Aerobic and Anaerobic Training Should be Secondary

At first glance most readers will say that the title of this blog is erroneous. The reason for this is quite obvious since anaerobic and aerobic training take a front row seat in most training programs.
In other words, development of the energy producing systems is foremost in most team sport training programs. It is not reserved only for endurance athletes.
At one time I too believed in and practiced aerobic and anaerobic training as it was standard practice in almost all fitness and sports training programs. Today however, I do not have athletes focus on or practice energy system training.
This does not, however, mean that I have athletes ignore development of these systems. They still develop the aerobic and anaerobic systems but not as the primary focus. It is a consequence of doing other training.
In other words, the athletes develop the optimal levels of aerobic and anaerobic endurance as they do sport specific training. It is a consequence of the training that they do.
Before I answer how this is done I will relate how this came about. About 10 to 15 years ago I realized that the most important objective of any training is improvement of athlete’s performance on the field, court or ring.
This means the athlete must be capable of optimally executing the skills needed for that position or sport. By skills I mean that the athlete is capable of executing an effective run, jump, throw, kick, hit, cut, catch, etc.
The only way to improve these basic skills is to improve technique and the physical qualities that relate specifically to the skill. Even though this seems quite simple and elementary it is really complex.
The main reason for this is that most coaches do not have the knowledge or ability to improve technique and the physical qualities specific to the technique. Understand that most coaches, even those with a college degree, are rarely exposed to technique of the basic skills.
When they are exposed to skills it is quite superficial as for example, a one-hour lecture on the skill. For some reason skills are taken for granted and many believe that the athlete is born with them. This however, is far from the truth.
To truly understand technique requires deep concentrated study. It requires not only a strong theoretical foundation for understanding but also a practical base to learn how skills are best learned, corrected, improved, mastered and perfected.
By focusing on skills and development of the physical abilities specific to the skills,  we discovered that the athletes were improving as needed in their aerobic and anaerobic energy system production. They were developing adequate levels of aerobic and anaerobic system function that allowed them to execute the skills as needed in gameplay.
As a result they became much better players, much more so than if we concentrated on energy system production or development of physical qualities such as strength as separate entities. Development of all the physical qualities took place together with technique execution. Technique was coupled with development of any and all of the physical qualities needed by the athlete.
This type of training took place after they developed a general physical preparation base that we typically call conditioning or getting into shape. Once the prerequisite strength, endurance, power, agility, speed-strength etc. were developed the athlete was capable of undertaking specialized training that combined technique with the physical qualities.
This is what I now call usable or specialized training in which specialized strength (or other physical qualities) exercises are used in execution of the skills that the athlete must execute. It is not strength merely for the sake of getting greater strength that has no transfer to the sport.
General strength or general physical training that includes aerobic and anaerobic development does not transfer to gameplay except in a general way. For example, the athlete may not be as fatigued. But it does not mean that he is still able to play better or could still execute his skills on a high level at the end of the game
When you compare the improvement you see from doing specialized training, there is little to compare to general training. The improvement from specialized training that couples skill technique with physical qualities that are specific to the technique, is immediately transferred to performance on the field.

- Dr. Michael Yessis