When discussing performance in sports what is often overlooked is the importance of strength, more specifically maximal strength. In the strength and conditioning field there is often an exorbitant focus on conditioning and recovery but a lack of emphasis on building strength. This is a mistake that can lead to overuse injuries, a slower and less explosive athlete, which inevitably results in a frustrated athlete. We have to be careful as coaches to not just be maintenance workers but be someone that can actually make the athlete a better athlete! As we raise an athlete’s maximal strength all of their other strengths will rise as well, which will positively affect all aspects of their performance. The closer you get to max effort the more force the athlete will have to produce to overcome that load. A common misconception when it comes to max effort is that it has to be done with a barbell and it will get an athlete hurt but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Max effort can be performed with jumping, sprinting, med ball throwing etc. If an athlete has the physical capabilities then yes we will use a barbell but it is not the only tool we have. To understand this better we have to look at the Force-Velocity Curve graph, shown below. The idea is to shift the curve up and to the right, raising all forms of strength.
So many athletes and sports coaches become frustrated when they aren’t acquiring skill fast enough or don’t have the ability to execute with proper form during skill work. Once again, this is where strength plays an important role. If an athlete is stronger than another athlete than the stronger athlete will be able to stay in the proper position for a longer period of time during skill training, and in turn get more out of it. Keep in mind an athlete does not always have to continue to raise his maximal strength. To improve athletic performance after a certain period of time, raising their deadlift or squat max may not make them more explosive. We may need to use weights in the explosive strength range instead to achieve better results, but this is why we must know all forms of strength and when and how to use them.
Westside Barbell Strength and Conditioning Coach