With most gyms across the country closing in 2020 due to the pandemic, many trainers have taken to the outdoor fields to work on sport specific drills.
While there are benefits to this when programmed correctly, it is also very dangerous to skip directly to sport specific skills when the athlete does not have the adequate power, strength, awareness, mobility and many other factors that make not only the drills more efficient but their overall game.
We are in a day in age where the digital platforms that are meant to help and educate us are also filled with misleading information that influences masses. Many young athletes make the mistake of thinking the fancy drills that pro guys perform on social media platforms are also ones that they themselves should be doing. For the most part, this is NOT true.
For example, popular athletes like Odell Beckham Jr or Antonio Brown are known for their speed and quickness on the field. These guys did not achieve their top end speed and ability to get open on the field by constantly doing the field work that we see on Instagram. They have gone through adequate training programs that have taught them force production and all other aspects of moving efficiently on the field.
During my time as Alabama strength coach, I was responsible for mainly running backs and walk-ons. I recorded their numbers in the weight room, stayed up to date with body composition changes, injury history and more, all factors to consider for a constant increase in their performance and to make sure they stay INJURY FREE.
As a young coach I have always had special relationships with the players and always offered extra time with the guys and never recommended any unsafe or unnecessary training outside of their programs. And usually would always clear it with the head strength coach before doing so.
However, there were some knuckle heads who trained outside of our coaching staff. There was a guy, a former player from years ago, who would come to a field close to campus to do agility type training with our guys.
This was a big NO in the eyes of the Alabama staff. How did I find out? Well, two things:
One was social media posting. The other was that these same guys that did all the cool drills on the field with this outside coach, they got injured. Hamstring strains, Achilles and ankle injuries just to name a few. Why? OVERUSE. I’ve seen guys (whose names I won’t mention) ruin NFL dreams by not training SMART. By going to a guy who is not a certified coach, not on staff at the school, put them through constant, unnecessary, stop and go drills when they should be focused on RECOVERY from their prescribed workouts and practice with their team.
Oftentimes parents who are involved with their kids and want them to get better at their sport usually ask this golden question: How do I get my kid quicker and faster? And we give them the same answer
We get them stronger.
Stronger athlete is safer. Tissues, tendons, ligaments that are denser are better prepared to handle stress. They are more resilient to tear.
Sure, we don’t go straight into throwing weight on the backs of young kids. Prior to the meat and potatoes of strength training, the first phase of development includes the following:
Aerobic capacity (for recovery & preparation)
After these fundamental traits have been implemented, we then work to improve, static, eccentric, absolute and relative strength complements of the athlete.
So parents and athletes, before you DM the guy at the park doing burpees and unnecessary drills that don’t focus on movement quality. Check to make sure the training is aligned with these principles.