Despite the growth and evolution of sports performance training, several "old wives tales" still exist around the gym. As parents, we want our athletes to succeed. But to help them achieve success, we need to address certain issues.
Here are three common sports performance training myths and how to fix them.
"I can do that with my kid"
The problem: Mom and Dad are former athletes, and they want their little one to be better than they were back in the day. The thought pops into their heads: "Hey, I used to be an athlete, so I can train my kid"—and off they go.
I admire and understand the good intentions of such parents. The devotion they show in trying to help is great. The issue is that love cannot replace the specialized education and years of experience of a seasoned sports performance coach.
Often, what an older generation did to improve off the field has been replaced with more advanced and efficient concepts. Just because the "old ball coach" used to make you do it doesn't mean it is relevant now.
All certified strength and conditioning coaches need to take continuing education courses to ensure that they stay up to date on current advances. Also, most youth athletes take direction better from an outside trusted source like a coach or trainer. This interaction allows the kids to separate family issues from sport or training issues. For more information, see:
"I don't need to lift for my sport"
When it comes to resistance training, there is a vast misunderstanding. How many times have we heard "Only football players lift," or "I need to be quick and fast for my sport and lifting will slow me down," or "female athletes shouldn't lift because they will bulk up and look like guys."
When addressing this issue, we need to keep a couple of things in mind. First, resistance training is just one piece of a full sports performance program. Other aspects like speed, agility, endurance and flexibility should also be taken into consideration. (Read Myths Debunked on Age and Strength Training.)
Second, strength training is not a cure-all for athletes, but it should not be neglected. Athletes in all sports can benefit from resistance training. The key is finding the right program and a qualified professional to administer it. When done correctly, resistance training can add much needed power, strength and stability and reduce the risk of injury. All of these results can benefit athletes in any sport.
As for female athletes, certain gender-specific injury concerns can be minimized and avoided. A well conceived resistance training program can help produce performance gains and better results on the field. This is the basic reason why someone would start a training program in the first place. If we are stuck in front of the mirror constantly looking at our physique and how we look, our priorities need review. Games are won on the field, not in the mirror.
"More is better"
It's human nature to continue to do something that produces great results. But like many things in life, if someone goes overboard with something, there can be negative consequences.
This certainly applies to sports performance training. Positive results can be earned on the turf and in the weight room. Yet if training is not done in a proper periodized way, negative consequences can ensue, like overuse injuries and performance declines.
This all points toward having a plan and executing it when training. Note the difference between "training" and "working out." Athletes "train" because they have a specific goal and a plan to achieve that goal. If someone is "working out," they wander around the gym for an hour doing the same exercises over and over.
Proper rest and recovery are just as important as training. (See Training 'Til You Puke: A Sign of Hard Work or Incorrect Training?)
Essentially, most sports performance training issues can be solved simply. Find a facility that can provide scientific and prudent training programs to all athletes, one whose staff has years of experience dealing with all types of athletes and helping them reach their goals. Your initial investment can pay off exponentially in the long run.
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