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Why Athletes Need A Wide Athletic Base

Author: D1 Training Henderson

what is optimal for a short preparatory period

There are two types of athletes. The first type doubles down and trains for athletic performance in the summertime or off seasons, building the strength and power they need to begin the next season at their athletic peak. The second doubles down on their specific sport, whether it is travel, club, “elite” etc. The second athlete often does not set aside time for general physical development and athletic training and will not enter the next season substantially stronger, more prepared or more competitive. They are also more likely to be injured throughout the year. 

Physical Development Program Planning = Solid General Physical Preparation Periodization

Today specificity has become the focal point with young athletes. General physical preparation has taken a back seat to competition and competition like practices. Why does this matter and how does this affect athletic development?

Injury occurrences and injury severity are increased. Due to overuse of certain muscles and subsequent imbalances are developed. Less athletic athletes are being produced. Why does it matter if your pitcher or your QB is athletic? Athletes need to train like athletes. Athlete’s bodies should be resilient, productive and reactive. Overtraining specific movement patterns without training the whole body to be athletic means although an athlete may be the great at a specific position, however they may not necessarily be resilient, productive or reactive enough.

Young athletes have shifted away from being multi sport athletes and are not only often focusing on one sport, but even one position. Before facilities like D1 Training were accessible to athletes around the country, athletes developed as well rounded athletes by participating in multiple sports and through programmed weight training. Consider many of the most well-known and successful athletes that come to mind. Bo Jackson and Dion Sanders were multi-sport athletes on a pro level. Antonio Gates primarily played basketball in college, but went on to have a long and impressive career in football. These are some of the most well known athletes of all time, but it is true of many professional athletes. The reason is, playing multiple sports allows them to develop in multiple athletic areas, which can transfer in unexpected ways to other sports and positions within other sports. 

Many parents and athletes today do not understand how track translates to football or how baseball and cross country can be counter-productive. Track and sprinting helps athletes develop proper mechanics to prevent or reduce energy leakage, helping them to become more proficient and efficient athletes. Another example, wrestling helps athletes become more explosive. Think of a single sport that does not require some degree of explosiveness. Baseball can help with reactivity and hand eye coordination, which again, translates to every sport whether in the form of reaction time, agility, and accuracy. 

The athletic training facilities that exist today did not widely exist until recently. Now athletes have the opportunity to to not only train a wide range of athleticism, but can participate in a program designed specifically for their needs to address their areas that need the most development, and to work 

Many young athletes now are not only playing one sport, but they are often playing that sport year round in club ball, travel ball and “elite” clubs. Many coaches are telling young athletes that in order to excel in their sport or in their club they need to play on the travel team or get onto the elite club. Not only does this often have a negative and often unnecessary effect on the family, such as separating families and place undo financial burden on them, but it often leads to burnout, overuse injuries and reduced athletic capacity. Diversifying by participating in other sports or athletic training can keep the family together, reduce travel costs, prevent overuse and burnout, and allow the athlete to develop athletically. Learn more about early specialization and it’s effects here


For example, generally speaking, 6 weeks of off season training often translates to 6 weeks of improved performance and reduced likelihood of injury. Athletes should consider expanding the window of preparation to increase overall resiliency. In season training helps athletes maintain as much of the off season benefits as possible. 

The graph below is borrowed from Derek Hansen, renowned sprinting coach. The graph features two approaches to a 6 week off-season training schedule. The first approach includes general physical preparation followed by specific physical preparation. Clearly, both approaches incorporate true “off-season” training, but the first option incorporates the opportunity to work specifically on an athlete’s needs, but through athletic training versus position specific skill work. It is followed by a short pre-comp phase which can also be individualized according to the athlete’s needs. For example, it can include more foundational strength training to ensure the athlete’s tendons and ligaments are prepared for the season. It could include more reactive training if that is what the athlete needs, and so forth. 

At D1 we provide both forms of training, as prescribed by the assessing coach. There is value to each approach, but again, both approaches include true off season training to allow for strength and power output improvement, while increasing the athlete’s resiliency to reduce the likelihood of injury in season.