Conditioning for Team Sports: Strength as the Foundation

My career began and grew in the college strength and conditioning setting, where I was very fortunate with the strength coaches that I worked with and under. The structures and procedures I use today as well as my coaching philosophy were taught to me by these coaches, and I believe that is a big part of what has moved my career forward. I am thankful everyday for the mentors I had early on in my career, what I learned from them has helped me become the coach I am today.

I monitor everything that happens during a single heartbeat. It’s that important.

I monitor everything that happens during a single heartbeat. It’s that important.

One of the things I quickly learned from these mentors was that strength is the foundation for performance on any level and of any type. No matter the sport and the dominant motor ability, strength is the base that affects all other qualities. This can be taken to the extremes of endurance by looking at cross country or marathon runners, where likely the most successful ones are stronger in the very specific ways they need to be stronger. Obviously strength is not the dominant motor ability in the case of a largely aerobic sport, but once those dominant qualities are evened out like they are at the top level, it is the stronger athlete who wins.

The same can be said for team sports as well.

If we are to believe that strength is the foundation of any performance training program, then you have to make sure that your athletes are strong in appropriate ways for the sport. Louie Simmons says “It does no good to be strong in the wrong exercises.” Applied to more endurance based sports we could say it does no good to be strong in a way that does not benefit sport performance.

Supporting the development of strength in all athletes, regardless of the sport, doesn't mean that we're trying to build everybody into powerlifters or olympic weightlifters. We are, in fact, trying to make them pretty darn strong, just not to the extremes.  So with that said, there's still a lot of room to develop an enormous amount of strength that is appropriate for the sport. The bottom line is make yourself of your athletes as strong as you can, without it negatively affecting the sport performance.