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Team Conditioning Systems:
Raising The Bar

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

By Gregory "Graig" White
SJSports Physical Fitness Advisor

I had the pleasure several weeks ago of attending the National Strength and Conditioning Association Sport-Specific Training Conference in San Antonio Texas, and had a great time. The speakers there were informative and had lots of good information to share, but the high point of the conference was getting to see old friends and meet some new ones, and one of my new friends is a man named Avery Faigenbaum. He spoke on the subject of “Training the Multi-sport high school athlete”, which on its face is kind of difficult because most high school athletes “specialize” now; Avery hit it out of the park!

Dr. Faigenbaum is an Associate Professor at the College of New Jersey and is considered to be a leading researcher and practitioner in the field of youth strength and conditioning. The concepts he shared were beautiful in their simplicity, listening to him let me know that I wasn’t crazy, dealing with high school coaches, and parents who have the idea that there is only one way to do things, gets kind of frustrating after awhile, so it was truly like a breath of fresh air.

Avery even said some things that could have been considered in direct opposition to some of the concepts that had been presented before him, but his manner and tone were respectful and non confrontational. He made everyone in the room know that his opinion was just that, his opinion and we could draw our on conclusions.

With our high school athletes being exposed to many different voices the whole thing boils down to credibility. If the athletes don’t believe, then, success will be difficult to achieve. Once the athletes believe, it’s amazing at how much can be done. With that being said I have had opportunities to observe many high school weight rooms and one thing I find shocking is how many of these rooms are unsupervised. Something even more shocking is the fact that there is generally a coach or adult in the room at the time. I have seen coaches who have a room full of kids sitting and reading the newspaper of magazine while some kid is off in another part of the room performing a lift incorrectly.

Dr. Faigenbaum, also discussed how many of our high school athletes who may have the benefit of some of the best information available and still not getting the most from it. The concept he put forth that shocked me was the fact that our kids may not be overtraining so much as they are “under recovering” and by that he means they are not getting as much rest as they may need. If you are a conditioning coach working with high school athletes, I know you have run across a parent who tells you to work their kid hard, but there are tons of people who can make their kid tired, but will they make their kid better. The thing about the rest interval was fascinating because of this. Did you know that sleep deprivation mimics alcohol intoxication? The similarities between the two are decreased strength, decreased reaction time, and lack of focus just to name a few. Like Avery, the need for rest should never be overlooked when it comes to the preparation of our high school athletes.

The concept that hit his lecture out of the park for me was his approach to training high school athletes, and on the surface it would seem pretty straight forward and logical but I am surprised by the number of parents and coaches who may not fully understand they harm they can be doing to their kids with some of the concepts they are working from. His approach stems from an eight point attack. He talked about education being the major point of the presentation, parents, sport coaches, administrators are just a few of the people who may need to understand that there are many different ways to get the athlete to where they need to be and to be honest. This can never be overstated. Talking with people in the business we seem to never run out of people who can do our job better than we can. I say stick to your guns and do what you think is right. Monitor the program and make sure that the intensity and volume is in line with the abilities of the athletes who are participating in the program. Establish a start and end date. The concept I thought that will create the most tension is, limiting the number of games. I am a firm believer that there are way too many games being played because there are too many teams. There was a shoe company that came up with the campaign, “There is no off-season”. I can’t begin to tell you how much that annoyed me. If there is no off season, when do you rest?

On the whole, I left there feeling really good about our profession. There are caring and bright individuals involved who if given the chance can help make conditioning coaches instruments of knowledge which in turn will help make their athletes better. So if you didn’t get the chance to look into the becoming a member, who knows, maybe one day you will get the chance to share your theories and make new friends.

Do you have a fitness or conditioning question for Graig? Send it to If your question is used in an article, you will receive a free Team Conditioning Systems t-shirt.
For previous Winning Ways, visit Graig's Archives

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