Here are a handful of both articles and podcasts from the world of strength and conditioning over the last week.
Here are a handful of both articles and podcasts from the world of strength and conditioning over the last week.
Once a month I try to put something out with some random thoughts that have been going through my head, which are usually a result of some podcasts I have been listening to or a book that I have been reading. Here is the latest edition with 8 thoughts to sink your teeth into.
1. Coaching, whether you are a strength coach or a sport team coach, comes down to three things: communication, trust and respect. If you as a coach do a great job of communicating with the athletes that you work with, in a respectful manner, you will earn their trust. When you earn their trust they will run through a wall for you – and that’s a good thing!
2. A broken athlete can’t win a team games. Our number one goal should be to do everything we can to keep each and every single athlete healthy, yet I see so much training online that doesn’t exactly fit that template. Everyone moves differently, has different limitations and as a result should have slightly different variations of the same program. Be willing to adapt the strength program to the needs of the athlete and/or sport you are working with.
3. Working off the previous thought, the best way to get rid of pain during a certain exercise is to eliminate the exercise. Don’t over-complicate things. If it hurts, just stop doing it. Its really that simple.
4. It’s not hard to be cutting edge, you just have to be willing to drop your ego and learn from other people and then implement some of their thoughts to improve your existing program. I don’t care who you are there are a ton of coaches out there that can teach something. The minute you think you can’t learn from another coach or have just decided that you no longer feel the need to learn more, you’ll slowly start to lose in this industry. Whether you like it or not, there is no such thing as standing still in this field, you are either getting better or others are passing you by.
5. Piggybacking off the previous thought, it is extremely apparent that many people, strength coaches included, are afraid of change even though they say they aren’t. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo – it’s the only way the profession or the world in general has ever moved forward. You are probably going to ruffle some feathers of people that are either unwilling to change or are afraid of change, but in the long run if you feel strongly that something is the right thing to do you need to do it. Doing the right thing is always the right thing.
6. “When you force an athlete to perform an exercise their joints are capable of doing, don’t be surprised when they get hurt.” – Dr. Andreo Spina. I feel like everyone knows and understands this. On the other hand, I feel like not everyone follows this.
7. Recently Eric Cressey recorded a podcast and had some thoughts about contraindicated exercises for athletes. He thoughts were something along these lines…”Just because an exercise doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t mean it isn’t causing harm for that particular athlete.” No matter what someone tells you, throwing a baseball, hitting a volleyball or performing the skating stide a ton of times over the course of many years is not good for your body. As a result, not all exercises, even if they are pain free, are good for those joints/the body depending on the sport or athlete that you are working with. Be proactive with your program and anticipate what potential problems athletes could have, then program accordingly.
8. “The body doesn’t differentiate between stressors.” Buddy Morris. This same thought process is also something that Charlie Weingroff has written about recently in an article that he had written for his personal website. For a long while I have thought this same thing but didn’t have any ammunition to back up my feelings. I don’t think the body knows the difference between a bench press or an incline bench press, a back squat or a front squat, a pull up or a chin up. What the body does know is the stress that you have placed on it. Chase the adaptation you are after. If you can get the same adaptation with less weight or less overall stress on the body, why wouldn’t you?
C-O-A-C-H. Care. Observe. Act. Communicate. Help.
Show each and every athlete that you work with that you genuinely care about their individual development as both an athlete and as a person. Push them everyday to get better and show them through your actions that you are committed to them. Everyone has heard the quote over and over again, but it rings true; People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Close observation of each individual athlete allows you to pinpoint both their strengths and their weaknesses. Observe every day to figure out what it is that each athlete needs to do in order to take their game to the next level.
Once you have figured out what it is that each athlete needs, act on what you see. Give feedback immediately and effectively. Your mother didn’t wait a day to tell you that you did something wrong or that something needed improvement, and neither should a coach. A true leader/coach doesn’t wait until the next time you see them or when you think the moment might be right, a true leader/coach acts on it immediately. Keep in mind that leaders who demand excellence have to role model excellence or they will lose their credibility. Demand the same excellence from yourself.
The best teachers are the best communicators. The best coaches are simply teachers. Communicate constantly about what is great and what needs improvement. Don’t just bark order, communicate and teach athletes. Explain to athletes why certain exercises are important and why they perform them that will allow for great buy-in from the athletes. Give athletes a purpose, not an exercise. If you earn the reputation of a great teacher people will line up to work with you, for you, and under you. Additionally, take your role as a teacher seriously, but not yourself seriously.
Always use your position of leadership to help others achieve their goals. Show athletes how to perform exercises properly with perfect form. Be crystal clear about your expectations on their performance and attitude, and how these things will carry over and help them in their sport.
“Can you ever know everything? No. Can you always learn more? Yes, of course you can. That’s your job. If you don’t do all you can to dig out the truth every chance you get, you risk making bad decisions.” – Lee Cockerell, Former Executive Vice President, Walt Disney World
Late last week, maybe Wednesday night, I decided last minute to attend Jay DeMayo’s Central Virginia Sports Performance Seminar. I am an avid reader and listen to tons of different podcasts, but I realized I had only attended 2-3 live seminars all year. That had to change. Luckily, CVASP offers a live streaming version of the seminar that you can watch from the comfort of your own home on a Friday and Saturday that the humidity was gross and made it unbearable to go outside – so I signed up.
Great decision. The lineup was great; Carl Valle, Derek Hansen, Bob Alejo of NC State, Mike Curtis of Virginia, Randy Ballard of Illinois, Sam Coad of Oklahoma, Henk Kraaijenhoff, and Buddy Morris of the Arizona Cardinals.
But this got me thinking a little. We are all busy and can’t get to every single seminar that we may want to. We all have bills to pay and can’t come up with the money for flights, hotels and seminar fees for every single seminar that we want to go to. So how do we continue to learn and keep up with what’s happening in an ever-changing field like strength and conditioning? Here are a couple ideas.
Get Out and About
One of the best things strength coaches can do to learn more is to make more site visits to other coaches in the area. Every single one of us can get stuck in our ways, but getting out and watching someone else do the job might open your eyes to some possibilities that you didn’t even think of. Maybe it’s a new exercise, an exercise you forgot about, or some coaching cues that you pick up from another coach.
The best thing about it, it’s free and you develop a relationship with another professional in the field. It will literally cost you nothing besides gas money to go somewhere else and watch someone coach and you may discover a friend or mentor to bounce ideas off of for the foreseeable future. Get out and about regularly.
Assemble Small Groups
I know Nate Brookerson has done this in the greater North Carolina area. It’s pretty simple; find a bunch on likeminded people and get together every once in a while, maybe monthly or bi-monthly, and spend a morning or afternoon exchanging ideas. Maybe you make it a little more professional and invite a couple of these people to give a presentation like any other seminar or conference. It’s a great way to learn from other people, network with other people, and not have to spend much money at all to continue learning and adapting in the field.
Have a Home Seminar Day
I forget who I heard this from otherwise I would give them credit for this. With all the podcasts and presentations that are online these days, what is stopping you from setting aside a Saturday or Sunday a handful of times a year and watching/listen to 5-6 presentations and/or podcasts that would interest you. Again, 100% free. And the biggest upside to this method is you can hand pick the people you want to listen to or the topics you want to learn about.
All that being said, set some money aside to attend at least one or two of the big conferences and/or seminars every year. A great place to start would be the CSCCa National Conference or the NSCA National Conference. As I previously alluded to, Jay DeMayo does a great job with the CVASP Seminar. The Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group (BSMPG) summer seminar that Art Horne put on yearly at Northeastern was always top notch. And you can never forget the Perform Better Summit’s put on by Perform Better that has now grown to four different locations over the course of the summer; Orlando, Chicago, Providence, and Long Beach.
As I mess around on the internet I come across a ton of information from a ton of different strength coaches, physical therapists and fitness professionals – a lot of which is absolutely awesome information. On the other hand, I think as professionals we can overlook the obvious every now and again with all the technology and advancements in the field. Here are three thoughts that I feel everyone knows (or should know) that get overlooked and might be helpful to remind people of.
This may be the simplest thought ever, but far too often it gets overlooked because it isn’t very sexy at all. Lets be honest, no one cares how strong you can get with terrible form. If I had to choose between getting strong with bad form or leaving some strength on the table but make sure someone is using excellent form, I’ll leave some strength on the table and take the excellent form. Remember, the CNS controls everything. It is clear that when the body can’t get into the correct position to perform a movement the CNS will see this as a threat and put on the “breaks”, not allowing the body to accept the stress placed upon it as well. Load movements that people can own otherwise you are fighting an uphill battle that the CNS is going to win every single time.
Use Isometric, Eccentric and Cluster Sets
A lot of people forget that there are more ways to get strong then by just adding weight to the bar. Adding tempo to your strength program is not only beneficial in a lot of ways from an athletic performance standpoint, but is also a nice change of pace, challenging, and a nice mental break from lifting heavier weights for the standard sets and reps. Add isometric holds for things like chin ups and barbell bridges. Add a controlled eccentric to benching and squat variations. On your big bang exercises, use clusters to challenge someone to perform more reps with a weight they normally wouldn’t be able to do. At the end of the day the body/CNS recognizes progressive overload and has to recover and adapt from it – I don’t think the body/CNS has any idea, nor does it discriminate as to how that progressive overload is created, it just knows it needs to adapt to the demand that was placed on the body.
When in Doubt Go Simple
I love the field of strength and conditioning because it changes all the time as we learn more about the body and as a result find better or more optimal ways to training to improve performance. The problem is that with all these changes we can find ourselves overwhelmed with all the things that we want to accomplish with our athletes and our programs can become overly complicated. When in doubt, keep things simple. Keep the Dan John philosophy in the back of your mind at all times; do something explosive, push something, pull something, carry something, squat something and perform some type of hip hinge/bridge. That should be the meat and potatoes of the program and everything else is the icing on the cake.
The other day I just finished Larry Winget’s It’s Called Work for a Reason, a book that I think everyone would enjoy reading. In the book, Winget talked about what he calls his 20/60/20 principle when it comes to employees in his businesses throughout his career. The 20/60/20 principle states that you can place everyone within an organization into one of three groups, and I think this applies extremely well to the world of strength and conditioning.
This is the 20/60/20 Principle. It goes something like this;
The Top 20 Percent
These are your best athletes in the weight room, the cream of the crop. These are the athletes that everyone loves to work with. These are the athletes that you wish every single other athlete was like. “What if they were all like X?” is what you sometimes say to yourself. They are always on time. They always have a great attitude. They are extremely coachable. They work their tails off. They are strong, move well, and make you as a coach look great. Generally speaking, these are usually the athletes that are also the better players on the team as well – again, generally speaking.
The Bottom 20 Percent
These are the players that are at the other end of the spectrum when compared to the top 20 percent. These are the athletes that may have a quality or two that the top 20 percent have, but certainly not all of them. They are not bad people, far from that, they are just athletes that are limited in many ways. They don’t move quite as well and aren’t as strong. These are the athletes, that no matter what you do, never look as good as you would like – there is always something that needs correction and it’s an ongoing process for their entire playing career. Generally speaking, these are usually the athletes that make up the bottom of the roster of their team as well – not all the time, but majority of the time.
The Middle 60 Percent
These are the athletes that are pretty good. They are somewhat strong, move pretty well, but still have some holes in their game. They aren’t the top 20 percent but on the other hand they aren’t the bottom 20 percent either – they all somewhere in the middle. And again, generally speaking, this is typically where they fall on the roster of their team.
What does this all mean to a strength coach?
Spend your time developing the middle 60 percent. Your goal should be to move that middle 60 percent up into the top 20 percent – that’s where you’ll have the biggest impact on the team as a strength coach. The top 20 percent doesn’t need you to motivate them or hold their hands. Your studs are your studs and that’s not going to change. You will make your money on that middle 60 percent.
I look at this from the “Bucket Filling” analogy that Michael Boyle always uses. Coach Boyle always talks about filling the buckets that aren’t full with athletes. The strength bucket, speed bucket, conditioning bucket, movement bucket, power bucket, ect. With the top 20 percent a lot of those buckets are full or getting near full – there isn’t much more to add. With the bottom 20 percent most of those buckets need to be filled – there is almost too much to fill. But with the middle 60 percent most of the buckets have some water in them, some more than others, but many of them just need a little bit more water in them – and capping off a handful of buckets with a little water could make a huge different.
The bottom-line is this; push everyone to get better, but attack the middle 60 percent. This is where you can make the biggest overall difference to the team.
Here are a handful of both articles and podcasts from the world of strength and conditioning over the past week or so.
Within the last year I have had the opportunity to work with the women’s ice hockey team at the UNH. Since that time I have tried to read as much as I can on hockey related injuries and what can be done to prevent these potential injuries through the work of hockey strength coaches like Kevin Neeld and Mike Boyle along with physical therapists like Gray Cook and Shirley Sahrmann amongst others so that I can create better off ice programs that speak to the specific needs of an ice hockey player and keep them healthy and strong throughout their competitive season.
On top of this, a couple of weeks ago one of our players remarked that both back and front squatting hurt her hips, but only when she would ‘get low’. Another chimed in with the same feelings. This lead me to dig deeper into what this could be and why it only bothered them when they would ‘get low’.
The one thing that comes up over and over again is femoracetabular impingement (FAI).
According to http://www.hipfai.com, FAI is a conditioning of too much friction of the hip. The ball (femoral head) and the socket (acetabulum) rub abnormally creating damage to the hip joint.
There are also various different types of FAI; cam, pincer and mixed. Again, according to http://www.hipafi.com, cam describes the femoral head and neck relationship as not perfectly round, with this loss of roundness contributing to abnormal contact between the head and the socket. A second form of FAI known as pincer, where the socket has too much coverage of the ball resulting in the labral cartilage being pinched between the rim of the socket and the femoral head-neck junction. The third and most common type of FAI is mixed where cam and pincer forms exist together. FAI limits hip range of motion, most notably hip flexion beyond 90 degrees. Furthermore, FAI is a bony block – you probably won’t have a ton of luck trying to stretch or perform mobility work to fix the issue.
The research in regards to FAI in hockey populations is pretty alarming. In a study by world renowned hip specialist Marc Phillipon, he found the following;
Femoracetabular Impingement (FAI)
• Pee Wee (10-12 years old): 37% had FAI
• Bantam (13-15 years old): 68% had FAI
• Midget (16-19 years old): 93% had FAI
Hip Labral Tears
• Pee Wee (10-12 years old): 48% had labral tears
• Bantam (13-15 years old): 63% had labral tears
• Midget (16-19 years old): 93% had labral tears
The data is clear – the longer one plays hockey the greater the likelihood that FAI is going to wreck havoc on the hip labrum.
This begs the question, if 93% of midget level hockey players (16-19 years old) have both FAI and labral tears, how many 20+ year old college hockey players are dealing with the same issues whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic? It stands to reason that the entire team is minus one or two players.
So what can a strength and conditioning coach do to fix the issue?
In reality, probably not much – FAI is something that keeps developing over years and years of doing the same thing (skating in this example). But we can make an impact for the better and keep these athletes on the ice throughout their college careers. In a lot of ways it may be more about what we don’t do with hockey athletes as opposed to what we actually do with these athletes. After spending so time reading from the likes of the previously mentioned strength coaches (Neeld & Boyle) along with the writing of Eric Cressey and Tony Gentilecore.
Screen your athletes. Whether you use the FMS or have a system that you have developed on your own, you need to screen them. How do you know exactly what you are dealing with, what you may have to train around, if you don’t check? You have to understand what you are dealing with and who may be at risk, not matter what the movement deficiency might be so that you can train each individual they way they need to be trained.
Stop skating year-round. Get hockey players out of their skates in the off-season. As much as they are going to think you are crazy and fight you on this, they need it. You don’t have to be a genius to realize that doing the same thing over and over and over again is going to eventually cause some problems.
Stop squatting bilaterally. If you are a strength coach, personal trainer or anyone else squatting a hockey player (symptomatic or not) you are asking for problems. As previously mentioned, going below 90 degrees of hip flexion is not recommended for someone with FAI, its borderline dangerous. You could squat above 90 degrees, but you are probably playing with fire. Remember, the intent of training is to make the athlete both feel better and play better, neither of which can happen if they are hurt as a result of their off ice training.
Train around FAI by deadlifting. Whether it be Trap bar deadlifts, conventional deadlifts, or rack deadlifts. All and any of these variations are better options then squatting because you never ask the hip to get into 90 degrees or more of flexion. You can and should still get seriously strong. You should still perform bilateral movements – just pick the one that fits the hips of this population.
Hammer single leg work. Besides deadlifting I am not sure you need to do any other bilateral strength work. Anecdotally, hockey athletes respond well to single leg training (just look at the results that Mike Boyle has got over the last 10-15 years). In addition, both our athletes that remarked that squatting hurt their hips also remarked that 1-leg squats, slideboard lunges, and rear foot elevated split squats (and other split squat variations) were difficult but did not hurt their hips at all – the funny thing is no one has a good reason as to why single leg work doesn’t bother the skaters hip when bilateral squatting does bother the skaters hip. A common thought is that single leg work allows the hip to find its ‘sweet spot’ with hip internal and external rotation. This leads us right into the next recommendation…
Don’t be stupid. As Mike Boyle has famously said, “If it hurts, don’t do it.” It’s really that simple, even if you think it’s a movement that should be pain free. Find what works, what doesn’t hurt, and get really strong with those movements.
Though we can not prevent any of these injuries we probably can train around them and train appropriately off ice to keep hockey players asymptomatic and healthy throughout their competitive season.
One of the greatest coaches of all time and a quote machine. Here are 35 quotes from the legendary John Wooden.
1. Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.
2. If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.
3. It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.
4. Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.
5. Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.
6. Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendships a fine art, drink deeply from good books – especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessing and pray for guidance every day.
7. Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.
8. Things turn out the best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.
9. The most important thing in the world is family and love.
10. Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.
11. Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.
12. Never lie, never cheat, never steal.
13. The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.
14. You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one of them.
15. I worry that business leaders are more interested in material gain than they are in having the patience to build up a strong organization, and a strong organization starts with caring for their people.
16. Young people need models, not critics.
17. Today is the only day. Yesterday is gone.
18. Never mistake activity for achievement.
19. Don’t let making a living prevent you from making a life.
20. If you’re true to yourself, you’re going to be true to everyone else.
21. You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.
22. It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.
23. I think you have to be what you are. Don’t try to be someone else. You have to be yourself at all times.
24. If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?
25. Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think of you.
26. Adversity is the state in which man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free from admirers then.
27. Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.
28. Make each day your masterpiece.
29. Just try to be the best you can be; never cease trying to be the best you can be. That’s in your power.
30. A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.
31. The best competition I have is against myself to become better.
32. What you are as a person is far more important than what you are as a basketball player.
33. All of life is peaks and valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the valleys too low.
34. I’d rather have a ton of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent.
35. Discipline yourself, and others won’t need to.