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.
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
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.