Sometimes sports coaches amaze me. Over and over again, I see them emphasize the off-season training program. They push the kids to lift, run, and lift some more. While most of these programs are “voluntary”, participation is always highly encouraged. So what about once the season starts? That’s a different story. Guess what the first thing to get cut out is? Yep, the strength program. During the season, the priority is to spend time practicing and prepping for games. However, why does the strength program always seem to get cut out? Take a look at the average sports practice. How much time is wasted due to poor planning & coaching? A lot. Yet instead of making practices more efficient so that a coach can fit in the in-season strength program, they just eliminate it. So what does this do for the kids? Nothing positive. The two major things skipping the in-season program does are both huge negatives:
- Decrease in strength – During the season, an athlete is going to get worn down, banged up, and possibly lose some strength. If they don’t lift during the season, they will definitely lose strength. So what do you do? Keep them lifting. While the kid may lose some strength during the season, the stronger they stay late into the season, the better that they can play late in the season.
- The injury factor – It’s widely accepted that lifting weights helps to decrease the chance of injury. Guess what? It may also help to decrease the time missed if a player does get an injury. Research on high school football players compared time missed by players who received similar injuries. It was found that those who were participating in an in-season strength program missed 1/3 of the time of other players with similar injuries. Not all injuries can be prevented, but most coaches, players, and parents should be willing to take steps to limit the time lost from injury.
I think that these two factors are good enough reasons to make the in-season program a priority. Why don’t sport coaches feel the same? I guess that S & C coaches just have to keep looking for opportunities to educate sports coaches. Maybe one day things will change.
Check back next week for more on how to design a good in-season program.