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Evolve Sport Coaching by Ending Strength Coaching

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James Smith

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Sport coaches, task yourself with assuming an objective (non-emotional, and purely factual) reference frame such that your perspective for considering this write up is not influenced by any possible bias or preconception.

Now, ask yourself if your “strength coach”, if you have one, is a positive or negative component of your organization. The key, is to ask yourself this question based upon the objective knowledge of what is required to optimize your athlete’s competition results.

Your athlete’s competition outcome is a product of their competition performance. Their performance is a function of the aggregate of what substantiates their skill and competitiveness. This aggregate is predominantly a composite of psychological state and tactical execution. The tactical execution is a function of sensory processing, access to working memory, and technical execution. Their technical execution, over the course of competition, is supported by physiological, biomechanical, and output related factors.

The ‘strength’ coach’s education is ill-conceived. It is NOT a product of “this is the sport, this is the sport structure, and these are modes of enhancing the skill of improving competition outcomes”. It’s a function of “this is a weight room, this a tool, this method of using the tool causes this adaptation in the body” Thus, analogous to Elon Musk’s criticism of education in which he chastises convention for teaching about tools as opposed to the engine, how to disassemble it, and then elucidating the tools purpose, you must question whether what your strength coach is prioritizing, in fact, has anything to do with improving sport skill.

This, then, mandates, that YOU, sport coaches, have a quantitative understanding of sport skill. Which is to state, that you must have an objective mode of measuring skill improvement such that the most important indicator exists to determine if all supportive modes of sport preparation are, in fact, supporting improvements in sport skill.

Understand, that the prevention of injuries is a substrate of competition outcome because the injuries that occur in preparation and contests are detractors to competition outcome.  Thus, if no quantitative improvement in sport skill is measured, and injuries are not reduced, then the additional psychological, physiological, and structural cost of “doing what the strength coach says” is not a positive attribute- it is a negative one.

The extra 10kgs on this or that exercise, the extra cm’s distance on this jump, are meaningless, if no quantitative improvement occurs in sport skill.

Consider a simplified example: a female 100m sprinter has a personal best of 11.0sec. She increases her squat 5RM by 15kg, her power clean 1RM by 10kg, and her standing broad jump by 10cm and for the remainder of her season she fails to run faster than 11.0. What use was the improvements in the squat, power clean and broad jump? No competition improvement occurred, however, the psychological, physiological, and structural cost of all the work that went into increasing the squat, power clean, and jump were a profound competing stress against THE MOST IMPORTANT part of sport preparation- SPRINTING.

So, consider, what is the nature of these competing demands being placed on your athletes who compete on, or in, tracks, pitches, ice rinks, courts, courses, mats, cages or pools? Do you have the diagnostic means in place to determine causal links? Or do you exist under the misconception that when your “strength” coach reports the improvements in non-specific aspects of preparation, you consider it a job well done- while not actually knowing whether the “strength” work positively improved sport skill or reduced injury. If this has piqued your interest, consider having a look at the book that was written to evolve and revolutionize sport coaching itself:

The Governing Dynamics of Coaching

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