7 Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training
Written on February 15, 2014 at 6:41 am, by Eric Cressey
It's been a while since I posted one of my "Random Thoughts" pieces, so here are seven things that came to mind yesterday.
1. After the initial year or so of “organized” strength training, athletes don’t get hurt because they’re globally weak; they get injured because they’re positionally weak. This dictates the window of adaptation you seek out.
2. The Turkish Get-up is an outstanding exercise for not only challenging athletes, but also re-establishing fundamental movement patterns they may have lost over the years. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone is prepared for it on day 1. Obviously, one must have adequate shoulder flexion to hold a kettlebell overhead, but – as the picture below shows – you can’t overlook the importance of having adequate hip mobility and a good hip hinge pattern.
In short, if you can’t hip hinge and have brutally short adductors, you can’t do a Turkish Get-up…or at least not a good looking one.
3. Taking this a step further, if you're familiar with the Postural Restoration Institute school of thought, many individuals will likely have a harder time "getting into" the left hip if they present with this common aberrant posture:
So, if you struggle with the left hand overhead in particular on get-ups, there's a good chance that it's because everything under that arm is slightly out of whack. For those folks, a left-stance toe touch can be a game changer.
4. Pull a quad (rectus femoris), and you’ll usually bounce back really quickly. Pull an oblique and it’s much more stubborn. What’s the difference? The rectus femoris is really all about the sagittal plane, whereas the obliques have a big role in controlling excessive motion in the sagittal, frontal, and transverse planes. The more complex the job of the muscle, the more significant the injury – and the longer the rehab. Hamstrings have roles outside the sagittal plane and can be equally stubborn, too.
5. “This athlete is strong enough” is an observation you might make with some male athletes. The risk of continuing to load up to try to improve maximal strength far outweighs the potential benefits of those strength increases – and there’s likely a bigger window of adaptation elsewhere in their athletic profiles. Conversely, I can honestly say that I’ve never met a female athlete who was strong enough. It just doesn’t happen.
6. Downright terrible coaches don’t look to the literature at all, or they do so only to cherry-pick study results that support what they’re already doing. Mediocre coaches look to these resources so that they can have someone else tell them exactly what to do. The best coaches read diligently and critically, scrutinizing everything they encounter to determine if it is correct and, if so, how it can be incorporated into their existing philosophies.
Full disclosure: this is actually an excerpt from my e-book, The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual. I reincarnated it after a discussion with one of my interns the other day.
7. Watching the incredible success that the Netherlands has with speed skating makes me wonder how many 100mph arms there might be kicking around in the NBA, NFL, and other professional sports. Much like we’ve seen with baseball players in the Dominican Republic – where there really aren’t “competing” sports – if you prioritize development one sport across a population, you’re going to find more studs even if that population is smaller.
In the United States, a larger country with more “sports variety,” it makes me wonder if this is actually one more argument against early sports specialization. Maybe if we were more patient and followed athletes for longer in a general sense, we might discover more freak athletes later in the game?
Former NBA player Tracy McGrady attempting to play baseball is a great example. He was a very good NBA player, but could he have been a Hall-of-Famer in baseball? Similarly, does anyone deny that some NFL tight ends could have been NBA power forwards, if they’d directed that focus elsewhere?
Early specialization doesn’t just lead to more injuries and burnout and stunted development; it also potentially redirects good athletes away from sports in which they could be sensational. Of course, there’s no way to know!
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