Below is the programme I put in place for Timmy when he signed up to yourtrainer.ie in January. He’s had a good season so far for WIT and Tipperary. Here is the article:
Timmy Hammersley’s Training Programme by Jason Moran
I first met Timmy in January of 2010 and the first thing that struck me about him was his determination to break his way in to the Tipperary senior hurling panel. He had played for Tipperary’s under 21 team in 2008 but hadn’t seen any game time at senior level and as we were running down through his list of goals I remember distinctly how he stated that his primary objective was to have a good Fitzgibbon Cup campaign in order to put himself into the reckoning for selection. He himself knew that there were certain things that he could have been doing better in order to achieve that goal and so we set about establishing a strategy to get him there.
For those of you who don’t know Timmy, he was WIT’s star performer in their recent run to the Fitzgibbon Cup final and it was his outstanding displays in that competition that earned him his National League debut against Galway in March.
But what changed in just three short months prior to that game? Previous to this season Timmy had, in his own words, been “training hard but not smart”. He didn’t feel physically prepared for the rigorous nature of the game and he felt that his flexibility, speed and strength could all be improved upon. He came to me in Peter Kirwan’s sports clinic in Kill, Co. Waterford and we immediately set about setting in motion a plan of action that would allow him to realise his full potential.
First things first, we screened Timmy using Gray Cook’s functional movement screen which is a 7 station screening process that examines the primary movement patterns of the body and is linked, via a direct scoring system, to corrective exercises that will specifically address any obvious deficiencies in those respective movement patterns. Scored out of a total of 21, certain tests in the screen are extremely important to hurling, one such example being the shoulder mobility test which has obvious implications for a sport which requires upper body rotational movements in the transverse plane. In Timmy’s case he scored a ‘1’ on his left side and a ‘3’ on the right (a score of ‘1’ overall and a pattern I’ve observed in 90% of the hurlers I’ve screened!). Such asymmetric scores represent an increased risk of injury to the player, and so many of the corrective exercises which I prescribed to Timmy, were incorporated into the pre-session warm up as well as during the rest periods between sets of his strength exercises. This meant we were efficient in everything that we did, spending no more time in the gym than necessary and usually getting in and out in under 1 hour.
Given that Timmy is still in college and that his training workload is already quite heavy, we settled on a mid-season schedule of two strength sessions and one speed session per week. The programme was primarily centred on improving both Timmy’s core strength and stability as well as the mobility in his hips and shoulders. His stability while on one leg for the hurdle step test, which exposes compensation in a pattern similar to running, and has a direct impact on speed due to the force not being efficiently exerted into the ground, was quite poor and was littered with compensations that caused him to knock the hurdle over as he tried to clear it. To this end we incorporated many unilateral (one-sided) movements into the programme and it was these exercises, which included single leg squats and deadlifts, that asked questions of Timmy’s ability to remain in a stable position while exerting force at the same time. Needless to say, the hurdle step test no longer poses a problem.
The word ‘core’ is one that is often used but rarely understood in the context of sport. Fundamentally it can be defined as ‘a central or foundational part’ and this can appropriately be applied in reference to the core of the human body – the abdominals, glutes and lower back. The core is commonly (and wrongly) trained using sit up type movements that do nothing to strengthen the deep muscles of the abdomen and will contribute greatly to back pain in the medium to long term. Furthermore, if the trunk is not adequately stabilised while performing sporting activities, kinetic energy becomes dispersed causing inefficient movement patterns. This was an area that we really thought we could improve upon and we did so by incorporating ‘anti’ movements into Timmy’s programme. When we say ‘anti’ movements what we really mean is ‘the ability to prevent movement occurring’. This is essentially what the core is designed to do and it is thus inappropriate to train it with movement. In preventing movement in the core region Timmy became more efficient at transferring force from his lower extremities to his upper extremities and this alone plays a great part in sprinting, free-taking and contact situations where one must hold his or her ground against an opponent. We did this by using movements such as Paloff presses, swiss ball rollouts, cable chop variations and TRX inverted rows. Core stabilisation exercises were included in the warm up along with stretches to free up Timmy’s hips, and activation exercises were used to wake up the all-important glute muscles which play a vital role in the prevention of hamstring injuries which can occur if the hamstring is overused in the hip extension pattern. In awakening these sleeping giants we were utilising the power of what could be argued to be the strongest muscle in the body and the very importance of recruiting the glutes for sporting movements cannot be understated.
Given that Timmy had a reasonable background in strength training and that he had undertaken a strength training cycle prior to us meeting, we saw it as a good time to introduce plyometrics into his schedule. Plyometrics are exercises designed to produce quick and powerful movements that utilise the stretch-shortening cycle of the muscle by stimulating great force exertion when the muscle lengthens and shortens. In summary, plyometrics make you faster and more powerful and are even more effective if preceded by an extensive strength building training phase. To this end we utilised box jumps, single leg box jumps and Bulgarian (RFESS) plyometrics to impart the desired training effect to the lower body and we supplemented this with upper body movements such as high velocity medicine ball throws. Whereas lower body plyometrics are vital to nearly every single sport known to man, upper body variations utilising medicine balls are particularly important for sports like hurling that require a significant amount of upper body rotation, mostly when striking the sliotar. The need to stand strongly and rapidly throw the medicine ball without the need for decelerating the load has a very direct and specific carryover to hurling in particular and the same can be said of similar rotational sports such as golf and tennis. Another fantastic benefit of one sided medicine ball throws is the training of the non-dominant side, i.e. the side that Timmy least likes striking the sliotar from. Considering that we performed these throws from the left and the right, we were ensuring that if Timmy happened upon a scenario in a game whereupon he found his marker blocking his preferred side to strike off, he could quickly and adequately switch sides and gain as much distance as when he pucked off his dominant side. Whether this situation came to fruition or not, only Timmy can tell you but it underlines the way a well-structured strength and conditioning programme could and should account for any eventualities on the field of play.
Give me two players of equal ability, determination and mental strength and all other things being equal, the stronger man will win the battle every time. This is the approach Timmy took. He knew he had the skill and the ability but there were just a few fundamental ingredients missing from the overall formula. He recognised this, he put it right, and he is only just beginning to reap the benefits. Keep your eyes on Tipp in this year’s Munster championship! Below is Timmy’s pre-Fitzgibbon Cup Strength/Power Phase.
Jason Moran, www.yourtrainer.ie
Pre-Session Warm Up (Some exercises performed between sets of main strength exercises.)
- Foam Rolling of hips, glutes, hamstrings, quads and upper/lower back
- Ankle Mobilisation
- Lunge Matrix
- Thoracic Mobilisation
- Single Leg Hip Lift (Cook Hip Lift)
- Quadruped Hip Extensions
- Side Lying Shoulder Mobilisation
- Scapula Wall Slides
Day 1 (Volume and/or intensity of each exercise was manipulated each week)
A1: Box Jumps, 3×5, Bodyweight
A2: Alternating Med Ball Front Twist Throws, 3×5
B1: Kettlebell Swings, 3×6, 10 rep max
B2: Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat, 3×6, 85% 1rm
C1: Half Kneeling Cable Chops, 3×10, 12-14 rep max
C2: TRX Inverted Rows, 3×12, Bodyweight
D1: Three Way Shoulder, 3×8x8×8, 5kg
A1: Single Leg Box Jumps, 3×5, Bodyweight
A2: Med Ball Side Throws, 3×6
B1: RFESS Plyos, 3×5, Bodyweight
B2: Paloff Press, 3×10, 12-14 rep max
C1: Single Leg Deadlift, 3×8, 12-12 rep max
D1: Three Way Shoulder, 3×8x8×8, 5kg