Pyramid of Sport Performance

There is a proposed pyramid of sports development from 2002 which is often overlooked by many athletes, coaches and parents.  This hierarchy sets the precedent for the development of any athlete and it is often overlooked. Sport, or excellence in and focusing on, is the culmination of having all the levels of the pyramid below it in place.  Unfortunately, of recent, athletes, coaches and parents, want to focus solely on the specific demands/skills of one sport, without recognizing the importance of proper development of more foundational aspects of development.

Nutrition (and sleep) are the base of the pyramid. This is the most overlooked aspect of development, especially in youth athletes.  Candy bars, sugary drinks, processed foods are prevalent in many young athletes diets. Without proper fuel, your car won’t run, and neither will any athlete.  A Ferrari won’t run on kerosene, and you have to imagine you or your young athlete is a Ferrari. If you do not put the correct octane in your body, your health will fail.  Proper Diet is the best, and cheapest, medicine you can buy for your body, and the largest sports performance enhancer.

Metabolic conditioning is where fitness is derived.  The fitter you are, the more you can do. The more balanced you are in the major energy systems, the more fit you are.  Conditioning is something which has to be developed. Kids playing outside for hours on end is a form of conditioning, however, this is often not encouraged, and couches and video games become the norm.  We also are lacking in how much activity kids get through physical education in the schools. Overall our children are not getting the conditioning necessary to ensure they are ready for the specificity of sport.  At the younger levels, we can use non-competitive sport for conditioning, however, it is too often the focus at many practices for specific skills to be taught. Conditioning goes to the wayside, as there are only so many hours that coaches have athletes.  One of the outcomes of a Parisi session is this conditioning piece. Athletes are moving and active for 60 minutes, sprinting, doing plyometric exercises, etc.

The next level of the pyramid is Gymnastics.  While it is part of them, in this regard, it isn’t necessarily performing the routines of the Olympics. Gymnastics also includes all activities like climbing, yoga, calisthenics, and dance where the aim is body control. When we let our kids climb and hang on bars at the playground, or even walk up the slide backward, it is within this realm that we can develop extraordinary strength (especially upper body and trunk), flexibility, coordination, balance, agility, and accuracy.  Many kids in their teens who are focusing on one sport have no control of their bodies. It is a disservice to these children to not help them build some of the foundational skills necessary for proper growth and development. Less time playing their sport and more time allowing them to experiment and move through any of the above types of activities will enhance their ability at their sport more so than more hours on the ice, in a batting cage, or at the field kicking a ball. Parisi classes revolve around the mechanics of movement at all levels, and controlling the body in space.  Our classes are designed to help build up flexibility, coordination, balance, agility, and accuracy of our athletes so that when they step into the playing arena, they have the athleticism that non Parisi athletes lack.

Resistance training is next.  Only when the foundational control of one’s own body is developed adequately, does adding resistance to movement come in.  An athlete must demonstrate control over their entire body in order to effectively, safely, and efficiently add load to a movement.  This is essential and why we require Parisi athletes under the age of 12 to partake in our Jump Start program, as there is minimal external loading here, and the focus is on developing body weight strength and coordination.  Even our younger or newer athletes in the Total Performance program must demonstrate proper body control before weights are added to their regimen.

At the top of the pyramid is Sport.   Sport is the application of all the foundational skills in a grand atmosphere of competition. In the training room, the efforts are in predictable repetitive movements and drills, and do not allow for the opportunity to combine the skills athletes acquire.  The playing arena is the application of the training and building up of the foundational skills, where we put all the individual skills we have learned and developed into a dynamic environment with less predictability. Sports do develop all the general skills simultaneously for an athlete, however, the curve is less steep and plateaus sooner, then compared with an athlete who focuses in on a proper strength and conditioning regimen. Sport is better showcasing skills and athleticism, rather than at developing these attributes.

This is what makes the Parisi Program standout among our competitors.  We focus on this hierarchy of development. Developing the whole athlete first, before we develop the athlete in a sport.  With proper progression, we can ensure our athletes are safe and build the fundamental characteristics of athleticism, so that when they step onto the playing field, they can dominate.


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