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This week I’d like to share the missing link in most of your athlete’s training and sports programs that is hindering their performance and...

This week I’d like to share the missing link in most of your athlete’s training and sports programs that is hindering their performance and greatly increasing their chance of pain and injury. 

Picture for a moment the daily stress to your athletes’ bodies. They sit in a desk all day at school with horrible posture, in a flexed-over position through their shoulders, upper and lower back. What about practice? 

As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect, right? They practice the same skills and movements over and over again in an attempt to master these sporting movements. Each sport has its own movement skills that are repeated over and over again weekly, monthly and yearly throughout an athlete’s sporting life — adding even more stress to the joints of your athletes’ bodies. Then they go home and sit and get hours of homework done in the same posture that they sat in all day in school.

As a young developing athlete, all the above situations are essential not just for sporting success but academic as well. The one thing missing in the above scenario is the regeneration strategies that counteract all the movement patterns which leave athletes with imbalances throughout the joints of their body. These imbalances come from overstressed movement patterns that lead to movement dysfunction, decreased performance, pain and injury.

Too many strength programs, whether implemented by a trainer or coach, ignore the regeneration strategies before and after the strength program, practice or games. Just lifting and performing exercises is not going to help your athletes perform at a high level, and it will not help them stay healthy. Exercises are prescribed to athletes which they can’t perform effectively or promote bad posture. 

An example is a current athlete who is in-season. After three weeks this athlete came back to me complaining of shoulder pain. I assessed what she is currently doing in her in practice and with the team trainer. First with the trainer: no assessment, no warm-up, and no regeneration strategies, which equal no coaching. Second, the coach prescribes exercises such as crunches and a high volume of push-ups which further strengthen bad posture and dysfunction.

For most athletes in off-season programs, there is no understanding of where the athlete currently is and actually what they need. It’s not about what the coach or trainer wants to do, it’s about what your athletes need when it comes to an effective strength and conditioning program.

This is happening to your athletes every day. If coaches don’t take the time to educate themselves so they can ask the right questions, get referrals from parents of current or past athletes’ success, or from other coaches. Then there is absolutely no excuse for hiring unqualified trainers or prescribing exercises that just look cool or make the athlete feel tired and beat up.

Every athlete requires regeneration strategies, but most programs just focus on the workout and fail to be comprehensive or complete. They’re missing what to do before and after practice, training and competition. It is these missing components of regeneration and recovery that are the key for unlocking your athlete’s performance potential and remaining injury-free. There is a three-step Regeneration Process I use with all my athletes that I plan to share in my next column. The plan ensures they are performing optimally throughout all seasons and staying injury-free. 

Tim Rudd is an International Youth Conditioning Association specialist in youth conditioning (level 3), speed and agility (level 2), and nutrition specialist (level 1). For more information on anything you read in Training Time, email him at

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