30 Thought Provoking Quotes from New Functional Training for Sport

Every once in a while I feel like digging back into books that I may have previously read, especially books that I feel are loaded with information, information that I may have previously overlooked. I often find myself going back through some of these books and gaining more knowledge that I may have missed or overlooked the first time through. The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson and Movement by Gray Cook are perfect examples of this. Another perfect example is Mike Boyle’s New Functional Training for Sport.

functional training for sport

Here are 30 (there could have been more) thought provoking quotes from the book. Hopefully some of these will make you think a little. Enjoy!

  1. Function is, essentially purpose. When we use the word function we are saying that something has a purpose. So when we apply that term to training for sport we are talking about purposeful training.
  2. Simply learning to produce force while under a heavy load and on two feet is nonfunctional for most athletes.
  3. Think of your training as a vehicle to improve performance, not just improve strength.
  4. For the strength and conditioning professional, the number one goal of a strength and conditioning program should be injury prevention.
  5. Usually the best players or top performers are the most efficient and explosive movers.
  6. If you cannot perform body-weight exercises such as push ups and chin ups, then you are not functionally strong and may be more likely to be injured.
  7. The key to functional training is to develop usable strength.
  8. An athlete who lacks upper back strength is at a greater risk for problems related to the shoulder’s rotator cuff.
  9. Don’t design a program based on what you like or dislike as a coach or trainer; design a program that works for the athlete.
  10. Female athletes are not physically different from their male counterparts, at least not as it relates to training. All muscles and bones are the same.
  11. The nice thing about T-spine mobility is that almost no one has enough and it seems to be hard to get too much.
  12. Sport is about acceleration, not speed.
  13. How well an athlete accelerates will determine success in team sports.
  14. Single leg strength is specific and cannot be developed through double leg exercises.
  15. Core training is the missing link to developing the power to hit a baseball or gold ball farther or a hockey puck or tennis ball harder and faster.
  16. The abdominal muscles by design are stabilizers, not movers.
  17. Functional anatomy has demonstrated that the primary purpose of the core musculature is the prevention of movement.
  18. Core training is really about motion prevention, not motion creation.
  19. The medicine ball may be the simplest and safest tool for developing total-body power, rotary power and, anterior-core power.
  20. The key to medicine ball training is velocity. Emphasize speed of movement, not ball weight.
  21. A well-designed upper body program should include a proportional number of sets of horizontal pulling (rows), vertical pulling (chin ups), overhead pressing and supine pressing exercises. In simple terms, there should be a set of pulling exercise for every set of pushing exercise.
  22. If you are going to stink at one lift, stink at bench press. It’s the least important.
  23. Strive for balanced pressing strength in which strength is developed at a variety of angles (incline, overhead) along with stability (using dumbbells). One angle or one action should not become dominant.
  24. A combination of Olympic lifts, medicine ball throws, and plyometrics is the best way to develop power.
  25. We must learn to jump off the ground and properly land on the ground before we attempt to minimize time spent on the ground.
  26. Good plyometrics are quiet. Failure to land quietly indicates that the athlete lacks eccentric strength and that the exercise is inappropriate.
  27. Increased power translates into a faster, more explosive athlete.
  28. Design a workout that prepares an athlete to play a sport, not a workout that mimics one of the strength sports (bodybuilding, powerlifting, Olympic lifting).
  29. The slideboard may offer the most bang for your buck of any functional conditioning tool.
  30. To improve conditioning while reducing the chance of injury, conditioning programs must train acceleration, deceleration, and change of direction.

What I’m Currently Reading

Here is what I am currently working my way through;

tribe of mentors

Very, very long, but a ton of life advice from some of the most successful people in the world. Worth the investment.

functional training for sport.png

Second time around with this, but lots of little tidbits to takeaway, mostly on the ‘why’ of Mike Boyle’s thought process when it comes to training athletes.

Bob Hoffman Isometrics

A lot of talk recently on isometric training and the benefits athletes can see from it. I believe it was Robbie Bourke on the Just Fly Performance Podcast and I wanted to read up on some of the science behind so I didn’t blindly implement something I knew nothing about into some of our strength programs.

Weekend Goodies

Another Sunday which means another handful of sport performance articles from the past week and some sport performance podcasts that I listened to in the last week, some new and some older. Enjoy!


Strength Coach Podcast #220

Strength Coach Podcast #220.5

Physical Prep Podcast with Brett Bartholomew

Rugby Strength Podcast with Tony Holler

CVASP Podcast with Anna Kuzan


Random Thoughts: December Edition

Post Season Aerobic Circuits

How to Use the Hex Bar for Sports Training by Carl Valle

All Pain No Gain: Why the High-Intensity Training Obsession has Failed Us by Joel Jamieson

Nordic Exercise: Best Options for Hamstrings? by Carl Valle

Post-Season Aerobic Circuits

Nothing crazy here, just a post-season aerobic circuit with UNH Volleyball. The ultimate goal of the aerobic circuit is to build a larger aerobic base that will allow an athlete to endure more physical stress as the off-season begins and starts to become a little more stressful in the weight room from both a strength training and conditioning standpoint. Plus, it’s a nice change of pace from our more traditional in-season lifts.

Random Thoughts: December Edition

Another month, another group of random thoughts that are going through my head. Some from working day to day in the weight room, some through listening to others thoughts in podcasts, and some due to what I have been reading. Enjoy!

  1. Changing respiration changes physiology. Diaphragmatic breathing is clearly important, but I still think its underrated in the world of strength & conditioning and physical therapy.
  2. I find myself using a straight bar less and less these days. We hang clean and hang snatch with a straight bar. We also bench with a straight bar. Sometimes we will perform split squat variations with a straight bar but that isn’t often and its typically to add some variety to the program. Other then those exercises, we almost never touch a straight bar.
  3. Tony Holler said that “Sprinting potentiates jumping.” Therefore I would think performing more speed work with jumping athletes like volleyball and basketball might be beneficial.
  4. “Typically the limiting factor in acceleration is strength.” – Joe DeFranco.
  5. Isometric work has been gaining a little bit of steam recently. A question I have: if you get stronger through isometric holds at the top and bottom of a movement pattern, will the entire movement patter (the middle) get stronger?
  6. Anthony Donskov spoke on some of his lower body work in-season with hockey teams. He performs hamstring movements earlier in the week because the hamstrings are fast twitch and take longer to recover. In addition, he performs his tougher knee dominant movement later in the week because they are more slow twitch and can be trained with minimal fatigue on the ice. An interesting thought process.
  7. Frontal plane and transverse plane movements are huge for athletes and shouldn’t be overlooked…yet they are more often then not.
  8. I tend to think most non-traumatic injuries are either because of continuous overuse or are caused because the body couldn’t control and external force. Both probably aren’t a good thing but both can probably be avoided.
  9. For most people, I think the risk/reward between goblet squat vs. back squat or split squat vs. back squat falls in favor of goblet or split squat.
  10. I think pre-game warm ups need some type of high intensity/high speed movements to ready the body for what is to come. Something like a few reps of some type of linear/lateral speed work might fill this bucket.

Conditioning the Volleyball Athlete

When I first started working with volleyball I did what I thought was correct and had the team run a couple times a week for conditioning like I would with our teams. Typically we would run two times a week with a sprint based day and a tempo based day, and then perform slideboard intervals on the other day(s) depending on whether we were training three or four days per week. This was a mistake.

The one thing I didn’t account for was the amount of time volleyball athletes spending jumping, more specifically landing, even in the off-season. As a result of this we found we had a handful of athletes that were dealing with some sore and cranky knees.

As a result we have changed our conditioning around a little. As much as I would like to run a couple times a week I had to take a smarter approach. Depending on how many days we are training, we now continue to run once per week, slideboard once or twice a week, and ride the Assault Bike once or twice a week allowing us to have much fewer ground contacts over the course of the week. The result: zero knee soreness.

As a result of this we have also implemented a Max Aerobic Speed (MAS) on the Assault Bike that we stole from Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning/Movement as Medicine. It’s an extremely simple test; 2 Miles as fast as you can then take the average RPM’s over the course of the 2 mile ride. We will then take that average number to program appropriate RPM’s during our various assault bike conditioning protocols throughout the off-season. This allows us to individualize the conditioning on the bikes and allows us to make sure each athlete is working at a pace (RPM’s) during each interval no matter what bike protocol we are using.

Weekend Goodies

Another Sunday which means another handful of sport performance articles from the past week and some sport performance podcasts that I listened to in the last week, some new and some older. Enjoy!


Physical Preparation Podcast with Jorge Carvajal

Just Fly Performance Podcast with Chris Korfist

CVASP Podcast with Jason Dierking

Just Fly Performance Podcast with Joe DeFranco


Importance of Diaphragmatic Breathing

Lower-Crossed Syndrome in Ice Hockey

Weight Room Culture of One by Zach Dechant

Should You ‘Balance’ Your Pushes and Your Pulls? by Eric Cressey

10 Ways to Remain Athletic as You Age by Eric Cressey


In-Season Ice Hockey Training Thoughts

Nothing earth shattering, but here are a few thoughts on training ice hockey (or any athlete) during the in-season period.

  1. I think 2 lifts a week is more then enough if you are programming well. If we really wanted to I am sure we could arrange things so that we could train 3 or 4 days a week. But in my opinion, in-season the goal is to train as much as necessary not as much as possible.
  2. Intensity remains high, volume gets reduced. We still lift heavy, we just don’t perform lots of sets and reps.
  3. Keep lifts short and to the point. The team does a thorough warm up prior to practice and then comes into the weight room to lift two times a week. Because our warm up is already complete, our lifts generally don’t take longer then 30 minutes. The team comes into the weight room, grabs their cards, and starts.
  4. Pick exercises that have little chance of causing muscle soreness…no one wants sore/heavy legs on game day.
  5. Collect data daily and look for trends throughout the team and potential red flags with certain athletes. We measure training load (average HR x time on ice) and wellness (subjective questionnaire) on a daily basis. We also measure readiness (vertical jump) and get a bodyweight every single Monday.

As I said, nothing earth shattering but something that was running through my head and I decided to write down.

Benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing

“If breathing isn’t normalized no other movement pattern will be.” Karl Lewit

Diaphragmatic breathing is probably the simplest and easiest thing we can perform with our athletes when it comes to changing and improving movement and performance, yet is constantly overlooked.

Proper respiration leads to better posture. Better posture leads to an athlete that is more resilient to injury and leads to better performance. More resilient + better performance = better athlete. If you aren’t coaching breathing you are missing the boat.


Some of the documented benefits of diaphragmatic breathing;

  • A window into the autonomic nervous system to help promote a more para-sympathetic state
  • Decreases heart rate
  • Decreases blood pressure
  • Decreases anxiety
  • Changes in insulin sensitivity
  • An important spinal stabilize

We simply cue an athlete to breathe in through the nose (3-4 seconds) and out through their mouth (6-8 seconds). Though it may seem like a small detail, breathing in through the nose and subsequently out through the mouth is critical as it stimulates the vagus nerve.

Thoughts on Lower-Crossed Syndrome in Ice Hockey

Last week I wrote a post that touched on Janda’s Upper-Crossed Syndrome and the effect it can have on the hockey athlete. Dr. Janda’s Lower-Crossed Syndrome is classified by a weak/inhibited glute max and anterior core along with tight/facilitated hip flexors and erector spine resulting in a malpositioned pelvis (anterior tilt). This issues commonly cause a tug-of-war between the tight hip flexors and weak anterior core which can lead to hernia issues or other hip issues that are caused by a malpositioned pelvis (FAI???).

Lower Crossed Syndrome

Moral of the story…just like hockey players tend to have some funky shoulders, they also tend to have some messed up hips! Some of the simple but important things we incorporate to counteract these issues;

  • Releasing the Hip Flexor: various ways to do this – diaphragmatic breathing, stretching the hip flexors, etc.
  • Bridging to facilitate the glute: we bridge all the time via Cook Hip Lifts, Slideboard Leg Curl, 1-Leg Shoulder Elevated Hip Bridges and some others
  • Getting into Hip Extension: in the off-season we will slowly incorporate running, first starting with tempo runs and then more sprinting in order to slowly work the hips into more and more aggressive hip extension
  • Pushing Sleds: not commonly thought of this way, but in my eyes the sled is just big hip extension machine. Because of the lack of eccentric contraction you can use a sled year round without worry of an athlete getting sore.