Functional Sports Training | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Functional Sports Training

May 1, 2009 | Featured in the Summer 2009 Issue

Must See Football Videos

 Functional training consists of performing exercises that involve sport-specific movements in terms of mechanics, coordination and energy systems.

We have been observing the evolution of functional training through countless interviews with the nation’s top professional and collegiate athletes and coaches. To understand the value of functional training, we spoke with Jon Jungwirth, program coordinator at Dickinson County Healthcare System (Iron Mountain, Mich.) and strength and conditioning coach for several high schools. In this interview, Jungwirth explains the benefits of functional training and how he incorporates it into his athletes’ training regimen.

STACK: Why is functional training important for athletes?
Jon Jungwirth:
I find that a lot of high school athletes are concerned with the mirror or beach muscles, and waste time building those. I try to teach them the importance of being functionally strong, because that’s the way sports are played.

STACK: How do you incorporate functional training into workouts?
JJ:
We train in multiple planes, because that will help [players] in game situations that occur in sports like football, basketball, baseball and wrestling. [My] theory [is based on] training movements instead of muscles. If you’re training the movement, the muscle will follow, and that’s sometimes hard for young athletes to understand. You also have to make sure you’re implementing movements that are specific to your sport.

STACK: Explain what you mean by multiple planes.
JJ:
When training for any explosive sport, we’ll work various planes of motion, because the body never uses just one muscle group. This usually consists of performing movements side-to-side, front-to-back and at angles. Basically, we’re performing functional, multi-joint exercises that mimic the type of body movement you experience in sports. We typically avoid training straight linear and backward movements, because that’s not the way sports are played.

STACK: How can an athlete make an exercise more functional?
JJ:
Take a basic Lunge, for example. Perform a Side Lunge and add an upper body twist at the bottom of the lunge. By doing this, you’re incorporating and training more than one muscle group, which will enhance your athletic ability overall.

STACK: Can you share other functional exercises?
JJ:
Other examples of functional training include whole body activities requiring balance and coordination such as squats, lunges, pulling, pushing and rotation exercises. Any exercise that incorporates the use of all planes of movement, instability or gravity as resistance can be very functional. You want to train and condition your body in an unstable environment.

STACK: How often do you incorporate functional exercises?
JJ:
We will train functionally two to three times per week, working on speed, agility, quickness and power. High school athletes are very busy, and we don’t want them to overtrain and get burned out; we want them peaking at the right time.

STACK: What results can an athlete expect to see by incorporating functional training?
JJ:
The goal of functional training is to develop athleticism. You will enhance athletic movements like running, jumping, throwing and lifting. You will also develop sound technique and optimum speed with movements that are within the context of your sport.

Topics: FOOTBALL
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

How Ryan Mathews Returned to Highlight Reel Status

3 Secrets of the NBA's Best Shooters

The 4 Fundamentals of Hitting a Baseball

Andrew McCutchen Is Raking His Way to Consecutive MVP Honors

How to Recover After Getting Hit by a Pitch

Matt Kemp on His Way Back to MVP Form

How to Improve Your Football Skills Mid-Season

Top 3 Hockey Training Mistakes

4 Tips to Become a Better Softball Pitcher

Develop an Unstoppable Crossover Dribble With Just 3 Drills

Basketball Dribbling Drills: Use Chaos to Develop Killer Handles

3 Things You Are Doing Wrong In Your Basketball Training

QB Skills and Drills: How to Master the Bubble Screen

3 Offensive Line Drills That'll Help You Keep Your QB Clean

Improve Your Basketball Passes With Med Ball Exercises

This 13-Year-Old Girl Would Strike You Out

How to Create a Killer Crossover Without a Basketball

Why Basketball Players Must Improve Their Weak Hand

Drive Defenders Crazy With These Super Moves from NBA Legends

These 3 Route-Running Drills Will Help You Get Open

5 Drills to Improve Your Soccer Dribbling Skills

5 Things You Can Learn From Playing Pre-Season Basketball

4 Drills That'll Help You Become an Elite Running Back

4 Common Mistakes Made When Coaching Young Athletes

Become a Better Point Guard With This Training Program

Does Grunting Improve Your Sports Performance?

Build a Better Layup With These Basketball Speed Drills

Success With Health: How Trevor Bauer Increased His Velocity

How David Ortiz Maintains Peak Performance

10 Essential Point Guard Drills From Skylar Diggins

How QB Ryan Tannehill Beats the Blitz

Use These 3 Principles to Improve Your Basketball Defense

Basketball Shooting Technique: How to Shoot a Floater

Three Benefits of Being a Young, Multi-Sport Athlete

Shooting Drills That Will Make You a Knock-Down Shooter

3 Steps to Better In-Game Baseball Hitting

Winter Soccer Workout to Improve Ball Handling

Wide Receivers: Learn to Catch Every Jump Ball, Every Time

Softball Pitchers: How to Play Your Best Over a Complete Season

Tony Wroten's Lethal Crossover Leaves Defender in the Dust

Why You Shouldn't Specialize in One Sport Too Soon

Preparation Nation: DeMatha Stags