Fair is a place you throw darts at balloons and ride miniature trains. The athletic world is NOT FAIR. Suck it up, buttercup, and let’s get to work!
If you can naturally jump high and/or run fast, thank whichever one of your parents is athletic. If both parents are athletic, thank them HARD!! You are rare!! So, if you weren’t born with the ‘The Sports Gene’ as David Epstein discusses in his book, don’t fret, because Malcolm Gladwell eloquently explains how there is hope for the ‘Outliers’.
Do the less genetically inclined have to work harder to achieve the same goal as someone whom was ‘born’ with their athleticism? YES, most definitely. Is it impossible? NO, definitely not. With the right training, and lots of patience, just about anyone can reach realistic athletic goals. Yes, I said REALISTIC goals. Those are person specific, but the overall gist is that hard work has the potential to cancel the lack of that elusive ‘Sports Gene’. To paraphrase what an athletic director once told me; you can’t make these [non-genetically gifted] kids fast, just try and make them LESS SLOW. I get what he was saying, but I’m a scientist; I live by the numbers. There’s no arguing with quantifiable data. Increasing from a 4.7 pro-agility to a 4.5 is progress…bottom line.
Now, let’s look at some of the collegiate standards. 92% of the athletes we train are looking to get college scholarships. As we all know, not all colleges are the same. There are high/low D1’s, high/low D2’s, high/low D3’s, high/low JUCO’s, and so on. Each of these colleges have very specific requirements for handing out scholarships. Let’s begin with a volleyball scenario. An athlete may have a great highlight tape from high school or club, but if you want to get into a big D1 school as an outside hitter, you better have at least a 9’8” approach jump. If you are a senior in HS and topping out at an 8’6” approach jump…I hope you can set. On the other hand, if you are an 8th grade volleyball player that can jump 8’6”, PLEASE come see me. You’ve got work to do, but we have plenty of time, and can most likely get you to at least 9’8” (height conditional). Continuing with a volleyball scenario…if you’re 5’8 – 5’10 with a 9’4 approach and club experience, you could have a big decision to make. You could potentially have the option for a low Division 2 school, or a high Division 3 school. Then it generally comes down to preference.
The same can be said for sports that require speed. A softball athlete running a 3.4 or 3.5 (20yd sprint) in the 8th or 9th grade is right on track. With the goal being a 2.8 or better, there is plenty of time to hit that mark. Speed is a funny thing. Sometimes there’s just a bit of mechanical work to be done to get that final 1-2 tenths faster, while other times we must teach the body how to engage the hip-flexors, get the knees up, and convince the central nervous system to activate (creating power and explosiveness). Please allow an adequate amount of time for the latter. A 3-tenth improvement on a 40yd time is not wrapped up in a nice box at your local sporting goods store. It takes time, work, and very specific programming…with the emphasis on TIME.
Now, the 9’8” approach jump for an outside hitter (volleyball) at a D1 college, or the 2.8 (20yd sprint) for a softball athlete wasn’t just a number that fell out of the sky. Every sport, and position, has specific requirements for speed, vertical jump, strength, throwing velocity…and so on. As we ‘ass-ume’ the young athletes we train strive for an athletic scholarship (the parents probably desire this as well), we use collegiate standards when going through the training and programming process. These numbers are REAL! To ignore them could lead to ‘square peg in round hole’ syndrome. If you are curious as to what these numbers are for your sport, come see me!! As mentioned in the first blog post, let’s put together your athlete’s ‘TEAM’, and start attacking those scholarships NOW!!