Hindsight is 20/20. This article highlights the top 5 things I wish I could have changed as a high school athlete knowing what I know now. The goal is to give you the tools to avoid the similar pitfalls as I did and become a better athlete!
SPEED IS KING
Faster athletes are better athletes. Doesn’t matter the sport or position, if you are faster than the competition you will most likely be successful in every facet of the game. I sacrificed my speed in high school in order to hit a certain weight in football. I was bigger and more muscular, but I was slower and ultimately worse at football because of it. I have seen countless undersized teams and players, make up for their lack of bulk by running circles around their bigger/slower opponents. Run track if you have nothing to do in the spring. Speed helps everything.
TRAIN THE FOOT
The foot is a super neglected part of younger athletes training regiments. The foot is a key piece in the puzzle of preventing knee injuries, being super bouncy and fast. Keeping your feet in shoes 24/7 coddles the feet and weakness the small muscles of the foot leaving them vulnerable to injury and energy leaks up the chain. You may have a Ferrari engine (lower body strength/big squat) but if you have flat tires (weak feet) you won’t be moving anywhere very fast.
Some ways I like to train the foot are:
Heavy sled/car pushes
Jump rope barefoot
Barefoot calf raises in various positions.
MY HAMSTRINGS WEREN'T TIGHT
We have all heard it before, “you need to stretch your hamstrings more often” or “you’d be faster if you weren’t so tight”. Rarely are your hamstrings actually tight – more often than not they are actually super WEAK.
Some ways I like to strengthen the hamstrings are:
Properly performed Romanian Deadlifts (RDL),
SPEED LADDERS ARE A WASTE
While they can be an ok warm up and used in the rehab setting, simply shuffling your feet quickly will do nothing to make you a faster or more agile athlete. I like this quote about speed ladders “If speed ladders made you faster, than piano players would have the best fastballs.”
Just moving your feet quickly does very little for the knee and hip which are needed for speed. Elite athletes don’t typically move their legs faster, but rather put more force into the ground leading to faster movement.
Some ways I like to work on speed and agility is to:
Sprint maximally 2-3x per week. Complete rest between sprints, various start positions, chasing a partner ideally.
Play Games. Spike Ball. 1 on 1 basketball. Run routes on your friend. Play tag. Play flag football.
Some of y’all are just lazy, so this does not apply to you. This applies to the athletes who love the weight room grind and do a lot of work outside of their sport. I think we get infatuated with “the grind” we see on social media. We see elite athletes doing these grueling workouts and believe we need to do the same. First off, they are typically genetically gifted and could workout however they want and still be elite. Second, us less genetically gifted folks need to be a little smarter about how we train to maximize our potential.
Working out 2x per day is probably not necessary.
Working our >5x per week is probably not necessary.
30 sprints is not always better than 10 sprints.
50 box jumps is not always better than 15 box jumps.
I would rather do 15 box jumps SUPER well and get the most bang for my buck rather than do 50 crappy reps.
Hope this was beneficial to you as a reader! Share with your friends and don’t make the same mistakes as I did in high school!
Big Cat out🦁