Long Term Athletic Development

Systematic and Individualized Training Progress

Ryan Muñoz, B.S., M.S., C.S.C.S.

MAD Strength and Conditioning Coach Ryan Muñoz setting up Fusion Sport Testing equipment for a combine which he conducted in his hometown in The Central Valley, Tracy/Stockton, CA.

LTAD Pillar 9 - “Practitioners working with youth should systematically progress and individualize training progress for successful Long-Term Athletic Development.”

A wide range of MAD athletes setting up for different vertical jump variations. From front to back Sabrina Ma (sophomore, S.I. Varsity Basketball), Dina Frankel (8th Grade, Glens Evolution and Team USA), Leila Hennessy (junior, S.I. Varsity Softball and committed to Dartmouth), Aiden Gotch (freshman, S.I. Freshman Basketball).

To end the year, we’ll discuss Pillar 9 of LTAD. This pillar addresses a couple of basic principles of exercise, progression and overload. It states “Practitioners working with youth should systematically progress and individualize training progress for successful Long-Term Athletic Development.” This means athletes must progressively overload their muscles to improve performance. This can be achieved in many ways.

MAD veteran Caden Hutcherson executing a MAD foundational movement, the split squat. Once Caden has demonstrated that he has mastered the proper technique for the split squat, he can begin to load the movement. When he demonstrates his use of the proper technique for the split squat at a given load, then MAD coaches can progress Caden's movement to single leg squat.

Overload is not simply increasing the amount of resistance used for a given movement. Overload can be achieved by increasing the complexity of a movement (Split squat v.s. Bulgarian Split Squat, muscle snatch vs. power snatch), or changing the terrain of a movement (stable vs. unstable, incline vs. flat). All of these changes in training must be done in a gradual, consistent fashion (progressive) to ensure that athletes safely achieve improvements in their performance.

MAD Pro Josh Fox performs a Single Leg Squat with his rear foot elevated on a bench. In his school days, Josh starred for the Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep and U.C. Davis basketball programs, and now he plays for the Ballarat Miners of the South East Australian Basketball League and is a member of the Fijian Men's National Basketball Team.

Coaches should have tracking systems in place to make certain that athletes are achieving overload, and doing so safely. MAD adheres to Pillar 9 by designing programs specific to the athletes' needs & goals, and by tracking athletes' progress along the way.

The S.I. Boys Varsity Lacrosse Team performs side bridges during their off-season training.

MAD individualizes its training programs through an evaluation process. Whether it’s a more hands-on process with a small group or individual evaluation, or something done in a larger team setting, the evaluation process will write each athlete's program. For both individuals and teams, training elements such as time of year (off-season, pre-season, in-season), demands of the sport, athlete age, and injury history will all play significant roles in the program design.

For more information on MAD's evaluation process, see the MAD Times article "LTAD: Monitoring, testing, and LTAD."

Above is a screenshot of a MAD Athlete Progress Report summary page for the entire S.I. Varsity Lacrosse Team. This is an example of a weekly report which breaks down sessions scheduled, sessions attended, strength gained in pounds across all movements, and it also tracks games played and injuries incurred. If athletes are showing up consistently, strength should be improved and injuries should be nonexistent.

Once a program is developed, athletes must train consistently following their customized regimens. Additionally, a sound training calendar will incorporate periodic re-evaluations the chief purpose of which are to monitor athletes’ progress and to identify areas in need of further improvement. Program changes and adjustments are therefore based on said retesting, and once implemented, the training cycle can continue to proceed.

A screen shot of another page in a MAD weekly APR for the S.I. Boys Varsity Lacrosse Team shows a breakdown of the numbers for each athlete. No, the cast of "The Simpsons" is not playing for the S.I. Boys Varsity Lacrosse Team; Coach Muñoz just borrowed the characters' names to protect the athletes' privacy.

Once training programs are in place, we monitor athletes’ progress through tracking and reports. Every MAD workout is tracked, movements and volume load (sets, reps, and resistance used) completed for each movement. This ensures that athletes are increasing strength (back squat improvement) and doing so safely.

(picture of Timmons and Cooper)

Patrick Timmons (left) and Sam Cooper (right), both juniors on the S.I. Boys Varsity Lacrosse Team, perform push-ups while wearing BStrong BFR Bands. The bands allow athletes to perform less reps at lower weights and receive the physiological benefits of their regular workouts. This provides players with an opportunity to workout and continue their progress on days after competing in matches and games.

Improving roughly 5-15% every 2 weeks is generally what coaches want to see. This will differ greatly based on movement type (lower body, upper body, full body) as well as an athlete’s training age ( years spent training/weight lifting).

(picture of Jackie and Sabrina)

Jackie acosta (left) and Sabrina Ma (right) use rubber bands stretched from ankle to ankle in order to perfect their defensive forms and their foot speed and strength. Jackie and Sabrina are both sophomores playing for the S.I. Girls Varsity Basketball Team, and both made the varsity squad last year as freshman.

Increases in training loads must ALWAYS be done with proper technique and should be done at the coach's discretion, not the athlete’s. Once an athlete has achieved a certain training load for a given exercise, for example being able to squat 1.5 x bodyweight or pull 40% of BW,, the complexity of a movement can be increased to challenge the athlete’s abilities.

MAD Director John Murray looks on to ensure that Claire Donohue perfects her technique in fundamental exercises before she progresses to more advanced forms. Claire is an eighth grader at St. Cecilia's, and she studies with the Dillon Magh Adhair Academy of Irish Dance. She began training with MAD this past fall, and recently she placed first as an Open Champion at the John Keneally Feis in Sacramento.

The athlete will learn and refine the more complex movement at lighter loads and will repeat the process to gradually increase training loads. This process is repeated over and over again.

Another screenshot of a MAD APR. Above is a page from the APR for the S.I. Boys Varsity Lacrosse Team from their monthly report for December 2019. At the end of each month, MAD supplies players and coaches with an APR for the entire month in order to provide them with an overview of their progress.

MAD uses the tracking data acquired from workouts to build progress reports for athletes, coaches, and parents. The MAD Athlete Progress Report (APR) is a weekly, monthly, or quarterly breakdown of an athlete’s performance in the weight room. Sessions attended, Performance (Strength gained in Lbs, Power- vertical/broad jump/ 10 yd. sprint, or other performance tests), injuries, and games/competitions played are all reported to the athlete, coach, team management and parents.

MAD Pro Josh Fox performs a Barbell Hang Power Snatch. It takes a bit of training to progress to this more advanced exercise. Josh has been training with MAD since his college days when he tread the hardwood for the Aggies of U.C. Davis.

In a nutshell, athletes must constantly push their limits to improve their performance and maintain their health. Whether increasing the load on a back squat, or learning a new movement (single leg movement vs. double leg movement) coaches must always strive to safely progressively overload their athletes and make sure they monitor their progress along the way.