When training for athletic performance, there are multiple areas that need to be addressed. No matter the sport, the athlete’s strength, power, and muscular endurance need to be addressed - as well as flexibility, sport specific skills, and recovery. Sport specific skills include fluid movement patterns, hand/eye coordination, and the right touch (such as shooting a basketball); usually addressed during sport practice. In order to accomplish improvements in these areas, attention needs to be directed to stretching, dynamic warm ups, speed/agility drills, sport specific drills, and proper periodization applied in the weight room.
You can review proper warm up skills and stretching in the Preparation section.
There are several drills that can be used to improve speed and agility and can be viewed in the Agility/Speed Training section.
When strength training for athletic performance, proper periodization should be utilized when forming the athlete’s program. There are three components of periodization: macrocycle, mesocyle, and microcycle.
The macrocycle is the long-term training plan for the athlete usually encompassing one full training year. The macrocycle is the combination of all the training goals: strength endurance, hypertrophy, strength, and power. A macrocycle is composed of separate programs for the offseason, preseason, in-season, and post season. These separate programs are called mesocycles, and each one has a different training emphasis depending on the time in the competition year; usually 12-16 weeks long. For instance, the post-season is a good time to focus on hypertrophy, while the preseason is a good time to maximize strength/strength-speed gains.
A mesocycle is comprised of microcycles which entail more of a day to day and week to week outline.
The emphases of the training goals during the macrocycle should transition from muscular endurance/hypertrophy to strength to strength-speed, to explosive strength, and finally to peak power; based on what season the athlete is in. Ideally, the athlete will finish training for peak power shortly before the biggest competition of the season so that there is time for a taper and reduction of residual fatigue.
In addition to proper periodization applied to the athlete’s resistance training, exercise order for the daily workout is very important. Because of the stress put on the central nervous system (CNS) as well as the energy system utilized, power oriented exercises such as plyometrics and Olympic lifts should be performed first. Olympic lifts especially are incredibly technical lifts that require excellent form to complete properly and minimize the risk of injury. Power oriented lifts are to be followed by strength lifts such as the squat, Romanian deadlift, and bench press. Within this category, multi-joint (or compound) lifts should be performed before isolation lifts. This means you should squat before doing hamstring curls, and you should bench press before doing tricep extensions. Finally, exercises requiring muscular endurance should be performed at the end of the training session.
Recovery is incredibly important to athletic performance.