Dec 27, 2016
The Right Training
Rich Zawack

Training for a sport involves a lot more than just plain working out. The way you work out should depend on the nature of the energy demands your particular sport requires.

Sports like soccer, basketball, or baseball are anaerobic sports. That is, they require short bursts of activity. These activities are explosive and require quick recovery.

Sports like cycling, swimming, and distance running are aerobic in nature. They require long-term efforts.

The rule of thumb is that anything that requires more than two minutes of continuous activity is considered aerobic.

Simply put, you want to train your athletes for the sport they are playing.

I work with a high school boys’ basketball team and have for a number of years. Our approach has been to train them for explosive bursts.

Our lifts aim to develop strength and power. We work for speed endurance. We want to explode again and again during a game.

Agility drills are used to develop strength and explosive endurance. Plyometrics also contribute to this process.

When we run, we spring in short, explosive efforts. We emphasize speed endurance. We want quick recovery.

All of our efforts try to duplicate the game we are playing. We don’t do mile runs or 20-minute jogs.

Long endurance activities might build our VO2 max but they would not improve or relate to performance on the court. The fact is that long, slow activities take away speed and explosiveness.

When working on conditioning your athletes you always need to look at the game you are playing and try to duplicate the pace and nature of the game.

Every game is unique. The strategy and the effort to be successful determine how you should prepare.

Taking a football team or even a soccer team on five-mile runs is counterproductive. The way you set up practices should always take into consideration the type of effort that is required to be successful.

One final note: overtraining can and usually is more detrimental to your athletes than poor strategy during a game. In season, when in doubt, rest is always the best choice. Recovery needs to come before anything else. The trend in the NBA is to rest their stars. Training is limited and overtraining is avoided. Always consider what is specific to your sport and avoid overtraining.

Rich Zawack, BS, MA, CSCS-D, has served as president of Athletic Development Corporation for the last 10 years. Prior to that he was a high school teacher and coach for 36 years at Strongsville (Ohio) High School. He has coached 17 state champions, one NCAA champion, 18 NFL football players, and one NBA basketball player.

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