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7 Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training

Written on February 15, 2014 at 6:41 am, by Eric Cressey

It's been a while since I posted one of my "Random Thoughts" pieces, so here are seven things that came to mind yesterday.

1. After the initial year or so of “organized” strength training, athletes don’t get hurt because they’re globally weak; they get injured because they’re positionally weak. This dictates the window of adaptation you seek out.

2. The Turkish Get-up is an outstanding exercise for not only challenging athletes, but also re-establishing fundamental movement patterns they may have lost over the years.  However, that doesn’t mean that everyone is prepared for it on day 1.  Obviously, one must have adequate shoulder flexion to hold a kettlebell overhead, but – as the picture below shows – you can’t overlook the importance of having adequate hip mobility and a good hip hinge pattern.

Get-up hip hinge

In short, if you can’t hip hinge and have brutally short adductors, you can’t do a Turkish Get-up…or at least not a good looking one.

3. Taking this a step further, if you're familiar with the Postural Restoration Institute school of thought, many individuals will likely have a harder time "getting into" the left hip if they present with this common aberrant posture:

adductedrighthip

So, if you struggle with the left hand overhead in particular on get-ups, there's a good chance that it's because everything under that arm is slightly out of whack.  For those folks, a left-stance toe touch can be a game changer.

4. Pull a quad (rectus femoris), and you’ll usually bounce back really quickly.  Pull an oblique and it’s much more stubborn. What’s the difference?  The rectus femoris is really all about the sagittal plane, whereas the obliques have a big role in controlling excessive motion in the sagittal, frontal, and transverse planes.  The more complex the job of the muscle, the more significant the injury – and the longer the rehab.  Hamstrings have roles outside the sagittal plane and can be equally stubborn, too.

201px-Rectus_femoris

5. “This athlete is strong enough” is an observation you might make with some male athletes.  The risk of continuing to load up to try to improve maximal strength far outweighs the potential benefits of those strength increases – and there’s likely a bigger window of adaptation elsewhere in their athletic profiles.  Conversely, I can honestly say that I’ve never met a female athlete who was strong enough. It just doesn’t happen.

6. Downright terrible coaches don’t look to the literature at all, or they do so only to cherry-pick study results that support what they’re already doing.  Mediocre coaches look to these resources so that they can have someone else tell them exactly what to do.  The best coaches read diligently and critically, scrutinizing everything they encounter to determine if it is correct and, if so, how it can be incorporated into their existing philosophies. 

Full disclosure: this is actually an excerpt from my e-book, The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual. I reincarnated it after a discussion with one of my interns the other day.

uotm

7. Watching the incredible success that the Netherlands has with speed skating makes me wonder how many 100mph arms there might be kicking around in the NBA, NFL, and other professional sports.   Much like we’ve seen with baseball players in the Dominican Republic – where there really aren’t “competing” sports – if you prioritize development one sport across a population, you’re going to find more studs even if that population is smaller.

In the United States, a larger country with more “sports variety,” it makes me wonder if this is actually one more argument against early sports specialization.  Maybe if we were more patient and followed athletes for longer in a general sense, we might discover more freak athletes later in the game?

Former NBA player Tracy McGrady attempting to play baseball is a great example.  He was a very good NBA player, but could he have been a Hall-of-Famer in baseball?  Similarly, does anyone deny that some NFL tight ends could have been NBA power forwards, if they’d directed that focus elsewhere?

Early specialization doesn’t just lead to more injuries and burnout and stunted development; it also potentially redirects good athletes away from sports in which they could be sensational.  Of course, there’s no way to know!

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  • Tobias

    The picture attached to thought number 3 – What’s the condition/postural problem called?

  • john twinem

    Great thoughts as always, much appreciated Eric. #5 is a good warning, as I find young men sometimes don’t weigh the risk/reward when they get nearer to peak lifting capacity and lifting is just one training modality for their sport of choice.

  • http://bjornkedzierski.no Björn

    Do you, from experience, have any thoughts on what “strong enough” is? Any squat/bench/dead lift/pull up numbers related to weight both in the male and female population? At some point, other qualities as explosiveness, work capacity, an technique might be worth spending more time on while maintaining current strenght levels? This of course would vary with type of sport, but some rough numbers? Thanks for all the valuable info you are getting out there, coaching wouldn’t be the same without you Eric;) Best regards Björn from Norway

  • Mike D.

    Great post EC, love the pictures of Pure Performance Training’s newest coach Mike Sirani! Keep up the good work Mike.

  • http://www.sportscare1.com Scott Gunter

    EC,

    I have to say I love these short, numbered gems on random topics. When I got to number 6 I nearly leapt out of my seat and yelled “Yes!” I had just finished going over this mindset with my new coaches yesterday. They were asking for resources and professionals to learn from and I immediately dropped your name (along with some other coaches I follow) WITH THE DISCLAIMER, that while these are leaders in the industry, you should take all the information you are given from this wide variety of good sources, filter out what you don’t necessarily agree with and bring all the positives together in a way that best suits your population. I admit, I started out just reading and agreeing with everything realizing I wasn’t scrutinizing or making these assertions on my own, but rather being told what to think. A young man’s mistake, I have since progressed to thinking deeper on all that I read, questioning “why” and demanding only the best information in articles and studies. Even research has to be looked at for the quality of a study and how it translates from the lab to the real world.

    I don’t agree with EVERY word you’ve ever written, you just happen to be one of the coaches who I agree with most. Props to those who keep teaching but never stop learning.

    -SG

  • Shane

    Eric, i’m a believer in talent is talent. A kid could play nothing but basketball his/her whole childhood and try soccer and there hooked.

    As you well know if your good athlete, it can transfer to most sports. Great post.

  • Roy

    Concerning sports specialization, remember that geography plays a role as well. It’s hard to become a ski prodigy if you live in Kansas and it hard to be a hockey prodigy if you live in Alabama. There are geologic, climatologic, and socialogic reasons behind those.

    As an aside to that, I think one has to examine the reasons we love sports. How necessary to the game is a 100 mph arm? Sure, it’s great to strike people out, but does it enhance the game’s overall enjoyability? The same would go for any sport’s ability: batting, blocking, running, jumping, etc. Oftentimes I find the other facets of struggling to be great the best part of any sport, and any approach to sports that targets abilities over desire to play, already has and will continue to diminish them.

  • http://ericcressey.com Eric Cressey

    Thanks, Scott!  Great post.

  • http://ericcressey.com Eric Cressey

    Thanks, Mike!  Sirani is my favorite demo guy of all time! :)

  • http://ericcressey.com Eric Cressey

    Tobias,

    That’d be a left AIC/right BC posture. You can learn more at http://www.posturalrestoration.com.

  • Ron

    Eric,
    Are the foam rolling and warmups enough to fix the left AIC/right BC posture. The exact warmups in the high performance handbook. Just saying, I no longer have that low right shoulder, which is probably good.
    Assuming everything else we do in life is correct posture or try to be correct.

  • Rob

    Random Q.
    Why can’t pitchers clean or power clean if their technique is perfect.

  • Jay

    L AIC/ R BC pattern and those ribs flared out are such pattern inhibitors. Keep up the great articles!!!

  • http://ericcressey.com Eric Cressey

    Bjorn,

    I think it really depends on the sport.  Obviously, it doesn’t matter in powerlifting or even strongman.  I think a 3x/bodyweight squat or 3x/bw deadlift would create a scenario where one would want to think long and hard about whether or not further loading was necessary.


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