N00b gains are the most amazing thing in the world. And if you’re an athlete that doesn’t compete (amateur or otherwise) in the gym — which, let’s be honest, is the vast majority of athletes, your n00b gains are going to transfer to the field. These are field n00b gains.
When you hit your first body weight squat, and then your first 1.5x squat, you will notice a change out on the field. You pick up a step here and there. You just changed direction faster on defense. You jumped just a little higher; you felt as if you were hanging in the air.
Still a n00b. Why? Because these things you feel are random acts of alignment. One time you got into the right position to activate your glutes and use them to jump. One time you sat down into the hole to turn around. These positions and movements are not patterned. But it feels amazing when you realize what just happened.
Anyone who spends a considerable amount of time in the gym knows the difference between training and exercise. The difference is progression, and grooving a specific movement into your muscle memory, so you can perform it over and over. So your muscles are not confused, but know exactly the pattern they need to perform, and are strengthened to do exactly that pattern. I used to think a track workout was just something to make you run hard to increase your V02, and the more tired you got, the harder you worked, the better it was. I obviously didn’t like this. Of course, you’ve gotta do your intervals, I won’t tell you to skip those. But a field workout is more than that. It is about grooving the patterns you need into your muscles for your sport. I was doing it all wrong. No wonder I hated it.
All this work on the field happens after the work in the gym. You build a foundation in the gym. The solid concrete upon which everything else is built. If you don’t do the field work, you get a one story house. You didn’t build high enough. You’re wasting all the work you put into the gym by not grooving your patterns. You need to accelerate with the same muscles you squat with. You need to change direction with the same muscles you deadlift with. And unless you train that pattern, you won’t. If you quads are sore after your practices and games, you’re leaving your gym training in the gym. Wasted. It is an amazing feeling when your glutes and hammies are more sore than your quads after you’ve been running around for two hours. Get that feeling.