It is a common misconception among coaches that strength and conditioning can only be achieved by lifting weights in a gym. There are several problems with this approach that could lead to injury and a loss of performance. A balanced approach to strength and conditioning that improves an athlete’s natural ability and targets muscle groups is a much better way to coach strength and conditioning.
Athleticism over strength
Muscle is what creates movement in your body. Without muscles, we’d be pretty useless as a species. Stronger muscles create quicker, more powerful movements over muscles that are weaker. This is where many coaches get confused about how to improve muscle strength.
Before an athlete even looks at a gym, a coach must evaluate their natural strength and how their body reacts to their own body weight. If an athlete cannot perform a proper push-up, sit-up, squat or pull-up, this will be the starting point for their strength and conditioning training.
Target muscle groups
Once you’ve established an athlete’s starting point for strength and conditioning training, you can then put a program together to improve performance. WBC World Cruiserweight Champion Tony Bellew recently said that “bodies don’t win fights” on his way to beating David Haye in a heavyweight clash. What Bellew said is a vital lesson that coaches should take notice of. A boxer may be able to bench press more than his opponent, but this won’t help him or her punch quicker, harder and in a greater volume.
Targeting muscles groups that will increase your strength on the field of play will boost performance. For example, strengthening leg and abdominal muscles will benefit a hockey player as they will spend most of the game crouched over a ball and will need a strong core to avoid being outmuscled by an opponent. Using a hockey drill video from sites such as https://www.sportplan.net/drills/Hockey/ in the gym during strength and conditioning training is a great way to reaffirm why exercises with medicine balls or free weights are aiding their performance.
Strength and condition are important to an athlete’s overall performance. A structured and measured approach to building muscle strength is needed to ensure an athlete gets the most out of their training when competing on the field of play.