"I've Never Seen a Player With a Weight on the Pitch"

Jul 25, 2022

Recently a Premier League manager made a comment that his team was no longer weight training because no one lifted weights “on the pitch”. 

Strangely, many experts I respect jumped to the defense and, accused the strength and conditioning community of overreacting.

Let's be honest, saying that strength training is not helpful for athletes is a regressive thought process.

I have news for people. The body is a natural weight. If you do bodyweight training, you are doing strength training, at least in the beginning. I'm not sure what the “natural movements”  referred to actually represent but, the addition of load to “natural movements” is also strength training.

Adding a weight vest to a one leg squat is still progressive resistance strength training. It may be disguised out of necessity but, it is still strength training.

Thirty years ago hockey legend Wayne Gretzky said “when a weight scores a goal, I'll lift a weight”.

As a hockey strength and conditioning coach, I had to deal with the after effects of that statement for the next ten years. I actually had players tell me they didn't lift because Gretzky didn't. Luckily I had a witty response prepared.

I told them “as soon as you get 160 points in an NHL season, I'll let you stop”.

The sport of soccer has struggled to embrace strength training and comments like this move the process backwards. Too often the many great strength and conditioning professionals working in soccer are consistently handcuffed by managers who are stuck in ancient paradigms. In a sport that is riddled with key player injuries a statement like this is not progress, whether the team is winning or not.

As a strength and conditioning coach, please don't attempt to validate, justify or rationalize this thought process. Call it what it is, a regressive thought process that will make our lives and jobs more difficult.

If the same manager had said “for our next game in Europe, we will sail to France on a beautiful three masted schooner and then take a locomotive across Europe” fans would think he'd lost it.

Well, lets face facts. This statement is very similar.

There was a time when there was no other way to get to Europe from England than to sail. That is no longer the case. There are now better ways and intelligent people have moved on.

If you are a strength and conditioning professional, then be professional. Have an opinion, stand up for what you believe in. If not, the next dinosaur to get a job may be at your club.