Power- The Overlooked Variable in Professional Sports


I read a blog earlier about how the weight room numbers don’t matter and this is why Sport Science is suffering in the US and Canada. Numbers are not holy, but they are not the bane of sports. We live in a world that measure performance yet when one doesn’t perform, numbers become the enemy. When I hear that the the field or court record demonstrates the competence of a strength coach, I refer to Bob Alejo sharing that a team record may not be indicative of the abilities of the strength coach. This has credibility because the man was part of a national title so he has the right to make the claim. If that’s the case what can be said for teams that are have bad records or fail to win? How many teams will create monsters with the Tide recipes now that Alabama has won two national championships? Has Tom Moffit lost his fastball? Of course not, as strength and conditioning is part of the process and how much accountability is based on what you do with what you got.

While injury reduction is part of the responsibility of coaches, we are performance enhancement coaches now and not maintenance monitors. Who is creating freaks with power? With the Giants stuffing the Falcons last week was it really technique or strategy or just raw brute force? Power is real and yes you can improve it and monitor it. Nobody likes to monitor something they are not doing a good job with. How many Football Clubs in Europe monitor GPS and Heart Rate but power is something left to TRX Push-ups on youtube? Is Microsoft looking at the data and finding predictive analytics of the team?

Fortunately power can be evaluated with field tests and now technologies like Gymaware are being exposed to the US more and more. I like the system because it is constantly evolving so that it will fit in a team environment. The power of wireless and data warehousing one can start looking at some real life needs such as the following:

Overreaching from Lifestyle- Let’s be honest. We have guys like Delonte Desperado West in pro sports and they are eating fast food while freestyling rap songs during down times. Does anyone think every athlete cares about their omega three ratios? With good record capture we can see that athletes need private discussions in management offices with agents instead of hooking them up with foam rollers and doing recovery training. Not expressing power is often from lifestyle fatigue of poor nutrition, running around at night instead of sleeping.

Benchmarking Program Design- Power is not just an expression of strength, it sometimes has recovery periods that are far longer to recover from. With wattage of basic exercises such as bench presses with lineman, we can start finding better microcycle set-ups that will allow that fine line of development to get better. Bar speed on heavy but controlled squats can be monitored as everyone doesn’t need to do speed squats to get an indicator of fatigue. Maximal power can be looked at with training loads sufficient in preserving power.

Motivate with Gamification- Coaches will sometimes get athletes that are not especially motivated or have been training so many years that training is dull. Video games are timeless and athletes love improvement or exploring new territory while competing against the computer or against friends. Numbers are not dead, they just are not exciting if they are not put together in a way to get athletes to treat themselves like human video games. Brook Johnson says that the ballistic athlete loves instant feedback, and I agree that motivation by quantification is going to be the next big thing.

Power is important, and if you are not measuring it that is fine as speed kills as well. Still, if one is in team sports power is part of the equation of getting athletes to perform and should be evaluated as often as possible.

Carl Valle

Carl Valle

Track & Field Coach
Carl is an expert coach who has produced champions in swimming, track and numerous other sports. He is one of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and restoration.
Carl Valle

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