I'll start off with a bold statement– RUNNING IS NOT CONDITIONING!
There seems to be a lot of coaches out there that still think it is. And there are a lot of people out there that still feel running is the ‘best' way to ‘get in shape'. (Read ‘Cardio Makes You Fat' Blog post)
And it shouldn't be this way with all the information out there today. Hundreds of books on the subject and of course you can Google it (but please stop using Google- Use Ecosia-plant some trees)
Now I'm not blaming coaches. This is probably what they did when they were training, so they probably are still in the mindset if it worked for me then it will work for you.
But that's the thing it just might not have worked. Imagine how much better you could of been with a sport-specific, or position-specific conditioning program.
Now unless you are a distance runner, or you run cross country or track for your school, running distances of 1 mile or more really isn't going to help you get better at your sport. In fact it probably is going to hurt you more then anything.
I remember a story that has stuck with me forever. It was about the Houston Oilers conditioning test for their football players. This was back in the late 70's or early 80's. There conditioning test for their players was how fast the players could run a mile. Earl Campbell, the Oilers best player at the time and NFL Hall of Famer would fail the test every year— big time! Yet Earl would always be the best and most productive player on the team, and eventually would be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Why is this?
Because football isn't an endurance sport. Average play is less then 4 seconds. Most other sports aren't endurance sports as well. You start then stop, then start again and so forth throughout the competition. Baseball, softball, hockey, basketball, tennis, lacrosse, volleyball, boxing, and soccer. And that's just to name a few sports.
Now some people think soccer is an endurance sport and the best way to get in shape or condition for it is to run and run some more. They did a study on professional soccer players and found out they run a average of 8 miles a game. Hey that must mean it's time to hit the track and the road or the treadmill. NOT!
If you ever look at an indivdual soccer player for a whole game he/she is not running non stop in the same direction for the full game. He/she will have numerous short bursts of speed, changes of direction, speed up, slow down, stop, jog. This goes on the entire game. Obviously there are huge componets of acceleration, deceleration, agility, ability to reach top speed quickly, coordination, mobility, and flexibility. Not to mention kicking, passing, defending the ball.
Yet we still hear about and see it all the time. Coaches who simply make their players run for the sake of conditioning.
Let's get more specific then that. Don't be lazy. Running for conditioning could be detremental to the players development. They could slow down, get weaker, become more injury prone. Have you ever seen a marathon runner? A cross country runner? Not exactly the embodiement of an athletic physique.
There are so many things you could do for conditioning other then running.
But remember you have to condition based on the athlete's sport and position. AND AGE! Not just because other people say it's anÂ excellent conditioning exercise. So a conditioning program that NBA power forward Kevin Garnett does is not something you should be having your 14 year old baseball pitching son do.
Really there are too many variables to discuss about sport specific conditioning, it would take a book to cover it. So I've listed out a few methods below. But think about the energy systems used during an athlete's sport and try and improve them from there.
- Animal Circuits
- Weight Training (dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, sandbags, tractor tires, etcâ¦..)
- Games- Tag, Capture the Flag, etcâ¦
- Agility Ladders
- Medicine Ball Circuits
- Calestenics (Jumping jacks, mountain climbers, burpees, etcâ¦..)
- Sport specific drills
- Position specific drills
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