One of the biggest changes in a person’s life happens around the age of 18, when they move from high school to college. The amount of independence, responsibility and self-accountability is increased exponentially, and the transition from kid to adult truly begins.
For athletes making that same transition, this change affects other parts of their lives too. In many instances, athletes are faced with a variety of concerns and challenges that they hadn’t thought about previously. They are moving from an “amateur” athlete to an “elite” athlete – and this distinction is enormous.
One major area affected by this change is in strength and conditioning. Having been around college athletes much of his career, Chris Slocum of Athlete Training and Health (ATH) in Houston, TX knows how eye-opening the experience of an increase in workload can be for new college students. “They were either not conditioned enough to handle practices or there was a big gap in the weight room,” said Slocum. “While other kids were excelling, the freshmen or transfers who weren’t exposed to strength and conditioning fell behind in the weight room. There was a big gap for them.”
Slocum, currently a Senior Performance Coach for Athlete Training and Health, has served on the sports performance staff for colleges ranging from Ohio State University to the University of Houston, specializing in football and Olympic sport athletes. He also played collegiate football himself, as a safety, and ran track.
We create customized, comprehensive training programs to help athletes excel, from varsity to collegiate to pro levels. We provide elite programs, elite coaches and an elite training center where our collegiate athletes train alongside other college and pro athletes.
He cites one of the reasons for this lack of preparation as the way kids now are specializing too early in their sports careers, meaning other areas of their conditioning suffer. Because of this decline in strength and conditioning, and the increase in training that occurs when making the leap to “elite,” injury prevention is a key element as well.
“No matter how strong you are or how in shape you are, sometimes you can’t prevent injuries,” Slocum said. “Our job as a strength coach is to get you stronger or faster or bigger, but our main job is to prevent injuries. It’s providing the athlete with the right amount of load over the course of the season or however long you have the athlete. Good form, eating right, sleeping, staying hydrated. That’s how you prevent muscular injuries.”
Strength training is just a start – we incorporate agility, speed training, technique, balance and more to continually target areas that need improvement
Strength and conditioning relates to injury prevention, but both are components of performance optimization, a certain kind of specialization that comes when you go beyond the basics and focus on what truly matters to the specific sport. Slocum sees this as a particular area where Athlete Training & Health can help with athlete development. “I’ve been in the collegiate setting, I’ve been in the private setting and I’ve been in the clinical setting,” said Slocum. “I’ve seen the full lifecycle of athletes, ones that have been injured to ones at their highest levels. We have coaches at ATH who know what’s expected and understand the entirety of the system for athletes.”
At ATH, performance optimization is paired with consistency of training, which, for amateur athletes, is crucial to preparation ahead of making the leap to the collegiate level.
All of our world class training centers offer collegiate and pro training programs.
And it works. Slocum cited the story of one amateur athlete he has worked together with for years during her development as a member of ATH. Hailie Moore, of Klein High School, has been training in lacrosse, and she “stayed consistent, worked hard, and believed in us.” Now, with her body stronger and excelling on the field, she landed a scholarship to Central Michigan University, where she will begin in fall 2019.
“You’re not going to automatically get a scholarship from your work at ATH, but it helps,” says Slocum.
And when the time comes to make the leap, amateur athletes who have trained through ATH will be more ready for the next step – thanks to strength and conditioning, injury prevention and performance optimization.