Stronger Athletes

Sport-Specific Training Myths Part II

October 28 "Difficulties in life are intended to make us better, not bitter." -Dan Reeves Coaching Tip: Points of Emphasis

We have had the opportunity this fall to have Rich Putnick, a graduate student at the University of Kansas, serve as an intern for our football strength program. It should be said that Coach Putnick is qualified to work with any sports team football just happens to be the one we are most involved with.

Too many people believe that there is a way to train for football that differs from the way one trains for tennis or basketball. This is simply untrue and we try to promote a safe training environment that stresses the development of the athlete regardless of sport.

We happen to have a large chalkboard in the front of our weight room. Coach Putnick suggested that we use it to emphasize a point of the day, one thing that we would repeat over and over again to the kids throughout their workout. Today we wrote, "Slow Down Your Negative- No Bouncing!" We discovered that by having just 1 point of emphasis we could really pound home its importance.

Along with our Point of Emphasis we included a quote of the day, this one from Dan Reeves, "Difficulties in life are intended to make us better, not bitter." Very poignant for high schoolers at 6:30 am.

We hope these tips can get your creative juices flowing and you can work to motivate, teach, coach your athletes on a daily basis.

Dear StrongerAthletes: Sport-Specific Training II


First of all, let me say this is a great site with lots of valuable information keep up the good work. I am looking to become involved in strength coaching, and I have been strength training for over 8 years, while at the same time playing soccer and training martial arts.   I'd appreciate if you could help me with a couple of things.

In your article "In season training routine", you give a sample routine of Squat, Bench Press, Dips, Deadlifts and Pulldowns, which is similar to my routine (Squat, Bench Press, Stiff Leg Deadlift, Shoulder Press, Dumbbell Row). I recently finished reading Matt Brzycki's "A Practical Approach to Strength Training"(great book), and he (and others) advise exercises such as leg extensions/curls etc to ensure the muscles are strong through a full ROM and the strength is not limited to the angle which the muscles are worked in the Squat and Deadlift.

Do you feel that including certain exercises such as these could lessen the chance of injury or increase performance potential further due to strength throughout the full ROM? I also feel additional exercises would lead to over training and that the above routine works all the muscles (directly or indirectly).

I feel I have quite a good understanding on Specificity but something that confuses me is "agility ladders" and similar movements using cones. (forgive me if you are not involved in this side of training programs). I am a soccer goalkeeper and we rely heavily on footwork, mainly sidewards footwork. We need quick short steps and sometimes in training one of the coaches may have us keepers moving sidewards over cones, finished by a diving save etc. However, to step sidewards over these cones you have to lift your knees higher than they would be if there were no cones and you were just stepping sidewards using good proper footwork. I can't help but think that our valuable training time should be spent using proper good footwork (without cones), in the same way that we would use footwork in a match/ shot saving situation, and that using these cones will only increase our footwork going over these cones. Do have any thoughts on this?

For info I play for one of the top teams over here, and have represented my country at youth levels(I'm 21 now), so training time is very important, even more so since we are part time. Also you should know a good goalkeeper will get 1 or 2 quick steps in before diving when saving a shot.

Finally, my 15 year old brother read on the Internet about ballistic fast lifting, and that Force=mass x accel., so lift fast means more force on muscles etc. I explained to him about the dangers of this and how it increases the force on joints and how inefficient fast lifting is etc. I wasn't sure if he was going to listen to me (his older brother!) so I got him to do a bit of a warm up, stretch his upper body, then get in a press up position. I told him to do a few press ups fast, then he rested a few Min's, then I told him to do the same number of press ups but slowly (5 secs up, 5 secs down). This got the point across. Thought you might like to know. It seemed a good way of demonstrating the effectiveness of slow movement in strength exercise.

Thanks for your help, and sorry for writing so much.

Alan Mannus
Northern Ireland

P.S I highly advise Stuart McRoberts books.

Mr. Mannus,

As far as adding exercises such as leg ext. and leg curl, we do implement these at times. The advantage to performing leg ext's before the squat is that less weight will be required for the squat which would less the compression forces on the vertebral column which makes the exercise safer.

You are correct in stating that the problem is that more exercises could lead to over training. If you implement these additional exercises and are still making progress in strength, then you are fine. As soon as progress slows, it is necessary to drop them one at a time. Off-season would be the best time to implement them because during the season you putting a lot more demands on your body playing soccer.

We would say that the cones or the agility ladder should not be used. You are right in stating that the skills should be practiced in the exact manner as in a game. Cones and other training equipment should not be used in our opinion. Try to convince your coach to train in the manner that would be most beneficial to you. We recommend to all kinds of later movement drills from the ground without the use of various gadgets.

Good job with your brother. Keep showing him the correct way to strength train. He will thank you in the end.

Thank you for your comments and good luck in your season. Hope this helps and we look forward to hearing from you again.

***No Liability is assumed for any information written on the website. No medical advice is given on exercise. This advice should be obtained from a licensed health-care practitioner. Before anyone begins any exercise program, always consult your doctor. The articles are written by coaches that are giving advice on a safe, productive, and efficient method of strength training.***

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