The ABCs of smart training: Part 2

The ABCs of smart training: Part 2

Following the concepts outlined in the ABCs of smart training will help you increase your clients training potential, improve their skills and decrease injury potential. This is part 2 of a 3 part series.


Sports require quick stops and starts, lateral movements, backpedaling, crossover turns, and pivots. Some form of agility and coordination training should be included as part of their daily sessions; you do not want to be an athlete who can play but cannot move.

Points to remember when training for agility are these: 1). Always start with an athletic stance 2). Agility and acceleration (quickness) drills must be structured so the muscles learn to fire quickly and in a coordinated manne 3). Quickness within two steps in all directions is key in sports 4). Agility and acceleration allow smaller athletes to be able to compete well and gives larger athletes another weapon in their arsenal 5). Agility can be gained by playing different sports and dynamic games that involve lateral movement and quick stops and starts, or by doing circuit drills that incorporate different exercises. (adapted from Petersen, 2006)












You must give your body the opportunity to practice and play with changed and strengthened muscles.


Balanced training ensures that equal stress is put on the different parts of the body in different planes of movement. This achieves a good balance of stress for the body’s upper and lower extremities and three-dimensional core cylinder. It is difficult to prove that muscle strength imbalances are the primary cause of injury or decreased performance. We can, however, view muscle imbalances as one of the many potential risk factors increasing the chance of injury or decreased performance. (Chandler, 2001).

Work both sides equally to get a good balance between:

  • Right and left sides.
  • Flexor and extensor muscles.
  • Medial and lateral rotators.
  • Upper and lower body and core.
  • Strength training should include exercises for all of the above areas. Try 2–3 upper body, 2–3 lower body and 3–4 core exercises to ensure a good balance.

















(Image courtesy Racquet TECH Publishers)





























Split squat with diag pull work the upper and lower body in different planes of motion.


To understand the concepts surrounding closed, partially closed, and open kinetic chain, view your body as a length of chain. Closed kinetic chain exercise occurs when the hands or feet support the body weight. Closed kinetic chain is best referred to as dynamic and functional with the whole body working as an integrated unit. Examples of this would be a lunge or a squat. Partially closed chain exercises would be any that partially support your body weight and require an integrated response from the muscles of the body. Examples of this would be a push-up position where the hands and feet partially bear the weight or any activity that loads resistance through the hands and arms and into the torso, as when using resistance bands, for example. In all ground-based sports all of the body movements work within a kinetic chain linkage from the ground through the trunk. Mixes of kinetic chain training should be utilized based on the needs of the individual and the demands of the sport.

Exercises should be performed with the following points in mind:

  • Exercises should be done in a controlled, coordinated, and functional manner.
  • Exercises should work the hip in an extended position because it is the position of activity and function.
  • Exercises like step-ups, split squats, and lunges can be made more functional by adding elastic tubing to partially close the upper core chain.
  • Activation of the kinetic chain sling patterns from the legs through the hips and back to the shoulder restores the force-dependent motor activation pattern and normal biomechanical positions. (adapted from Petersen, 2006)



































Train in a hip-extended position of function while partially closing and switching on the upper core.


Training with diversity means using a variety of methods in your weekly program. For example, aerobic training may use a mix of running, elliptical trainer, cycling, swimming, or in-line skating to get the desired effect of aerobic fitness. Besides offering a greater range of non-weight-bearing alternatives for training, diverse training promotes development of fundamental skills.














For example, core training may use a mix of bridging on the floor, kneeling, standing, stepping, lunging and incorporate balls, bands and balance.

Diversify training by:

  • Analyzing the sport-specific movements and adding movement and challenging
  • Altering type of exercises.
  • Altering sequence of exercises.
  • Changing the tempo to avoid drudgery and avoid over-training.
  • Adding weights, balance equipment, balls, and stretch cords to increase the core component.
  • Have specific training goals that make sense and have appropriate application to the sport.


Some exercises should be performed slowly. Controlled repetitions that take two to four seconds to complete help increase tension in the muscle fibers and build strength without

too much stress on the soft tissues. Avoid using momentum to perform an exercise or doing exercises that are uncontrolled.
































Slow tempo increases hip stability.


Functional movement requires all the joints in the kinetic chain and the neurological system to work in concert in a coordinated and harmonious manner.

Tips for functional training:

  • Use multi-dimensional, multi-joint movement, not just isolated actions at one joint.
  • Start by practicing parts of the movement, then combine the parts into movement drills, then practice and rehearse the movement drills, and then incorporate it into the activity or sport.
  • Integrate multiple joint movements, linking the closed and partially closed kinetic chain.
  • Functional training does not isolate muscles in a single plane of movement, but instead requires stabilization in three planes of motion during dynamic movement.
  • Functional training must be dynamic in nature and require the participant to accelerate, decelerate, stop on a dime, change directions, react to ground forces, and constantly adjust and react to different situations.


























Functional training develops powerful and coordinated multi-joint and multi-dimensional movement.


Chandler, T.J., (2001) Muscle Strength Imbalances in Tennis. In M. Crespo, B.Pluim &

M. Reid (Eds) Tennis Medicine for Tennis Coaches. London. ITF. Ltd.

Petersen, Carl. (2006) ABC’s of Smart Training. In C. Petersen & N. Nittinger-Fit to Play-Tennis’High Performance Training   Tips’ Racquet Tech Publishing, Vista, California, USA. Page 20.

Vancouver Health Coach