Have you ever noticed that no sport plays a game every day? Have you also noticed that the more“intense” the sport the longer between games? For example baseball can play two games in a day but football players only play one game a week. So if professional athletes are not expected to perform everyday under “game time” intensity why do we expect that of our clients and athletes? Why do we feel that every workout we design for them has to be game day? Why do we spend so much time focusing on challenge and so little on purpose?
There is a lot we can learn by taking a deeper look at the schedule, goal and demands of sport team or competitive athletes. When I look at the weekly schedule of any sport I see three pillars
3. Game time
Let’s look at each one and see what value they can bring to our workouts
Practice – no one is ever expected to perform at a world class level in an activity they are doing for the first time. When someone is struggling with their golf swing they are told, “it just takes practice, keep at it and you’ll get it.” So why are workouts any different? Do we every give people the opportunity to practice purposeful burpees or do we just throw them into a workout and expect that they will perform them well? Is that fair? Is that setting people up for success? In training we use exercises and drills that teach the foundations of quality movements and skills and create an environment of intense focus. During a practice set or exercise the goal is always quality over all else. The reality is you have to EARN the right to work hard through practice. One of my favorite examples are double unders on the jump rope. This an intense and demanding drill that can challenge even the most fit individual but I have never seen anybody ever just pick up a jump rope for the first time and start doing double unders .
Scrimmage – I see a scrimmage as practice with increased intensity. Trying to create a faster paced and more intensive game time type scenario but still with the goal of purposeful practice in mind. Scrimmages are challenging but differ from game day in that everything is not an all-out effort the three items that make scrimmage unique are the focus on purposeful execution, coaching and feedback. This is that all important next step where we start to implement the lessons and skills used in practice to see what is improving and what still needs work. In a workout to create this we set up an environment where the client or athlete is pushing or challenging limits but the focus is on exaction and technique with the training providing constant coaching and feedback before, during and after exercises.
Game Time – Now that our clients and athletes are prepared they can leave it all out on the field, they can embrace the challenge with the confidence and swagger that only comes through preparation. They invite the intensity because they are mentally and physically ready for it. Without practice there is no confidence and without confidence comes hesitation, an athlete will hold back and never reach new heights because they are not confident in their abilities. One of the most valuable aspects of game day that we often miss is evaluation. Game time challenges and intensity give us a true view of where we are at and how we perform under pressure. We can look at our failures and successes during a game time situation to help drive our focus in practice, just like a football coach watches game film to see where the team needs to improve for next week. We use this info to start the cycle over and put our clients and athletes in an environment of growth and development.
Use purposeful practice and focused scrimmages exercises, sets and workouts to create game time performances that your clients and athletes will be proud of and carry them to new heights in their fitness.