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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.