One of the most important things I do on a regular basis in the clinic is work on the basics. To me, its extremely crucial and the difference between a successful rehab or training session, and an unsuccessful one. I bring this up today because I recently had a conversation with a young physical therapist who was into sports rehab. He was very eager and passionate about the importance of doing many different complex things with athletes, especially the professional athletes. I remember having similar thoughts in physical therapy school, assuming that these pro athletes needed the most complex training out there. After spending a few years out in the field and working on numerous professional athletes, I can tell you that this is just not the case most of the time.
Here is my philosophy when working with high level athletes: Master the basics, know the demands of the sport (both energy system wise and biomechanically), train the movements, and know your athletes from a personal level. By working on the basics you have to understand where I'm coming from. So many of these incredible athletes have gotten by on their talent and playing their sport over and over again. In addition, the amount of load and volume they get throughout the course of a season is very high. With the intensity of their respective sports so high, why would I expect them to be able to handle very complex, hard workouts all year long? I wouldn't and that is what drives my principles. Every athlete is different but many of them need to build a baseline and master the basics to really excel. Training and rehabilitation in my opinion are cohesive. Therefore training should be a lower threshold in the beginning until the athlete has mastered the basics (depending on time of year).
Many other factors play a role in what the higher level athletes need. In upcoming posts I will talk about the demands of sport, training the movements, and knowing your athletes from a personal level.
Brian Schwabe, PT, DPT, SCS, CSCS
Board Certified Sports Clinical Specialist in Physical Therapy/Strength & Conditioning Coach/Fitness & Medical Writer
Sports Physical Therapist in Los Angeles, CA