The pursuit of our athletic potential is a common goal amongst athletes of all levels. There will likely be many sacrifices in this pursuit. There WILL be hardships. There WILL be blood, sweat, and tears.
There will also be profound, positive experiences. The journey is filled with peaks and valleys that will assist in your development as an athlete and as a person. Here inlays the importance of not cutting corners and approaching things the right way.
It must be about the process – not the outcome.
One aspect of the athletic development process is taking advantage of the weight room. Understanding how to navigate the weight room and the benefits it can provide are necessary to reaching success in sport. By looking at the weight room through the lens of any or all of the following 3 objectives you will have the knowledge required to begin mastering the weight room.
It is no secret that force production underlies most, if not all, athletic endeavours. Some athletes exert force into the ground to jump, leap, or bound. Others into an object to beat an opponent or throw an implement. No matter your pursuit, a component of force production is likely to be found.
Maximum strength abilities are closely related to force production and this is where many folks believe the weight room provides the most benefit. Increasing the maximum strength levels of athletes can directly lead to improved athletic performance to a certain level but it is important not to get caught up in this trap and identify that there will be a point of diminishing returns. It is at this stage that the importance of the remaining bullet points begins to increase.
In opposition to producing force, it is vital that an athlete possess the ability to absorb forces. As an example, consider how often an athlete must produce force to leave the court in a jump, absorb the subsequent force upon landing, and quickly transition into another dynamic movement.
If the athlete is unable to effectively and efficiently absorb the force upon landing their second movement will be compromised and the risk of injury will be dramatically increased.
Transmitting force from the ground, through the entirety of the body, and into a volleyball is both an ability and skill that is highly trainable. The coordination required when both ground- and air-based to successfully comply with the requirements of volleyball is a very specific skill.
That being said, the weight-room can certainly be used to supplement the work being done on the court in this regard. Performing total-body movements such as Olympic lifting and various medicine-ball throws can help to train this aspect of sport performance.
It is one thing to understand these 3 objectives. It is another to know how to apply them within different environments and circumstances. For this reason, it is important that athletes seek guidance and direction from professionals – particularly in the weight room as safety must come before all else.
A coach with vast experiences that range from developmental athletes to elites will be better suited to determine where an athlete fits into the interplay of these 3 objectives. They will know how to organize the weight-room programming in a sequential fashion and refrain from the instant gratification of short-term success while taking a long-term developmental approach.
An athlete that understands both the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of that which they are doing is better equipped to reap the most rewards!
Jason Hettler is the Lead Strength & Power Coach at ALTIS. He holds his BSc. Exercise Science from Grand Valley State University and plans to complete his candidacy for a Masters of Science degree, with a focus on Sports Science, through Edith Cowan University. His previous experience includes work within the Olympic Strength & Conditioning department at Western Michigan University as well as consulting with various professional organisations. Join the conversation with Jason via his website www.hettlerperformance.com or on social media at Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.