Athletic training is a peculiar beast in present exercise world, as fitness levels of the general public tumbles to lower depths with each year. While the public is overwhelmed with images of great athletes grinding out their training, few truly understand the endless hours of work needed to get to that level. The sexy image, complete with panoramic camera angles, of hard core training montages of unique training modalities “sells” but is it true story of what developing athletes need?
Shockingly and while not a popular statement, it is not. Whether an athlete is highly skilled from the technical needs of their sport or in the earliest development stage, it is common to see them race into unique training twists without having a sufficient base. Victims of both the marketing of the industry and the good-natured habit of “wanting more” in an era when information is at your fingertips, it is deeply problematic for their long-term development. Athletes are not the evil villains in this situation they are merely by-products to a changing time when the learning curve of an endless series of skills is distorted, resulting in many basic functions forgotten.
Is learning how to train for athletics any different then building an armoire with fine joinery, knowing how to select the right stock for the production or say, preparing a good meal for your family? While the examples are endless, changing routes to gather information are culling important steps of learning the basics. Though some may argue technological change has rendered certain skills sets no longer necessary, an argument I will take up at anytime, within sports conditioning there are no short cuts.
This pushes into athletes and coaches into some challenging areas because while their enthusiasm pushes them forward, they need direction with an even, if not stern hand. Though I am often asked by coaches and athletes what is the “one thing” they can do to enhance their performance, they are surprised with my response that “the one thing is the whole thing”.
Athletic development must recognize a broad-brush approach of development all-around athletic abilities. There is no strength without flexibility, the ability to supple, fit, fluid, move with power and grace and able to maintain position while under duress. The complex riddle starts with the basics, development a foundation of all around athletic abilities, pushing those gifts higher and then layering technical skills on top.
From his speech “The Torchbearers“, given prior to the start of the new millennium, John Davies discusses a problem in the horizon. A foreboding comment, more important than ever, watch “The Torchbearers“.