‘It’s so cold out I think I need to get some ear muffins.’ – Denise Fox
It gets the quote of the day even though it is only lunchtime because we got a good 10 minutes worth of associated laughing and piss taking out of it.
More good questions from James
I can’t even remember where we started this conversation but I thought I’d explain where we ended up.
I think we were initially talking about a mate of mine who works as a science officer with a national sporting body. He basically spends his time looking at cutting edge sporting technology and methodology. Sounds great doesn’t it? I love this sort of stuff…it’s fascinating and it is pretty much a complete waste of time for the majority of athletes and almost certainly general trainees.
I want to talk about James first in particular before I rant more generally. During this mornings discussion we were discussing his training…his targets and where he needs to be physiologically as far as being a professional tennis player is concerned.
I’ll do this in shorthand first because I will probably come back and rant more about this topic in future.
Some clarification before I start…I work mainly with ‘games’ athletes rather than pure performance based sports like athletics for example.
So with regard to James in particular…I was explaining that he was a fair way up the curve with regard to his athletic potential. The good news for him though was that he didn’t have that much further to go because for games athletes you don’t need to get to 100% of your athletic potential…actually I’ll rephrase that….you don’t even want to get to 100% of your athletic potential. The reason being that the closer you get to 100% the more you have to risk in order to eek out what in the end are minor improvements.
I gave him this example. I just chose bench pressing because it was easy to understand and because 1.5 times and 2 times 80 is right around my maximum capacity with regards mathematics. Now, he weighs roughly 80kg’s. In testing the other day he benched 95kg. For me to get him to a 1.5 times bodyweight bench of 120kg for instance might take 6 months to a year of training and I’m confident that we could do that pretty comfortably. However for me to 2 times bodyweight bench of 160kg…that would be a different matter…for a start he’d have to give up professional tennis and become a professional trainer…we’d be lucky to get there without a major injury or two and we’d have to deal with a myriad of minor injuries as well. This isn’t because I am a crap coach…it is because the pursuit of that bench would require a huge amount of envelope pushing to say the very least. The other small matter would be that it might take us 3 years probably a best and it could be as long as the end of time at worst just based on his physiological make up.
The trap that games athletes sometimes fall into is chasing numbers…the thing is to a large extent it’s pointless. I’ll give you some of the reasons why in no particular order:
1. Being the fastest, strongest of fittest doesn’t even guarantee you selection on the team. I’ve plenty of amateur athletes in numerous sports who would out perform in testing a lot of their professional counterparts…so what…where does that get them?
2. There are so many variables so much more important than specific physiological performance abilities that it is only a idiot that would but all their eggs in one basket…what I mean is that I know plenty of players that spend hours in the gym daily…who still can’t throw a decent pass, kick accurately or shoot consistently.
3. I couldn’t count on my hands and toes and all of your hands and toes how many athletes I’ve seen have incredible off seasons and pre seasons only to go out in their first game of the season get smashed in a tackle and be out for 8 weeks after which time they are right back where they started. Now that is not to say that it isn’t worth training…I’m just saying there are a lot of variables outside of your control.
Just as an aside…I’m a fan of NFL…one of the things I always wonder when listening and watching coverage of games when combine scores and performances for rookies are mentioned is…I wonder how many players in the entire NFL could out perform their combine scores once they become pro players?
What you do want to chase and what you do want to achieve is athletic balance first and foremost. When you have that you can look at raising all your various capabilities as needs be to meet the demands of your sport. You want to aim for about 90% of your athletic potential I think because although difficult and it takes a great deal of dedication and work to maintain I think I can keep most athletes that have the desire and drive at or around that 90% mark pretty comfortably. When necessary we can even push that up to 95% for short periods of time for major competitions and goals before safely backing off again to 90%.
You can’t be at 100% for a 20 game season or play what is essentially a year long calendar of tournaments in James’s case because being at 100% is the equivalent of driving in the red…it’ll be great for a while but we all know it eventually results in a blow up.