Athlete Performance Training
Training designed to elevate fitness and improve sports outcomes.
What is Athlete Performance Training (APT)?
Special Olympics Pennsylvania is rededicating itself to its mission and values through Athlete Performance Training. Designed to elevate the fitness levels of athletes and improve their sports outcomes, Athlete Performance Training consists of a combination of coach-facilitated sports practices and at-home fitness programs. Together, these help ensure participants become healthier, more fit and live longer lives.
During practices, coaches will apply an approach that includes education, exertion and evaluation.
- Education: Time is taken during each sports practice to discuss physical activity, nutrition, and hydration as a team.
- Exertion: A practice plan is followed that engages athletes in physical activity throughout the entire practice.
- Evaluation: Athletes’ health and fitness metrics are collected at the start and end of the season.
At home, athletes and their families/caregivers are provided a sport-specific fitness program to complement the in-person practices.
How To Participate?
Coaches interested in participating should visit the Online Portal to complete the necessary online training, labeled "Athlete Performance Training" found under "Training Webinar and More." The training video is only 20 minutes long and simple to complete. You will need to complete a short quiz after the video. Once completed you will then be directed to the registration form to sign your team up to participate and request materials. Once you have completed your registration you will be contacted by Special Olympics Pennsylvania on next steps.
To access the training log on the Online Portal, you will log in using your email as your user ID and password. Remember, you will only be able to access the training if you’ve taken your other required trainings (Concussion Training, General Orientation and Protective Behaviors). If you have forgotten your User ID, please contact email@example.com. If you have forgotten your password, select "Forgot Password?" when logging in for the first time. A new password will be emailed to your email address (User ID) immediately following.
Following the completion of Athlete Performance Training Tracking, you will be eligible for the Athlete Performance Training component of the Bronze Level Coaches Training and Progression Plan.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Minimally 8 weeks of training are required to fully complete APT. 10-15 minutes of time is necessary each week for lesson and goal setting. However additional time will also be required to set aside during week 1 and week 8 in order to complete the Coopers Test and gather any other health metrics.
- APT can be completed with any size team or group. From one or two athletes to 25 or more. The APT is adaptable to any size.
- Any sport or team can participate in APT as long as they have 8 weeks of training time. From swimming to floor hockey or snowboarding to soccer all teams during every season are welcome to participate. (Some sports may need to adapt locations or find an alternative meeting place to complete the Coopers Test, i.e. swimming may need to meet outside of the pool for this.)
- Athlete Performance Training is similar to Fit 5 in that it focuses its lessons on nutrition, hydration and physical activity. The layout of the Coaches Education Guide and Athlete Guide are similar as well. However, with APT we take training to the next level but including an at home exercise component. This is to help encourage athletes to include fitness as part of their everyday routine and therefore improve their health in the long term. Those who have completed Fit 5 will be able to review known concepts and reach new goals!
- The tracking element of APT is different as well. Athletes track their health (height, weight and blood pressure) goals on their own. Coaches are asked to gather their fitness metrics to help athletes see the benefits of their efforts. The health and fitness metrics allow for SOPA to gather important data used to continue to improve and provide life changing health programs for our athletes.
- There is no paper work required! Collection of the health metrics (height, weight and blood pressure) and fitness (aerobic fitness level will be collected and automatically calculated from a modified version of the Cooper Test) will be tracked using Google Sheets. A quick tutorial on how to input the data into the Google sheet is included in the training.(see below) Within the Coaches Education Guide as well as the Athletes Guide, there are pictures, step by step instructions as well as tips for athletes to collect their height, weight and blood pressure.
- Coaches may wish to review athlete’s Daily Tracking but it is not required to keep any paperwork. Each athlete is provided their own Guide so paper copies are not necessary.
- There are a few options to collect heights and weights for each athlete. If an athlete has recently (within the past 2 months) visited a doctor’s office (such as their sports physical) they can provide you their height and weight from that visit. Athletes may also use the tips from their guide books with the assistance of a parent or caregiver to measure their own height and weight at home. Another option would be to set aside time for those athletes who are not able to obtain their own height and weight and with a simple scale and measuring tape to collect the data before or after practice.
- Athletes can provide their blood pressure results from a recent (within the past 2 months) doctor’s visit for their initial reading. Athletes can also visit a local pharmacy that offers a blood pressure machine for their readings. Walgreens and Rite Aid both indicate on their website if their store location offers a blood pressure station. You may also find a blood pressure station at your local Walmart or CVS. For post blood pressure results, visiting a pharmacy to measure blood pressure is recommended. If an athletes has their own blood pressure monitor at home that can be used as well.
Yes! A copy of the Coaches Education Guide and Athletes Guide are available to preview. Each Local Program Manager/Team Leader should have a copy for you to view. If your Local Program Manager/Team Leader does not have a copy, please contact Charla Stein, Healthy Communities Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-630-9450 ext. 254.
- The Cooper’s Test is a standard test of physical fitness. The original Cooper’s test is to be completed in 12 minutes. However, we have modified the test to 6 minutes. The test requires a flat space with a distance of at least 20 yards (60 feet). Cones are placed every 5 yards or (15 feet). Athletes are asked to run or walk in a straight line from the first cone to the last, up and back as many times as they can in 6 minutes. Based on results athletes will be placed in an appropriate fitness level. More details on completing the Cooper’s Test are provided in the Coaches Education Guide.
- It is understood that not all teams will be in practice venues that allow for the space necessary to implement the Coopers Test. However, if possible, consider alternative locations, like an empty parking lot or local park to complete the test.
- Yes the Athlete Performance Training, coaches training video is offered on the Online Portal. The video is only 21 minutes long. All coaches must complete the training prior to receiving the materials in the mail. The training reviews important details and aspects of the program. It also previews pages in the coach’s guide and athlete guide along with other important information needed to successfully implement APT.
- To access the training log on the Online Portal, you will log in using your email as your user ID and password. If you have forgotten your User ID, please contact email@example.com. If you have forgotten your password, select "Forgot Password?" when logging in for the first time. A new password will be emailed to your email address (User ID) immediately following.
- The training can be found under the “Training Schools, Webinar and More” tab, labeled as “Athlete Performance Training.” You will only be able to access the training if you’ve taken your other required trainings (Concussion Training, General Orientation and Protective Behaviors). If you’re unable to access the training, please take the others first. Upon successful completion of the training, your record will be updated and SOPA will be notified. You will be contacted by Charla Stein, the Healthy Communities Coordinator, after the training with additional information regarding mailings of materials as well as a link to the Athlete Performance Training Tracking.
More Information on the Coaches Training & Progression Plan:
This training plan is designed to inspire and encourage coaches to continue their education in order to be the best coach that they can be and, in turn, provide our athletes with a better experience and a desire to be the best athlete that they can be.
For further perspective on running the program as a coach, please watch this video: