Sacred Cows


Sacred cows are ideas and concepts passed from generation to generation of coaches that no one questions or challenges. They may have made sense at some time in the past, but are now more likely to get in the way, still they persist. Some sacred cows are so entrenched that they are actually taught in coaching education/certification programs.

Here are some common sacred cows:

  • Need to build an aerobic base for sprint and intermittent sprint sports
  • Sprinters paw the ground
  • Sprinters actively dorsiflex the foot just before ground contact
  • The arms in sprinting stay at a forty-five degree angle
  • Lactic acid causes fatigue
  • Lactic acid causes soreness
  • Recovery work after competition “flushes’ the lactic acid from the system
  • Don’t look at the board in the long jump
  • Hamstrings flex the knee
  • Quads extend the knee
  • Abdominals flex the trunk
  • Training in-season must be a maintenance program

They may have made sense at one time, before we knew any better, but they did not evolve and change as our knowledge of sport science and performance expanded. Some of them sound quite convincing. They come with elaborate pseudo scientific explanations. Don’t be fooled and blindly follow. Do your homework, read the research. Study your sport. Slay the sacred cows, challenge yourself to stay current and question.
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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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