By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
Want more top stories? Sign up here for daily or weekly newsletters with our top news.
Doing so takes hard work, but it also takes smart work.
“There's two or three different components of being a good athlete. One is just to be in good enough overall condition, and I think that that's fairly easy to do and everyone's been doing that for hundreds of years,” said Greg Halberg, a former collegiate and professional strength and conditioning coach.
Halberg and Port Angeles High School football coach Tom Wahl can be found Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings this summer at the high school's track or weight room training high school and college athletes and kids as young as fourth grade.
They are joined on occasion by Eric Palenik, a physical therapist at Olympic Medical Center who focuses on sports medicine.
The purpose of the training is to help athletes throughout the North Olympic Peninsula increase their speed, strength, agility, quickness and power, as well as teach injury prevention strategies.
“Whoever wants to get better who's from the Peninsula, they're welcome to come into this and do it,” Wahl said.
“We're here, ideally, for Port Angeles kids to get better, but if Sequim kids or Forks kids or Joyce kids or anybody else want to come do it, by all means, we're happy to have them here.
“We're looking for kids who want to get better. I just feel like it's a waste of this expertise and knowledge if we don't share it with people.”
Wahl, entering his fifth season as the Port Angeles head football coach, has been a strength coach for 29 years.
Halberg's credentials include a stint as strength and conditioning coach at Central Michigan University.
Palenik has worked with college and professional athletes, including NFL players.
“He really has a nice eye for people that have mechanical deficiencies and things that need to be improved fixed,” Wahl said of Palenik.
“And then, of course, Greg comes from the training point of view where he's doing the different type of sprint training activities to try and develop them there.
“And then I'm working on the strength down here [in the weight room] and our core lifts that we do all year round with some unique auxiliary lifts to kind of reinforce all the things that they're doing up there [on the track].”
After a training session last week, Halberg compared running and moving with shooting a basketball from the free-throw line.
Anybody can throw the ball toward the hoop, but good free-throw shooters consistently practice the appropriate technique or form.
“There's proper way of doing it and they practice that proper way consistently, and then that's what makes them good,” Halberg said.
“Running, moving is a skill, just like anything else, where knowing how to do it the correct way so that all your muscles work in sequence with each other as opposed to being all spastic and fighting each other; knowing how to do that and then practicing it and then reinforcing that a bunch of times so that it becomes second nature, that's kind of the skill set that I bring to the table, that I've had the excellent opportunity to learn from some of the best people in the world at doing that, that I would like would like to see these kids be able to do also.”
Halberg gears his workouts toward athletes' specific sports.
Training participants spend 45 minutes on the track with Halberg and 45 minutes in the weight room with Wahl.
The idea is to develop speed and explosiveness.
“The goal in [the weight room] is to create strength,” Wahl said.
“Greg . . . is talking to them about the key to speed is quicker touch and reflex and go.
“So he's working on that concept that we're trying to reinforce and develop strength in with the same type of movements, just with weights and resistance to make those muscles stronger, trying to get the faster twitch response.
“We're trying to do all of our lifts very explosively and quick, along with some good stabilizing exercises.”
Participants also do a neck routine to aimed at curbing concussions.
“In all sports, a strong neck prevents concussions,” Wahl said.
This is the second summer Halberg, Wahl and Palenik have teamed up for this athletic training.
Wahl noticed the impact the training program had in athletes during their high school sports seasons.
He continued teaching some of the concepts as a physical education teacher at Port Angeles High School.
Palenik also noticed improvement when he reconvened with the program earlier this month.
“Our ultimate objective eye was Eric Palenik,” Wahl said.
“When he came in [the first week of training] — he comes in once week — and he said, 'Wow, I can see a big difference in those kids who we had last summer and who stayed with it during the winter.'
“So that's been exciting to get that feedback because I'm with them every day, but he's had nine months that he hasn't seen them.”
The training programs run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday through Aug. 11 from 8 a.m. through 11 a.m.
Sessions begin at 8 a.m., 8:45 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. for high school and college athletes.
The 9:30 a.m. sessions are for women only.
There also are 10:15 a.m. sessions Mondays and Wednesdays that are for grades 4 through 8 and last one hour.
The cost is $250 for high school and college athletes for the summer (which ends up being about $6.50 per hour), and $150 for the younger athletes.
Make checks payable to the Port Angeles Football Booster Club.
Wahl said that those who want to participate should show up at the Port Angeles High School gym, weight room or track between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. where they will receive sign-up information and be directed toward the best group for them to participate in.
There are scholarship options for those unable to pay the fee. The program's goal is to not turn away any athletes who desire to improve themselves.
Sports Editor Lee Horton can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.