The Value of Sports Performance Training

Posted on 08. Apr, 2011 by in Blog, Sports Performance

These days, everyone seems to be a sports performance coach. Go to any personal trainer and ask about if he or she can train and athlete and most likely they will tell you they can. In fact, there are many regular sports coaches who have no experience in training anyone, advertising sports performance training.

Without qualified, and more importantly, experienced professionals training these athletes, there always runs the risk of injury, while at the same time, wasting time and money. Some would argue that “training is training” and it doesn’t really matter. I have read things from personal trainers arguing that there is almost no line between sports performance training and personal training and it really doesn’t matter if you have experience training athletes or obese people…it is “all the same.” I couldn’t disagree with this more.

I consider athletes as a special population, much like any other special population that has qualified professionals working with them. It takes true hands on experience and the more you have the better at it you are. In the end the results that the athletes derive from the training they receive will speak volumes.

The real value of a good, quality sports performance coach can be seen all over. Take a very recent example of Kansas City Royals pitcher Tim Collins, and his strength and performance coach, Eric Cressey. This is an amazing story, that you can read more about here. But I will sum it up for you. When Tim started training with Eric, he weighed in at a mere 131 pounds. Besides that, he threw in the low 80s, which if you know anything about pitching prospects, isn’t near fast enough to get noticed. In addition, he had other glaring physical issues. Overall, he was lacking in strength, speed, and power, as well as overall physical endurance. These are issues that must be addressed for any athlete, but need to be fine tuned and built properly for a professional athlete. Eric and his staff at Cressey Performance did just that. In just a few short years Tim shot up to 172 pounds and his performance “holes” were filled in. Tim now throws in the mid 90s and is part of the Royals pitching roster. That is an amazing accomplishment in a few short years. I would argue that although Tim’s hard work and determination are the main reason he is where he is, it was the professional guidance and experienced training from Eric that really made the difference. Another reason finding a top notch sports performance coach is necessary.

This past year, I have had some similar success stories with my own baseball guys. (Although not at the level that Eric did with Tim starting for a MLB team, but very impressive anyway in my opinion.) One example was Alex. When Alex came to me, he weighed a measly 126 pounds, and had virtually no strength, power or speed that is necessary to play baseball at the varsity level. In a little less than a year, with quality training and a lot of hard work, Alex shot up to 150 pounds. His strength and power went through the roof, while his speed increased dramatically. Alex’s performance on the field was transcending. Alex worked harder than almost any athlete I ever worked with and he was determined to reach his potential.

Another example was Zach. Zach was a good varsity baseball player the year before, but like Alex, his weight, and strength were lacking to say the least. By pre-season, not only did Zach put on about 20 pounds, but his strength and speed increased radically. Last year, Zach topped out on the radar gun at 78 miles per hour. At the beginning of this season, Zach was gunned at 93. That is quite a dramatic increase for anyone in such a short period of time. It was Zach’s commitment and hard work that made his incredible improvements possible. At the same time, without a good, sound, quality performance program Zach would probably never see those improvements.

All three of the above mentioned athletes were able to develop to high levels because of hard work, but all three were guided and coach by experienced and qualified coaches.

You can find examples like this everywhere. However, you can also probably find athletes and parents who have wasted a lot of time and money hiring “trainers” with no real experience in dealing with athletes. Many of these athletes get “no-where” fast and some even sustain injuries that were, in my opinion caused by poor training, coaching and programming.

I believe that there is, indeed a line between ‘regular training’ and ‘sports performance training.’ In fact, I think it is a pretty thick line. As I mentioned earlier, athletes are a special population and because of this, need to be trained by coaches with real experience in dealing with athletes.

Quality sports performance coaches perform detailed assessments on each athlete and program accordingly. Also, these coaches understand the nature of the sport and position that each athlete is involved in, so they can ensure proper training. Further, good performance coaches understand the injury risks associated with the sport, position, and more importantly each individual athlete. They address these issues within the programming and training.

I find it hard to understand how parents can allow their kids to be trained by “just anyone.” There is too much at risk these days with injuries, scholarships and money to just allow any “trainer” or “coach” to work with these athletes.

There is real value in finding a good performance coach, and real value in the training. Just take a look at what Cressey did with Tim Collins for proof. None of that happens by accident and none of that would have happened if Tim didn’t walk into Cressey Performance a few short years ago.

Before you hire a trainer or coach to work with your son or daughter, remember to do your homework. Find someone that has years of experience working with athletes. Find someone that has experience working with that particular sport. Find someone that can provide you with a resume of other athletes he or she has worked with. Find the Value in performance training.

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