When we look at our Hierarchy of Sports Performance Training, “General Strength” is at the bottom. If an athlete wants to be great and reach for the stars, it starts with getting strong.
But you may ask yourself “Lifting doesn’t even train athletic movements. Athletes aren’t doing the things they do in their sports. How is that the first thing they need?”
Fair question. Here’s the simple answer: strength is simply the ability to produce force. If an athlete can produce more force, things become easier. Running is easier, jumping is easier, stopping and starting quickly is easier, and manipulating an object (or opponent) is easier. Not only are things easier, but the athlete can do more if they can produce more force. The athlete can jump higher, run faster, and stop faster.
If you could get all of that benefit from just one vein of training, why wouldn’t you do it?! Yet too often we see athletes spending too much time doing their individual sport practice and not enough time getting strong.
Not that practice isn’t important, but strength is more important. You can do all the individual practice you want, but if you don’t have the basic strength to execute, you will only get so far. If you have two athletes who are equal in every way except for strength, the stronger athlete is going to win.
On the other side of the coin, it is called general strength for a reason. We don’t get specific with strength training, other than to train the basic movements (squat, hinge, push, pull, etc.). We aren’t going to get sport specific while getting strong because the only thing that is going to do is hurt the athlete.
A baseball player wanting a more powerful swing may think he should use a really heavy bat, but unfortunately all that is going to do is mess with his swing when he gets back to the regular bat. That is why we train the basic movements and get really strong with them.
The athlete’s base starts with strength. You can do more if you are stronger, period. You universally are a better athlete if you are stronger, regardless of the sport you are in. Get strong first!