By: Daniel Raimondi
Lessons I’ve learned since the 2012 Seminar
April 26-27 was an awesome weekend for this in attendance at the Central Virginia Sports Performance Seminar. Leading up to that weekend(and during) there was so much going on that we here at cvasps.com took a bit of time off to gather ourselves and breathe free for a moment. Now that we’re already into July, it’s time to get started again in preparation for next year’s seminar. To get this started, I want to write some ideas I’ve learned since the 2012 Seminar.
1. Watching Natalia Verkhoshansky take some of the coaches through a hands-on session hammered in the reality that bodyweight calisthenics can be incredibly rigorous for those not used to the exercises.
Lesson learned: Young athletes (»7-11) can get tremendous results by simply doing things like running, skipping, hopping, lunging, etc… for extended periods of time (15-20 minutes).
2. Strength & conditioning coaches and sport coaches shouldn’t operate separately. The effort, as Landon Evans pointed out, needs to complementary. Strength and conditioning coaches can teach sport coaches the value of energy system work (among other things), while sport coaches can teach us about techniques, tactics, etc…
Lesson learned: I probably won’t ever be skilled enough to step onto our facility’s ice rink and teach kids how to skate, shoot pucks, and run an offense. I listen to the coaches when they talk, and gradually inject ideas here and there to collaborate as much as possible.
3. Be confident in what you do. Talking to Coach Evans at the seminar was arguably the most rewarding experience for me all weekend. Besides being incredibly smart, he made me realize the value of believing in the program you’re running. Too often I make programs with hesitation and adjust too many variables on the fly. I’m not saying programs should be set in stone, but don’t be so quick to abandon the plan.
Lesson learned: As Dan John remarked, “Plan the hunt. Hunt the hunt. Discuss the hunt.”
4. Val Nasedkin made a lot of sense when describing “readiness” and “preparedness.” Try and get your athlete as ready as possible when it matters. This means looking at factors beyond just what goes on the weight room.
Lesson learned: Understand the process of adaptation, write the best program you can, and be ready for life to get in the way.
5. Have standards/minimums. Coach Dietz’s presentation on Advanced Training Principles reinforced my belief that working with Division 1 students is different than working with youth athletes. Coach Dietz has an incredible amount of knowledge and resources to implement some really novel training methods. I work mainly with peewee/bantam/high school aged kids in a hockey dominant setting. Many of these kids come in incredibly weak and skinny. I have some standards that I’ve stolen from Mark McLaughlin (another great coach I had the privilege of meeting at the Seminar), who I think took the numbers from Jim Wendler. Basically it’s this: 50 push-ups, 100 sit ups, 25 dips, 10 pull ups. I also like to incorporate lots of gymnastics movements to get kids closer to these foundational strength numbers.
Lesson learned: Don’t do exercises because they look cool. As Coach Evans wrote in an article, think “biological power”, not “weight room.” Kids can get plenty from doing basic bodyweight movements really well.
6. Coach Dietz is incredibly organized when it comes to writing programs for many athletes. Watch Coach Dietz’s presentation and he literally takes you through his process for designing a program. What strikes me the most is how efficiently he is able to switch between individual athletes, different sports, personal maxes, injuries, etc.. Programming is easy until you have 100+ athletes all at once. Now, I’m not a strength coach who started writing programs when he was 10 years old and garnished significant time in “the trenches.” Prior to my current position, I spent the majority of time working as a volunteer assistant or intern. Anyone in these positions knows there usually isn’t a ton of room to write your own programs for athletes. While I have written some programs over the years, it wasn’t until I had to find a way to write programs for some 175 athletes. I’m not a wizard with excel and was fortunate to have guidance from University of Minnesota strength coach Tad Johnson. He came up with an excel program(which you can try for free here and buy here) that is similar to Coach Dietz’s software that lets me easily adjust individual programs for lots of athletes quickly.
Lesson learned: You can be as theoretical about all this physiology stuff as you want, but when Monday morning rolls around, you better have an efficient way of distributing lots of programs to lots of kids.
7. Joel Jamieson is right on track when it comes to monitoring athletes. Not everyone needs to use an Omegawave or BioForce, but getting feedback, either subjectively or objectively, is a valuable tool in a coach’s proverbial toolbox. Part of coaching is working with athletes, talking about how they feel, and getting them to learn how to take care of their bodies.
Lesson learned: Have your athletes write down on their sheets what they ate that day, when they slept, etc… It’s good for you to know, but it’s even better for them to see it on paper.
8. Be passionate about what you do. I was fortunate to have lunch with Mike Robertson on Saturday. One gets the impression from Mike that he truly loves what he does and loves sharing that knowledge with others. Besides his presentation on Corrective exercises being incredible, my ultimate take away was simply Mike’s ability to convey his philosophy effectively and passionately.
Lesson Learned: Love what you do. If you don’t care about your athletes, you’re in the wrong field.
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