Random Thoughts: March Edition

Another month, another post on some random thoughts that have been going through my head. Some of these thoughts come from books that I am reading, podcasts I have been listening to or working day to day in the weight room and coaching athletes.


  1. In my eyes there are a lot of benefits to a Close Grip Hang Snatch compared to a regular wider grip. It is clearly more shoulder friendly. You also are forced to use less weight because you have to move the bar further, which falls into the Charlie Weingroff ‘lowest system load’ thought process. I also think with the hands closer together the athlete has to generate more force and velocity to move the bar slightly further then they would with the regular grip. This isn’t to say the wide grip version of the lift doesn’t have benefits, I just think there are a lot of benefits to the close grip.
  2. When we learn about muscles actions in our exercise science programs we learn that there are 3 types of actions; concentric, eccentric and isometric. Yet when we develop strength training programs we spend the vast majority of our time development only concentric contractions…not sure that makes a ton of sense to me.
  3. Stimulate don’t annihilate. In my opinion there is zero reason to perform a ton of sets of a specific exercise and would be better off spending that time doing other movements, developing a more well rounded athlete. We rarely perform more then 3 sets of a particular exercise and continue to gains in both power and strength. This is without a doubt a clear example of less being more.
  4. Aerobic conditioning: Volume 1st, Intensity 2nd. Anaerobic conditioning: Intensity 1st, Volume 2nd.
  5. A lot of the injury issues we deal with, whether it is in the weight room or on the field/court/ice etc, is due to a lack of recovery.
  6. Make the weight room an enjoyable place – you’ll get more out of an athlete or athletes that enjoy the training process.
  7. Strength coaches always talk about the importance of developing powerful triple extension in trying to develop more powerful athletes, which I don’t disagree with…is there anything that trains that better/more specifically then a Trap Bar Jump Squat?
  8. One thing I have added to our strength programs are yielding and long duration isometrics (~30-60 seconds) in the early stages of the off-season to help correct poor posture from the sporting season, improve the ability to learn how to get into correct positions, and help develop the resistance within the muscle to learn how to adapt to more difficult strength training that will be coming – and I really enjoyed how our athletes have adapted to it.
  9. When you have athletes that are already relatively strong, eccentric work is a really safe and effective way to get people really, really strong and help them when it comes to injury prevention/reduction.
  10. Want to get more out of each athlete? Connect with them on a personal level, care about them. Make them feel safe around you, able to both fail and succeed. Give them specific and honest feedback on their performance, holding them to a high standard.

16 Quotes From Game Changer

One of my favorite books from 2017 was without a doubt Game Changer by Fergus Connolly. The other day I picked it up again and was looking through all the things that I highlighted. Here are a few of those highlighted quotes;

  1. The less versatile you are, the better you have to be at what you do well. – Bill Belichick
  2. There must be a single coherent message throughout the entire organization and even in the game plan, strategy, and tactics.
  3. The game itself is the only true test of player and team performance.
  4. Athletes should be told as little as possible about the drills they participate in and should instead be allowed to learn through discovery.
  5. You simply cannot put athletes through high-intensity sessions day after day, or sessions that are dense or have high volume. Otherwise you’ll compromise learning outcomes and the players will be worn down going into the next game. This is why the nature of tactical sessions must be balanced within the morphological programming approach.
  6. If there is one central point underpinning sustainable success, it’s that athlete health is the most important factor in achieving maximal and sustained performance, for both the individual and the team.
  7. If the athlete can ensure proper recovery through adequate rest, sleep, mobility, and nutrition, the para-sympathetic response should be enough to facilitate restoration and adaptation to training stimuli and experiences.
  8. Health has to come before performance.
  9. The generalized concepts of peaking and tapering make no sense.
  10. Do all that you need to do to make an athlete better and nothing more.
  11. Structure and consistency create perfection.
  12. There should never be anything accidental in a training session. Every activity must be geared toward the accomplishment of a specific goal or set of goals.
  13. He who can handle the quickest rate of change survives. – John Boyd
  14. Intensity and quality always trump volume and quantity.
  15. If the leader is positive and energetic, this is contagious and impacts everyone else.
  16. Glittering stadiums, new gear, and fancy facilities do not win sports games: a dedicated, committed team of happy, healthy people does.

Weekend Week in Review

It’s Sunday which means I review some of the podcasts I listened to and articles that I read throughout the last week.

When it comes to the podcasts, I really enjoyed the newest episode of the Strength Coach Podcast. Cam Josse is an extremely smart guy is quickly becoming a very well-known name in the field. Along with that, the Just Fly Performance Podcast with Alex Natera was great, with lots of talk on isometrics, which is something that I am spending a lot of time looking into recently.

For articles, I enjoyed the article Mick Hughes wrote on whether or not injury rates effect team performance. Injuries are certainly an issue in team sports and logic would tell us that teams that are healthy are going to have a better chance of winning when it matters.



Pacey Performance with Jason Hettler

Strength Coach Podcast #225 with Cam Josse

Just Fly Performance with Alex Natera

CVASP with Dr. Zak Gabor


Do Injury Rates Effect Team Performance by Mick Hughes

Explosive Lifting for Hockey by Sean Skahan

Hard Work is Not Going to Break You by John Cissik

Fixing Dave Tate with Dr. John Rusin

The Ultimate 6 Part Hip and Core Warm Up by Matthew Ibrahim

Band Resisted Eccentric Chin Up

Currently in the first week of an eccentric based block with UNH Men’s Soccer and we started off the week with some band resisted eccentric chin ups, trying to overload and really challenge them through the eccentric portion of the lift – plus they are kind of fun.

We aimed for ~5 seconds down for 3 sets of 4 reps, adding a rep each week for the next 3 weeks. Give a try and let me know what you think!

Power/Dynamic In-Season Lift

A quick glance at our current Wednesday lift with UNH Women’s hockey. Our goal is to perform movements with the intent of doing everything fast in order to prime the nervous system for the weekend of games as well as trying to ‘peak’ as we are in the late stages of the season and/or playoffs.

Things we aim to do or not do;

  • program movements that have little if any eccentric movement to eliminate any potential soreness
  • leave the weight room feeling fresh
  • have fresh legs going into and over the course of the weekend
  • amount of weight lifted goes down, speed of movement goes up

Yielding Isometrics

Yielding and Long Duration Isometrics with UNH Volleyball and UNH Men’s Soccer.

One change we’ve made in the first phase of our off-season training this year is adding both yielding and long duration isometrics, which simply asks an athlete to hold a certain position at a sub-maximal level for an extended period of time while fighting against an eccentric contraction.

The rationale behind this is to increase the ability of the muscle to tolerate stress – the more you can tolerate the better one should be able to perform during high intensity/high stress situations.

Again, curious if other coaches program yielding and long duration isometrics, how they implement them and with what exercises?

Weekend Week in Review

It’s Sunday which means I review some of the podcasts I listened to and articles that I read throughout the last week.

When it comes to the podcasts, I really enjoyed Mike Robertson’s Physical Preparation Podcast with John Kiely. John is quickly becoming a go-to resource when it comes to all things periodization and has a ton of valuable insight into how periodization applies to team sport athletes.

For articles, I enjoyed Joel Smith’s article on keeping things simple. In the current world of strength and conditioning and all the information out there, it can be easy to get away from what works, and that’s the basics.



Just Fly Performance with Carl Valle

CVASP with Dr. Zach Long

Pacey Performance with Andrew Russell

Physical Preparation with John Kiely


Overcoming Isometrics

Clusters for Power

Top 10 Strength and Conditioning Books to Read in 2018 by Carl Valle

Doing Simple Better by Joel Smith

Hockey Advice from a Strength Coach by Michael Boyle

Insighted on Functional Athletic Performance Training by Michael Boyle

Why ‘Conscious Coaching’ Beats a System Based Approach to Training and People by Brett Bartholomew

Overcoming Isometrics

Overcoming Isometrics with UNH Men’s Soccer & UNH Volleyball in the first block of their off-season training.

  • Easy to reach proper positions
  • Greater motor unit recruitment
  • Taxes movement patterns at specific joint angles
  • Potential increase in rate of force development

This is the first time we’ve used these in this phase of our off-season training.

Are any other coaches uses isometrics in their programs? When? How? Would be curious to see what others are doing.

Clusters for Power

Our in-season off-ice training with women’s hockey is essentially broken up into three phases;

  1. Strength-Speed (October – December)
  2. Speed-Strength (January – February)
  3. Power (March/playoffs

Ultimately, our goal from January on is to do everything we can to develop faster and more powerful hockey players. In trying to accomplish this one of the small changes we’ve made has been implementing cluster sets with our power work. The idea is that by adding adequate rest (we’ve used ~10 seconds) between reps of our cleans/snatches/jump squats, the athlete will be put in a position to better maintain velocity throughout the course of the entire set and as a result increase power output to a greater degree then they would if they were performing traditional straight sets.

Weekend Week in Review

It’s Sunday which means I review some of the podcasts I listened to and articles that I read throughout the last week.

When it comes to the podcasts, I really enjoyed the Just Fly Performance Podcast with Michael Zweifel. Lots of talk on speed development, agility and things along those lines.

For articles, I enjoyed Allistair McCaw’s article on ways to improve as a coach as we can always become better as a coach no matter how good we feel we are at the job. On top of this, I also really liked Zach Dechant’s article on why TCU baseball is a 3 day a week lifting team in the off-season and not a 4 day a week team like many are – it definitely makes you think about what the proper amount of strength training is!



Strength Coach Podcast #224

Rdella Training with Brett Bartholomew

Pacey Performance with Robert Butler

Just Fly Performance with Michael Zweifel

Iron Game Chalk Talk with Brian Sipotz


Why We Program the Overhead Throw

Why We Are a 3 Day Team by Zach Dechant

25 Ways to Improve Yourself as a Coach by Allistair McCaw

What Really Wins in the Real World by Sean Light

Leadership Comes Down to 3 Things by Justin Gray

Living Better in a Profession of Martyrdom: Advice for Young Strength Coaches by Byran Mann

A Simple Plan by Tony Holler