That’s the question. Does it matter? Does it really matter? About now you’re asking, “does what matter?” (That, and why is there a picture of machine gears on a sports performance blog). I have answers for both of these.
The question “does it matter” refers to the various parts of training an athlete. Things like flexibility, power, strength, rest & recovery, planning, nutrition, outside of training activities (use of tobacco, drugs, and alcohol), stress, quality of training, etc. I could probably list a lot more but I think that you’ve got the idea. So, do they matter? Do all of them matter? Are some more important than others? They all matter!!! Each one represents a major part in the process of developing an athlete. If you mess with one part, you mess with the whole athlete. Want an example? It’s a well know fact that stress caused by a job, school, a personal situation or anything else can affect you physically. In fact, too much stress can put you in the hospital. Stress, which is usually non-physical in nature, can affect you physically. See how things are all tied together. Your body works together as one. If one part is not functioning up to par, other parts try to help out. That is one of the amazing things about our body. Of course, if a part or system has to pick up the slack from some other system, then it can’t do it’s own job 100%. That decreases your ability to function fully. If you are an athlete, that’s not what you want. You want every part to be working together at 100%. That makes you able to train and perform better and will lead to better results.
The best way that I’ve ever heard this explained was by Mark Verstegen. He used the example of a bunch of gears or cogs working together. Each of the gears represented some of the things that I mentioned previously. (See, I told you that there was a reason for the pic of the gears). The basic idea was that each of these gears helps to keep the entire machine (your body) working smoothly.
I’ve had athletes finish a workout and then go light up a cigarette. First, it’s unhealthy in general (and disgusting, but that’s my opinion). Second, he was an athlete!!! Why would you go train hard and then go do something to sabatoge yourself immediately afterwards???? I know that we can’t control everything that our athletes do. I get that. However, we have to educate them as to why all of these things are important. I don’t think I’ve met too many athletes who just wanted to “make the team”. Most of them have a competive desire to excel, to be the best. Hopefully we as coaches can make them understand the importance of taking care of all of the “gears” in the system.