The subtitle is Dr. Yessis Blows the Whistle on Player Development, which is a fair synopsis of the subject matter in this pocket-sized but info-packed book. But there’s more. The author, Michael Yessis, has a doctorate from the University of Southern California and has been a part of sports and training for more than 20 years. He’s currently the president of Sports Training Inc., and he’s written numerous other books, on subjects ranging from kinesiology to steroids to building better athletes, so his credentials are solid for this attack.
He lays out his emphatic beef in the first few sentences of Chapter 1: “The United States has more athletes, more facilities, more coaches and more money involved in sports than any other country in the world. So why do American coaches have to travel the world to find the best athletes? The answer is simple. The United States has no system of developing athletic talent.” Yessis then proceeds to explode a number of myths coaches and so-called experts perpetuate that amplify the problem.
For example, his first two myths are “athletes are born not made” and “it’s all in the genes.” He explains why those ideas are false, quoting research demonstrating that genetics can account for only about 30 percent of athletic abilities. Environmental factors, such as training and lifestyle, account for the other 70 percent. He also delves into dominant muscle-fiber types and says that only in limited cases and some sports is fiber type a major factor in success. His discussion of identical twins used in a study in which one was trained as a bodybuilder and the other as a distance runner makes a good point: “You are limited according to your genes, but you can still do much to work with and around the genes to determine your athletic potential and success.”
Other myths he explodes: Speed cannot be improved, the key to success is to play more—as in the sport you have chosen—and you can’t be great without the use of steroids and/or other drugs. One of the myths that was particularly interesting was that you must work on greater flexibility to prevent injury. He says, “Static stretching, especially when done over a prolonged period of time, overstretches ligaments and tendons, creating looser joints which are more prone to injury.” So a lot of stretching can actually cause injury.
He covers 15 such myths, then goes into sport-specific B.S. There are chapters on baseball, football, basketball, running and golf. If you participate in any of them or you’re a coach at any level, you’ll love the eye-opening, often controversial information Yessis presents.
While the book is not directed at bodybuilders per se, those athletes will find a lot of interesting and applicable information, especially if they’re into precision-training theory and practice. All personal trainers should read this book.