So, what's the best?" Invariably this is the first question I get asked when someone finds out I'm a performance coach.
"The best what?"
"You know, the best training program."
"I usually answer with my usual, "What are you training for?" (I get asked this so much, I should have one of those nifty micro recorders in my pocket so when that question comes up, I can just hit play.) What's really amazing is the look of confusion that I always get after I ask the question. You cannot develop an effective program if you don't know what you're training for. If you fail to plan, plan to fail.
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"The most common response I seem to get from my question is, "I want to be strong." Hmmm ... a wee bit of a puzzler to me. I don't think any of the athletes up on the medal stand at the Olympics asked each other about their max bench press (you can be sure though that queries regarding each other's training program will come up ... OK maybe not on the stand, but at the blowout later).
Focus On Specific Training!
When was the last time your opponent asked about your vertical jump? Precisely! I recently visited a major Division-I strength and conditioning program and the first thing I noticed was their stats up on the wall. Most were max lifts. It's a concept that baffles me as it emphasizes weightlifting as a goal and not total athletic development. (Note to those coaches ... how about putting up scores that reflect athleticism, such as agility runs, along with the lifts? This shifts the focus away from developing a "weightlifter.")
"Nowadays everyone wants a stronger athlete. The programs I'm seeing out there focus on strength and conditioning, and there's nothing wrong with that. However, the problem is that most of these programs lack training the neuromuscular system. Funny because all sports require total neuromuscular integration, and not muscular isolation (hmmm ... sounds like a topic for a future article).
"Who is your target audience? Are you working with high school athletes or college players? Who you're working with and what level of play they're involved in is a major determining factor in the development of your plan of attack.
"What are the requirements of the coach? LOTS!!! You are the person responsible for the tools that will make up the plan, and that means knowing what the requirements are on the field for your particular sport. Is your sport aerobic or anaerobic? Knowing which energy system dominates your sport is the difference between a good plan and one that continually falls short. Football is an anaerobic sport; if you're doing marathon running sessions and you come up against a renegade style trained team, say goodnight!
"You have to stop and think about what you're training for." If it's better performance on the field, it would make sense to look at the sport and what it requires on the field. Then and only then can you form a correct plan of attack.
In subsequent articles we'll delve deeper into the question, "What's the best?"
A Very Little Bit About The Author
Jorge Cavajal is a performance coach from Hollywood, Florida.