Strength and conditioning coaches primarily work with athletes to help improve a skill in a sport. These coaches work with not one specific area of sport, but within several sports that are complete opposites. While training an athlete's overall performance, principles should be structured to adapt to the needs of the specific sport. Strength and conditioning coaches should have a proper understanding of training laws that ensure organization among several different sports. The ability to train individuals or a team to produce a strong, flexible, and stable athlete, will form the foundation for the required sport. Coaches should have a general strength and conditioning program readily available for their athletes that are categorized for beginner, intermediate, and advanced athletes. “The principles of training promote a steady and specific increase in strength and other abilities by specifically adapting the program to the needs of the sport and, most important, to the physical capacity of the individual athlete” (Bompa & Buzzichelli, 2015, pg. 99).
The Laws of Training
There are seven laws that should be implemented into any training program for it to be successful. These laws focus on: Joint mobility, ligament and tendon strength, core strength, development of the stabilizers, training movements (not isolated), focus on necessary for sport specific, and periodize strength in the long term (Bompa & Buzzichelli, 2015). When a coach works with several unrelated athletes in various sport, the coach must be able to implement the key areas of exercise into the athlete's daily routine, in order for the athlete to be perform at their highest ability. In order for a strength and conditioning coach to effectively go about this process, the coach should prepare an out of season and an in-season schedule. A rule of thumb is 3-6 months before season, the athlete should be focused on higher volume of training with a low proportion of sport-specific workouts, and as the competitive season approaches, the intensity of workouts becomes harder, the volume of work is decreased, and the sport-specific exercises become the main focus on the program (Bompa & Buzzichelli, 2015).
Different Sport Training
Most sports require a well-rounded strength training program that incorporates explosive power, muscular endurance, and maximal strength. Training several different athletes (in various sports) at once, a coach would perform a circuit training program, that implements all of these areas of workout- until sport/skill specific training is necessary. An example would be to train an athlete engaged in soccer and football. A coach should understand the differences in each sport along with what is expected from the athlete while performing. These areas should be focused on during the conditioning process. Seated rows, standing calf raise, lat pull downs, deadlifts, and leg curls would be areas for a football player to focus on. A soccer player would focus on push ups, crunches, dips, feet work, and shoulder presses. Soccer and football players must be fast on their feet, flexible, and have a strong core, mobility, and joint stability. Dramatic increase in volume and workout time can be detrimental on an athlete's performance. Intensity is another area that is important to not overlook. “In strength training, intensity is expressed as a percentage of load or 1-repetition maximum. It is an indicator of the strength of the nervous stimuli employed in training, and it is determined by the degree to which the central nervous system (CNS) is called into action” (Bompa & Buzzichelli, 2015, pg. 127).
Areas to Focus on While Training
Hypertrophy (muscle bulk and size) should be selective. Not all athletes require this need in sports, and the size of a muscle does not always mean stronger. Maximal strength should be applied (as this is the highest force that is generated). This area can improve several areas of an athlete’s performance, including endurance. Explosive power is an area in which most athletes in sport must generate and perform. Power lifting drills can help improve some of this area, along with other drills. Strength endurance is another area that can be focused on in a program. This area helps push the athlete to it’s furthest distance with resistance (body weight or added weight), which prolongs the ability to perform. Periodization training is another area that focuses on sport specific strength training. This area allows the athlete to peak at the right time, building a solid foundation for sport specific training (Sports Fitness Advisor, n.d.). Overall, each sport has specific skills that must be covered and integrated throughout in-season training. Strength and conditioning coaches do not always have the luxury to train in one specific sporting event, therefore, must be able to generate a program that incorporates several areas to target, among different athletes. Periodization training is an important program that helps reach the best outcome for each sport skill requirement throughout the training year.
Bompa, T.O., & Buzzichelli, C.A. (2015). Periodization training for sports (3rd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Sports Fitness Advisor. (n.d.). Strength Training Section. Retrieved from http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/strengthtraining.html
BRING ON THE MYTHS
Health and fitness are important aspects to life, and without it, people are more likely to be susceptible to illness and injury. Those who coach others through their fitness journey, coach athletes to become bigger, faster, and stronger, health-care individuals who coach on health and wellness are the key components to creating a positive and successful outcome for those who are engaged in this lifestyle. Unfortunately, many people fall short of knowing the truth behind health and fitness, due to the lack of knowledge and updated education, therefore, continue on a fitness and health routine that is ineffective and possibly dangerous.
Bigger Muscles Means, Stronger
Often times athletes and non-athletes are under the influence of several misconceptions. These faulty areas lead active individuals down a destructive and inaccurate path. More common than not, people think more muscles will make them, stronger. This concept, idea, or random theory is proven not true. While some athletes are smaller than others, they can lift more weight due to their ability to activate the motor neurons sending a signal to the muscles to contract. The recruitment of the motor unit helps determine the outcome of athletic performance becoming easier over time. The understanding of physiology of muscle growth helps an individual and coach be more effective on training regimens.
A common misconception in fitness is not feeling sore after a workout indicates that the workout was ineffective. This is not true. Feeling the burn in the muscles after a hard exercise or workout is known as, metabolic stress (hypertrophic response). “Metabolic stress pursuant to traditional resistance training manifests as a result of exercise that relies on anaerobic glycolysis for adenosine triphosphate production. This, in turn, causes the subsequent accumulation of metabolites, particularly lactate and H(+)” (Department of Health Sciences, 2013, para. 1). The damaged muscle releases inflammatory molecules that activate cells to start working. So, this means an athlete does not necessarily need to feel sore after a hard workout, but the damage must be present in the muscle cells. No pain, no gain is not true, and often times leads to muscle fatigue- which is a prime indicator that the muscle was overworked.
How often a coach manages their education with the current studies in fitness and athletics, will have an enormous impact on how well the athletes succeed. A coach or fitness instructor that is constantly desiring to improve their skillset is a valuable coach, and is what most, if not all athletes should want. Receiving feedback from other coaches or healthcare professionals, participating in camps, clinics, and conferences, as well as staying up to date with the latest trends in coaching and fitness, will ensure a coach is knowledgeable in their line of work to practice safe and effective approaches in all strength and conditioning of athletes.
Department of Health Sciences. (2013, March. Potential mechanisms for a role of metabolic stress in hypertrophic adaptations to resistance training. US Library of Medicine, 43(3). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23338987