Did you have to play the game?

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As an athletic development coach how often have I heard the lament- How can you prepare us you never played the game? I have heard that more times than I care to mention. Personally I think one of the worst qualifications for being an athletic development (S&C coach for the uninitiated) is to have played the game, especially if you were a star at the sport. This goes back to my first days as a Track & Field coach. Bill Toomey had just retired from competition; he was the 68 Olympic Gold medalist in the Decathlon and the world holder. I remember trying to talk to him about training and technique; he had no idea, no system. He sort of knew what he did and thought that would apply to everyone else- WRONG! I had a similar situation in professional baseball where our program with the White Sox was being scrutinized by a new minor league coordinator who had played nineteen years in the big leagues. Because he had nineteen years in the big leagues and I had never played baseball at any level, it was obvious that he knew everything and I knew nothing. The problem was he had one experience nineteen times. He could not look at the game objectively and see what the players could to get better beyond more swings or more ground balls. The moral of all of this is that if you have good sound principles and can evaluate movement then you should be able to work with any sport if you take the time to get to know the demands of the sport and the positions in the sport. Remember it more than being sport specific, it is being sport appropriate and making sure that athleticism is not compromised. I actually think it is an advantage to have not played the sport, I think it allows you to be completely objective. That is not to say that you reject ideas from those who have played the game. I learned a lot watching Toomey train, I learned a lot listening to some former big league pitchers explain what they did, I learned a lot about baseball and preparation for the game from Carlton Fisk.
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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

@coachgambetta

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