Strength and Conditioning Sports Training: Are you strength training enough?

I want to start the year off with a discussion on training mentality and one of my biggest 'pet peeves'.  And that is the belief that in order to improve your strength, speed, overcome a sports injury, etc., more is better


Your strength training should aim to support your sport skills training, and have a direct TRANSFER over to your overall sport performance.  In other words, instead of worrying about how much more training you can get in, worry about whether or not your training is actually transferring into better sports performance and less injury.


You should train enough - not more.


I am going to illustrate this point with a real-world story:


A few years ago, I went to a sports training conference aimed at strength and conditioning coaches.  The main speaker was the strength coach for a pro baseball team.  In particular, he worked with the pitcher of the team - that's BIG!


He worked with the pitcher on strength very intensely his first season with the team. He noted that he gauged a lot of the pitcher's progress on how much weight he lifted in the back squat.  The back squat is generally viewed as a great 'strength builder'.


He was able to get the pitcher up to a 250lb squat in one season.  The pitcher had his best season yet, constantly improved in his playing skills, and suffered no injuries.


The second season, this strength coach was determined to get the pitcher up to a 300lb squat.  He was convinced that if he could get him strong enough to squat 300lbs, that his sports performance would again skyrocket.


Want to guess what happened?


The pitcher struggled with the demands of trying to increase his squat, but could eventually squat 300lbs.  Unfortunately, a 300lb back squat transferred into the pitcher having his worst season to date and was chronically injured or in pain.  


In the pitcher's physical stress situation at that time (i.e. practices, games, time off, strength training sessions, etc.), back squatting lost its ability to transfer to better pitching and less injuries for the athlete at 300lbs. The coach had begun to focus his training on getting his back squat to 300lbs instead of what type of strength training would transfer into continued better performance.


The Takeaway


Understand your goal and make sure to create a training program that focuses on the transfer the training will have to your sport.  Don't choose exercises because someone told you that it is 'good for your sport'. Choose exercises that will get you stronger in the way you need, and track your progress using objective measures like strength gains, less injuries and meeting performance goals.  


And most of all, don't try to train more for the sake of training more - train intelligently, strategically, and with enough frequency and intensity to achieve your specific goal.


Yours in strength and stability,