The main role of strength coaches in this industry has mainly been either A) Rehab or B) Make the athletes really tired so they feel like they have accomplished something. It’s time for a change.
These athletes spend countless hours trying to take their sport to the next level every day, which basically means putting their bodies on the line every day. You can watch snowboarders going 20 feet out of a 20 foot half pipe, motocross guys are attempting triple back flips on a 200+ lb bike. BMX guys are building 60ft drop in ramps to get as much air as they can for 1080s. We are training downhill mountain bikers who are going 30 mph over rocks and trees. Our moto endurocross athletes Nick Thompson and Rich Larsen put their bodies through absolutely brutal training. I mean it is nuts. I remember 15 years ago watching Cary Hart huck himself over and over trying to land a back flip off the step up kicker and now guys are hitting double back flips and 360s over 90ft gaps. With the endless need to be pushing for the next level, injuries are bound to happen. This is where having a good strength foundation that is relative to your sport performance needs can massively help improve injury prevention but also longevity of a career.
So what is it that strength training really brings to the table that just going out and riding doesn’t do for you?
1. High levels of Eccentric Strength are needed in these demanding sports to help control landings. Strength training is the best way to develop this type of strength. The stronger your legs are the better you can absorb a landing from 30 ft in the air and the less likely that landing will end in disaster.
2. Correcting Imbalances – which muscle groups are lagging in strength and which muscle groups are overdeveloped? Imbalances can seriously hinder overall peak performance and greatly increase injury risk in action sports. Where is the greatest risk for injury, or the weakest link? We use a full movement and performance assessment for every athlete to figure it out.
Where is the greatest risk for injury, or the weakest link?
3. Increased flexibility and mobility – ensuring functional, pain-free movement through a functional range of motion for the athlete’s sport. A good strength training program supports this by developing stabilizer muscles and dialing in good movement patterns (push, pull, squat, hip hinge, bracing, etc…) that carry over to the sport itself.
4. Improving Sport-Specific Strength – Strictly speaking, a snowboarder may not need a whole lot of upper body strength, but he or she absolutely must be strong enough to withstand the impacts that their upper body absorbs on hard crashes. Increased rotator cuff strength is extremely beneficial in preventing shoulder dislocations, for example. This is different from a BMX or Motocross rider, who needs a much higher level of upper body strength, as their shoulders and wrists are actively involved in the sport and are a pivotal part of the success of the rider.
Strictly speaking, a snowboarder may not need a whole lot of upper body strength, but he or she absolutely must be strong enough to withstand the impacts that their upper body absorbs on hard crashes.
5. Improving Aerobic Capacity and Work Capacity is also essential for action sports athletes because it allows them to perform at a higher level, for longer, more frequently. That means more practice runs before exhaustion and greater peak performance endurance on competition day.
The benefits of adding a well-planned strength program that doesn’t take away from sport-specific training simply cannot be overstated.
We want to make sure our athletes are at optimal levels of strength, conditioning, and overall health to be able to maximize their time actually practicing/competing in their sport.
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