"You can't make a great play unless you do it first in practice." –Chuck NollWe at StrongerAthletes.com observe athletes in-season and off-season quite frequently. Many of these athletes really do not understand how to properly get in shape for their sport. For example, any coach that sees a football player running lap after lap on the track should be stopped and taught the correct way to train, assuming the football coach has not not instructed the athlete to run those laps. The athlete would be much better off doing sprints of varying distances with varying recovery periods between sprints. These athletes are very appreciative of coaches that take the time to help them.
Another example. We heard a baseball coach proudly claim that he made his athletes run 5 miles yesterday. Why? Wouldn't they be much better off running sprints at the distance that are required in their sport? Also they can do shuttle type of agility drills for movements that they will do in baseball.
Now, we do feel there is a general need for fitness and continuous aerobic exercise is one way to achieve that. Some coaches use distance running to develop an athlete's mental stamina as much as his sport-specific ability. However, it is important that the coach have a plan and understand why he prescribes certain workouts for his athletes.
Many athletes have the greatest intentions but are often led in an unproductive way on their own or by suggestions of others. If your sport requires quickness and speed then train to get quicker and faster. Doing a low intensity exercise such a jogging around the track will do NOTHING for your speed. It will recruit Type I (slow twitch) muscle fiber and never recruit the Type II muscle fibers that they need to use.
Coaches, do athletes a favor and set them straight in their training so they can achieve the goals that they set for themselves in their sport. They will become better athletes and will appreciate your suggestions in the long run.