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When training athletes, Dr. Joel Seedman draws on his extensive education and research and years of hands on coaching to enhance the factors that most immediately improve performance, specifically nervous system function, structural integrity, and energy system development. While each presents unique complexities, Dr. Seedman explains and applies them in a simple and easy to follow format, using programming that avoids invasive techniques and unnecessary procedures. Enhancing an athlete’s nervous system function is the key to enhancing performance. Even a genetically gifted athlete with incredible power, speed, and torque will be limited by, an inefficient central nervous system (CNS). Improving CNS function means improved speed, strength, mobility, anaerobic endurance, agility, stability, aerobic endurance, and balance.
Poor motor unit recruitment, including the inability to recruit the optimal number of motor units, low frequency of firing of these motor units, and improper motor unit synchronization, are commonly witnessed in even elite athletes. Furthermore, inhibitory mechanisms including, autogenic inhibition from Golgi tendon organs, excessive co-contraction, muscular spasticity, local inflammation, muscle spindle desensitization, hypertonicity, insufficient reciprocal inhibition, reflexive inhibitory mechanisms, and poor intra-and-intermuscular coordination, can impede performance and limit an athlete’s ability to demonstrate his or her capabilities.
Athlete Exercises in Action
Though common, these issues can be traced back to the CNS. Fortunately, the CNS is highly pliable, allowing specific training techniques to elicit improvements in neuromuscular firing patterns in as little as several minutes. When athletes are trained to properly activate targeted muscles, they immediately sense and feel innervation in these previously inhibited or dormant areas. Like someone turning on a light switch, athletes can now recruit these newly engaged muscles into more complex movement patterns.
With consistent training, coaching, and cognitive cuing, the athlete steadily begins to transfer these firing patterns into more complex movements until these recruitment patterns become instinctive. Once proper motor unit recruitment and efficient movement patterns become the athlete’s default settings for movement, speed, power, and explosiveness begin to rapidly improve. Furthermore, attention capacity is no longer fully allocated to movement quality as the athlete’s mind becomes free to focus on competitive strategies and advanced techniques unique to his or her sport/event. As pointed out by various researchers and motor learning experts, skill and movement can then be mastered and meticulously refined, ingraining the strongest and most efficient neural blueprints into the CNS for long-term success and competitive dominance.
Although proper neuromuscular efficiency is critical for performance, structural issues can also represent significant limitation for athletes. Lack of functional muscle mass, musculoskeletal disproportionality, muscular imbalances, muscular asymmetry, and poor body composition can all have a detrimental impact on performance. Proper nutritional guidance also becomes a key component for the athlete’s long term success not only for recovery and energy but also for gaining functional muscle mass, optimizing bioenergetics and bio-availability of nutrients, hormonal regulation, and low adipose body composition.
Each sporting endeavor demands unique adaptations. Thus, training the appropriate energy systems is pivotal for success. While most sports require some degree of endurance and conditioning, few possess the exact same ratio of substrate utilization, metabolic stress, and energy demands. Sports involving quick explosive movements with greater rest periods—baseball, weightlifting, football, gymnastics, and many track and field events—require more emphasis on training the ATP-PC (phosphagen) system. Soccer, tennis, basketball, and mid-distance swimming and track events, on the other hand, require greater stress to the anaerobic/glycolytic system. Finally, long distance and high endurance events demand greater allocation of training resources towards the aerobic/oxidative system. However, many athletes often need a combination of one or more of these while simultaneously emphasizing the unique attributes of their specific skill, position, or event.
Contact Advanced Human Performance and let Dr. Seedman take your athletic performance to the next level.