Friday, May 9, 2008

My point exactly

If it is good enough for Warren Gatland the Welsh Rugby coach then it is good enough for me We need better athletes - Gatland

This absolutely how I see my job...I'm not a rugby coach, a GAA coach, a basketball coach, an athletics coach, a football coach, a netball coach, a hockey coach or a coach in any other sport at all for that matter...I'm a strength and conditioning coach.

I have a lot of colleagues that hate that label....they prefer performance enhancement specialist or some sort of variation on that theme...I on the other hand have never had a problem with the term because it sums up exactly what I do and what I'm interested in...strength and conditioning.

I treat all my athletes male and female exactly the same no matter what the sport. That is not to say that they all get the same program. It means that I go through exactly the same process with all of them no matter what sex, age or sport they are involved in.

Firstly, assess them...you have to know what you are dealing with...this assessment process is partly objective and partly subjective. If I need to screen someone in detail I will...if they have a history of injury for example...I will absolutely screen them from head to toe. Then what I will do is to test them exactly as I've laid out in previous posts...this testing is basically a mini session in it's own right and it bookends every program nicely...marking the start and finish of every training cycle.

From their fitness testing results I look at what areas they are weakest and strongest in....what targets are they furthest away from. Being able to do 12 chins but only 3 squats or vice versa does not a balanced athlete make.

So before I even think about the needs of the sport or the individuals position or anything like that I am looking to make them balanced and structurally sound...the best way to help an athlete improve is to keep them uninjured and one of the best ways to keep them uninjured is to keep them balanced...for example I get A LOT of very quad dominant athletes...you see this in testing when you measure their strength and you see it in the way they perform exercises...I get a lot of athletes who with regard to their quad and hamstring development and strength have Ferrari engines in the front and Flintstone's brakes in the back...and they wonder why they are constantly straining their hamstrings...as a quick aside...what I also see is a lot of these guys who get packed off to the gym because their coaches or trainers think the answer is to 'strengthen up'...what do you think happens when you send a really quad dominant squatter into the gym to squat and 'strengthen up'...I haven't got the time to wait for you to get back to me...so I'll just tell you...they go from having the quad strength in relation to their hamstring strength to strain their hamstrings to having the strength enough to tear them instead....anyway I could go on about that forever...and at some stage I'm sure I will. Back to my point...I look to get my athletes balanced as quick as I can and then look at trying to bring the performance levels up...I think any athlete who reaches the standards I have laid out is then in a position to develop all their individual physical sporting attributes.

So in short...assess them regularly...aim to get them balanced as quickly as possible...then work on developing the qualities that will make them more effective in their chosen sport.

But no matter what the sport...BE A GOOD ATHLETE FIRST.

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