10 Random Training Thoughts

Here is a very random post that has 10 different thoughts that have been going through my head. I try to write down as much of the random stuff that goes through my head when it comes to strength and conditioning so I can share it every 4-6 weeks.

  1. To be at a high level in this field it takes a lot of time, hard work, and even a lot of money at times to attend continuing education courses. But that’s the price you pay to not be mediocre.
  2. A great coach loves the people he or she works with.
  3. I am a firm believer that our number one job is to improve efficiency of movement. Everything else will fall into place nicely if we move exceptionally well.
  4. Athletes can get really, really strong with bad form. Its probably a terrible idea though.
  5. “Every general program to enhance athleticism needs some sort of carry in it.” Stuart McGill. I couldn’t agree more with this thought. The more I learn about carries the more I am embarrassed that carries weren’t a staple year-round in my programs until the last year or so.
  6. You need to find your own personal coaching style. Be youself.
  7. Stabilizers are more important then I realized when it comes to injury prevention. Its not the big guys that break down in competition, its the little guys that can no longer do their job properly. The question becomes, how long can you maintain integrity under load? More carries, more get ups, ect.
  8. Less benching, more push ups. #freethescap
  9. Squatting has always been the “gold standard” in the industry as far as exercises go. I would love to find out why dead lifting wasn’t thought this way. The dead lift seems like a much more beneficial exercise (generally speaking).
  10. “Doing the right things is always the right thing.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

2016 CSCCa National Conference Review

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas to attend the CSCCa National Conference. Though this was the second year I have attended the conference, this was the first year I could relax and not have to worry about passing the exam, which was what I went through last year.

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Just like last year the speaker lineup was great. Chris Doyle from the University of Iowa, Ken Mannie from Michigan State University, Molly Binneti from the University of Louisville and Dan John just to name a few. All these speakers are having great success in the current positions and have built great programs, so I was excited to hear each one of them speak. Though I wasn’t able to attend all the talks, here are a few thoughts and takeaways from some of the lectures I was able to attend.

Molly Binetti (U of Louisville): The 4 R’s Behind Building Athletes, Preparing Champions
Molly’s presentation was one of the best presentations that I saw all week and one that I was looking forward to hearing. For starters, Molly is about the same age as I am and I love seeing younger people in the field doing great things. Secondly, I had heard a little about the Sports Performance model they use at Louisville and was interested in hearing/seeing more because it speaks to my thoughts on how a sports performance team should be designed and how it should work.

U of L sports performance

First and foremost, the model at Louisville is an athlete-centered model: the way it should be. The Sports Performance, Sports Medicine, Sports Nutrition and Sports Psychology and other departments all work as one with the goal of improving each and every student athlete. The department uses the FMS to determine injury risk and develop a risk profile for each athlete based off the FMS as well as a few other performance measures. A readiness profile is put together for each athlete and a overall performance profile is developed for each athlete. All of this is done to get a better picture of each athlete, their risks, and what can be done to help the athlete perform better where it matters – in their sport.

Ken Mannie (Michigan State U): Earn the Jersey
This is the first time that I have had the opportunity to hear Coach Mannie present live as I’ve heard him numerous times on podcasts and things of the like. It was no different live and in person; Coach Mannie is passionate about the field of strength & conditioning.

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Coach Mannie’s presentation essentially focused on what it takes to be successful in the field of strength & conditioning, a talk that was directed at the younger crowd at the conference. Coach Mannie dove deep into his thoughts on educational requirements for strength and conditioning coaches, the needed certifications, the importance of continuing education, as well as practical applications that are needed to be successful in the field.

Coach Mannie went on to speak about his “Separation Qualities.” Qualities like administration skills and leadership. Being a performance leader, being a culture leader, having compassion and integrity, being dedicated to your athletes and enthusiastic every chance you have to train your athletes. A great talk from a guy that loves what he does for a living.

Boo Schexnayder: Critical Factors in Speed Development
This is not the first time I have had the opportunity to hear Boo speak as I heard him speak at the BSMPG conference a few years back. Just like the BSMPG conference, Boo didn’t disappoint.

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The first thing that stood out to me when it comes to Boo’s philosophy of speed training is the simplicity – something he has in common with my mentor Mike Boyle when it comes to strength training. Coincidence? I doubt it.

Boo’s philosophy: 1) Planned balance in training 2) Prioritizing speed development 3) Patience and progression 4) Absence of gimmicks and preconceived notions. Again, this is very much like the great strength coaches. We need balance in our strength programs in order to train all qualities equally. Speed need to be prioritized if we want to develop it to high levels – just like strength. We need to have patience in our progressions but more importantly have a pre-planned menu of progressions and regressions for each movement we are performing. Finally, no gimmicks and get rid of your preconceived notions. In the strength and conditioning world gimmicks seem to be the norm these days while preconceived notions seem to hold some coaches back as they continue to hang on to the past.

Biggest takeaway: the greats simplify things, whether a speed coach, strength coach, or sport coach.

Dan John: Easy Strength
Dan John’s presentation was one of the presentations that I was looking forward to all week. Dan was presenting on his book “Easy Strength” which was something that I had read a couple years back. The “Easy Strength” system focuses on picking a handful of movements and only performing those movements each workout.dan john

More specifically;

“For the next 40 workouts, pick five lifts. Do them every workout. Never miss a rep, in fact, never even get close to struggling. Go as light as you need t go and don’t go over 10 reps in a workout for any of the movements. When the weights feel light, add more weight.”

The question is how can we apply this to college strength & conditioning? Maybe this system would be good for in-season training when time is limited and were looking for a good, quick quality strength session? To be honest, I’m not sure, but its definitely something to think about. This does however hammer home the fact that we are strength coaches need to keep things simple, whether it comes to our programming or the exercises we choose in our programs.

 

Quotes from Coach Boyle

Anyone who knows me knows that I have been heavily influenced by Coach Boyle as well as the rest of the Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning family. As I was going through some of my notes from the Strength Coach Podcast, MBSC Staff Meetings, and other speaking engagements, I realized I had a ton of quotes from Coach Boyle that I had written down. Here are a quick 40 quotes…enjoy!

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1. Are you the guy that helps people move better and feel better or are you the guy that just adds strength to dysfunction?

2. We want core stability, not core strength.

3. Want an excuse to do surgery, just do an MRI.

4. Cool and good aren’t the same thing.

5. They say you only retain 10% of what you read. So you have to read a bunch of shit to know anything.

6. There is always a cause and effect to injuries that our athletes have.

7. It might be our field but people are vigorously against change. I don’t know if people really want to get better.

8. An epidemic in our profession is that disagreement is negative.

9. If you haven’t changed your program in 10 years you were either way ahead at one point or way behind now…and I’m pretty sure I know which one it is.

10. When does risk outweigh reward when it comes to squatting?

11. Make sure athletes are getting better every week, even if its small progress.

12. Probably 20% of people are naturally good squatters while 80% aren’t…yet for some reason we program for the 20%.

13. You never see anyone who can run or jump who doesn’t have an ass – in any sporting activity.

14. We want to be simple, not just safe.

15. If it doesn’t look athletic, it probably isn’t.

16. Our athletes are so healthy because we plan for them to be so healthy, nothing is ever by chance.

17. The best corrective and coaching cue is usually to simply take some weight off the bar.

18. Steal smart peoples stuff.

19. Over the course of 12 weeks, a program needs an eccentric and isometric portion at some point.

20. On hiring coaches: You can make people smarter, you can’t make them nicer.

21. Be a positive role model for your athletes. Whether you realize it or not, you have a huge influence on them.

22. Athletes get hurt from large loads.

23. Always be willing to change your mind on anything. Don’t fall in love with certain exercises.

24. Care about your athletes, provide great service, and do the little extra.

25. What if the way we’ve always done things was wrong?

26. If you don’t have a ‘why’ for an exercise, why is it in the program?

27. You can’t stop learning. There are plenty of things we are doing that we will eventually find out we were wrong about.

28. Instead of changing, most coaches just want to justify continually doing what they are doing.

29. The highest form of leadership is when people don’t know your leading them.

30. We don’t want variety until we have mastery.

31. How many little things can you make a little better?

32. Maximum benefit, minimal load.

33. The worth of an exercise is not the same as the weight lifted.

34. Sumo and Trap Bar deadlift are essential a squat without a bar on your back.

35. The best corrective exercises are good exercises themselves.

36. Coach all athletes the same, no matter who they are.

37. We’re in the business of changing lives. You’re and role model. You’re a mentor.

38. Be brilliant at the basics.

39. Be the most positive person in the room.

40. Don’t be too busy to get better.

The Importance of In-Season Training

Anyone that has spent a day as a strength and conditioning coach knows very well that in-season training is not high on the list of things to do for both athletes and sport coaches. In-season the strength coach becomes the dentist, someone that no one wants to go see.

In-season athletes seem to always be sore. They spend a lot of time at practice. They are traveling a lot. School work is starting to pile up. I get it – they have a lot of demands placed on them and spending 45-60 minutes in the weight room a couple times a week isn’t their idea of time well spent.

To be honest, in-season training is probably undervalued by athletes and sport coaches. Whether they like it or not, in-season training is incredibly important for injury prevention. It’s a necessary evil.

So, how do you keep your sport coach happy in-season? How do you keep your athletes wanting (or at least not dreading) the weight room in-season? How should you program in-season? As a strength coach, how should you approach in-season training? Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.

Keep Pounding the Basics. Don’t ditch your big rocks in-season. Continue to bench, continue to do your chin-ups, continue hitting their legs hard, and keep progressing your core training. Whatever you believe in during the off-season, keep believing in it during the in-season. For the most part, the exercises shouldn’t change.

High Intensity, Low Volume. The volume, however, should change. Whatever your big rocks are, limit the amount of sets the athlete is performing but make sure the athletes hit 1-3 heavy sets on those exercises. For example, if you are benching 1-2 warm up sets followed by 1-3 heavy sets is all you need. Believe it or not, this is more then enough to keep your athletes strong and potentially gain a little bit of strength if possible in-season. After warming up, two hard and heavy sets is probably all you really need.

Understand the Athletic Demands Placed on the Athlete. You have to understand the cost of doing business for the specific athletes/sports that you are working with. You need to understand the demands that the sport is requiring of the athlete. For example, if you are working with a jumping athlete (basketball, volleyball, ect.) you would be wise to limit the amount of jumping (maybe more specifically landing) you perform with them in-season. The reality is, they are probably (definitely) doing too much of it as it is through practice and games. Additionally, exercises like hang clean/snatch (and others) may do as much harm as they do good because of the continued pounding on their joints. Does this mean you eliminate these exercises from you program? No, but keep them short and sweet. Additionally, I am a firm believer that Kettlebell Swings are an extremely underrated in-season exercise. They are great for horizontal force production with very little if any pounding on the joints. Its important to understand who you are working with and program accordingly.

Spend Ample Time on Mobility and/or Tissue Quality. Not stretching is a bad idea. Whatever the sport is there is a good chance that athletes are repeating the same motion over and over again. A perfect example of this is an ice hockey player – they perform the same motion, skating, over and over and over again. As a strength coach you need to spend time trying to balance out what they are doing by attacking it with mobility and tissue quality. Stretching is always time well spent.

“You stretch today to prevent injuries in the future.” – Mike Boyle

Don’t Let Them Get Sore. If your want to lose both your athletes and your sport coach, have your athletes wake up sore the days following their in-season training. The last thing a sport coach wants to hear when they are trying to win games is that their athletes are sore because of their in-season strength program. Cut out isometric and eccentric work, it’s not the time or the place. As previously mentioned, limit the amount of volume by cutting back on the amount of sets performed. They need to still work otherwise you potentially lose strength, but make sure they aren’t sore because of it. In-season may also not be the time to introduce a new exercise, it’s a recipe for being sore the following days.