“I need to get my wind back.”
Every time I heard this I cringed.
I did all the right stuff returning guys back to sport.
I’m talking getting guys more neutral than Ron Hruska on a tropical island, FMS scores that Gray Cook would be ‘mirin’, hop tests that Kevin Wilk would foam at the mouth over, and high intensity continuous training sessions that would make Joel Jamieson say “really?”
Yet as soon as they got onto the court, they’d be smoked.
I’d hear that cursed phrase over and over again.
What was I doing wrong? I thought we address all of their performance needs, yet we would continually run into the same problem.
It wasn’t until I learned the following axiom that we broke this pattern:
General Physical Preparedness ≠ Special Physical Preparedness
Preparatory end-game must involve specific tasks an individual performs in his or her given arena.
The sooner one arrives or stays there, the better.
Perhaps a better scenario involves starting with the special and avoid travelling down GPP rabbit holes?
A Case for Special Before General
Dartanian sustained a knee contusion and was having pain cutting and accelerating.
He was one of our best shooters, and being able to perform multi-directional cuts off of screens was how he scored with reckless abandon.
I bet you are thinking, Zac probably plopped him on the table, tested him out, gave him a couple non manual techniques and some hands-on and called it a day. #winning
Not this time.
Instead, we refined directional stepping, closeout decelerations, and staying low out of cuts.
Lo and behold, his knee didn’t hurt when we favorably altered his mechanics.
To facilitate game translation, we progressed in the following manner:
Task-specific drills → Task-specific non-contact game scenarios → Task-specific contact game scenarios → Progress scenarios to game speed
This progression took about 20 minutes, and by the end he was moving without hesitancy or pain.
He played pain-free for the season’s remainder.
When to Start at the End
I’m unsure why I skipped right to the painful task, but it’s something I will do more frequently.
Not only can addressing an individual’s problematic task first accelerate buy-in, but oftentimes expedites event return.
There are a few instances in which this strategy ought to be followed:
Continual participation in a game or event is critical for reducing injury risk, simply because task loads cannot be accurately reproduced with general methods. Moreover, since our modalities our nonspecific, task transfer proportions are idiosyncratic at best.
At worst they are minimal.
Pain Only Occurs with that Task
Suppose you have someone who has pain while sitting for a prolonged period of time. Instead of addressing a myriad number of impairments, you may consider reinforcing fidgeting, altering sitting mechanics, or using a periodic walking strategy. If that takes care of the problem then your job is done. Save impairments for another day.
My granny has knee osteoarthritis and uses a cane because it hurts to walk.
For a long time she used the cane on the wrong side. Once I finally convinced her to use the cane correctly, she reported having less pain with walking.
While there are many things I could do to help her, sometimes it is just faster to make tweak at the task at hand. We do this all the time when someone has back pain while deadlifting, or shoulder pain while bench pressing. Apply the same principle to specific performance tasks.
Don’t for a second think I’m a heartless bastard for not helping my granny more. I once bought her “Why Do I Hurt” for her to read. She said it was bullshit! Pick your battles.
Starting at the end focuses on what’s most important for your client, and can avoid unnecessary rehab programs.
- General methods do not always transfer to special scenarios.
- Improving or returning to performance often involves addressing specific tasks.
- Starting with specific tasks can often reduce time spent with general methods.
Performance is always the goal. Never lose sight of it.