Mike Boyle sparked an online debate when he called out sports specific training last month. In his opinion, no matter the sport, 90% of training doesn’t change. As an elite coach who has worked with dozens of professional sports, he has seen first hand what needs to be tailored to the sport, and what applies to all sports. On this week’s episode he joins us to talk shop about his approach to sport specific training and where it often goes wrong.
Notes and quotes
Boyle is the founder of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning, one of the first elite private training facilities in the country. Prior to start his business he served as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Boston University for 15 years. Presently Boyle continues to serve as an assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at Boston University, primarily responsible for ice hockey. In addition to his duties at Boston University, from 1991-1999 Boyle served as the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League. Michael was also the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the 1998 US Women’s Olympic Ice Hockey Team, Gold Medalists in Nagano, and served as a consultant in the development of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He’s also worked with a variety of other sports such as the US Women’s Olympic teams in Soccer, Boston Breakers, New England Revolution, and most recently the Boston Red Sox.
Our conversation spanned a variety of topics including where sports specific training has gone wrong, why most training looks the same, how he adjusts training to the sport, squatting, Olympic lifting, and running a business.
- 6:00 – Boyle’s influences from the throwing world.
- 10:30 – What’s wrong with sports-specific training: “The basics of strength training don’t really change. There is so much stupid stuff done in the name of specificity. Most of it is bullshit sales stuff to try to convince people. ” “In one day I had Olympic hockey players, elite lacrosse players, a MLB pitcher, and a European basketball player. 90% of what everyone did was the same that day and that week. “
- 15:15 – Speed is king: “All strength training should be about trying to get you faster and more explosive. “
- 20:45 – Thoughts on Olympic lifting.
- 23:00 – Talking coach: “The ability to speak coach is what it comes down to in the specific world. Sometimes coaches speak code to you, telling you their prejudices. We want to jam our ideas down the coaches throat, instead of having an intelligent discussion. “
- 28:00 – Flexibility in coaching: “Coaches will lose their jobs because of their inability to be flexible. You have to pick your battles. But on the things I am inflexible on, I am completely inflexible. “
- 31:00 – Why Boyle doesn’t squat and the bilateral deficit: “Everybody is way stronger on one leg, we just don’t train on one leg long enough to realize it. We are so attached to squatting that we can’t look at all the other indicators to see we were meant to be training unilaterally. “
- 38:00 – Understanding our addiction to squats and big weights.
- 43:00 – The limiting factor in squats: “There’s a way to load the body that’s better than squatting. The back is a limiting factor in the squat. “
- 47:00 – Adjusting the 10%.
- 49:00 – Skills coach wannabes. “These kids do a lot of sports specific training, it’s called practice. “
- 52:45 – Balancing sports training and strength work, and finding the minimum effective dose.
- 56:00 – Misunderstanding Bondarchuk and sports specific training: “I’m fascinated with people’s lack of ability to be the least bit intuitive. “
- 1:01:00 – Running a business: “If you run a business and have to be there every hour for it to run, you don’t have a business, you have a shitty job. “
- 1:06:00 – Creating independent coaches and athletes.
To hear more on these topics, listen to the full episode above. Also be sure to subscribe to our podcast and review it on iTunes.
The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic:
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- You can follow Boyle on social media: Instagram (michael_boyle1959), Twitter (@mboyle1959), and Facebook (Michael Boyle). You can also visit
BodybyBody.com and Strengthcoach.com for more resources.
- This post on Instagram started off the conversation on social media. Check it out and his follow-up posts and videos on Instagram.
- Boyle has published many books, inlcluding New Functional Training for Sports.
- Nick Garcia also shared his approach to the 90% in a detailed article and training plan he posted last week.
- One book recommended by Boyle on the episode: The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.