Getting stronger in the weight room does not mean you are getting better on the field. However, it can increase your potential for on field success. If lifting weights made you better at a sport (aside from weightlifting) every strength coach would be a professional athlete. But, as we all sadly know, this isn’t the case.
Say we had two athletes, A and B. Both athletes are basketball players. Lets say athlete A only trained in the weight room and athlete B only trained by practicing basketball. Who do you think would be a better basketball player? Athlete B, without a doubt.
Why Weight Train?
If weight training doesn’t make you better at your sport, then why do it? Weight training is designed to increase your potential (physiologically), not your performance. This means if used properly, strength training can aid your sports training.
In all honesty, the two (sport training and weight room) should not be differentiated. The two should be used in conjunction with on another. However, if you had to only pick one, you should probably pick sports training.
The idea of “increasing potential” is predicated on systemic changes in the body (tissue, muscular, neural, bone etc…). For example, from a reductionist point of view, sport is comprised of synchronized muscular contractions to produce an outcome. Theoretically, if we can increase these most basic qualities that make up a sport, we can improve the sport as a whole. This answer to this question is yes and no. Yes, there is little doubt that we can improve the potential of the athlete. No, there is not a guarantee that improving the individual parts of the movement will increase the system as a whole.
The easiest way to think of this is in terms of cars. The car is representation of the physical potential. A Ferrari has the potential to go faster than a Prius. However, the driver (skill) is what uses the car. It doesn’t matter how fast a Ferrari can go, if the driver doesn’t know how to drive the car, the Prius will win every time
As coaches we need to understand what our role is. Getting too caught up in one aspect can hinder the athlete’s development. We need to not only build the potential of the athlete, but help the athlete learn how to use their potential. Training needs to be a complex approach designed around making the athlete better as a whole.