Here is a guest post from one of my mentors and one of the foremost experts on Strength and Conditioning/Sports Performance Training Mike Boyle.  Coach Boyle is the U.S. Olympic Women’s Hockey Strength and Conditioning Coach.  He trains and coaches pro athletes in his facility in Boston, MA.  Take what he says seriously.  He has the years and experience to back up his words.  If you want to discuss this post let me know.  I know a few parents who may find this offensive.

Catchy title? 

This article is for all you parents who are trying to help your 
kid get in shape for a winter sport. I spoke with a mom the other 
day who inspired me to write this. There is a saying I use often 
in my talks. It is in fact the title of this article.

If you want your child to perform poorly this winter I have the 
answer. The answer is cross country. I have had countless parents 
over the years tell me that they can’t figure out why little Janie 
or Johnny had such a bad winter sports season. They worked so hard 
in the fall, running all those miles.

Lets get some facts straight. There are no team sports where you 
run for miles at a time. 

Even if you actually “run” miles in a game, those miles are actually 
a series of sprints interspersed with a series of walks or jogs. In 
the case of a rare sport like ice hockey, you actually sprint and 
then sit down. Running long distances does not prepare you to run 
short distances. 

There is a concept in sport called sport specific training. The 
concept basically means that from a conditioning perspective the 
best way to condition for a sport is to mimic the energy systems 
of that sport. If the sport is sprint, jog , walk, than the training 
is sprint, jog , walk. Makes perfect sense

There is another very large concept to grasp here. 

It is simple. 

Train slow, get slow. 

The reality is it is very difficult to make someone fast and very 
easy to make someone slow. If you want to get an athlete slow, simply 
ask them to run slower, longer. Simple. They may be in shape, but it 
is the wrong shape.

Another problem with a steady state sport like cross country? Injuries. 

Did you know that something like sixty percent of the people who take 
up running get injured? Those are really crappy odds.

Last and certainly not least, who dominates in sports? The fastest athlete! 
The athlete with the highest vertical! Yes, conditioning matters but, train 
for the sport.  Lift weights, jump, sprint. Gain power. It takes years to 
gain strength and power. You can get in shape in a matter of weeks. Most 
kids are playing their sport at least a few times a week in the off season 
so strength and power are much bigger concerns than conditioning.

So this year, don’t give the gift of slowness, 

If you are not a cross country runner, don’t run cross country. 

If you like a nice outdoor run and don’t care about speed, be my guest. 

If you want to get faster and get in great sport condition than train 
the way the best athletes train. Use a combination of strength training 
and interval training to prepare properly.


Mike Boyle

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