So today I thought I would share one of my favorite quotes applying to the sports training process. It comes to us from Thomas Kurz and his book the Science of Sports Training.
“Training is efficient if the highest sports result is achieved with the least expense of time and energy.”
I think this is one of the most important concepts that any coach, strength and conditioning, or sports coach, can adhere to. Go look at any football practice that is about to start up at NCAA schools all over the nation and ask yourself if they are following this philosophy. How many times do we see a coach do something only because that’s how they did it, or that’s how it’s always been done. I actually think this is one of the dumbest things I see in sports. If you have no purpose for something being included in a training session or practice, then why are you wasting your kids’ energy doing it. I’ve been told before by coaches to run athletes during practices so the coaches some more time with another group of athletes.
When programming an athlete’s training everything in the plan should have reason and a purpose with the end result being an increase in their sport. The sports training process isn’t about random exercises throughout a week with little thought as to the endpoint. Saving the body’s energy by eliminating excess training becomes paramount for the adaptation process to occur.
One reason Charlie Francis, famed sprint coach, loved the olympic lifts was due to the high amounts of motor unit activation. Instead of spending an hour or more in the weight room after a sprint training session with exercise after exercise, Charlie felt they could hit the majority of the motor units within the body with a few olympic movements and get out quick. This way the majority of their time was devoted to adapting to their speed sessions, with the weight room serving as an accessory to the ultimate goal of being faster. He didn’t want to impede results by fatiguing athletes even more in the weight room. Often times, they might only perform one or two exercises depending on how their track session went. But in the end it he still utilized minimal volume that could produce the results he was after.
Hypothetically, if an athlete can achieve the same goal necessary with a 50% reduced workload then it is a far more efficient route to take. Not doing so takes much more energy. We don’t want this when that energy could’ve been used for the adaptation process.
Athletes adapt to a stimulus away from the training arena. When too much stress is created without enough time for recovery the body cannot compensate and becomes further depressed. Over time an athlete becomes overtrained and proper adaptation cannot take place, as well as delays future adaptation. Recovery and restoration is just as important as the training means themselves. Too often athletes, and coaches forget this important fact. It is simply the “more is better” attitude. More isn’t always better, and in fact in sports performance training I would generally say less is better. I would rather undertrain an athlete than overtrain one.
Many times coaches, and athletes inability to properly ration training means, sports training, rest, recovery, and nutrition is where breakdowns occur. I’ve been ridiculed before for my approach to training athletes. I don’t frequently use a high volume because the weight room is only a supplement to their sport. I have always believed in having a rhyme and a reason for everything that gets placed in a program. The energy one spends in the weight room takes away from the actual sport itself.