The athlete versus the sport

Train movement not muscle 3 reasons

Sports Training for Athlete Development Versus Sport Development:

3 Thoughts Shared by a Sports Performance Coach:

“If I, as an athlete, eat, sleep and breathe… the sport I play… I will have the chance to become a professional and compete in the game I love as a career.” Consuming yourself with the sport you love is great! Having a passion and obsessing over the result is an important piece of the success puzzle. In the past, it was harder to come by but present day, no matter the sport, there is an avenue to play it year round. Often, the year round “one sport athlete” finds a strength and conditioning program that is based off of their sport further proving their commitment to the sport. Commitment is a great attribute, but let’s dissect it a bit further.

Athletic training for sport

1. Sport Development vs. Personal Development:

Others’ Thoughts and Actions:

I have been fortunate to work with some high end athletes in their respective sport. What often interests me is the athlete that has extremely impressive ability in their sport and yet, has little athletic ability in any other sport or athletic movement. As mentioned earlier, committing and becoming obsessed with the result is essential for success. However, too much of anything can be bad without a road map. Committing to run as fast as you can west is great until you stop and realize that you arrived at ‘a destination’. However, along the way, you missed a few turns and you’re further from the actual destination than you were before you started.

Sports performance coach thought:

Each sport has its own specific needs that are important to develop. That doesn’t mean that’s the only focus! Develop the other movements, senses, and getting stronger isn’t the only answer. Define what stronger actually means, in your actual case. Developing the sports specific needs is important but don’t forget the other areas of athletic need that may propel you to another level!

2. Athletes are Healthy and In Shape:

Others’ Thoughts and Actions:

Athletes are looked at as symbols of health and fitness. They are at the top of their sports chain of command. Their life is playing the sport they love! Often, in conversation, I’ll hear “Did you see what this athlete said about training?” or “Did you see what that athlete was able to do?”. The amazing feats of an athlete often make us believe they are the standard of health.

Sports Performance Coach Thoughts:

Training Aspects Voorhees Cherry Hill Marlton Personal Trainer

Yes, in ways, athletes are extremely powerful and capable of much more than that of the average person. This is true. However, the athlete also has much more wear and tear, compensations, and imbalances that a majority of the public can’t imagine. Think about buying a car. Would you want to buy a regular car for $20,000 with 30,000 miles or a sports car that has 120,000 miles for the same price? The point is athletes get beat up! Each sport has its own flaws. Hockey– always shooting and leaning into one side of the body (depending on the shooting side). Soccer- always kicking and pivoting a specific way (depending on the side you play on). Boxing- jab hand is endurance based while the cross hand is the power side, Baseball -pitching, good luck with the pitching shoulder and landing leg. Athletes have it tough!

Athletes are extremely powerful and capable but their needs to keep the body in balance are a necessity. No matter how talented, powerful and capable, an athlete that’s injured isn’t any help to themselves or the team. This is why there is such a strong importance to not only focus on developing the athlete for the sport they play but also developing the athlete for performance. Developing the other branches of performance allows for the athlete to stay better in balance and away from injury. It also allows for their sport specific branches to become more effective (more on that in a future article).

3. The Puzzle is More Important than the Puzzle Piece:

Others’ Thoughts and Actions:

“Coach, if I do bench and deadlifts, I’ll get really strong right?!”…. “Coach, I do like 100 crunches a day and a lot of planks, that will make my core really strong, right?!”….. “Coach, if all summer I run and do sprints, that’ll make my conditioning much better”… “Coach, if I do yoga that’ll make me more flexible, right?!”

Sports Performance Coach Thought: 

Training Aspects

There are many programs, formulas, and answers on how to develop the perfect athlete with all of the variables that need to be touched on for the greatest performance. This coach may not agree with all of them. However, when the puzzle pieces fit the puzzle, the result is always a success. That is the most important part of the formula for success. As a coach, understanding how to maneuver and find the right puzzle pieces to make the puzzle come together. That is what performance training is. Helping athletes as a whole become their greatest self. Unleashing their true potential. That’s why the exercises and the different actions to develop the athletes aren’t necessarily right or wrong. It’s the actual program or the complex athlete formula (personal puzzle) that must be developed as a whole.

Bringing it all together:

Training the athlete for their sport is essential! Each sport has specific needs that must be met. However, that doesn’t mean that the needs of the *athlete* shouldn’t have a high priority. Developing the foundation of the athlete while allowing for consistency and maintenance, will allow the athlete to enjoy a career of success!

Kirill Vaks
Sports performance movement specialist

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