Science + Perspective When Training Action Sports Athletes
I’m not a huge fan of terms like “skate specific work out” or “strength and conditioning for surfers.” At the end of the day, action sports athletes require improvement of the same physical qualities that conventional athletes require. Qualities such as strength, power, flexibility, and energy system development.
For example, a skateboarder may not need a 400-pound deadlift, but he can absolutely benefit from improvements in strength. It’s not just his or her muscles that get stronger. The integrity of ligaments, tendons, and bone density improve. This means when high impact landings occur, the athlete is structurally more resilient and thus less prone to injuries. Last I checked, injuries can take even the best out of the game.
Improvements in power are also desirable for most action sports athletes. If a skateboarder can apply more force into the ground in a shorter period of time, his olli, kickflip etc. will be bigger. If he or she can generate more velocity when launching off the lip of a half-pipe, the aerial maneuver will be bigger. Last I checked, judges in contests tend to score higher for bigger, and more powerful performances so no one that couldn’t benefit there.
Lastly, energy system development. Depending on the number of competitors, and length and number of heats, work to rest ratios can vary dramatically. ATP CP, glycolytic, or oxidative energy systems may need improvement respectively, or congruently. Last I checked, its hard to skate or perform well in any sport when you’re exhausted.
The point is skaters, surfers, BMX riders etc. will all benefit from a properly designed strength and conditioning program. That doesn’t mean gimmicky training methods or voodoo. Research the athlete’s sport, discover which physical qualities are required, and which energy systems are dominant and program from there.