Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial (LCWM) High School athletes have been receiving strength and conditioning training from members of the Madelia Community Hospital & Clinic Physical Therapy Department several days per week both before and after school. The goal of the training is to teach student athletes the proper biomechanics associated with exercise and sports to optimize their overall athletic performance. This service is available to all student-athletes at LCWM at no charge.
Proper strength and conditioning training is often neglected by high school athletes. Participation in this training decreases the possibility of injury, builds team rapport, and improves overall speed, agility, and strength. A program of this caliber is rarely offered to high school athletes by their schools, and it is usually run by an independent organization with an extensive monthly fee.
On a typical day, therapists use different training styles to promote muscle growth, strength, and power. Depending on the goal, each week can be quite different, alternating between exercises with varying repetition ranges based on the phase of training the athlete is in. The ability to move at a high rate of speed and create maximum power output is important for most sports. So proper running form, acceleration, agility and plyometrics (jump training) are also worked on.
“A well-rounded strength and conditioning program can train movement patterns that are not only important now, but in the future as these athletes become adults,” said Dylan Gibson, MCHC Strength and Conditioning Instructor at LCWM.
Expertise and experience in high school sports strength and conditioning programs is rarely found in rural areas. Gibson is a recent graduate of the Exercise Science program at Minnesota State University-Mankato. He has experience working with both high school and college athletes ranging from injury rehabilitation to sport-specific performance training. In addition to Gibson, Jim Hitchcock oversees all prescribed exercises and methodologies for the program. Hitchcock is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, certified athletic trainer, certified speed and agility coach, and certified sports nutrition coach.
Each athlete’s progress is tracked and logged with laser timers that are usually used by college-level athletic programs. Athlete’s exercise volume is tracked with field tests like flying ten-yard sprints and 40-yard dashes at the beginning of the class and throughout the training. This quantitative data helps the athlete to appreciate that their hard work is producing results.
Student athletes also learn about adequate macronutrient intake, healthy snack choices, hydration, sleep, and mental health. Athletes are taught to work together, to be good sports, and to hold themselves to a high standard of excellence.