What Coaches Must Know About Conditioning
Need for Education
Coaches of all sports want their athletes to be bigger, stronger, faster, more flexible, more coordinated, and leaner than their competition. Coaches should also be concerned about the health of their athletes and help to safe-guard against injury as much as possible. Safety and injury prevention should be a primary concern while striving to increase sport performance.
To achieve any or all of these goals requires a great amount of work on the part of both the coach and the athlete. Before this work can begin, the coach must have some basic knowledge of how to convey this information to his or her athletes. The coach should take classes in basic sports safety, kinesiology, human anatomy and exercise physiology; along with some classes on strength and conditioning.
A coach who does not have the ability or knowledge to educate his or her athletes will ultimately fail in the competitive world of athletics. A coach needs to understand the principles and laws of conditioning that govern sports performance and injury prevention in order to educate and train their athletes properly.
Principles and Laws of Conditioning
Law of Use and Disuse
The basic principles and laws of conditioning exist regardless of the type of contractions performed. The first of these is the “law of use and disuse.” The old saying that “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it,” is basically what this law of weight training states.
S.A.I.D is an acronym for “specific adaptation to imposed demands,” and it means that the body adapts to the demands placed upon it. If the demands are great, the body adapts and significant improvements in strength or endurance occur.
A third principle is that of “progressive resistance” (sometimes referred to as the “overload principle”). This concept states that to continue to improve in any activity one must progressively work with either greater intensity, or duration, or both.
Principle of Specificity
The last principle is the “principle of specificity.” The development of muscular strength or endurance is specific to the muscle exercised and the intensity of training of that muscle. Only the muscles being trained show improvements in either strength or endurance, and the intensity of the training determines whether strength or endurance is developed.
Dr. Esposito is the Chair of Sports Medicine at the United States Sports Academy.