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What S&C Coaches can learn from Driving Instructors

Hey Everyone,

A couple of weeks ago I  presented at the APA Speed, Agility & Quickness Training for Sports Workshop.  If you have ever been to one you know it’s normally a four hour format and we cover the four types of speed that I refer to at APA:

  • First step speed
  • Straight ahead speed
  • Multi-directional speed
  • Sport specific speed

For this workshop I invited a few guests to present with me and we went for a six-hour format.  In the morning there was a theory based presentation from myself and Howard Green, and Ruben Neyens did a practical session.  Then in the afternoon we all did a practical. In the last blog I summarised my theory presentation (Speed Tips from World Class coaches- part 1) .  In this one I have taken inspiration from Ruben’s practical- this is part 2!

What really struck me was the learning environment that Ruben created.  You’ll get to see more of what I’m talking about if you go to this year’s Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) National Conference- he’s a keynote speaker.  He talked about the performance playground idea- a concept I first heard from Darren Roberts. It actually felt a little bit uncomfortable for me to see the child stumble through the exercises.  Ruben would set up the task- and then let the child practice it while he spoke to the audience for a few minutes.  My instinct was to want to step in and give the child more information on how to do it better!  It really benefited me to see his approach because I would say I’m a reluctant observer- I want to be at the centre of the learning.

I took the time to reflect on ”how children learn new skills” and this was the basis of the staff in-service training I gave last Friday.  Below is the summary of the presentation.

If you want to see the full presentation I will put the video below.  One of the key discussions about how children learn new skills is the concept of ‘Discovery Learning.’

Discovery Learning- the ‘How’

At the beginning of his coaching practical Ruben said that he preferred to set up a drill and then leave the children to practice it without the coach saying anything.  He thinks an important part of talent ID is finding out which children are open to learning, and actively seek out opportunities to learn.  Most of the time, children with a healthy attitude to learning would ask him ‘to watch them to see if they were doing it correctly,’ or they would ask him to show them something more difficult.

After a few minutes he might ask, ”Would you like a tip?” to which they might reply Yes or No.  Then he would give them just one or two instructions to ‘draw their attention to something that will improve the movement.

It was also noticeable that in more complex movements such as changing direction he would use a ‘constraints based’ coaching approach.  So in order to learn how to decelerate more effectively when changing direction the child had to place a round circular cone on a large traffic cone.  This ‘constraint’ using specific equipment required a strategy involving precise movement which by its nature made the child take more care to slow down in preparation for this task.

In all cases it was noticeable that there wasn’t a lot of instruction and verbal coaching.  Ruben was more of an observer and would respond to the athlete.

Education of Attention

The process of an more experienced coach selectively introducing the novice to the right aspects of the environment is known as ‘education of attention.’  This involves:

  • Showing them landmarks that orientate his or her activities
  • Helping them Learn what to notice and do

Assisted Imitation

Mimikry is one of the most powerful ways to Learn what to do, and that’s why doing a demonstration and then asking the child to copy is such a central part of the coaching process.  Ruben would give a good demonstration and then would let the child copy him.  He didn’t really use many words to describe or explain what he was looking for- he mainly showed it. If the child was not quite doing it right, he would ask them if they wanted a tip.

Progression not Regression

Ruben said he preferred to start with a simple skill and progress.  This was every child is able to feel confident in their ability to get involved and do the task.  You can then progress it for those individuals who need a higher challenge.  Ruben would take a simple task and add layers of complexity to it until he reached the limit of the child’s ability and the skill started to break down.

He also said it is important to have an idea of where you would like to go with the session but as far as strict session planning goes he said no- he prefers to have a box of tools and then he will go to his toolbox depending on how we feels the children are responding to the tasks.

I had to reflect on this myself as I tend to want to change the stimulus independent of how the children respond to it.  I move on because my session plan and my watch tells me it’s time to!! This is something I will reflect on.

Frans Bosch talks about Dynamic Systems theory and the complexity of the human motor apparatus. He talks about needing a ‘Psychophysical’ environment that provides a setting to exploit movement variability as a mechanism to enhance an athlete’s adaptability.

For me personally, you can either  start with the end in mind and regress if needed, or start at the bottom and progress (as Ruben demonstrated).  I don’t know if you can say that one is right or wrong as both will have consequences.  The consequence of starting with the more simple skill is that advanced athletes will get little challenge from the easier progressions.  The advantage is that it is inclusive and enables all the group to feel confident- and you can slowly dial up the difficulty until everyone finds the level of challenge appropriate for them.

One thing I think we need to talk about besides ‘Confidence’ gained from Competence is Safety.  I’m all for starting with the end in mind- or at least moving quickly to where the athlete is challenged if we do in fact start at the easiest progression.  I understand that part of ecological psychology is to let the person learn to manage risks in their environment.  If you take away the risk you take away their capabilities to assess risk because you remove it- such as what many councils do with playgrounds.

But what if the child lacks the physical (and sensory) abilities to ”actively [and safely] explore the possibilities afforded to them by the environment?  Isn’t their an argument for a basic level of motor skills?

Frans Bosch say that the relationship between strength and coordination needs to be better understood and they should in fact ”be treated as a single unit.  Since force has a strongly coordinative component and motor control limits production of force, the laws of motor learning are important within strength training.”

My personal opinion is that even if it is true that a ‘precisely taught lifting or jumping/landing technique will not be remembered, for it is not universally applicable’- we need to first determine a stable technique.  So can the athlete control their joint position in a squat- then a counter movement jump and finally a drop jump? Let’s get it stable first and then add variability to the movement patterns.

According to Bosch:

Stable yet flexible movement patterns do NOT develop by learning techniques PRECISELY, but through self-organisation from COMPLEXITY.

My personal tendency is to start at the bottom and work up.  Think of a driving instructor.  Would you expect a driving instructor to take a novice driver on to the main busy roads on the first lesson if they have no prior experience? No, they have to learn the fundamental driving skills first of how to put the car in gear, accelerate and decelerate.  Once they have basic control of the vehicle they can they take it on the main roads and learn how to interact with a dynamic environment.

This leads me onto the second part of this blog.

Functional Movement Skills (FMS)- the ‘What’

I believe it is important to explore a range of FMS in early development.  I also believe that ‘targeted’ FMS will augment/accelerate performance in Sport Specific Skills (SSS). Like nearly every aspect of Strength & Conditioning there seems to be a number of categories of FMS according to different organisations.

For example:

And here are some more:

For me I like to keep it simple- FMS are basically forms of Locomotion, Manipulation and Stability.  To make it even simpler I refer to Coordination (Locomotion and Manipulation), Balance (Stability) and Reaction Speed

I’d encourage you to check out the video below.  I have also included the journal article for more info. Youth Physical Development Model 2012

As I said, I believe it is important to explore a range of FMS in early development.  However, I also feel it is important to ask yourself what you expect to happen by doing a range of movement skills? Is the belief that elite athletes become elite because they played several sports as a youth? I don’t believe that.

I think elite athletes who were famous for being great in several sports and had a choice which sport to go into- were just supreme athletes who were going to make it in spite of the system they were in not because of it.  They probably would have succeeded regardless.

No, that’s not why I encourage children to develop a broad encyclopedia of movement skills (Fundamental skills). It’s because I want to give them options in later life to feel confident they can try a range of sports.  I never did gymnastics as a child- I wish I had.  I now have a fear response to falling, tumbling, rolling and it makes me nervous about trying activities that require these skills, even related skills like diving off a diving board etc.  When they are young (5-10 yrs) let them learn how to move in all kinds of ways.

As an extension to their development it’s also for that same reason why I would encourage them to play a range of sports in their early years (10-14 yrs) before they specialise.

Do Fundamental Movement Skills enhance Sport Specific Skills?

As I said earlier, I also believe that ‘targeted’ FMS will augment/accelerate performance in Sport Specific Skills (SSS).  If you go to the end of my coaches presentation I will show a research study highlighting that those children who performed best in a FMS- ‘surmounting obstacles’ using a specific task- running across obstacles- were also the best at performing gymnastic skills.  The highest correlation between running across obstacles was with a gymnastic task involving a springboard jump on the vault.

It’s not surprising that children best at running across obstacles would also be best at using a springboard to jump on a vault.  So the degree of transfer from a FMS to a SSS is going to be based on the similarity of the two skills!  This shouldn’t be a surprise- and it’s not a case for specialisation.  It’s simply saying that learning is task specific.  Give children lots of different movement experiences in early childhood so they have options in later life.  As they increasingly specialise and training transfer becomes increasingly important then naturally the pool of activities that you choose from on a daily basis will narrow to those most similar to the actions of your sport.

 

Where I am next presenting?

 

Level 2 Certificate in Strength & Conditioning

Dates: 23/24 June 2018, and 21/22 July  09:00AM-17:00PM Location: Gosling Sports Park, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6XE

Book your spot HERE

Hope you have found this article useful.  Remember,

  • If you’re not subscribed yet, click here to get free email updates, so we can stay in touch.
  • Share this post using the buttons on the top and bottom of the post. As one of this blog’s first readers, I’m not just hoping you’ll tell your friends about it. I’m counting on it.
  • Leave a comment, telling me where you’re struggling and how I can help

Speed Tips from World Class Coaches- part 1

Hey Everyone,

I had a fun day presenting at the APA Speed, Agility & Quickness Training for Sports Workshop.  If you have ever been to one you know it’s normally a four hour format and we cover the four types of speed that I refer to at APA:

  • First step speed
  • Straight ahead speed
  • Multi-directional speed
  • Sport specific speed

For this workshop I invited a few guests to present with me and we went for a six-hour format.  In the morning there was a theory based presentation from myself and Howard Green, and Ruben Neyens did a practical session.  Then in the afternoon we all did a practical. In this blog I will summarise my theory presentation.  In the next one I will summarise Howard’s presentations and finally Ruben’s!

Daz Drake- The Key to a Successful programme

In my first presentation I wanted to set the scene for our day of talks/practicals on speed.  In the first half I was talking about the overall importance of athleticism (which I define with the 5 Biomotor abilities- suppleness, skill, speed, strength, speed, stamina).

  • Mindset first- don’t evaluate speed unless you know they are giving 100%
  • LTAD- move well => move fast => move often
  • Moving well means having mobility and stability, built on foundations of suppleness and skill.
  • Skill is about perception-action coupling- identify, filter and attend to sensory information quickly
  • Motor skill learning- Discovery learning using implicit constraints based coaching and external cueing
  • Strength is key to development of force- which enables you to accelerate.

In the second part I talked about the APA Training method, how we plan speed and Debunked some myths about First step speed technique.

  • Planning principles- gradual change of focus moving from general to more specific speed overall course of training cycle

Multi-directional speed (stopping) => Straight ahead speed (acceleration) => First step speed => Multi-directional speed (cutting) => Sport specific speed

  • Importance of evaluation both at start of training cycle but also within each session
  • Use of chaotic games and actual tennis play as real time assessment
  • Key progressions for speed: establish technique => add distance => add resistance =>add repetition
  • Acceleration model- what to look for
  • First step speed- debunking myths- the key to get off the mark explosively is to step back first!
  • Definitions of first step according to direction travelled- dig step (forward), drop step (backwards), directional step (sideways)

Straight ahead Speed- Acceleration Mechanics

Notice the three highlighted aspects of acceleration to look for.  The athlete in the bottom is executing them better. Large first step (approximately 1.5m on first step) / High knee on second step (approximating the hip level) and good separation between knees on third step.

First Step Speed- dig step

Notice the ”repositioning” of the centre of mass.  The body doesn’t move back- it actually moves forward!! It’s just the eye sees the foot moving back.  This is a natural reflexive action to initiate movement explosively from the athletic stance and is based on laws of physics- the equal and opposite force principle, and the stretch-shortening cycle of muscle contraction.

 

First step speed- dig step.  Look out for Fabio Fognini’s explosive first step forward!

 

Look out for Henin’s first step speed- directional step to move to the wide forehand!

 

Check out Rafa’s running steps when he was pushed out wide.  At APA First step speed is defined explosive movement in any direction. A key point is that the movement must be sprinting based, meaning the athlete is running to the ball. Since most movements on a tennis court are submaximal (such as side steps and cross-over steps) I like to group them under the ‘Sport specific Speed’ category.

Where I am next presenting?

 

Level 2 Certificate in Strength & Conditioning

Dates: 23/24 June 2018, and 21/22 July  09:00AM-17:00PM Location: Gosling Sports Park, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6XE

Book your spot HERE

Hope you have found this article useful.  Remember,

  • If you’re not subscribed yet, click here to get free email updates, so we can stay in touch.
  • Share this post using the buttons on the top and bottom of the post. As one of this blog’s first readers, I’m not just hoping you’ll tell your friends about it. I’m counting on it.
  • Leave a comment, telling me where you’re struggling and how I can help

How to Get Fit Fast- ready for the Summer!

Hi Everyone!

With summer around the corner attentions are turning to exercise to lose some unwanted belly fat and get fit.

Last night I tuned in to ”How to Get Fit fast,” a series on Channel 4 which offers viewers top tips on how to get fit and lose weight, particularly in time for summer. This week’s episode focused on body-weight exercises as well as the right foods to add to your diet to aid workouts and help get rid of belly fat.  See a full review of the programme HERE which focused more on the nutritional advice given on the show.

I’d like to focus on the exercise regimes they discussed- which were designed to be done during a lunch break according to the time different workers set aside for lunch.  Apparently the average British worker takes 34-minutes off for Lunch.  In this show they designed a workout for someone who takes 30 minutes, 20 minutes and 5 minutes for lunch!!

All the workouts are based on a percentage of your maximum heart rate (MHR) to gauge intensity.  I have previously used the First beat system when measuring heart rate zones.

The First Beat System uses the following Training zones:

  • Max => 90% +
  • Very Hard => 80-90% MHR
  • Hard => 70-80% MHR
  • Moderate => 60-70% MHR
  • Easy => 50-60%

Different Types of Workout:

Option 1: 30-minute workout

Mode: Steady running on a treadmill for 30-minutes

% MHR: 65

Calories burned during exercise: 260

Calories burned after exercise: 0

Total calories burned: 260

Option 2: 20-minute workout

Mode: High Intensity Interval training (HIIT) for 20-minutes.  60-sec work: 30-sec rest bodyweight calisthenics (stair runs, wall sits, mountain climbers, jump squats)

% MHR: 85

Calories burned during exercise: 180

Calories burned after exercise: 100

Total calories burned: 280

Option 3: 10-minute workout

Mode: Sprint Interval training (SIT) for 10-minutes.  20-sec maximum work: 120-sec rest bike sprints x 4 sets

% MHR: 95+

Calories burned during exercise: 30

Calories burned after exercise: 220

Total calories burned: 250

 

What does this mean?

The conclusion is that any of the above workouts can work for you to burn around 250 calories.  But depending on how much time you have you can choose from the steady run, HIIT or SIT.  However, you will require to have a higher level of fitness to cope with the demands on the body of the HIIT and SIT workouts, so always consult a doctor before starting any of these workouts.

The benefit of the HIIT and SIT workouts is that they are more efficient.  They burn less calories than steady running during exercise but your body continues to burn calories after exercise, known as the ‘After Burn.’  When you exercise at high intensity you won’t be able to use oxygen to supply the energy so you have to use energy from elsewhere in the body, which raises your metabolism.  Your metabolism will continue to stay elevated in the 24 hours after your exercise, which explains why you continue to burn calories.

How does this calorie burn compare to Tennis?

Clearly you can expect to burn around 500 calories during a 60-minute tennis match, which is similar to an hour of boxing or a 10km run. But if you want to try an alternative way to get fit for Tennis there are a couple of other options:

 

Tennis Workout:

Option 1: 10-minutes HIIT Footwork

Use some of the drills I have shown in a previous BLOG on Tennis specific endurance tests.

 

Option 2: 20-minutes Hitting Balls

Benedikt Linder uses actual hitting until they get to about 95% MHR- which might take around 20-30-sec followed by rest until it drops to 80% MHR- which might take 30-40-sec. Do this 6-8 times per set, 3-min rest between sets and do 2-3 sets.  Usually it will take around 10-15 balls fed side to side to get the heart rate into this high zone.  As soon as it does you can let them rest.

In my previous blog Heart rate monitors in Tennis you can find out more about how Benedikt Linder performs high intensity intervals ON COURT with the aim of getting your Heart rate above 80% of your Maximum.

 

Where I am next presenting?

Speed, Agility & Quickness Training for Sports Workshop

Dates: 3rd June 2018  09:00AM-15:00PM Location: Gosling Sports Park, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6XE

Book your ticket HERE

 

Hope you have found this article useful.  Remember,

  • If you’re not subscribed yet, click here to get free email updates, so we can stay in touch.
  • Share this post using the buttons on the top and bottom of the post. As one of this blog’s first readers, I’m not just hoping you’ll tell your friends about it. I’m counting on it.
  • Leave a comment, telling me where you’re struggling and how I can help

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resistance Training Guidelines for Youths

Hey Everyone,

I recently recorded an episode of Daz Dee TV which you can see below.  In this episode we look at Resistance Training Guidelines for Youths.

Please check out the International Consensus statement which I refer to throughout the video

Lloyd_Positionstatementonyouthresistancetraining_BJSM_2013

You can also read another blog I wrote ”Why 12-year olds should lift weights” for further insights.

Resistance training is always a fascinating topic to discuss and I hope this helped you to understand my view on the matter.  Technical competency has to be a priority with anyone who is a developmental athlete or has a low training age.

At APA we determine readiness for external load by performing a bodyweight Physical Competency Assessment (PCA).  Once we are satisfied they are competent in the techniques of the main bodyweight movements such as squatting, lunging, pressing and pulling we will add external load.  The amount of load lifted will be determined on an individual basis.  Usually for the primary strength exercises (Squat, Deadlift, Bench) the typical progression is 5-10kg each week provided technique and bar speed are maintained at the required level of speed and control.   For Overhead press, and most single leg exercises the progression might be 2.5-5kg per week.  Progression will vary based on training age, lifting competency and frequency of training amongst other things.

Learn more about the PCA HERE and HERE

 

Where I am next presenting?

Speed, Agility & Quickness Training for Sports Workshop

Dates: 3rd June 2018  09:00AM-15:00PM LocationGosling Sports Park, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6XE

Book your ticket HERE

 

Hope you have found this article useful.  Remember,

  • If you’re not subscribed yet, click here to get free email updates, so we can stay in touch.
  • Share this post using the buttons on the top and bottom of the post. As one of this blog’s first readers, I’m not just hoping you’ll tell your friends about it. I’m counting on it.
  • Leave a comment, telling me where you’re struggling and how I can help

Do Extroverts make the Best Coaches?

For the last several months I have been busy recruiting new S&C coaches and training them up. I have said many times before that I interview for character first and credentials second.  I’m more interested in what kind of person you are than what you know.  Let me be clear I am not saying knowledge of S&C training theory and practice isn’t essential, because it is.  But let’s face it, how many applicants for part-time and full-time S&C coaching roles aren’t coming with at least a degree in a sports related subject these days.

So it then comes down to how a person differentiates themselves from the competition, and that opportunity comes when I get them to do the practical part of the interview.  It’s about how they create an environment that inspires the athletes to listen, learn and have fun!

It also comes down to the values of the coach- what is important to them in a role and how do they fit with my company and my vision.

During my recent holiday in April I read several books and one that recently captured my interest was ‘QUIET’ by Susan Cain.

Do Extroverts make the Best Coaches?

I never really enjoyed learning about psychology and sports psychology at University.  Perhaps it was the lecturer I didn’t like.  In recent years it has become one of my favourite topics to study. I first got into psychology through a former colleague of mine Helen Emms, who continues to be a mentor to the present day.  We used to work together at Gosling Tennis Academy.  I also found the ‘’Chimp Paradox’’ work of Dr Steve Peters interesting.  However, I’ve always found the personality research a bit abstract and I never really engaged in it any more than astrology- that is supposed to tell me something about my traits based on my birth date!

Below is a summary of some of the key take home messages from reading the book:

 

Extroverts and Introverts

This book was interesting because it wasn’t written by a psychologist- it was written by a lawyer who was interested to learn about how researchers define introversion and extroversion.  Early 20th century researchers thought they were central building blocks of personality.  Contemporary researchers still can’t agree on an all-purpose definition.

Introverts are Thinkers- quiet and cerebral

  • Introverts- internal world of thoughts and feelings
  • Extroverts- external life of people and activities

They differ in the level of outside stimulation that they need to function well.

Introverts feel just right with less stimulation => sip wine with a close friend or read a book.  They often work more slowly and deliberately.  They like to focus on one activity at a time and can have mighty powers of concentration.  They are relatively immune to the lures of wealth and fame.

But they do have a sensitivity to novelty not just people!  More on this later.

Extroverts enjoy the extra bang that comes from activities like meeting new people, skiing slippery slopes and cranking up the stereo.  They tend to tackle assignments quickly.  They make fast (sometimes rash) decisions, and are comfortable multi-tasking and risk taking.  They enjoy the thrill of the chase for rewards like money and status.

‘’Introverts may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while they wish they were home in their pyjamas.’’

Introversion is not the same as shyness.  The shy person is afraid to speak up, while the introvert is simply overstimulated.

Introverts=>Leadership executed with quiet competence.  Inventing, researching, caring- they are not alpha roles but the people who play them are role models all the same.

Rise of the alpha status

The increasingly competitive society of 1920s America went as far as labelling social anxieties as an inferiority complex (Alfred Alder).  In the western world (North America and Europe) we seem to celebrate extroverts as the kinds of personalities that will get on in life and do well in the world.  Shy or retiring types could be left behind it seems.

Quiet is seen as wise in Asian cultures but western cultures value charisma!!  You need style as well as substance.

 

The Myth of Charismatic Leadership

Salesmanship as a Virtue:

Unleashed power comes from ‘’high energy’’ according to Tony Robbins

Salesmanship: Act like an extrovert vs believe in what you are pitching

Zero correlation between extroversion levels and cold calling process. Persistence vs buzz.  Great salesman can be successful without a buzz if they are passionate about what they are selling and can articulate that through communication.

Power of persistence- don’t let others make you feel as if you have to race.

Vocal Leadership:

Quick and assertive answers (Harvard Business School) vs. quiet slow decision making.

We perceive talkers as smarter than quiet types.  We see talkers as leaders.

Getting your way vs. going the right way- just because you got your way, doesn’t mean it’s the right way!

Good talker vs good ideas- If the idea is good people shift.  Not every person who is a great talker has great ideas!

Giant egos vs. Giant ideas

Question: Is it best to make decisions in the face of incomplete information. Or wait to get as much info as possible?  By hesitating do you risk losing other’s trust and momentum?

If assertive people tend to get their way, then it’s a useful skill for leaders whose work depends on influencing others.  Decisiveness inspires confidence, while wavering can threaten morale.

(However,) ‘’We don’t need giant personalities to transform companies.  We need leaders who build not their egos but the institutions they run.’’ (Jim Collins)

Quiet Persistence

Leadership roles in public domain (suit extroverts)  vs theoretical and aesthetic fields (suit introverts)

In the opening chapters she describes a woman who is mild-mannered, tends to ask questions, never raises her voice, is constructive and makes simple queries by asking questions.

Introverts do better on intellectual tasks- disinclination to charge ahead.

Social Connectors

‘’Connecting people to fix the world over time is the deepest spiritual value you can have’’- Craig Newmark (Founder Craigslist) – modest, cerebral systems engineer at IBM for 17 years.

SOCIAL connectors- chatty, outgoing, spellbinding vs. SOCIAL MEDIA leadership (digital communication- establish a presence online and THEN extend these relationships into the real world)

Role to play as a coach? To be sociable- to be more extroverted as a social connector?

Is Temperament Destiny?

Temperament is hard wired genetic behaviour and emotional patterns that are inborn.  Personality emerges after cultural influence and personal experience

Temperament is the foundation and personality is the building.

Introverts have Reactive nervous system– more sensitive to their environments in concert with environmental factors from personal experience and inborn temperament.  Anxious side of the limbic brain- old brain.  It also has a greedy side associated with reward-seeking cravings associated with extroverts.

They tend to be philosophical or spiritual, rather than materialistic or hedonistic.  They dislike small talk- at least at the start of a conversation.  They love music, nature, art, physical beauty.

Rubber band theory of personality- we can stretch our personality.

Change your environment and act on your own free will.  We can stretch our personalities but only up to a point. We have free will and can use it to shape our personalities.  It can take us far but it cannot carry us infinitely beyond our genetic limits.

Free Trait theory

We have fixed traits but we also have free traits where we can and do act out of character in the service of core personal projects.  In other words introverts are capable of acting like extroverts for the sake of work they consider important.

Especially relevant for introverts living under the Extrovert Ideal

I coach with passion because it nourishes my core personal project/mission to maximise my athletes’ potential by raising standards in coaching excellence.  Many people especially those in leadership roles engage in a certain level of pretend-extroversion.  It can be effective if used judiciously but disastrous if overdone.  You don’t want to act out of character too much- and create as many restorative niches as possible in your life.

Summary:

Like the nature or nurture debate related to physical attributes we can summarise that we can stretch our personalities but only up to a point. We have free will and can use it to shape our personalities.  It can take us far but it cannot carry us infinitely beyond our genetic limits.

Leadership roles vary.  Some roles are more suited to extroverts and others to introverts.

I personally think that the role of an S&C coach can vary according to the environment we are working in.  For example, one-to-one versus groups, adults versus children, males versus females, Westerners versus Asian etc.  For many of the roles that I recruit for that involve working with children I do tend to look out for the extrovert characteristics.  These are the coaches that seem to thrive in social situations and make everyone feel at ease.  They have charisma, and put a smile on everyone’s face.

But this book has confirmed for me that everyone is capable of stretching their personalities and if you’re an introvert you might need to show some pretend-extroversion.   I now understand why I get so exhausted by my role.  I’m an introvert at heart but when I’m coaching I fall into the role of the performer who is passionate about helping my athletes and coaches improve and I do tend to use a ‘high energy’ approach to grab attention!!

 

Where I am next presenting?

Speed, Agility & Quickness Training for Sports Workshop

Dates: 3rd June 2018  09:00AM-15:00PM Location: Gosling Tennis Academy, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6XE

Book your ticket HERE

 

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We hold personal details including medical information and we use this information to obtain details relevant to your training and for medical and internal record keeping; this information will only be kept as long as necessary to comply with UK law and professional bodies.

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We may use your Personal Information, for the following purposes:

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How to Contact Us

If you have questions or comments about this Privacy Statement, please contact the Data Protection Officer in writing. info@athleticperformanceacademy.co.uk Athletic Performance Academy (APA) Ltd, Gosling Sports Park, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6XE

We welcome your feedback and comments.

Changes to our Privacy Statements

From time to time we may change or update our Privacy Statements. We reserve the right to make changes or updates at any time. Our up to date Privacy statement will be displayed on our website.

If we make material changes to the way we process your Personal Information, we will provide you notice via email or website. Please review any changes carefully.

 

 

How to Make Billions of Dollars….and Plenty of Enemies

How to Make Billions of Dollars….and Plenty of Enemies

I took four books with me on holiday.  I wanted to reflect on my vision for APA and take some inspiration from some successful businesses- I thought I’d look at one business ‘AirBnB’ and one iconic sports team, the New Zealand All Blacks.

This blog is a sort of book review come personal reflections of ‘’the Airbnb Story.’’  I’ll discuss ‘’Legacy,’’ the book about the All Blacks next time.

AirBnB is a fascinating story of three business partners lead by Brian Chesky told by a journalist who spent some time with them. It’s the time told story of struggle and perseverance but it gives a fascinating insight into their growth that makes compelling reading.

Originally called Air bed and breakfast- the idea came when two of the three business partners needed to make rent and decided to rent out one of their rooms with an air mattress, during a weekend when there was going to be a big conference in town and hotels would be fully booked.  Initially it took three website launches before it took off- each time the issue was that no one wanted to list their home if no one else was going to book it.  They were successful when big conferences came to town and hotels were fully booked in their local area.  However, they couldn’t get it to grow.

The initial slogan was ‘’stay with a local while travelling,’ which I believe was upgraded later to ‘’ Living like a local.

Conceptually this is about offering a different kind of experience to the inner city hotel experience.  There are a number of reasons why this kind of product would go on to work with people who have:

  • Desire for authentic experiences over things
  • Hunger for anything that claimed to have a purpose or mission
  • Anti-establishment and anti-corporate leaning
  • Desire to seek out community wherever they could find it
  • The chance to connect
  • Spirit of adventure

Attract Attention

Like anything the more people use something the more valuable it becomes.  They knew that their success or failure lay in their ability to generate news coverage.

Tip 1: Pitch a local story to smallest blogs you can find – the smaller they are the more likely they are to pay attention to them.

Once it got off the ground they had achieved what was known as a ‘’product/market fit’’- when its concept has both found a good market- one with lots of real, potential customers- and demonstrated that it has created a product that can satisfy that market.

Building a Company

I liked reading that the founders had noticed that all the companies they admired had a strong mission and a set of defined core values.  The core values help define the kind of people they want to bring in.

It’s also important to ask the question, ‘’why should customers use us?’ and another way to say this is ‘’what is our unique selling point?’’  I only used Airbnb for the first time this Easter (because many of the hotels were outside my budget) and I wasn’t going to go to a hostel again!!  It was clear that Airbnb was leading the way with its ‘quirky’ product and low costs.  Certainly I wasn’t aware of its competitors.

Steve Jobs Three-Click Rule

But reading this book I realised I actually had plenty of choice- the reason it took off was down to several things but much of the explanation lies in the product itself, and the user experience on the website.  You could literally book a room in someone’s house as easily (and safely) as you could book a hotel room.  The website and the experience had to be:

frictionless

easy

beautiful

never more than three clicks away from booking a room

One of the business partners had a wonderful computer programming background who was able to innovate in the coding aspects to create a booking website that could do everything they wanted it to do and probably a lot of things their competitor’s website couldn’t.

 

Learning to Lead

Chesky was a natural leader- he had a knack for ring leading and a near pathological curiosity. He calls his practice ‘’going to the source.’’ Instead of talking to 10 people about a particular topic and then synthesizing all their advice, he reasons, spend half of your time learning who the definitive source is, identifying the one person who can tell you more about that one thing than anyone else- and then go only to that person.

Chesky also had some pretty privileged contacts as his business grew in wealth such as Mark Zuckerburg, owner of Facebook.  But Chesky insists there are always good mentors, regardless of someone’s level.  If he had been meeting with some of these heavy hitters while he was an unemployed designer, he points out, it wouldn’t have been useful.  There wouldn’t have been anything to give back in the conversation.  It’s a matter of picking people that are, at least, a couple of years in front of you.’’

Because Chesky is an infinite learner he was able to scale with the company.

When he needed an even bigger performance from his team how do you get them to take things up a notch? How do you get people to play at the next level when they are already tired, they haven’t seen their families very much and they just need time to have a rest?  You can’t ask them to work harder but you can ask them to massively up-level their thinking.

I took from this that to help them to adopt a new way of thinking about something it is helpful to have a North Star.  Airbnb needs to be more a calling than a job- built on a mission to ‘’create a world where you can belong anywhere.’’  A goal for 2020 was orientated on how many people can experience belonging in a deep, meaningful, transformatiomal way.

‘’pessimists are usually right, but it’s optimists who change the world.’’

How do you build a culture where everyone believes they’re changing the world?

It is clear the founders knew what the things were that their customers would value (living like a local) and also knew what their employees would value so they could massively up-level their thinking.  They need to feel an important part of a mission to create a world where you can belong anywhere!

Where I am next presenting?

Speed, Agility & Quickness Training for Sports Workshop

Dates: 3rd June 2018  09:00AM-15:00PM Location: Gosling Tennis Academy, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6XE

Book your ticket HERE

 

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Two International Speakers are coming to APA’s next SAQ workshop

Hi there,

I am excited to announce that this June I am opening out my usual four hour ”Speed, Agility & Quickness Training” Workshop to six hours.  For the first time I will be inviting two additional International speakers, Ruben Neyens and Howard Green.  Both Howard and Ruben were speakers at the recent 2018 Grand Slam Coaches’ Conference in Australia.

Myself, Ruben and Howard will each present for 45-minute in the morning and then again in the afternoon.  The goal is to showcase the entire physical development journey from Mini tennis 10-under, to 14-under Junior performance tennis to the Pro game.  This workshop will be suitable for any coach, teacher or parent who is interested in learning about speed development for tennis players (as well as those athletes who play other sports).

Plan for the day:

We will break the speed drills down into fundamentals, semi-specific and specific drills for tennis.

Ruben Neyens: Fundamentals   Morning and afternoon: speed drills and games for the 10-under player

Daz Drake: Semi-specific     Morning: the APA speed training system.  Afternoon: speed drills for the 14-under player

Howard Green: Specific       Morning: RREADERR model introduction.  Afternoon: speed drills for the Pro player

 

Price: £50

Dates: Sunday 3rd June 2018 9am-3pm

Location: Gosling Sports Park

 

Book Online HERE

 

About the Speakers

Daz Drake

Daz Drake been a professional coach since 2000 and specialises in youth fitness and Tennis. He has been an an accredited S&C coach with the UKSCA since 2007 and the director of Athletic Performance Academy (APA) which provide Strength & Conditioning coaching to several high performance Tennis Academies including Gosling and Sutton Tennis Academy.

He has had the pleasure to work with some of the best junior tennis players in the world including players who have gone on to play at the professional level, and has worked with two Top 50 WTA Tennis players.

Ruben Neyens

Ruben Neyens combines the roll of head of coach education and physical coach for the High Performance Department U12 for Tennis Vlaanderen (= the Flemish Tennis Federation). Together with a team Ruben coordinates programs and projects like KidsTennis, Physical coach development, regional workshops and many more. He is co-author of the manual KidsTennis and developed the physical coach manual and several other coach education programs. On ITF Tennis iCoach and Instagram you can see a lot of contributions about physical training. He has also been a speaker at national and international conferences. Ruben has a degree in Physical Education and started his career in his own town Tessenderlo as head coach.

Howard Green

Howard has been the Head of Strength & Conditioning at USN Bolton Arena High Performance Tennis Academy for 8 years. He is an accredited S&C coach with the UKSCA, a Certified Tennis Performance Specialist with the iTPA and has a First Class Hons degree in Sports Coaching – including several coaching qualifications. Prior to coaching Howard spent 6 years in the Royal Marines Commandos, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Howard has experience preparing Professional and Junior players at WTA, ATP, ITF and Tennis Europe levels, most notably working with world number one Ana Ivanovic. Howard has his own training philosophy and methodology, which takes into account both the general and specific physical qualities needed. He also places a high amount of importance in training coordination abilities to enhance movement performance.

 

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Middlesex University 9th Annual S&C Student Conference 10th March 2018

Yesterday I went to Middlesex University for the  9th Annual Strength and Conditioning Student Conference.  I think I’ve only missed one since they started!

As always it was nice to catch up with a few colleagues and I was particularly delighted to hear Perry Stewart speak, who had previously worked for me some years ago before his role with QPR and more recently his role as Lead Academy S&C coach (U9-16) at Arsenal FC.

Perry Stewart- Title: Understanding the Youth Athlete- From Theory to Practice

Perry split his talk up into three parts which I have discussed below but he started off with an important point.

Youth S&C Coach as a Career

I wholeheartedly agreed with Perry who made a passionate point that too often working with youths is seen as a right of passage for less experienced coaches to gain their experience on route to working with the pros.  As Perry said, it is a specific population that needs a specific expertise, along with a lot of experience.

It’s so rewarding because you’re starting with a blank slate- you are building the foundations rather than trying to re-build them.

So now on to the three elements of his talk:

Football as a Business

Perry asked that no one took photos of his presentation but I can say that Perry revealed some fascinating insights into the business that is professional football.  He highlighted the huge sums of money it costs to put together a team.  Now it wasn’t such a surprise to me that the top teams in Europe have assembled a squad at a cost in the region of £500 million pounds (Man City, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Man United, Barcelona).  But what was more surprising was how much it costs to support an Academy player for a season.

U9-U11 £3000 per year

U12-U15 £40,000 per year

U16-U17 £300,000 per year

U18 £500,000 per year

Pro £££££££££££ (based on contract)

Perry said that the chances of an Academy player making a debut in the Premier League are less than 0.05% (I think!!) meaning it is more likely they will be struck by an meteorite!!!  And I think the chances of them getting a professional contract were still less than 1%.   Given the huge costs to run an Academy and the percentage of players making it professionally a number of Academies have closed.

 

Growth & Maturation

Perry went into a lot of detail on the way Arsenal use the Peak Height Velocity (PHV) to report back to the coaches on their development.  He mentioned the Robert Mirwald (2002) maturity offset (age at/ of PHV) calculation as well as the Khamis-Roche method (% Predicted Adult Height).  During PHV you can sometimes see the adolescence ‘awkwardness’ where athletes are like baby giraffes or bambi on ice!!  During this time you may need to modify the training somewhat.

Such as:

  • reduce reduction of the same tasks- use lots of variety
  • periodisation- modulate volume and intensity
  • gradually increase workload- avoid acute spikes in training load

Arsenal categorisations for Khamis Roche method:

  • Pre PHV <85%
  • Approaching PHV 85-89%
  • Circa 90-95%
  • Post >96%

Typically Arsenal takes measurements quarterly although will increase them to every 6-8 weeks if they are circa PHV.  For further info please see this presentation by Dr. Sean Cummings Practical-case-study-of-using-maturation-assessments-and-sport-Sean-Cumming-UK

Arsenal Training System

Apologies as I can’t remember the specific titles for each phase but it went something like this:

Motor competency >> Overload phase >> Specificity >> Periodisation and Planning

You develop the skills (how well you do it) then you add some load to the skills (how well and how much you do).  After that you apply the skills to the sport (how fast you do it) and finally you build the skills into a more targeted annual plan.  He concluded with two videos showcasing some of the drills and how they are progressed from U9-U16 for speed and then strength.

 

Dr. Ben Rosenblatt- Title: Physically preparing teams to win major international tournaments

I have known of Ben’s work and reputation for several years having followed him in his roles as a senior rehabilitation scientist for the BOA and EIS, and Senior S&C Coach for the Olympic winning GB Women’s Hockey team.  Ben now is the Lead Men’s Physical Performance Coach for the FA.

Ben split his presentation into three areas too:

  • Training Durability
  • Tournament Durability
  • Game Impact

He started by asking the question we should all ask as S&C coaches- but in a slightly different way.  Normally the question is ”what are the physical demands of the sport?”  If you know this you can prepare for it.  But he asked instead,

who are the most PHYSICALLY CAPABLE OF TOLERATING the demands of training?

Who are the players in the team who seem to be always turning up to every training session ready to get after it, that don’t pick up many knocks or illnesses?

Training Durability:

I was interested to see that Ben has been using a jump profile to measure physical characteristics that might be related to training durability.  But unlike concentric measures of power or force he was focusing on eccentric measures.  This makes sense as it is the deceleration components that place the most stress on the body!

He was looking at both the speed of the eccentric lowering phase of the jump but also the depth.  It appears that those athletes that can drop deeper but faster and can then obviously arrest that momentum in the time needed to deliver the jump are most robust.  They are typically the strongest (1.7 x BW Back squat) and have a mean power on the eccentric phase of 8 W/kg performing the jump in under 0.5 seconds and a depth of 40cm.

Is it a surprise that stronger athletes are most durable? No! But it is good to see a test that is sensitive enough to discriminate between the athletes who get fatigued by a tough session and those that actually respond positively to it.

Doing more work than normal

Ben was able to show that stronger players have a potentiation effect (jump performance) the day following a match/session where you have to do more work than normal.

Fit players sleep better

Players who score more than 20.5 on a 30-15 test ease to sleep better.  Equally unfit players who also have to do a high training load are going to experience significantly larger amount of fatigue.

Tournament Durability

Essentially this part of the talk can be summarised as ‘Training tougher than a Match.’  Ben highlighted that in a week where he wanted the team to get after it (in a previous training camp) he used GPS to record workrate and specific percentage of time in high speed running zones (>5 m/s).  He found that only 8% was above match intensity in the training.

He spoke to the coaches about needing to get them to be training at higher loads than in a match during this period and they constructed a few drills to specifically address this such as a 4 vs 4 game in a 60 x 40 Yd. pitch where the ball could only be played forward.  This encouraged a lot of movement ahead of the ball to keep possession.

Game Impact

Ben asked two questions:

  • What matters most?
  • What’s easiest to change?

He said he spoke to the Head coach and his summary of the hockey strategy was they need to jump back harder and get ahead of the ball harder!! Basically they needed to be faster at retreating when they lost possession of the ball (GET BACK) and faster at advancing ahead of it when they gained possession (GET THERE), and do it for the entire match (LAST THE GAME).

Planned vs. Programme Change of Direction

GB Hockey prided themselves on being the fittest team in world hockey but one of the things Ben found was that players were very slow to redirect their changes of direction when they needed to respond to an opponent/change of possession etc.  He said they were all very good at doing high speed shuttle drills but this was a closed drill with an anticipatory change of direction.

Biomechanics tells us that the deceleration loads of unplanned directional changes are much higher than planned directional changes.  You spend more energy taking longer to change direction!  So he spent some time on doing more unplanned high speed changes of direction to make more of an impact on game day!

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Physical Conditioning for different game styles

Hey Everyone.  I recently had the privilege to be invited back to speak at the Master Performance Coach Level 5 tennis coach qualification, at the National Tennis.

I was asked to speak about how to physically prepare for different game styles.  I had recorded the presentation separately as a webinar so you can hear what I had to say!  Hope you enjoy.

Understanding the Demands of Tennis

It should always be at the forefront of any strength & conditioning coaches mind the question:  What are the ‘physical’ demands of the sport and who are the athletes that are most physically capable of tolerating the demands of the sport?

The likes of Raphael Nadal have spoken out about the stress on the body of the current tournament schedule.  But I am still exacerbated that in 2018 there is still very little data on the ‘mechanical loading’ of elite Tennis.  From personal communication with trainers who work with Top 100 players on the tour, I know that it is possible to pay for the Hawk Eye data- which costs £250 per match.  Hawk eye uses a camera to track player movements and from this you can determine distance covered in the match.

Thankfully there are promising signs that technology advancement in Tennis is catching up with the needs of the coaches.  For years accelerometers and GPS technology have been redundant in Tennis because the discrete movements of tennis players which take place over short distances have been too difficult to accurately detect with GPS units.

From speaking to Matt Little I know that he uses a catapult system with Andy Murray.  From this technology he can calculate player load for each session using the accelerometer and he can use the GPS to measure distance covered and highest speeds reached.  Apparently the GPS can actually work inside- he has used it successfully in bubbles, and the next break through will be being able to get feedback on what percentage of time Andy spends accelerating to and decelerating from particular speeds.

So for me knowing how much load is going through a player across the course of the competitive calendar is the key thing to know first and I hope that the Performance Analysis teams will be able to shed some light on this over the next few years.

In the meantime we have to make some assumptions about the likely demands of the sport on our players and acknowledge that different types of game styles may put different demands on the body.  I maintain the belief that at the top level of the game a tennis player has to be able to do all the different game styles at some point and we need to be able to prepare for all of them.  However, I do believe tennis players (like all elite athletes) win because of their strengths so of course we need to be mindful of what they do best- what the physical demands are of that playing style- and devote enough training time to prepare specifically for that.

Demands of a particular Game style

Power Game- Big Serve/Forehand 

Need muscle strength and power to hit fast serves and groundstrokes that can enable them to hopefully finish the point off with one or two more shots.  There are different types of athletes who employ this type of game style.  Obviously the big tall men and women will use this game style.  Think of Maron Cilic and Kevin Anderson.  The tall athletes may also lack the movement skills so need to work hard on their speed and agility so that they can stay in the rally if a counter puncher can turn the point around.

The other type of athlete who can successfully use this game style is the likes of Roger Federer.  While he is known as an ‘all court’ player his recent success at the Australian Open 2018 was built on a very effective 1st serve where he won 81% of points on his 1st serve.  He finished 75% of his points in the tournament in under 5 shots, compared to Maron Cilic (69%), and Rafa Nadal (58%).  He was also able to hit a forehand immediately after his 1st serve in 86% of the time from an imposing 2.07m inside the baseline.

Attacking baseliner

Similar to the Power game they also need muscle strength and power.  However this game style may not be able to rely on a big serve or massive ground stroke to win easy points.  They will be looking to maintain pressure on their opponents by maintaining a strong court position on the baseline and taking time away from their opponent with several aggressive ground strokes.  They will need quickness to get off the mark and good footwork to maintain steady balance.  They will also need a high level of anaerobic fitness so they can keep a high intensity throughout the match using short sharp bouts of explosive work with incomplete recovery.

All court player

Similar to attacking baseliner but they will also look to attack players with accuracy (not just power) and they have a willingness to approach the net regularly.  They do not serve particularly big, or play with huge power from the baseline but instead look to rely on a variety of skills in both attack and defence to disrupt their opponent.  They may come forward to the net whether serving and volleying or approaching from the baseline.  They will therefore need to be explosive to move forward quickly, cover the net and get up for smashes.  They will also need great speed and footwork to take the ball early and play at a high tempo to take time away from their opponent.  They will also need a good all round fitness as they will be moving forward a lot.

Counter punchers

This game style is often suited to someone who lacks a major weapon that allows them to consistently win shorter points, so they base game around developing a higher level of fitness.  They use the pace of the opponent and they are more likely to move deeper behind the baseline to give them more time to hit the ball.  This means they will often cover a lot more ground and rely on wearing their opponents down by making them play another shot.  Fitness has to be very high for this player.

 

Training Sessions for a Specific Game style

As far as training videos go I’m afraid I don’t have a lot of video footage of training I do with my athletes.  I need to get better at that!

But for some examples of a couple of ideas for how you could work on specific qualities for different games styles check out these below:

Attacking baseliner/all court player- Roger Federer warm-up

Notice the explosive movements laterally and up/back.  Federer won 75% of all his points in less than 5 shots at the recent Australian Open 2018 so he is looking to move aggressively into the court following behind his very effective first serve.  In fact Federer was able to hit a forehand after his first serve 86% of the time at an imposing 2.07m inside the baseline.  His warm-up, his speed work and even his stamina work will ideally be about doing high quality work for 5-15sec work max.

 

All court player- Ed Corrie CH 215 WR stamina session

Rather than use a big serve and forehand Ed will use precision and timing.  This session was about working on precision of footwork around the cones even when he is tired, as well as maintaining a good tempo of high intensity movement into the wider areas.  This is to enable Ed to keep beating the bounce and set up with precise footwork so he can hit the ball on the rise and take time away from his opponent.

This session can just as easily be done as a speed session but with recovery between the work bouts.

Want more info?

For those of you wanting more info on where to learn more about Tennis Strength & Conditioning I recommend three books below:

 

 

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