In the beginning, we were your typical strength and speed facility. Our programs were designed around sprint technique and Olympic lifting progressions and although we were having success, we always felt as if we were missing something.
We were starting to notice that gains in the weight room didn’t always transfer over into success on the field. And even though we were having success from a testing perspective, we needed to address the real reason the athletes are coming to our facility…to be the best player they can be. We began to questions every aspect of our program, and the impact it was having on the athletes goal of becoming a better player and we redefined our approach.
So we started from scratch and began to look at each sport, each age group and each gender more specifically. We interviewed coaches and players to determine what aspects they felt were critical to their success. We reviewed research studies and identified key movements, intensities, speeds and distances covered, and from this knowledge we created a sport specific system that was quite different from what we had used in the past.
We then outlined a philosophical approach to training and came up with this…
The AthleteFIT Philosophy
The AthleteFIT philosophy can be broken down into six key phrases, or aspects that help guide us through our program development model.
- Bridge the Gap – We wanted to link our training with the most important aspects of the game
- Physical Aspects – Establish a Physical Foundation (Strength, Speed, Agility, Power, Fitness, etc.)
- Technical Skills – Enhance Technical Coordination (Dribbling, Passing, Striking, Receiving, etc.)
- Elevate the Confidence – Elevate player esteem, motivation, willingness to try, etc.
- Competitiveness – Embrace aggressive play, challenge our players to want more, etc.
- Mentor – We wanted to build a relationship with each player that lasts a lifetime
Building a System
Now that we had a philosophy that outlined our core values and approach to player development, we needed to find a way to implement this philosophy into a functional training system. This model would forever change our program, and allow us to create something truly unique. The pyramid image shown here was the foundation from which we would design our Functionally Integrated Training (or F.I.T.) model.
The F.I.T. model has 2 sides… A physical side (right side of the pyramid) and a technical, or sport specific side (left side of the model). The key piece of the puzzle was the creation of the center piece (labeled here as “Specific Speed”) which we now refer to as “GameSPEED” which integrates key aspects from the physical side with key aspects of the technical side. This changed the game, and more and more coaches are telling us that this was the missing link in their program.
Building Programs- The Physical Side
First we wanted to test out the system and create progressions on the physical side of the model. We started with the foundational pieces (Mobility & Stability – Rhythmic Movement Patterns). We wanted to reduce the risk of injury and improve the efficiency of their movement from positioning, to rhythm to dynamic speed. Once we had them moving well, we would strengthen this movement by slowly increasing load, and then introducing more speed into the weighted lifts to create aggressive, efficient powerful bursts. We introduced fitness progressions, and then built a plyometric program that focused more on athleticism than the traditional box jumps. Below are our 5 progressive categories from the physical side of our training program, click on the links to download each system into your online library of AthleteFIT programs..
- Mobility & Stability (how we prepare the body to move and reduce the risk of injury)
- Rhythmic Movement Patterns (how we observe and assess athletic movement)
- Strength & Power (how we strengthen athletic movement)
- Jumps & Throws (how we train explosive expression of athletic movement)
- Speed & Agility (how we peak athleticism on the field and court)
Building Programs- The Technical Side
Next we had to look deeper into the technical/tactical side of sports performance. We had always assumed that this was being covered in practice sessions, and much of the time it is. But with many of our players, practice was not pushing the speed and quickness, fitness demands, and situational repetition that they needed to achieve their goals.
We didn’t want to infringe on the coaches territory, so we created ball skill drills that developed foot quickness, rhythm and hip stability. We created passing drills that enhanced fitness, agility, balance and communication. We created skill based speed drills that mimicked the demands of small sided games, but controlled the fitness, speed and skill elements while getting the players more repetition. And we were able to progress these programs in developmentally specific ways as they were all funneled into our GameSPEED program. Below are 5 progressive categories from the physical side of our training program, Click on the inks to download each system into your online library of AthleteFIT Programs.
- Technical Ball Work (how we develop comfort with the ball)
- Technical Movement (how we incorporate situational movement with the ball)
- Situational Drills (how we blend in multiple players and fitness into drills)
- Tactical Application (how we work with coaches to build better practice sessions)
- GameSPEED (the final product, blending it all together into the ultimate training program)
The Final Piece
We had what we thought was the perfect system, built around the perfect philosophy, but we needed to come up with a way to evaluate the success of this model. To do this we implemented the final piece of the puzzle, the piece that keeps us grounded and helps us to refine our programs year to year. This 5 step process has become the template for all new AthleteFIT programs, and has helped us cut out the areas of our program that were not making an impact, while enhancing areas of our program that were making the biggest impact.
- STEP 1: Understand the demands of the sport, the current programming models, and the seasonal phases
- STEP 2: Identify the requirements of success, and create a specific testing system based around those areas
- STEP 3: Test the validity, reliability, practicality and usefulness of the testing system against success in sport
- STEP 4: Filter athletes, via the testing system, into specific developmental protocols or programs
- STEP 5: Evaluate the effectiveness of our new program or protocol via the proven testing system