Matt Thome, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Michigan Tech, had 2014 Presenter Rick Brunner as a guest lecturer for his class this past semester. Matt was kind enough to share this with us so that our readers and attendees could get a preview of Rick’s presentation and learn more about Mr. Brunner. In the 53 minute lecture that was given to Matt’s undergraduate Strength and Conditioning class Rick goes through his background, how he got into sport nutrition, and different supplement and nutrition strategies to help improve athletic performance.
Today I am excited to reintroduce Val Nasedkin. Val Nasedkin, a former decathlete at the national level for the former Soviet Union, is the co-founder and technical director of Omegawave, a pioneering company in the field of functional preparedness and readiness in athletes. He has been a guest lecturer on the principles of training at numerous sport science and physical education universities around the world, and frequently acts as a consultant to Olympic committees, sports federations and national and professional teams for various sports including Dutch Olympic Committee, United States Track and Field Olympic Committee, EPL, Serie A and La Liga teams (Medical Staff), Autonoma University (Barcelona, Spain), Duke University (North Carolina, USA) and University of Calgary (Canadian National Sports Center). After a knock out performance at The 2012 Seminar Val is back to discuss program design and periodization. If you were in Boston this spring, Val will be continuing off of that great presentation, where he discussed training means. We are really excited to have Val back on the docket and can not wait to have him back on campus.
JD: Val! Welcome back to The Seminar! We’re really excited to have you back my friend. Before we get going, let’s catch up everyone on what has been going on with Val for the past 2 years.
VN: Hi, Jay. The most important thing that happened to me is the relocation to Finland. This allowed us at OW to invest into more research projects so more cool things will be coming out this year. Also I am excited to have our new scientist on board. His name is Dr. Roman Fomin and he will be responsible for validation of our training concepts. That means we will be presenting more and more educational and research articles as well as case studies that eventually will be put into book.
JD: Not only will you be translating, but presenting as well. If you could please, give us a quick taste of what to expect. (The implementation and periodization of Victor/Your methods).
VN: Well I can only talk about my part as I haven’t seen Victor’s presentation yet ( I am sure it will be great and give you different perspective on the training process).
On my side I would like to expand on my presentation in Boston last year by going into more details on the process of building a training approach.
JD: Ever since we met, you’ve spoken very highly of Victor. Talk to us about your relationship, how it started, where it started, and how he has influenced your programming.
In 2004 I read 3 pages of discussions between Victor Nikolaevich (Seluyanov) and one of the Russian coaches. Trying to create and systemize my own approach to the training process, this paper made a lot of sense to me.
VN: I really liked the approach he was proposing as it could fit well in my own assumptions. So I applied the training stimuli he was proposing to the methodology I was working on at the time and got positive results. Nowadays, Victor is contributing to OW knowledge. He is part of our coaches and scientists round table, and he will be writing a monthly column for OW Academy(out in the first quarter 2014)
JD: Everyone in the Omegawave community knows you as the go to resource when we have questions. When people begin to monitor their athletes, what are two things that you would advise them of right off the bat?
VN: I think the most important thing is to understand is the big picture of athlete preparation. Details are important but to be able to use them appropriately we need to figure out how they fit in the overall training philosophy. It is important to choose the right exercises(detail) but it is much more important when to use them and how much (big picture)
JD: I Can’t wait to have you back on campus Val, and am really excited to hear what you have to say. Any closing thoughts?
VN: I am looking forward to talking about training and not OW for once!
JD: Dr. Seluyanov, please discuss with us the mistakes you see made by strength and conditioning coaches in the United States and around the world, and what you feel should be done differently/how to correct these issues
VS: The fundamental error in the development of training processes in Russia, the USA, and other countries of the world is in using an empirical approach combined with a low level of understanding of the adaptation processes in the organism of athletes. A successful approach to training requires a comprehensive and systemic approach to the analysis of immediate and long-term adaptation processes, with the utilization of mathematical modelling.
To improve the level of their qualifications, coaches must be familiar with my publications, which outline the theoretical foundations of sports adaptology and technology, and their application in sports.
JD: Discuss your experience working with the preparation of athletes please.
VS: My experience includes working with Olympic champions in football (soccer), skiing, and the biathlon, as well as working with winners of the World Cup in the modern pentathlon, cycling, Sambo, judo, field hockey, and ice hockey.
JD: What will our attendees expect from your presentation here on April 25th, 2013?
VS: At the lecture attendees will learn about new approaches to creating a training process that is based on biological patterns of adaptation to the training load. They will also learn about the models of primary biological systems, bio-energetic muscle activity with regard to physiological patterns, methods of controlling physical preparation, training methods that produce hyper-plasia of myofibers and mitochondria.
A science-based theoretical approach to the training process will significantly expand the creative possibilities of the coach. This is the message I hope to share with all of those in attendance.
With a great excitement I introduce the third presenter for The 2014 Seminar, Henk Kraaijenhof. Henk gave two fantastic presentations at The 2013 Edition of The Seminar, and I could not be any happier to have him back on the docket. A coach working with a wide range of individuals from field hockey, to soccer, to special operation military personal, to, of course, athletics, Henk’s background not only in coaching, but in a scientific approach to coaching is what has made him one of the most sought after coaches in the world for consulting. On top of his great level of knowledge and impressive coaching resume, Henk’s also one of the best guys you’ll meet in coaching.
JD: Henk! Welcome back to The Seminar! We’re really excited to have you back my friend. Before we get going, let’s catch up everyone on what has been going on with Henk for the past 12 months.
HK: Hello Jay, the pleasure is mine, I have fond memories of your seminar last year, meeting a lot of interesting and interested colleagues. Like always a lot of different things are going on here, some things I already posted on my blog: e.g. I lectured at the Nike Performance Summit, went to the best track meet in Athletics, and currently I am working for the Olympic Committee in Holland as teacher and mentor for young national coaches. Of course my clients for testing, athletes and coaches for consulting, tons of lectures, workshops and courses, e.g. on performance nutrition or stress management new style, and in my spare time writing three books at the same time. Next week I am going to work with SF operators abroad. Time, it’s the only thing I have plenty of
JD: Henk, your bread and butter has been in athletics, and more specifically in sprinting. You’ll be discussing how to develop speed with athletes at the 2014 Seminar. Do you find one portion (start, acceleration, top end) more difficult or requiring more time? If so, which and why?
HK: Each factor has its own difficulty e.g. reaction time and block start, is there much time to gain? No, but there is time to be lost. Most of the time people react and start faster in the semifinals than in the finals, so I spend time stabilizing reaction time under stress. Acceleration is the most valuable one: it is closely related to strength qualities, it is the largest part of the race, and a better acceleration also gives you a higher maximum speed, apart from a better first part of the race. Maximum speed is hard to improve, since you cannot spend much time running at maximum speed. Speed endurance is a tricky one, because it might negatively influence the other factors. One can spend a lot of time here, e.g. running lots of high intensity tempo’s – 3 sets of 5 times 80 meters = 135 secs, 6x150m in 15.5 = 92.5 seconds. This in comparison with the little time spent on improving maximum speed (6 times 30m flying start = 6 times 3 secs = 18 secs) or reaction time. Also at the tape you can lose a race by not dipping or dipping at the wrong time.
JD: You are well known for your work with sprinters, but what many overlook is your work with Tactical Units and team sport athletes. Could you briefly touch upon the differences with how you handled, say the Dutch Field Hockey Team vs. someone in athletics?
HK: This is an easy question: in case of athletes, I am the one in charge, being responsible for all parts of the training process. In case of team sports I am most of the time only responsible for the conditioning part, so my role and influence depends on the demands of the head coach and I have to interact and communicate my work with him/her and the other coaching staff members.
Besides that, I coach athletes for at least 3 years up to 12 years and within a smaller group, maximum 4-5 athletes at the most, and being present on the track almost every day. Working in teams is always almost of a shorter duration 1-3 years as the head coach often changes in an Olympic cycle. Still I believe that there is little difference in my approach of team vs. individual athletes.
JD: Though all our discussion I’ve come to know that not only are you well schooled, but well-traveled as well. Through all of this, who, as coaches, has had the biggest influence on how you approach training your athletes?
HK: Holland is a small country with a history of trading and a language not spoken by many. Therefore most Dutch people are multilingual. So speaking Dutch, English and German and many of us speak French or Spanish, this is a great advantage.
I think that the willingness to learn e.g. another language or investigate new fields of interest basically comes down to your motivation for your own improvement.
Since Europe has a lot of different countries with a lot of different and rather isolated cultures also in sprints and approach to training, there is a lot to learn. I was influenced by the ideas of Valentin Petrovski from Kiev, the whole Russian school of sports, like Verkhoshanski, Matveyev, Bondartchuk, Viru, Kuznetzov, Volkov, and many others. Italy has been a great influence too with
sprint coach Carlo), and my mentor Carmelo Bosco Vittori (Pietro Mennea who has shaped a great part of my concepts. From Switzerland there is the work of Jean-Pierre Egger, famous for his work with throwers (Werner Guenthor and currently Valerie Adams). My dear friend Hakan Andersson from Sweden is a very creative, but neglected sprint coach. The East German sports system also brought forth some brilliant minds and some of them became very good colleagues, despite the difference in ideology and the fact that we were competitors. I should mention the US and Canadian coaches and their training ideas, which I carefully studied: Tom Tellez, John Smith, Bob Kersee, Gary Winckler, and Charlie Francis. Of course there are many more good colleagues that I did not mention for lack of space here.
One of the interesting things is that it is obvious that there are completely different ways that have led to success. Partially to be explained by the fact that we have different athlete populations and different circumstances such as facilities, climate, etc. So it is hard to transfer a concept developed in another setting to one’s own situation.
JD: Monitoring the training process is something else you’re well versed in. Who are the people who helped you travel this path and what did they teach you?
HK: Again Carmelo Bosco thought me how to monitor all of the neuromuscular parts of the training process. For the nutritional part I educated myself taking information from many sides and the endurance part is the most standardized and well-researched part of monitoring. For the mental part, I am a firm believer in psychophysiology and have been working with that concept since 1988. And of course the proper use of the Omegawave has been a great step forwards to complete the picture of readiness.
JD: Can’t wait to have you back on campus Henk, and am really excited to hear what you have to say.
HK: Working with high-level coaches on an almost daily base I am very much concerned about education of coaches. Due to improvements of information technologies the coaches’ environment has changed rapidly over the last decades. Despite the promises of progress and improved efficiency I must say that I am not overly happy with these technological developments. Being far from technophobic, I am also not techno-euphoric. Yes, we have much more information at our fingertips, but many coaches get lost in the flood of information. We need a wave to surf not a tsunami. Experience is still the more valuable as a learning tool than reading Wikipedia. Probably more about this when I come to Richmond again, looking forward to that already.
If you’d like to read more from Henk you can check out his blog, Helping The Best To Get Better at: http://helpingthebesttogetbetter.com/
Dr. Natalia Verkhoshansky gives us a look into one of her presentations at The 2013 Seminar “Progressing The Jumping Exercises”.
The aim of this presentation is to introduce Strength & Conditioning coaches to the methodology of applying jumping exercises.
In most sports, jumping exercises are essential elements of special physical preparation because they increase the mechanical efficiency of landing-take-off (Stretch-Shortening Cycle) movements, which are key-elements in most competition exercises. Jumping exercises improve both sprinting and jumping abilities, which are very important in team sports. However, Strength & Conditioning coaches who usually work with team sport athletes often are not familiar with the methodology of applying these exercises. This may be due to the fact that, although the exercises were well elaborated, it was mainly for track & field jumpers and sprinters. This unfamiliarity brings on certain issues. Inappropriately sequenced jumping exercises may cause leg injuries if the athlete has never used this kind of exercise before. Jumping exercises, therefore, need to be prepared for in advance.
How should this preliminary preparation be accomplished?
Sport training literature usually suggests that to be ready for jump training it is necessary only to enforce the leg’s muscles and improve the flexibility of the athlete. If this were enough, how could we explain that, very often, athletes with very high levels of strength obtained by weight training have difficulty in executing jump exercises? The problem is that the “jumping skill” depends not only on the strength of the legs but also on the individual’s coordination to efficiently apply the strength during execution. Improving jumping ability requires not only physical preparation, but also technical preparation by applying appropriate methods of motor teaching.
What are these methods and how do we better apply them in the jump training?
The second problem that arises in applying jumping exercises is related to their variety, which makes it difficult to find the appropriate selection for a given athlete. Among jump exercises many types could be individualized, and can be used for different specific purpose (increasing Explosive Strength, Reactive Ability, Local Muscular Endurance etc.). The exercises can be calibrated in relation to the level of intensity of their training stimuli. According to this criterion, jump exercises may be placed in a hierarchical sequence with the following progression when applied to the training process:
1. Jumps without weights (standing jumps and bounds)
2. Jumps with weights (consecutive Barbell Jumps, Kettlebell Squat Jumps and Vertical Jumps with Barbell)
3. Depth jump
How do you apply this progression in the training of a given athlete? How does a coach know that the athlete is ready to progress with either intensity of the load, or intensity of the means selected?
To answer these questions, the following issues should be examined:
1. Fitness and skill components of training process and their compatibility.
2. Basic methodological approach for increasing the motor potential and for improving the ability to apply the motor potential in specific exercise.
3. Jumping skill: what it is and how it may be improved.
4. The general scheme of the jump exercise progression in the training process.
5. First step of the jump exercises progression: Short- and Long-coupling time jumping exercises and “ankling” runs.
6. Progressing the methods of jump training: from Extensive to Intensive.
7. Second step of the jump exercises progression: jumps with weights.
8. Consecutive Barbell jumps and Kettlebell Squat jumps: the differences between them.
9. Vertical Jumps with barbell (Countermovement Barbell Jump) and Consecutive Barbell Jumps: the differences between them.
10. How to evaluate the jumping ability improvement at every step of jump exercise’s progression?
11. Should Drop Landings be used as preliminary exercise for Depth Jumps?
12. Three main principles for successful coaching of jump training.
To better outline the practical aspects in the presentation I will be showing sample workouts for every step of the jump exercise progression and video clips of the exercise’s execution with athletes of different jump training experience.
Plyometrics are a commonly used means in many physical preparation programs. The true value in plyometrics and rationale for their use is in the name; the term is not, contrary to common practice, synonymous with jump training exercises. In 1978, plyometrics were defined by Fred Wilt as:
“Training drills designed to bring the gap between sheer strength and the power (rate of work or force x velocity) required in producing the explosive reactive movements so necessary to excellence in jumping, throwing and sprinting. ”
He continued with:
“To the best of my knowledge, there has been no previous reference made to plyometric exercises in American sports literature. This word has been used for a number of years by European coaches, especially those from Germany and Russia. The word plyometric is apparently derived from the Greek word plethyein, which means to increase and isometric. My present interpretation of plyometric is that it means the exercises or training drills used in producing an overload of isometric type muscle action which invokes the stretch reflex in muscles. I am not particularly happy with this interpretation, and it may alter when a precise definition evolves.”
The Greek word “plethyein” has a different meaning: “be or become full”. This Greek root is used, for example, in the English words “plethora” and “plenty”. The meaning of “Increase” or greater in size, extent, has another Greek root: “plio-“. In fact, the Russian, German, and other European coaches used and continue to use another term for Plyomentrics: “pliometric exercises”. To understand why they began to use this term, we need to take a quick trip to the early 20th century.
The term “pliometric” was introduced in 1938 by Hubbard and Stetson who “recognized that muscles underwent contractions during three different “conditions”: when they are shortening, are keeping the same length, or are lengthening. The three conditions were termed “miometric,” “isometric,” and “pliometric,” by coupling the Greek prefixes “mio” (shorter), “iso” (same), and “plio” (longer) to the noun “metric,” defined as “pertaining to measures or measurement, to differentiate among the three conditions under which the muscles ‘contracted’.”
The pliometric muscular action occurs when the external load actively extends (stretch) the muscles while the contraction is in progress. In Russian sport training literature it is usually termed as the yielding regime of muscular work. From a biomechanics point of view, during such “lengthening contraction”, the muscles do not produce any external positive work (i.e., mechanical work, equal to force generated x distance moved); all of the energy has been used to exert tension on the load.
The feature of such “negative” work was outlined in 1892 by A. Fick , who demonstrated that a muscle can exert greater force when stretched by an external force while contracting; the heat produced by actively stretched muscle was less than that measured during the active shortening. Using the terms introduced in 1938 by Hubbard and Stetson, it was shown, that the pliometric and miometric muscular contractions (with the same velocity) produce different forces and consume different amounts of energy. Pliometric muscular actions:
1) Produce a greater force
2) Consume less energy than miometric muscular actions
This phenomenon was confirmed and extended in 1923 by W. Fenn in his study on the quantitative relation between the heat production of muscles and the work that they perform . Fenn showed that “The work done in stretching the muscle does not therefore add itself to the ‘physiological’ heat but . . . replaced energy which would have been liberated by the muscle if it had not been stretched.”
Fenn’s study was performed in the laboratory of Archibald V. Hill, who termed the results as “Fenn’s Effect”. He summarized this effect in the following words: “ …Shortening during contraction, lengthening during relaxation, appears to require excess liberation of energy. Lengthening during contraction, shortening during relaxation, appear to cause an excess “absorption” of energy, i.e. to lead to a total energy liberation less than that of the isometric twitch…. If it be held fast and allowed to shorten only during relaxation, then again it will give out less heat. ” .
Numerous studies were carried out to discover the basic mechanisms of this phenomenon. In 1938 Hill theorized that Fenn’s effect could be related to a decrease in the rate of chemical transformation in the muscle. However, in 1950, Hill had also hypothesized that the mechanical energy produced by an external force, which causes a contracting muscle to stretch, could be stored in the series elastic components of muscle and reutilized in the subsequent shortening phase of movement: “An important factor of mechanical behavior of muscle is the passive elastic component in series with the active contractile one…. This acts as a buffer when a muscle passes abruptly from the resting to the active state, and it accumulates mechanical energy as the tension of the muscle rises. If a muscle is opposed, as in most ordinary movements, by the inertia of a limb or an external mass, this mechanical energy can be used in producing a final velocity greater than that at which the contractile component itself can shorten. This is important in such movements as jumping or throwing.”
In 1968, the research of G. Cavana, B. Dusman, and R. Margaria showed, in isolated frog muscle and in the muscle of working humans, that the work done by muscle shortening at a given velocity was greater if the shortening was preceded by a stretch during stimulation. This effect, they concluded, was partly due to an increase in the force of contraction of the contractile component. The force developed by contractile component, when the muscle shortens after being stretched, is greater than the force developed when the muscle shortens, at the same speed and length, but starting from a state of isometric contraction.
During the following two decades it was established that pliometric contraction:
− can maximize the force exerted and the work performed by muscle
− is associated with a greater mechanical efficiency
− can attenuate the mechanical effects of impact forces.
So, it was natural to suppose that the pliometric muscular action during the landing and take-off phases typical of jumping exercises stretches the activated muscles during the downward movement after touchdown, causing an increase in the force produced in the following take-off movement. In other words, the performance of the jump is enhanced.
This was likely the reason why high power jumps that involve repeated, rapid, and forceful shortening and lengthening actions during almost maximum activation of large muscle groups (as does similar forms of throwing) where the pliometric regime is emphasized, were termed “pliometric” exercises. This term was then converted to “plyometric” probably because both terms are pronounced similarly, though no one saw the written word. We know this because in 1953 E. Asmussen introduced another term for pliometric muscular actions: “eccentric”, which is also defined as whimsical as well as excentric , meaning to move away from the center of the muscle. In 1959, in Karpovich’s textbook “Physiology of Muscular Activity” , miometric actions were named “concentric” and pliometric were named “eccentric”.
“Presently, lengthening, miometric and pliometric, and concentric and eccentric are all in use in the physiological, biomechanics, sports medicine, and sports science literature. Despite their inappropriateness, the most commonly used expressions in the conditioning and sports exercise papers are concentric and eccentric contractions (Knuttgen HG and Kraemer WJ. Terminology and measurement in exercise performance. J Appl Sport Sci Res 1: 1–10,1987.)”
In the sport training literature the term “pliometric” became obsolete and was gradually replaced by the term “eccentric”, also thanks to the growth of popularity in “eccentric training”, which consists in using only the lowering phase of resistance exercise.
The term “pliometric” gradually lost its primary meaning and continued be used in Europe synonymously with plyometric. By the end of the 1980s, the new term came to be considered more appropriated for plyometrics: exercises that emphasize the Stretch-Shortening Cycle (SSC). However, the term Plyometrics is still more popular between the coaches, athletes and sport scientists. According to M. Siff, Plyometrics “consist of stimulating the muscles by means of a sudden stretch preceding any voluntary effort”.
Now, we know that under a sudden stretch, in this definition, the pliometric muscular action is implied, which increases the power output of the subsequent movement. We may thus apply a more suitable interpretation of the term Plyometrics: exercises in which the pliometric muscular action is applied as a means of intensifying the muscular activity. Essentially, in simplest terms, Plyometrics means “to apply pliometric”
 Fred Wilt. “Plyometrics – What is it and how it works”, Modern athlete and coach, 1978, n.16, pp.9-12.
 Hubbard A.W. and Stetson R,H. An experimental analysis of human locomotion. J Physiol 124: 300–313, 1938.
 Faulkner, John A. Terminology for contractions of muscles during shortening, while isometric, and during lengthening. J Appl Physiol, 95: 455–459, 2003
 Fick A. Neue Beiträge zur Kenntniss von der Wärme-Entwicklung im Muskel. Pflügers Arch 51: 541–569, 1892.
 Wallace Osgood Fenn, A Quantitative Comparison between the Energy Liberated and the Work Performed by the Isolated Sartorius Muscle of the Frog, Journal of Physiology, 58(1924): 175.
 Fenn WO. The relationship between the work performed and the energy liberated in muscular contraction. J Physiol 58: 373–395, 1924.
 Archibald V. Hill. The Mechanism of Muscular Contraction. Nobel Lecture, December 12, 1923.
 Hill AV. Heat of shortening and the dynamic constants of muscle. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 126: 136–195, 1938.
 Hill, A.V. (1950) The series elastic component of muscle. Proceedings of the Royal Society London Series B 137, 273–280.
 G.Cavana, B.Dusman, R.Margaria. Positive work done by a previously stretched muscle . J Appl Physiol January 1, 1968.
 “In 1962, during a discussion on muscle performance chaired by D. B. Dill (Rodahl K, Horvath SM, and Risch MPS. Muscle as a Tissue. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1962.) , Erling Asmussen used the terms concentric and eccentric and B. J. Ralston made the perceptive comment that these terms led to confusion and should be eliminated from the literature. Asmussen conceded that the terms miometric and pliometric might be better..” (Faulkner, John A. Terminology for contractions of muscles during shortening, while isometric, and during lengthening. J Appl Physiol, 95: 455–459, 2003).
Karpovich PV. Physiology of Muscular Activity. Philadelphia,PA: Saunders, 1959.
 Faulkner, John A. Terminology for contractions of muscles during shortening, while isometric, and during lengthening. J Appl Physiol, 95: 455–459, 2003.
 Komi PV. Physiological and biomechanical correlates of muscle function: effects of muscle structure and stretch-shortening cycle on force and speed. In: Exercise and Sport Science Reviews, edited by Terjung RL. Lexington, MA: Collamore, 1984, p. 81–121.
Today we are excited to introduce another presenter for The 2013 Seminar, Landon Evans. Landon is on staff at the University of Iowa working with their Olympic Strength and Conditioning Staff and is also the
department’s sport nutritionist. Landon will be presenting on a unique topic that is sure to be of great value and assistance to all the coaches, and trainers in attendance.
JD: Landon, we’re excited to have you back on the docket this year. I know you have been very busy since you spoke last year. Why don’t you tell us what has been going on.
LE: I was given the great opportunity to join the University of Iowa Olympic Sports Strength & Conditioning department. I serve as an assistant strength & conditioning coach and oversee the sports nutrition department for the teams that we serve.
There were many great and supportive people that my family left a lot of great people at Illinois State University. I would be nowhere without the people at ISU, and am grateful for their support in my tenure there.
Additionally, my wife and I are proud parents of a 1 year old little girl. The timing of her coming into our lives, the opportunity to get back to Iowa, and to be apart of a great athletic department and staff has been a dream for our family.
JD: The new position sounds fantastic. How has the transition been? How is the new staff/environment and where do you see things going for you professionally at Iowa?
LE: The transition has been smooth. The staff at Iowa is top notch and they genuinely care about what they do. Additionally, the athletic training services director has been great to work with. The collaboration between our departments has been steadily moving forward and becoming more and more integrated by the day. It has been a great ride so far.
Professionally here, it is limitless in my opinion. There is always more that can be done. The environment in which I work allows for the envelope to continually to be pushed. Outside of the athletics department, I will begin teaching in the Health and Human Physiology department this upcoming fall. The people that I’ve met so far in the department are exactly the people that I love being around. They seem to be a very proactive group. Being a part of this department will lend itself for many opportunities for myself, and potentially our strength & conditioning department.
JD: One thing many people do not know about you is that you studied computer engineering in college. How was the transition, and where does your work as an undergrad help you as a sports performance coach?
LE: When I entered my undergraduate studies, I began in computer engineering. I was head-over-heels for computing in my early years in high school, but as the years went on in undergraduate, I became more aware of the reality of what I was actually working towards. This didn’t sit well with me so I decided to make the switch to a sport related field. Granted, knowing how the profession is now, I may have stuck out the engineering, especially from a software development standpoint. With that being said, I’m very happy with what I’m doing now.
In engineering, I was forced to think critically all the time. You were always in pursuit of finding a better way to do something. That was the expectation. It wasn’t an option. So you naturally developed more and more skillsets to solve a problem. Coaching is all about solving problems, so it was a natural transition.
Microsoft Excel was something I used right away when the Office package came out, but I didn’t get into it until I was actually coaching. From a database standpoint, I was only exposed to setting up MySQL servers, and working within Microsoft Access a bit. As a coach, everything I need (at least right now) is done in Microsoft Excel. This includes everything from workouts, to data analysis, to data visualization.
JD: I’m excited for your presentation on how coaches can utilize computer programs for tracking and analyzing data; I think that this is a topic many coaches are undereducated in. Can you tell us why this sort of work is important for the coach, and what they can learn from utilizing computer programs correctly?
LE: Numbers drive a lot of decisions. Using instinct as a coach is important, but objective data can definitely help us make many decisions a little bit easier. There are many instrumental channels that help us make those decisions. Objective data is just one of them, but a powerful one. Software can help us manage this data much better, especially if you know how to utilize the basic elements of the software.
The talk is going to be strictly on Microsoft Excel as this is the most popular software being used in our profession. Some are going web-based to write their programs, but those programs are still very limited. Excel is what the majority of the strength & conditioning professionals that I know use to construct their programs and to enter in their respective data.
If I look at my work-day, a lot of time is sitting on the computer writing programs, inputting data, analyzing data, visualizing data, staring at data to make sense of it, or reading. All of that can take a ton of time, that we really don’t have, but you can speed up the analysis and visualization by simply writing better Excel programs. Some people are intimidated by Excel, but in the hour that I will be presenting, I’ll share how to write programs easier, showcase best practices with database entry, provide shortcuts, and highlight dashboard design.
I encourage people to bring their laptops to actively work along with my presentation. Additionally, since the presentation is only 1 hour long, I do not have any issue sitting down with individuals to hack at their Excel with them to come up with a better solution for them.
JD: That sounds absolutely fantastic Landon. Finding a better way to track and input data, write programs, and visualize the data is something that can help any coach. From presentations for sport coaches, sharing data with other strength and conditioning coaches, to analyzing the training that they are implementing with there athletes, making that a faster and smoother operation would be fantastic. We can’t wait for the presentation.
I’m pleased to welcome back to The Seminar, author of Ultimate MMA Conditioning Joel Jamieson. Joel has been a favorite of all in attendance the past two years, and with his presentation overviewing his camp preparation for his MMA fighters, this year is sure to bring it!
JD: Joel, it’s great to have you back on the docket for The 2013 Seminar. Catch our readers and attendees up. What is new with Joel Jamieson?
JJ: Just staying busy, working on a few different projects, training the usual group of fighters and running the gym – same old, same old. Mostly I’ve been focused on the new stuff for the BioForce Project, which is something I’ll be discussing at the 2013 seminar. It’s really exciting work, something that I don’t think has ever really been done before and I’m excited to talk more about it.
JD: Your presentation is going to be an example of one of your fighters’ “camps” leading up to a fight. What can our attendees expect to take away?
JJ: The goal will be to give attendees an inside look at what it really takes to get ready for a fight and my goal is to give them practical ideas that they can implement with their own athletes. I’ll be explaining not just what we did week by week, but also why we did it that way, which is the most important part.
JD: All of the fighters must be absolute freaks. Strong, fast, fit, tough, fantastic athletes. So when you get the opportunity to work with the cream of the crop, like a DJ, where do you start? Where do you go?
JJ: I wouldn’t say every fighter in the sport is a fantastic athlete by any means, but it’s been getting that way more and more in the last few years. You’re finally starting to see some really high level athletes competing in MMA and I think over the next few years the level of athleticism is only going to get better.
Still, no matter how good an athlete might be, there are always places that he or she can improve. This is especially true in a sport like MMA, which requires such a diverse skill set and such a high level of fitness. Whether it’s DJ or any other fighter, there’s always something that can be improved and that’s where the training will be focused on.
JD: What evaluations, if any, do you utilize at the beginning of a camp to see where you need to go with an athlete in their fight prep?
JJ: There’s a ton of evaluation that goes on at the beginning of a camp; we look at their overall fitness levels, their skill set, and their opponent. The biggest part of this is really done by their skill coach because at the end of the day, the sport is one of skills; fitness levels just support that, so a fighter’s skills must be evaluated so that the right game plan can be drawn up based on the opponent. This is where working with a world class coach like Matt Hume is so valuable because he’s as good at evaluating fighters and coming up with game plans as anyone in the world.
JD: With these evaluations in mind, when you start a camp with a fighter, what are some common “issues” you run into with the athletes? How might these change your approach?
JJ: Every fighter is different and so I don’t know that there really are “common” issues. Everyone has their own set of needs, goals, limitations, strengths, weaknesses, etc. At this level, they are all professional athletes and they take their training seriously so it’s just a matter of putting together the right game plan and executing it.
JD: What may change throughout the camp is how well they recover, if they sustain any minor injuries, etc. These day to day issues are really the biggest things that come up and need to be managed. At the end of the day, everything is based around keeping them healthy and training so that they can be ready to fight.
JJ: The strength and conditioning program can’t beat them up, but rather must get them in shape without increasing the risk of injury. It also can’t have a negative impact on their skill training. So on a day to day basis there’s quite a bit of evaluation and management that goes on to keep them on the right track, but the overall approach and game plan stays the same.
JD: Joel, thanks for taking the time out to catch us up with what’s going on with you. We’re really excited to have you in the lineup again. To hear firsthand how you prepared a fighter will be an awesome presentation. I can’t wait to see it.
JJ: No problem, looking forward to coming back to Virginia and seeing everyone again this spring!
I had the distinct fortune to sit down and interview 2013 Presenter Henk Kraaijenhof for a second time. During our discussion Henk dives into working with the “middle” versus the extremes in a team setting, specialized strength and specialized exercises, the “90% rule”, technique work, and monitoring the training effects of athletes. Thank you to our readers who contributed questions. This is a 100 minute interview jam packed with information. I hope you enjoy it! Click below to download.