Sorry, no fancy names, catchy phrases, or acronyms describing our sports performance training methodology. If you actually #1 show up and #2 WORK HARD under our program, you will experience results that are second to none. That’s a bold statement but it’s true. We don’t body build athletes. We don’t train them like Power Lifters or Olympic Weightlifters. Strength training is a piece of the pie not the entire pie. Sports performance training for athletes should include running, jumping, throwing medicine balls, and performing athletic movements. That can’t be done in a tiny weight room with an eight foot high ceiling and 20 yards worth of turf. Our beliefs are very unique in both Pittsburgh and the Unites States in general. Exercise Science and Kinesiology Degrees don’t include the teaching of athletic movements like sprinting, jumping, acceleration, and deceleration. If it’s not in the ‘books” it sure isn’t taught in a hands on fashion in the “lab”.
Sports Performance Training Methodology
The Umberger Performance Training Methodology is a collection of what has influenced our lives and athletic careers. Much of the influence in our methodology stems from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc Europe. Louie Simmons founded Westside Barbell on these principles. The major influences on the art and science of our methodology of performance enhancement are James Smith, Charlie Francis, Buddy Morris, Ralph Mann, Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky, Anatoliy Bondarchuk, Henk Kraajonov, Carl Valle, Todd Hamer, Lisa Regan, and many others. We have incorporated general life readings from Bruce Lee, Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Brain Tracy, Covey, Zig Ziglar, and numerous other business/life books. Our life’s purpose is to enhance the lives of others. Our parents, the major influential people in our lives, did this for us. It is their guidance, passion for knowledge, confidence, and support that has molded our desire to never stop learning, reading, and discovering.
Bruce Lee took many of the ancient eastern martial arts, as well western arts, and combined them into Jeet Kun Do. Bruce felt that a single methodology left one limited, both in technique and mindset. As Bruce has stated, “Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and add what is essentially your own.” One can’t grow with limitations. We refuse to place them upon each other or others in our lives. We have broken free of the restrictions and ignorance that exists in the physical development and preparation of athletes in the United States.
With this in mind, we entered the world of performance enhancement early in our athletic careers. From the beginning we were open to all methodologies, always looking for a better, more efficient way to enhance our own performance. This obsession has led to Scott becoming a top expert in sports performance training and RJ to become a top 15% scorer and clutch playoff performer in the NHL.
Umberger Performance will combine any one of the following influences into a program to assist in developing the client according to their strengths, weaknesses, prior injuries, and goals:
Programming- Charlie Francis’s Vertical Integration-High/Low Methodology, Block Periodization, and the Conjugate Sequence System of Periodization (macro and micro cycle planning over the course of the year and career);
Traditional “speed” work for sprinting, acceleration, speed endurance(when applicable), 40 and 60-yard dash times, etc.
Westside Barbell’s application of Russian Science to strength enhancement in the squat, bench, and dead lift;
Strongman training for general strength, variety, and fun;
Olympic lifting where applicable;
The physical preparation of professional and amateur mixed martial artists(MMA) as well as boxers;
NHL combine and elite camp preparation (skill associated with the preparation for those specific tests);
NFL, CFL, and Arena Combine Testing Preparation (skill associated with the preparation for those specific tests).
We place significant emphasis on running and jumping techniques as well as resistance training(lifting weights). The end goal is to target, develop, and enhance all the biological processes: strength, endurance, oxidative capacity, anaerobic power, lactate threshold, etc. The energy system is something that we consider to be sport specific and will accommodate to the individual sport requirements. Once the athlete reaches a level that justifies “special exercises” to enhance sport specific skills, they will be implemented. These exercises will be used to take the athlete to the next level verse trying to improve a power clean or squat, which will not transfer to the “playing field”. The athlete’s “on field” performance is judged through sports performance or through wins and losses not “weight room numbers”. They are athletes not weight lifters. There is a clear difference between the two despite even professional athletes experiencing success despite their antiquated training philosophies. Please do not take these comments to mean that we do not weight train. That couldn’t be any further from the truth. Strength is a VERY important piece of the puzzle, but it is only a piece.
Following the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc training methodologies, Umberger Performance believes that training should be broken down into four basic categories: Tactical, Technical, Psychological, and Physical. We’ve added Recovery and Nutrition.
To think or feel? The Psychological aspect of training takes top priority over any other aspect of training in our program. This sense of importance relates to the athletes motivation and will toward obtaining goals and dreams. Goals and desired results must come from the athletes themselves. All athletes and traditional clients must have achievable goals. There must be a reason to undergo an intense and detailed training program, to be pushed beyond their perceived limitations. We are all tremendously stronger, both mentally and physically, than we perceive ourselves. It is on this merit that lessons learned will carry from the gym/field/ice/track to real life where true success is obtained.
It is a top priority to assist the athletes to establish short-term, intermediate and long-term goals in life, “real world” careers, college athletics, and beyond. Through goal setting, what was once considered unobtainable becomes obtainable. I don’t believe in the word “can’t”. In the words of Yoda, “Do or do not, there is no try!”
Visualization and mental rehearsal is needed to obtain an ideal mindset for performance. Many athletes have been trained in the use of visualization, but fail to use the techniques, as I have personally experienced. Once a slump happens, they look to use the visualization for a quick fix. This strategy fails because the mastery of mental preparation has never taken place. By utilizing trigger techniques in practice, they can recall these “relaxed & fluid mind states”, thus removing them subconsciously from the high pressure game situation.
Again, this must be practiced in order to be utilized when it is most needed!
The physical aspect of my training will be to prepare the athlete for the performance on the playing field. There are two different forms of physical preparedness that we focus on: General Physical Preparedness (“GPP”), and Special/Specific Physical Preparedness (“SPP”).
Each sport carries very unique energy system requirement and this must be addressed. We can’t stress the importance of this enough. In the US, we like to lift weights. In Europe, they are experts in the bioenergetic systems and maximizing training to achieve peak sports performance. Europe however lacks knowledge in strength training. We provide the best of both worlds at Umberger Performance. Improved strength will allow the athlete to become more resistant to injury and allow the athlete to have the strength to display their skill set. If the athlete tires in a competition, it doesn’t matter how strong or explosive that they are. They will be unable to display these qualities as well their individual skill set.
The Specific or Special Physical Preparedness (SPP) is a constant priority for more advanced athletes, but becomes more paramount when significant gains in the weight room are no longer transferred to the playing field which typically happens after the first year from serious training. At this point, a greater percentage of the training is focused on the sport skills that will translate more efficiently towards performance of the advanced trainees.
Much of the tactical training is sport specific. It is the actual game plan prepared by the coach and reviewed with the team. Depending on the sport, the game plan and game specific tactics could be different for each position. We can assist in helping the athlete develop the proper strength and agility to perform the specific technique needed to be successful on the playing field.
The proper technique in the weight room is paramount. Impeccable form is desired to obtain mastery of the lift and to avoid injury. Maximum weights need to be lifted in order to train the central nervous system properly. Only proper technique will allow for peak performance and reduced injury.
We are not sport specific coaches. We will not show an athlete the proper alignment to throw a 100 mph fastball or a Lacrosse snipe. We can, however, assist the athlete in obtaining the proper strength required to execute the said technique. An offensive line coach can not teach proper technique to a player who is not strong enough to hold proper pass blocking position or is not quick enough to move with the defensive lineman. We will also teach them how to properly practice in order to obtain mastery over their sport techniques.
Recovery and Nutrition
This area is often overlooked by athletes. Said in a very elementary way, “Our workouts are only as good as your bodies ability to recover from them.” With our basic monitoring(daily athlete surveys and tracking nutrition intake) to cutting edge monitoring of muscle fiber make up, blood testing, heart rate variability(HRV) monitoring
We work with athletic teams’ coaches to help athletes achieve their dreams. Within our training system, we set our priorities on the Psychological, Physical, and Technical aspects of training. Through dream realization, we aim to inspire the athletes to achieve mastery over their minds and bodies. This confidence and strength is an unrealized benefit when they leave the playing field and have to make decisions daily in their lives and careers. Greatness isn’t hard to achieve per say. It’s rather simple if viewed from a distance. One must be disciplined, systematic, and driven.
It’s about heart, commitment, and desire. Insert company tag line, “Just do it!”