Day 3 was a blast! For the first time this season we had an "X-Factor" day. X-Factor simply means that we put our athletes through a large number of conditioning/explosive movements that will help them to better prepare for competition.
We had four different stations. At mine, I had kids doing box jumps from a two footed static stance and one-footed jumps with a small amount of build up. After each jump, athletes performed a depth jump and landed "athletically" to help their bodies "understand" how to absorb the landing properly and to build tolerance and strength. Other stations included agility cone drills, hurdle mobility drills and explosive starts, and a station dedicated to explosive movements done individually or with partners.
The athletes did VERY well, and showed a wonderful resilience throughout the entire process!
This day is a component of conditioning that I sincerely believe is foundational. Without this day, I truly believe that athletes will miss the mark on many specific conditioning needs to best prepare for the season. We as jumps coaches need teach them the mechanics of the jumps (obviously), but the strength needed to perform them is just as important!
During this offseason I came to the realization that I truly am "handcuffed" by how little time I get with my athletes. Here in Wisconsin we only get the three month season to coach our kids. We cannot contact them in the offseason other than five "contact days". What makes this important to this specific post is that many times kids come in not able to perform right away due to obvious weaknesses which are linked to poor offseason conditioning. In a perfect world, every kid would spend a great deal of time dedicated to properly preparing for the sports they play. In reality though, conditioning days are needed. The strength and speed needed to perform the jumps is generally not built properly or at all during the offseason.
Mechanics can (at times) be spared in favor for strength. Strength and speed gets you the distance. Mechanics ensures you maximize potential. Strength and speed should come first (thus the importance of an X-Factor day). Technique should follow.
"Testing Day". We will be testing our athletes in various focuses/events to see where we feel they would best fit. One of the best things we do as a program is find places for kids to be successful. I hear stories all the time about programs "finding" a kid just before they graduate and hoping they had more time with them. On our team that doesn't happen because of days like the "testing day".