Monday, May 9, 2016

We don't have to choose

Strength or Technique? Why not develop both at the same time?

For as long as I have involved in lifting and I'm sure long before that, there has always been an ongoing discussion about the relationship of strength and technique/skills in throwing and other sports. This is kind of like the chicken and the egg argument. Which comes first? No eggs without chickens and no chickens without eggs. It's obvious that while the proportions of each quality differ from individual to individual, every top thrower has both strength and technique in sufficient quantities. On one end of the spectrum we may find a really strong thrower with barely sufficient technical skills while on the opposite end we may find a thrower with less strength, but who possesses great technique. We never find a really weak thrower or a "motor moron" at the top levels. The current discussion seems to center around the question of which quality should be developed first. Some argue that young throwers should focus on technique, or learning to throw, then get strong. Others say get strong then learn to throw. In my Reservation brain it's never been an argument. Who says we can't do both? In fact, I can't imagine any coach who would not want to do both. Yes, young athletes need technical skills and the sooner they develop them the better. That doesn't mean that strength training is on hold while they learn to throw. Young athletes can get started on a sound strength training program at the same time. In fact, I believe the results are synergistic and complimentary. In other words, improving both qualities simultaneously brings better results than trying to address them separately. Young athletes who are passing through puberty are carrying truck loads of growth hormones and can handle a large volume of work. Teach them throwing technique and teach them lifting technique.
One of my pet peeves are coaches who say "I want to develop throwers, not lifters." and use that as an excuse to allow sloppy lifting technique. I agree that throwers do not need to copy competitive lifters in volume and intensity, but there is no reason why they shouldn't strive for the same level of technical excellence. It doesn't take any less time to lift improperly than it does to do it right. It may take a little more time to teach and reinforce good lifting technique up front, but once it's taught and mastered it will allow the young athlete to train hard with less joint stress and injury potential.
Here in the United States our educational "leaders" seem to think that scholastic academic achievement and athletic achievement are mutually exclusive.That if we emphasize physical qualities, that this will somehow inhibit mental development. The reality is our best students usually excel in both. Success is not a finite quantity that needs to rationed out. There is enough to go around and it is contagious. It spreads. We don't have make a choice. We should promote both. I see this throwing development "argument" in same light. Let's have it all.
We can have it all.

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