Training on Game Day

April 6, 2014

My friend Brandon contacted me on Facebook the other night. Brandon is an athletic director at a high school on the east coast. He had some concerns with weight training and athletes. It seems his coaches and teachers are in selfish mode and unfortunately student-athletes are caught up in the middle of this. He was asking my thoughts about training on game-days, etc. What ensued was a lengthy discussion, but I think (and hope) that the discussion will be of us to others as well.

The first thing I told him was that I am not a big believer in the idea that you cannot lift weights on the day of a game. We’re talking high school kids here who are going to recover quickly in most cases. The biggest issue I would have is if they lift weights right before a competition. But if they are lifting during the school day and competing that night, I don’t see much of an issue with that. When somebody makes that claim that “training on game-day is bad” I always ask them this: How many of you really believe that professional athletes don’t “train on game day?” If you truly believe that a professional baseball player does not work out on game day, then you are sorely mistaken. Otherwise they wouldn’t get to train for 6-8 months at a time.

At our school, we utilize the Bigger Faster Stronger program. I am Weight Room Safety Certified through BFS as are many of our coaches. Our Booster Club supported this cause a couple of years ago by paying for the entire staff to take the training. While I do believe there are flaws to it, the foundation is solid and it has definitely benefited our student-athletes. The best part of the program, in my opinion, is that it remains constant throughout the entire year. This is important for the multi-sport athlete. We could get into periodization, but that only works effectively for college and professional athletes who are focused on one sport. Instead, BFS has a four-week cycle that continually recycles through set and rep schemes. I think this helps build school unity. One point I emphasized to Brandon is that this must not be about the football team or about the baseball team or about the golf team. It must be about the Athletic Department as a whole. There are too many multi-sport athletes (and need to be more!) for them to begin specializing in high school.

Here’s the last point that I wanted to drill home and I think it really opened his eyes. And mine as well! I had thought about it before, but as I’m telling him, it clicked. I’m going to use a three-sport athlete who plays football, basketball, and baseball as an example. Say this athlete chooses to not lift on game-day or chooses to “sand-bag” it through those workouts on game-day. Most are going to train 3 times per week so that is up to 156 sessions per calendar year. Take nine dates off for football games and you’re at 147. 25 games for basketball takes you down to 122. 30 games during baseball season and now you’re down to 92 sessions in the weight room. Because you chose to not lift weights on game day, this three-sport athlete has just sacrificed 41% of his opportunities to get better in the weight room and on the field. That doesn’t even account for holidays, school breaks, and other reasons that he can’t work out. But simply one decision just cost him 41% of his weight room sessions.




4 Responses to “Training on Game Day”

  1. mdgatc Says:

    I think you hit the nail directly on the head. It is important to continue to workout during the season. I have watched teams at the college level break down because they didn’t continue their workouts throughout the year. This will help keep them strong and hopefully prevent injuries. That being said training during the season should not totally wipe the athlete out, even on non-game days. In season I like to focus on more power or max strength with keeping the reps around 3/set with 3-4 sets. If enough intensity, it is enough to maintain their strength. I am under the belief that its really hard to gain strength in-season but you can always maintain the level they are at.

  2. Matt Says:

    If the athlete chooses to make his three days of working out non-game days for any sport, doesn’t that keep him at156 sessions per calendar year?

  3. Chris Cornelison Says:

    I have a thought. These athletes ARE working out DURING competition and they are NOT 8 hour a day professional athletes. They are however full time students. I think coachs are the mistaken ones when they think basically 2 workouts (game and gym) are healthy. These coaches NEVER ask how a kids body feels and what I am seeing in the coaching profession is such a lack of leadership that they are not willing to put in true research or compassion for the young men!

    • Too many times our athletes end up injured because all they do is play. And they never spend any time training for the requirements of the sport they play. Those overuse injuries add up, and they are all sport-related. The number one rule in the weight room is pretty simple: don’t do something that’s going to get you hurt!

      We see it to,e and time again with kids trying to get out of weight workouts because “my club coach told me to take it easy” after having just played 10 games in two days… who needs to take it easy?!?!

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