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Are we making progress in producing better football players?

As more knowledge becomes available we are seeing greater progress in understanding the foundation and tenants of exercise science. But sports science seems to be absent when it comes to the training a football player. Instead of seeing new advances we see the same concepts and methodologies being perpetuated.

Progress, if this is what it can be called, is seen in variations of old exercises and in new equipment for basically the same strength exercises. We do see progress in new and different strategies but these are indirectly related to the physical and technical development of the player.

Progress seems to be implied when strength coaches talk about and advertise their new training facilities. The bigger the facility and the more equipment it has, the more impressive it appears. These facilities are used as a recruiting device to impress young players.

However, I have not been able to find a team extolling their training philosophy and methodologies. I’ve been unable to find teams that boast of their ability to improve running speed, speed of movement, agility, force or distance of throwing, or the ability to execute quicker cuts with actual results. In other words, teams don’t boast of the specific results that they are producing except in very general terms.

This lack of progress in the training of football players can be seen across the nation.  You can see examples of this in just about every football related magazine and in various sports football related websites and forums. Teams do not seem to be improving the athletes ability to perform more effectively!

If you look into the archives of the literature in the 1970s and 80s, you will see that the training knowledge at that time was the same or superior to the knowledge that is being displayed today. In other words, there has not been any progress in expanding and understanding the information that we had available 30 to 40 years ago. This is knowledge specific to how to best train an athlete to produce the best performance on the field as well as in the weight room.

Being able to exhibit the best performance on the field is the key element! How well the player executes on the field is the key to any player’s success. How well he executes the skills involved determines not only how well he plays but also the success of the team. Keep in mind that the best offensive or defensive strategy in the world will not be successful if the players cannot carry it out.

The foundation for all strategy should be based on the athlete’s ability to execute the required skills. But this strategy fails when the athlete is not capable of displaying effective technique and does not have the physical abilities that are specific to his technique. This is an often overlooked aspect of training, but yet, it is the crux of any success that a team may achieve.

Today it appears that success in training is determined by how well the athlete performs in the weight room. How much you can bench, dead lift, squat, snatch, press etc. seem to be the gold standards for a successful athlete. Overlooked is the fact that regardless of how impressive the gains in strength may be, the players are not necessarily better performers on the field. In many cases they actually become worse players!

For more information see Build a Better Athlete.



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