In order to meet the demands of working with athletes of all levels of preparation, the services at GP are constantly evolving and adapting on many levels. When it comes to the physical preparation of our athletes, there is no single program or method we use with every athlete. We are constantly assessing each athlete from day to day, learning what he or she is capable of performing during any given training session. Constantly assessing our athletes during their dynamic movements also allows us to identify weakness and address them accordingly from both an injury prevention and performance enhancement perspective.
Our approach can often times be a source of both intrigue and confusion for parents and their young athletes, since the majority of them are all too familiar with a ‘one-size fits all’ approach. Many of these athletes even come with ‘cookie-cutter’ strength and conditioning programs given to them by their coach or previous trainer. It becomes our job to explain our approach to training and athletic development and why these ‘cookie-cutter’ programs fail to address individual needs of each athlete. After explaining why each individual athlete requires their own individualized approach and why no two athletes will respond similarly to the same program, it makes sense to them. They often find this very refreshing. What doesn’t make sense to them is how so many coaches and trainers are ignorant of this fact.
In an interview with Buddy Morris, Joel Jamison addressed the heart of the matter by saying,
“Coaches and trainers maybe don’t do the best job of understanding the needs of the sport and they tend to let their athletes over train because of the….push of this country is more intensity, the quick buck, the fast results. The other thing I think that’s influenced our industry probably negatively more than anything else is the marketing aspect. That there’s products, and there’s training methods, and there’s everything being pushed to athletes and coaches from a marketing perspective. We’ve all seen the cross fits, the P90 Xs, all the functional training stuff. It’s the marketing driving the training rather than the training driving the results or the results being based on something scientific.”
Buddy Morris, now the Head Physical Preparation coach for the Arizona Cardinals, had this to say in response,
”We're trying to create circus acts in this country so, like you said, people can generate revenue. So if you actually read and you understand training methodics and you understand the athlete and training the athlete, you won’t buy into all this stuff out there.”
In my opinion, Joel and Buddy nailed the central issue when it comes properly preparing athletes not just when it comes to training, but ultimately for competition. Within the US, there’s a tremendous lack of scientific influence when it comes to the training and preparation of athletes. This is not always true of each coach or trainer, but it certainly is more common than not. The exact opposite was true of the former Soviet Union and the preparation of their athletes. The USSR’s dominance of international athletics can be attributed to a superior coaching education system and the development of highly sophisticated, multi-year training regimens that focused on long-term development over short-term results.
What the Soviets understood very well is that athletes are never immediately better after the training they just performed. Buddy Morris likens the training process to a ‘slow cooker’, emphasizing that results are best achieved with periods of gradual loading and de-loading to allow the athlete to accommodate to the stress of training. The stress of training is a poorly misunderstood concept as seen by the lack of planned restoration/recovery within many programs. Programs must account for high stressors and low stressors because athletes cannot be loaded with CNS (Central Nervous System) intensive exercises or drills everyday. This is a huge mistake and one that is characteristic of far too many programs.
Young athletes may be able to get away with this for one reason and one reason only, they have youth on their side. Young athletes are capable of handling enormous amounts of volume in training. However, this does not serve as a justification for this type of programming. It only serves as an explanation as to why older athletes who practice the same training methods they utilized when they were younger tend not to see the same results or are more likely to over-train or burnout. You’re not going to be able to train an older athlete like a younger athlete. Older athletes have attained higher levels of mastery, thus they require different training approaches with more focus given to recovery and restoration. This is why consistently analyzing programs when it comes to exercise effectiveness is invaluable. If there’s not a good reason for doing an exercise, get rid of it. The human body has a finite amount of resources, why waste them on unnecessary training?
To illustrate this, Buddy Morris speaks of Bruce Lee and how people could not understand how he continually improved as a fighter, even as he got older. Bruce Lee simply got more specialized in his training, he tossed aside all the unnecessary work in order to be more directed. Bruce Lee was famous for saying, “Don’t fear the man with 1,000 moves. Fear the man with one move that he’s practiced 1,000 times.”
These thoughts and philosophies when it comes to the preparation of young athletes are not at all unique to GP. There is a growing number of coaches and trainers that share these same beliefs. We are simply doing our best to educate the public at large. The more we can help open people’s eyes and get them to understand the broader picture of athletic development, it will only provide more quality training services and allow people to see through the nonsense and marketing tactics.
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