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Sports Performance Training: An Interview With Josh Murphy

Posted Sep 22 2008 11:03am

I’ve asked Josh Murphy to help start off our topic on sports performance training.

  1. Could you tell us a little about yourself, where you work, and what you do?

I have been in the fitness and sport performance world since I was a teenager. I’ve been working as a professional in the field for the last 9 years. Currently, I am the Associate Director for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Fitness Center. I’m responsible for helping to lay out direction for the center, training the staff, overseeing departments, ensuring that our members receive the best services we have to offer. On a daily basis this looks like teaching classes or personal training, developing the staff through training, boring desk work, etc. Also, in my spare time I am working on getting my sport performance company up and running again as that was what I was doing prior to this job.  

On a personal note, I have been married to my wonderful bride, Kelley, for two and a half years. We have a 13-month little girl, Keara, and another due sometime in September. We are also members of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

  1. How did you get involved with sports performance training?

Sports were always apart of my life growing up, so much so that I wanted to be a professional athlete when I ‘grew up.’ Needless to say being in shape was always a priority. As the Lord opened my eyes, I realized that I couldn’t be a professional athlete and be a committed member of a local church. So I went to school to learn how to train athletes/individuals to meet their goals. I graduated with a degree in Kinesiology, which is basically movement within the human body. Toward the end of my degree I took an internship with a renowned Strength & Conditioning Coach and spent 5 years with him soaking up all the knowledge he could throw at me. I went from intern to trainer to assistant to his director. Through my degree and God’s favor I’ve had the privilege to work with a wide variety of individuals and jobs

  1. How would you define sports performance training?

Simply, it is any aspect of training that improves your ability to perform. For example, that could mean acceleration and running technique for sprinters, Olympic weight lifting for hockey players, or mental and kicking technique’s for NFL placekickers. It varies based on the individual, sport, and what the need for improvement is. 

  1. What is a typical workout you might have assigned for- say a tennis player?

That largely would depend on the skill level, time commitment, area’s that need improvement. I used to direct the strength & conditioning for a tennis academy, so I will base my answer on what we used to do there.

Typically, we would start with conditioning drills related to on-court performance. Two to three exercises for footwork, three to four agility drills, four to five kinds of plyometrics(jumping drills), and then finish with eight to twelve intermediate sprints. After a cool down, we’d head into the gym for weight training. That would include three to five lifts each for the upper and lower-body and then core work. Because tennis players have a tendency to overdevelop their dominant side (racquet hand), dumbbells are used to correct any imbalances. Standard lifts would be a bench press, dumbbell row, lateral shoulder raise, bicep and tricep work, lunges, balance board squats, leg extensions, and leg curls. Finish it all of with at least 500 to 700 reps of ab work. The reason for so large a number is because the tennis players core strength is essential for success on the court. 

  1. You had mentioned training youth and adults. How different is the training?

Because adults are fully developed, the only restrictions you have to training is how fast they can learn the exercises and if there are any physical limitations (injuries) they have. This means you can train them for maximum strength gains, increase training sessions, etc. On the flip side, because a youth has not fully developed the emphasis is building a solid foundation of technique and habit. You want youths to train hard as long as they don’t approach maximal effort. By placing a body that has not fully developed under such effort you can cause long-term injury. By building that foundation they will be much further ahead once their body reaches a place to train at maximal effort. That being said, I’m a firm believer in training hard whatever the age or ability as long as it’s within safe boundaries.

  1. Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for my Let’s Training Together participants?

Train hard and have fun! Get your miles in, but mix up how you do it. Vary the type of cardio you do, use weight lifting exercises that train movements not just body parts, train with a partner or group. Running long distance can be very difficult, push through it and you will be glad you did so. And one more thing, listen to Trillia! 

  1. I can’t end an interview without asking, what is your current exercise regimen?

What I plan to do or what I actually do? J I do cardio 4-5 days a week for 30-60 minutes. That’s either cycling, running, elliptical work, or some combination. Additionally, I weight lift 5-6 days per week. I lift Chest/Shoulder/Tri’s; Back/Bi’s; and Leg’s each twice a week. I vary the sets and reps depending on what training cycle I’m in. Now I’m able to do all of this because I work at a gym. If I didn’t work at one then it would only be 2-3 times per week!  

Thanks so much Josh. I know at the time we conducted the interview it was a busy time so I am grateful you would take time out to help educate us on sports performance training. It’s always encouraging to me to meet other Christians in the fitness industry. I hope to hear more from you in the near future.

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