I am sure you have all heard the phrase: if a little is good, a lot is better. That mentality is highly prevalent in athletic populations and in training mentality. Yes, you will always have that group of athletes who don’t feel that they need to practice or workout because they are already freaks and just naturally good at what they do but a lot of your players will put in extra work after practice because they think they can get even better. A lot of coaches also have that mentality and think their players need to be ran into the ground and sore the next day to get better. This is simply not true and can only lead to overtraining and injury.
Anyone who has taken an exercise physiology class will tell you that your body needs time to recover and it is during those times of recovery when you adapt and get better. Research shows that your body needs anywhere from 2-5 (depending on training tenure) days to fully recover from a training session. Your body also has limitations within a training session as well. Depending on what phase your athletes are in (if you are properly programming your workouts), you may need to take at least 2 minutes of recovery between your working sets. If you follow that logic, in a 50-minute training session, you may very well only get a few exercises in. Does that mean your athletes didn’t have an effective workout? Not at all! If you program within scientific and research-backed guidelines, your athletes WILL get better.
So what about the idea that your athletes need to be sore to have a good workout? This is also not true. Old school training mentality means crushing them during workouts and then running them into the ground during practice. Soreness is not always indicative of a “good” workout. If anything, when it comes to athletic performance, soreness should try to be avoided. I will say it again, YOUR ATHLETES SHOULD NOT FEEL SORE AFTER WORKING OUT. Now, to clarify, soreness is to be expected after the first few workouts of the offseason or when switching phases but it should not be your goal as a strength coach. If they are sore from lifting, then they cannot perform maximally on the field, which is kind of the whole point right? A good strength coach will program the workout in a way that will force his/her athletes to work smart, work hard, but leave feeling good and also feel good the next day. I would rather have my players do 2-3 quality movements 2-3 times per week and feel fresh for practice than to have a killer workout and leave them sore the next day and limit their ability. During the preseason and CERTAINLY during the regular season, don’t be afraid to back off and let your athletes feel good.
Fresh athletes are healthy athletes. Healthy athletes win games.