SAFE EFFECTIVE WAYS TO TEST YOUNG ATHLETES
One of the biggest things parents/clients like to see are numbers based results. When Training a High school Athlete over a summer session it’s pretty cut and dry when we send our testing results from pre-session and post-session home with them like a report card. Test scores could look like these 40 yard dash went from 5.092 to 4.91 and squat went from 405 to 435 so on an so forth. These are results and numbers that most parents can see and understand. The parent feels comfortable talking about how their athlete is training to his buddies and writing that check to pay for personal training.
Now I agree that a faster 40 combined with a heavier squat should transfer over to the field making the athlete more explosive and injury resistant. Which is the most important part of our job.
But what happens when you have to explain to a third or fourth grade parent. We certainly don’t have third or fourth graders max out on squat or the 40 yard dash. Now with our athletes the parents recognize the increase in confidence, change in posture and functional strength caring over immediately. But there are some parents that say “well yeah Jonnie can pick up that med ball right now and he couldn’t do that six weeks ago but is that really going to make him stronger? what is bench now?” Other parents ask our parents “your son is training with the trainer how much stronger did he get well he picked up a 30 pound med ball this week and shouldered them 12 times and three weeks ago he could only do 6. Most people give a weird look and say oh “medicine ball that’s great” not realizing the functional strength that lifting those objects in that manner are giving that young athlete a strong foundation for the future. A strong lower back, stronger posterior chain so when they do start squatting 3 to 4 years down the road their bodies have a strong foundation that is injury resistant.
The style of training we do is foreign to a lot of parents. Most parents are use to the global gyms, machines and the way they grew up training. So we wanted to come up with a few tests that had direct carryover from our training, that were safe for all age groups and would show how the hard work of their young athlete is paying off. We have had success with this because parents can see and watch the actual numbers increase so they have it in black-and-white.
For 6 graders and under we actually allowed the parents to interact and watch the testing. In the beginning they watched their son or daughter struggle with all their might to hold up on the inverted row test. Now that same parent comes back 4-6 weeks later and watches their athlete increase their time some by more than double! It gets pretty loud and exciting in our small facility.
This interaction is awesome for the parent and athlete to share. The pride from the athletes hard work is glowing from both faces and rightfully so. The parent now can understand what the training is doing, the parent now understands what functional strength is and the parent realizes the amount of money they are spending is going to great use. I have had parents thanking me for allowing them to be a part of that. We have had parents writing emails praising our work and explaining what a great experience that was for them and their child to share. Getting a young athlete stronger, healthier, along with giving the parent and athlete a bonding experience now that’s great stuff right there!
There are Four tests that we implement that Parents really seem to understand and are easy to explain how they transfer over to the athletic playing fields.
The four drills are :
10 yard dash
Overcoming ISO metric ball press for time
Static hold yielding inverted row for time
The Broad jump and 10 yard dash are pretty straight forward. We do not offer any real coaching cues or tips. The most coaching they hear is feet shoulder width apart and jump as far as you can. Make sure you control the landing. For the 10 yard dash we tell them to get in an athletic stance and run thru the line as fast as you can. Both these exercises demonstrate lower body strength and explosiveness. Tell me one sport that an increase in both of these drills won’t carry over to the field. You can’t!
The other two tests I’m not saying we created them but using them in this manner we are will help trainers communicate with parents and increase interaction with athletes and parents. Overcoming ISO metric press for time is a great pressing movement. This shows and measures upper body pressing strength.
The static hold inverted row for time is the opposite of the pressing movement. This exercise is a very safe and effective way to measure increases in upper body pulling strength.
Over coming ISO metric ball or barbell press for time
Have your athlete lay down on their back on the floor inside a power rack or cage have them press out like a floor press with a medicine ball or a barbell to about an inch away from lockout position. In the first photos we had Saul one of our wrestlers lock out a barbell against the safety spotter arms. The safety spotter arms are what makes this “overcoming ISO metric”. Meaning against an unmovable object. I learned this description and naming of this type of action from joe defranco.
For weight I like using about 40-50% of the athlete’s body weight this allows for a little bit longer of a struggle to help the athlete develop some mental toughness along with learning how to fight thru pain barriers safely.
Static hold yielding inverted row for time
Is a very similar setup. We have the athlete line up in a rack and put the bar at arms length height in J hooks. We have the athlete do a few reps of inverted rows to find the proper alignment to get the bar pulling to the center of their chest. Once proper alignment is established we have the athlete pull into the top position while placing a “youth size” football between the bar and the athlete. The clock starts and the athlete pulls as hard and as long as he can to keep the football on the bar. Time stops when the ball falls or is no longer in contact with the bar.
The funny thing is we created these tests for our third,fourth, fifth and sixth graders. But we started using them with our high school and college athletes as well. We turned them into little competitions or finishers at the end of our workouts for them to push each other. It gets pretty nuts when two state champs are going at it side by side and it’s a great way to increase mental toughness!