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< style="color: rgb(153, 51, 153);">Flexibility Strategies
Physical conditioning is a two part training program
        Performance in every sport or athletic activity can be improved by a conditioning program. Every athletic pursuit is essentially a power event, whether it's hitting a ball, riding a bike up a hill, a tennis match, an ice hockey or football game, etc. In addition to working on the specific skills the sport requires, you also want to build up the power you need to perform faster, harder, and better than your competitors.

       You increase your power in two key ways:

  • Doing resistance training, such as working with weights, to build basic muscle strength.
  • Stretching, to increase flexibility and improve your range of motion      
       The benefits of stronger and more flexible muscles applies to any sport because you enhance your endurance and gain protection from common injuries.  The emphasis should be placed on concepts and strategies. Physical fitness begins with positive participation in lifetime sports. The old adage applies: "Use it or lose it."  Age does not exclude the possibility of enjoying the benefits of regular physical activity.

       Competitive and recreational athletes, if they expect to be successful, must participate in a systematic training plan to achieve a positive physical, mental, and emotional state. It is important to understand that engaging in training does not exclude the possibility of some setbacks and temporary defeats. That is simply indicates that some adjustments or re-working the plan must occur.

There are Three Keys to Success:
  1. Physical Preparation - Physical Fitness, Sports Nutrition, Sleep, Sports Massage
  2. Mental Preparation - Mental Resilience, Goal Setting, Visualization, Motivation, Arousal, Relaxation and Energization, Attention, Stress Management, Self Confidence
  3. Tactical/Technical Preparation - Sport strategy, Techniques, Methods, Specific Skills
Physical Fitness and Sports Training Program Goals:
  • Establish an Exercise Plan - Successful conditioning must be part of the daily routine on a year round basis.

  • Prevent Injury through Training - A conditioning program should be designed to reduce the propensity to be injured. The individual who experiences an injury is more likely to recover more quickly if they have been paying attention to participating in balanced total body training program. There are specific conditioning, physical fitness and training programs designed to address the most common injuries that occur in each specific sport.

  • Physical Fitness Conditioning - Physical conditioning is the development of a body's energy system. The specific training  needs of each sport need to be identified in order to target these muscle groups in the overall training plan. The goal is to be able to maintain a high level of performance throughout the full competitive experience.

  • Core Strength -  Conditioning targets the low back, abdominal, and hip area (core) strength to transfer the force generated by the legs to the upper body. Most sports require a huge hip power transfer in different planes of motion (straight ahead, side to side, rotation, jumping, etc.

  • Muscular Strength, Speed, Endurance, and Power must be Balanced - An athlete, who is well conditioned, trains their complete body for strength, speed, power, and endurance. Most sports require flexibility and coordination of body movements to occur in all planes!

  • Speed, Strength and Power  - A well conditioned athlete is able to react quickly and respond to external stimulus by accelerating, decelerating, and stopping with full body control. An athlete who can decelerate, stop, change direction and re-accelerate has an advantage over their opponents. An important training tool to develop power and power endurance is a rigorous plyometric routine that helps the athlete to be as explosive in the last minute of their performance as he/she was in the first minute.

  • Maximizing Potential -  An athlete who understands his/her strengths and limitations and how to focus your efforts in training, and make adjustments in your training.
< style="font-weight: bold;">Source Sport-fitness-Advisor
      Flexibility training is perhaps the most undervalued component of conditioning. While recent and ongoing debate questions its role in injury prevention, athletes can still gain much from a stretching regime.

      Flexibility of the body muscles and joints play an integral part in many athletic movements ranging from a volleyball spike to a rugby drop kick.

      In general terms, flexibility has been defined as the Range of Motion (ROM) about a joint and its surrounding muscles during a passive movement (1,2). Passive in this context simple means no active muscle involvement is required to hold the stretch. Instead gravity or a partner provides the force for the stretch.

Benefits of Flexibility Training
      By increasing this joint range of motion, performance may be enhanced and the risk of injury reduced. The rationale for this is that a limb can move further before an injury occurs.

      Tight neck muscles for example, may restrict how far you can turn your head. If, during a tackle, your head is forced beyond this range of movement it places strain on the neck muscles and tendons.

      Ironically, static stretching just prior an event may actually be detrimental to performance and offer no protection from injury. The emphasis is on "may" however, as a closer examination of the scientific literature shows that effects are often minimal and by no means conclusive.

      Muscle tightness has been associated with an increased risk of muscle tears, can be reduced before training or competing with dynamic stretching. For this reason many coaches now favor dynamic stretches over static stretches as part of the warm up.

      Competitive sport can have quite an unbalancing effect on the body. Take racket sports for example. The same arm is used to hit thousands of shots over and over again. One side of the body is placed under different types and levels of stress compared to the other. The same is true for sports like soccer and Australian rules football where one kicking foot usually predominates. A flexibility training program can help to correct these disparities preventing chronic, over-use injury.

      A more flexible athlete is a more mobile athlete. It allows enhanced movement around the court or field with greater ease and dexterity. Some other benefits may include an increase in body awareness and a promotion of relaxation in the muscle groups stretched - both of which may have positive implications for skill acquisition and performance.

Types of Flexibility and Stretching

1. Dynamic flexibility -- the ability to perform dynamic movements within the full range of motion in the joint. Common examples include twisting from side to side or kicking an imaginary ball. Dynamic flexibility is generally more sport specific than other forms of mobility.

2. Static Active flexibility -- this refers to the ability to stretch an antagonist muscle using only the tension in the agonist muscle. An example is holding one leg out in front of you as high as possible. The hamstring (antagonist) is being stretched while the quadriceps and hip flexors (agonists) are holding the leg up.

3. Static Passive flexibility -- the ability to hold a stretch using body weight or some other external force. Using the example above, holding your leg out in font of you and resting it on a chair. The quadriceps are not required to hold the extended position.

A flexibility training program can be made up of different types of stretching:

1. Dynamic stretching

2. Ballistic stretching

3. Static Active stretching

4. Static Passive stretching

5. Isometric stretching

6. PNF stretching

Which type of flexibility training is best?
      It depends on the sport and the athlete's outcomes - something which will be examined more closely in the articles below. As a general rule, dynamic stretches are used as part of a warm up and static stretches or PNF flexibility training is used for increasing range of motion.

Elements of Fitness

Fitness in Specific Sports
Recommended Reading:

Off-Ice Training

Sports Training

The Physiology of Flexibility  Here's a quick review of what determines a person's flexibility - an some of the physiological components important in stretching...

Static Stretching Exercises and Flexibility Training Program  Static stretching exercises are best performed when your body is completely warmed up - often at the end of game or training session. Avoid static stretching immediately before competition, especially if your sport is based on speed and power.

Dynamic Stretches & Stretching Routine  Use these dynamic stretches as part of your warm up routine. Dynamic stretching has been shown to decrease muscle tightness which may be associated to an increased risk of muscles and tendon tears.

Self Myofascial Release Exercises  While not strictly flexibility training, self myofascial release techniques can have a number of performance and rehabilitation benefits. With just the aid of a foam roll, athletes can reduce muscular pain and those 'trigger points' also associated with muscle tears.

Physical Education for Lifelong Fitness-3rd Edition  The Physical Best Teacher's Guide presents strategies to incorporate health-related fitness and activity into PE programs.

Physical Conditioning for Athletes –  Our basic training and strategies ... Physical conditioning can be defined as a process involving the improvement of motor skills and functional (energetic).

Athletics Training - Why are Psychological Skills Important Yet, almost no time is spent in incorporating these into the training routine. Rather, it is a case of back to the drawing board for a new physical strategy.


Training Considerations

Flexibility Training... Stretching For Sport And Athletes   Flexibility training is perhaps the most undervalued component of conditioning.

Flexibility Exercises for Every Major Muscle Group This compilation of flexibility exercises, complete with diagrams will improve your health, your athletic performance and can help reduce joint pain.

What Kind Of Exercise Do Male Ballet Dancers Do? Aug. 12, 2011 ... Despite the fact that ballet dancers tend to be more flexible than other performing athletes, many dance injuries occur during flexibility training.

4 Types of Exercises for Male Ballet Dancers  Exercise #2: Flexibility Training. Koutedakis and Jamurtas - ballet dancers are more flexible than other performing athletes,

Ballet Training for Athletes   July 24, 2007 ... Many athletes use dance and ballet to cross train and improve their ... Ballet improves strength, flexibility, coordination, dexterity and agility.

Human Performance, Training and Education (HPT&E)  seeks to develop, evaluate and deliver scientifically proven methodologies and technologies that enable the cognitive and physical superiority of Marines. This thrust seeks to develop technologies, architectures, and systems that accelerate the training at the individual and team level by enhancing physical and cognitive preparedness. Efforts are focused on providing tools, technologies and methodologies to support the overall goal of either the physical or cognitive technology areas of investment by advancing the delivery of their science into systems.

The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

Fitness Training Considerations
Kirkpatrick's Evaluating Training Programs
Skating Training Environment
Training Figure Skaters
Group Classes
Fitness Training
Personal Training Plan
Daily Training Plan
Seasonal Training
Training for Junior & Senior Athletes
Age Guidelines for Training
Developing a Plan for Training
Developing Skating Skills
Group Training Stages
Training Priorities
Strategies of Sports Training
Training Task Analysis
Value of Annual Planning
Competitive Training Strategies
Verbal and Nonverbal Communications
PDF  Core Body Training
PDF  Endurance Training Plan
All materials are copy protected. 
The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.

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