March 27 " God gave you a brain. Do the best you can with it. And you don't have to be Einstein, but Einstein was mentally tough. He believed what he believed. And he worked out things. And he argued with people who disagreed with him. But I'm sure he didn't call everybody jerks. --Clint Eastwood
Who would you rather have strength train your athletes. A world class power lifter or Olympic lifter or simply anyone with the proper knowledge of strength training?
That seems like and is a loaded question. Many might jump at the chance to have a world level lifter train their athletes. But should they? The answer is maybe.
Sure the lifter understands strength acquisition. What we need to understand also, is that the lifter’s life has been about the acquisition of strength. Not much else mattered to him. If he was too sore to lift, he took a day off or lifted anyway. He didn’t do another activity such as running passing routes while hobbled from squats. If he tweaked his back on squats or deads or cleans, maybe a day off. One must realize that getting more weight on the bar was the singular goal of a lifter because that is his sport. He doesn’t care about shooting baskets, defending someone who is trying to score a basket or anything of the sort.
That world class lifter may be too narrow minded in approach for your strength program for athletes. To him strength is the only goal that matters. Yes, all things considered you want stronger athletes. Hell, we named our site that. We all want that. One must consider that an athlete has other demands on their training time besides the acquisition of strength. Strength training should not and need not interfere with sport training.
How do you do that? Well for one you train briefly and intensely. One or two sets on main lifts taken close to failure. You don’t teach the athletes the nuances of the squat or bench so they can get another 20 lbs on the lift. Those “technique” gains will not matter on the field. On the field, conditions are not controlled. You don’t have time to position your body just the right way, to “pack your shoulders” or properly valsalva, and so on. General strength wins the day. And you only need so much of it!
Any good strength coach will understand the above. The world class lifter might understand and if he does, he will be a good strength coach. If he doesn’t understand and to him if it’s all about strength, he’s going to have your athletes over stimulated from the weights and over tired for the other training demands of the sport.
The strength coach needs to understand that his role is to make players stronger and more injury resistant, but not make them into mini power lifters or mini Olympic lifters. Especially, not the latter which requires a great deal of sport (Olympic Lifting) specific knowledge that is only of value in the the sport of Olympic Lifting.
Also if the “strength coach” encourages the wrapping of knees, elbows, use of lifting specific shirts, or suits or belts, you need to find another strength coach. No one lifting for athletics needs any of those crutches in the least. They allow you to go beyond what is healthy and beneficial for the organism so you can boast higher numbers in lifts which don’t translate to performance on the field.
The things I mention above are why the Dr. Ken, Bob Whelen, Dan Riley, Matt Brzyci, Mark Asanovich and others of the world are on the right path when it comes to training athletes. Strength training should build a modicum of strength without preventing proper sport specific practice of the athlete.
Far too few understand this and focus on adding 5 more lbs to a max under clinical conditions. Choose your strength coaches wisely.
As stated in another article... "A few years ago, a similar series of incidents led to the removal of the racks from the Cincinnati Bengal weight room. Most of the players who did squats came from a powerlifting background where their college strength coach was an active or former lifter, and encouraged them to do heavy, low rep squats as “the only way” to increase lower body power for football. Their previous training or egos demanded that they squat only with the big belt, only with the knee wraps, and only if there was as much weight as possible on the bar. Doing fifteen or twenty repetitions with four hundred and fifty pounds wasn’t seen as being as “strength stimulating” as doing three reps with six hundred and fifty pounds, and many of the players had the low back injuries or chronic stiffness to prove the folly of this type of reasoning. When the injury rate became alarming, the racks were removed, and at least in the case of the Bengals, the players have improved significantly with the use of the Nautilus Duo Squat machine and the new Leverage Leg Press unit, both done for reps in the fifteen to twenty range."
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