I had the great honor to speak with Dave Tate the other day. We talked about a wide variety of topics, but one thing that stuck out about what Dave said was that athletes are more interested in playing their sport and practicing their skills, not numbers in the weight room. I find that many strength coaches and sports coaches are more concerned with the numbers in the weight room than if they are actually getting better on the field.
This is a very interesting conundrum, one that will be around for a while. So, what does it mean? It means that if you are a strength coach, the main goal of all of your programs should be to enhance athletic performance. Read that line again, it is simple yet profound. The goal of athletic strength and conditioning is not to become a great power lifter. In another interview with coach Steve Maxwell last week, he said there comes a point in which strength will bring with it diminishing returns. Again, simple, yet very useful. How strong do you need to be, how strong do your athletes need to be? This means that with few exceptions, there should not be a lot of downtime during an athlete’s training program. The main, working part of the workout should be no longer than 45 minutes in my opinion which has been backed by research (research shows after this time period, your body goes into an unfavorable hormonal profile). This does not include soft tissue work, warm-up, stretching or cooling down.
To break it down even further, correct movement patterns must be learned, imbalances must be corrected (to a degree), applicable speed and power must be developed, core strength must be increased in functional and non-functional positions, flexibility must be developed. You have a lot to consider when making an athlete more athletic, too much time used up on purely chasing numbers in the weight room will do nothing to benefit the athlete. Dave said the other day that if numbers are what you are after, hammer home the form and numbers will increase rapidly on most cases. Compare this to the strength coaches that cannot get the lifts to improve year after year despite working them to death.
Athletes would rather be out playing pick-up, working on skills with their position coaches, playing games and practicing. With a few exceptions, they are going to a strength coach to enhance their performance, period. Give them what they want and need and you’ll be a better coach.