The Playmaker Project

The Day your Kids Got Faster and more Confident

The Day your Kids Got Faster and more Confident

Young Athletes can improve Speed and Confidence by doing the little things consistently.  You will really not believe how simple it is.  I will tell you a couple of Valuable training tips you can do here.

BUILDING A FASTER ATHLETE

Athletes who participate and play in team sports would benefit from practicing acceleration. Acceleration is a skill.  Unfortunately, most are not trained in the skill.  Many coaches simply make their athletes run a heavy volume of sprints to become faster, but this workload can and usually does mess with technique.

And it worsens Speed.  Remember this Playmaker Principle.  Lactic Acid is the Enemy of Speed!

A conditioning approach comprised of distance runs or repeat sprints will promote improper acceleration mechanics.

Training this way may improve a young athlete’s speed endurance, but it will never optimize their athletic abilities.

HOWEVA when athletes train using the correct and most efficient speed mechanics, it will also improve their conditioning in the long term.

WHY ACCELERATION MATTERS

Ideally, coaches who train younger athletes want to identify themselves as general physical preparation specialists, with the goal of helping young athletes master movement techniques.

Any parent or coach who can help younger athletes master general movement strategies will help create better athletes; better athletes who become better in their sport with a reduced chance of injury.

TEACHING ACCELERATION

It is common for coaches who want to train athletes for speed to have them start with the most intense and exciting drills.  This helps with Instagram views but ignores the complexity of the human body.  Also, this looks good in front of parents who want some kind of verification that they are getting their money’s worth.

At Fast Twitch Prep. we prioritize marches and skips.  Though these drills may not look exciting on social media, they create the necessary foundation for more advanced acceleration work.

Check out our article here on the importance of building the foundation.  

We prioritize training that reinforces basic posture, positions, and placement.

Putting young athletes (and elite athletes!) through more advanced training is a waste of time when they cannot properly execute these fundamentals.

THE POWER OF POSTURE

Posture is the collective organization of the head, shoulder, trunk, hip, knee, and ankle, drives biomechanical efficiency in acceleration.

At Fast Twitch Prep.  we consistently remind athletes of their posture with the phrase, “posture is a priority.”

If an athlete doesn’t begin a drill or sprint with correct posture in acceleration, he or she will not be able to find that posture once he starts moving.

We want athletes to learn to organize their joints from top to bottom and develop an awareness of how proper posture feels.

Many young athletes find holding posture a challenge especially if they have never been taught how to align their bodies and generate stability.

This is why foundational acceleration exercises such as marches and skips become important in developing proper posture.

Joint position dictates muscle function; an athlete who cannot hold position in acceleration will demonstrate will exhibit poor joint positions and use suboptimal muscular recruitment patterns, leading to inefficiencies and possibly injuries.

PVC A-MARCH

THE PVC A-march is a basic and useful acceleration drill.  The athlete stands tall, with his feet hip-width apart, shoulders back, and eyes straight ahead.  He/She grips the PVC at a comfortable width and holds it behind his neck, keeping the rod in place but not actively pulling or bending it.  

While maintaining perfect upper-body posture, the athlete steps forward, flexing his hip and knee to lift his knee, heel, and toe (Figure 1.1).  We want his lifting foot to be directly underneath the knee, actively dorsiflexing as the thigh lifts.  

The athlete’s down leg should remain tall with his hip fully extended, while his down foot stays on the ground.  

When the athlete returns his lifted foot to the ground, you do not need to coach him to land on the ball of his foot.  When we go through the acceleration progression, how the foot strikes should match the drill’s degree of movement speed.

When humans walk, we heel strike, when we jog, we strike on the midfoot; when we sprint, we strike on the ball of the foot.

Since the PVC A-March occurs at walking speed, heel strike is necessary.

The PVC A-march is completed at a slow, controlled pace for 3 to 10 yards, varying on age and coordination.

The young Super Star then walks back to the starting line between repetitions as active rest.  He/She completes 3 to 5 reps per set.

TRAINING IN BAREFEET

There are all kinds of amazing benefits to having our young athletes train barefoot as much as possible.  

Potential Benefits of Barefoot Running:

  • May strengthen the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the foot and allow one to develop a more natural gait.
  • By removing the heel lift in most shoes, it will help stretch and strengthen the Achilles tendon and calf muscle which may reduce injuries, such as calf strains or Achilles tendinitis.
  • Runners will learn to land on the forefoot rather then the heel. The heel strike during running was developed due to the excessive padding of running shoes, but research shows this isn’t the most effective natural running stride. Landing on the heel causes unnecessary braking on every stride. The most efficient runners land on the mid-foot and keep their strides smooth and fluid. Landing on the forefoot also allows your arches to act as natural shock absorbers.
  • It may improve balance and proprioception. Going barefoot activates the smaller muscles in the feet, ankles, legs, and hips that are responsible for better balance and coordination.
  • Running barefoot helps one improve balance, but it also helps them stay grounded and connected with your environment. A person can learn to spread their toes and expand the foot while it becomes a more solid and connected base that supports all movements.Dr. Philip Maffetone has been a private practitioner, health and athlete coach and consultant, published independent researcher, respected pioneer in the field of complementary sports medicine, and internationally recognized educator and author in the fields of nutrition, biofeedback, exercise physiology, and athletic training over the course of his forty- year career.In his book Fix your Feet he talks about the importance of feet and the benefits of barefoot training,“A number of factors can disrupt a person’s normal gait. …
    The most common factor that changes a normal gait to an abnormal one is wearing shoes. Most shoes, including the sports type such as the popular running shoes, change the gait by causing the stride length to be abnormally longer. This results in an abnormal heel strike—hitting the ground further back on the heel. This is especially a problem when jogging or running because it places more shock through the foot and into the knee and occurs despite the shoe cushioning or other shoe designs.Barefoot movement of any type does not cause the same stress. …In all, our feet were made for walking, running, hopping, jumping, and all other natural movements.

    When we interfere with our natural movements, such as when we wear shoes, problems can arise. Apart from sandals and moccasins, humans evolved barefoot—for millions
    of years our feet were free. Suddenly, in only the past few hundred years, shoes of many types have restricted our feet, disturbed our gait, and caused untold problems to our feet, triggering other problems throughout the body they support.”

    So…

    I think we can all agree that gait has a MAJOR IMPACT ON SPEED.

    What can we do to improve our young athletes’ gait?

    Have them spend more time in bare feet.

     

    EXPAND YOUR BODY TO EXPAND YOUR POWER AND CONFIDENCE

    So we now know that posture majorly impacts speed and acceleration.

    Common sense would maybe say that it impacts our day to day behavior as well.

Amy Cuddy is known around the world for her 2012 TED Talk, which is the second-most viewed talk in TED’s history.

Check it out here!

A Harvard Business School professor and social psychologist, Cuddy studies how nonverbal behavior and snap judgments influence people. Her research has been published in top academic journals and covered by NPR, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Wired, Fast Company, and more.

In her book Presence Cuddy shares research about how proper posture and creating a Power Pose can improve testosterone in men and women by 19 percent and a 25 percent decrease in cortisol.

This pattern is known as the dual hormone hypothesis.

High testosterone + low cortisol = HIGH power. Low testosterone + high cortisol = LOW power.

Think about that: Two minutes of posing produced those dramatic shifts in biology.

Simply having our young athletes move their bodies in a more expansive way significantly boosts their confidence and power. ching out their opponents, they’re (literally!) building their own power!

THIS HAS A HUGE IMPACT ON SPORTS PERFORMANCE!!!  YOU CAN WATCH THIS VIDEO HERE TO LEARN WHY!!!

 

 “In our sample of women and men, the high-power posers showed a 19 percent increase in testosterone and a 25 percent decrease in cortisol. Low-power posers showed the opposite pattern—a 10 percent decrease in testosterone and a 17 percent increase in cortisol, the exact pattern we predicted.”

In short: Simply holding your body posture in an expansive, powerful way actually MAKES you feel more powerful.

Get this: In one study, individuals were split into two groups. One group assumed “low-power” poses in which they, essentially, took up less space (sitting = slouching + hands close to body; standing = legs close together, arms close to body and head down).

The other group assumed “high-power” poses in which they EXPANDED and took up more space (sitting in a relaxed, confident manner with legs out and hands behind head; standing like Wonder Woman with hands-on hips, chin up, and feet wide apart).

After only TWO minutes of posing, here’s what happened:

“In our sample of women and men, the high-power posers showed a 19 percent increase in testosterone and a 25 percent decrease in cortisol. Low-power posers showed the opposite pattern—a 10 percent decrease in testosterone and a 17 percent increase in cortisol, the exact pattern we predicted.”

That pattern is known as the dual hormone hypothesis. High testosterone + low cortisol = HIGH power. Low testosterone + high cortisol = LOW power. Think about that:

Two minutes of posing produced those dramatic shifts in biology.

Simply moving our bodies in a more expansive way significantly boosts our confidence and power.

As Steven Kotler likes to say in his Off the Chain New book, The Art of Impossible.  Peak Performance is all about getting your Biology to work for you rather than against you.

WHAT DESTROYS CONFIDENCE?  DOING THE IPHONE HUNCH

So now that we know the Power of Posture in both Acceleration mechanics and Confidence let’s go back to Cuddy real quick to see what destroys confidence and posture.

From her book Presence,

“As expected, device size significantly affected whether subjects felt comfortable seeking out the experimenter. In the ten minutes before the experimenter returned, only 50 percent of the smartphone users came out to tell experimenters they wanted to leave. By contrast, 94 percent of the desktop users went to fetch the experimenter. … the bigger the device, the more likely subjects were to assert themselves. In fact, not only were the big-device users more likely to interrupt, those who did interrupt did so sooner.

We concluded that the smaller the device, the more we must contract our bodies to use it, and the more time we spend in these shrunken, inward postures, the more powerless we feel.

Our findings uncover a cruel irony: while many of us spend hours ever day working on small mobile devices, often with the goal of increasing our productivity and efficiency, interacting with these tiny objects, even for short periods of time, might reduce assertiveness, potentially undermining our productivity and efficiency. If you must spend long stretches in front of a screen, which many of us do, be sure to choose a device carefully and configure your space to allow for the most upright and expansive posture.”

This is why if I eva catch my boys hunched over a screen they getting that paddle boi!  I just got this new high-end one made out of bamboo.

Are your young athletes spending time hunched on a screen?

Science says that is time is impacting confidence and sports performance…

THE POWER OF CONSISTENCY

This is why in Fast Twitch Prep we have our athletes spend 2 minutes in Power Pose every day.  Every Day!

Small, smart choices, consistently applied over an extended period of time = HUGE results.

I mean talk about a HUGE, EASY lever we can pull that creates a 19 percent increase in testosterone and a 25 percent decrease in cortisol.

This is a big reason why we set up the programming the way we do.  In Fast Twitch Prep, we have our athletes do their fundamentals and movements EVERY DAY.

Darren Hardy calls this the Compound Effect,

“The Compound Effect is the principle of reaping huge rewards from a series of small, smart choices. What’s most interesting about this process to me is that, even though the results are massive, the steps, in the moment, don’t feel significant. Whether you’re using this strategy for improving your health, relationships, finances, or anything else for that matter, the changes are so subtle, they’re almost imperceptible. These small changes offer little or no immediate result, no big win, no obvious I-told-you-so payoff. So why bother? Most people get tripped up by the simplicity of the Compound Effect. … What they don’t realize is that these small, seemingly insignificant steps completed consistently over time will create a radical difference.”

Learning proper acceleration mechanics, prioritizing the fundamentals, and having our young athletes do their Power pose every day make a big, positive impact.  #Facts.

The bottom line is this, your young athletes can improve Speed and Confidence by doing the little things consistently.

3 THINGS YOU CAN DO THIS WEEK

1) Have your young athletes take 2 minutes every morning this week doing the Power Pose as part of their routine, and if they are digging it have them do it before practice.

2) Have your young athletes spend as much time as possible this week in bare feet.

3) Have your young athletes A-March every day this week with a PVC pipe.

Since you’re here…
…YO, I have a small favor to ask. More people are reading The Playmaker Project article section than ever, and each week we bring you compelling content to building better athletes. Please take a moment to share the articles on social media, engage me with questions and comments below, and link to articles when appropriate if you have a blog or participate on forums of related topics.  I believe in your Greatness AND the Greatness of your Young Playmakers.   Let’s get better today!— CJ

Coach Jackson
Coach Jackson
Master’s Degrees in Education (Specializing in the Work of Abraham Maslow and Human Potential) and an MBA in International Leadership and Coaching. He is a N.A.S.E certified Speed and Explosion Specialist and Optimize Coach.
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