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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

The Best Athlete You Can Be

Published August 22, 2012 2:20 PM by Rebecca Mayer
As summer winds down, families across the country are getting ready for the re-entry to school. At the same timePerformance Physical Therapy's Speed School, many school athletic programs are preparing for the return of their athletes.

Student athletes are continually thinking about how they can be faster and stronger than the year before. But with so many recent headlines about sudden death in young athletes, programs that teach students to safely perform better on the athletic field are at a premium. The experts at Performance Speed School in Rhode Island teach young athletes how to increase their speed, strength and flexibility for a better performance on the athletic field.

Focused on making athletes faster and stronger, the Speed School leaders include certified youth fitness instructors, strength and conditioning specialists, physical therapists and athletic trainers. The skills taught in this program help young athletes excel above their competition and decrease the risk of injury.

Kevin Silvia, BS, PTA, CSCS, FMS-C, and Adam Ware, BS, CSCS, FMS-C, of Performance Physical Therapy ran a Speed School clinic last spring for the West Warwick Wizards girls' basketball team.

The 1.5-hour session began with a welcome talk and dynamic warm up stretches and drills. As Silvia took the girls through various drills, he explained the difference between static and dynamic stretches and why it's important that they understand.

Silvia instructed the basketball players to perform stationary and dynamic field drills for 30 seconds with a rest between and plyometric exercises such as squat jumps, all while emphasizing technique. For example, if he saw an athlete leaning forward during walking knee raises, he adjusted her posture and explained why it's important to use the core to power the move. Additionally, he encouraged form over speed and constantly reminded the students to "take it slow."

Next Silvia and Ware set up two stations for the team. One half of the basketball players performed planks and sit-ups for one minute while the other group bounced volleyballs off the wall. The groups quickly traded places when Silvia and Ware blew a whistle to indicate a transition.

In addition to teaching the athletes safe ways to gain speed and strength, Ware and Silvia "train" coaches on the drills. Wizards' Head Coach Brad Grossguth told ADVANCE "the information they have given me helps prevent injuries on my team by teaching proper landings while emphasizing speed and form."

According to Assistant Coach Mike Petrarca, it's often helpful for the athletes to hear the same information from a new person. "It helps to reinforce the message," he shared.

"Adam and Kevin help the kids understand the drills and why they are doing them," explained Coach Grossguth.

On a related note, please be sure to check out an article in our Sept. 3 issue about new guidelines for young athletes released by the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA), in collaboration with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

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