4 Reasons Your Athletes Are Being Outperformed

Four reasons why athletes fail to make performance gains despite a dedication to training—and a strength workout they can use to get to the next level.

Tired Athlete

Do your athletes do all the right things without seeming to be able to compete at a high level? If so, their approach to training may be sabotaging their performance.

Follow these four guidelines to help your athletes take their game to the next level.

Your Athlete Is Weak

Speed kills—faster athletes have a clear competitive advantage.

Knowing this, coaches often focus too much on sprints and plyometrics in hopes of making their athletes faster and more powerful, failing to understand that speed and power are derivatives of strength.

You need to build a solid foundation of strength before training for power and speed. Skipping the strength phase will limit your athletes' ability to put force into the ground and could increase their risk of injury.

As a general guideline, your athletes should be able to bench press 1.5 times their body weight, squat twice their body weight and deadlift 2.5 times their body weight.

Your Athlete Is Hurt

The primary goal of training is to reduce an athlete's chance of sustaining an injury. Strength, size, speed and power are all important, but they're all irrelevant if an athlete can't stay on the field.

Know the exercises that you are prescribing and how they affect the body. For example, too much sprinting can put unnecessary stress on an athlete's knees and potentially cause an overuse injury (e.g., patella tendonitis).

Eric Cressey, owner of Cressey Performance in Hudson, Mass., suggests that a 150-pound athlete may experience forces of up to six times his or her body weight on a single leg when sprinting. That's 900 pounds of stress.

Don't completely eliminate sprints and other impact exercises—like plyometrics—from your programming. But limit touches. In general, an athlete with moderate experience should do no more than 100 plyometric touches in one session. He or she should do no more than three speed workouts per week—ideally on turf—with at least 48 hours of recovery between sessions.

Your Athlete Is Getting Outworked

Hard work beats natural talent when natural talent doesn't work hard. Simply because an athlete has extraordinary talent doesn't mean he or she will be successful.

Strength training will not turn an average Joe into a hall of fame athlete. Raw talent can't be invented. But strength training can help an athlete make up for a relative lack of skill compared to his or her peers. You see it all the time in sports. A young athlete dominates the competition and then fades as he or she ages because of decreasing strength and speed.

Your Athlete Lacks Confidence

The pressure of sports can take a toll on an athlete's confidence. This is especially concerning if he or she experiences successive failures and lacks the mental toughness to brush them off.

Challenging workouts teach athletes to push through tough situations. They will learn how to succeed when their bodies and minds are pushed to the limit. Also, training hard will give them the confidence that they can play at a high level whenever they're called upon.

Sample Workout

To put these concepts in action, have your athletes perform the following three-day workout.




  • Goblet Squats - 4x8 (2-3 min. rest)
  • Bench Press - 4x8 (2-3 min. rest)
  • RDL - 3x8 (60 sec. rest)
  • Chin-Up - 3x8 (60 sec. rest)
  • Bulgarian Split-Squat - 3x8 (60 sec. rest)
  • Side Plank - 3x8 each side (60 sec. rest)

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