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"Our readers demand
and deserve the most
cutting-edge information
for their sports success.
That’s why we have
chosen Athletic Edge
as the official training
center for HS Athlete
Magazine."


-- Mark MacDonald

Founder and Publisher,
HS Athlete Magazine

 

 




It sounds almost too basic, but the trainers at Athletic Edge understand how to condition athletes in a way that's appropriate to succeeding at their given sport.  Comprehending the athlete's sport, both its specific energy system requirements and its movement patterns, is critical to designing a conditioning program that's actually targeted and efficient.  Conditioning, defined as an energy system adaptation to a physical stimulus, is the most improperly-trained component of athletics today.  Sadly, the sports world is full of soccer coaches, swim coaches and various others who misunderstand energy system requirements and use cardiovascular endurance - like distance  running or swimming laps - as the primary stimulus to condition their athletes.  This is nothing but a waste of time.  And physiology.



The slide board is an effective tool for lateral movement conditioning

The proper use of conditioning is critical to an athlete's success, not just because of the energy system adaptations, but also because it can alter an athlete's muscular composition.  Everyone possesses a muscular composition - a certain number of slow-twitch muscle fibers, fast-twitch muscle fibers, and a percentage of convertible muscle fibers.  If the improper stimulus is used during conditioning, an athlete's muscular makeup can actually be changed to become less efficient for their given sport.  Trainers and coaches should be creating more fast-twitch fibers for athletes who need them and slow-twitch fibers for athletes who alternatively need them.  And they shouldn't be turning the convertible fibers to take on slow-twitch characteristics when the sport is a fast-twitch-dominant sport.

An example would be a soccer coach, who has his or her athletes running or jogging many miles per week.  Soccer is more of an anaerobic endurance sport, not an aerobic endurance sport. It is a sport where intermittent sprinting, walking and jogging all occur.  While running may create a good aerobic base, it should not be done more than one or two times per week.  The majority of conditioning for soccer should be interval sprints with changes of direction.




Interval slide board mountain-climbers integrate core training with conditioning

The specific times of the sprints and the recovery between them is equally important.  The average sprint done in soccer is between eight and 15 yards. The recovery phase may vary by position, since a defender may have to sprint and have a long recovery period, while a midfielder may have many sprints with a very short rest interval in between.  What's done during the recovery is also very important.  A defender may be able to do a sprint and stand around before their next one, while a midfielder may sprint and do a light jog between sprints.  If there is a lot of backpedaling, shuffling, or change of direction, these movement patterns should be used in conjunction with the energy-system-specific conditioning program as well.




Wind sprints are a tried and true method of conditioning

While conditioning is only one component to a sport-specific strength and conditioning program, it's an important one.  For athletes who are serious about their sport, they should take conditioning seriously and train for their sport, not someone's else's.


 
Athletic Edge Saccadic Fixator



Energy System
Make sure your conditioning is structured to be slightly harder than your sport demands, but not so much more as to change the energy system being used. For example, if you run the 100 meter dash, you should train at around 120 meters not 1600.





Conditioning Wins
Great conditioning is what wins in the end, and allows you to hold off the opponent when you are leading. Good sports skills are critical for success, but if you cannot get to the ball, then you will never get to use them .

 
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