Earlier this week, a sucessful golfer from the 1940’s and 50’s, Frank Stranahan, passed away. I had never heard of Mr. Stranahan, but when I read the article about him, I was amazed. What was amazing to me was that he was also a dedicated bodybuilder & fitness buff. While bodybuilding wasn’t unheard of in that era, it wasn’t as common as it is now. For a golfer, it was unheard of. In golf, just as in baseball, the thinking was that lifting weights was a no-no. Most felt that this would bulk an athlete up. This would then lead to a decrease in flexibility and performance in their sport. Now it is common for athletes in both sports to regularly lift weights during both the off-season and in-season.
I grew up in the 1970’s in Central Florida. I remember going to the local high school with my Mom and Grandmother so that they could lift weights. Yes, in the 70’s this was pretty much unheard of. Women didn’t lift weights. I was at such a young age that I didn’t realize until years later how rare this was. However, we had a unique situation in our town. Since I grew up near the headquarters of the Nautilus fitness company, some of our local coaches were influenced by them. One of the local high school coaches began to open the school weightroom in the evenings for local people to workout. This was before the days of Planet Fitness, etc. There wasn’t anywhere else to workout in our town. The Coach was able to convince my Mom and Grandmother to lift weights to stay in shape. I basically grew up believing that weightlifting was normal for everyone. Heck, I remember walking into a bar on a bench and splitting my head open once. I also remember falling off of a multi-exerciser (that I was goofing around on AFTER having been told to stay off of it lol) and getting the wind knocked out of me. I saw my whole 6 year old life flashing before my eyes. I thought I was a goner for sure lol.
You didn’t see things like this years ago
Obviously weight training wasn’t popular for most people in the past. Fast forward to today. Now I have some athletes that I can’t keep out of the weightroom. I have female athletes that I tell to get in the weightroom more if they want to get better. We look on TV and see women doing all sorts of things, some that many men can’t handle. Isn’t it amazing how far things have come?
Are those fancy shoes helping your jump training???
There has been a lot written over the last few years about barefoot running and training. I’ve even written a few posts myself on the topic (And The Feet Have It and 3 Tips For Barefoot Training). However, what I haven’t seen is anything about barefoot plyometrics or jumping. Recently there was a study published in the JSCR that addressed this. The study looked at the performance of male and female athletes while performing a vertical jump, depth drop, and Bosco test. While I won’t go into all of the statistics, in most instances subjects who were barefoot or wearing minimalist footwear had better jump heights and peak power results than those wearing tennis shoes. These subjects also displayed equal landing forces to those athletes wearing shoes.
My thoughts from this study?
That $100 pair of tennis shoes that you’re training in may be hindering your performance in jumping activities. These shoes are often designed with lots of padding to decrease landing forces. While this is beneficial to limit the wear and tear on the body, this same padding may limit our explosiveness when jumping.
We know that when you lift heavier weight, you get stronger. Does the same hold true if you do plyometrics or jump training barefoot? Only time will tell as more research is completed. However, it does make sense that training barefoot would have positive long term effects. The previously mentioned study showed better peak power output and jump height when barefoot or in minimalist footwear. If you get better results each time, what can happen if you train this way consistently?
I’ve previously written about the benefits of barefoot training while running, doing agility drills, warming up, etc. At the same time, I’ve always felt like certain activities might put the athlete at risk for injuries when they were barefoot. Any type of jumping activity was on my list of things not to do while barefoot. I’m now rethinking that belief. While I will probably end up settling on minimalist footwear as a safe alternative, the benefits of jumping without tennis shoes could outweigh the risks. Plus we know that there isn’t a real difference in landing forces no matter what you are wearing.
What are your thoughts on jumping without tennis shoes?