Skill over strength

Focus should be on the talent of a player

Skill over strength

Harrison Witt, Sports Columnist

While many programs tend to favor student-athletes who are strong, there are far more important aspects that our teams should focus on.

Yes, hitting the weights is important. It is not good to put out a weak and measly team of people who can not hit the ball hard, tackle hard, or drive the lane with force. However, there is so much more to sports than strength. The weight room should be a tool that athletes can use on their own time.

Improving skills should be the priority. It is impressive for a student-athlete to be able to lift a lot of weight, but it is more vital to the success of the program that
they can perform in their sport. For some teams, off season workouts contribute in determining whether a person makes the team. Many coaches will say that if their student-athletes work hard enough and “get big enough” in the offseason, they will be fine for tryouts. This is problematic because student-athletes will prioritize the “get big” part over the “get good” part. Some of the best players to go through ETHS were not the biggest.

The over excessive narrative of “getting big” is harmful for student-athletes. Remember, they are 15-18 year old athletes; they are not professionals. There have been multiple students who have been injured due to lifting. This can cause lifelong back, neck, knee, shoulder, etc. problems.

Students are being sent a message that they NEED to get stronger in order to make the team. This can result in them using substances that claim to “enhance muscular growth”. Athletes tend to not know what they are putting in their bodies when they take these supplements. A little protein powder never hurt anyone. However, when you transition into more serious substances, it can get serious. There are serious punishments in IHSA and through the high school for using steroids or other performance enhancing drugs.

Coaches need to start to realize that they should express the idea of improving skill over strength. The idea that a program “plays strength” is not working. The teams that spend all their days in the weight room rather than the field are not the most successful in the high school.

Athletes should be rewarded for their performance of the sport rather than putting in work in the weight room. This should not be mandatory for a sport; it is up to the discretion of the player.

Also, when it comes to tryouts, players should not be looked at as better because they are some of the best in the weight room. Tryouts should be based upon skill on the field. If being strong helps a player be skilled, than that is even better. Being strong and skilled is the best combination. When it comes to ranking those two ideas, skill and mechanics should be above strength.