Sports Performance Tip: Train smarter for long-term goals

sports performance

April 2017 – Sports performance training has become widely popular to take an athlete’s skill to the next level.

There is a lot to consider when deciding the best place to enhance your game, but you may not have considered the most important factor: finding a sports performance program that will create long-term success.

I recommend you find a provider just as dedicated to your long-term movement health as they are your sports performance gains over the next season.

Today many athletes complete some type of sports performance training, either as an individual or as a team. There are a ton of different professions involved in the sports performance industry. Training facilities and technology continue to get fancier, and training styles vary over time.

Unfortunately, there are people who fall through the cracks and the very training they did to perform better actually sets them up for more injuries down the line. Consider the following general guidelines to help you choose the right program for you:

  • Injury prevention focus: The No. 1 differentiator between top performers in all sports is the absence of injury. Athletes and teams that prevent injuries consistently outperform those with higher injury rates. Thus, your trainer must emphasize the movement control elements that will help you reduce injury risk over the long term just as much as the more exciting strength, power and speed elements that change your game in shorter time frames.
  • Age: Youth and adult athletes should have different training programs. Adult programs can be more specific to sport elements and build on their existing movement fundamentals. Youth programs must build an athlete’s movement fundamentals and should contain more variety than those of their adult counterparts. Proficiency in movement patterns (technique) should be emphasized before progressing to higher intensity training. Evidence also shows youth sport specialization not only leads to burnout but also increases injury risk.
  • Personalized programs: Every athlete has skills that are better than others. Make sure you find a program that assesses your individual abilities, understands your weaknesses and strengths, and creates a program tailored to your specific needs.
  • Well-rounded programs: Strength, flexibility, agility, balance and coordination should all be assessed and included as part of a training program. Technique should first and foremost be emphasized before any higher level training.

I was fortunate to get into a great sports performance program at a young age that emphasized injury prevention and not only got me stronger and faster, but taught me how to move well. I have no doubt that this program (and a little bit of luck) is why in 17 years as a soccer player I never had a serious injury.

Taking control of your movement health and training smarter now will result in greater benefits for your future, whether you make it to the pros or play sports recreationally. Short-term gains can have long-term consequences, so choose a provider that understands the long-term goal – improved sports performance performance with less injury over time.

Article by Jenna Stones, DPT. Jenna is a physical therapist and movement specialist at CORE Strategies Physical Therapy, Sport Performance & Medical Fitness in Overland Park, The CORE team specializes in rehabilitation and performance training for clients of all ages and activity levels.  To learn more about CORE’s sport specific programs visit  Contact Jenna at

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