Today we are ecstatic to introduce our 8th presenter for The 2015 Seminar Baylor University’s Director of Applied Performance, Andrew Althoff. Andrew is in the forefront in this country in High Performance Management working alongside with one of the most reputable performance programs in the country. His addition to the lineup will bring a great new perspective from one of the front runners in the high performance field, and bring coaches a great new perspective as to how they manage not only the training, but the athlete as a whole.
JD: If you could, please give our readers a little background information about yourself, what your niche in the world of athletics is, accomplishments, how you got there, education, any products you have available and/or notable publications.
AA: Any success in my life have been the result of a humble, blue collar work ethic instilled by my parents and family growing up in rural Iowa. I attended Loras College (Dubuque, IA) where I played football for four years. During that time, like most college kids, I struggled to find my passion. This resulted in multiple degree changes which in hindsight blessed me with the opportunity to coach football and assist in the weight room for a year and a half at the completion of my playing career. In addition to learning from the coaches and professors at Loras, I also had an internship with the Olympic Sports Strength and Conditioning Department at the University of Iowa (this was a huge deal for me coming from a small town where I would watch them on TV growing up).
From there I was fortunate enough to receive a graduate assistantship at Valdosta State University, to be part of a national championship football team in 2007, and to graduate with a Masters degree in Education. I then joined the Baylor University Athletic Performance staff in February 2009 serving various roles before becoming Co-Director of Olympic Sports in 2011. I later served as the Associate Director for Football leading to my current position of Director of Applied Performance.
Throughout these opportunities I have been able to work with student-athletes at the NCAA Division I, II, III and high school levels with a variety of budgets and resources. The sum of these experiences has helped me find my niche of maximizing athlete performance through the active monitoring and management of on and off the field stressors. This is completed through blending scientific principles with a practical approach to deliver the information to diverse audiences.
JD: 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.
AA: First off, I am by no means omnipotent, but believe there are 2 common issues within the profession that if addressed could improve our ability to impact athletes.
1. American performance coaches are too weight room based, thus often times limited in knowledge of energetics. Conversely, those overseas may underestimate the benefits of a simple strength program. These issues could be cured by a standardized program of study for initial and continued professional development throughout the career of a performance coach. Also, improved knowledge dissemination within the field could improve the shared learning experiences of coaches. This would also help to develop performance departments as standalone programs within athletics and not so closely tied to the successes and failures of sport coaches (similar to the sports medicine model).
2. Inability to blend the psychological, physiological, and sociological characteristics of athletes into a holistic approach. The physiological will suffer unless we can use the psychological and sociological to educate student-athletes on lifestyle habits and choices on their performance. Information alone does not lead to behavior change, it must be coupled with means to measure and improve habits and decision making.
JD: What advice would you give a coach to improve knowledge in the lines of continuing education, meaning could you point our readers in a direction to find the scientific and practical information to improve the methods they use to improve performance?
AA: First work to create a network. Early in careers, broadening the network takes primary importance – meet as many people as possible. As careers progress, there is an increased need for a deeper base of knowledge. Additionally, some of those from your initial network can no longer help you as they have not have the knowledge or experience to assist as careers progress. At that time, I recommend tightening your circle by adapting the network to more highly specialized and trustworthy individuals with whom you can have full disclosure. There will come a time when it will be your turn to return the favor and mentor some of the next generation – be willing to do so.
My preferred method of gaining knowledge is through conversation and books. However, Pubcrawler has been a helpful addition to find research on the internet. To be honest this is typically my only online source of information although occasionally twitter can prove to be useful. Unless you are long in the tooth, I feel if you are spending a lot of time blogging then you are not spending time coaching, getting your hands dirty or to steal a term from Coach Panariello, “getting a callus on your butt” from reading.
I enjoy books because I believe they help provide a deeper meaning. This depth allows for more connections and understanding which leads to creativity. Some inspiration comes from places that would typically be considered outside of our profession like the Harvard Business Review or 99u. I use this because you can pull in an idea that is caught up in the status quo and can be ‘outside the box.’ I have to be careful though as there is usually a reason it was put inside the box in the first place.
At Baylor Coach Art Briles and Coach Kaz Kazadi have put together a fantastic staff and we learn from each other daily. Outside of our immediate family, my go to people are Landon Evans and Rob Panariello from a scientific standpoint. From a practical perspective I have frequent conversations with Bill Maxwell, Michael Doscher, Adam Davis and Jeremy Weeks. Shawn Huls and Erik Korem are two individuals that I feel play the scientific/practical aspects of training well also.
JD: Please discuss your educational process, and how it has brought you to where you are today. What resources did you find most beneficial in pointing you in the direction of how you prepare athletes today?
AA: I graduated from Loras College in December 2006 with a Bachelors in Sports Science with minors in Biology and Coaching. In May 2009, I graduated with a Masters in Education from Valdosta State University. I also have SCCC, CSCS, FMS and USAW certifications. The multiple degree changes and certifications combined with my involvement in small/large group speech and improv competitions during my youth have helped me adapt and be fluid in different roles and situations.
The most beneficial resources have been just being open minded and taking a lot of notes on the decisions, planning and organization of the staffs that I have worked with. This is especially true working on two football staffs as a student assistant. Being in those meetings has not only given me the background and knowledge of the sport, but the business side of athletics. This allows me to frame and package conversations and training for a variety of populations.
JD: What should our readers and attendees expect to see in your presentation at The 2015 Seminar?
AA: We pride ourselves on taking the complex and turning it into simple, repeatable processes. Emphasis will be placed on describing our practical and replicable approach to athlete training and monitoring. Compared with other presentations that will focus heavily on content knowledge of sport and training science, this presentation will focus mostly on implementation and daily operation strategies, managing and monitoring student-athlete stressors, and their corresponding adaptations that occur from the applied stress. These and other lessons learned along the way will be relayed to the audience.
JJ: Any closing thoughts for our readers?
AA: We are excited about this opportunity and look forward to taking part in this event.
More About 2015 Presenter Andrew Althoff:
Andrew Althoff joined the Baylor University staff in February 2009 as Assistant Director of Olympic Sports. Currently, he serves as Director of Applied Performance integrating the physical, psychological and social aspects of student-athletes’ performance into a practical approach. Althoff also works as a performance coach with the football team.
Althoff comes from Valdosta State University where he designed and implemented programs for numerous sports including football who won the national championship in 2007.
Prior to Valdosta State, Althoff was at Loras College. At completion of his collegiate athletic career with football, he became a student coach. There Althoff worked with strength and conditioning, as well as football. He also interned, during summer 2006, at University of Iowa working with the strength and conditioning program for Olympic sports.
He currently holds a Masters in Education from Valdosta State University and a Bachelors degree in Sports Science with minors in biology and coaching from Loras College. Additionally, he has certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association, The Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association, USA Weightlifting and is Functional Movement Certified.
Althoff resides in Waco with his wife Chrissie and three sons Tucker, Joel, and Eli.
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