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January 13, 2010
Dear Athletes, Don’t be the best at exercising
There is confusion between fitness and sports specific training. Fitness is the state of being physically active on a regular basis to maintain good physical condition, which is a great goal for the general population. At Sparta, we train elite athletes involved in high school, college, and beyond, and after training dozens of Olympic medalists and successful professionals, I can unequivocally tell you that there needs to be a definitive priority on preparing the athlete for their sport rather than overall health. For example, volleyball training must seek to improve vertical jump first and foremost, and anything that detracts from this goal must be questioned. The same statements must be made for other sports, such as rotational power in baseball to allow you to hit the ball further, or running speed in football to provide faster sprint and agility times. Even sports requiring more endurance, such as soccer and water polo, receive suffice stimulus in their practice and game schedules to improve “fitness”. However, a separate provision of power can be provided in training sessions that stress maximum efforts with larger rest periods to increase shooting power. The challenge begins when we try to identify and eliminate any detrimental activities for our chosen sport. Perhaps the biggest culprit is training continuously for longer than 30 seconds. While this long distance training has many aspects that improve fitness for the general population, all forms can cause drastic decreases in vertical jump and sprinting speed (see Sparta Point 12/31/08). This includes any form of training, whether it is jumping rope, jogging, or circuit weight training. Even this 30 second ceiling is long and should only be adhered in the first month of off-season training to prepare the body for fewer repetitions at higher weights and speeds. Make sure your training sessions involve maximum efforts, such as your highest jump or fastest sprint; after all you are an athlete trying to get to the next level, and not trying to be the best at exercising. But if you’re competing against our athletes, please continue to stress fitness over your sport’s needs and perhaps some day your jogging time will be reflected in your sport’s statistics.
January 13, 2010
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4 thoughts on “Dear Athletes, Don’t be the best at exercising”

  1. As a baseball player, I want to increase my sprint speed (realistically only up to 90 feet and the slightly less important 180 feet) without sacrificing power both throwing and hitting the ball. From assorted readings of the Sparta Points I surmise that the best way to do this is squats and interval sprinting, no more than 30 seconds? And I have read in a couple of places that the total distance ran should not exceed a certain distance… As low as 500 yards? Is this correct?

  2. Squats are the best way as they improve ground reaction force and hip flexibility simultaneously. Intervals are better than just jogging, but short sprints (30-60ft) with full rest are best. TO get faster, set duration of squat or run would be more like 10 sec. For soccer/lacrosse/rugby, keep distance under 1000yd, but for your sport of baseball, under 100 yard.

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