Sunday, February 20, 2011

Question Regarding the Training of Team Sport Athletes

This might be a little off the wall, I don't, but as I was getting ready to go at eat my friend Jack Fife's house today (we had BBQ ribs, which were very good and homemade blueberry cobbler) this thought ran though my mind:  "How do we train a football player (insert any type athlete here) to run a 4.4 forty play after play for the entire game?"   It seems to me that running a 4.4 on the first play of the game doesn't mean much if by the end of the game the guy is running 5.4.  You might say that the guy needs more conditioning.  Ok.  I get that.  I guess what I am getting at is can or should we be training for power output for say, 5 reps, instead of 1 rep max as we get closer to the season.

Just to give you an example, I will just make up some numbers.  Let's say we are squatting 100kg for 5 reps and our goal is to produce 1000 watts of power (+/- 10% for each rep).  If we produce the necessary power output on each rep we get to increase the weight for the next set.  If we don't, then we stay with the same weight for the next set.  Will we get stronger doing this?  Will the 1 rep max increase or decrease?  Training this way, does the 1 RM even matter?

Another question is, "Can we apply this to a game situation?"  For instance, let's take our squat again.  Let's say there 60 plays in a game that lasts about 3-4 sec per play with about 45 sec between plays with each drive consisting of 6 plays.  Just for round numbers, again let's say that your are off the field for 5 min. between series.  Can we set our squat workout up so that we do 10 sets of six with a 5 min rest in between each set?  Again, remember we are trying to produce the same power output on each rep.

I have read some of Bosco's stuff on this, but to be honest I can't remember it.

As I said in the beginning this may be a little (probably a lot) off the wall but I would really like to hear some comments from you about this.  Even if it is just to say "You're Nuts."


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Youth Sports

Youth sports.  A place where you see overzealous parents watching under trained and under prepared kids playing on a team or in a league that is fit for the pros.  In many cases, they are playing a pro-type schedule also.  Is it any wonder that studies show that as many as 70% of kids quit organized sports before the age of 13?  To me, this is ridiculous.  Let me explain why I feel this way.

Youth sports should be about development.  Overall development.  Running, jumping, throwing, catching, kicking, moving.  This is not what is happening.  We pigeon hole kids into certain positions based on size, coordination, ability.  Why?  So that the team can win.  Biggger kids in football are made lineman.  In soccer, they are made goalies because they can't run.  You get the picture.  It's all about the W's.

Nobody takes into consideration that these kids mature at different rates.  Just because Little Johnny is the star running back in PeeWee football, doesn't mean he is going to be a star in high school or college.  The opposite is also true.  However, the bigger kids are pushed aside and they get no development until about high school, if then.

Last summer, I was driving around and I saw some activity at local high school football field.  Thinking I was going to see some high schoolers working out, I pulled into the stadium to watch.  Much to my surprise I saw kids, 2nd to 6th grade being put through agility and running drills.  Dressed in full gear, in 90+ degree heat, IN THE MIDDLE OF JULY!!  Hello?  Is there anybody home?  In the coaches defense, there was plenty of water around, so that was no problem.  Some of these kids' helmets were bigger than they were.  Now, I don't have any problem with them being outside in that heat.  What I do have a problem with is that 99% of the kids couldn't do the drills without equipment on, let alone with all of that gear.  What are these people thinking?  This was mini camp to get the players "in shape for the season" which starts August 1st.  Are these people nuts?  Colleges don't start that early.  Also they were using this to find out times for various drills.  You have got to be kidding me?  Why do I need a 40 time on a 4th grader.

If they would have taken off the football gear and practice the different agilities and sprinting techniques, I wouldn't have any problem.  I would have like to have seen more work on skills and learning proper form on bodyweight exercises.  I think then you would have a much more efficient workout.

As I have said before, these leagues are supposed to be about development.  Development of the whole athlete.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

If I were King

Almost everyday, parents of prospective athletes ask me the same questions or make the same statements.  "My son needs to be stronger."  Or "Can you make my son run faster?"  The answer is always, yes, of course I can.  That's pretty easy.  With the age I deal with, anything you do with them will make them stronger and faster.  Both their chronological age and their training age have a lot to do with that.  But there are some things that parents can do to help the process along.

Most of the kids I get are horribly out of shape.  They can't do a push up or pull up.  They will even tell you they have no balance.  Their work capacity is very low.  Skinny ones.  Fat ones.  It doesn't matter.  Even the ones that perform well on the field have these same problems.  Why is this?  Well, I think the problem is 2 fold.  One is the youth league system and the other is the parents themselves.

For today, let's talk about what parents can do to help correct this problem.  First of all, we have a technology problem.  It's not that we don't have or understand how to use technology, it's that we understand and use too much technology.  Gee, how did us old folks ever get around without our cell phones?  How about taking away the video games and the cell phones and tell our kids to go outside and play?  I have had parents tell me they can't take the video game away because Johnny likes it.  Or all his friends have one and they play against each other.  So?  Show some sac Mom and Dad.  Take the dadgummed thing away.  It is killing your kid.

After we have gotten rid of the video games, the kids are finally going to say I want to go to Tommy's house to play.  What do we do?  We pile him into the nice air conditioned car and drive him over there.  WRONG!!  Make him walk, run or ride his bike over there.

How about taking your kids hunting or hiking in the woods?  I don't mean sitting in a deer stand all day.  I mean stalking the deer.  If you aren't a hunter, then hiking in the woods is a good time.  Either way, let them explore outside, climb trees, run up and down the hills or mountains.  If you don't live in the country, go to a state park or city park.  The cost is minimal.  Take a ball or frisbee with you and play games.

There many other things that you can do if you use your imagination.  The key thing is to get the kids out of the house, off the TV and video games.  Get them moving and doing something.

Next post will be my thoughts on Youth Leagues.        

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More Thoughts on Training the Olympic Weightlifter

As I was thinking about my previous blog post, some more ideas came to me about the development of a weightlifter or any athlete for that matter.
I find it awful curious that when weightlifting coaches talk about there weightlifting programs they never mention the word "DEVELOPMENT."  This applies to all other sports coaches as well.  We only talk about percentages we use, what defense we run, whether we won or lost.  Never any talk of how to develop the athlete.
To me, developing the athlete is of utmost importance.  I can take an "athlete" and teach him the skills of any game.  I think most anyone would agree with that.  The question is, what is an athlete?  I really like Margaret Whitehead's definition of what she calls "Physical Literacy."  In her paper to the Pre-Olympic Congress in Thessaloniki, Greece, 2004, she writes:

"An individual who is physically literate moves with poise, economy and confidence in a wide variety of physically challenging situations. Furthermore the individual is perceptive in reading all aspects of the physical environment, anticipating movement needs or possibilities and responding appropriately to these, with intelligence and imagination.
In working on this provisional definition I looked in more detail both at embodied capacities and at environmental issues.
With respect to embodied capacities I began to tease out the initial concepts of poise, economy and confidence. I elaborated on these by citing further motile capacities such as balance, co-ordination, flexibility, agility, control, precision, strength, power, endurance and the ability to move at different speeds that is explosively, right through to sustaining a movement over a long period of time. I might add to this list core stability, perceptual-motor acuity e.g. hand/foot-eye co-ordination and spatial awareness and also rhythm. These capacities would enable the individual to interact with a wide variety of environmental situations."

That sounds like a pretty good athlete to me. 

Another way to look at Athlete Development is to consider how we develop kids in school.  If we want them to be lawyers, we don't just start in 1st grade and teach them law things.  No.  We give them fundamentals such as reading, writing and arithmetic.  Then they get science, history, geography and such things.  Along the way, they do learn things about the law, but it isn't until their 13 or 14 year of school that they really get into more specific law courses.  Finally, in about the 15th or 16th year of school they are ready to set for the lawyer exam so they can actually begin their law career.  Training for sport should be no different.

Take your time developing ALL athletic qualities in your athletes.  Along with this you can also integrate skills of many specific sports.  Then when it comes where competition outcome is important, your athlete will be much better prepared.      

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My thoughts on training Olympic Weightlifters

First let me say that there are some good weightlifting coaches in the US.  They are good guys, good coaches and very knowledgeable about programming and teaching proper techniques of the Olympic Lifts.  However there is one area that I think we as Olympic Weightlifting coaches fail miserably.  That is in preparing our athletes to BE weightlifters.  Before you go crazy and call me all kinds of vile names, hear me out.
Like most, I have taken a kid who can squat or whatever and made him a lifter or at least taught him the lifts.  Most from day 1.  As I look back now I can see how wrong this was.
First off, we need to learn from some of the "new breed" of strength coaches.  Guys like Mike Robertson, Bill Hartman, and Eric Cressey, just to name a few.  Sure they don't train OL's, but they do an outstanding job of assessing an individual and finding and correcting his problem areas.  Things such as hip, shoulder and core stability, proper breathing and so forth.  With the inactivity of so many kids today (that's another topic for another day) there are many imbalances that are created due to their sedentary lifestyle.  Then we get them and we expect them to do very complicated movements that get them into unfamiliar positions that they aren't strong enough to hold which just serves to complicate the problem even more.  Instead of fixing the problem in the beginning, we just add to to it and the kid never reaches his potential and/or he winds up hurt and loses training time or worse.
Instead of rushing these young kids into competition or make the next team or qualifying total we need to take our time in development.  In the words of Joe Kenn, we need to "slow cook 'em."  Remember , it takes 8-12 years to develop an elite athlete.
In my opinion, one of the best ways to identify problems is thru using Bill Hartman and Mike Robertson's "Assess and Correct" video and manual (  This product does a really good job of identifying problems throughout the whole body.  In identifying and correcting these problems, I think it makes the lifts much easier to teach and learn and also will help to keep your athletes healthy and in the training hall.  Think about it and I would be interested in your thoughts.  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

So many things to learn

I am learning about so much stuff that my head is spinning.  Proper breathing, hip stabilization, thoracic mobility and on and on and on.  When I first started 30 years ago, it was never this complicated.  Just go in and bench, squat and deadlift.  Throw in some curls and tricep pushdowns and you were good to go.  Now it is about fixing so many problems that I didn't even know existed back then.  Do I wish that we would go back to the good old days?  HECK NO!!!!  These are the good old days.  There is so much exciting stuff to learn and implement.  It's unbelievable.  Did you know that improper breathing may be responsible for such things as poor posture, shoulder problems, and asthma?  That just scratches the surface.  Do you have any idea of how poor hip stabilization can be the cause of knee or shoulder pain?  Well, you might but I didn't.

There is much more to training than what is ever taught in most colleges classes.  Guys like Mark Garrett, Marty Mills, Mike Boyle, Bill Hartman, and Mike Robertson -just to name a few- are doing cutting edge stuff to make their athletes better.  Wish I had known this stuff when I started back in 1980.  We might have won more football games.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Thoughts from yesterdays visit to IFAST

Took one of my athletes to IFAST in hopes that Bill Hartman might have time to look at him.  Bill was very kind to make some time to spend with us.  I had previously noticed that my athlete was very weak in the hips (lack of stability) hamstrings and glutes.  After some testing Bill confirmed my suspicions.  I was just a little ahead in my progressions to fix the.  Bill got me back on the right track with simple quadruped variations.
This instability in the hips is something I have noticed in the past as a great problem with most athletes when squatting or pulling.  This an area I think needs to be addressed more often.  I know I am going to.