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After reading Jamie Vardy’s quote “If I go in the gym it will slow me down”, I’ve felt compelled to comment. Before I start, if you haven’t read the article, please find attached a copy from the telegraph:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/18/jamie-vardys-gym-workout-revealed-lifting-a-can-of-red-bull-and1/

For the purpose of this rant, I would like the reader to approach this noting two key things.

  • I agree that Jamie Vardy is an excellent goal scorer and is a professional footballer
  • His claims could be correct in the right context

Let’s begin

I believe that under the vast roles of the S&C coach, the terms empowerment, educator and facilitator come near the top of the list, similarly acknowledged by Radcliffe et al., (2015). For whatever reason, Vardy has managed to climb the hierarch of English football unchallenged with his poorly informed opinion. Whilst I cannot comment on the efforts of his coaches, who may have expressed the need for strength training, I find it ridiculous that in 2016 a professional sportsmen can still hold these preconceived notions. In addition, you have to question if this makes smoking, drinking and a lack of exercise socially permissible for young aspiring football players?

From a physiological point of view, we know a few things regarding strength development. In a recent journal published by Suchomel et al., (2016), greater strength is strongly associated with improved force-time characteristics and will enhance change of direction task and speed. To add to this, strength training is also a key intervention for supporting injury prevention.

In novice and senior athletes, improving strength is highly influential in increasing linear speed (Bosch, 2015). Furthermore, we know that a good strength programme coupled with technical sprint sessions is even more advantageous to the athlete in their pursuit of becoming fast (Jeffreys and Goodwin, 2016). Does it take time to identify an athletes needs? No. In 10-15 minutes, an S&C coach could perform a strength index test to reveal areas that need improvement.

A second misleading point is that strength training is commonly associated with an increase in ‘weight’ (an argument for another time) and may ‘slow’ down the athlete. Whilst I would agree that there is a point of diminishing returns, we know that the neural pathways between the nervous system and muscle increase regardless of change to muscle architecture (Lloyd and Oliver, 2012). We can therefore conclude that using a varied training approach that utilises a periodised programme consisting of strength, power/plyos, technical training and injury prevention would only benefit Vardy as a player.

I know that it must be easy for a professional sportsmen to answer a question without really giving it much thought. We also know that the media loves to add its own biases to an argument. The reason i felt so compelled to write about this is that it’s another source of misinformation from someone with high status in the field. I’m sure deep down Vardy doesn’t believe this, and hope he can score for us tonight.

Scott Devenney

sportsconditioningblog.wordpress.com

References

Bosch, F (2015). Strength Training and Coordination: An Integrative Approach. Holland: 2010 Uitgevers.

Jeffreys, I. and Goodwin, J.E., 2016. 14 Developing speed and agility for sports performance. Strength and Conditioning for Sports Performance, p.341.

Lloyd, R.S. and Oliver, J.L., 2012. The youth physical development model: A new approach to long-term athletic development. Strength & Conditioning Journal34(3), pp.61-72.

Radcliffe, J.N., Comfort, P. and Fawcett, T., 2015. Psychological strategies included by strength and conditioning coaches in applied strength and conditioning. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research29(9), pp.2641-2654.

Suchomel, T.J., Nimphius, S. and Stone, M.H., 2016. The Importance of Muscular Strength in Athletic Performance. Sports Medicine,pp.1-31.