“Good enough is the death of greatness.”

I fell in love with this quote when I first heard it because it rings so true in sports and in life. Being a competitive athlete it is easy to fall into this trap of making some progress, seeing some success and then getting satisfied. When that feeling starts to sink in think about how many times in the course of a game or season good enough just isn’t good enough. During the fourth quarter of the biggest game, the late innings of a game, or when you need to get that one yard in order to keep the drive going. Those are the moments that can define your season and in many ways shape the memories you have. It may sound harsh but consider how different your response is to when you succeed during these biggest moments compared to when you come up short?

As Performance Coaches it is our job to ensure that our athletes do everything they can to be as ready as possible for those moments of greatness. With that being said, I am going to uncover some training myths, stereotypes and paradigms that hold athletes back from reaching their greatness.

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As someone who is striving to achieve my own greatness as a coach I have had the privilege of being mentored by some of the best coaches in the world. It is something that is extremely humbling and it continues to motivate me to push the standard of excellence here at Driven. Through studying and absorbing how they approach athletic development it is very refreshing to hear that they stress the same values and principles that we do here.

The first area that prevents athletes from achieving their genetic potential is that they spend too much time on the wrong things.

For instance, Buddy Morris the head strength and conditioning coach for the Arizona Cardinals had this to say in one of his latest podcasts, “I think social media is the worst thing in this world. I got sent an Instagram thing and there was this kid that goes flying through this foot ladder, like Guitar Hero but with feet. At first, it was funny. I was laughing. Then I get to the point where I'm like, "Now I'm getting irritated, because this is what people believe is training.” I had to delete it from my phone. That doesn't transfer to true speed. That does not transfer to true acceleration work.” While Buddies response towards social media may sound silly his message is that these athletes are working on fancy footwork drills as their main source of speed development instead of on what makes a real difference.

We hear similar things from athletes in that their goals are all to get faster yet what they think they need and what they actually need to reach their goals are two different things. Athletes feel that in order to get faster there has to be this ‘secret sauce’ to speed development. In reality, athletes need to focus their energy on pristine weight room technique, effective exercise selection, a diligent warm-up and then precise movement skills. If you do this with maximum focus, effect and intensity each time you train you will get results that blow away all of the ladder and treadmill drills.

Instead of this structured and professional approach to performance many athletes spend their time going through random exercise selection and drills with minimal understanding of how to properly progress as a high performing athlete.

To better understand the value of strength training it can be further proven by the research that developing strength is the first and best way to enhance your speed. World renowned Strength and Conditioning coach Yuri Verkhosansky declares this in his research,  “Raising the level of absolute strength provides the necessary preconditions for exerting explosive strength and utilizing the energy. The development of explosive strength goes hand in hand with the focused development of an athlete’s speed capabilities.” [1]

The goal then is to ensure that not only are athlete’s strength training hard but they are performing exercises with precise form and they are doing exercises that matter. In order to accomplish both tasks Kevin Neeld, the Director of Athletic Development of Endeavor Sport Performance in Pittman New Jersey has this saying above their door for all of their athletes to see, “Raise Your Expectations.” We use this phrase a lot with our athletes because we want them to break lose of the shackles that their traditional thought process creates. For example, how many hours are wasted in which athletes are using old school strength training machines, performing squats and deadlifts with mediocre form or are never really pushing themselves to incorporate exercises that keep them safe and enhance their performance? Too many.

It is our job as coaches to challenge each athlete to train their push-ups and chin-ups just as hard as they would their bench press. It is our job to educate them on the value of getting single leg strong in addition to bilateral strength. It is our job to teach them the true role of the core and how sit-ups do not prevent but only enhance the chances of low back injury.

The same for developing power and speed. Athletes need to be educated on the principles of movement, explosiveness, change of direction, acceleration and absolute speed with a level of maturation and detail that is required if they want to reach their athletic potential.

As Professor Farzad Jalilvand from California State University states, “training athletes is not simply lifting weights. There is an inherent relationship between biomechanical, physiological and psychological factors when training athletes. Therefore, methods of training dictate training effects.”[2] What Professor Jalilvand is saying is that while lifting weights is a critical element of athletic development we cannot approach it as such a simple task so that we ignore the other factors of human development.

The message of this article is to challenge athletes to think outside of their traditional gym or speed sessions. Throwing exercises and drills at athletes and hope they stick is the fastest way to get them injured or make minimal progress.  Instead, focus on quality over quantity, approach each day as a chance to get better and really strive to develop your strength, speed and safety in a mature manner.

When athletes make this shift they will inevitably see amazing results.  It is our mission at Driven to make sure athletes do this safely and efficiently so that they never settle for good enough ever again.

[1] Verkhosansky, Yuri. Doctor of Pedagogical Sciences. Principles of Planning Speed and Strength / Speed Endurance Training in Sports. National Strength and Conditioning Association, Volume 11, Number 2, 1989. 58-61

[2] Jalilvand, Farzad M.S. California State University. Development of Biomotor Abilities for Soccer. National Strength and Conditioning NSCA Coach 2.1 12-17