loving geriatric.  We will challenge and push them to strive for new heights.  That’s being an “athlete”.

 

2. Lumbar Fusions

 
We are seeing a greater number of young adults (<40 years old) having lumbar fusions. 

 
I personally attribute a lot of this trend coming from bad lifting technique and coaching as young athletes which is then continued through into adulthood.  Our lumbar fusion patients are getting back to running, exercising and lifting weights with a great understanding of how to properly protect their spine for the rest of their life.

 

 

3. Tommy John Injuries and Reconstructions

This is the fastest growing epidemic in baseball throughout our country right now and Omaha is no different. 

Right now as I write this, we have 3 surgical reconstructions and 11 sprains hoping not to have surgery.  This injury and surgery is pretty specific to athletes who play sports like baseball and we know baseball.  On our staff, we have 5 people who played college baseball and 2 more that have consulted for Division 1 and/or professional teams. Having a team with that knowledge and knowing how to apply it makes our Tommy John patients know they will get better.
 

4. Post-Concussion Syndrome 

Concussions have been a hot button topic in sports at all levels but they also happen as frequently in car accidents and job site injuries. 

Most people do not realize that prolonged concussion symptoms can be treated in a specific rehabilitation program.  This is our fastest growing service and I attribute that to the revolutionary results we have been getting through our program. Learn more about our rehabilitation concussion program here. 
 

 

 

5. ACL Reconstructions

ACL injuries have been around and will be around as long as people continue to be active in life or sports. 

Coming back from this surgery may be one of the longest and most arduous processes.  Having a facility that allows patients to sprint, decelerate, cut, and jump has been immensely helpful in getting our patients back safely. Learn more about our ACL bridge program. 
 
  

 

6. Foot and Ankle Injuries

 

Jones fractures, ankle sprains, Lisfranc injuries, lateral ligament reconstructions, high ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, and turf toe are injuries we rehabilitate on a regular basis.  Having a properly functioning foot and ankle is pivotal for our patients to get back to physical activity, recreational or competitive.
 
 
  

7. Hip pain

 
Hip pain does not discriminate on age.  We have see hip pain in kids as young as 10 years old and as old as someone in their late 60’s.

Helping someone recover from hip pain is an art because of how many things affect the muscles around the hip and the alignment of the hip.  I am glad we have a couple hip artists on our team to get these people better quickly.
 
 
 
  

 8. Herniated Discs 

Disc herniations are such a pain in the butt.  No….literally the pain often shoots into the butt.  

Disc herniations happen because the body does not transfer force well through the low back using the core. Knowing how to exercise the core, how to lift weights properly to preserve the discs, and how to manage the risk factors for re-injury is something all of our patients receive.
 
 
 

9.  Achilles Tendon Injuries and Repairs

 
Most people do not injure their Achilles doing sedentary things so why go to a rehabilitation facility that treats mostly sedentary people?  Being able to powerfully sprint, cut, and jump are the goals many of our Achilles patients have. We have a belief that we want our patients to perform all of those things under supervision and in a controlled setting to establish success and confidence.  Having 3,500 square feet of turf in each facility certainly helps us meet our patient’s needs for those things.

 

 

10. Everything Else That Involves A Muscle, Tendon, Bone, Ligament, Exercise, or Sport 

 
I know #10 might sound a little over the top, but the reality is, there is not a diagnosis or a body part we do not rehabilitate and do so to a high functioning level.  I want to make sure our physicians and our community knows this without a doubt.
 
So as I mentioned, I NEED your help.  If we have had the pleasure of treating you for anything outside of a shoulder, will you please leave a comment below?
 
Let’s break this stigma together!
 
Written By: Travis Manners, PT, SCS, CSCS, President and Founder

Win at the Next Level: 7 Athletic Buckets you Need to Master

What comes next after you feel you or your hockey player has mastered the core competencies? Before you continue reading make sure you are familiar with my core competencies for hockey players.
 
The core competencies combine the perfect athletic elements for our young hockey players to become proficient at, especially while they are mites and first year squirts.  But, once they master these skills, what is the next step?
 
The answer is that it’s time to build the next level of their athleticism through a new set of abilities. 

I believe there are 7 athletic buckets that squirts and peewees need to fill in order to advance their athletic development.
 
We use the term “bucket” a lot as it gives the athletes (and parents) a visual of the different areas they need to address in their training. The bucket visual helps them better understand if they are completely missing filling a particular bucket, if the bucket is low and needs more, or maybe the bucket is overflowing and they are doing too much in that area.  
 
These next level athletic buckets will not only help your player on the ice, they will also prepare their body for the next optimal training window in their long term athletic development which happens around age 13.
 
So here are the next level of athletic buckets:
 

1.  Rhythm

Rhythm could also be called coordination.  Rhythm is the result of a well functioning communication link between the brain and the body. As I tell the athletes, I need your brain to tell your feet exactly what to do. Once that conscious skill pathway is developed by the brain, the communication link takes little conscious effort to maintain. And once the skill reaches that level, our ability to develop further skills becomes easier.
 
It could be argued that rhythm is the glue to excelling in the other athletic buckets which is why I listed it first. There is a reason why kids who take dance lessons early on in their life are more likely to excel in other sports later on.
 

 

2.  Strength

 
Strength is the next most important athletic bucket. Strength is the foundation for being able to create acceleration and quickly change directions. Our young athletes need to first develop relative body strength. 
 
What that means is I want them to be strong for their size which takes them being able to first control their bodies and then to use their body weight to apply force. Only when a young athlete achieves this ability do they ever become ready to add some external load to the exercise.  
 

 

3. Acceleration

 
In most sports, especially hockey, a player’s ability to accelerate can separate them from their opponents. Whether is it is getting to loose pucks or being able to get away from defenders in the neutral zone, acceleration is a valued skill to pose.
 
There is still a misconception that acceleration is a genetic gift and therefore can not be trained. The truth is acceleration is a skill, and like any skill, acceleration can be developed and honed through training. Everyone has a genetic ceiling but few people train the right way to ever maximize it.
 

 

4. Change of direction

 
Just about every sport requires athletes to change directions and hockey is no different. Hockey is a game of abrupt stops and starts in various different directions. The ability to decelerate and quickly stop requires our players to know how to put their body in position to exert force into the ice.
 
Similarly, the player needs to the learn how to quickly initiate movement out of that stop so they can effectively accelerate another direction. Changing direction is a skill and when learned can be a huge asset for an offensive player to get around a defender or a defender to stop an offensive player.
 

 

5. Conditioning

 
This topic is probably the most misunderstood, not just in hockey but in all anaerobic sports. There is a misconception that in order to gain fitness a player should do long slow runs and this is simply untrue. If you practice running slow, you get good at running….slow.  When athletes go on long runs, their running stride becomes very short, they stand very upright, and they have minimal bend in their knees.  
 
This body pattern could not be further from the patterns we are trying to teach them for effective acceleration and speed on and off the ice. Instead we want to gain fitness through things like repeated intervals and tempo runs which will mimic the sprint body position thus reinforcing the desired positions.
 
We would choose parameters that mimic hockey demands like doing 45 seconds of work followed by a 90 second rest (average shift length if running 3 lines of players). This type of conditioning is not only going to reinforce our speed mechanics but the research has shown that it will be more effective at giving the athlete an aerobic foundation, more so than long slow running.
 

 

6. Flexibility

 
Flexibility, like speed and conditioning, has a window at which it should be implemented. When our kids get out of a growth spurt, they should be spending extra time stretching.
 
This timely stretching will help them lengthen their muscles to keep up with their growing bones. Having flexible hamstrings, calves, and groins along with mobile hips will help our players lengthen their strides.  
 
 

 

7. Recovery

 
This bucket is probably the most overlooked bucket because we as parents and coaches have this mindset that our kids will naturally bounce back.  “They’re young, they can handle it.” Children’s bodies are resilient, yes, but if we can begin to teach them how to take care of their bodies, it will serve them for the rest of their lives. 
 
Recovery is really about getting their internal body back to normal levels. When I say internal body, I am mainly referring to their body’s water levels and blood electrolyte levels. Hydration is probably the single most important thing we can teach our kids and help them implement at home.  
 
Helping them understand what their urine color means can help them know if they need more water intake.  Outside of hydration, when our kids exercise, they will excrete things like salt and calcium.  Through most American diets, salt replenishment is not hard to achieve however calcium can be more challenging. If our bodies don’t have enough calcium, bone strength is affected and things like growth plate injuries and stress fractures become possible. Assessing your child’s diet and figuring out their average daily intake can be helpful to know if they need a calcium supplement.  According to most published research, 1300 mg. of calcium is the desired number for 9-18 year old athletes. 
 
Once our young athletes have master the “core competencies” in athleticism, introducing them to these 7 buckets, or areas, will continue to build their abilities and lay a greater foundation for when they hit late junior high and into high school.  
 
I can not say this enough, taking the time to develop athletic skill sets is often overlooked in our quick, immediate gratification society. You can’t train skill in a 6 week “speed camp”. 
 
Written By: Travis Manners, PT, SCS, CSCS, President and Founder
 
 

 

Email Travis to sign up for a FREE Trial of our Full Service Dryland Training Program

 


 

Core Competencies in Athleticism and How They Carry Over to Hockey

Hockey players, in my opinion, are some of the greatest athletes in the world. They have amazing coordination, precision balance, superior relative body strength, and cunning agility.  But what most parents think is that these athletic traits are totally groomed on the ice.
 
The reality is that could not be further from the truth.  Those skills and traits have to be developed off the ice before they can transfer on the ice.  Sport specific skill is ALWAYS developed from a foundation of fundamental movement skills or what I call athletic core competencies.
 
 
If a player skips out on learning these core competencies, they will never reach their potential on the ice.  If fact, USA Hockey supports this exact thinking when they adopted the ADM model which focuses on long term athlete development (LTAD).  The LTAD model is rooted in establishing a base of athletic movement skills then using those to not only develop further athletic skills but also hockey skills.
 

The Core Competencies of Athleticism:

 

1. Squatting 

 
Wait, I know what you might be thinking. Squatting as in putting a bar on the back and squatting? No.  Before we do that, we have to know how squat down and stand up without falling over backwards, caving our knees in, or overly leaning forward.
 
Learning how to perform a correct squat helps our hockey players understand what an athletic, ready position is, teaches them how to turn their core on so they have balance when they are moving, and helps them better control the recovery position during the hockey stride.
 

2. Lunging 

 
Lunging is a movement that requires single leg strength, balance, and core control which are key traits our players need.  In skating, the feet are constantly split apart whether it is in skating forward (front lunge), skating backwards (lateral lunge) or crossing over (cross-over lunge).  
 
If a player can develop these abilities off the ice, it will reflect on the ice with longer, more efficient strides.
 
 

3. Skipping

 
Yes, I said skipping.  Skipping is not a skill that we naturally develop (trust me I can show you plenty of videos of kids AND adults that can not skip) but it is a skill we need.  Skipping teaching us how to move our arms and legs in a reciprocal manner.  
 
Reciprocal arm and leg movement is essential in the skating stride but it is also critical in the hockey shot.  Follow me on this, if I am a right handed shot, I have to be able to generate force and control with my bottom right hand while balancing and stabilizing my body on the left leg.  If we know how to skip, we can later teach how to apply force in that movement. Great building block!
 

4. Hopping

 
Hopping is defined as taking off and landing with the same leg.  Hopping is another great way to develop those intangible traits of balance, leg strength, and core control while teaching the athlete how to start using their arms to help develop power in their legs.
 

5. Balance

 
Balance is one of the key traits we need and it is also a core competency that needs to be specifically worked on.  Balance is not just standing on one foot which is definitely needed for skating.  Balance is being able to control our body over our foot or feet.  In nerdy science terminology, we call it keeping your center of mass over your base of support.  Balance happens in skating, changing directions, shooting, and keeping opponents from knocking us off the puck.
 
So those are the foundational core competencies in starting to build athleticism.  If players especially between the ages of 7-13 years of age can develop these skills along with others consistent with their age, they will be so much more advanced on the ice. How does your player do with these skills? Try them at home and see!
 
Written By: Travis Manners, PT, SCS, CSCS, President and Founder

 


Email Travis to sign up for a FREE Trial of our Full Service Dryland Training Program

 


 

MavXHockey Partnership

We are excited to announce we have partnered with MavXHockey to provide dryland training to the registered players in the Power Skating Program.

This dryland program will be FREE to the players as MavXHockey and Athletes’ Training Center will be covering the cost for the families.

Dryland training is essentially off ice strength and conditioning and it is an opportunity to develop athletic skills and traits that will carry over to the game of hockey.

This summer we will be running a 30 minute dryland session before every power skating session (13 weeks for the Squirts and PeeWee, and 8 weeks for the Mites and the U13 Girls). Travis’ intent with these pre-practice sessions is to truly introduce some aspects of dryland training to the players, get them excited about doing it, and hopefully develop what core competencies in athleticism to aid them on the ice.

Training athletes between Mites and PeeWee should not only be instructive but also fun so we hope you will be a part of this opportunity.

If you do decide you would like your player(s) to participate, please go to http://bit.ly/2pmz6qq to register so we can get you all signed up!

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

The importance of off season training is no secret to athletes and sport coaches, but some don’t fully understand the importance of in season training. Training during an athletes in season provides valuable time to maintain off season gains, reduce the risk of in season injury and aid in faster recovery from practices and games. 

In our previous blog, How To: Perform Your Best All Season Long – Benefit 1 Trenton ClausenMike Servais and Gus Thiel discussed the 1st benefit of training while in season – maintaining off season gains.

Today, we will dive into the 2nd and 3rd benefits of training while in season and why it is paramount to continue to train during this time.

Athletes train hard in the off season to ensure they are at their best by the time the season rolls around, but once their season arrives they suddenly stop training as their schedules fill up with games and practices.

As the season wears on they might start to notice that their bodies become more sore with each game and their nagging aches and pains just won’t go away.

Why is it that? With all the work put in during the off season they should feel great all season, right? Unfortunately, it does not work that way. The 2nd benefit of training while in season is to aid in reducing the athlete’s chance of sustaining an injury. 

Benefit 2)

Injury prevention is another key factor that we work on in our in season training programs. We must continue maintaining our strength to prevent soft tissue injuries. We can do this through strength training and active recovery methods such as self-myofascial release (i.e. foam rolling), stretching, icing, and rest.

If we are able to maintain our strength and tissue quality during the season we will fend off injuries that can be prevented and keep us on the field of play.

“Athletes that work to maintain their strength, muscle tissue quality and joint health during the season are less susceptible to injuries because their body is more prepared to handle the stresses of the season.”

– Mike Servais

Benefit 3)

The final benefit from training in season is the ability to recover faster from games and practices. Over the course of a long season, athlete’s bodies take a beating. But fear not! A proper in-season program will not make an athlete feel worse!

In fact, getting back in the gym will allow athletes to address this issue by performing soft-tissue work (using a foam roller, lacrosse ball, etc.) to restore muscle tissue quality.

Maintaining tissue quality is vital for joint mobility (ability for a joint to move) and stability (ability to control joint position).

“Always remember that training in season doesn’t mean that your workout program should be put on the back burner. Be smart about your in season programs and your body will thank you later!” – Gus Thiel 

 

Here at Athletes’ Training Center, we want our athletes to be at their best once the season starts. However, it takes discipline and dedication to maintain peak performance throughout the year. We will make sure you feel your best come game time!

Tip: Interested in our in season programs?
Ask about our maintenance memberships or our Free Trial Sessions!

Written By Performance Coaches:

Trenton Clausen – MA, CSCS, USAW-L2SP, Director of Sports Performance
Mike Servais – CSCS, USAW-L1, Performance Coach
Gus Thiel BS, FMS-L1SP, Performance Coach 

Introducing our Full Court Program!

We are excited to announce the launch of our Full Court Program designed specifically for basketball players! 
full, court, programIf you play basketball, you want the best chance possible to earn playing time, make the team or achieve whatever your goal might be.  You already know you have to spend hours in the gym at practice and dedicate yourself to working on your skill set. You have to be a good teammate, listen to your coaches and stay healthy.  If you are like most of the kids in our program, you know the importance of being strong, jumping higher, and being fast.

If you are a parent, you want the same things for your athlete too.  But, you want a little more.  You want to see them stay injury free and you want to see the investment of time and money pay off. 

Partnership Kickoff

We are excited to announce that we have forged a partnership with the Omaha Stockmen, a local football team.  To kick off our partneship (pun intended) we’ll be hosting a team workout and a community meet and greet for them on April 22nd at the West Omaha facility from 1pm-3:30pm. 

Danielle Kleber and Jake Ulrich will be providing athletic training services for their players on game day.  Athletes’ Training Center will be doing injury screens for their players as well.  

omaha, stockmen, athletes, training, center

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.