This is going to be a multi-part series describing what we do with the variety of high school athletes we train at Force Barbell. This is the first one – “Assessing the High School Athlete.”
Before any athlete starts training with us at Force, it is mandatory that the athlete goes through our standard assessment protocol. In this, we basically assess the athlete’s movement and performance capabilities. This initial assessment also allows us to speak to the athlete face-to-face so we can get a picture of where the athlete is mentally. Some athletes we can tell right away are already bought in, and are going to be willing to do the work, and some not. We typically want the parent’s of the athlete involved on the first day of the assessment as well, and that can better tell us things as if this was forced upon by the parents or if it was truly the athlete’s idea to get started with a legitimate strength and conditioning program.
I’m not going to mention a whole lot about what we assess on that initial day (that’s top secret), but it is just enough to tell us how the athlete moves and what we need to work on in the coming months. I will tell you right now that the majority of the high school athletes we get have no “core stability.” Now, I hate throwing that phase around because it is extremely misinterpreted and widely overused by people who couldn’t give you a solid explanation of what “core stability” really is. What I would describe as core stability would be the ability to properly use the muscles of the “core” to maintain positions and effectively absorb, produce, and transfer force from the ground through the kinetic chain. I could write a whole article on core stability, but I’ll spare you. Just know this, that fancy definition I gave you is VERY important for an athlete. Want to throw a 100mph fastball? Learn how to use the ground effectively. How to do that? Learn how to move through good positions.
One other big thing I see with high school athletes is they excessively lack strength. They are EXTREMELY weak. I’m even talking about you football players too. It is astounding how many athletes we get in that have very low vertical jump scores. It kind of baffles me how these athletes get away with it, because one thing in common with all sports is they all require a high amount of power output from the athletes. A very low vertical jump simply tells you that an athlete lacks strength and power. The good news for these athletes is that they come very prepared to work hard and learn, and they are young and gifted so it doesn’t take much to get them strong and powerful.
After this initial assessment with the athlete we will develop an initial one-month block program based off the athlete’s needs, goals, and capabilities. I won’t talk too much about the programming, because that will be the next part in the series on high school athletes, “Programming For the High School Athlete.” I will say that we usually use that first month to build up efficient movement patterns and the strength and size levels of the athlete. From this base or foundation we can do a multitude of different things with the athlete’s program after that initial month block.
To sum it up, all high school athletes have to come through our initial assessment before getting started training. I don’t care who you are and if you think you are too strong or athletic to need an assessment. That comes first or you don’t train with us. The assessment usually last about an hour and isn’t very fancy at all. We get the information we need about the athlete, his/her history, their goals, why they want to train with us, and a mental picture of how dedicated they are to being the best athlete they can be. It is also a time to get the athlete acquainted with the way we do things. We like to think of it as a time to get some mutual trust before the athlete puts all of their coins in our basket. After the assessment the athlete is usually excited to get started with training and we will likely see them the next day to get them started on their path to being the most dominant athlete they are capable of being.