3 Ways To Improve Athleticism

Walk into any collegiate weight room and you will see one common occurrence…

…The strongest players on the team rarely play!  They are strong, but not athletic!

“If you can’t move, you can’t help us” – Buddy Morris

The one common denominator in all forms of athletics is rapid movement.   

The ability to generate force, cut on a dime, and rapidly decelerate tends to be a separator for
athletes.  In addition, these physical traits allow a coach to access the athlete’s athleticism, which in turn, will tell a coach how high the athletes athletic celling is.

Everyone has heard a college or NFL coach say: “He was raw when we offered him a scholarship, but we knew the potential was there.  He just needed to be developed”

The potential is there because the athlete has a high level of athleticism.

So, as you get into your off-season, what are you doing to increase your athleticism?

Here are my top three methods to develop athleticism this off-season:

1: Do jumps in all three planes of motion

Human movement can be broken down into three planes of movement: Sagittal, Frontal, and Transverse.

  • Sagittal = Forward and Backwards
  • Frontal = Side to Side
  • Transverse = Rotational

With the exception of track, there is very little opportunity to play a sport only in one plane of motion.  This makes the emphasis on jumping in all three planes of motion extremely important.  Nothing in training generates force as rapidly as a jump which makes jumping a highly transferable movement to the athletic arena.

Some examples of jumping in all three planes of motion:

  • Sagittal: Broad Jumps, Box Jumps, Hurdle Hops
  • Frontal: Lateral Bounds, Single Leg Medial and Lateral Hops, Lateral Box Jumps
  • Transverse: Rotational Box Jumps, Single Leg 90deg Rotation Hops

Be sure to mix in all three planes of motion each week.  Remember, the focus of a jump is to generate force rapidly hit a triple extension so be sure you are not compromising form by performing a movement you are not ready for.  Without triple extension, you will not get the training effect you are working towards.

2: Train with rapid deceleration and rapid acceleration

Athletics are nothing more than a series of rapid decelerations and rapid accelerations.  Which means they involve reaction based agility at a high rate of speed.

So, how to we prepare the body for this demand?

Simple, train the body to decelerate properly and once that has reached a high level of competency you can add a rapid acceleration directly following the deceleration.

Start by doing short depth jumps and short sprints with a hard deceleration.  Once you have mastered this start mixing in the acceleration component.  To do this perform a box jump directly followed by a vertical jump or a broad jump.  You can also do a short sprint with a hard deceleration followed by another sprint.

Essentially you want your athlete to have to decelerate, control their body positioning, and the rapidly get back to full speed. Think of a Wide Receiver running a route and the Defensive Back covering.  This type of change of direction and reaction based agility can be trained in the off-season through training for rapid deceleration and rapid acceleration.

3: Do Post-Activation Potentiation Work

Post-Activation Potentiation (PAP) is a dirty little trick to teach the body how to be more explosive.

What you do is perform a lift at a near maximal level (80-95% of 1 Rep Max) directly followed by an explosive movement which mimics the lift.

Some examples include…

  • Back Squat w/ a Box Jump
  • Bench Press w/ a Plyometric Push Up
  • Power Clean w/ a Broad Jump

While the power movement is important, when training PAP, the focus should be on the explosive movement.
When you follow a power movement with an explosive one the body will generate a greater amount of force for the explosive movement.  This causes you to get a more transferable training effect and build your athleticism while in the weight room.

If you are an athlete looking to kill it this off-season or a coach training athletes to be more athletic make sure to incorporate these three methods into your training.

As always, please feel free to reach out if you have questions or would like to get on a program to maximize your potential.

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