Why Practice?

What is the purpose of practice? As athletes, as coaches, as fathers and humans why do you practice? I want you to take a second and develop a reason for your personal practice. We all do it to some degree. Recently I have been reading Practice Perfect and listening to the wise words of John Wooden. They both discuss the idea that practice should be held to develop and hone skills. I am completely for this notion and as a strength coach I think it’s an essential part of our duties. We must develop strength and proficiency in bio mechanics and exercises such as the squat. Far too often coaches go through the motions; linear movement here, lateral movement there, a jump and then they have their athletes squat, etc etc. While these movements might be the basis for most programs out there, I believe there can be a deliberate purpose to each and everything we do with an emphasis on “practicing perfect”.

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I will give an example that I use very frequently, in fact I have seen such great results with it that I use it every time we squat. We start EVERYONE using bar weight, they perform the rep perfectly, keeping the bar vertical (no horizontal movement), pulling themselves into the squat (knees are pressed out and the eccentric portion is a controlled movement), this sets them up for an explosive concentric movement, pause and repeat. If the athlete struggles with this, I continually coach and give feedback. While this may seem overboard John Wooden was known for teaching his athletes to put on their shoes and tie their laces, overboard? Some may say yes to both accounts, some may claim it’s a waste of time. Personally,  I have seen record numbers for ALL of my lifters.  I do a lot of cluster work around 90 percent so it’s extremely important to me to have faith that when I load my athletes to that type of stress, they are able to think back to the movement pattern they have practiced to be perfect at. I use a variety of drills that places the emphasis on perfection.  As athletes they need to perfect certain movements, tasks and skills. This helps relate the weight room and all other aspects of my programs to the field and I feel they have more carry not only in their movements but their mindset as well.

The Truth About Crossfit

Crossfit IS a great cardiovascular workout, it is intense, it does have team components and a great atmosphere. That being said it involves unplanned workouts that the body can’t adapt to. While the Crossfit community thinks this is beneficial, it is actually isn’t. It can lead to minimal strength and power gains, I will admit something is better than nothing, but with no structure you are setting yourself up for failure. Performance programs are founded upon Periodization. There are a variety of ways to write a program, undulating, conjugate, contrast, etc. but a planned method, a system, must be used in order to successfully develop the traits of fitness such as strength, conditioning and power. Strength, conditioning and power are general qualities that life requires whether an individual is a retired soccer mom or an NFL running back.

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Crossfit WILL get you injured. It involves very technical exercises with incredibly large amounts of volume.  It also targets a population that once was sedentary leading to decreased muscular function and mobility. These components are a sure way to set an individual up for failure and or worse injury. Exercises like snatches done repeatedly will fatigue stabilizing muscles such as the rotator cuff and core musculature, resulting in increased risk for damage and injury to occur. If an individual’s biomechanics are flawed due to a lack of mobility again the chance of injury increases. Disc injuries, shoulder injuries and a variety of other injuries are continuing to plague the Crossfit community. Some of these injuries can cost weeks, months and even longer to heal from, resulting in lost gym days and stagnant training or worse a detraining effect. These injuries can and should be prevented by proper Periodization. The truth is Crossfit is not safe nor effective and other methods should be implemented to safely and effectively train our populations whether it be a soccer mom, masters athlete or NFL professional, periodization must be used.

Success or Failure?

As the flames subsided and the ash settled another year finished. The girls as a team met their goal, they finished second in conference and went into the conference tournament with a bye. I’m not going to tell you a fairy tale story, we didn’t win our conference tournament, we didn’t make a big push into nationals; we lost our first game of the conference tournament, the season is over.

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Looking back on all the effort sweat and tears a coach can only question could I have done anything better to prepare these athletes, these warriors for the struggles they encountered this year? As a strength coach how is it that we even measure our success, is it wins and losses? Is it how much more weight you can squat, how much higher you can jump? At then end of the day I don’t think you can look at one determining factor and label the year and program a success or failure. It comes down to a lot more then the w’s and l’s, much more then the numbers you increase their broad jumps and back squats. Although these results should always be in your mind a play a large role in your programming from year to year there are statistics that aren’t always measurable. I want to give the sports coach the opportunity to put the best group of athletes on the floor night after night. Training should involve suffering both mentally and physically not to be mean but to test commitment, desire and to help improve these  qualities life. It is these qualities that can be the difference between winners and losers in both athletics and life.

Quote of the week!

Thanks to Tommy Moffitt, “Coach the kids not the weights”. Far too often strength and conditioning coaches do the exact opposite of this. While I had some down time this morning I was listening to Tommy Moffitt’s interview by Smarter Team Training. I think this is a great quote because it really puts the focus on why we are here. Without the kids there would be no strength coaches but just weights and weights don’t move themselves. By connecting with your athletes they will be more likely to work for you and not only work for you but work hard and give full effort. This is an extremely important part of the art of coaching that I believe is the hardest for some to learn but must be achieved in order to truly master the weight room.