My Thoughts Monday: Hakan Andersson’s Review of The Seminar

mtm-logoToday’s My Thoughts Monday is a Hakan Andersson’s recount of his trip to RVA for The 2017 Seminar.

Add 1On 21-22 July I was invited to lecture at the University of Richmond’s wonderfully beautiful campus. For the seventh consecutive year the University and coach Jay DeMayo hosted the Central Virginia Sport Performance Seminar. The target group was mainly strength and conditioning coaches in colleges and professional sport but it also attracted other practitioners, including therapists and also researchers in sport science.

The speaker list was great and the rather small size venue with a limited number of attendees participating allowed for some fantastic social interaction during the breaks, lunches, and dinners along with great networking throughout the seminar between speakers, attendees, and exhibitors.

There was a small but high quality exhibition, displaying cutting edge technology. It was an excellent format of finding business and cooperation partners for the exhibitors, and a great way to get a hands on demonstrations for coaches and others in attendance.

HakanThe subject of my lecture was technique and physique for sprint development. The fact that I was invited is an acknowledgement that Americans respect and are interested in Swedish sport and Swedish coaching – despite the fact that they themselves are incredibly successful in many sports and strength and conditioning for team team sports is according to my view usually performed in a more professional way in the United States than in Sweden.

What stood out the most was definitely the level of the speakers. They did not only present very interesting and thought provoking information they also presented in a very professional manner. One thing that struck me and it seem to be the same all over the world; almost all the presenters were male and 95% of the attendees were also male! Where are all the female researchers and coaches?

ManualA book was also published in connection with the seminar (The Manual Vol. 2) featuring myself and several lecturers from this year’s and previous year’s seminar write about different aspects of training and development of sports. The book is called Manual 2 and can be ordered at https://cvasps.com/product/manual-vol-2/. On the website you can also download lectures presentations.

DougJay DeMayo had as usually invited an impressive row of lecturers and first out on Friday was Doug McKenney. Dough McKenney was the first full-time strength and conditioning coach in the NHL when he was employed by Pittsburgh Penguins in 1985. McKenney was also a pioneer in NHL performing systematic speed tests on ice. McKenney later worked for no less than 18 seasons in the Buffalo Sabre organization-with the standing goal of constantly improving the team’s performance level.

Doug Slide

In addition, McKenney worked very close to the other coaches, physiotherapists and physicians with rehabilitation of injured players – to quickly and safely help them return to their optimal gaming performance.

McKenny also explained the importance of adapting the conditioning training following the team’s playing schedule and stressed the importance of maintaining training even when the team is on so-called “road trips” with up to 4 matches in a week. McKenney put particular emphasis on teaching players about the important relationship between healthy nutrition, body composition, speed, strength, aerobic and anaerobic endurance.

His lecture focused a lot on how optimal hydration and energy fulfillment can maximize performance and reduce the risk of injury. His success can be measured with the impressive consequence that his team often scored in the smallest amount of man-games-missed category throughout his NHL career. He also emphasized the importance of constant personal communication with all players-something that takes time but always has to of top priority.

ThomeLecturer number two was Matt Thome from Michigan Tech University. Matt Thome, like many other American coaches, has a University degree in Exercise Science. Matt Thome is the university’s head strength and conditioning coach in American football and basketball and also teaches at the universities in several courses in biomechanics each semester.

Thome talked a lot about training and adaptation and in his opinion training can often be improved by reducing the volume in favor of quality, this for optimal development, but also to avoid overloading with consequential overuse and injuries. Thome’s view of this is summarized very well with the following illustration.

THome Slide

KeenanDay two started with really well with coach Keenan Robinson. Keenan is the United States Swimming High Performance Director and has worked with swimmers from the North Baltimore Aquatics Club, University of Michigan, Arizona State and USA Swimming for many years, mostly in collaboration with legendary swim coach Bob Bowman. Their success they have had has been tremendous and their athletes’ Olympic medals are approaching 50! Their premier swimmer is undoubtedly Michel Phelps for whom Keenan has coached since since his younger teens. Keenan Robinson talked about the importance of swimming at low intensity to tolerate high intensity training and strength train not only for performance but also to avoid injuries. Keenan also spoke about swimming as a sport with a high working ethic and a sport with well-developed high-performance culture.

Keenan Slide

BrettBrett Bartholomew was perhaps the seminars most driven and dynamic speaker. Brett Bartholomew works as a consultant worldwide in performance-related subjects but is also a writer and is the author of the book “Conscious Coaching”. Brett Bartholomew has worked extensively in American football and athletics but also with various assignments within the US Special Forces. Some of Brett Bartholomew’s advice was to seek knowledge outside your comfort zone. To be truly successful in sport, you need to be more “interdisciplinary”. One can learn a lot from other areas as within the corporate world or social sciences. Many of the problems we encounter in coaching are based on sociology, psychology, management and organizational leadership.

Brett Slide

Brett felt that what we do in sport is unique in a way, but it is not “special” because we often try to solve the same issues that are encountered in the professional world around us. “In terms of information that you can use to improve performance specifically, the best resource is your phone or a good handshake. Go and meet and talk with other coaches, leaders or researchers. Offer them to buy lunch and or dinner and keep your mouth shut and let them do the majority of the talking.”

BradNext out was East Tennessee State University Assistant Professor and High Performance Coach, Dr. Brad DeWeese. Dr. DeWeese has, for a number of years, contributed to the success of many athletes in several different sports with a total 20 OS medals and 7 World Championships. Dr. DeWeese is not just a coach; he is also a researcher and has produced a number of publications in the subjects Strength Training and Speed.

Dr. DeWeese spoke a lot about sprint technique and strength training for the development of speed but also a whole lot about periodization. He effectively punctured all the ideas that periodization is dead and out, but in today’s sports with often quite short general preparation periods and long competition periods, training must, in many ways, be planned differently than through classical periodization which is still valid in many Olympic sports. Classical periodization involves relatively long preparation periods and clearly defined periods of high performance and top form.

Brad Slide

Dr MannThe last speaker was Assistant Professor and High Performance Coach, Dr. Brian Man. Dr Bryan Mann has previously competed in the sport of power lifting and is the deputy director of All graduation at the University of Missouri where he has been active since 2004. Dr Mann is a researcher and author and has published several research publications as well as written four books in the field of resistance training. Dr Mann has also worked as a personal adviser for strength development for the world champion in shot put in 2009 and iVM 2004, 2008 and 2010; Christian Cantwell.

Dr. Mann focused his lecture on velocity-based strength training (VBT). An area in which he also published the book “Developing Explosive Athletes – Use of Velocity Based Training in Training athletes” around. Dr Mann considered that through VBT and the feedback received in each repetition, the quality of strength training definitely increases, but also that you in that way get bigger transfers to other qualities like jump and sprint ability. He referred to a study by Randell et al., which showed significantly greater improvements in strength, jumping ability and speed for a group that trained with feedback compared to another group exercising the same things but without feedback. Dr. Mann also spoke warmly around the concept; Strength training with the load in which the athlete produces the highest power, and this is true, according to Dr Mann, especially if you want to develop explosive strengths and speed. Dr Man also categorized strength training in a slightly different way, based on average speed in a lift.

Mann Slide

In summary, a very good and well-organized seminar, actually one of the best seminars I’ve attended! I can strongly recommend CVASPS!

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We Need To Slow Down…

mtm-logoIt seems that every month or so there is an article, commentary, or an event that gains traction on the “bigger” news outlets and sends shockwaves through world of strength and conditioning. There was “The Killing Season” a few weeks back, and last fall the comments made about Chris Doyle at Iowa not being “worth the money”. In today’s day and age we all react quickly. We want to hit the like or share button before we process what we actually hear or read. Now, if we watch the whole video or read the whole article or not is another discussion in and of itself, but the reactions stay the same. We want to jump on a band wagon and beat the drum to say “look at this it’s so right/wrong”!

The latest article that has caught traction is the New York Times article on UCONN Women’s Basketball team and their “training characteristics”. This thing has blown up. I have a problem with what is going on in this for three reasons:

1) People are looking at the article and only taking away that they run/work till their tired and keep pushing to make them focus (see mental toughness and a whole different topic of conversation), and they lift hard all year. Ok, here is where the actual fear comes in for me. The sporting sub culture that is women’s basketball has long been one of over use injuries, and training designed around “making them tougher.” Now, the best team in the history of the game is saying, not only do we do that but also we do it at an even more extreme level than any of you. All I can see coming from this is strength coaches being called into their head coaches office and hearing something along the lines of “you need to push them harder, the workouts need to be faster and more intense, they need to be tougher.” If this is something that has been progressed, and started from the summer when the kids all start their off season, then I would tend to believe that we would all agree that this type of training could lead to success, but not because of the training itself, but because the training has been progressed to the point where the kids can handle the stress and not break down. That’s what my take away from the article was, that they constantly increase the stress applied to the athletes, so they are able to work at a greater level for a longer duration of time. That’s the key. Progress them and they get better. Just go bat shit crazy because “it’s what UCONN does” and we have a repeat of what happened in the Pacific Northwest this winter.

2) They do use monitoring. It says it right in the article. As a matter of fact, it seems that they monitor quite a bit. Just because it’s not HRV, or heart rate, or athlete tracking doesn’t mean it’s not monitoring. This has become such a polarizing thing it’s somewhat disgusting. Is there an art and a science to coaching, yup sure is, but that doesn’t mean you either are an artist or a scientist. So seriously, just get over it. You can help the kids by asking them a few questions and tracking it to see if there are trends. It’s easy, it’s cheap, and it’s monitoring. I’ve run teams where we have used HR monitors, and Omegawave, and questionnaires. I’ve also run teams where “this is the plan and we are sticking to it unless you all are open and honest about where we are.” Was one way more successful than the other? Yes, the group where the kids actually talked and were open and honest in discussing things. If you are going to monitor and you don’t know what you are looking to impact/track/change, then it isn’t going to work, but don’t tell me that if you are tracking questionaries’ that that’s not monitoring because it’s cheap and anyone can do it. Saying that’s not monitoring is just you making an agenda driven statement that ignorant at best. Chapter 2 of The Manual, Vol. 1 was about how to do just that. I couldn’t recommend reading what Kevin had to say there more.

3) Please do not over look some simple things that have the greatest impact on their success in Storrs. The first being they have, arguably, the best coach in the history of women’s basketball. We can talk all day about Gino vs. Pat, but at worst they’re 1A and 1B. He has assembled an absolutely fantastic staff that does an amazing job with their student athletes. Look at the last 4 or 5 paragraphs of that article and tell me that Coach Kimball isn’t doing every single thing possible to ensure the student athlete’s she is responsible for are successful. I mean seriously LOOK AT THAT LIST OF THINGS SHE DOES! From nutrition, to monitoring (YES IT SAYS IT FOLKS), to any form of training and recovery work you can think of. She covers all the bases. I wouldn’t expect the rest of the staff to be any less devoted either. (Disclaimer, all I know is what I read in this article, and I am super impressed, but have never seen any of this, so the statements in the article are all I have to go off of). So you have one of, if not the greatest coach of all time who has assembled a staff of dedicated hard working people who are doing a fantastic job, and you now are going to add in the fact that they recruit the best players in the world at the game we are talking about, and now maybe you have the perfect recipe for a winning streak greater than 100 games.

All in all, the moral of this story is be careful what you share, because the back story is more important than the single point that you may want to take from it. At the end of the day, your staff has to be fantastic at what they do and you have to progressively increase the stress placed upon the athlete in order to safely improve performance. I just hope that these articles don’t drive to many coaches to go to extremes when it comes to pushing kids too soon too fast. The necessity to have to change the culture of a team doesn’t mean kids have to get hurt. It means we all need to take a step back and look at what we can each do better to improve each factor affecting performance, because when push comes to shove, winning cures a lot of those “issues.”

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My Thoughts Monday #8: Results of The “First Phase”

mtm-logoSeven or so weeks ago I started this talking about how this was all driven off of a discussion I had with the head coach for a specific team. That we needed to make sure, as strength coaches, that we were using the same language as our head coach, and that we had the same goals and direction of the training program. I shared with you the plan, what we were looking to evaluate and how we would evaluate the athlete’s, and the training plans in general. Now, I’d like to share with you the results. These are, in no way shape or form, anything other than our initial improvements that will now drive the direction of our preparation going forward. Let’s start out with just a general overview of what we saw from these student athletes:

MTM Eval 2

As you can see above they did pretty well. Just quick math shows that on average the team improved roughly 23 seconds on average. That, to me, is pretty impressive. The other number I was impressed with was that there are now 9 of the 17 athletes able to complete the testing (we have 2 out due to injury) have run a sub 6 minute mile and only one person who has not run a sub seven. Another thing I thought was cool was this:

MTM Eval 1

When you look at the tests through out the week you will find very few that had 10 seconds or more discrepancy in the three trials. So what I take from that is that these times were (for this week at least) reliable, and they have made these improvements.

It goes without saying, I would hope, that the only thing that directly influenced the improvements in these evaluations is the effort level of the student athletes. Some had less room for improvement, and some had more, but they all got better. They all pushed each other, they all showed up on days where they felt like crap, they all showed up and ran hard during mid terms or when they had papers due. It didn’t matter. Were there some days that were better than others? Of course there were, and in fact there were some days I told them flat you “you lost because you stunk,” but what this group didn’t do was quit. They kept showing up, they kept pushing each other, and they kept battling. They won this portion. I hope they feel the sense of accomplishment that they should because they’ve earned these results.

Hopefully someone looks at the past 7 weeks and finds something that helps, or something they hate, and it can start a conversation. I’d love some feedback on what you like, or what we could have done better for these student athletes in order to find better improvements. Next week we will talk about another issue this squad has had, and then get into what our training is going to look like going forward. Thanks for reading.

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My Thoughts Monday #7: “Footwork”? Maybe?

mtm-logoIn the initial meeting with the head coach of this team we are discussing, one of the things that she brought up was the issue the athlete’s have with their feet being outside of their base of support when trying to do specific skills. Now, we can discuss if that is a technique issue that the sport coach should address or if that’s a simple “footwork” problem that we can address in training, but for today, let’s just say I’m taking this on.

Now, before we go forward one thing needs to be addressed. This is the one thing that we are doing that I have absolutely no idea if it will help or not, and I completely despise that. I’m not a fan of doing things to “just do things” as many of you know, but when this issue was brought to my attention, the first thing that came to my mind is what we are doing, and as my mom has always said, “when in doubt go with your gut.” So, this is what we are doing.

When this issue was brought up the first thing I thought of was some stuff Brandon Hourigan did with our football players a while back. Most of it was taken from Mark Verstegen’s “Core Performance” book, but one I think might have been from Brandon himself, because I didn’t see it in the book. We utilized 3 different exercises for this: Hip Base Shift, Lateral Base Shift, and SL Shift. Instead of me trying to write down all of the descriptions and ruin everything, I put together a video of me demoing (if you call this a demo) and talking through the progression here:

So from here, we need to share how we progressed the whole deal. This is what we did, from Day 1 up until this week (obviously we haven’t done the stuff for this week yet because it’s Monday, but this is the plan). We tried to add a new exercise every other day, and/or intensify one that we already have in there. To answer the question about what are the jumping/running exercises. Dr. Verkhosansky covered that in great detail in her presentation “Progressing The Jumping Exercises” from The 2013 Seminar, and the cutting exercises will be covered in The Manual, Vol. 2. So you can find all those there. MTM 7

Next week we will come back and discuss this week’s evaluations, and then dive into the changes in the plan and where the team is going from here.

Verstegen, M., & Williams, P. (2005). Core Performance: the revolutionary workout program to transform your body and your life. S.l.: Rodale.

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My Thoughts Monday #6: Weight Room Progressions

mtm-logoMany of you reading this have seen my presentations on YouTube (Case Study 1, Case Study 2, Boston) where I talk about how we program, and why we do things. The simple idea of constantly progressing and moving forward to help improve performance of the athlete is something that I have stood by for a long time, and will probably be the corner stone of all the programming I do in the future. Although there are exceptions to every rule, this one will be the one that will be least compromised by me.
Field Hockey 2017 Preperation 2I type out that so that I can show you this. This is the 1st draft of our lifting progression for the team we have been discussing in MTM. Let’s first discuss what you are looking at. For certain headings (i.e. linear progression) there are exercises listed below (Goblet, Front Barbell, Goblet RFESS, Front BB RFESS). You go through the progression as though you are reading. You start out with the 1st exercise in the 1st weight column. Once you can complete said exercise with proper technique, at that resistance level, you “check the box” and move to the right. When you’ve finished the row, you then move to the next exercise. I set this up in this manner because it eliminates the “fake confusion” as to where we are moving with the “main” exercises we are using. It also shows the athlete’s where they are going, and what is needed to be accomplished to “level up” an exercise. This has seemed to be very motivational for many of the student athlete’s on this team.

I discussed the autonomy given to the student athletes’ on the upper body work in last weeks edition, so I’m not going to revisit that and bore you. If you missed it you can catch it here: MTM #5.

Field Hockey 2017 Preperation 3This then brings me to where I made a mistake and needed to redo the card after a 2nd week. I made 2 assumptions, which caught me at the end of week 2 when it comes to the “ab” work. Assumption 1 was that the people who have been in the program, this is my first weeks of taking over the team but my past assistant follows similar progressions that I do, would know the simple ab progressions for each of the exercises (flexion, sit up, rotation). This was a big fat no. The 2nd assumption was that the “guide” of how many reps to progress by would be enough, and they wouldn’t handle it like the other “progressions”. This again was an epic fail on my part. So, when the team comes in tomorrow they will get this. This is the updated sheet, with the ab exercise progressions in it.

In next weeks MTM I’ll post video’s up of each of the “progressions” and how we move them forward with some brief descriptions as to why we are doing this the way we are. The following will be the “footwork” work we are using (again mostly videos), followed by our results of our first evaluation.

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My Thoughts Monday #5: The first 2 weeks in the weight room.

mtm-logoFor those of you who know me, I’m a bit different with how I handle things in the weight room. We could talk about the 1×20 forever, but I think the main thing we should discuss is the autonomy I give to the student athletes. If we look at a lot of the lifts/exercises we ask these people to perform we as coaches would agree that they are general in nature, but we all fight over what we should do in certain “movements”. So with that in mind I’ll break down the initial card I gave to these student athletes that you can see below.

Field Hockey 2017 Preperation Lift 1The ground based warm up is just a bastardized version of the Parisi Warm Up Method. If you need to learn more about it please go to their page and purchase the video. It’s worth every penny.

Our primary lower body exercise right now is step ups. We selected this because our primary objective it to get “more fit” so I do not want to take too much away from our efforts to improve the student athletes fitness. Also, you saw on the last edition of MTM, they’re running a ton. I believe the squat is the “king” exercise as Louie Simmons has said, but I’m concerned that with all the work we are doing on our “fitness” that squatting will take away from that, or they will be too fatigued to really push the squats. We will squat once we get to shorter distance running (which we will talk about in a couple weeks), but for now, I’m not going to fight that fight and use this as a means to develop strength and endurance. A heavy set of 20 step-ups is a bear though, both to develop “fitness” and strength. If you haven’t tried it, please be my guest.

The throwing progression is to teach them how to be extensive with movements. We start with this and have had great success with this as a teaching tool to better help them to understand the running exercises that Verkhoshansky has discussed on many occasions.

Now the real questions you’re probably having. What are the progressions and why does it just say vertical pull and such. I’ll discuss the progressions next week. For now, let’s look at the general descriptions of exercises we have set up for this team.

Looking at the 1×20, I’ve noticed that many student athletes have a hard time looking at the forest through the tress. Meaning that they have a hard time seeing where they are going when just adding 5 pounds. So, we start out with the first 2 weeks having them understand that they are going to have the power to select some exercises. Namely, we give them the autonomy to select the upper body ones. This is because: 1) they’re general exercises that have minimal effect on actual sporting performance, and 2) because it allows them to invest more into the program because they are driving these decisions. We give them the 2 weeks to figure out that the goal is to get to a point where they can’t add weight, then just change the exercise. It’s really that simple. Push to the point of plateau and then change the exercise.

I’m sure people are sitting there shaking their heads now, but let’s really break this down. Let’s say this is a soccer team (it’s not, but just for arguments sake). How much does it really impact how they play soccer if they dumbbell bench, or barbell bench? Does it matter what type of pull down or if they do pull ups or chin-ups? I’m serious now. Ask yourself that question. Does it matter? Now ask yourself this, does it matter if they’re more invested and try harder because they want to do exercise x instead of exercise y that you want them to do? I think all of us would say that if they were more invested then they’d try harder and have greater returns on their investment. That’s why I do this. They try harder because they are invested. Now, when they get stuck and they ask, “what should I do next” do I lead them towards exercises that I’d want them to do? Of course, but at that point, they’re bought in (for the most part) so they’re willing to give on that situation for, at least, a little bit. So, when you look at the parts of the work out marked vertical pull, vertical press, and horizontal pull (and even bench press because that turns into horizontal pull) as long as it full fills that category (so a horizontal pull is a pull in that direction) I’m fine with it. To elaborate a bit more a vertical pull can be a pull down of any grip or attachment, a pull up/chin up of any grip it really doesn’t matter. Just pull something from vertically, get better at it, and if you stagnate, change the exercise.

That’s the honest truth when it comes to selecting those exercises. If we have fights that we know we have to fight, I’m not going to fight a kid over dumbbell rows vs. trx rows. Just not going to do it. What I am going to battle over is our progression of lower body exercises. That will be next weeks edition of My Thoughts Monday.

We are hoping to provide the best possible content for strength coaches with each of our shows. If feel this could provide value for anyone else in the strength and conditioning field please feel free to share.

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My Thoughts Monday #4: The Primary Objective

mtm-logoWhen we went through our initial meetings the head coach of this team stated how important “fitness” was to the success of the team, so let’s discuss how we are training that first. Three days a week we are doing some conditioning work, and we are following the MAS protocol covered by Dr. Dan Baker on simplyfaster.com (link below), and Danny Raimondi in The Manual Vol. 1. The following is how I set it up and we broke it down.

We ended out having to take the evaluation 3 times, and I think this turned out to be a positive thing. Without going into details as to why we did, I think that sense the track is different it taught the athlete’s how to run on it, so our differences between evaluations will be less about figuring out how to run on a 10 lap per mile indoor track and more about improvement. So that’s a good thing, I think.

We then broke it down like Dr. Baker and Danny both cover in the above-mentioned article/chapter. I did this for a couple reasons:

1) We tested the mile on an indoor track that is 10 laps/mile. This allows for easy math and set up for this protocol.

2) It’s a very simple way to produce a positive adaptation while allowing us to provide simple and easy to visualize progressions for the athletes.

I did make some minor changes to their protocol:

1) I’m a firm believer that simpler is better, especially with lesser-trained athletes. These student athletes would probably not be qualified any higher than “middle level” so I don’t think we need to be to creative with periodization and undulation during the week. So with that in mind we set our “buckets” as Danny called them at 95% of their best time from the start, I don’t think we need to step back to 92% because that’s a lot in a mile.

2) Instead of undulating the program, we are going straight linear. So depending on where the athlete’s start on day one, we are moving them back “2 poles” Wednesday, and 2 more poles on Friday. The poles are actually the suspension beams that hold the track up, but make for really easy markers to start the athletes.  This way they have to cover about 15 yards more each rep (30 yard total increase from Monday-Friday). I know that’s not a ton, but for a team that has had issues with testing in the past, it’s a greater mental distance than physical.

Here is how it was all set up:

Field Hockey 2017 PreperationSo let’s walk through that column by column:

To get the total seconds it was written as the minutes column multiplied by 60 added to the second’s column. Written like this:

=(D2*60)+E2

Yards/Sec was simply 1600 divided by seconds. Written like this:

=1600/F2

The .92 and .95 were just 92 and 95% of yards per second.

Laps/rep were calculated by taking the total time (180 seconds) and multiplying that by the yards per second at 95%. This number was then divided by 160. 160 came from 1600 yards (roughly) in a mile, divided by 10 laps. So each lap is 160 yards (roughly). The formula is written like this:

=(180*I2)/160

The buckets were just rounded to the nearest one listed below the players.  Players are able to jump from bucket to bucket if necessary.  Danny did a really good job describing this in his chapter of The Manual Vol. 1.

The workouts are listed week by week below the distances needed to be covered by each players, so you can see it is just a slight increase in distance each workout (6, 8, 10, 12, 14) and writes as this: Series (Sets x Time(Recovery between sets))Time Between Series.  So week three is 2 series of 5 sets, with 3 minutes of work to 2 minutes of recovery between bouts and 5 minutes between series.

The last thing I should point out is just how I prefer to “run” the run.  We have them stagger at the start.  So the extra half or quarter lap is done at the beginning and I have them all finish at the same place.  I know some people like to start them together, but with this group I think having them finish together is a better option.  The main reason being that I can call out times for when the pass the start/finish line, so they understand how they’re pacing the run.  For a team that has had run/test anxiety in the past, this has helped with our success rate in these types of activites.

Next week we will go over the progressions we will utilize on our movement work both with cutting and our “footwork” the coaches wanted. Following that will be our 1×20 modifications based on our goals.

Reference:
Dr. Baker’s Article

Pick Up The Manual Here

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My Thoughts Monday #3: What and Why We Picked Them…

mtm-logoIn #1 I told you why I’m doing this, and in #2 I told you how we got here, now let’s talk about why we are going to evaluate what we are going to evaluate. The sport coach split the primary objectives into two categories: more fit and athletic. We then defined them with the evaluations that were selected. Let’s go through them one by one:

Push Ups and Pull Ups: Honestly I don’t know if there is any scientific backing to this at all, but I know that back in the day of “West Side For Skinny Bastards” we all used to say that faster people could do more pull ups. Is there any true correlation to this? I don’t know, but I know that these kids should be able to do a couple legitimate pull ups and be able to bang out a good handful of push ups. Even more so, the head coach really likes these tests. If you have to fight 10 battles, and you pick one of them to be whether or not you count how many pull ups or push ups the kids can do, then I’d be very interested to see what other issues you have to fight over.

Standing Long Jump: I pushed for this one over the vertical because it’s an easier test to run (just me and 25ish women on the team), and there is way less of a learning curve than any vertical jump test. I know, I know, there is some learning curve and there will be improvement from just doing the test, but not as much as from the vertical on a mat or using a vertec. On top of that, I’m not going to tell them the “tricks” so it shouldn’t be about “learning” it should be about improving. (Disclamer-we actually ended out taking this evaluation out due to time constraints for the week. If we add it back in later I will put that in a post, but for now, it’s no longer in the battery of tests)

The Mile: I can hear it now “you dumbass, the mile is garbage!” Ok, hear me out. We are using it simply because it’s easy, it’s a starting point, and it’s very simple to train off of. Add in the fact that the team in question has the WORST “test anxiety” and loathes the beep test and there you go. So most of our initial training will be based on this because, it’s the only “fitness test” we are running when we get back from holiday break. Another reason is simply this, if you can cover the distance in less time that means you can run faster longer, right? Seems like a good starting point for our evaluations.

Repeat 40’s: I took this test directly from former director Brandon Hourigan, who is now running the show at Wake Forrest. I love this test. I mean, I absolutely love this test. Brandon is an absolute rock star in this game and this test was just another proof of it to me. We will take a best time for a 40 before the test (not that day but at some point) and then the team has to run 10 40’s all at 90% or better of their best time. We’ll have them go every 45 seconds or on the minute (feel free to chime in because that’s not yet determined). So now we are looking at both improving speed (40 will be evaluated when they return and they are expected to set a best time) and being able to hold faster speeds with limited rest intervals, you know that who RSA thing that we get all excited about.

The Beep Test: We all know it. It’s a great indicator of aerobic capacity. The coach love it, and it ties into what we are trying to do in the long run really well. This one is a no brainer to me.

The Turf Spider: This test was stolen from another school. It’s a conglomeration of 200’s, 100’s, and 50’s with limited active recovery. This test is the kryptonite of everyone of the athlete’s on this team. I think there is a HUGE mental block here because I’ve passed it and I’m in no way shape or form ready to play any DI sport. Because of this, this will be the last test ran by the student athletes.

Ok, so let’s tie these all together. We have the body weight tests that show we have improved relative strength, and the long jump to show we have improved explosive power. We will take a 40 to see if we have gotten faster, so with those we have the “athletic” part covered, I think. Then we look at being “more fit” like this: if their mile improves they can run faster for a longer time, and if they improve their 40 and pass the test that means that they can run faster and repeat that effort, and if they improve their beep test their aerobic capacity has increased. Add that all together and these kids SHOULD now KNOW they can beat their arch nemesis, the Turf Spider. At least that’s the plan. Let me know what you think.

Next week we will go over the initial training we are going to utilize, why we are doing what we are doing, and any sorts of extra workouts we will provide the kids. This may turn into more than one if it’s too long.

EDITThe Turf Spider Protocol were asked for, they are right here.  The write up shows the distances ran (a 200 is down and back on the field), and the times between finishing the run before and starting the next run is a jog back to the starting line. Turf Spider Timing  I hope this helps clear that up.

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My Thoughts Monday #2: Conversations to Drive Direction

mtm-logoI think that the biggest issue with being a “guy” is that you are now stuck with some simple thing that you think is going to fix everything.   You probably shouldn’t try to use a hammer to drill in a screw, and vice versa for a screwdriver for a nail. Now we all have heard that, and to some extent both nod and scoff at the same time to that, but I really believe that too few of us actually follow through. How many people who utilize Olympic lifting don’t do the lifts (or variants) with all their teams? How many people who think MB throws are the way to produce power don’t do those all the time? Well, I’m as guilty as you are, and then this year I took a huge step back, looked at what I was doing and said (out loud in my office with people there I might add) “Jay, what in the fuck are you doing? This isn’t what Coach wants so who gives a fuck about what you think? Do what the man needs you to do!” So with that I came to this next conclusion. Pre-offseason meetings need to revolve around one thing: what do we want to get better at? I have a team that I thought would be a fantastic case study to see how this works, so the next few posts (including this one) will be how this developed.

Prior to meeting with the coaching staff I like to talk with the upper classmen on the team. I do this for a couple reasons: 1) it seems to help get a real pulse for where the athletes are and what their view is of their improvements (or lack thereof), and 2) it gives me something to bring to the coach. I think this is important because giving the kids a bit of input, whether it’s 100% the direction you are going or not, is the right thing to do. They’re the ones that have to get up and run/lift/jump/throw/deal with your bull shit, so they should at least have a bit of input on the goals of the program. Also, in many cases, giving the athletes a bit of autonomy in the programming provides an investment on the athlete’s part, which can lead to greater effort and buy in. Chances are they’ll be pretty close to what the coaches see as well.

In this example, the kids all said we need to be in better shape; we were plenty strong (in their opinion) but all could be in better shape than they were in camp this year. Ok, so you can take this one of two ways: 1) they are giving constructive feedback and input into your programming and 2) they are 18-22 year old women who don’t like to lift. How I brought it to coach was simply this: we have always lifted 3 times a week and have run twice in the spring, let’s flip flop that. She loved it because, as she stated, the team needed to be “more fit and athletic”. This thought does two things: 1) connects the staff and players because both think that being in better shape is priority one, and 2) brings me to my next key point.

You have to define everything. Here is an example, I had a coach once tell me “my team needs to be more fit.”  What does fit mean?  I mean seriously, what does it mean?  You can run a mile better? Lower resting heart rate? Does it include that the whole team has lowered their body fat? Do the athletes just feel better about themselves like they would after a “class”? In a different situation I was told “these kids need to be more athletic.”  Can you define that? In all seriousness what does that even mean? So that was what we did, we defined those two things. For this team, more athletic would be to increase their ability to perform body weight exercises (push ups and pull ups), run a 40 faster, and improve on the standing long jump.  More fit would be to pass all the conditioning tests which include the mile, beep test, a 40 yard repeat test, and one more test that we call the Turf Spider. Each of these tests mentioned will get described more as we get into future blogs. One other thing we decided to train because of importance is their ability to get their feet back underneath them in specific situations and teach them how to cut better. These do not have tests and are subjective so they are NOT the primary focus of the program.

These meetings were driven to find out two things: what matters to the coach and define what that means so we can now measure it and have baselines and goals to improve. Now that we have determined those two things, the next blog will review what the tests actually are and why they were selected.

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