This week’s Blog post is from Ryan Martin, Director of Sports Performance at Old Dominion University. ODU is a Sparta partner that has championed Sparta integration into collegiate strength programs. Read below to see how Ryan and his staff have benefited from the insights provided by the Sparta system.
De-emphasizing the Barbell Squat to Improve DRIVE
Unilateral Dominate Training for D1 Football Skill Players
Developing athletes is a constantly evolving process that can improve or create deficiencies. Some imbalances the athlete may have are a result of genetics, poor training habits or a lack a training all together. Our goal this off-season was to specialize our training beyond what we had done in the past to further reduce the potential for injury and improve on-field performance.
We adhere to a classification process that addresses three areas in our multi-year plan to develop our athletes. This approach allows us to meet not only the athletes needs from an individual standpoint, but also from a positional one as well.
First we categorize them by training age; i.e. years in our program.
We then separate them into groups based on position
Lastly, each athlete will then be placed into our Development, Intermediate or Advanced program.
In the sport of football, the further away from the ball by position, the emphasis on speed and movement magnify. Skill position players (i.e.- running backs/wide receivers/quarterbacks/defensive backs) possess traits that enable them to accelerate/decelerate/change direction and carry out top end speed greater than other positions. Our approach was to continually develop theses traits in a more specialized manner and greatly reduce the potential for injury. Through scanning with the Sparta Scan, we found our biggest deficiency was with DRIVE – the ability to carry out force primarily through the posterior chain. When DRIVE is the lacking variable, as compared to LOAD/EXPLODE, the athlete is at a greater risk to incur a soft tissue injury. Through a self-assessment of our program, we found that over an eight year period roughly 30% of our injuries (required missed time to rehab) were soft tissue in nature for this position group. For our assessment, soft tissue injuries were defined as a muscle strain to the hip flexor/quadriceps/groin/calf or hamstring.
Movement Signatures (Averages by Position)