Saturday, February 23, 2008

Perform Better Seminar: Phoenix

I spent the entire day at the Perform Better “Learn by Doing” Seminar in Phoenix today. For those that don’t know, the Perform Better “Learn by Doing” Seminar is a seminar for trainers, which is half lecture (morning), followed by half practical (afternoon).

Today’s speakers were Alwyn Cosgrove, Mike Boyle, Craig Richardson from Athletes Performance, who was filling in for Gray Cook who got the flu (at first I was a little disappointed because I wanted to see Gray speak, but Craig did a very good job in his place), and Juan Carlos Santana.

I go to lots of seminars and continuing education workshops because I enjoy learning and trying to make myself better. I spend a lot of time reading and studying, so I tend to formulate my own opinions and philosophies on the subjects of training and sports preparation. It is difficult to agree 100% with everyone on every thing. It is often times nice to hear a few different opinions than your own as it makes you think and re-evaluate what you are doing or what you currently believe to be true (which changes from time to time as you learn more and gain more experience).

The one thing I take away from seminars like this, that always keeps me coming back, is that there are guys out there that are doing what I do, and are much better at it. They have more experience and are willing to share that experience with everyone in hopes that people will someday attain the level of mastery in the subject that they have. I appreciate them for it.

As Boyle says “You have 2 eyes, 2 ears and 1 mouth. It is like that for a reason; start listening and observing more and talking less.”

Knowledge is power,


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Developing a sports training program

As a strength coach, sometimes it can be very easy to just group all your athletes together and train them using the same program.

Athletes have to train like athletes, right?

To a certain extent, I would say yes, athletes are going to be doing similar things. For example, most will need some sort of strength work, some sort of power work, and some sort of sport specific conditioning. However, the amount that each of those qualities needs to be developed may vary greatly from sport to sport.

Whenever I think about training for sports performance, there are a few things I look at with regard to the athlete and the sport in question. Hopefully, the list below can give you some things to think about with regard to program design for your athletes (or anyone really, provided you know what their goals are and what they are looking to accomplish).

1)Assessment: First, I always want to do an evaluation just to see what I am working with. This is a great opportunity for me to gather both subjective and objective information about the athlete and any potential problems and mechanical faults that they may have, which we would need to work on.

2)What is the Sport: The next thing I want to look at is what sport the athlete is training for. This is essential, because from that I can gather information about that sport and what is required to be a great athlete.

3)What are the typical injuries of the sport: Knowing what the typical injuries of the sport and the structures and joints involved in those injuries is helpful for your program design as it allows you to write in some pre-habilitation exercises.

4)What are the energy systems specific to the sport: Having an idea of what the main energy systems involved in the sport is helpful to programming so that we aren’t (a) wasting time training energy systems that aren’t of top priority, and (b) we aren’t training and eliciting adaptations that aren’t specific to the sport in question. This is a big difference between most sports and knowing when to adjust your conditioning for athletes. What is the work to rest ratio of the sport in question? Even more specific, how does that work to rest ratio change between position players in the same sport? How does this affect our program design?

5)What are the joint angles specific to the sport: What joint angles are of most important to the sport the athlete is playing? How can we make sure to develop optimal strength and power at those joint angles? Training through a full range of motion is important. At what phase of training do you chose to emphasize joint angle specific training (or what some call target range of motion)?

6)Where in the year is the athlete: Are they 16 weeks away from pre-season? Are they mid-season? Are they training for next year (offseason)? This can be helpful in your programming because it lets you know how much time you have available and, more importantly, how much time can be allotted to specific blocks or phases of training to help plan which training effect you are trying to target and at which times.

With a little bit of research, a lot of these questions about the sport we are training for can be answered. Once you have an idea of the sport and gather information about the specific athlete, it becomes a lot easier to plan your training program and help the athlete achieve their training goals.

Hope that gives you some ideas,


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

You Can't Handle The Truth

That phrase goes through my head whenever I am talking to people about training or diet.

This weekend I got word that two great trainers where thinking about getting out of the industry. They were hanging it up. Their reason for this was that they just can’t stand working with general population clients anymore. They are sick and tired of going over diet and training with people; only to have those people perform about 10% of their recommendations and then complain that they are only getting 10% results (you get what you put into it people). I mean seriously, what a waste of time!

I feel their pain. I honestly do not like working with general population clients at all, because they just don’t get it. They don’t have what it takes to put in the necessary work to reach their goals (if they even have concrete goals at all). More importantly, they want instant gratification, without ever working for anything. They want to lose weight, be more fit, and look better without working for it. They complain about how hard it is to eat healthy or how they don’t have enough time to exercise. They come in and train with you 1-2x’s a week and expect to see miracle results (I mean honestly, 2x’s a week of training is maintenance at best). And worst of all, if you tell them the truth, they think you are a jerk or they get angry with you. THEY CAN”T HANDLE THE TRUTH.

I don’t understand why it is so hard for people to set a specific goal and then come in and say, “This is what I want to do. You are the expert; tell me how I can do it.” My only guess is that these people don’t really want to put in the hard work and effort it takes to be in shape. They make every excuse and then, they believe that somehow, it is your fault that they can’t lose weight. If you work with someone 2 hours a week and they aren’t willing to do what you say on the other days and help you help them, then how the heck do they ever expect things to change?

One of the main reasons athletes are so fun to work with is because they come in with a specific, concrete goal. They have a time frame in mind and they are willing to do what it takes to get there. They know what they want and you just have to help them get it.

“I have 12 weeks to get ready for spring training. What do I have to do?”

That is a heck of a lot different than,

“I want to lose weight and look good for my cruise in 4 weeks. I can train 2x’s a week with you but I don’t have time to train any more than that. I can’t eat healthy because I don’t have time to cook healthy food and I have to go out to eat for lunch everyday with my co-workers.”

What the heck am I supposed to say to that? “Okay, well let’s do the best we can?” I mean honestly, I would rather say “Never going to happen. You are 50lbs over-fat, you have no interest in putting in the work to get your goal and that goal is not going to be achieved in 4 weeks. It took you 10 years to become a disgusting slob; you can’t fix it in 4 weeks.”

If you are a trainer working with general population clients, I know what you are going through. If you are a general population client who is wasting someone’s time (and wasting your own money), then seriously re-evaluate your goals and what you are willing to do to get there. Otherwise, suck it up, don’t complain, and accept the truth that you are overweight and out of shape and things are not going to get better. I am at the point where I would rather have no money, than take on those lazy clients and baby-sit.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Are stupid coaches blowing up your athletes?

I swear. I am getting more and more disappointed with the quality of coaches running youth sports these days. I am currently working with a pole-vaulter who’s track coach told him “sprinting has nothing to do with technique. You just have to be able to run.”

What the f#ck does that mean? This coach’s philosophy is that in order to be a good sprinter you have to run more. So, that is what they do! They run for about an hour and a half straight. They basically just sit there and do high intensity interval training in order to “condition.” Never mind the fact that the should be developing good sprint mechanics and work on their starts and developing special work capacity for their given event. What is even better is that following the hour and a half marathon, the coach then takes them into the weight room to do circuit training for 30min. Nothing says great sprinter like triceps press-downs and biceps curls!!

I don’t know what is worse, the fact that this man is a teacher at the school and parents trust them with their kids. Or the fact that this guy is so stubborn he honestly believes that what he is doing is the best training program for a track athlete.

The pole-vaulter who trains with me has expressed his disgust for the coaches training principles and I have offered to help him write programs for his athletes; however, the guy won’t call or talk to me. He thinks that he knows everything and is not open to hearing other ideas.

I also train a couple of 10-year old soccer players. They have a strength and conditioning coach who is contracted to their team and comes out and works with them. They told me that when he is there, all they do is go through tones of speed and agility work with no rest and it makes them incredibly sore. Even better, he doesn’t allow them to have water breaks. I don’t know what is reasoning is behind this, but I am pretty sure it is rooted in the fact that he is a complete moron who understands nothing about physiology, let alone the sport of soccer.

It is a shame that these people are in a position to coach kids. I don’t claim to be the greatest coach ever (in fact I am far from it) and I don’t claim to know everything (in fact, I am only scratching the surface). But, what I do know is that I strive to give my athletes 100% and have their best intentions at heart. That means reading about the sport and trying to get a full understanding of the qualities, which make athletes in that sport great.

Having an understanding of what energy systems primarily dominate the sport, typical injuries common to the sport, and the joint angles and positions that apply to the sport are essential to being a good strength coach. As well, understanding how the qualities change between different positions in the sport (or between different events if we are talking about something like track and field). Finally, understanding the qualities of the athletes you are working with; age, sex, training age, preparedness, work capacity, strength and weaknesses, etc.
If you are in this field and working with athletes, hopefully this is not new to you and you are already considering this stuff.

If you are one of the coaches I just described, I hope this gives you something to think about. If it doesn’t, I hope you are fired from your position because you don’t deserve to be there.