Recently I was at a conference for strength & conditioning coaches. During a hands on portion of the conference, different coaches were sharing ideas of what they like to do for warm ups for their basketball teams before practices and/or games. There were many different and creative ideas shared. However, there was one comment that one of the strength coaches (strength coach for an NBA team) made that got me thinking. I’m not out to call anybody out specifically or anything like that, so I won’t share a name or team they work for. I just want to talk a little about the thoughts that his sharing provoked. This coach prefaced what they were sharing by saying that they are always doing/they always have to do something different to warm their athletes up, because with how many games there are and how often they have to warm up in the NBA, they would lose the guys and their focus if they weren’t switching things up and doing something different all the time. I want to discuss some issues that I have with his comment and his approach.
First of all, it’s obviously important to understand that in different aspects of our program design, we need to mix things up and have variety in what we do to avoid our athletes plateauing physically. However, it’s also important to remember that we can’t take mixing things up and varying our workouts to an extreme, as there needs to be some consistency in what we do with our athletes so that progressive overload can take effect. Progressive overload in the area of warming up comes more in the form of advancing our athletes in areas of increased range of motion or increased complexity of movement, not so much by adding more weight to a movement as in the strength training aspect of our programs. However, the principle remains the same that if what is being done with an athlete is never consistent, the body won’t be able to progress, it won’t know what it’s reacting to and overcoming, and we won’t be able to build on anything. So, even on something like warming up, if we are constantly changing what our athletes are doing, I don’t feel like they will get near the benefit out of it that they could if we were progressing them consistently through the same types of movements. As with our strength training with our athletes, it is imperative to find that happy medium between doing the exact same thing warming them up all the time, and doing something different all the time.
Now to the idea that he needed to always do something different with his athletes to keep them interested. I feel like this involves an equally if not more important concept, and that’s having the ability to get our athletes to buy into what we are having them do. If an athlete trusts us and truly believes that what they are doing is going to benefit them more than anything else, it wouldn’t matter what we asked them to do, and they wouldn’t care if they had to do it every single day. In fact, if they truly believe what we are doing with them is going to help them perform to the best of their ability and help them to avoid injury, it could be hard to get them to do anything else! As an example, it’s been well documented that there are basketball players that will do the same warm up / same routine basketball wise when it comes to their shooting before every single game. They obviously do the same thing before every game because they believe it works and will help them perform better in the game, or they wouldn’t do it all the time. The situation could be the same when it comes to their physical warm up. I feel like the problem from this situation is the coach was not successful in getting his athletes to trust him and believe in what he was asking them to do. I could be wrong as I don’t have all the details from this specific situation. However, it just made me think that if a coach were ever in a situation where their athletes wanted them to switch things up ALL the time to keep their attention, that would mean they need to work on gaining the trust of their athletes and getting them to buy into the program and what the coach is asking them to do. We all have our strengths and areas where we can really offer something beneficial for the athletes we have been entrusted with. However, no matter what benefit we could potentially offer our athletes, it means nothing if we can’t get them to buy in.