Sports Conditioning with Metabolic Movements

Conditioning for Sport with Time Constraints

Coaches and athletes are always looking to get as much out of each workout as possible and time is of the essence when training.  Athletes are always on the go, and coaches always have another group to train.  Time is one thing that even the rich and famous cannot afford to waste and the same goes with training. Our athletes must perform both highly and attentively. Adding all of these ingredients into the mix can make fitting in sports conditioning for your athletes a daunting task.  In the high school setting, one solution we’ve emphasized is the pairing of metabolic conditioning, and sport-specific movement.  In this piece, I’ll cover the system we’ve implemented at Wayzata High School, which we’ve coined Metabolic Movement.

Metabolic Movement System

Metabolic Movement incorporates all of the above mentioned components of sports conditioning into a single training session.  The magic is in breaking down the sport specific movements, and arranging them into a series of conditioning drills associated with the sport.  In addition to sport-specific conditioning, we can also incorporate hand-eye coordination, ball skill drills, or other implements depending on the sport.  These drills should make coaches salivate. Athletes replicating their sport skills in sports conditioning sessions provides twofold benefits.  Athletes will not only develop technical proficiency in their sport-specific skills, they’ll also improve their level of metabolic conditioning.  Furthermore, this type of training is ideal for training the energy systems required in the sport. 

Metabolic Movement Sports Conditioning Drills

The first example of Metabolic Movement training is a basketball model. This drill incorporates a tremendous amount of movement that mimics game movements.  We call this drill “Clemson”, as we acquired it from Clemson Basketball Strength and Conditioning coach, Mike Bewley.

Clemson Basketball Conditioning Model

Begin by positioning 5 large cones around the 3 point arch, and baseline.  Place the athletes behind the large cones on the exterior of the drill. At each large cone place 5 smaller discs, you may choose to use color discs if you like (assign each line a specific color if you like).

The object of this drill is to have 5 players moving at a high rate of speed amongst each other racing to collect their disc one at a time and returning to their spot on the floor to deposit the discs each time.  However, this creates controlled havoc, requiring the athletes to move about in space without colliding, in an unscripted movement pattern – such as running an offense.  The competitive environment creates a high rate of speed and requires body control and great footwork to complete the drill.  Athletes must adjust to the constant movement in and around others such as the game of basketball is.

Drill Comparison

Compare this type of drill to running agility ladders, which is a scripted movement often times with the athletes heads down focusing on their feet as opposed to having their heads up and scanning the floor for the open space to cut to etc.  Doing this drill after a warm up period has the athletes moving at a high rate of speed. This simulates their sport skill in a sprint setting.  I have our athletes do this under each basket in a 1-2 ratio. This makes for excellent game-specific sports conditioning as well as agility and footwork.

Specific Movement Conditioning

This is the magic of Metabolic Movement; applying sport-specific movements in a conditioning setting that mirrors what is required of them in a game.  Coaches can add many variables. Placing a cone at the free throw line requiring the athletes to go around that cone each time as well.  Or at any time the coach could throw a ball off the backboard and yell “shot” requiring everyone to box out and rebound. These sport conditioning drills can be performed anywhere. We have used a dance studio, cafeteria, outdoor courts, etc.  The object is to focus on the required movements such as running, cutting, and avoiding collisions in a specific setting. 

Football Setting Drills

Sports Conditioning Drills for Quarterbacks

The next example of Metabolic Movement is a football setting. This drill is not location-specific. The athletes assemble in position groups around the field and perform a series of position specific movements.  We have incorporated pattern running, these drills were provided to us from Jim Kramer at NDSU. The drills are printed on gold and blue cards to mimic school colors. The offensive cards on Gold card stock and the Defensive cards on blue card stock.  Additionally, the athletes go through a series of drills one after the other. Each drill taking approximately 3-4 seconds to complete which is highly similar in time domain to most high school football plays.

Drill Play-by-Plays

After completing the drill the athletes will take approximately 20 seconds to walk back to the starting line and perform the next particular pattern – approximately the amount of time in between football plays.  There are 10 specific drills in a set or “quarter”. Each set mimics an extended drive.  Footballs are incorporated into the drills. This can be very effective in combining the various elements of the skills required, broken down into a position specific manner, and also serve as  great conditioning that mimics the energy system required.  

Furthermore, in both the basketball and football examples, the drills provided are completely nonlinear, which is exactly which many sports are.  Change of direction, and maintaining body control play after play, set after set, over a repeated time is what sport skill is really all about. Past workouts are sufficient in cases of movement metabolic training. Ultimately coaches want their athletes performing better movement/sport skills.  So why not do them?  

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