Sunday, July 29, 2012

You're up to date? Then I'm scared for the athlete

Among the many emails I receive was one recently from a sports coach seeking advice on their warm up strategy. In the email was the comment that they made every effort 'to keep up to date'. Upon reviewing the warm up I noted conformity to trends, including predominantly 'dynamic warm up drills'.

Here are abbreviated version of some of the points I responded with:

1. My general rule of thumb for a young athlete to have any chance of avoiding developing injuries is to ensure that at least x% of their total training time is dedicated to tension reducing activities such as stretching, massage, and other recovery methods...

2. There is no such thing as a dynamic stretch in my opinion. There is a dynamic movement and we can discuss the role of this in the warm up in a separate discussion if you wish. I understand that the dominant paradigm is that there is such a thing as a dynamic stretch. Problem is if you continue doing what most believe and do, any coach and athlete will receive what most get – injuries earlier, more frequent and more severe than necessary.....

3. Cool downs are over-rated and in the scheme of the limited time most athletes/coaches get in their specific sports training, redundant.

4. Static stretching at end of training. I am fully aware again of the power and prevalence of this paradigm. I am also aware of the theory of the benefits of this toward recovery. However I state quite simply that compared to the value of stretching before training, and compared to the training impact of stretching earlier in the training session when the energy and focus is higher – there is no comparison....

The full response is available to Level 1 and above KSI coaches at the site.

I was at a game of sport at the weekend, as I am multiple times most weekends, and I noted a group of young athletes being warmed up by their coaches. When I say them doing walking lunges, dynamic external rotations of the hips and walking partial range lateral lunge squats – it struck me – this coach is ‘up to date’!

Whenever I see coaches provided the dominant paradigms of the day (which change decade to decade) I know that whilst their coaches feel good in ‘being up to date’, I cringe for the athlete. I don’t want coaches to be ‘up to date’, which for me is a euphemism for being trend compliant – I want them to be analytical and critical thinkers. Or at worst use their common sense. Forget about being ‘up to date’. You might get a warm feeling, but the athletes are getting wrecked.

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