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The Training Trifecta

When it comes to health and human performance, there are three constructs that are open and available for training – or not. These include your body, your craft, and your mind. Removing one of these constructs from your training and you now engage with a two or one-legged kitchen stool. In either case, you can imagine the result – nisht gut which translates to no good in Yiddish!

Within these three training constructs, there are numerous variables to address. For example, training your body incorporates a series of systematic blocks that typically begins with strength, then moves onward to power and speed and upward through a variety of performance related components including agility, reaction time, acceleration, and deceleration. Training these variables will maximize preparation for your craft.

Training one’s craft is the responsibility of your skills coach, your team-mates, and you, the individual. As spring approaches, the craft (sports) we are about to embark on include

softball, baseball, lacrosse, and track and field to name a few. In lacrosse, catching, cradling, and scooping are essential while in softball fielding, throwing, and hitting are important. Training your body and the aforementioned performance components aims to place you on a path to succeed at these necessary skills for your craft.

Training your body and craft incorporate multiple elements to maximize success. Coach Loren Landow, Setanta College, identifies posture, positioning, placement, and patterning as key pieces to the puzzle for movement effectiveness and efficiency. If you’ve been training at XIP you know Coach Guyer is intent on placing student-athletes in optimal postures so that they can position their limbs to generate necessary strength to move a load or generate force. Positioning of your head, neck, trunk, pelvis, hip, knee, and ankle are key features in running, change of direction, and all the sport skills identified above. Placement is necessary to load “the system” (you) and prepare you to move. Patterning speaks to motor (movement) learning and the central nervous system preparing to complete this task correctly over repetitive trials. One can see the importance of this certainly in running (accelerating), and in skill acquisition such as hitting (bat speed) or throwing (accuracy, speed).

Training your mind is often the least talked about and least trained. Many may have seen the iceberg photo depicting Freud’s “iceberg theory of personality”. This image shows the ice that is visible above a surface of water (conscious) when in fact much of what remains of this ice remains below the surface (unconscious). In human performance and sport, what the spectator sees is the outcome – a person strikes out at bat or hits a home run. What is unseen and what are trainable are psychological components including, but not limited to, positive psychology, resilience, grit, and mental toughness, to name a few. Antoine de Saint-Exupery may have stated it best in The Little Prince, “what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

James Kerr wrote Legacy, a book about the world’s most successful sporting organization, the All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team. Since 1903, this team has won 77% of all its matches. In the book, former All Blacks Head Coach, Graham Henry, during a rebuilding year contended that “better people make better athletes, or in his case, “better people make better All Blacks”. Coach Henry knew it was imperative to create a culture intent on training the body, craft, and mind. So whether you aim to be a better athlete, a better person, or both be sure to address your training trifecta – body, craft, and mind!

Author: Coach Anthony Sgherza, PhD, ATC, CSCS, SCCC, Head of Reconditioning and Return to Performance Program

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