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Tom Boatright


As a coach and personal trainer, Tom Boatright has helped many athletes in a variety of sports. Whether it is skill training or power training, Tom Boatright has the skill and experience to help athletes at any age develop towards their true potential.


Mini-Gym Leaper A significant part of the training routines I develop for my athletes include isokinetic exercises. Isokinetic is a fancy word for motion at the same speed. The two pieces of isokinetic equipment I now use on a regular basis are the Leaper and the Mini-Gym. These advanced exercisers operate on a different principle than traditional approaches to strength training. The great advantage of the Leaper and Mini-Gym over other training aids or equipment is that in each rep the resistance matches the athlete's effort through the full range of motion, which is just not possible with weights whether you are talking loose weights or machines. By utilizing a centrifugal brake mechanism these isokinetic machines allow the athlete to work fast but safely through a full range of motion. Moreover, as the athlete fatigues with each rep, the Leaper and the Mini-Gym accommodates the lower force output with a matching reduced level of resistance.


Plyometrics Plyometrics were first introduced to the training world by the Russians back in the 1960s and 1970s. Plyometrics is a form of training involving powerful muscular contractions in response to a rapid stretching of the muscles. Plyometric exercises improve the muscles' ability to transfer eccentric force or loads back into a concentric contraction of the muscle. For example, before an athlete performs a vertical jump, he or she crouches before quickly reversing the motion for the upward explosion. In this case, the athlete's quads contract eccentrically (lengthening contraction) to stop the downward motion before beginning the shortening concentric contration for the upward movement. This "pre-stretching" of a muscle prior to contraction greatly increases an athlete's power. Therefore, we do plyometric exercises to train the athlete's central nervous system (CNS) to take advantage of the muscles' built-in stretch-reflex mechanism. Any sort of running or jumping can technically be called a plyometric exercise. But the key is to overload the eccentric phase of the activity so the body learns to adapt and more efficiently transfer power generated in the eccentric phase to the concentric phase. One common plyometric exercise is  "Depth Jumps". In a depth jump an athlete steps off an elevated platform (generally 6" to 24" depending on the athlete) and immediately explodes back up into a vertical jump. The idea is to minimize the time it takes to land, stabilize, and reverse back into the vertical jump. Since plyometrics are very taxing on the central nervous system and joints, it is very important to make sure the athlete has adequate recovery time before performing another session of plyometric exercises. Plyometrics are great exercises but it is important to use a variety training methods to  avoid overusing them.


Lifeline Power Jumper Band training is an excellent way to improve explosiveness and speed no matter what sport you play. There are several reasons I use band training in my workouts with athletes. First, bands optimize eccentric training safely. As you know, if you stretch a rubber band and then let it go it rapidly contracts back to its original size. Using bands allows an athlete to "overload" the eccentric portion of an exercise. For example, if you use bands to work on vertical jumping, the elasticity of the band allows it to stretch when the athlete is in a full standing position. But as the athlete crouches to prepare for the jump, the contracting force of the band causes the athlete to dip faster putting a safe overload on the eccentric stretch of the quads and hips. And the quicker an athlete descends, the more powerful the upward explosion into the jump. Then, as the athlete explodes upward the band provides increasing resistance as it is stretched. The more you stretch the band the more effort or force is necessary to continue the stretch. By using a band, you condition your body to accelerate powerfully throughout the whole range of motion. You cannot do this safely with loose weights. While bands do not accommodate as well as isokinetic equipment like the Leaper, they do provide some degree of matching resistance. Using the vertical jump as an example, an athlete is not as strong at the bottom of the squat but he or she doesn't have to be because the band is not fully stretched. But at the top of the motion where skeletal leverages are greater and athletes can exert more force, bands provide more resistance as they are stretched.


Quick-Twitch Explosiveness Athletes have three different types of muscle fibers. Slow-twitch (or Type I) fibers contract slowly and have a high resistance to fatigue. Slow-twitch fibers are used for aerobic activities requiring low-level force production, such as walking. Most activities of daily living use slow-twitch fibers.  Fast-twitch (or Type II) fibers, on the other hand, contract quickly giving the athlete explosive power. Unfortunately, fast-twitch or quick-twitch fibers possess a low resistance to fatigue. There are two types of fast-twitch fibers. Fast-twitch A fibers are used for longer anaerobic activities with a relatively high force output, such as running 400 meters. They have a moderate resistance to fatigue. Fast-twitch B fibers, on the other hand, are used for short anaerobic, high force production activities, such as sprinting and jumping. These fibers are very sensitive to fatigue. Both fast-twitch fibers A and B are capable of producing more power than slow-twitch fibers.  Depending on the athlete's sport or event within a sport, training methods will be tailored to the individual. For those athletes participating in explosive sports such as basketball, emphasis will given to training methods incorporating superior technology such as the Leaper and modern techniques such as downhill sprinting.


Core Muscle Work Usually when you think of "core" you think "abdominals". But your core includes much more. Your groin, hips, glutes, shoulders and back are also important parts of an athlete's core. Proper core training helps to stabilize the hips and lower body. This maximizes movement efficiency. Movement efficiency enables an athlete to utilize all the force generated by major muscles groups like the quads and hamstrings. Training right means establishing a solid core by performing exercises that strengthen the hips, groin and glutes in particular. This translates into faster sprints, a higher vertical jump, and all-around greater performance.


  Speed and agility are important elements of most sports.





Copyright Tom Boatright 2015