Ryan and I have been fortunate to be influenced and mentored by some great coaches and athletes when it comes to the understanding of athletic development. There is no doubt that they have had a substantial impact on our abilities and coaching methodologies. Even with all the great mentors and book smarts, the lessons learned from being competitive athletes ourselves has had a significant impact on our coaching methodologies as well. From the point of view of an athlete, all that matters is wins and losses. At the end of the day, being an athlete is about developing your body’s potential for higher levels of performance. There are many coaches and many systems that currently exist which will have you believe their system is the only system. And they can be very good at it. With the amount of information that exists today in regards to developing strength, speed, power, etc., it’s not surprising why many trainers and coaches are doing their best to make the most “noise”. Noise may get you attention, but ensuring meaningful results is another story.
I find complete arrogance to exist when trainers or coaches speak in terms of absolute laws when it comes to specific systems or movements and their necessity for enhancing sport performance. For example, when one takes on the stance of broadly advocating movements such as Olympic lifts or powerlifting-based programs with a primary emphasis on the squat, bench press, and deadlift to develop strength-speed attributes of athletes, it must be examined very closely. There are many popular programs that exist today that can promise increased performance on a number of levels. It's all about selling a product. However, what escapes most is the fact that no element of an athletic development program should be carelessly added into the mix. You can't just randomly select a program based on it's popularity or how your buddy responded to it. You should not just add in something because someone told you to do so or you read it online.
What a lot of trainers, coaches, and athletes do not understand well enough is the impact movement has on the CNS. Movements such as the Olympic lifts, squat, bench press, and deadlift can all impose a significant amount of stress upon the central nervous system (CNS). The high CNS demand is generated from the necessity to execute these movements against maximal weights or submaximal weights at maximal velocity. The intent is to develop varying degrees of strength-speed qualities. It should be emphasized at this point that the typical athlete can adapt to only 2-3 CNS stressors at one time. Keep in mind, CNS stressors are not limited to physical training such as weightlifting, sprinting, jumping, etc. CNS stressors will also include practice, games, competitive events, and time devoted to sport-skill acquisition. These all come with a cost to the athlete’s CNS reserves. Understand that the athletes will take a significant beating from practice and competition. So any strength and conditioning work that is integrated into sport work will also draw heavily on the CNS. Trainers and coaches must accept the fact that they end up losing something in the weight room. But whether it is due to ego or fear of losing specific performance markers, there are many cases in which trainers or coaches may overly stress their athletes in the weight room, eventually leading to negative performance outcomes.
The importance is this: introducing movements, such as the Olympic lifts or variations of the powerlifts, while an athlete is focusing on more important tasks, such as developing sport skill, can come with negative consequences.
Now don't get me wrong. The utilization of the Olympic lifts, squat, bench, and deadlift have been used by elite athletes around the world. They more than serve their purpose in developing qualities that power-speed athletes desire. However, they should not be applied without first understanding the context. Sure an athlete may become stronger in the squat, bench, or clean, but are they performing at new levels on the field? Is their new strength level transferring into improved acceleration, speed, or power outputs in competition? Has the process of achieving increased strength interfered with their sport performance all because it was poorly planned?
This is exactly why educating athletes on what they need to focus on at the appropriate times during the competitive calendar is such a huge part of the process at Gallagher Performance. Young athletes want to work hard, but they need direction. The same can be said for any of our training clients, regardless of their training goals. They are all willing to put in the work provided it pushes them towards their goals. We have no “system” to sell our athletes and clients on. We address their needs while providing them the understanding of the sensitivity of the process. This, in turn, creates a more educated, more independent individual who understands how to achieve their goals despite all the noise and nonsense that exists in the fitness industry.
Sure many of our posts and articles may not be the most "popular" or most "liked". We don't give away a lot of information like other popular sites. We don't have a popular ebook. We don't give out sample training programs that are easy to follow or apply because the context will vary for everyone. One person may apply it and see tremendous results, while another may see no significant improvements. Rather, we write with the goal to educate. When it comes to fitness-related writing, it is definitely more popular to give people "fish" rather than "teaching them how to fish". This could be considered a bad business model when you look at what is deemed as successful in the fitness industry. So if teaching people how to be more sustainable on their own is not popular, we can live with that.