The Number One Coaching Mistake. Training Youth Athletes.

10930856_872512739438153_327230803821940326_nI once saw a coach training a hockey player on lunges.

He said, “When you stand up, push a bit sideways with your front leg to mimic your skating stroke.”

Doesn’t seem like bad advice… except that the athlete was 12 years old.

The kid wasn’t even able to stay stable when going down into the lunge. His front knee was caving in and his torso was bent so far forward it looked like he was doing a good morning.

Sure, if he pushes slightly sideways it might mimic his skating stroke. Sort of. Maybe.

But this is like worrying about the color of the curtains when the house is built on a lousy foundation and the walls aren’t even finished. It’s an example of one thing that’s gone horribly wrong with strength coaching.

Strength coaches worry about minutia, trying to make a movement as specific as possible, while the athlete doesn’t even have the strength foundation and motor control to do the basics properly.

A certain degree of specificity can be important, relative to the athlete’s sport. You need to develop the correct energy systems and increase the capacity to produce maximum force and power in the movement patterns involved in the sport.

But if you increase strength and power in those very specific patterns without developing general strength and power, you’re doomed to fail.

Russian coaches had it right: first build the widest base possible.

That means increasing the general physical capacities (strength, power, endurance, resistance, speed) as high as you can, then worrying about including more specific work.

An athlete who’s stronger, more powerful, and faster, but only does general work, will destroy a weaker and less powerful athlete who does tons of specific work.

Strength training can never really be specific. The only true specific action is practicing the action itself.

And if you try to make the strength training movements too similar to the sporting action you can actually screw up the motor pattern.

Being too specific is dumb. And being specific too early is dumb.

This is especially true with younger athletes. All you really need is to get them very strong on the big basic lifts. That alone will give them a maximal rate of progress in field performance.

Just by becoming a lot stronger their power will improve. And when power improves, speed increases too.

Stay strong with JannaFit. Youth Training.

Share the post with your friends.