Team sports are revered in our culture today. Often, however, programs are only deemed successful after assessing their win-loss record. Practices for all athletic teams involve drills and strength training, but there’s something extremely important missing in many group-fitness training programs: teamwork. Teamwork can be the difference between a great season of wins or a fragmented team facing mounting losses. With that in mind, we formulated our program for high school athletes, Championship Week.

According to NCAA, about 6% of high school athletes will compete in college. With this in mind, we know many high school athletes will be spending less time on their sport and more time focusing on other activities — like their future careers — after high school. At FAST we work with local high schools and manage Championship Week, a group-fitness training program that promotes competition and team cohesion. The lessons that can be learned from this program will help prepare athletes for life in their sport and after their athletic career is over.

Often Championship Weeks are structured like a “hell week,” where everything is done to push the athletes further than they thought possible. We still demand the most out of our athletes, but we add teamwork and problem solving into our program to help the athletes grow their strategic skills and exercise their brain when their body is tired. This cognitive aspect helps athletes to not only go through the motions but focus on what task is being accomplished.

For example, during one recent Championship Week with high school basketball teams, we split the whole program up into teams of six for a daily team builder. We began one day with a “human knot” activity. In this activity, each team circled up and held right hands with someone across the circle from them. Then they held left hands with someone else in the circle. The competition was to see which team could untangle the knot the fastest. These team-building exercises, where everyone is working towards a common goal, encourage communication and coordination with each other.

We split up our competitions into rounds each day. After each round, we then ask each individual team questions about their teammates, encouraging them to connect with each other. For every competition we do during the week, players earn points for their team. At the end of the week, we have a Championship Week winner who is crowned.

We set up Championship Week as a group-fitness training program that builds team unity going into a season. After all, a crucial piece of the puzzle for winning championships and a foundation for a bright future career is being able to successfully work in a team. If you’re a high school athlete, a parent, or a coach, we’d love to talk to you about our Championship Week program. Contact us to learn more!

At FAST, we offer personal training, group fitness, and sports performance training. Many athletes prefer to come in and train with us in our facility, but we also offer off-site training. Our off-site team training programs are focused improving speed, agility, strength, explosiveness, mobility and more. At North Central Phoenix FAST, we have the privilege of working off-site with many high schools and club teams throughout the valley.

Specifically, we have been put in charge of the strength and conditioning program of two local boys’ basketball programs. Both are year-round programs that help keep the team in-shape during the season, and help build strength and agility during the off-season.

In the last couple of years that we have been working with these schools, they have seen incredible improvement in their strength, explosiveness and competitiveness. We have recorded an average increase of 30lbs in bench press, and 60lbs in front squat and back squat in their first year of training. On average, we tend to see an increase of 2.5 inches in the vertical jump and 9 inches in the broad jump. These are very good improvements for these exercises considering their regular playing season and FAST training overlap. Not only do the players play for the school, but many participate in club teams during their off season.

The results of our sports performance training are evident as we have seen improvements in both teams since we began working with them. In 2014, one of our valley schools went from not being a playoff team, to contending for the state title in 2015, to winning the state title in 2016! They are training now to defend their title next year. We began working with a second high school in 2015, after which they went on to double their win total in 2016. Currently, they are training to outperform next year. We love to see how our training programs help each team to reach their goals.

Our training isn’t the sole reason these teams made incredible improvements to their win record, but it helps the teams to realize their full potential in the game. If you want to try team training, contact your local FAST location to learn more about our on-site sports performance training for teams.

At Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training we train many athletes of different ages and ability levels. At the North Central Phoenix FAST location, we have been fortunate enough to expand our facility this past year. This expansion has given us the opportunity to incorporate more innate human movement patterns through competitive gameplay. Children today, under the influence of technology, are living more sedentary lifestyles. Unlike generations before who would play games like tag, today’s youth is behind when it comes to movement patterns like chasing, dodging and fleeing.

If we break down the concept of sports to it’s foundation, we see the basic skills such as acceleration, deceleration, and change of direction. The mastery of these movement patterns separates one athlete from another. Athletes who are better at these skills have generally been involved in some sort of gameplay growing up. Today, we see less and less athletes who have a high level of these skills.

For our training purposes, the skills can be broken down into five categories: hinge, squat, jump, push, and pull. These five fundamental movements are what we base our training programs around.

Hinge is a hip displacement movement that emphasizes strengthening the posterior chain. The posterior chain is the main workhorse for explosive movements. Squat emphasizes lower body strength. We incorporate many different lower body movements to help our athletes develop a base level of strength. We pair our lower body strength movements with jump or plyometric movement. This helps train the athlete to be in control of their body. The final two movements are upper body movements, push and pull. These help to develop balanced strength between the front and the back of the body.

These exercises help to develop an athlete’s musculature to support basic human movements. The second half of our sessions gets our athletes moving around in space. We work on multi-directional skills that allow athletes to react and move in an efficient manner. These skills are incorporated into competitions and games that get the athletes to perform in a sport like setting. These can consist of anything from relay races to a game of tag. Any type of game that gets kids moving around in space is a great training tool. When kids start playing something fun, they forget about how much work they are doing.

Athletes of all ages love to compete against one another. We use training tools like competitions and gameplay to help our athletes become more efficient movers. This also helps athletes become more coordinated and reduces the risk of injuries. We train athletes of all ages at our FAST facility here in North Central Phoenix. Please contact us if you would like to be a part of our training program!

Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training (FAST) is empowered by Foothills Therapy Partners (FTP).