Muscle Head Mentality


This is a passionate plea for sanity. I have seen and heard more misinformation, confusion passed off as knowledge and twenty and thirty something strength coaches and quasi experts with one experience repeated ten or 12 years that I have decided to stop mincing more words and confront this head on. If you are hanging your hat on an exercise, a machine or one concept then what you are doing is creating athletes that are adapted. They adapt quickly to the exercise be it the squat, clean, bench press, heavy sled pulls, whatever it is. But they are not adaptable, can that adapted athlete then apply what they have done to become adapted to their movements in their sports. I would maintain that they can’t. We have made things like “The Big Three” an end unto themselves. We have made the Power Clean” and end unto itself. We have lost sight of the big picture – the picture is to build a complete athlete who is completely adaptable to the demands of their sport with the training systematic, sequential and progressive. I am seeing too many injuries coming from the “sheep walking” mentality that forces athletes into methods and exercises that they are not ready for or are inappropriate for their sport. If the training method cannot be adapted to the athlete then it is not a sound method! If the method can be adapted to the athlete then it is sound and worth pursuing. This is another plea for the Athletic Development approach as opposed to the strength coach approach. Strength is only one component of athletic performance. There are many ways to acquire functional strength. Sure you are never strong enough as Mike Stone says, but that does not mean constantly seeking higher one rep maximums, it really means understanding the spectrum approach to strength training that leads to applying various methods and forms of resistance relative to your stage of development, gender and sport.With all the knowledge and understanding we have available to us as professionals (I use the term loosely) we are shooting ourselves in the foot. You guys and women who are university “Strength” coaches out there – wake up. I have seen and heard more of the sport coaches upset with what is going on. They do not want their athletes going to the “weight room” because they never know what is going to come back out. I hear this all over the country – it certainly sends me a message – adapt or die. The Strength coach is the low man or women on the totem pole because they have allowed themselves to be and because of the insular approach they have taken. You have created a Collegiate Strength Coaches Association that feeds everyone’s fantasy. Marrying your first cousin does not lead to intelligent children, it leads to ingrates. Instead of going to CSA meeting go to the Soccer Coaches Convention, the Swim coaches Convention, The Wrestling Caches convention, the Volleyball Coaches convention – you will learn more! Become a coach. Not a weight room supervisor! I know soccer coaches, swim coaches, basketball coaches and track coaches that will not have their athletes go anywhere near the “strength coach” because he or she has their own agenda and will not listen to the input of the sport coach. The way I see it if you an Athletic Development coach then you are a resource to the sport coach. You can help them with program planning, recovery, nutrition, injury prevention. You can be an asset not a liability.

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Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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