Most strength coaches and sports coaches think the word “Conditioning”, basically means RUN until the athlete gets in shape or promotes faster recovery. But we may be missing the BIGGER picture. Hopefully this post can shed some light on that.
If you really think about it, all team sport athletes are sprinters of some kind. They all have to accelerate, maybe not all in a linear fashion but there are key components that relate. Let me start by quoting speed guru Charlie Francis, “Enough power-related work must be done during the early years, preferably between the ages 13 and 17 to maintain genetically determined levels of fast twitch muscle fibers.” He further says, “Endurance training must be done in limited to light or light to medium volumes to prevent the muscle fiber transition”.
So as strength coaches we must ask ourselves, are we aiding the characteristics of slow twitch transition? Are we compromising what we are trying to accomplish by inputting too much aerobic oriented sessions in our early off-season programs? Are we being lazy instead of really studying what it takes for developing speed and power? Monitor the sport teams training camp you are training and see how many nagging injuries pop because the sports coach wants to RUN them to death, or maybe they are already TOASTED from running to much in your program or on their own time.
Mike Boyle makes a great point in his book Advances in Functional Training, he states:
“Injuries usually occur during training camp because the program ignored three vital components of the conditioning process.
- Change of Direction
The ability to tolerate the muscular forces generated by accelerating and decelerating are the real keys to conditioning. Deficiencies in these components are often why athletes feel out of shape.”
So instead of running your FALL SPORTS into the dirt during this time frame, try incorporating the following fundamentals into your early off-season programming.
- Proper Body Positioning (posture)
- Proper Acceleration Mechanics
Remember when developing a conditioning program, its important to go watch practices and games. This will give you an idea of the demands being put on the athlete, plus build great relationships with your sport coaches and athletes you are training.