Is your training program
making you a better playing athlete?
In just about any strength training program you get bigger and stronger. This is a typical outcome from a strength and conditioning program. But are you becoming a better playing athlete. Being a better player means that you are better able to carry out the skills that are needed in your position or sport.
For example, are you now running faster, are you executing faster cuts, are you leaping higher, are you eluding or staying with your opponent more effectively, are you kicking the ball further and more accurately, are you getting more base hits, are you getting more strikeouts in your pitching, or are you tackling more effectively?
There are many more examples of being a better player that can be listed here, but these should give an indication of what is meant by improvement in athletic performance. The key here is that you are able to now execute the skills of your sport more effectively. This is the key element in successful play on the field, court or ring.
Very often athletes equate their improvement to how much weight they can lift in specific exercises. This is good for overall strength or fitness but it does not mean that you are now performing better in execution of the skills in your sport. This is an assumption typically made by coaches and athletes but it cannot be substantiated.
For example, will an increase of 100 pounds in your squat equate to faster running times? Will adding 50 pounds to your bench allow you to hit the ball harder or to throw the ball further? These are the kinds of questions you should be asking if you rely on the strength training program to improve your performance.
Scientific studies have shown that world record holders and the best athletes in the world in most sports are not always the strongest. In fact, they typically fall in the midrange. This shows that continually increasing strength does not lead to better performance.
However, if you spend more time on improvement of your skill execution it can bring you substantial gains in your game play. Understand that strength is only one factor that is involved in skill execution. Equally important if not more important, is your skill technique.
Skill technique or skill execution is what determines how well you execute the skill regardless of whether it is some form of throwing, hitting, jumping, cutting, swinging etc. Improvement in your skill technique can bring you as much if not greater, improvement in your game play than any other factor.
Thus, in order to improve performance on the field it is necessary to do technique exercises and specialized strength exercises that use the same neuromuscular pathway as used in execution of the skill. These are known as specialized strength exercises. They enable you to develop strength in the manner it is displayed in execution of the skill. In addition, you must develop strength in the same range of motion as it is displayed in execution of the skill.
When doing specialized strength exercises it is advisable to use the 1 x 20 RM strength training program. This program allows you to learn and develop greater strength and technique in the most favorable and fastest amount of time.
When technique and specialized strength exercises to improve the physical qualities specific to the technique are optimized, you will automatically see improvement on the field. This is easily substantiated. Merely becoming more fit or stronger will not give you the same results.