Robert Heiduk sprach, im Vorfeld der Athletik-Konferenz 2018, mit Mike Young, Trainer zahlreicher Olympioniken und Spitzensportler, über Herausforderungen und Entwicklungen im modernen Athletiktraining.
Title photo credit by Tim Hipps, FMWRC Public Affairs [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
[atk] Mike, you will join our conference in September 2018 with two interesting lectures. Is this the first time for you in Germany?
[my] Yes. This is my first time in Germany. In fact, it’s my first time to Central Europe and I’m very excited to meet the attendees and learn from the other invited speakers.
[atk] Mike, you have coached athletes to National and World Championships events in different sports, like bobsled, skeleton, track & field, triathlon and weightlifting. What are your duties in such very different kind of sports and what skills does a coach need in order to meet the demands of different athletes and sports?
[my] In track & field and weightlifting I have been the athlete’s sport coach. I handled all aspects of their preparation for competing in their sports. In bobsled and skeleton I was the strength, power and speed coach for the athletes. In triathlon, I was the strength coach for the world championship competitor I worked with. While each sport is different there are some common denominators between my role in each case.
Regardless of sport enhancing neuromuscular coordination will always help with movement efficiency and performance.
Also, determining what is important for both the sport as well as the individual is always critical. Each individual will have unique needs that need to be addressed to maximize their performance.
[atk] One issue you will talk about at athletic conference is how to develope strength that transfers to sport performance. What are the most common mistakes in strength and conditioning when it comes to sport specific strength transfer?
[my] Strength & conditioning coaches often lose site of their role to the athlete. Many believe that their role is to make the athlete strong. The real role of the Strength & Conditioning coach is to improve their performance in sport and make them more resilient to injuries in their sport. We must always keep this in mind. In some cases, getting an athlete strong in traditional strength movements (like the squat, press, and clean) will have a direct transfer to performance in their sport.
But in many cases the physical qualities we develop in the gym do not transfer to their sporting performance so we may need to expand beyond traditional methodology to ensure that there is a transfer of training to sport.
Coaches make the mistake of focusing too much and often too long on improving concentric based measures of strength, specifically 1 repetition maximum strength. This is important and serves as a foundation for other types of strength but coaches should also progress to training focused more on rate of force development and eccentric loading.
[atk] Eccentric strength training will be another topic you will talk about on our conference. Why do you think this methodology has become quite popular in the last time and what are the risks of eccentric strength training?
[my] Eccentric capacity is becoming increasingly recognized for its effect on performance and injury reduction. In my opinion, eccentric force generating capacity is the biggest physical determinant of success in most sports. There are not many risks with eccentric strength training.
As with any form of training it’s important to be planned and progressive and not attempt to do more than the athlete is prepared to handle.
The real risk is in NOT doing eccentric strength training. If you avoid eccentric focused training completely you increase the likelihood for injury and you fail to prepare the athlete optimally.
[atk] What kind future developements do you see in the world of strength and conditioning in the next ten years?
[my] I think sports technology will become easier to use and more common across all levels of sport. Right now, most sports technology is only available to those at the top. In the future I see it being used at lower levels of sport and I believe it will be cheaper, more intuitive, and easier to incorporate in to training. Similarly, I believe artificial intelligence will likely begin to make it’s way in to the world of strength and conditioning. While a coach is unlikely to ever be replaced, I foresee a time when artificial intelligence assists the coach in analyzing performance and recovery data and perhaps even informing the coach how much to load, when to load and what exercises and drills to use for loading.
[atk] Thank you very much for your time!
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