There’s a lot of research on it, we know it’s important, we know there’s different types to be used at different times and we know you have to do it in really short shorts or lycra, but it’s still a difficult part of training to get right. The first big issue is adherence, it’s not as glamorous as the technical training, not as rewarding as strength training and definitely doesn’t feel as ruinous as a conditioning session. You try to mix it up, make it a group session by itself, put it at the end of other S&C sessions or utilise yoga and pilates sessions and have to alter athlete perceptions and attitudes as you go.
Then there’s the type of stretching. You have the yoga and pilates options already mentioned as well as static, dynamic, PNF, micro and resistance. All of these have their supporters and detractors. Resistance stretching is one I came across recently, like PNF but dynamic through the full range of motion (I picked up a book by the ‘inventor’ Bob Cooley, some good stretches but not too easy to understand from the pictures and descriptions and a little too much energy flow and ying and yang for my tastes, however it seems pretty effective).
I think they all have their place and, like introducing new lifts, I find it easier to get the basics right first, namely static and dynamics, and introduce the others once competent. Initially I introduce it as a session on its own to associate importance to it and can then add onto the ends of technical and non supervised sessions once I’m confident of adherence Then I experiment. Periodising stretching with programs is a useful and structured way to use of the variety of methods and change stimulus. I’ve also toyed with ideas for team sessions. I thought of maybe using a goniometer to bring some light hearted competition and a little fun, however I’m a little nervous about being the coach that proves the equation:
competition + stretching = dislocated hip