Monday, November 24, 2014

Knowledge vs Application

Strength and Conditioning is a pretty interesting field for a lot of reasons; one of the most interesting things to me is how a very large portion of what we learn in school was figured out decades ago. The total amount of information that is truly "new" to the people in this industry is pretty low. There's usually a couple of cool research studies published each year, but very rarely is it something that you would consider groundbreaking. The new strength and conditioning stuff put out each year is usually just the same "old" information organized in a different fashion.

The same stuff that helped get Paul Anderson as strong as a bull back in the 50's and 60's still continue to work better than anything else. Basic compound movements paired with progressive overload and consistent effort trump anything else that you can think of. However, that's not to say that the new books being put out each year are worthless; I continue to take the time to read all sorts of new info and literature that comes out each year because I know that each time I read something knew, there's a high probability that I'll be able to find something useful. I go into each new experience, whether it be a seminar or a book, hoping to find at least ONE thing that I can apply to my career.

With all that being said, this industry isn't terribly hard to figure out. At the end of the day, every well-studied strength coach out there know's just about all of the same information. We've all taken the same sorts of college courses, read the same new books and old Russian texts, receive the same research journals and attend the same seminars. Sure, there are some coaches who have a better grasp of functional anatomy than others and can tell you the origin, insertion and function of every muscle in the body but those people are outliers.

Your success in this field isn't dictated by what you know, since everyone pretty much knows the same shit, but by the manner in which you apply your knowledge. You do need to have a broad knowledge base to begin with, but if you're applying your information in the wrong setting then you're going to get falsely negative results. (Note: I'm not going to be so bold as to suggest that every single coach in this industry is working with the same base of knowledge, there are guys like Eric Cressey, Cal Dietz, Charlie Weingroff or Louie Simmons who are just working on a different playing field than the rest of us. While I am making a generalized statement, it doesn't exist in a vacuum.)

You need to familiarize yourself with a wide variety of training methods and theories, but you also need to remember that everything has a time and a place. Verkoshansky showed us how effective shock training could be in order to increase the rate of force development and reactivity in athletes, but if you take that information and think that it'd be great to try with your 12-year old soccer players then you are sorely missing the point.

There isn't a single thing in this industry that is set in stone. Every athlete and client that you come across is going to have a different needs analysis and will need something tailored specifically towards them. That's why we are called Strength and Conditioning COACHES and not Strength and Conditioning Applicators. If it was as simple as saying "this single program or theory is irrefutably infallible" then every athlete in the world would be following the same exact style of training.

Being a coach is about being able to apply your experiences to the benefit of your athletes and clients. Read everything you can find and attend as many seminars as you can afford. It's not always about new information being presented, but sometimes the way someone presents old information. Have the self-awareness to know when it's the right time to apply the right knowledge.

Have a great day and go lift some heavy shit!