Why Being A One-Sport Athlete Is Not A Good Thing

As a coach or parent of a youth athlete, we all want the same thing: To put them in the best position possible to be successful. We want them to have plenty of opportunities to be the best that they can be at whatever they decide to do.

Supporting your athlete is a great thing; however, sometimes that well-intentioned support can be detrimental to the athlete’s development. This applies to cases where coaches and parents pressure athletes into playing one sport. By focusing exclusively on that one sport, and even seeking private coaching, all in an attempt to get a leg up on the competition.

The Question

Should coaches and parents encourage their athletes to play only one sport or would it be better to play and develop skills across a diversity of sports?

Scenario 1

Before we can answer that question, let’s ponder this scenario: Your child enjoys math. They excel in the subject. In fact, they’ve even mentioned their desire to be a mathematician when they grow up. Does this mean your child should only learn math in school? Should they just not even bother with the other subjects like English, Science, Art, or Physical Education?

The answer is most likely, no. Instead, you’d want them to learn all of the subjects that any student their age needs in order to grow and develop.

Sports and athletics are no different from this school scenario. While focusing on one sport can get you much better at that sport, there are skills in other sports that are worth learning for any athlete.

Scenario 2

Here’s another scenario: When you’re applying for a job, what do you put on your resume? You list all of your previous experience. Employers are searching for a qualified individual with a range of experience and skills.

The number and past jobs, paired with your success in those positions, is an indicator of your quality as an employee. This same idea can be applied to sports. Playing one sport — like having one job — can limit you.

If you look at Olympic athletes, just about all of them played multiple sports early in their career before picking and focusing exclusively on one.

RELATED: Discover the Secret Elite Sports Organizations Know About Building Champion Athletes.

Olympians dedicate their life to excelling at one sport to the point of excellence. And if you ask them, the hardest part about competing at that level of competition is burnout. Without getting into the science and psychology of burnout, suffice to say that playing one sport can, and often does, get boring for athletes. Athletes can also burnout physically — playing one sport year in and year out can take a toll on the body. Using the same muscles to complete the same actions can lead to injury and exhaustion.

The Benefits of Being a Multi-Sport Athlete:

  • helps athletes avoid burnout.
  • forces athletes to use different parts of the body and learn new movements.
  • teaches athletes how to work with different types of people, navigate different team dynamics and learn new perspectives.
  • gives the body time to physically recover from the demands of the last sport.
  • gives your mind a break, so that when you return to your sport you are excited, engaged and prepared to give it your all.

At Velocity, we believe that athletes should play as many sports as they want, and can, through high school. When an athlete is done growing, that’s the time to decide what sport to specialize in. If they do this, they will be a passionate, fierce, and well-rounded athlete.

How to Keep Your Athlete Focused

Stay-Focused

When it comes to playing youth sports, the best predictor of success is not based off of an athlete’s physical abilities or skills. What really matters is which athlete is able to remain focused on the task at hand when they are tired. The more focused an athlete is, the more successful an athlete will be.

Look at a pitcher as he prepares to throw, he is focused on the catcher’s glove. Consider a weightlifter or gymnast, notice how calm they are before their event. They are totally locked into “the zone”.

So how do we teach our youth athletes to get into the zone and have laser sharp focus when they need it? Luckily, focus is something that can be trained.

As a coach, you must plan practices with the goal to keep athletes engaged. How do we do this? Here are some of our tricks:

Limit Distractions

One easy way to do this: NO CELL PHONES. Smartphones of any kind can dramatically decrease focus and productivity. To keep it simple, and increase focus, our rule is: Phones stay in the bags.

3 Words: Structure, Routine, Consistency.

Having a structured practice with little down time is necessary to keep athletes engaged and focused on the task at hand. When practices are consistently the same, athletes develop a routine. Routines are very important for helping an athlete increase focus. Let’s be honest, athletes are going to lose focus from time to time, so developing a strategy to regain focus is critical to help them get back into the zone. This is why a routine, or ritual, is important. For example: consider a baseball player’s at-bat routine. After each pitch, they step out of the box and adjust their gloves and helmet the same way before stepping back into the box. They consistently do the same thing over and over. This helps them maintain focus.

 Understand Different Learning Styles

Each athlete is different and they learn in different ways. There are three types of learning styles: audio (hearing), visual (seeing), and kinesthetic (doing). Coaches and parents need to be aware of the possibility that the information they are presenting their athlete might not be done so in the style of learning that they understand best. In this case, the athlete is less likely to pay attention. Engaging your athletes in all of the different learning styles helps them to remain focused.

Find a Balance

Challenge is an integral part of your athlete’s overall improvement. However, keeping these challenges in line with their skill level is important to keep them from losing focus. It’s impossible to stay focused on a task that is way too challenging. Coaches need to create attainable challenges their athlete’s in order to keep them focused on completing the task at hand.

Don’t Over-Coach

Many times as a coach we feel the need to tell our athletes everything they are supposed to do and exactly how to do it. This can be information-overload for an athlete. When there are too many things to focus on, the athlete is overwhelmed and breaks down. Giving them one task to focus on is the best way to see them succeed. Once they’ve mastered the initial task, you can begin to add more.

 Keep it Fun

Sports are fun. Plain and simple. Let’s keep it that way. If an athlete is not having fun, they will be less likely to stay focused and and more likely to disengage.

7 TRX Moves to Build Upper-Body Strength

The TRX Suspension System is great for providing exercises that are safe, functional and useful in preventing and recovering from injury. Essential to any strength-training program, an athlete uses their own bodyweight — adjusting resistance as needed — in order to target multiple muscle groups at once. The following exercises are just a few examples of how you can use TRX in your training. It is important to note that resistance is added by stepping closer to the TRX point-of-attachment, and reduced by stepping away. The row is a traditional exercise that targets the upper back and shoulder muscles. When compared to a traditional row, the TRX row is different in that it requires increased core stabilization.

How To: Begin with arms fully extended, pull elbows straight back and squeeze the shoulder blades together. Keep the core tight, and do not allow the hips to rise or fall. A great exercise for shoulder stability, the TRX Y targets the trapezius, deltoids and upper rotator cuff muscles.

How To: Bring straight arms up into a Y shape; be sure to point thumbs back. Keep the core tight, and body straight. The TRX T is another great exercise to target the upper back, including the rhomboids and rotator cuff muscles.

How To: Palms should be facing forward with thumbs pointed upward. While keeping arms straight, bring arms back into a T shape, contracting the upper back to bring the shoulder blades together. Keep the core tight, and body straight. The TRX A targets the lats, and other rotator cuff muscles. You can

How To: With palms facing forward, pull straight arms down to the sides in an A shape. Keep the core tight, and body straight. The TRX Tricep Extension targets the core and triceps, while also increasing shoulder stability.

How To: Begin face down, arms straight overhead, bent to 90 degrees with the palms facing upward. Extend the arms while maintaining an engaged core. A play on the traditional bicep curl, the TRX Bicep Curl is a great exercise to target the core and biceps.

How To: Begin with arms extended, as with the row, but palms facing upward. Without allowing the elbows to come close to the body, pull handles toward the shoulders. Keep the core engaged. The TRX Push Up Targets the pectoral muscles and anterior shoulder muscles. This exercise is great for shoulder and core stability.

How To: Begin face down in push up position, arms extended. Lower chest to handles, keeping the elbows close to the body, and then push handles away from the body until original position is reached. Do not allow the hips to rise or fall.Do you want to learn new ways to get stronger? Come find out how with the elite coaches at VSP South Bay. VSP South Bay makes athletes better. Click below to learn more about our programs and free trial.

Understanding the Functional Anatomy of the Shoulder Complex and How it Relates to Your Performance

Athletes shoulder pain
The shoulder isn’t just a simple joint. In fact, the shoulder is a complex of multiple joints and muscle groups. It is incredibly mobile and allows you to generate force to throw a baseball or spike a volleyball.

To maximize your performance and reduce the risk of injury, it’s imperative that you understand how the shoulder complex functions.

The Shoulder is Designed for Motion

To better understand the function of the shoulder complex, picture a golf ball sitting on a tee. This is the glenohumeral (GH) joint’s function by design—a full range of motion through many planes but little structural stability.

The rotator cuff muscles are responsible for providing stability (keeping the golf ball on the tee) to the gleno-humeral joint.

Stabilizing the joint is easy when your arm is immobilized. However, it requires a lot more work when you’re throwing a ball or swinging a bat.

Furthermore, the mobility and stability of the shoulder joint relies on muscle function. It will be compromised if there is a weakness or imbalance in the rotator cuff muscles.

Microtrauma Can Lead to Rotator Cuff Injuries

The rotator cuff consists of four muscles that pull the humeral head (ball) into the glenoid (socket) during arm movement.

When these rotator cuff muscles aren’t doing their job well, there is extra stress on the glenohumeral joint.

The repetitive microtrauma that accumulates over weeks, months and even years can lead to injury. This is common with baseball and volleyball players and even CrossFitters. The pain starts slowly and builds up over time.  

It’s not just overuse that causes microtrauma to the shoulder. A common problem is that athletes continue to perform after they are fatigued. This means they are exceeding their ability to control motion through the shoulder complex. This is why youth baseball leagues and even Major League teams use pitch counts.

Whether throwing, hitting or pressing overhead, doing so when you’ve lost the ability to control the kinetic chain can lead to injury.

RELATED:  Check out some shoulder strengthening moves in 7 TRX Strength Moves for Your Upper Body

Function is Key

Shoulder treatments will help reduce pain and swelling when dealing with an injury. Unfortunately, this is where many athletes fail at rehabilitation. They “chase the pain,” treating only the area that’s hurt. It’s a quick fix to relieve the pain, but it fails to address the source of the problem.
Instead, you’re more likely to eliminate the risk of re-injuring your shoulder if you focus on improving the function of the entire kinetic chain. This requires a greater understanding of biomechanics, physiology and motor control.
 
Yes rehab should eliminate your pain. Still, it also should focus on targeting areas of the body that you may not think directly correlate to the shoulder. That’s how you fix it over the long run.

Y Balance Test: What It Is & How to Use It

Following an injury, an athlete can experience significant changes to their motor control, which can affect their overall functional symmetry.

The Y Balance Test is one way to test an athlete’s risk of injury and functional symmetry. The test measures pre and post rehab performance, improvements resulting from an athlete performance program, dynamic balance and return to sport readiness.

Performed for both upper and lower body, the results take into consideration age, sport and gender.

When incorporated into the functional exam, the Y Balance Test has the ability to identify if an athlete is susceptible to risk.

Training smarter, which includes using the results from the Y Balance Test, can result in the reduction of re-injuries, as well as prevention of initial injuries.Click through the slideshow to watch Wes Rosner lead Angelina through the Y Balance Test. 

How to Do the Y Balance Test:

  • Start with right foot on center platform.
  • Use left foot to push reach indicator in forward direction.
  • (Note: The left foot cannot be placed on top of the reach indicator.)
  • Return left foot to center while under control, without touching down.
  • (Note: The left foot cannot touch down during the test.)

Repeat in each direction, switch feet.
Repeat with upper-body.

The Y Balance Test Addresses the Following Areas:

Upper: Medial, Infrolateral and Supralateral Reach
Lower: Anterior, Posteriormedial and Posteriorlateral Reach[/fusion_text]

6 Ways to Build Confidence in Young Athletes

Confidence

In order for youth athletes to make it to an elite level, they have to have talent, dedication and the drive to work hard and improve their skills. While ability and work ethic are very important skills for athletes to develop, the one skill that sets elite athletes apart is confidence.

By improving one’s confidence on the court of field, it benefits all aspects of an athlete’s life. On the other hand, a lack of confidence can have devastating results for an athlete’s performance in sport and in the classroom.

As a coach or parent, we want the best for our athletes. We want them to have faith and confidence in their abilities. We want them to know what they’re capable of achieving today and, with hard work and dedication, what they’re capable of achieving tomorrow. When an athlete is confident in their abilities, they are more aggressive and generally play harder and better.

Just like physical skills, confidence is something that can be developed with practice.

Here are 6 ways to develop confidence in youth athletes to set them up for long-term success:

Lead By Example

Kids learn how to react to situations by watching their role models. For example, when a young kid trips and falls, they pause for a second or two as they try to figure out how to react. Am I ok? Should I Cry? During those few seconds they are looking at a coach or parent to gauge their response. They search for cues in the faces of their coaches or parents, and will respond accordingly. If we rush over panicked and worried, they are going to be panicked and worried. If we respond by acknowledging the fall calmly and offer a bit of encouragement— “you’re ok, it was just a fall, dust yourself off” — they will usually pop right back up. It is important for parents and coaches to be role models constantly displaying the discipline, hard work, and self-belief that you hope to see in your athlete.

Practice Makes Perfect

Confidence is based on evidence and experience, which comes from practice. Practice is the time for athletes to work on their skills. If an athlete is constantly sharpening their skills and abilities, they are constantly reinforcing faith in their capabilities.

Start Off Easy & Develop the Fundamentals

A simple way to improve confidence is to start with something easy. For example, if you’re teaching someone how to hit a baseball for the first time, you won’t start by pitching a fastball from the pitcher’s mound. You wouldn’t do this, because it simply won’t be fun for a new player to constantly swing and miss. Instead, start them off hitting from a tee. They can learn how to keep their eye on the ball and make firm contact. As they get better, you can try tossing the ball under hand to them from a few feet away. Finally, as their skills continue to develop and their confidence grows, you can move back to the pitcher’s mound.

Break It Down

Anything you do well becomes enjoyable. That is the idea for starting on the tee and developing the fundamentals from the last example. It is important for coaches to break down the skills so the athlete can understand what they need to do. Once they have consistently shown that they have mastered the fundamentals off the tee, they will get bored of the tee. Once they get bored, a coach will introduce a slightly more complicated skill to develop. Putting in the time and working on the basics doesn’t appear glamorous — but athletes who constantly sharpen their skills, sharpen their confidence. MLB players warm up the same way by starting on the tee to make sure their fundamentals are dialed in and they are confident before they hit live.

Focus On Doing Your Best

In sport, the objective is to win. But the desire to win shouldn’t take away from an athlete’s most important goal: doing your best. The best team or player doesn’t always win, it’s the team that plays the best that wins. As coaches and parents we have to let our athletes know that there is no shame in losing if you do your best. Sometimes its bad luck, or sometimes the opponent is just better than you. If you know during practice that you put your best effort into learning and mastering the fundamentals, and focusing on doing your best instead of being the best, the wins will come as long as you play hard.

“Don’t Fear Failure”

Lastly, and perhaps more important, teach kids not to be afraid of failure. Confidence in youth athletes comes down to the battle between faith and fear. Fear of failure can really destroy an athlete’s confidence even to a point where they don’t want to participate so they don’t make any mistakes. As a coach, we have to recognize when athletes are afraid and nervous. When we recognize this, we must empower them, we must offer words of encouragement and remind them of their abilities. Understanding fear is the best skill you can teach a young athlete. Fear of failure holds us back from being the best we can be — not just in sport, but in all areas of our lives.

Coach’s Guide to Ankle Mobility

 

Ankle mobility has been the topic of wide discussion lately, and it’s no wonder why. Ankle injuries are one of the most common in training and sport.   Understanding a proper approach to gaining adequate ankle mobility can get lost in the complexity of training the inverters, everters, dorsiflexors, plantarflexors and other stabilizers that control the ankle.

In addition, the system of intrinsic muscles that make up the arches of the foot also play a role in ankle mobility. Furthermore, this does not take into account the relationships of stability and mobility that occur at the knee, hip, and lower back. With so much to consider where do you start in identifying and training an athlete with potential ankle mobility limitations.

As a coach, you want to make sure your workout and coaching program are not limited. This means you have to address any dysfunction that could relate to managing a current injury, readiness of returning to sport and reducing the possibility of re-injury or for an athlete who has never been injured.

  • It is important for athletes to train together however, knowing each athlete has different patterns and compensations for achieving movement is paramount.

    They should be grouped prior to sport specific training to address the corrective needs necessary for regaining optimal, functional ankle movement.

  • Being a hinge joint, the ankle is designed to move.

    For this reason, correcting and maintaining any asymmetries to an athlete’s ankle is of great importance. Proper movement should occur at the ankle and hip, which are designed for mobility, while the foot, knee and low back are designed to provide stability. An athlete has greater potential to improve within his sport if the efficiency of mobility and stability are taking place in the correct joints of the body. Utilizing the Functional Movement Screen for identification of ankle mobility restrictions or other asymmetries and dysfunction is essential for developing and correcting improper movement patterns.

  • Asymmetries are part of some sports.  Baseball, for example, demands differences between the right and left shoulder and track, so the athlete is constantly favoring one side. Those asymmetries are expected, however shoulder should be pain free and within an acceptable range of motion. These asymmetries should not affect the mechanics of the rest of the body’s fundamental movement patterns. These considerations must be taken into account when hitting the weight room or performing skill based movement drills.
  • Soft tissue release through foam rolling and mysofascial ball, as well as half kneeling correctives can all improve ankle range of motion.

    The biggest benefits come from addressing asymmetrical or dysfunctional areas of the body. This allows the ankle to move as it should, instead of as a stabilizer, which if compensating can limit ankle mobility.

Come get a Functional Movement Screen and proper corrective exercise program to get you back on the right path with the elite coaches at Velocity Sports Performance.

How to Improve Your Mental Game with Visualization

Visualization

Visualization is an important tool used by elite athletes to gain a competitive edge. Visualization is a technique of creating visual imagery of circumstances that you want to occur in reality. In other words, see it to believe it. For athletes, it is a mental rehearsal.

Here are two visualization techniques to use to improve your athletic performance:

Visualization Technique 1

I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was.  -Muhammad Ali

If you think you are the greatest and you visualize yourself being the greatest, you will become the greatest. As an athlete, if you want to be the best, you have to think you’re the best. It is best to try to include all of the senses when visualizing you winning or accomplishing a goal.

 

Visualization Technique 2

Visualizing movements, routines and specific plays helps athletes mentally rehearse for competition. Notice how elite athletes remain calm under pressure. Their secret? They have already ran through every scenario and possible outcome in their head before stepping into the game. All this visualization means, when the pressure’s on, you don’t have to think, you just have to react. This is what separates the good from the great — anticipating what’s going to happen before your opponent keeps you a step ahead.

You can also visualize complex movements, like throwing a baseball or swinging a bat. Mentally rehearsing these complex movements activate the same areas of the brain that are used when completing these movement in reality. This neurological activation can help reinforce movement patterns making those pathways a little bit faster.

Learn how to up your game with visualization techniques with the elite coaches at Velocity Sports Performance.

 

3 Ways to Tell Your Athlete Needs an Off-Season

Youth Speed Training

Off-Season

In competitive athletic environments where strength, speed and skill development are constantly compared to teammates and competitors, off-seasons are extremely important for athletes.

To be clear, an off-season does not give an athlete license to disregard all healthy and active choices, it is productive time spent away from a given sport in order to reflect, recover and re-up for the next season with energy and excitement. Without this time, athletes can lose passion, concentration and can very quickly burn out.

Here are three ways to determine if your athlete needs an off-season:

Do they play their organized sport or sports year-round?

If yes, they need an off-season. If professional athletes don’t practice and compete in their sport year-round, why should your athlete?

Do you not plan family vacations because you don’t want to pull your athlete out of their sport?

If yes, they need an off-season. In order to train and compete at the highest levels, all athletes — and family members, too — need some good-quality R&R. Rest and recuperation are critical for developing athletes.

Do they only play one sport?

If yes, they need an off-season. Let another sport or structured athletic performance program act as their off-season. In the words of strength and conditioning expert Guido Van Ryssegem, “Movement variability is the oil to the central nervous system.” Athletes can make the most out of their off-season by training speed, strength and skills with the elite coaches at Velocity Sports Performance.

Why Athletes Should Watch Water Boil

“A watched pot never boils.” Or does it? Have you tried? It feels like it takes forever if you watch it. In actuality, whether you watch it or not has no effect on how fast the water takes to boils—you can’t make it boil faster by wanting it more.

So now, you ask, how will watching water boil make me a better athlete? Watching a pot of water boil trains your willpower. You train your willpower the same way you would train any other part of your body. Your brain makes physical changes through the power of meditation and mindfulness training.

Wait, meditation? Isn’t that some spiritual or religious thing? Yes, but that’s not all it is. The practice of meditation teaches your mind to focus on specific and targeted thoughts. Being able to do this helps block out all of the things that take you away from your goals. The hard part about meditation is that it requires you to sit still for specific amount of time— but while it is hard, it is also the reason why meditation is a useful took for athletes — it trains the mind to adapt.

Watching water boil in a pot is simply a form of mindfulness training that is similar to meditation without having to sit crosslegged or chant mantras. I know this sounds silly, but just as squats make your body physically stronger, meditation and mindfulness training strengthens your willpower!

Meditation Training Exercise

For the next 30 days, complete the following meditation exercise:

Step 1: Get a small pot and put some water in it.

Step 2: Put it on the stove and turn it up to high.

Step 3: Stare at the water until you see a rolling boil.

Do the same pot of water for seven consecutive days. After that, get a bigger pot and add more water. It is like training the body gradually to increase the load to work the muscle to get stronger.

*Don’t move your eyes from the water no matter what else is going on around you.
*Don’t worry if your mind wanders.

The first few times you complete this training, you might experience anxiety or stress waiting for the water to boil. This will pass as your willpower improves.

This meditation training will slowly build your willpower up over time. It is amazing to see what sorts of things you think of when you are forced into a structured —and seemingly boring — situation.

Mental training is a critical part of all competitive athletes’ training program. Improve your mental game with the techniques and tactics employed by the elite coaches at Velocity Sports Performance.