Category Archives: Flexibility

Video: Foam Rolling for Youth Athletes

Foam rolling, or self-myofascial release, is a technique used by athletes help break up adhesions and scar tissue to speed up the healing and recovery process after a training session. By rolling out theses knots, blood-flow is increased and muscles can return to their normal function.

At Champion’s QUEST, our athletes foam rolling or use other self-myofascial release techniques both before the start of a workout and also at the conclusion as part of a cool-down to begin the healing process.

About the Author:CQ headshot

Coach Kyle Ertel, Soccer Performance Coach, CSCS USA-W USSF

Kyle@ChampionsQUEST.com       562-598-2600

Athlete Success Story: Lauren Willingham

Los Alamitos High School has produced many athletes and scholars in the past years. This year there is a sophomore that is bound to be another great athlete and scholar will graduate a Griffin.  She is a member Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 2.18.34 PM.pngof the Los AL Track & Field team, just like her record breaking older sister and she is on a course to do just the same.  Now that Lauren Willingham has gone through one season of Track & Field, she has become more controlled over her hurdling form and has been developing her strength in our weekly training program. The gains that she will be achieving form the Strength Clinics will not only help her through the season but will provide a base for any college program that she will attend in her future.

Lauren is not only a hurdler for Los Al, she also has been dancing for the Center Stage Dance Academy in Long Beach. She has been dancing since the age of three and is planning to continue through the rest of her high school years. With her dancing starting at a young age it has helped her with the flexibility needed in the hurdle races. Lauren has a very strong academic course load at Los Al, which will put her as top contender to any school she chooses to continue her education at. She is also a member of the California Scholarship Federation which will help guide her in a positive direction for higher education and she also has the potential of receiving up to $5000 in a scholarship fund.Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 2.32.42 PM.png
Since July of last year Lauren has dedicated herself to increasing her strength which will help her speed and power on the track. Now she has transitioned into the power phase of her training program for this season and it will provide her the ability to increase her power through the hurdles. This year she has set her goals at 16.83s for the 100m hurdles and 48.87s on the 300m hurdles, both of these goals are challenging for her but she has the ability to reach them. Once she has gained a strong step in between the hurdles then she will see her times drop and will be able to inch closer to the school records before the end of her senior year. I feel that if continues to grow in strength and power with our program along with a solid base of self-confidence she be able to have a couple of Los Al records with her name just like her older sister.

Go Griffins!!!

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Article by,

Coach Derrick Campbell, USTF-L1

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Why is “Core” So Important? Part 2

Where we last left off, I introduced the topic of Core training, and why it is so important for rotational based athletes. The idea is that we use the body as a “giant whip” from the ground up to propel ourselves or an object with maximal force. The legs can be considered the big “V8 engine” that is responsible for starting the acceleration process. This emphasizes that a large amount of force is being pushed through the ground. From there, the core is next to engage and represents the connection point between the lower and upper extremities. Without a strong connection point, the energy will sub-maximally be transferred, and thus the athlete will not maximize their potential power.

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At 5’10” 170 lbs, Jamie Sadlowski is a prime example of how a powerful core can propel an athlete. He has won two World Long Drive Titles, despite being “under-sized” for the sport. 

Before we touch on the specifics of proper rotational strength training, however, we have to understand how we approach this from a functional standpoint. The “Joint-By-Joint Approach” is something I explicitly follow when it comes to training athletes to be functionally stronger. This approach explains how each joint from the ground up must alternate between mobility and stability. For instance, the ankles must be mobile, the knees stable, the hips mobile, etc. When an imbalance occurs in this chain and a joint inappropriately either loses or gains mobility, the other joints in the chain will inappropriately have to compensate for the imbalance. This, undoubtedly, can lead to injuries. With this in mind, as we work up the chain, this approach demands that the Lumbar Spine must remain stable, while the Thoracic Spine must exhibit mobility.

This is such an important concept when it comes to rotational strength development. It is all too easy to put an athlete in a position where they are putting rotational stress through the Lumbar Spine. A prime example of this is a “Russian Twist.” How can the athlete possibly complete this drill without mobilizing the Lumbar Spine? The emphasis of tapping each side of the body forces the athlete to reach, round the shoulders, and inherently round their spine. The stress and “work” of the movement works its way down the rounded spine and falls directly on the Lumbar section. Even worse, the athlete is usually encouraged to use a medicine ball, which creates an added load and adds to the stress of the Lumbar Spine. So, while the athlete is gaining strength in the appropriate rotational based core muscles, they are promoting an imbalance in their mobility.0

This leads us to the absolute truth, that rotational based core training must promote rotational specific strength, AND promote the combination of lumbar stability and thoracic spine mobility. Strength without range of motion is useless! In fact, strength without range of motion, is an injury just waiting to happen. Next time, we will continue to dive into the specifics of this very particular type of training. Every athletic movement pattern can be classified by both the strength of the movement, and the speed of the movement. Stay tuned as we go over progressions, and how to effectively program for power gains.

Coach Kyle Richter, CSCS, USAW, TPI

USC Baseball Alumni- BA Human Performance

Increase Hip Mobility to Generate Power

The Hip

It is the most important joint that we have to generate power throughout our body. The Hip or the hip girdle area is a very anatomically complex with over  that are associated with the area. All of these muscles work together to gain mobility and transfer power from the hip to the extremities. The more elastic or mobility you can create within the hip, the greater force production you can generate as you produce power. The power in your hips could be easily restricted if there were a group or one of those muscles did not have the elasticity needed in order to take the hip into a complete range of motion to generate maximum amount of force.

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Pre-Loading

Being able to pre-load the hips is crucial if you want to be explosive as an athlete in all planes of motion. In my years of training youth athletes, I have seen so many athletes demonstrate the inability to hinge at the hip correctly which leads to other areas to produce power or, in some cases, it will not be created at all. Being able to gain the hip mobility in order to hinge is important to all athletes that need to generate power. Also, having enough strength to aid in joint stability, especially in the lumbar area of back will help lead to the ability to display that force quickly through the body. The hip hinge is a movement that all athletes need to learn and master. There are drills that will help increase the mobility of the hip and there are other drills that will help teach you to hinge properly at the hip. If you need to help with taking strength and applying it quickly to generate power you can add these exercises and drills in your training regimen: Olympic lifts, Romanian DeadLift, Good Mornings, medicine ball ball throws, sprinting, jumping, hitting and throwing.

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Hip Mobility

Mobility = tissue length + neural muscular control/stability + joint structure. One big goal as a youth Athlete Performance Coach is to not only teach my athletes about their bodies but also to help them improve their mobility in all areas of the body to prevent injury. Having increased mobility is an aid to gaining the strength needed to generate power and assist with their recovery. Many athletes lack the flexibility in their gluteus and hamstrings in order for them to correctly squat, lunge and hinge at the hip. With the lack of mobility their stress will transfer into other areas such as the lumbar spine. This could be one of the reasons why we have youth athletes that suffer from lower back pain and injuries, not limited to the hip or lumbar spine areas.

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If you were asking yourself, when should I add in flexibility training in my workout, practices and competition. It’s simple: everyday and all day. In order to gain mobility you need to train your muscles to be mobile as much as possible because of the amounts of stress that you are applying to them on a daily basis. Do not limit the different types of mobility drills that you can apply to your flexibility training everyday. Unlike strength training, you are not going to over train your body by doing simple mobility drills throughout the day.

Pre-activity – focus on having an acute-corrective strategy to your flexibility training. That means to focus on the areas that may be limited in range of motion or may be compensated due to an injury. Also focus on more stretches that are more dynamic or ballistic in nature and stay away from a static stretch or limit your static stretches to under 8-10 seconds each. What you want to promote pre-activity is optimal length/tension relationships and develop active flexibility.

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Post-activity – your focus is more centered on recovery and tissue regeneration. Adding in myofascial tissue release into your cool down will help aid in tissue regeneration and recovery. Once you have completed your myofascial tissue release set then the ability to statically stretch your muscles will be more affective in gaining the necessary range of motion to aid in developing power and help decrease recovery time. One routine that you can add into your day is to have a static stretching protocol just before you get in bed. This not only will this help you unwind and relax, but it also helps you maintain any flexibility gains that you have worked on throughout the day.

Article by: Coach Derrick Campbell, USATF-L1

Three Steps to Increase Speed

If you are always wondering what you can do to help increase your speed, I am here to let you know that there are three simple things that you can do in order to help increase you speed. Now a days, every athlete has the desire to be the fastest on their team and with a proper strength training program, a focused sprinting program and having the flexibility to allow your body to produce maximum amounts of force all will lead to gains in speed that you are looking for. We cannot forget that it takes a strong sense of dedication to remain focused on your goals in order to stay committed to reaching them.

It all starts by having the proper strength training program that will take any athlete to the next level in their performance at all levels. Being able to incorporate the correct exercisesYouth-Strength-Training-Program in your training program is essential. The strength training program should include exercises that not only focus on your lower body but also the upper body. Both portions of your body work synergistically to produce power. Some example exercises could be as basic as a back squat to a more complexed movement like the split jerk. Understanding the order and progression for each athlete is something that would require the guidance of a professional in order to prevent unwanted injuries. Being able to discuss your goals and timeline with your trainer or strength coach will help them program and progress your training with the same vision and direction as yourself.

Now one of the most important things that needs to be done if you want to increase your speed is to run and run as much as possible. During your off-season is the time you would take to focus on building stamina in your run with some mid to long distance sprints involved. With the pre-season program, it is important to not only gear runningyour runs towards short and mid distance sprints but also a tapering down of your distance running. As you enter you season there should be a focus on acceleration and reaching your top end speed. At the start of the season is where you can focus on form work as well. The middle of your season is where you would need to focus on top end speed and short powerful sprints. It is very important to mimic the sprint training to the type of sprints you are doing in your sport. Once the season ends you do not want to just stop running because your off-season training will take an extra amount of time in order to get you back in to shape. What you want to do in the post-season is to use the time to mentally review the season during light runs with mild intensity.

The biggest area that some athletes seem to neglect, is increasing and maintaining their flexibility. With the more training you do, this correlates to increased tension on those muscle groups that are used. Athletes that have increased amplitudes of movements in their hips and shouldersstretch can produce great amounts of power with their limbs. Flexibility is one area that needs to be addressed throughout the entire year, since you are always training each quarter of the year. Athletes that take the time to involve some type of flexibility program into their daily rituals will have an advantage over other athletes that might not have such dedicated focus in their training. Every athlete is different and with that you would need to understand your body completely in order to feel what it is telling you so that you can do the correct stretches to help promote fast recovery, increased speed and reduce the risk of injury.

Every athlete has different goals and body types including the means on how they want to reach those goals. You need to have a clear plan on reaching your goals and with a strong mind set in order to maintain your focus. Being able to map out your plan and goals will give a strong sense of direction and a timeline to reach them. It is always a challenge on reaching your athletic goals and increased focus will keep you on the right track to accomplish everything that you set your mind to.

Article by: Derrick Campbell, USTF-L1

Success Story: Alison Waddles

Alison Waddles is a 15-year-old basketball player here at Champion’s Quest. Ali has been training with us since September 2014. She came to Champion’s Quest after a knee injury with the goal of improving her strength, range of motion, speed on the court, and of course preventing future injury! Ali’s future goals are to make the varsity team at Long Beach Poly and to earn a scholarship to play basketball in college.

basketball-hoop-1890775Since Ali began her training here she has been dedicated to her program and made great improvements. Her improved jumping form and increased range of motion have been one of the most important changes we have seen, putting her at much less risk for future injuries. On top of that she has made big strides towards accomplishing her athletic goals. Since September she has increased her vertical jump by 4 inches, improved her change of direction speed by almost a full second, and improved her linear agility by 6 seconds! On top of these numbers Ali has seen success in the clinics here, as well as on the court. Ali plays for Long Beach Poly and is one of only 2 freshmen on her JV team this year. We are all looking forward to seeing Ali grow even more on her team as well as here at Champion’s quest!

To reach these goals Ali has been attending strength and speed clinics every week. She has had to push herself in every clinic and it has paid off for her and will continue too! Ali is a great athlete and great to have here at Champion’s Quest. Great Job Ali and keep up the good work!

The Importance of Olympic Weightlifting for Young Athletes: By Bri Gwaltney, B.S. Exercise Science, CSCS, USAW, UNC Charlotte Softball Alumni

Olympic lifting, when properly performed, increases strength, power, range of motion, balance, cardiovascular function, and connective tissue strength. So, why wouldn’t you want to start reaping those benefits at a young age? Here are some of the common questions and objections, followed by simple answers and explanations, to why Olympic lifting is so important for young athletes

Objection 1:

“Those moves are too complicated for children”

These types of lifts, including the clean, jerk, and snatch, do in fact involve complex neural activation and coordination. Because of this, it may appear like these lifts are unfit for children. But, this description is exactly why our young athletes need to be performing these lifts. With proper instruction, and the understanding that the learning period may take longer, kids can be trained to do these lifts as young as 8! With future research that age could possibly be younger! The neuromuscular function, balance, and coordination gained by learning and performing these lifts puts young athletes at a large advantage to learn less complex movements later on in adolescence, and even later in adulthood. It will also be easier for them to transition from sport to sport because learning the new movements will be an easier task.

Objection 2:

“Won’t Olympic lifting damage my athlete’s growth plates, in turn, stunting their growth?”

No, as long as it is instructed properly. Those of you thinking that this type of training can cause damage to growth plates, this is not true when instructed properly. In fact running actually puts much more impact on the bones than Olympic lifting, and kids do that everyday. The loads put on athletes during Olympic lifts promote bone growth in both children and adults. These loads can also help improve the strength of tendons and ligaments, promoting long term injury prevention.

Objection 3:

“My athlete doesn’t need all that, they just need to practice their sport more.”

Only focusing on sports specific movement and technical practice can be detrimental to our young athletes in many ways. Athletes who specialize earlier in their athletic career tend to get burnt out sooner than athletes who specialize later in life. Not only that, but the multi-sport athletes tend to be more successful in their chosen college sport. This is also where overuse injuries come into play. When you are constantly doing the same movement over and over with out training and strengthening the body as a whole, you are going to eventually get injured. Olympic training can actually prevent injury by strengthening connective tissues (bones, tendons, and ligaments), increasing balance, strengthening muscles, and increasing range of motion. Many of these lifts are started in what’s called the power position. The power position is almost identical to what many call the “athletic position”. From the power position the lifts involve quick explosive movements, pulls, pushes and major core stability. So, how is this NOT directly related to your sport? No answer? That’s because it is!

Objection 4:

“Other than sport skill, which can be subjective, what else can Olympic weight lifting improve?”

In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research a group of children ages 10-12 were trained for 12 weeks. One group was taken through an Olympic weight lifting program, one a Resistance Training Program, and one a Plyometric Training program. At the end of 12 weeks all of the athletes were tested in 7 different areas. The study showed that Olympic Weight lifting was 80% more likely to improve horizontal jumps, 5 meter sprint time, 20 meter sprint time, and isokinetic (produced at a constant speed) force than plyometric training alone. It was 75% more likely to improve balance and isokinetic power than resistance training alone. You can only imagine how much improvement this group would have over a group who was not training at all!

These results, in addition to all of the other reasons listed above, make it hard to argue against Olympic lifting. Plain and simple, Olympic lifting makes you faster and stronger.

If you want to learn more about Olympic lifting or how weight training can benefit your athlete, please drop by the Champion’s QUEST Athlete Academy, or give us a call at (562) 598-2600! Come join the QUEST to become the best athlete you have ever been by reaching your full athletic potential!

Chaouachi, Anis, Raouf Hammami, Sofiene Kaabi, Karim Chamari, Eric J. Drinkwater, and David G. Behm. “Olympic Weightlifting and Plyometric Training with Children Provides Similar or Greater Performance Improvements Than Traditional Resistance Training.” The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 28.6 (2014): 1483-496. Print.

USAW Weightlifting and Sports Performance Coach Course Manual