Strength and Conditioning is defined by the NSCA as the application of “scientific knowledge to train athletes with the primary goal of improving athletic performance”.
S&C when done properly, under the guidance of a qualified, experienced and dedicated coach can have huge and long lasting benefits for athletes. However in some sports and with a small number of athletes there’s still a “push back” against its implementation.
Due to the “insta-fitness” culture that has sprung up in recent times it’s understandable why some coaches and athletes are sceptical and potentially misinformed about the importance of strength and conditioning for athletic development.
In a time where a 6 week online course “qualifies” someone to take charge of an athletes well-being and competitive future it can be hard to sift through all the gimmicks and “online experts” to really understand why S&C is a vital part of any athletes training.
Read on below for my top 3 reasons why every athlete can benefit from strength and conditioning training.
Athletes develop the power to sprint, jump, break tackles, kick, punch etc through a combination of force (strength of muscle contraction) and speed (how fast that contraction can happen). Through a combination of strength training and sport specific skills training we can influence the positive development of both these power parameters.
Strength training (with an emphasis on sport specific angles and movements) results in larger, stronger muscle fibres giving us a greater ability to produce force and a much higher rate at which this force is produced in sport specific skills . As a result we have an athlete with the ability to work more efficiently with a much higher power output.
Athletes like this are essentially more explosive and harder to stop than those with a less developed power output.
Injuries happen in sport… most if not all sports involve the athlete engaging in high risk activities in a chaotic environment. As much as we’d like to, we can’t completely get rid of the injury risk associated with participating in sport BUT a well-planned, properly administered, long term strength and conditioning programme can go a very long way in significantly reducing injury risk.
Muscles, tendons and joints that have been exposed to strength training are more capable of tolerating the forces, impacts and stresses that are placed on them during sport. A stronger more powerful athlete is a more efficient shock absorber, meaning they are better able to accept and dissipate forces through the joints and tissues effectively without causing injury.
Athletes that are trained to accept force and stabilize their movements in a controlled environment like the gym, under the guidance of a competent strength coach are less likely to breakdown under fatigue in chaotic situations.
In a nutshell athletes that strength train spend less time on the physios table and more time available for selection and competitively engaged in their sport.
Improved Ability to Recover
Recovery branches into 3 different areas,
- Linking back to injuries for a second, very simply, stronger more pliable and better conditioned muscles and connective tissues tend to heal quicker. So if we are unfortunate enough to suffer an injury the outlook for recovery can be much better.
- Athletes that have been exposed to strategic and well-planned conditioning training have a higher work capacity and can recover more efficiently from high intensity bouts than less conditioned athletes. What this means is that better conditioned and fitter athletes can work harder, recover quicker and be ready to go again in a shorter amount of time than a “less fit” opponent.
- Athletes under the guidance of a strength and conditioning coach will generally have pre-planned recovery strategies built into their training schedule to be implemented following training and competition. This can range from nutritional & rehydration advice to recovery gym sessions and manual therapy. This is hugely important to keeping the athlete fresh and capable of maintaining their planned training schedule.
A little hint to keep in mind is this….
Don’t Train to Look in the Mirror – Train to Perform.
Keep this in mind and you can’t go too far wrong
These 3 tips are only a small insight into the benefits of strength and conditioning for athletic development. There’s plenty more benefits to be had but hopefully they’re enough to get you as an athlete or coach to start to thinking differently about S&C.
If you’re interested in developing your athletic potential from the ground up with Doolin Performance click here, fill the contact form and we’ll get back to you to book a free consultation and screening session.