Skill: The cognitive process in which we receive information, process information, and execute an action based on this information. It involves both higher order brain thinking and reflexive habitual responses.
Physical capabilities: The neural, structural, and contractile elements that perform the physical actions of a specific skill.
Storing and utilizing elastic energy is not only an intrinsic neuromuscular quality, but a skill. It requires the proper tensioning and timing of strong structural and contractile properties, which in turn allows them to store and realize the kinetic forces acting upon the body during the amortization phase of the jump. In other words, proper skill and strength allows you to act more like a bouncy ball when you hit the ground and less like a sack of potatoes.
Author’s Main Website: http://www.vandykestrength.com/
Every coach in the sports performance realm has likely heard the phrase “There are a million ways to skin a cat” in regards to implemented training. In all honesty this is not far from the truth. Depending on the athlete’s training age, almost any coach can get an athlete “strong”. It takes one with a deeper understanding of what is occurring within the athlete’s organism in order for performance to be increased to the greatest extent. The aim of this post is to force coaches to consider and implement training “concepts” or “primary goals”, rather than just a set, rep, or loading scheme.
As the internship coordinator, I have had the ability to ask countless applicants their processes of improving various aspects of performance through training, such as strength. Depending upon how well read the applicant may be, common answers range from set and rep schemes, weekly training set up, to even methodologies (triphasic, tier, 1×20, etc.). Based on the terminology of the question, all of these responses would be correct. As long as the loading scheme includes progressive overload and stresses the athlete being trained, any methodology has the potential to improve strength. However, when the applicant is asked to further explain their rationale behind implementing a methodology, more times than not their answers are unclear and spoken without much confidence. Please understand I am in no way knocking any applicant or intern that has gone through our application process, but this consistent finding exemplifies one of the bigger problems in our field. Too many coaches can spit out a set and rep scheme, use an intensity chart, or quote a system, while failing to understand the changes or adaptations being induced by the described training methodology. As coaches continue to develop a greater understanding of the human body, the more in-depth their training systems can become.
One of the most commonly talked about topics in strength and conditioning is the role that maximal strength plays in performance and whether or not it is necessary.
Before I dive into this topic, let me get some of the confusion out of the way. Maximal strength is not only important for performance, but it is mandatory. Without some level of maximal strength, there is no way any effort of great power could ever be performed.
Plyometrics are probably the most interesting part of athletes workouts. Or at least, the flashiest. It’s alluring to think that trying an advanced secret variation of an explosive jump that you saw on a youtube video of an MMA fighter (or professional dunker, or any other high level athlete) will morph you from Clark Kent into Superman.
Rate of force development (RFD) can be broken down into two stages. There is an early stage rate of force development and a late stage rate of force development. Early stage RFD is typically measured from 0-100 ms while late stage RFD is anything after.
Importance of Early Stage RFD
Sporting movements are often required to be fast, reactive movements that occur over a small amplitude. For example a large countermovement jump can take between 500-1000ms, while a squat jump with no countermovement may take around 300 to 430ms (1). In sport, movement amplitude is going to be much more similar to that of a squat jump (zero to minimal countermovement) than to that of a large CMJ. At the same time, sprinting ground contact times can last as short as 100ms. With this in mind, it is easy to see how early RFD may play an important role in sporting movement, especially those covering a small amplitude over a short period of time (ranging from 100-430ms).
Frans Bosch has popularized the concept of muscle slack (Van Hooren has publications on it). It is hinges on early stage rate of force development and the speed at which the muscle, tendon, and series elastic element can go from “slack” to “tense”. When a muscle is not activated, it is relaxed and there is slack in the muscle, tendon, and series elastic element as it hangs from its origin and insertion. Bosch uses the analogy of a rope to help describe how muscle slack works. You are holding one end of the rope and the other end is tied to a car, you are the origin and the car is the insertion. Before you can pull the car with the rope, the rope first has to become tense. This is the point where the rope goes from lying slack on the ground, to now in a straight line from your hands to the car. This is synonymous with the process of the muscle fibers aligning from the origin and insertion. The second part of the slack is that the rope now needs to become tense enough so that force can be applied to the truck. At this point, the rope goes from being in a straight line from your hand to the car, to now taut, from you producing a force on the rope. This is synonymous with the muscle co-contracting to produce enough force on the tendon so the muscle can become tense. Muscle slack uptake occurs during start of where the contractile element receives the chemical signal to align all the way to the point where both the musculotendon unit and the series elastic element are tense.
This week, we explored arguably one of the most significant areas of the body when it comes to contributing to pathology.
The thoracic spine is 12 segments (vertebrae) that are the bridge between the cervical spine and lumbar spine. On top of that, the ribs/ribcage articulate with the thoracic spine, and that scapula articulates with the ribcage…this creates a pivotal relationship with the thoracic spine and the shoulders.
Being “elastic” or “reactive” refers to being able to have a good ability to quickly develop force and transfer one movement’s energy into another. The reactive strength index (RSI) is one of the most commonly used field tests for assessing these qualities. The RSI is the jump height of the movement divided by ground contact time. In other words, the higher you jump and faster you get off the ground the better your RSI will be.