When In Doubt

When In Doubt

Every year, there are more resources available to parents, coaches and athletes on what the most optimal style of training is for their athlete and their sport.

 

This can become very overwhelming very quickly.

Do you focus on speed and agility training, lifting maximum weights or balance training?

Each of these are stressed as very important – as well as many other facets.

When someone  just wants to help a young athlete, the overwhelming information usually ends in frustration for athletes and adults

Back when I first started training young athletes, I was also unsure of the answers. At the time I was working for Mark Watts at Denison University and the advice he gave is still golden to this day.

When I asked him what I should focus on he replied:

“When in doubt, get your athletes stronger.”

Why is this is a great answer to a complex problem?

Strength is the one asset that will trickle into other aspects of athleticism.

Think about this, if an athlete gets stronger, they will probably be faster and able to change direction better. Now, if an athlete gets faster will they get stronger? Probably not.

Strength carries over to so many areas of training that it is obvious why Mark told me this years ago. Let’s look at what getting stronger can do for an athlete:

Increased Muscle Mass- More force put into the ground during sprints and decreased chance of injury due to larger muscle fibers in weak areas

Increased Speed- The athlete will be able to get into more proper positions during sprints and be more efficient while sprinting and will then be faster

Jump higher and further- The increased strength will be a huge asset for jumping. With the increase in the jumps, the athlete will also have more control on the deceleration phase of their jumps with the more muscle mass in the posterior chain.

Increased Balance- I do believe in balance training, if the athlete is in rehabilitation from an injury. Beyond that, the athlete should be focusing on strengthening the largest amount of fibers at once with each movement. Getting stronger through a full range of motion will increase balance better than many high tech devices.

Increased Endurance- This is one many people don’t think of. If an athlete is moving 5% more efficient during their one hour contest, how do you think they will feel in the last 10 minutes of that contest compared to previous? They are using less energy with every step so they will have more power left in reserve when most contests are decided- this is the most overlooked factor.

Strength will make a tremendous impact on your athletes when designed properly for the athlete. Understanding your population and their maturity level will help you decide how to format the training for them. This article isn’t to say there isn’t benefits in other forms of training, but that strength has had the largest carry over in the athletes we train. A proper system will have balance from all disciplines and will be fresh enough to keep athletes interested in the program. And remember, when in doubt get your athletes brutally strong.