Making Athletes Puke
Player's Fitness and Performance, Frederick, MD
Nice subject line, huh?
This should be an easy topic to tackle. Making athletes puke during a workout. Is it ok?
[Note: Our 7 Pillar Winning Athlete Formula we created at PFP has consistently and predictably helped us to accomplish our #1 Objective--> the highest performing athletes who also maintain their passion, physical and mental health, and also grow in character.]
We've helped over 100 athletes get to the collegiate level and thrive, as well as helping the less serious athletes to enjoy getting into the best shape of their life. The 7 step formula is our guide to get maximum results, maximum joy, and maximum buy in.]
"Do you really make your athletes puke?"
Don't forget, no one can make anyone do or feel or be anything they don't want to do, feel, or be. Never give anyone that kind of control over your state.
We tell our athletes this all the time. "Johnny, we are about to give you a really tough conditioning exercise. You do not have to do it, but it is going to make you better and help you reach the goal you have to play collegiate sports. I believe in you. Are you up for it?"
Remember as a coach, if you can get the athlete you are leading to make an idea their idea, you've won over their best effort.
We see athletes all the time who resent their coaches or former trainers because they would push them to puking time and time again without explaining why, without giving them adequate praise, and without following up afterwards to make sure he or she is good to go.
Don't do that.
"Did I make them puke? Or, did the exercises expose their lack of endurance/proper nutrition?"
How far outside their comfort zone did you pushed them? How quickly? Should you have done a better job at progressively pushing them outside of that zone?
It all depends on the athlete you are working with. Some need it. Some really want it (those are the ones who typically need to learn something called patience and recovery).
At PFP, we spend a lot of time in the initial 1 on 1 Success Session finding out where they are at right now.
How conditioned are they? How conditioned do they need to be? Do they hate running and conditioning?
What level do they want to get to? What level does their parent want them to get to (we take this into account, but we always meet the athlete where they are-- long term buy in leads to long term results)?
What is their current physical capacity? What capacity will they need to achieve to get to where they want to be? If their desire is to be a starter at college freshman year on the lacrosse team, and right now their grit is low and their endurance is sub-par, how many days a week should they be pushed to possibly throwing up?
Pillar 1 of the Winning Athlete Formula is Assess for Success: seek to understand and appreciate their world. Their mindset, their physical capacity, their frustrations, their desires...
The point is this: have a reason (more than just looking like a tough trainer) and be intentional.
You must be intentional about pushing athletes to this point. Some need it and some days it is appropriate.
And some days, it is simply a reflection of their poor dietary choices! If so, make sure to talk with them on that ;-)
The Most Important Way to Finish a "Puke Session"
After you push an athlete to this point, never ever ever EVER forget to do this:
Look them in the eye with loving kindness and tell them, "I'm proud of you, and I believe in you. I know you did not enjoy that, but you are better today because of it. Thanks for giving your best today."
Just be careful with your distance in case they start to feel queasy again ;-)
Dedicated to your athlete's success on and off the field,
Coach Andrew Simpson