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Why are you training?

One of the first questions that I ask players, and one which is usually followed by blank stares, is: why are you training? I think it is important for a player to know why he trains, especially when he decides to use a trainer, who is often expensive.

Today, I saw a blog titled, “I’m going to make you sore!” that captures the idea behind many trainers, err maintainers:

I was watching a ‘boot camp workout’ video from a local gym the other day and in it, the trainer yelled these words at one of his clients. The trainer was going to make his client sore. Really? Is that what the client is paying this trainer to do?

Most basketball trainers advertise intensity. They run hard workouts. I have met “trainers” who brag about making kids throw up during a workout. How does that improve a player’s performance?

For most people, it is not hard to make them sore. Just have them do something they haven’t done before and make them keep doing it. You could do crunches, lunges, or even just mulch the yard and you will get sore. But, are you really accomplishing anything?

I met a trainer once who told me that parents sent him their kids because they left tired. What a waste of time and money? It is not hard to make someone tired or sore. But, being tired does not mean improvement. As John Wooden said, “Do not mistake activity with achievement.”

The goal of your training should be to stimulate your body to improve, not annihilate it . Muscle soreness is just a sign that the training stress was more than the body was used to experiencing (which may be necessary to overload your muscles). It may be a by-product of a good training program, but should not be the goal.

I imagine that kids are tired at the end of some of my sessions. But, that is a by-product, not the goal. If a player gets tired from going hard and getting better, great. But the goal is to improve performance, not to make the player tired. The improved conditioning come through training for improved skill performance, and not vice versa.

So, why do you train? When you choose a trainer, do you evaluate him on his ability to achieve your goals? Do you structure your own workouts to meet your goals or do you follow someone else’s plan?

Before spending the time, energy and money, know why you train. Write out your goals and work to achieve them. Find a trainer who works with you to meet these goals rather than someone focused on making you tired before you leave the gym.

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