Saturday, February 5, 2011

The first rule of Performance Enhancement...

There is a lot of information out there about Peak Performance Programs for Athletes.  "Maximize your Potential!!"  There are a lot of different philosophies out there about how to accomplish this.  Lots of 'gurus' teaching the 'latest and greatest' methods to reach your goals.  Before we begin the discussion of what scientifically makes sense and what is just theory, lets start with the thing that will ruin all your attempts at Peak Performance....INJURY!  With the explosion of strength coaches and personal trainers wanting to work with athletes and a wide variety of education and experiences the one thing that really concerns me is the disregard for injuries.  The first rule of any Performance Enhancement program is to prevent injuries.  Think about it, it doesn't matter how much you can lift, or how many repetitions you can do or how much work you put in, if you get injured your performance goes to ZERO!  It is impossible to become an All American sitting on the trainers or therapists table.  They do not announce the "ALL Injured Reserve Team!"  Having been a Certified Athletic Trainer, Physical Therapist and Certified Strength Coach for over 20 years, I have seen many seasons and careers cut short by injuries.  I do not believe that all injuries can be avoided because there are freak accidents but I do know that a majority of injuries occur at two times, Preseason and when an athlete is fatigued.  Preseason injuries are directly related to not being ready for the sudden increase in activity and type of activity.  It doesn't matter the sport, once conditioning and 'full practices' start, especially 2-a-days, the strains and sprains start to pile up.  And the reason?  The training program was not adequately planned to prevent these injuries, but, make no mistake the effect on performance is immediate and can last a long time, as you miss out on reps or watch someone else 'fill in' for you.  The other high incidents of sports injuries are when athletes are fatigued, both late in the game or late in the season.  Again, this is directly related to they off season training program. 

I find it very interesting that regardless of the sport, the people who have long careers and hold all the records have something in common.  They were all know for how hard they worked when they were NOT PLAYING!!  Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, Nolan Ryan, etc were all know for working out incredibly hard during the offseason and then putting in extra work during the season.  So why don't more athletes follow this example?  Because it is Hard Work and it takes a tremendous metal discipline to work at high levels.  The secret behind a great training program is to have the year planned out and to start with the end goal in mindand then put in the work necessary (plus some).  There are a variety of phases that make up a yearly plan to maximize performance, so if you strength coach/trainer has a one program fits all mentality or the same program no matter what time of the year, then you need to find a new one who understands the science of training.   Regardless of who is putting the program together, the first goal is to prevent injuries by preparing the body for the stresses of practice and games. 

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