What Really is Elite or High Performance and Who Needs It?

We often see marketing for ‘elite strength and conditioning’ or ‘high performance athlete training’, but what really is elite or high performance and who needs it?Below we cover off three important pillars prior to even considering an ‘elite strength and conditioning’ program. Have you mastered these in your training?I will use an article from two of the leaders within our industry, Dean Benton and Vern Gambetta, as it provides a unique and well explained overview of what our athletes are subject to on a daily basis with ACE Performance.

 I have had the privilege of spending time with Dean whilst he was in charge of the Melbourne Storm High Performance Team in our early days of operation and not only did we discuss this article but also how it pertains to a range of athletes, from youth to professional level.

Some of the key points from this article that I would like to touch on:

3 P’s – Postures/poses/positions:

Here the authors are describing the need for developing athletes to experience and master different shapes and understand how they affect athletic movement. Within our company we use a similar acronym to describe our running mechanics: PAP

Posture: How does an athlete create and maintain appropriate posture during running

Angle: Can our athletes find the correct joint angles during running to be as efficient as possible

Position: What is the position of the body in relation to the task at hand. We utilise a range of different methods to help athletes explore these phenomena and develop their movement mechanics within a sporting context.

Running Technique:

The authors state “Running is an essential skill in a majority of sports”, I like to take this one step further and quote Stuart McMillan, from ALTIS (www.altis.world) who says that “As sprinting underpins all field-based sports, it is imperative that coaches understand how to effectively teach appropriate sprinting technique. No amount of specific strength will ‘bulletproof’ an athlete with poor technique.”

Without a doubt this is one of the most important parts to an athlete development program no matter the age, sex, training level, experience and development of an athlete. We continue to develop, refine and attempt to perfect movement mechanics for ALL of our athletes across the board.

Within my time as a coach in Australia I have been lucky enough to work with athletes of all levels. Olympians, professional sports (AFL, Wallabies, NRL, NBL, A-League), Paralympians and all the way down to 7-8 year old superstars. All of my athletes have a unique movement signature which I will constantly be developing and remodelling to ensure that they achieve their desired results in the shortest amount of time possible.

Postural Strength:

“The brain does not recognise individual muscles. It recognises patterns of movement…”

The authors here are addressing a very important concept which is unfortunately misunderstood within our industry. With the every emerging ‘social media guru’s’ and the multiple strength and conditioning facilities popping up around the place we unfortunately have to see both the best and the worst of our industry.Athletes are designed to move in harmony, linking fascia, tendons, muscles, joints and everything in between to create movement in an efficient manner. Rehab on specific muscles, targeting strength in a specific muscle and even conditioning of specific muscle groups is a risky job.

Our job as athlete development coaches is to ensure the human body can work the way it was supposed to…as one complete structure. Our program will re-introduce correct breathing patterns, re-align joints and re-program movement mechanics before they completely break down.The entirety of our program is designed behind the philosophy that athletes play sports on their feet, they must move, run, jump, land, pivot and tackle in many sports. Giving the athlete the tools to complete this at a higher level will always be at the forefront of our coaches minds.