Practice is NOT enough: Why Sports Performance Training Sets Athletes Apart
May 22, 2019 | Ryan Heickert, MS, ATC at Function & Strength
“We’re talking about practice. Not a game! Not a game! Not a game! We’re talking about practice.” - Allen Iverson, in his famous press conference
Yes, we are in fact talking about practice. We’re talking about how practice is not sufficient enough for athletes to excel and win out on the field, in the rink, or on the court. The difference between winning and losing comes down to milliseconds of speed, inches of space, and ounces of strength. Your motivation will keep you going at the end of the game, but can your conditioning keep up?
In practice, you can sharpen your shot, keen your knowledge, and practice plays. But practice doesn’t account for gaining separation to get your shot off, expanding your explosiveness, or sturdy-ing your strength. Sports performance training is what separates the great from the good.
We believe in 7 Principles for Sports Performance: Speed, Explosive Power, Strength, Conditioning, Flexibility, Injury Reduction, and Nutrition Education.
Speed Separates You from the CompetitionSpeed is much more then being fast or quick, or increasing top-speed for a 40-yard dash. Speed training entails agility factors like acceleration, deceleration, footwork, and linear and lateral movements. Whether it’s chasing down a fast-break or not getting chased down on a fast-break, reacting faster while playing defense, or stealing a base before the catcher throws you out, increasing speed gives athletes an edge.
Explosive Power Pushes Away the Competition
Explosive power is about exerting an immense amount of force in a tiny amount of time and space. If speed is what separates athletes during a sprint down the line, explosion is what gives them a head-start off the starting line. It transforms the deceleration and linear and lateral movements taught and perfected in speed training into jukes and cuts. Exercise that pack power into explosive movements include jump-centered ones like depth jumps and types of reactive jumps that are focused on low ground contact time., and olympic lifts like hang power cleans. These movements are mission-critical at the starting line -- like when players jump for the ball in basketball, linemen push each other off the line in football, starts and stops in hockey, and all field athletes making a quick transition.
Strength Stops the Competition in Their Tracks
Strength can be defined as “capacity for exertion or endurance”, “power of resisting attack”, or “degree of potency of effect or of concentration”. Strength can compensate for what an athlete lacks in size, or bolster the force behind sizeable athletes. It can make throws and passes faster and tackles and checks more impactful. It compliments speed by allowing athletes to separate and control their opponent in close confines. Strength training provides the powerful force behind explosive movements in order to make them truly effective.
Conditioning Creates Champions
Imagine your team is winning at the end of the game, or you’re in the last lap of a group relay. Your speed, strength, explosion, and countless hours of practice have collectively contributed to you and your team getting you to this point. Then, you get tired. The other team blows by you because you’re playing defense tired. You get caught on a fast-break or break-away because you’re heaving for air. Conditioning ensure that athletes perform at their peak, at all times. Especially when it matters most.
Flexibility Forges Healthy Movements
Flexibility plays a major role in many factors of sports performance: strength, speed, agility, endurance, and injury prevention. Flexibility improves athletes’ range of motion, which impacts explosive movements and agile cuts and jukes. Flexibility maintains muscle health and assists in body recovery, which keeps the body in prime condition. When athletes keep their body in prime condition, they can perform at their best -- just like Lebron James hasn’t missed a beat in his 15 seasons as a professional athlete. Flexibility also affords athletes to play the entire season by offering more control over their balance and preventing muscular injuries.
Injury Reduction Ramps Up Your Value
If you’re injured, you can’t play. You can’t play the sport you love. You can’t compete for your teammates. You can’t score a scholarship, make a travel team, or get scouted for the pros. Injuries can pose a greater threat to athletes than the competition itself. Sports performance training reduces athletes’ chances of getting injured, so they can perform at their best and play on the field, not sit on the bench.
Nutrition Education Enhances Athlete Performance
Food isn’t just something we eat -- it’s the very thing that fuels our bodies. Nutrition education helps athletes power their bodies with the right fuel. Sound nutrition doesn’t just provide fuel, however; sound nutrition improves athletic performance by reducing fatigue, reducing injury risk, and restoring the body to ensure proper recovery.
Interested in learning more about how sports performance can help you? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.