Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Young Athletes Beware of the "Idiot Box"...

I wanted to wrap up 2015 with a few random thoughts on Sports Performance Training.  Over the past few months a couple of high profile professional athletes were “caught” on video seemingly displaying tremendous feats of athleticism. But as long-time strength and conditioning professional Mike Boyle points out in the excerpt below this should be a lesson in what not to do!

Box Jump Idiocy

The top box in the plyo box stack is either a 36 or 42-inch plyo box.
If you have one, please put it away. In fact, unless you are training some great athletes, put your 30-inch box away too. I have dubbed the big plyo boxes “Idiot Boxes”. Idiot boxes are jumped on by young men (it is always young men) looking to show off.

I have begun to refer to them as “skin donors”. I can tell you something for sure. If CSI showed up and dusted the high plyo boxes for DNA most of these boxes would test positive. There was a time when my athletes and I were foolish just like everyone else and did these foolish exercises. After coaching a few “skin donors” I realized that what mattered was the movement of the center of mass, not the height of the box. I no longer own a 36” box but own lots of 18’s, 24’s and a few 30’s.

Our rule is simple; jump and land from the same position. This means that take off and landing should look identical. If you jump from a ½ squat, land in a half squat.
I could post a few videos but, don’t want to get sued. Just Youtube “box jumps” if you want to see foolishness in action.

And please, don’t stack up a bunch of stuff to jump on. That’s even dumber. I just saw an article with a multi-million dollar athlete jumping on a collection of boxes and plates. Try to explain that during your deposition.
Remember, jump and land from the same position.

Mike Boyle- The God Father of modern sport performance training, has coached at the Olympic and Division 1 college level in addition to working with professional athletes and amateur athletes for nearly 3 decades. In short, no one has a better frame of reference than Boyle.

I can’t help but toss in my own two cents on this topic. The first thing I noticed in the most recent video (a certain Washington Nationals outfielder) was the location of his “act.” Needless to say once I understood where this took place I was not surprised in the least. There is a gigantic difference between and “trainer” and strength and conditioning professional SCP).  An SCP would never have allowed their athlete to waste time on a useless exercise like a maximum effort box jump.

Our time with athletes is extremely valuable wasting it on fruitless circus acts is irresponsible at best!

Gold Medalist calls it a career and calls out current youth sport culture in America

Abby Wambach is a 2-time Olympic Gold medalist and FIFA World Cup Champion (2015). Wambach is a six-time winner of the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year award. As a forward, she currently stands as the highest all-time goal scorer for the national team and holds the world record for international goals for both female and male soccer players with 184 goals. In 2012, Wambach was awarded the 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year.

Wambach was an elite athlete so her insight on her development and the current your sport culture in America is extremely valuable to all athletes/parents who dream of becoming an elite level athlete. I have preached on this topic for over a decade now but it always seems to be delivered with more impact when someone like Abby takes up the conversation.

While the whole interview is very good, pay special attention starting at the 56:00 make and the final 5:30 of the episode. Listen to episode #40.

2015 Male Golf Player of The Year is a tremendous role model for all athletes

I recently read a few end of year recaps in which Jordan Speith was honored with Player of the Year recognition. A few insights from expert analysts and competitors really stood out and should serve as extremely important lessons that all young athletes should work very hard at developing if they truly want to achieve great things in sport and in the game of life.

“What I admire most about him are the intangibles: the grind, the heart, the ability to get the ball in the whole no matter what.”

Zach Johnson- 2015 Open Champion

That statement from Johnson highlights the essential variable that must be present for any young athlete to maximize their potential. Without these intangibles you have no chance!

 I don’t want to dive to deeply into the intricacies of golf in this space but this next line is about Speith describing deficiencies/weaknesses in his game:

“It’s frustrating not to execute but at the same time I like having that weakness exposed, because it gives me direction in what I need to work on.”

Fellow competitor Paul Casey had this to say about Speith:

“I love that passion and drive and desire and that honesty. Ultimately, I think it’s that honesty that will keep Speith on top of our game for a very long time. You’ve got to have supreme confidence in your abilities, but at the same time you can’t be blind. That’s what Tiger was great at. He was never satisfied. Jordan is exactly the same way”

For young athletes that mind-set is golden. Speith is 22 years old and has proven it time and again. His fellow competitors acknowledge that he’s special. But notice they don’t mention qualities like his power or strength…

It’s the little things, the details that allow Speith to achieve the results on the Golf course.

Hard work and dedication are prerequisites but from there you have to be honest with yourself. You have to have a plan! All great competitors are open to a better way of doing things and they recognize that they don’t have all the answers.

I have talked recently about why strength and conditioning is a must for the modern athlete and it has little to do with advanced training concepts or “butt-kicking” workouts. In my world I see way to often athletes with good intentions wasting a lot of time in the gym. They don’t have plan. Sorry to say but Stack.com is not a plan! You can find exercises on line that look cool and are touted to enhance speed, power and strength but what’s often missed is context.

You need to be honest with yourself… do your goals and current training align? If you need help don’t be afraid to ask for it. Honesty and humility will serve you well in your athletic development.

Mike Boyle called out young men for their egos driving stupid acts in training. Young guys do dumb stuff in the gym, realize it’s a tool to help improve performance and it’s not where you should be doing a performance. All young athletes need a reality check. And I hear this all the time from young men but the truth is you “don’t got this!”

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