In today’s Q and A, we introduce our next presenter for the 2013 Seminar, Ben Peterson.
DR: Ben, great to have you on board for this year’s Seminar. Can you give our readers some background information about yourself?
BP: I am currently pursuing a Doctorate in Kinesiology and Exercise Physiology at the University of Minnesota. At the university I help run the Sport Performance Lab, testing hundreds of athletes annually in sports ranging from cross-country skiing to football. In addition to my time in the lab, I help teach two courses within the kinesiology department: Strength/Power Development and Health & Wellness. My research looks at repeated sprint ability in anaerobic athletes (specifically as it pertains to energy system efficiency and fatigue) looking at central and peripheral causes of decreased force production. My research also looks heavily at power and rate of force development in athletes and its dynamic correspondence and transferability to sport.
I graduated from Northwestern University where I played football for the Wildcats. I started my career as a performance coach working for the Minnesota Twins in 2008. More recently, I co-Authored the book with Cal Dietz, Triphasic Training: A systematic approach to elite speed and explosive strength performance, which explains the advanced training methods we use to maximize force development and the scientific principles behind their implementation. When not teaching class or testing in the lab, I work as a consultant for Octagon Hockey, spending the NHL off-season working with their athletes in the Minneapolis area.
DR; You mentioned that your current research is focused on RSA in anaerobic athletes. Without giving too much of your presentation away, what are some things coaches can expect from your speech and what you’ve learned during your dissertation?
BP:The biggest confounding factor in any study using anaerobic athletes is the transferability and specificity of the testing variables between the lab and the field. When looking at hockey you have the additional confounder of the fact that hockey is played on a crushable surface: ice. Unlike football or basketball, where you want to generate force through ground contact, doing so on ice will cause the blade to dig in and actually decrease the speed of the skater. Why most tests have never found a correlation between hockey and VO2max is because they have never taken into account skating ability as a contributing factor. A player with a high VO2max on a bike may have a huge fatigue index on the ice because they are a terrible skater, and vice versa. My research is the first that I know of that takes skating efficiency into account, as well as uses an on-ice repeated shift test to test the metabolic demands placed on a hockey player during a typical period of play.
DR: One thing that I’ve always been impressed with is your ability to synthesize the current body of literature into sound training concepts. How do you approach research and sift through all of the nonsense to find the real gems that actually impact your approach to coaching/programming?
BP: One of my favorite quotes was by Albert Einstein:
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
I believe this wholeheartedly. What good am I to an athlete or a reader if I can’t explain to them, in terms they understand, a concept or idea? When I first dive into a new research project I try to read as much as I possibly can. For example, I might spend two weeks just researching and pulling articles, then another two weeks reading. My next step, and one I think that most people miss, is to not do anything. I let the ideas digest in my head for at least a week. Most people will go immediately to writing, but this is where they lose out. The information is still too fresh in their head for them to be able to explain it in any terms other than those that they have recently read in the journal articles. When I let the ideas marinate in my head I find I connect dots and come up with examples or stories to explain the material that most others do not.
DR: You noted briefly before the book you and Coach Dietz recently authored. How did you come to write this manual and what did the process teach you?
BP: NEVER WRITE A BOOK WITH CAL! No, I’m only kidding. It was Cal’s idea to write a, what he called, “short” training manual about the training methods he had developed at the University of Minnesota. His proposed 70 page manual turned into a 380 page book! I think writing the book solidified my own knowledge of the subject because it forced me to analyze, research, and answer all the small, minute details that I had taken for granted, or simply didn’t have time to look at before. Basically, writing filled in all the cracks for me. (Editor’s note: Check out these interviews cvasps.com did with Cal and Ben last year about their book).
DR: Since you first entered this field, what are some mistakes you’ve made that you’ve learned from?
BP: There is not enough room on the page to list all of these! I will sum them all up with this — everything works, nothing works forever, and someone else has already done it. Once you come to terms with that, as a coach and a researcher, and understand that it’s a good thing and not something to be frustrated by, you will quit making so many mistakes!
DR: What are some new, exciting topics in the lab these days? Where do you see this field going with respect to future research, technological advancements, etc…?
BP: Vertical jump ability is a skill. Testing vertical jump on a force plate, there was no correlation between vertical jump height achieved and total force output when accounting for body weight. Contemplate that for a while.
DR: Ben, your time and expertise is always appreciated. I know your presentation this year will be awesome and full of great insight!
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