Phase 2 & 3 Training - Part 5 ACL Return to Sport

After training for four-weeks under Phase 1, the athlete should be well prepared to begin to tolerate greater loads and stress. Being that phase 1 is a "learning" phase, phase 2 & 3 is when the training adaptations begin to take place.


During these phases, the athlete should be able to begin to load with heavier exercises. In Phase 2, I begin to add in the BB Quarter Squat with moderate loads. My goal in this phase is to try and get the athlete to Squat with great form to a deeper depth each time the athlete puts the bar on their back. A Box Squat is a safe place to begin so the athlete can eliminate the amortization phase stress at the bottom of the squat.

The key thing to look for here is a pelvic shift during the squat pattern. Be sure to address this issue when it occurs so that the athlete does not over compensate on the non-injured limb.

By Phase 3, the athlete should be Squatting with a tempo without the support of the box and attempting to hit lower depth. I also add in the Hexbar Deadlift in Phase 3 to continue to load the athlete with heavier weight from a quarter knee bend position.

All sets and reps get cut down, obviously, like any other strength program when developing maximal strength.


PHASE 2 & 3 - SPEED TRAINING

During this phase, my attempt is to begin to address longer distances in running (i.e., 20-40 yards) and begin training speed endurance. The goal again is to continue to train the athlete to develop force in accelerating, and to begin to apply greater forces and attempt to hit higher velocities.

The focus is still quality, however we can now begin to implement instruments to add stress & develop the necessary forces in these certain body angles.

Aside from the form running drills and acceleration drills, the one implement I add in Phase 2 is the Prowler Push. The Prowler is a front-loaded exercise that taxes the quads while the body is in a position of acceleration, & it also teaches the athlete to "push".

For the first two weeks, it is a Prowler March, with the following weeks being a Prowler Run. Don't be afraid to load the hell out of the prowler during the marches. The more load, the more force is being created and the more those quads are being worked.


PHASE 2 - CHANGE OF DIRECTION/PLYOMETRICS

This is where the creativity of the coach comes into play. During phase 2, I begin to teach the athlete what it takes to decelerate and how to change speeds. Decelerating to a dead stop rarely occurs in sport, HOWEVER, teaching it in training can mitigate the chance of injury when an athlete must come to a hard full stop in sport. My cue for teaching deceleration is telling the athlete, you have to know when to "turn up and turn down" the speed dial, very similar to increasing and decreasing sound volume on speakers. I start with wider closed-drills (i.e., X-Drill at 10x10) that way I give the athlete enough time to build and decrease speed.

For jumping, I would usually do a jump with a controlled landing, and phase 3 I would make it a repeated effort. For example, I would have the athlete perform one vertical jump with strict landing; then in the following phase I would have the athlete perform 3 consecutive jumps.

Again, the goal here is to develop efficient force output as well as force absorption. Some jumping drills I do during this phase are:

vertical jump (double and single leg)

broad jump

box drops (work up to 12" box)

skater hops

45 degree skater hops


PHASE 2 - STRENGTH PROGRAM

Day 1

A1. BB Box Front Squat - 3x8

A2. Miniband Clamshell - 3x20 ea

A3. Band TKE - 3x10 ea


B1. DB/BB Step Down - 3x10ea

B2. Y Balance w/object - 3x3ea

B3. Kneeling Pallof Chops - 3x10ea

C1. Single Leg Leg Press - 3x15ea

C2. Single Leg Leg Extension (terminal position should decrease slightly) - 3x10ea

C3. Single Leg Leg Curl - 3x15ea


Day 2

A1. Hexbar Deadlift - 3x5ea

A2. Physioball Single Leg Curl - 3x12ea

A3. Band TKE - 3x10ea

B1. DB Lateral Lunge - 3x8ea

B2. Mini Band Lateral Walk - 3x60 sec

B3. Side Plank w/ Leg Raise - 3x15 ea (keep top toe pointed towards floor)


C1. Reverse Sled Drag - 5 x 50 yds


PHASE 3 - STRENGTH PROGRAM

Day 1

A1. BB Front Squat - 6x5 (42X0) (try to achieve greater, or full, ROM)

A2. Miniband Clamshell - 3x20 ea

A3. Band TKE - 3x10 ea


B1. DB Walking Lunge - 3x8ea

B2. Single Leg Balance w/sport object (football, soccer ball, etc.) - 3x3ea

B3. Pallof Iso Press Holds - 3x20s

C1. Single Leg Leg Press - 3x15ea

C2. Single Leg Leg Extension (terminal position should decrease slightly) - 3x10ea

C3. Single Leg Leg Curl - 3x15ea


Day 2

A1. Hexbar Deadlift - 5x3ea

A2. Slideboard Leg Curl (2 in, 1 out) - 3x8ea (if you don't have a slideboard, you can use gliders or a towel)

A3. Band TKE - 3x10ea

B1. DB Lateral Step Up - 3x8ea

B2. Mini Band Lateral Walk - 3x60 sec

B3. Side Plank w/ Leg Raise - 3x15 ea (keep top toe pointed towards floor)


C1. Reverse Sled Drags - 8 x 50 yds


The ultimate goal of this program is to prepare the athlete for Phase 4, which is a model to track and address the athletes power output and repeated sprint efforts.

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