What do we want as athletes (or as coaches for our athletes)? To be able to play at our best, dominate our opponents, win, and stay injury free the whole time, right?
What one thing can help accomplish all of those? Being strong.
To keep it super simple, the stronger you are, the lighter your body weight feels and, therefore, the faster you are able to push it through space. For example, if you weigh 150lbs and can squat 150lbs, running up and down the court, changing direction on the field, or jumping as high as you can require you to use a large portion of your maximum strength and energy just to do that. Now, how much easier would it be to do all of those same actions if you increased your squat to 250 lbs? It would make all those sporting movements much easier, which means you can do them faster and use less energy while doing them.
Not to mention that most team sports require at least some form of physical contact in them. So whether you are a soccer player having to fend off a defender, a hockey player making a bodycheck, or a rugby or football player needing to make a tackle, being stronger than your opponent is a great place to start.
One thing that really helps with confidence is knowing you lift more than the other team and are stronger than them (and their body weight). Knowing you put in more work and are able to dominate them physically if it comes down to it is a great feather in your cap. After all, if you need to tackle a 200 lb running back during a game and you just benched 225 lbs for five reps the week before, you know you can get the job done.
Research also shows that stronger athletes have reduced injury risk when playing sports as they can handle the loads & contact of the sport with reduced wear and tear to their bodies. All in all, it sounds like a pretty sweet idea to me!
So that is why we want to get strong. Now the
question is, how?
You lift stuff (like weights). Then you eat good food, recover (i.e., sleep) and come
back to the weight room and lift stuff again, but heavier. Boom. Just like that, strength is achieved.
If you continue to come to the weight room every week and lift the same 30lb dumbbell each session for over a month, all I can tell you is, “Congrats; you are not stronger.” While coming consistently and putting in the same work each time is commendable from a commitment standpoint, you are wasting your time from an adaptation standpoint. You need to push your body in order for it to change. Your body likes the way it is. It wants to stay that way. You need to give it a reason not to.
No, you won’t be able to slap on an extra 10lbs every week, but as long as you try to increase and every so often is successful in doing so, you will force your body to get stronger. In fact, many weight rooms also have smaller “microplates” (1/4 – 1 pound increments), so you can scale down the gains if necessary. After all, a 5lb jump from 30 to 35 lbs can be big, so start with smaller and more manageable jumps and move up from there. Gains and gains, no matter how small!
So remember, getting strong has a huge carry-over to your sporting performance, no matter what it is. Start small, be consistent, dial in your recovery and nutrition, and enjoy the process.