Thursday, January 21, 2016

Why Doing This Actually Hurts Your Sports Performance

Hello Everyone!

I'm tired of watching good athletes unknowingly hurt their performance with this good intention. It's 2016, and we know too much about exercise physiology to still be allowing these athletes to hurt their sports performance and waste their time.


Athletes commonly think that to get in shape for sports like basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, football, and tennis that they have to "go for a run" around the neighborhood or at the rec center. They think doing these long runs will improve their conditioning and help them last longer in their games.

What athletes don't understand is that "going for a run" (AKA: jogging) is NOT the same thing as the sprints, explosive starts, and powerful stops of their games. Going for a run trains the wrong energy system!

What's an energy system? Our body has 3 energy systems, each of which are used at different times and at different intensities. In this picture you will see that the Phosphate and Glycogen Systems are the systems needed for high intensity activities that last less than 2 minutes (which basketball plays, volleys, rallies, football plays, and running the bases fit into).

Sports like basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, football and tennis are sports defined by fast, short bursts followed by slower movements (like jogging or standing). These intervals of intensity therefore need an athlete to have well-trained Phosphate and Glycogen Systems to be able to repeat these quick bursts over and over again. The ability to repeat explosive speed over and over again throughout a long period of time is the actual conditioning these athletes need, NOT the aerobic conditioning that happens from "going for a run". 

I know personally that going for a run around the neighborhood will not translate to lasting longer on the court. As a uninformed high school basketball player I used to run around my housing development for an hour thinking that that sweat and effort from the run would translate to better performance on the court. Well it never did. Then as I went through my Exercise Physiology degree I learned this valuable insight into energy systems, but my basketball career was already over. 

Don't make the same mistake as me by going for long runs in hopes of improving your sports performance. As stated above, our energy systems can be trained and improved, hence why some high-level athletes play the whole 40 minutes of a basketball game, stay explosive the whole match, can powerfully pitch a complete game, never miss a snap during the game, or outlast their competitor on the clay court. They didn't get this ability by going for aerobically based runs. 

Aerobic Respiration training is needed for cross country, soccer, and any endurance sport that has athletes regularly covering ground continuously without any stoppage of play.

If you want to improve your conditioning and get in better shape, make sure your training the right energy system. Sports like basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, football, and tennis should train with high intensity intervals (which is what their sport actually is, a series of high intensity intervals). For example, do a 20 yard sprint, walk back to the start (rest), and then sprint again. Repeat for as many reps as you can or want. (I'd suggest starting with 5 reps, then next time do 6, then get the idea). 

Remember this...

is not the same as this!

Keep Training (the right energy system)!
Coach Amanda Kephart

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