Your Session Isn’t Sport Specific Enough
When I first started training, the buzz words were functional training (“machines are bad”) and sport specific training. If you used these words people seemed to take notice and you sounded like a trainer, so I started using them, naturally. But just because you have big or cool words doesn’t mean you’re smart or a good trainer, does it? The point is not to worry about semantics but to look more closely at exercises and how they are or aren’t helping your athletes. What is the objective of your sessions, skills or performance, or both?
I was a guest training a few years back with a group of 25 high school baseball kids. My objective (via their team trainer) was to work on running mechanics and hip, spine, and shoulder strength exercises.
I started with some general warmup, isometrics, controlled bodyweight and band work. Next we moved into athletic stance and running deceleration drills, etc. We didn’t touch a baseball at all but I felt the athletes really grasped the movement training and got better. We did a lot more exercises but I’m not going to bore you.
The following day the team’s trainer returned and asked me how the session went. I explained what we did and why and gave my reasons. I thought the team’s session went pretty well. However, I was never asked back. I later found out it was because I didn’t use a baseball at all in the session or show them how to throw, even though those weren’t the instructions.
So should I be mad or disappointed? Did the kids not improve or learn anything? If it was early in my career I would of been very angry and frustrated, wondering what I did that wasn’t sport specific enough. In my car on my way home I thought it was weird, that a coach thinks if they don’t touch a baseball its not sport specific. That blew my mind a little because my objective was to get them better in movement and throwing, not to teach them how to throw the ball, wasn’t it?
The point is: what is sport specific training? Teaching students skills, how to throw the baseball, or kick the soccer ball? Or is to them better movers and athletes? I tend to look at technical skills as one set of workouts and athletic movement and strength as others. I have no problem combining all of the above, if that is what the coach feels is best. But teaching hitting or how to throw a curve isn’t what I do. So I was fired, I guess.
I feel this was a good story to share with up-and-coming and veteran trainers. Ask the coach or other trainer the objective and make sure it’s clear. And ask yourself, are you a skills coach or performance coach?