Improving athletic performance is in high demand and athletes continualy ask how to better their strength, speed, vertical leap, agility, etc… The question that needs to be asked first is: "Where is your leak"? What I mean by that is that everyone has inefficiencies and weaknesses (leaks) that stop them from taking their perfromance to the next level. Without figuring out what they are, we are just guessing and possibly spinning circles in our training.
Before I continue, I would like to point out that many athletes and coaches take the conditioning route when it comes to improving performance – this is a short term solution. This route will improve performance short term but will in no way yield long term results, as it can also flare up some underlying problems that already exist. Taking this route is like putting a bucket to catch the water from the leak (a quick fix). The bucket of water will get full and overflow and then we are in real trouble……
We have to find the cause of the leak (the hole in the roof) and fix it. Taking steps in this manner will give us short term results and most importantly long term success. The type of training that addresses these underlying problems and the one we should be focused on is neuromuscular training. Now, let’s look at what could be causing the "leaks". Here are the major shortcomings that could be holding you back from taking your perfromance to the next level. Find your leak (or leaks in most cases) and find the right guidance and training that will fix them:
You guessed it, it’s maximal strength training…..
- Poor maximal strength and relative strength (it is in first place because I have yet to train an athlete that was too strong and the majority are actually weak)
- Injuries that require rest and rehab (high volume conditioning training will only reinforce bad mechanics and poor technique which will lead to compensation patterns – this is only good if you are looking to get injured)
- Carrying too much body fat (I think this one needs no explanation, but the sad fact is that I see athletes that are overweight all the time because they eat like crap and think they can just go hard in practice and stay in great shape)
- Poor strength - speed and/or speed – strength
- Lack of explosive strength (this would also be considered rate of force development – how fast you can apply the force into the ground)
- Lack of reactive ability (you may be strong but lack reactivity so you cannot keep up with your opponents on the field/court)
- Lack of mobility and dynamic flexibility (thjs is one of the most underrated issues! Athletes need dynamic mobility and almost never focus on it)
- Structural imbalances
- Technical flaws
Training reactivity or tripping over the mat?
Hopefully this list will open your eyes and make you look at yourself and think about the underlying issues that are holding you back. Also, this list should have you realize that playing one’s specific sport year round doesn’t improve the general qualities that are key in athletic performance. Spend the off-season and work on these issues and then see where it takes your perfromance!