Punishment by running

March 4, 2009

Here’s something that piqued my interest while I was reading a newsletter from youth training expert Brain Grasso. It was an interview with another training expert, Juan Carlos Santana done a few years ago. Brian essentially asked how him how he focuses his training to develop different variables (agility, flexibility, etc). JC answered:

Develop a love for movement and training (new born-middle school). NEVER PUNISH WITH EXERCISE!!!! Movement and training is a privilege. How can an athlete learn this if you use training (e.g. running) as a punishment? If you need to discipline, don’t let them participate.

I couldn’t agree more!

This punishment = running trick is old news in competitive sports, however its also prevalent in my training facilities. The coach gets frustrated why the athletes aren’t performing the drill or exercise the right way at the proper speed, so it appears the athlete is not making an effort. Or a coach is in the middle of a long-winded explanation and the athletes yawn or tune out and the coach gets mad. In both these cases, the form of punishment is usually running (“until I say stop”).

Yup, sounds like a great way to have the athlete just begging their mom and dad to bring them back to the gym so they can train!

Does this mean that I don’t believe we should discipline our athletes when they deserve it? Of course not, just that I don’t want to build an association of exercise = punishment (bad) in that young athletes brain. To add one last thing, the less “naturally athletic” the athlete, I think this line becomes a lot easier to cross.

I’d love to hear your stories about any experiences similar to this and whether it impacted how you viewed exercise/training!

Enjoy the rest of the day!



4 Responses to “Punishment by running”

  1. ladlam Says:

    I agree that punishment through physical activity isn’t the answer. Many years ago when I first started martial arts, people making loads of trouble did pushups. I remember one class where 3 participants did some 300 or so pushups – several of them never returned.

  2. pathfitness Says:

    While I agree, it’s not the best punishment, it does work (if used correctly)!

    Fear was a motivator for me, I feared making ever making a mistake. I was the captain of my football team because “I never made mistakes.”

    In basketball you had to do suicides for mistakes, I kept people focused, the fear of having to “line up on the base line!”

    Vince Lombardi- said (paraphrasing) you had to know who to yell at and who to talk to.

    I find it works best when you punish the team and not the individual. One person messes up, means we all mess up.

  3. Chris Brown Says:

    You make good points Paul! At the risk of arguing semantics, I just don’t like the negative association between punishment and exercise (even if it “works”).

    You mentioned fear as a motivator. I think both in terms of games and athletes playing at an elite level, I think that comes with the territory — and I think the elite athletes understand this. However with younger athletes, in leagues where development is should be the goal, I think a coach who uses fear as a motivator should simply become a better coach. Any one can coach using fear as a motivator for their players, but good coaches don’t need to resort to instilling fear in their players to give the illusion of leadership.

  4. pathfitness Says:

    I hear what you’re saying. No a coach shouldn’t need to use fear as a motivator of young athletes, if he does I’d question the athletes motivation.

    however for myself that’s the way my brain worked. Fear made me run faster and play smarter, as odd as that may sound.

    One of my biggest fears was being caught from behind!

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