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Training for Athletic Performance – Building Abilities at ETS

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By: Mark Fitzgerald – Head Strength & Conditioning Coach / Anaheim Ducks NHL – 2015 – Present / Toronto Marlies AHL – 2009 – 2013 / Oshawa Generals – 2008- 2013 / UOIT Ridgebacks – 2007- 2015 Director Of Health Performance – Canadian Hock y League /Head of Performance Training – University of Ontario Institute of Technology /Durham College Head of Off-ice Development – hi by Minor Hockey Association Lead Training Advisor – Under Armour Canada

At Elite Training Systems we pride ourselves on building the complete athlete inside & outside of the gym, that’s why a growing number of professional hockey, football, lacrosse, rugby and baseball players continue to trust us with their In Season & Off Season training programs. An athlete’s training session always begins with a proper Warm Up performed by each & every athlete when they arrive at ETS. Properly warming up is crucial to these athletes, as this sets the tone for their training session, as well as develops good daily habits. Warm Up begins with some myo-fascial release (Foam Rolling or using Tune-Up Balls), as well as some general flexibility work. We have found these warm up practices necessary for our athletes as it aids in the release of tension that is built up throughout everyday life in the fascial tissues of the body. Now it is time to get the athletes moving. At ETS we have our EDD’s, this refers to Everyday Drills for our Warm Ups & these drills are performed regardless of the body part being trained that day. Phase four of the Warm Up is specific to upper or lower body depending on what is being trained that day & once again there are standardized exercises for each of these to help our athletes prepare for their training session. These include a mix of Dynamic & Static Stretches to hit every essential part to reduce risk of injury, as well as, maximize speed & power. Finally, athletes finish their Warm Up with Plyometric exercises consisting of jumping, marching or medicine ball work to make sure they are fully prepared for what lies ahead that day.

The idea of sport specific training is not something we focus on at Elite Training Systems. Instead our Programs are based on building the complete athlete & the abilities needed to perform in whatever field of play they are looking to compete on. Athleticism is our focus, with small tweaks & changes to Programs for athletes who play different sports. Our philosophy at ETS is based around long term progressions, which lead to developing strong & most of all, functional & healthy athletes. This progression starts with the first training session, where our Coaches focus on restrictions & movement patterns to assess an athlete & how to approach the programming process. All Programs are created in regards to how long the athlete will be training with us, as well as, how many days a week they will be training. Proper Program implementation is key in developing the abilities of the athlete. Too much too soon or not enough can be detrimental to the athlete. Build the plan & execute the plan.

Our staff of Strength & Conditioning Coaches are just that; Coaches. Every Coach’s main focus during the training sessions is the execution of the movement & maintaining the quality of that movement throughout the required time. Constant coaching means our Coaches are always evaluating, correcting & cueing the athletes to make sure every rep is performed properly. This refers, not only to the movement & technique of the exercise, but also tempo. Tempo or time under tension is crucial for athletes looking to develop strength, which should be all of them! This is where the distinction is made between training for athletic performance, opposed to just ‘working out’. When performance is the end goal, the management of time under tension becomes one of the key aspects & must be implemented differently with each & every athlete. Without the foundation of strength, all others aspects of performance will be unattainable & potentially put the athlete in a position of harm. At ETS we spend an extended period of time focusing on strength training, as it leads into all other aspects of performance, such as power, explosiveness & energy system development.

As our ETS athletes build their foundational strength, the next step in their Program begins to take shape. Typically our athletes go through blocks of training lasting 3-4 weeks in length, of course there are many variables & this is speaking hypothetically. These ‘blocks’ are intense fragments of their program that will focus on unique aspects of the individual’s needs & target weakness or improper movement patterns to be corrected. Typically the blocks have built in ‘down time’ or as we call it ‘de-load’ time where the focus shifts to regeneration as the next phase approaches. Having a Program that implements stress or load properly is key to achieving the results an athlete is looking for & allowing rest or down time is critical in achieving the desired outcome. Train Hard, Rest Harder.

Building a proper Program for an athlete, whether it is In Season or Off Season should always be done with the end goal in mind. Meaning that progression is key. At Elite Training Systems every day is a progression from the next, every week the Coaches will push our athletes further & know when to pull back to recover & accelerate performance to the next phase of Training. From my experience working in professional sports over the last 10 years, there are many ways to reach that end goal & working with a variety of athletes has taught me that as a Coach, one must be flexible, adjust accordingly & constantly evaluating their athletes. Evaluating can mean simple things like noticing body language or attitude, to even skin complexion & fatigue. At ETS our Coaches are really stress management specialists, knowing when to implement & knowing when to remove.

Ready to start TRAINING & pursuing YOUR Athletic Performance Goals? I look forward to my return this summer from Anaheim, seeing & training our ETS Athletes & having new Athletes to our line-up, eager to learn, get better & stronger!

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