Maximum Sports performance, Minimum Time, by Matthew Romans
Posted August 07, 2018 by Matthew Romans
Whether you are a competitive elite athlete, or a former athlete-turned weekend warrior like me, it is important to prepare yourself mentally and physically for the rigors of that activity. Most of what is performed by athletes in the manner of weight training and conditioning is an absolute joke; for example - throwing and catching of heavy weights, which is a recipe for disaster. I often wonder if many elite athletes incur injuries more from participating in this nonsense than from the nature of their sport. If your weight training or conditioning routine is causing you to get injured, it's worthless.
Let's understand how injuries occur. The root cause of injury is excessive force; force is equal to mass times acceleration (F=MA). If a bone, tendon, ligament, or muscle incurs a force that exceeds its structural integrity, an injury will result. There is an element of risk in any sport or physical activity, and you cannot completely eliminate this injury risk, no matter how well-conditioned you are. Certainly, an injury that results from the rigors of sport is unfortunate, but an injury happening in a weight room is simply inexcusable. It is always a mistake to combine weight training with sport-specific skills; this can and often does lead to injury. Olympic weight lifting and CrossFit do this, and it is one reason why many who do CrossFit report injuries. Ken Hutchins, the founder of our exercise protocol says, "Sports-specific exercise philosophy is also the reasoning (false reasoning) for the notion of cross-training and hence the (commercially) highly successful fitness outlet known as CrossFit. Ignorance and passionate energy sell and are big business!" These types of activities violate principles of safety, exercise, and motor learning.
Now that we know what not to do, what is the best way to prepare for the rigors of sport?
First, to improve your skills in a certain sport or activity, you need to specifically practice those skills that are involved in that sport. If you're playing tennis, you need to use the racket, tennis balls, and net height that would be involved in a competitive match. If you're playing basketball, don't shoot on a hoop that is 9 feet tall if a regulation hoop is ten feet. The reason for this is that there are three types of skill transfer: positive, negative, and indifferent. Positive skill transfer occurs when the activities of practice and performance are identical; negative skill transfer occurs when practice and performance are almost the same (ex. 9 1/2 foot basket); indifferent skill transfer occurs when practice/conditioning and performance are completely unrelated.
Second, before you begin a practice or a game, it's important to perform a brief warm up specific to the nature of your sport. If it's basketball, perform some low level ball handling and shooting drills. If it's a round of golf, hit a bucket of balls on the range. This will help you to get your heart rate elevated and limber up your joints.
Third, you need physical conditioning. Proper weight training will improve your strength, conditioning/endurance, and help to protect you from injury, without any negative skill transfer. The greater strength you possess, the more force you can withstand, and a greater amount of muscle can act as a shock absorber. Using an exercise protocol like we instruct here at Total Results, which involves brief (twenty minutes or less), infrequent (once or twice per week) intense workouts and a deliberately slow speed of movement, with an emphasis on moving quickly between exercises, is all that is required to help you maximize your performance.
The reason people participate in sport/recreational activities is because they enjoy them. If your exercise routine causes you to get injured, it's impossible to enjoy yourself. If you follow these guidelines you can maximize your performance, with a minimal time investment.