Random Thoughts on Performance Training in Sport
Had a couple quick thoughts on sports performance training that I wanted to share, so here it goes….
1. Advanced athletes don't always need Special Developmental Exercises (SDE)
One of the more popular trends in the fitness industry is "sport specific training". While the training of advanced athletes must always consider the specifics of their sport, this does not always mean they need advanced exercises. For the young athlete and athletes with minimal training experience, there is no need for advanced exercises or the "Train like the Pros" mentality. This is generally well understood. However, when it comes to high-level athletes or athletes with several yeasrs of training experience, coaches/trainers may assume that they need highly innovative, cutting edge training. Parents can also fall into this trap as well due to marketing tactics. The truth is that they need the basics too. They need the basics just like everyone else. In some cases, they may need a lot of the basics. It can be surprising how poorly some high-level athletes move when they are removed from sport.
With that said, keep in mind that high-level athletes generally have the ability to adapt very quickly to repeated exposure to a given stimulus. They have the ability to make dramatic improvements from week to week in terms of quality of movement, strength, and power development. This ability is a huge reason as to why they are such gifted athletes. The value of Special Developmental Exercises (SDE) in the preparation of high-level athletes for sport competition cannot be understated, but nothing can take the place of sound coaching that utilizes effective program variations and additions to meet the ever-changing complexities of the individual. When it comes to high-level athletes, programs may need to be updated at higher frequencies to promote continual development of the desired physical attributes the athlete needs. These updates should never be random, but applied with purpose and intent to promote continual development.
At the end of the day, some high-level athletes may be better served by training that focuses on the basics and laying a foundation for continual development through proper periodization rather than concentrating their training on fancy, innovative training methods.
2. Where you "feel " the exercise is just as important as how the exercise "looks"
We all know therapists, trainers, and gym gurus who preach "technique, technique, technique". The importance of technique does not need repeated, but the idea of textbook technique may be more of a myth than fact. Technique, like exercise programming, should not be handled "one-size fits all" fashion. How an exercise "looks" is important, but what is too often forgotten in regards to exercise is where that individual "feels" the movement. For example, you observe an athlete performing a movement with what appears to be "perfect technique", yet they do not "feel" the movement activating muscles in the right places. This example also highlights why feedback from an athlete can be extremely valuable. It is extremely valuable to know where your client/athlete "feels" the exercise. Don't just assume they are feeling proper muscle activation all because the exercise "looked good" from a technique viewpoint. Helping the client/athlete to "feel" the exercise while maintaining proper technique simply comes down to coaching, tweaking technique, and/or finding the right cues to promote the visual imagery necessary for them to connect their brain to the movement.
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