Vern Gambetta

Athletic Development – An Introduction to the Concept


I prefer the term athletic development rather strength and conditioning because it denotes an integrated system to develop the complete athlete. No single component of conditioning is solely responsible for the athletic development of any team or individual. This underscores the need for a program designed to meet the needs of all the sports with balanced development of all components of physical performance: strength, power speed, agility, endurance and flexibility.

Mission Statement

To enhance athletic performance through a systematic, sequential and progressive approach to the total conditioning process in an environment that ensures success in athletics and life.

Athletic Development – The Concept

The body is a kinetic chain with movement occurring from toenails to fingernails, a sound program emphasizes integration of all the links of this chain. We must remember that the goal of athletic development is to enhance performance, and develop athletes that are completely adaptable not adapted. This dictates a focus and intensity to optimize the training time.

Athlete Development – Steps to Success 

The program is based on scientific laws, functional movements, and experience based practice. Each training program takes into account individual athletes’ needs, team and season goals. Development of the training program is a team effort involving input from the sport coaches, athletic development staff, sports medicine staff, and the athlete where necessary. Program development is a five-step process:

Step One – The Sport

Conditioning requirements and game demands vary from sport to sport. It is also necessary to take into consideration the position or event within the sport. The overall training program must reflect differing demands in strength, movement speed and direction, and specific fitness requirements.

Step Two – The Athlete

The program must account for the different physical qualities that each athlete brings to their sport.

Step Three – The System

The components of the system are:

Work Capacity – The ability to handle a workload and recover from that workload

Speed – Perhaps the most important of all athletic qualities, this can be significantly improved with a systematic program.

Strength – Simply the ability to exert force, measurable strength

Power – The ability to express force in athletic movements

Agility, Balance, and Coordination – The ability to start, stop, change direction and control the body

Step Four – The Plan

The plan is based on measurable goals and objectives. It must take into account for the various phases of the training year and distribute the work accordingly. The phases of the training plan are:

Introductory – A short period to orient and teach techniques as well as establish the routine of training

Foundation – The base period where the emphasis is on increasing work capacity

Specific Preparation – The application period where the base work is applied to the demands of the specific sport

Competition – To fine tune some components and begin to maintain others

Peak Competition – A period to sharpen and “peak”

Transition – The “active rest” phase where fitness is maintained but the athlete is given a break

Step Five – Testing and Evaluation

Testing establishes a baseline to begin a training program and set appropriate training goals. In addition testing allows the coaches and athletes to measure progress in the athletic development program.

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