Athletic Performance Academy – Latest news & updates from Athletic Performance Academy

APA Are Recruiting!

I have a few important announcements today!!!

APA Are Recruiting!

APA have a number of vacancies within the APA network.  If you would like to be considered for a role with APA then please send a covering letter and CV to APA Owner, Daz Drake at daz@apacoaching.co.uk with email title APA.01

For Full Details Download the PDF by clicking HERE

Gosling Tennis Academy

There are a number of roles at Gosling Tennis Academy.

We are looking for part-time strength & conditioning coaches who have a passion for working with youth athletes and would be available to lead on the Mini Academy (5-10yrs) and Junior Academy (10-12yrs) programmes.

These squads run in the evenings from 4-6pm Monday to Friday and would be suitable for a coach who is looking to gain experience of a high performance training environment.

Gosling Tennis Academy is based at Gosling Sports Park, Welwyn Garden City and is operated by Better

New Hall School

The role at New Hall School is for a part-time strength & conditioning coach who has a passion for working with youth athletes and would be available to lead on one to one lessons and small group training sessions with senior school students aged 11-18yrs.

These sessions run in the lunchtime and after school periods at 1-2pm and 4:30-5:30pm and would be suitable for a coach who is looking to gain experience of a high performance training environment.  Priority days are Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  This role would most likely start in September 2019 however there are two weeks of cover needed for a coach in the final weeks of term week beginning June 17th and June 24th, which the successful candidate could do if they have a DBS and are on the update service.

David Turfrey Tennis Academy

The role at David Turfrey Tennis Academy is for a part-time strength & conditioning coach who has a passion for working with youth athletes and would be available to lead on one to one lessons and large group training sessions with tennis players aged 11-18yrs.

The group sessions run after school periods at 5-6pm Monday, and 7-8pm on Monday and Wednesday.  There are also opportunities to do one to one sessions on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evening, with opportunities to grow the role further.

 

So what are you waiting for?

If you are interested in applying for any of these roles then send an email to APA Owner, Daz Drake at daz@apacoaching.co.uk

Remember to indicate your preferred location if you have one.

Free Training Reminder

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Where I am next presenting?

Speed, Agility & Quickness for Sports Workshop

Date: 2nd June 2019, 09:00AM-13:00PM Location: Gosling Sports Park, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6XE

Book your spot HERE

Hope you have found this article useful.

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Since you’re here…
…we have a small favor to ask.  APA aim to bring you compelling content from the world of sports science and coaching.  We are devoted to making athletes fitter, faster and stronger so they can excel in sport. Please take a moment to share the articles on social media, engage the authors with questions and comments below, and link to articles when appropriate if you have a blog or participate on forums of related topics. — APA TEAM

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Pacey Performance Podcast REVIEW- Episode 204 James Wild

This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 204 – James Wild

 

James Wild

Background: 

James is the Technical Lead for Performance at Surrey Sports Park.  He is also contracted to work with Harlequins to run their speed and agility programme for their first team squad.  He teaches at the University of Surrey, heads up the athletic development for England Women’s Lacrosse and is also completing a PhD in Biomechanics and motor control of accelerative sprint running.

Discussion topics:

James on his approach to training in terms of speed for sprinters versus team sports.

”Ultimately sprint performance is determined by optimising our ground reaction forces.  Ground reaction force production during stances is pretty complex and it’s influenced by multiple physical qualities and coordination.

There might be a little bit more of an individualised approach that can be taken to impact team athlete’s sprint performance.  This is especially true as the positive effects of a more general strength programme diminishes as the athlete grows in terms of their training age and level of expertise and their strength levels.  I think there’s more scope within a team sport setting to impact on an athlete’s speed compared to a sprinter who that’s all they’re training for.  I think it’s a little bit more untapped.”

James on the four main areas he is most concerned with to help him build up a profile of the athlete and their sprint performance

  1. Current sprint strategy
  2. Injury history
  3. Strength related qualities
  4. Actual sprint performance- split times

”In terms of the sprint strategy this concerns some of the key technical markers and higher order kinematic variables such as step velocity, step length, step rate, contact time and flight time and how these variables change across the acceleration phase.

You can have different ways of being fast over the first 10 metres.  It will probably be achieved in about seven steps, and you would expect to see that contact times will reduce with each step and the flight times will increase with each step.  In the initial steps the contact times will remain longer than the flight times.  This makes sense because we know that we need to generate large amounts of horizontal ground reactions forces to produce the horizontal impulse necessary to accelerate in those initial steps, and we can’t produce that force whilst in the air.  Because of its importance it is possible that someone with shorter contact times (which could increase the number of steps) and someone with longer push-offs could achieve the same overall net horizontal impulse and therefore both be equally effective strategies.

It becomes a problem when it is too extreme, so if someone is really chopping their stride and producing really short contacts at the start, and they’re not going to be spending enough time generating that horizontal impulse on the ground.

In terms of strength related qualities there are three main assessments I use.

  • Hip extensor torque assessment
  • Squat jump Force-Velocity profile
  • Repeated jump assessment

The hip extensor contribution to the horizontal ground reaction force production is pretty well recognised now largely thanks to the work of J.B.Morin. It plays quite a key role in accelerating the centre of mass forward during the first stance phase.  I look at peak torque and also the rate of that production.  It helps me to identify whether we might need to slant the training more towards max force type work or more rate force type work with regards to the hip extensors. I’ll also look at two angles around the hip; a more extended hip position for the more later stages of acceleration and top end speed, and then I’ll have a much more flexed hip where less emphasis is hamstring driven, it’s more towards the glutes related to the earlier stages of acceleration.

The squat jump force-velocity profile follows the methods of Samozino and his crew.  We can work out peak power of the leg extensors, and it’s a bit more biased towards the knee extensors.  We can look at the optimal levels of force and velocity that might be required at a given peak power to maximise that push-off performance that might be related to those initial steps.

This allows us to then tailor our squat-based pattern work to be more max force orientated, more force at higher velocity or concurrent  development of both.

The third strength quality assessment I use is like a repeated in-place jump test for RSI. This allows us to get an idea of how they’re able to limit the amount of leg definition, so stiffness but also looking at how they’re able to store and release the elastic energy effectively.  Once they’ve reached a certain strength level I feel like it’s quite important to become a little bit more specific with the approach taken.”

James on how he designs a training session using the profile information

I divide my speed sessions into five different sections

Drills:

  • Low intensity activities
  • Cyclic in nature
  • Aimed at reinforcing favourable body position, rhythm and timing

Drills for me can be a really useful coaching tool, in my opinion, because they allow you to almost over-emphasis an aspect or body or limb position you’re hoping the athlete will find when they sprint.  And the athlete can then ”hold onto” what that over-emphasis feels like.

Jumps:

  • Selection decided based on theme
  • Usually more horizontally dominant for acceleration
  • More vertically dominant for max velocity
  • Continuum for regression/progression

Priming activities:

  • Pretty much sprinting
  • Resistance sprint work (acceleration focused)
  • Running over small hurdles (max velocity focused)

Free Sprinting or change of direction:

  • Close to maximum capabilities
  • Gradual increase to the distances covered and speed reached over time
  • Athlete ideally needs to be fresh

Sport specific speed:

  • Match conditions with constraints
  • Gradual increase to the distances covered and speed reached over time

”The stage of the season or the logistics of that week, and individual needs of the players, will determine how many of those five components will be in an individual training session.  In a typical 45-minute session I’ll usually cover four to five of those components.  Whereas if less time is afforded such as towards the season, we might need to pick and choose from those five components which we feel are the most important at that time.”

James on protecting hamstrings

”I think one of the things to consider is that sometimes a hamstring injury just happens!  And we can over analyse it and pull things apart programme wise.  I think gradual exposure and progressive exposure to sprinting distances and speeds is important.  Tied in with that is the technical focus of how they sprint.  Then I think inevitably there needs to be some strength-based work for the hamstrings, eccentric and isometric and I have no problem whatsoever with nordics.

I think it’s really quite important to consider the strength qualities around the ankle.  Do they have the reactive strength type qualities, the stiffness with the right level of compliance at the ankle joint? Because, if they don’t, then they most certainly are going to over stride when they sprint, and over utilise the hamstrings.  Their strategy to run fast is going to be to over utilise the hip extensors to pull them through the start phase, rather than striking closer to their centre of mass and being able to spring off quicker as a result of a stiffer and tight ankle.

Also what’s their lumbar and pelvic control like? Are they weak through certain areas? Are they just lacking coordination? Can they not stabilise their pelvis because of, it might be simple things like the hip flexors want to take over everything, are they not able to counter that through their abdominals?”

James on coaching cues for improving sprinting performance

”Often for each individual they might need a combination of different cues that work for them. A lot of S&C coaches fall into the trap of seeing that their sprint technique has ”improved” and automatically think that they’re running faster.  I can tell you that 99 out of 100 times, in that acute setting , if you cue someone and they change their technique from how they normally sprint, they will be running slower.

Now that’s absolutely fine if that’s part of a longer term strategy to try and shift them towards a certain technique.  But I think we just need to be a little bit cautious in that they will be running slower in that acure situation.  I think that sometimes it’s necessary to explain to the athlete that during a match or during testing or whatever, at a key time where they have to run as fast as possible, don’t think necessarily about changing your technique.

Now there might be a flipside to that, that if someone’s a real injury risk waiting to happen, then obviously you might want to adapt it.”

James on why S&C coaches are not as comfortable coaching speed as they are strength

”It completely makes sense, because if you think all those individuals, the amount of time they’ve spent training would have been more in the gym than it would have been out doing speed-related stuff. Then you consider that not all but a lot of educational programmes, degrees, courses out there, there’s probably a lot more emphasis on strength training as there is to speed.”

Author opinion:

Assess don’t guess!

It is clear that James has developed a very comprehensive assessment battery and has a very high knowledge of the sprinting technical model and the various components of an optimal sprint strategy.  What was most interesting to me was the idea that in some cases it might be more optimal for an athlete to take more steps than the typically reported seven steps over 10 metres -provided an athlete can achieve the overall net horizontal impulse required.

Clearly in order to know this for sure James is able to measure specific variables such as step velocity, step length, step rate, contact time and flight time and build up a profile that isn’t just based on outcome measures of split times.  He also uses a comprehensive strength assessment of not just leg extensor strength but hip extensor and ankle stiffness.

Top 5 Take Away Points: 

  1. Individualisation– the higher the level of the athlete the more important it becomes to have an individualised approach to improving sprint performance
  2. Build a profile of the athlete– don’t just look at split times, look at how they sprint!
  3. Little by little– gradual increase to the distances covered and speed reached over tim
  4. Technique timing– if you cue someone and they change their technique from how they normally sprint, they will be running slower
  5. Understand Key Technical aspects of Sprinting– in order to get more comfortable coaching speed then get out on the field more and actually coach it, train it yourself and understand the technical model.

Want more info on the stuff we have spoken about?  Be sure to visit:

Email: 

You may also like from PPP:

Episode 227, 55 JB Morin

Episode 217, 51 Derek Evely

Episode 207, 3 Mike Young

Episode 64 James Wild

Episode 192 Sprint Masterclass

Episode 183 Derek Hansen

Episode 87 Dan Pfaff

Episode 55 Jonas Dodoo

Episode 15 Carl Valle

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

Since you’re here…
…we have a small favor to ask.  APA aim to bring you compelling content from the world of sports science and coaching.  We are devoted to making athletes fitter, faster and stronger so they can excel in sport. Please take a moment to share the articles on social media, engage the authors with questions and comments below, and link to articles when appropriate if you have a blog or participate on forums of related topics. — APA TEAM

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Pacey Performance Podcast REVIEW- Episode 212 Boo Schexnayder

This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 212 – Boo Schexnayder

Boo Schexnayder

Website: www.sacspeed.com

Background: 

Boo began his career as a high school mathematics teacher as well as the American football and track coach.  He eventually gravitated into collegiate track and field, and upon his first retirement in 2007 began Schexnayder Athletic Consulting.  He recently returned to LSU as the strength coach for the track and field programme.

Discussion topics:

Boo on how being a school teacher set him up well to be in front of a group.

”Ultimately the most important coaching skill is communication.  I think having an education background is a bit of an advantage in that regard.”

Boo on whether you can teach communication or it’s something that comes naturally

”I think both. I think most teachers have an aptitude and personalities that enable them to gravitate towards success in those areas, but I do think it can be developed  And I think probably the single most important thing is confidence. Once you become confident in what you say, then you become comfortable in front of people.  So my advice is to really learn your stuff, and the confidence that you get from that will definitely improve your ability to communicate with athletes.

Boo on his philosophy related to plyometrics

”They are very important as far as the skill teaching as well as the power and elastic strength development that they produce.  Plyometric training should be of very high quality, not a quantity base but a quality-based approach.  Every different type of plyometric has a unique purpose.

Plyometrics are tremendous motor educators in that they teach you how to apply forces to the ground in certain and very precise planes of movement.  If you hit the correct ratios of horizontal to vertical types of work, I think that you see not only strength and speed and power levels increase, but I think that you also see general movement quality increase.”

In Place Jumps:

  • Typically done in circuit form
  • Three or four different circuits that are used depending on level of athlete/time of year
  • Best way to establish your plyometric volume

A good circuit might have 10-12 different exercises (note that his jump circuits tend to have 6-7 exercises in whereas his medicine ball circuits have 10-12).  Each of those exercises is stressing the hip, knee, and ankle in a different way.  Since the number one cause of injury, typically, is repetitive movement, because of the fact that you are picking all of these different exercises, you have zero chance of repetitive movement injuries when you use in-place jumps to build your volumes.

Short bounds:

  • High technical demand
  • Can be horizontal or vertical
  • Primary purpose are skill producers
  • 70-120 contacts

”In addition to the power and elasticity that they develop, these are the jumps that actually teach athletes how to apply forces to the ground correctly.

”They teach the correct timing of the ground contact forces that are involved in jumping activities.  Therefore they have the most carryover, in my opinion, to skill, more transfer to sports skills than any of the others that we see.”

Extended bounds (Advanced):

  • Very similar to short bounds
  • But done over greater distances, 30-40 metres or so
  • 250-450m total volume
  • These are about power sustenance
  • Applicable to sports with  high power output but also a pseudo endurance demand

”They fit really well into the middle distances in track and field, and sports like basketball where you have these two minute spurts of play.”

Depth jumps (Very Advanced):

  • Very high intensity training for athletes that are prepared for it
  • Bouncing on and off boxes doesn’t necessarily make it  a depth jump!
  • Boxes need to be very high to create a high enough impact level
  • Very short and sweet

Boo on the ratio of vertical to horizontal jump training

”I try very hard to maintain certain ratios of vertical to horizontal work.  I typically find that athletes gravitate toward more effective movement patterns if you work vertical to horizontal at a ratio of about 2 to 1.

”I can’t really explain why that is. I think it has a lot to do with just human anatomy, and we’re kind of horizontally orientated creatures, I guess.  if you look at animals who run around on all fours and you look at the human hip, there are still some vestiges there, similarity in the anatomy.

Anecdotally I found that it’s much more difficult and takes more effort to develop the vertical qualities as opposed to the horizontal qualities.  If you’re accelerating there’s a very large horizontal component therefore horizontal multi-jump type activities are advised.  On the other hand if you look at maximal velocity sprinting, the forces are more vertically orientated.”

Boo on the use of Plyometrics in Team Sports

”I typically don’t drop below my 2 to 1 marker even in team sports because I feel vertical plyometric activities are really helpful when it comes to change of direction.  I know they don’t really look like it, but I think that the muscle groups that are responsible and effective in change of direction are similar to those we see used in single-leg vertical jumping.  I always see change of direction as a yielding type of activity.

If you’re doing a box drop jump or a rebound jump off a box, well, you’re changing direction from down to up.  At the tissue level, there’s really no difference in changing direction from down to up or left to right.  It’s about yielding, and vertical plyometrics seem to be the environment where we can teach yielding best”

Boo on his principles around programming of plyometrics in the week

”You handle things very differently in-season versus out of season.”

Out of season– I like to include some type of plyometric component every time they do a speed power-based type of workout, which will be around two to three times per week.  Early off-season you will establish your volumes with in place jumps, then you have your short bounds and finally you move to your advanced forms of plyometrics like the extended bounds or possibly the depth jumps.

In-season– Once you move to in season all rules are off and nobody is smart anymore.  Once athletes start travelling and they have aches that come from competition you never know quite what you’re going to get.  The competition season produces a very unpredictable environment and I think a good strength coach becomes more reactive at that particular time of year.

I would (ideally) like to have them perform high intensity plyometrics in-season every 10-14 days.  There is no sense in doing low-end stuff if you’ve already prepared them to do the high-end stuff.  But at the same time, I know that sometimes the demands of competition, that might not be realistic.  Of course, the sport itself has something to do with it.  If you’re a basketball or volleyball player and all you ever do is jump, well, how many plyometrics do you really need?

Boo on some of the technical trends in coaching maximal velocity including where he thinks people are spending a lot of time where they shouldn’t be!

Arm action– ”In sprinting coaching you’re basically teaching people how to push against the ground correctly.  The upper body counters and balances the movements of the lower body.  I think that generally speaking in coaching we do not trust the body’s movement organisation processes enough. A lot of our sprint movements are organised subconsciously, they come from the spinal cord, not from the brain.  when you cut the chicken’s head off, it continues to run around the yard. So obviously you don’t have to THINK of everything!”

Because of the fact the arms are very visible, I think that they’re favourites to coach.  But the arm movements evolve as the leg movements evolve, going from long arms pushing back during acceleration to short arms pushing down during top speed.  There is also rotational components in sprinting, and when the hand moves back they should widen a little bit if the hips are oscillating and turning the way they should do

Core Training– ”When you’re sprinting at maximal velocity, the demands on the core are so much greater than what you experience in a sit-up or a crunch or one of those simple exercises that is not really core training.  When we examine what the core does in sprinting, we see that the shoulders and hips operate in opposition.  You see a winding and unwinding action in the core, so our training needs to be rotational in nature, and specifically anti-rotational strength.  This is where medicine ball catch toss stuff and things of that nature forces you to stabilise elastically in the core and it’s a very specific type of movement.”

Coaching the Knee lift– ”Knee lift is undoubtedly necessary in sprinting.  When you lift the knee you place a pre-stretch on the hip extensors, and that enables a more forceful push against the ground.  But we’ve got to remember the other side of it as well, once you push against the ground completely, you’re putting a pre-stretch on the hip flexors, and that helps to pump the knee.

In some sprint coaching cultures it’s gotten to the point where we are overdoing knee lifts so we’re forgetting about the pushing side of things.  Sprinting is about pushing down, and I don’t want to base my basic sprint training or teaching model upon picking the feet up.”

Boo on his principles around use of circuit training for recovery

”For restoration purposes with almost all speed power athletes I use circuit training, basically body weight circuits, med ball circuits, and also some weight training circuits.  Mild to moderate levels of lactate produce growth hormone responses that are very positive and assist in restoration.  These circuits are typically about 12 minutes in length.  I put the circuits together in ways where I’m trying to hit a perfect balance between really fatiguing them , but also allowing them to be powerful throughout the entire circuit.

I like the circuits much more so than (tempo) running.  Some coaches like to use tempo running in search of restoration and view that they can achieve the lactate levels the same way with tempo training.  It’s unquestionable, you can’t!  But I’m going back to what I said earlier about repetitive movement.  And if you do running workouts for your restoration, that’s just right, left, right, left, and that’s a lot of repetitive tissue assault.”

Author opinion:

Boo has extensive experience in the area of track & field and strength & conditioning, and it all started in the classroom as an educator which really helped with his teaching ability!

One thing that was interesting from listening back to the podcast, was his comment about confidence that you gain from really ‘knowing your stuff.’  The industry can do a better job in my opinion of ensuring that communication skills (and business skills) are put higher on the coach education agenda.  Brett Bartholomew who has featured several times on the Pacey Performance is a coach who is blazing the trail here- with his Bought In and ValueED online training programmes.

It was also interesting to hear Boo’s take on circuits for restoration.  In the Blog Review with Derek Hansen he talked about the benefits of tempo running done daily as a form of micro-dosing.  So I guess you need to read both of their rationals and do what makes most sense for you.  Who says you couldn’t do both? But I hear what Boo says about the repetitiveness of running! Some times if my Tennis athletes have had a hard day of tennis drilling the day before, the last thing they want to do is more running on their feet the next day!

Top 5 Take Away Points: 

  1. Learn Your Stuff– really learn your stuff, and the confidence that you get from that will definitely improve your ability to communicate
  2. Have a Classification System– Boo uses four main categories of plyometrics (in-place jumps, short bounds, extensive bounds and depth jumps)
  3. Maintain a 2 to 1 ratio– of vertical to horizontal plyometric work in your programme
  4. In-Season Programming– perform high intensity plyometrics in-season every 10-14 days
  5. Understand Key Technical aspects of Sprinting– Arm action, core training and Knee lift should be coached according to their intuitive function in sprinting.

Want more info on the stuff we have spoken about?  Be sure to visit:

www.www.sacspeed.com

You may also like from PPP:

Episode 227, 55 JB Morin

Episode 217, 51 Derek Evely

Episode 207, 3 Mike Young

Episode 204, 64 James Wild

Episode 192 Sprint Masterclass

Episode 183 Derek Hansen

Episode 87 Dan Pfaff

Episode 55 Jonas Dodoo

Episode 15 Carl Valle

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

Since you’re here…
…we have a small favor to ask.  APA aim to bring you compelling content from the world of sports science and coaching.  We are devoted to making athletes fitter, faster and stronger so they can excel in sport. Please take a moment to share the articles on social media, engage the authors with questions and comments below, and link to articles when appropriate if you have a blog or participate on forums of related topics. — APA TEAM

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Pacey Performance Podcast REVIEW- Episode 175 Jason Hettler

This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 175 – Jason Hettler.

Jason Hettler

Website: www.simplifaster.com

Background: 

Jason was born and raised in Michigan, and completed his degree in exercise science there.  He then came out to what was at the time World Athletic Center for an internship, and was offered a position after that.  They rebranded and changed the name to ALTIS (approximately August 2015).

Discussion topics:

Jason on ALTIS, it’s visibility on social media and the aims as a business.

”A big objective of ours is to professionalise amateur sport, with focus on track and field, reactionary in nature to the sport performance world.  It’s all about being transparent and putting it out there and giving future generations a better idea of what high performance sport does or can look like.  We are trying different avenues to reach the masses, including the foundation course, the 360 Library subscription based content, apprentice coach programme

Jason on how you sort the signal from the noise in terms of what is the good, the bad and the ugly in terms of information on social media

”Try and find individuals who have some trends and some patterns of success, rather than one-offs.  A big part of it as well is having a philosophy as a coach and a practitioner and understanding what it is that you stand for.  A quote from Alexander Hamilton is, if you don’t have that philosophy then if you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for everything.”

Jason on periodisation and the philosophy at ALTIS

”We’re still trying to work through it all and see what really does periodisation means and where it fits.  But for now we look at periodisation and how we operate at ALTIS through what we term a complex parallel lens.  For us all that really means is that we have three major objectives on the track, and we have three major objectives in the weight room.”

Track:

  • Acceleration
  • Speed
  • Speed Endurance

Weight Room:

  • Dynamic Effort
  • Max Effort
  • Repetitive Effort

 

”If we look at acceleration development, we’re looking at shorter reps, anywhere from 10 metres up to possibly 40 metres.  Our speed work builds off of that from 60 to 90 metres, and our speed endurance will come from typically 120 metres up to 250 metres.  At least that’s with the short sprinters.

We’re going to take a gradual progression from the grass and flats onto the track with spikes, with blocks, solo runs, then running next to somebody, and slowly building from there.  Then as far as the weight room, our Zone 1 (Dynamic effort) use long range of motion exercises such as a clean grip snatch, which allows a lot of time to generate velocity on the bar.  Our max strength Zone 3 uses compound lifts at intensities of 85% and up, higher rest, three to five minutes, lower reps anywhere from 1-5 reps typically.  Then in the more work capacity type sessions it’s really limiting the rest, higher reps, 10-12 possibly, and then we’ll use a lot of unilateral work there just as an avenue to increase some time under tension.  We are very particular and quite careful with the prescription on the work capacity (due to hypertrophy being contraindicated).  That’s one of the zones that comes out pretty early in the year.  For some individuals they may never even see that type of loading parameter but it really just comes down to an individual basis after that.”

Jason on the common threads that run through the programme at ALTIS not dependant on the individual

”For the athletes with high training age a lot of them have pretty high strength levels.  At this level for them, the big difference maker typically is not going to be the development of maximum strength, whereas a youth athlete or somebody a little bit less developed will see a lot of increase in speed and in acceleration through training that ability.

Some of the females for instance may have a little bit more of that work capacity because they’re not going to put on size quite the same way that a lot of men do.  So they may have a higher density of it and/or may carry it longer throughout the training year.  For most of them we’ll take max strength through the competitive season and bring that down to once every 10 or so days, just enough of a stimulus for them to feel that tension and to feel strong.

In terms of supplementary work we’ll do a lot of posterior chain work, a lot of work for the hamstrings especially.  That usually starts isometrically and/or eccentrically and then progressing into what we refer to as reflexive eccentric, which are really fast, light loads, really trying to get a quick eccentric contraction out of it and in some ways trying to replicate what they’re going to experience when they’re sprinting.

The other avenue for supplementary work is a lot of the Bosch type stuff that’s coming out and being quite popular.  For us, we’re still figuring out exactly where it fits within our methodology and our philosophy, but for now, it almost serves as a bridge so to speak, between the warm up that we’ll do in the weight room and the main pieces of a session.  There is a lot of context and stability around the high knee or A position, I think Bosh refers to as a hip lock position.  For us it’s definitely clear that there’s benefit to it and that it fits somewhere, so I think the next step is how much, and where.”

Jason on the use of Velocity Based Training (VBT) at ALTIS

”We’ve played with it a little bit with our Dynamic Effort day. From the athlete’s perspective, all we want them thinking on those days is to move the bar as fast as they can, and ideally we’re going to see some progressing of overload and it’s going to get faster each time, but we realised that’s not always the case, especially when they’re coming off track and all the different factors and variables that come into play.  They may not be feeling the same that they felt the last time they did the session.  And so really our programming numbers and loads are based more off a Perceived Exertion of Intensity. In addition we don’t go off a percentage of 1RM.

Everything we do is supplementary to what we’re doing on the track, and so in a lot of ways we’re trying to safeguard and manage fatigue to allow the execution and the quality and the intensity that we like to see on the track to occur.”

Jason on his principles around acceleration

”Stuart McMillan really turned me on to this idea of projection, rhythm, and rise.

Projection– angular projection of shank relative to the ground during the initial impulse, as well as the hips projecting horizontally.  Some people get caught p in the trap of this idea that a 45 degree angle is optimal for everybody.  It’s really finding where an athlete fits based on their abilities and limb length.

A big myth I think around acceleration is the short choppy steps and possibly an issue with speed ladders, and speed ladders may have a time and space for some people, or for some objective, but in terms of accelerating and accelerating properly, I think the potential for some negative carryover for that, because we want longer strides, hip projecting forward.

Rhythm – If we think of a clap being ground contact, it’s going to start slow and slowly increase with each step, so as velocity increases we’re going to need to see a change in that ground contact and in that frequency.

Rise – as the velocity is increasing, we need to see a gradual rise of the centre of mass.

Jason on the differences in programming for speed between track and field athletes and team sports

Not a lot really in a lot of ways it follows a similar pattern and for a lot of that it’s when we introduce variability, and how we do that.  At the start of the year, or the start if a training camp for team sports athletes, we’re not going to throw a lot of variability at them.  They’ll already have a lot of variability, after taking two months off or six weeks at the end of the season, and not look the greatest, and lose some of the mechanics and some of the understanding.

As they begin to develop that understanding and lose some of that more innate or natural variability that they have in their movement, then we’ll start to pile some things on and so complexes of different drills, using different sprint drills in between the accelerations.  One thing I have found a lot of success with just holding a dowel on your shoulders, taking the arms out of it, really seems to take projection quite well.  It’s implemented more through the middle of the phase, whether it’s mid season, or it’s the middle couple of weeks of a six week training camp.  That’s when we start to insert it and really begin to challenge the stability of those movement patterns and see how deep we can get that those attractor wells to build.

Towards the end of a training camp we want to pull that away so that they can really try to round things out and leave that camp with a better understanding, take out some of that noise and variability, and just execute properly with very specific technical feedback.

Author opinion:

ALTIS have a compelling mission to give future generations a better idea of what high performance does or can look like. If you are interested in ALTIS and specifically the training theory related to the weight room, I’d also encourage you to check out Stu MacMillan’s website and his ”Coaches’ Guide to Strength Development” blog series.  It is clear that Stu (Head Coach at ALTIS) has a strong desire to simplify the complexity and with this blog series including guest posts from the likes of Matt Jordan and Derek Evely he really delivers on their mission to be transparent and put it all out there.  It is one of the most comprehensive guides you’ll ever read on a leading organisation’s training principles and methodology.

Check it out at: www.mcmillanspeed.com

 

One thing that was interesting from listening back to the podcast, was that a the beginning of the chat Jason seemed unclear where the ”Bosch type stuff” fits and then at the end of the podcast he was quite clear that he would programme in ”variability” into the training block towards the mid phase of the training block.  So it would be worth following up with Jason on how the Bosch type stuff has evolved in the training at ALTIS in the weight room. To me it seemed like he almost answered his own question by suggesting (at least for the track work) he would bring in more variability towards the middle of a training period (which could include Bosch type exercises)

Top 5 Take Away Points: 

 

  1. Have a Mission–  ALTIS mission is to professionalise amateur sport and give future generations a better idea of what high performance sport does or can look like
  2. Have a Philosophy– ALTIS have three major objectives on the track (Acceleration, Speed and Speed Endurance) and three in the weights room (Max Effort, Dynamic Effort and Repetition Effort)
  3. Understand Importance of Maximum Strength– for an athlete with a high training age the big difference maker typically is not going to be the development of maximum strength
  4. Understand Importance of S&C– Everything we do is [only ever] supplementary to what we’re doing on the track
  5. Understand Key Technical aspects of Acceleration– Projection, Rhythm and Rise

 

Want more info on the stuff we have spoken about?  Be sure to visit:

www.altis.world

www.simplifaster.com

 

You may also like from PPP:

Episode 227, 55 JB Morin

Episode 217, 51 Derek Evely

Episode 207, 3 Mike Young

Episode 204, 64 James Wild

Episode 192 Sprint Masterclass

Episode 183 Derek Hansen

Episode 87 Dan Pfaff

Episode 55 Jonas Dodoo

Episode 15 Carl Valle

 

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Giving Feedback – Why Less is More- Part 3

In this final part of the three-part blog series I will look at implicit feedback, which is feedback that you get from your interaction with the environment.  This is a way of getting feedback without conscious awareness of technique.

Implicit learning

One thing that Matt didn’t refer to is this concept of Explicit versus Implicit feedback.  If we talk about a speed task for example, when a coach is giving you feedback the coach will either tell you how fast you moved (KR) or tell you ‘how’ you moved (KP).   The moment the coach takes responsibility for telling you how you did something- good or bad- they are being ‘explicit’ with you because they are raising your awareness to how you are getting your results.  They are talking to you about technique!  Whenever we use KP we are doing this!

But what if there was an alternative way to improve technique without conscious awareness of it?………..  This is more related to KR.  This is where you don’t provide any feedback on technique as you want full focus on the target.

I think this is the area that has received quite a bit of discussion on in recent years.  I will refer back to Part 1 where we were introduced to the idea of the Performance Playground.  You don’t always need the spoken words (feedback) about technique from an actual ‘Teacher’ or coach to learn something.  Sometimes the environment can be its own teacher.

In a presentation on the APA Philosophy one of the questions I asked was ”How Do We Learn New Skills?”  I gave the example of a baby learning to walk and speak, and a young child learning how to ride a bike.

Movement shapes vs. Movement problem

There seems to be an agreement that many of the most important skills we acquire as babies and young children are ‘reflex driven’ meaning the body responds to the environment through perception-action coupling.  You learn through trial and error, and slowly getting better.

Experts identify, filter & attend to sensory information quicker as well as have more elaborate skills & greater understanding of strategy to make more effective responses

You could consider these as ‘movement problems’- how to walk or ride a bike without falling over.  As parents we don’t tend to get overly concerned with the movement shape- exactly how they should move their arms and legs (knowledge of performance).  The achievement of walking or riding a bike a certain distance without assistance would constitute knowledge of results.  We give them the outcome but we don’t coach them how to achieve it.

Yet I know myself, that once I have an athlete in a more organised coaching session to develop more advanced skills like sprinting and cutting, I have a habit of making myself central to the coaching experience and want to rush in and correct errors far too soon.  I get wrapped up in the perfect movement shape or ‘technical model.’  So suddenly the coaching approach shifts.

Constraints based coaching

One concept that comes up in the literature is constraints based coaching referring to the three main things you can manipulate or constrain in your coaching.

  • Athlete
  • Task
  • Environment

The idea of using ‘constraints’ is to  allow more attention to be put on the external environment rather than the internal movement.  If you change the task or you manipulate the environment it will promote the desired skill without you necessarily having to raise their awareness to the technique you want.  In theory the body will self-organise and figure it out.  For example if you play tag in a small space the body is more likely to adopt a shuffle step, and if you make it a constraint that it’s ‘knee tag’ then they are more likely to use their legs to get lower.  If you manipulate the task to make the grid bigger and call it shoulder tag you will get more running type movements.

This type of coaching is also referred to as ‘Discovery Learning.’  This creates an ‘Psychophysical’ environment which provides a setting to exploit movement variability as a mechanism to enhance an athlete’s adaptability.  Features of coaching in this environment include:

*Movements must be practised

*Adopt non awareness strategy

*Can involve relevant external cues

*Must be sports ‘related’

*Involve problem solving

*Can be reactive

 

Children do Not learn automatically in FMS

One cautionary point to make in case you have the impression I am suggesting coaches stop giving feedback- using constraints to create a discovery learning based environment doesn’t mean children don’t benefit from receiving feedback on performance!!

Children do not develop automatically in FMS.  They need to learn and practice.

Yes skilled movers need to be able to adjust their movements to the changing environment- but that doesn’t mean you can’t teach them how!

Selectively introduce the novice to the right aspects of the environment.  This is known as ‘Education of Attention.’

Show landmarks that orientate his or her activities. Learn what to notice and do, through the imitation of others.

Learning how to deal with very specific settings in which their training has taken place. I liken this to a young boy going out hunting with his Father in the jungle and learning how to notice things to help him hunt.

 

MultiskillZ Programme

One programme which I think really embraces these concepts of Implicit coaching and Discovery Learning is ”Multi SkillZ” programme-which I feel creates the template for movement exploration for others to follow.  In their description of their philosophy they say:

MOTOR COMPETENCE is foundation for SPORT SKILL

The goal is NOT to improve certain movement patterns or movement techniques.  We emphasis motor abilities referred to as the sub factors of the different development domains.  We do not stick to specific drills or exercises.  On the contrary we would like to expose the children to continuously changing situations and movement tasks.  In this way we believe we accelerate motor learning and motor abilities.

FUN and stimulating

A Multi SkillZ drill meets 5 standards. The i5-approved drills:

  • Invite participants to play or move
  • Intensive
  • Intriguing as it takes the attention of each participant constantly
  • Implicit learning
  • Interactive as participants are challenged to work together

 

Play

I’ve already mentioned before my reluctance in the past to create a play environment, which is partly because of my fear of how parents will perceive this type of activity.  This kind of links with my next point which is where I feel it may be viewed as lazy coaching- because it looks like the coach is doing more observing than giving feedback. I have to say I was guilty of making this judgement in my early career.  I personally saw the more experienced coaches talking less and watching more and thought they had become ‘complacent.’  As a inexperienced coach I wanted to say more.

It’s also because I want to overload certain types of movement and have come to value blocked practice highly in early stages of learning.  But lately I am questioning how impactful this type of drilling is, and also how fun it is!  My reflection is that I wanted to focus more on the movement problem and a little less on the movement shape- the technical model.  This essentially means I am tending to reverse engineer from the actual movement and regress to a more simple drill when the athlete is having difficulties executing the skill.

 

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Giving Feedback- Why Less is More- Part 2

In this second part to my blog series on Feedback we are still looking at the feedback from the coach known as external feedback.  Here we get into the detail a little more and look at what to say and perhap also what NOT to say!

For an excellent review of the literature on feedback check out Mattspoint latest blogs on the topic.  Part 1 and Part 2. Below are some extracts from Part 2 where he talks about Feedback Timing and feedback Frequency.

Feedback Timing

Overall, coaches and researchers caution against the over-reliance of concurrent -meaning during the skill- (and constant) feedback as it often turns into ‘white noise’, not benefitting the athlete in any meaningful way. From a player and parents perspective, this may sometimes be a challenge – “the coach doesn’t say much”. Truth is, the coach is likely purposely holding back their feedback, allowing the player to ‘figure it out’ before attempting to intervene.

Now of course there’s a difference between an absent-minded coach, one that just isn’t in tune with what’s going on, and one that’s withholding feedback for the player’s sake. But those of you reading this post are likely part of the latter, rather than the former.

Key pointwait until you see a consistent error before jumping in and correcting! Don’t create athletes that can’t operate without your feedback. Allow them space to develop their problem solving ability – this actually builds confidence.”

Feedback Frequency

Interestingly enough, research has indicated that when athletes are given the choice, they prefer to receive feedback about 30% of the time. In many tennis settings, however, the reverse (or worse) is true – coaches are giving feedback 70% of the time or more!

It does depend on the athlete you’re working with and where your skills as a coach lie. Younger coaches tend to say a lot to prove that ‘they know what they’re talking about’. Experienced coaches have ‘been there and done that’ and don’t need that validation.

For instance, ever seen a practice session with two pro players and an experienced coach? Very little is said during the actual session. When I work alongside elite coaches, we purposely set objectives before practice, provide minor cues during breaks/changeovers and a more in-depth debrief at the end of a session. This is even more true as we approach competition periods – I should reiterate, players need space to problem solve on their terms.

Faded Feedback

With faded feedback, a coach will initially provide feedback on every (or almost every) attempt. Research suggests that this helps accelerate the learner’s path towards the movement goal. As the movement becomes more proficient, feedback is provided less frequently – in effect, fading out. The ultimate goal being that the learner can achieve the intended movement without a dependence on the coach and/or the feedback.

The beauty here is that feedback can also be faded back in – in case the movement has regressed in some way. Once it’s back on track, the feedback again is withdrawn.

Bandwidth Feedback

With this form of feedback, a preset ‘degree of acceptability’ is established – with no feedback given when performance falls within the bandwidth and feedback given when it falls outside of the band of acceptability. The key here is that the learner is aware, before the fact, that if nothing is said, the movement is basically ‘correct’.

Research (Sherwood 1988) found that when the band was larger (~10%) compared to the target goal, it was more effective than smaller bands (1-5%). The theory being that less feedback (because of a larger bandwidth) will produce stable and consistent actions over time.

Summary Feedback

Here, feedback is given after a series of attempts – like 5 or 10, for instance. Interestingly enough, this feedback type has been shown to be more effective than trial-to-trial feedback – even though mistakes can be higher during practice, with this approach.

Interestingly enough, researchers found that getting feedback after every attempt promoted too much dependence. At the same time, feedback that was too infrequent (say, after 100 trials), didn’t guide the learner efficiently enough. Based on several experiments, feedback post about 5 trials seems to be most optimal when it comes to longer-term learning.

Tip: If you’re basket-feeding, try for multiple series of about 5 attempts, before intervening with feedback (even if you detect an error beforehand). This approach might have several benefits – first, the player has freedom to self-correct. Second, 5 attempts is still relatively low, so they won’t ingrain a bad habit. And lastly, from a physical standpoint it’s more specific to the demands of actual tennis-play (i.e. work:rest ratios).

Learner-Determined Feedback

This is pretty self-explanatory – feedback is only given when the learner requests it. I’ve encountered this on many occasions when working with elite players. But is it effective?

According to a throwing task study, participants that self-directed feedback, had better throwing accuracies compared to a group that was given faded feedback (feedback frequencies and types were matched). How can this be? Wulf and others in this field of study found that when feedback is learner-determined, it tends to be requested more following successful/correct attempts, compared to poor ones. Isn’t that interesting?

[Daz comment] As a coach I have to say I still feel like I need to be saying things more often and giving feedback and tips to correct their errors as soon as I see them.  It’s partly because I feel parents expect it and it’s partly because I am in the habit of wanting to correct an error as soon as I see one- rather than giving them a few reps to figure it out!  Wait until you see a consistent error before jumping in and correcting!

How I feel when I see a technical error- I need to stop myself from wanting to get involved and ‘tell’ them how to solve the problem!

 

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Giving Feedback- Why Less is More- Part 1

In recent months the Tennis Academy where I am based have been challenging the coaches (including S&C coaches) to coach less explicitly.  This got me thinking, what types of feedback am I providing as a coach, and as the leader of my company?  Is my feedback impactful? Is it driving the quality of movement and athleticism that ‘transfers’ onto the tennis court under time and fatigue pressure? Or am I just fixing a skill that looks good in a drill?

In this three part blog I will first look at explicit feedback, this is the feedback given by the coach. I’ll talk about the difference between Knowledge of Results (KR) versus Knowledge of Performance (KP).

In the second part I will look at the different types of external feedback form the coach.  In the third blog I will look at implicit feedback, which is feedback that you get from your interaction with the environment.  This is a way of getting feedback without conscious awareness of technique.

Part 1- Performance Playground

I must have written at least 10 blogs on how to create an optimum learning environment.  Only recently did I listen back to Craig Harrison speak on the Pacey Performance Podcast about what we can learn from the skate parks that kids love to spend hours at.  For one, it’s a place where there is no formal coaching taking place!  yet they will happily spend hours and hours there just trying out new tricks with their mates.

Craig spoke about + – = coaching

+ These are the children who are older and/or slightly more advanced than you- so you have someone to reach for

These are the children who are younger and/or slightly less advanced than you- so you have someone to help

= These are your peers and/or children of the same level as you who you can really compete with!

 

Feedback

In a skate park you will naturally see all of these children exploring together- and not one adult telling them how to skate!  I thought this was a nice analogy and I have previously heard both Nick Grantham and Darren Roberts talk about the ‘Performance Playground.’  I have to say I have struggled to fully embrace the concept of giving children a space to play in with obstacles that either I have created or ones that they have created…..and let them play and explore.  I think partly I have wanted to control the environment a bit more so there is more intentional OVERLOAD via repetition of a particular movement I want to develop- through ‘drilling the skill.’

I also think it is partly the curse of the parent! I often feel parents expect the children to be busy, and the time it takes to set up an obstacle course (which is part of the fun!) might be seen outwardly as a ‘waste of time’ if they are paying for ‘coaching!’  I somehow feel the need to appear ‘busy.’  This extends to me feeling like I need to be saying things more often and giving feedback and tips to correct their errors as soon as I see them.

For an excellent review of the literature on feedback check out Mattspoint latest blogs on the topic.  Part 1 and Part 2. Below are some extracts:

In Part 1 Matt talks about feedback types.

Feedback Types

When it comes to feedback types, at the core, there are 2:

  1. Knowledge of results (KR): this feedback type is related to the outcome.
  2. Knowledge of performance (KP): this feedback type is related to the quality of the movement, mechanics or process that produced the outcome.

In tennis, KR could be related to where the ball lands, how fast the ball is travelling, how much spin was generated etc. In the gym, it could be feedback on the amount of weight lifted, how far/high someone jumped, how fast they performed an agility task and so on.  Overall, KR is more number driven.  I often don’t provide any feedback on stroke mechanics as I want full focus on the target.

Knowledge of Performance

In contrast to KR, KP feedback relates to the movement that produced the outcome. KP feedback is a bit more complex as it’s less objective and thus can be more open to interpretation.  For instance, because KP deals with how a player executed a certain movement or action, we can use different forms of feedback to reinforce good mechanics or to correct a technical flaw.

  • Tell the player what they did or didn’t do well
  • I can show the player by demonstrating the movement
  • I can show the player by using video or still photos
  • I can guide the player to feel it by moving their racket
  • I can use a sound to let the player hear it such as clapping or making sound effects

Most experienced coaches will intuitively provide either KR or KP feedback, depending on the aim of the session/drill. Other times, however, it might be appropriate to combine the two types of feedback: “That ball landed short of the target line (KR), because you didn’t accelerate your hand/wrist through contact (KP)”.  

The issue as I see it, however, is that players are getting this type of feedback too often – sometimes after every single shot! This is the frequency part of the equation (which we’ll explore in next week’s post). But there’s one important factor we must consider in all this; whether a player knows it or not, there is always an internal dialogue in their heads – i.e. self-feedback.

This self-feedback is called intrinsic feedback; while KR and KP feedback (which is provided by the coach or could be by some other observer/training partner etc) is referred to as extrinsic (or augmented) feedback. Here is Reid et al’s (2007) take on this:

“The provision of too much extrinsic feedback is suggested to breed an over-reliance on the coach, and impair an individual’s ability to independently process and evaluate information. This may manifest on-court with some players becoming anxious at the prospect of having to problem-solve without direct, extrinsic feedback or guidance.”

As coaches, we all want what’s best for our players – at times, however, that might mean to let them be. I’ve dealt with this situation many times; a player constantly looking towards me after every lost point in a practice set. While my instinct is to provide them with the solution, I try to bite my tongue and give them the platform to ‘figure it out on their own’. In the moment, they aren’t always happy, but after the fact, they realize the benefit of this coaching strategy.

A lot of this is dependant on the level of the player, and their subsequent stage of learning. Motor learning literature (Reid et al 2007), does suggest that as player’s skill develops/augments, there should be less and less reliance on extrinsic feedback, allowing intrinsic self-talk to carry the brunt of the work.

[Daz comment]  I always say to my coaches that every drill should have a clear outcome (KR) and process (KP).  I also say that with naturally competitive people you need to ‘keep score‘ to keep them engaged.  Naturally, KR lends itself to this so you can do a speed drill and time them or simply see who crosses the finish line (target) first!  But I also like to keep score with ‘how well’ someone performed the exercises (KP) and award points for the best performed movement even if it wasn’t the fastest.  Obviously ideally we need both- fast and high quality movements!

As a coach I have to say I know I have a tendency to give quite a bit of KP feedback, perhaps too much! With poor moving athletes I have a tendency to start with a high level skill and then try and correct all the errors that I see with KP every rep! What I am experimenting with is starting with a more simple skill and then adding progressions so that they maintain the basic skills without too many errors and have time to make corrections themselves as the level of difficulty increases.

For example:

Level 1- Sidesteps across court

Level 2- Sidesteps from middle of court out to one side and back to middle

Level 3- Sidesteps to Left or Right according to coach signal

Level 4- Sidesteps to Left or Right but you start from a standing on one leg position

Level 4- Sidesteps to Left or Right AND when you get back stand on one leg

 

If I let them perform several reps at each level this will allow for a range of abilities.  It does mean the most capable athletes will be waiting for a few reps before the task gets more challenging, but in the meantime they can still stay motivated by having a race with their peers!

 

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Pacey Performance Podcast REVIEW- Episode 183- Derek Hansen

This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 183 – Derek Hansen.

Derek Hansen

Website: www.sprintcoach.com

 

Background: 

Derek is 48 yrs old now and coached track as early as 18 yrs old when he was in college.  In his career he has been coaching young kids, college athletes, elite athletes jumpers and sprinters and made the transition in the late 1990s to working with athletes in different sports as a strength & conditioning coach.  Now a consultant with professional teams (NFL, NBA, MLS) and upper level NCAA College Teams.

Discussion topics:

Derek on it being en vogue that guys that have track backgrounds are being involved as a strength & conditioning coach in Team Sports

‘It’s a really good foundation to be working in a physiological based sport, whether it’s track, swimming, maybe cycling.  I like to think that most team sports involve running- everyone has to run, so running is kind of an important thing and I think a lot of people forget that.    When you say, running is kind of important you often get the response, but what do you mean, don’t I get to lift a weight?!  You have a leg up on a lot of coaches because you understand how to get the locomotion piece going”

Derek on the challenges he came across when he made the transition into team sports

”The biggest one is that everybody perceives running as one unified thing- work capacity type running.  A coach will often feedback, ‘Oh we want you to work on speed, but a lot of people are standing around they’re not moving around the whole time, to which Derek replies, well, yeah, that’s because I’m working on speed!” Sprinting versus working on the glycolytic or on the aerobic systems. Know the difference.

Team and coach need to understand that to get better at very short distances they need to run really fast and then rest for a bit with a specific approach- you can’t just get it from practising.  People think people should look tired when they run- oh you didn’t get a good workout because you’re not huffing and puffing and your heart rate is through the roof.  We must feel like we’re exhausted.  Everyone wants to feel like they got their ass kicked.

The best athletes who have a lot fast twitch fibres don’t want to do the work capacity stuff.  They want to move fast and be high quality athletes.  It’s intuitive to them.  You might need to appeal to the coaches slightly differently, as they want to look like they’re doing something and they’re busy. You have to talk to coaches about deliverables and end results- GPS data has been useful to show them what a typical game speed has been.  If we work on speed we can raise that average up by getting to higher top speeds.  In the final analysis we will have numbers that show your guys are getting faster and will get to the ball faster etc.

Derek on micro-dosing (loading)

During some taper periods for track & field athletes with Charlie Francis he asked him in a 10-day taper how do you change things? Typically in the main part of the training season he would have a high and a low day.  In a tapering period he would do high intensity qualities every day!  Doesn’t this deviate from your high low approach Derek asked Charlie? Yes but we are probably operating at 40-50% of the volumes for the high intensity components so you’re not going to have the same impact on the nervous system, so you can actually do high intensity training every day and not have the same negative impacts because we’ve dropped the volume.  So I asked why can’t we do this all the time? It actually may be a great way to maintain high intensity explosive qualities.

When we look at classical periodisation we think of blocks and the problem with blocks is you think you have this space of time where I need to plough all this volume and all this work in (plyo, aerobic, lactic, weights, speed).  When you can probably do things every day in smaller amounts, less overall volume but maybe a higher volume of higher intensity components because you are stripping away all this crap! It’s a more precise way of dispensing work, in smaller amounts where the effect on the organism is more profound.

Derek on sprinting In-season

Yes but you have to do it in the off-season too! So if my volume in the off-season is 100 units then it’s not that difficult to bring it down to 30 in the season. So if you don’t accumulate a certain amount of work in the off-season then you’re very limited in what you can do in-season.  You have to build a base of work in the off-season so you can be exceptional in-season and have more tools available to you.

Derek on what an in-season week would look like in a Team sport

Be strategic with what what you do.  You are very limited with how much time you have with a professional sports team.  You ask the Head coach for 30 minutes for warm-up and they say, Well How about 10 minutes?

Within that warm-up that’s contact time you have everyday, so how can I use the warm up to get some explosive elements in? Whether it’s an explosive med ball throw, or an acceleration, a sprint from different positions (off your back, off your front), plyometrics.  Rather than doing locomotive stuff (sidesteps, carioca and all this other bulls@#t  muscle confusion etc) let’s ramp people up a bit quicker because (1) we habituate very easily as human beings so if you place less demand on people guess what, they’ll expect less demand,but if we start ramping people up a little quicker and we start getting in this habit of adding more high intensity elements progressively but more rapidly then you get quicker responses and people fall into being in a high intensity zone more quickly.  We should ramp up to sprints.

An easy way to do it would be short to long progressive sprints, 15, 20, 30 35 40m tc change up the start type to ramp up intensity (walk in start, falling start, 3 point start,etc).  Getting to a high intensity (1) get’s them warmed up better (2) we are chipping away at this microdosing principle of getting high intensity elements in that are not present in the practice.  So by the end of the warmup I get two reps of 30m sprints at 95% of their output capability that’s better than anything they are doing on the field.  Over a week that’s 10 x 30m or 300m of high quality sprint work that they weren’t getting in the practice, which will add up!! What is the exposure to stress and if it’s not happening in practice then you need to find ways to drop it in as frequently as you can- which is probably the most simple way of using micro dosing concept- by making it part of your warm up and sneaking it in.

The other thing you can do is micro dose low intensity components as part of your cool down such as tempo runs that don’t have the residual fatigue affect but you can get things moving and accumulate aerobic abilities with this high frequency approach.

Derek’s thoughts as far as a Saturday to Saturday week in season

There could be a rise and fall depending on what’s happening.  One day is more skill based and one day is more work capacity and full field based.  Look at what your coach is giving the players and then you need to work on the other end of the spectrum.  So if they’re doing something that is work capacity focused then you need to step up your high intensity components as that is what is lacking in the practice. You’re always looking at what you’re missing and then trying to sure it up by adding in these micro components.  I do not want to provide what is being provided in practice nor necessarily in games because that is already being done.  So I have to look at other training components that aren’t being worked on, going back to the idea of preparing players to not get injured by building qualities that aren’t being addressed in practice and making them more resilient.

Derek on Tempo running and why he would use it

It’s basically shorter interval runs- 100-200m segments where you run them on a soft surface like a grass surface probably from anywhere from 50-70% of maximum speed.  Now you have to be careful with that because a 100m sprinter who runs 100m in 10-seconds would do 70% at 13-seconds which is still pretty fast.  Fitness based activity but also a recovery modality, which is also accumulating a pretty decent amount of volume if you do it three times a week.

Basically you are using the shorter segments to target the aerobic system.  Charlie Francis said whatever the velocity of the first one, then let’s say you do fifteen, the fifteenth one should be completed at the same time.

Sprinters typically do 2000m of tempo runs three times a week so 6000m per week. So I started to think why couldn’t I do 1000m six times a week? So I started to gravitate towards more of that approach and the results were as good as good if not better. The idea of doing something every day is interesting to me because I think it helps with your ability to achieve readiness quicker– rather than do this undulating method of going high intensity and exhaust you and then low intensity and try to recover you.  Why not do a steady baseline of work that keeps you ready all the time but also improves your fitness over time.  He will still do more of a high low approach throughout but he will not have any hesitation to doing things on consecutive days in the early part and also the later part of an inseason scenario as well as tapering and peaking, and even for NFL combine prep.  When you test in a combine scenario or a track meet you have to perform on consecutive days.

He used to have people do sprint training and then wait until they started to have a couple of bad reps.  So if they were at 10 flat for 100m he would wait until they went to 10.5-sec after a couple of reps and then stop.  He said rather than wait until then, nip it in the bud a little earlier with less volume, so I can do something again the next day.

Author opinion:

It is worth considering whether in your training philosophy you want to ‘contrast’ or ‘compliment’ the work that is being done in practice in a particular day.  Derek is suggesting he would probably contrast it with work that is being done.  ”One day is more skill based and one day is more work capacity and full field based.  Look at what your coach is giving the players and then you need to work on the other end of the spectrum.  So if they’re doing something that is work capacity focused then you need to step up your high intensity components as that is what is lacking in the practice”

At APA it is more likely that the S&C work will compliment the main theme of the practice- so if the practice is more neurally fatiguing we would be doing a neural session such as sprints, plyos and heavy weights day.  If the practice is more metabolic then the S&C would likely be either a metabolic day with light cardio (such as tempo runs) or a metabolic day with higher intensity cardio (such as high intensity interval training-HIIT).

However, in both approaches what is common is there is a high low approach.  Furthermore, APA believe in the micro dosing approach to speed, strength and coordination to name but a few.  Most of this takes place in the form of a targeted warm up to get a daily dose of a few high intensity sprints, a few bodyweight strength exercises and regular hand eye coordination.

 

Round up: want more info on the stuff we have spoken about?  Be sure to visit:

www.sprintcoach.com

www.simplifaster.com  www.strengthpowerspeed.com

 

You may also like from PPP:

Episode 227, 55 JB Morin

Episode 217, 51 Derek Evely

Episode 207, 3 Mike Young

Episode 204, 64 James Wild

Episode 192 Sprint Masterclass

Episode 175 Jason Hettler

Episode 87 Dan Pfaff

Episode 55 Jonas Dodoo

Episode 15 Carl Valle

 

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Middlesex Student Conference 2019

It’s a little bit later than planned but just wanted to do a review of the 10th Annual Strength and Conditioning Student Conference, at Middlesex University London, Saturday 9th March 2019.

Thanks to Dr Anthony Turner who has done a terrific job in organising it over the last 10 years and will be handing on the job to Chris Bishop!  I’ll devote a whole blog to JB-Morin talk as I have a few more things I’d like to go through there!

Talk 1- Chris Bishop: Inter-Limb Asymmetries: Calculating Differences, Effects on Athletic Performance, and Methods to Reduce Imbalances

I wouldn’t be doing this justice with the slides I’m about to post as there was a lot of information.

Key Points:

  • Wide use of Methods for Calculating Asymmetry
  • Useful to Determine Day to Day ‘Variability’ before assigning significance to a change
  • Limb Difference Varies Across Tasks
  • Useful to note Direction of Asymmetry

It appears there is conflicting research regarding the correlation between asymmetry and athletic performance.  In one research paper showed us, a strength imbalance (asymmetry) did not make any difference to how well you performed a change of direction test.

  • In Chris’ 2017 Systematic Review he found 12 out of 18 studies may indicate a harmful correlation (negative) between asymmetry and athletic performance
  • In his 2019 Updated Review he found 19 out of 28 may indicate a harmful correlation (negative)between asymmetry and athletic performance
  • Eccentric Impulse is more stable than Jump Height
  • Strategy based metrics need to be investigated (the ‘How’) as well as the outcome of the Jump Performance (the ‘What’).

So what? Chris was astute to point out that in elite sport the bottom line is who finishes first! So he gave a hypothetical example of three sprint cyclists who have different levels of asymmetry resulting in varying power outputs between limbs.  While the rider A had the biggest asymmetry he was also able to produce the highest mean power most likely resulting in the fastest time.  So context is king and the process and the outcome have to be looked at together to determine the impact and directions for future training.

 

Talk 2: Professor Kevin Till- Who, What, How- Plan, Deliver, Review: A Framework for Decision-Making in S&C Coaching

Key Points:

  • Reflection is done better when Planning is done well!
  • The more time you spend planning the more beneficial reflection will be
  • Reflection IN ACTION – During session
  • Reflection ON ACTION – Immediately after
  • Role of Coach: Problem setter NOT Problem solver

 

Talk 3: Dr John McMahon- Optimising Force Plate Assessment of Vertical Jumping in Team Sports

This talk was arguably my favourite- not least because I’m on a personal crusade to better understand Forces in Sport and John did a terrific job of breaking down a Force-Time curve for me!

Key Points:

  • Set up (calibration) of the Force Plate is key!
  • Use simple and consistent cues and protocols
  • Drop jump (30cm box <250m/s) vs Depth jump (greater heights and would spend more time in contact with ground with increased knee flexion)
  • Be aware of Fall Height vs. Box Height (if an athlete raises centre of mass at take off rather than just stepping off could cause errors of 10% or more!)
  • Consider different types of jump profile for further assessment- such as Repeated jumps x 10 and his ‘Buy One Get One Free (BOGOF) jump which is a countermovement jump into a pogo jump)

I particularly loved the break down of the Force-Time curves for consideration of the different components we typically measure:

Notice how it is the Force that the athlete generates creates the Impulse which then causes the acceleration, which causes the velocity and so on…

 

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Daz Drake on Maximal Strength Training

I have Duncan French to thank for putting me on to a journal article in his 2018 UKSCA UFC presentation- when he was going through his needs analysis for MMA.  He actually didn’t even say much about it but as soon as I saw that slide a light bulb went off in my head and I knew when I finally got the copy of the presentation I needed to read the original journal article.

This blog is the cliff notes of the presentation Duncan gave and it sets up my rational for the importance of maximal strength.  This blog will make it more clear what maximal strength will and will not directly help in sports performance.

I like the use of the word ”underpin” when referring to high force qualities and their relationship with high-velocity techniques.  He then followed that up with this slide which featured the journal article I was talking about.  If you want to get a copy of it for yourself click the link HERE.

What does this mean?

Well let’s start by exploring what these terms mean.  Rate of Force Development (RFD) is measured as the slope of the Force-Time curve obtained during isometric contractions.  This is important to study as the time allowed to exert force in a range of sports is typically very limited (~50-250ms).  In contrast longer time is needed to exert maximum muscular force (>300ms).

Critically for this discussion, RFD in various time intervals from the onset of contraction is affected by different physiological parameters.

In the study above they examined the relationship between voluntary contractile RFD and (1) voluntary maximal muscle strength and (2) electrically evoked muscle twitch contractile properties.  Maximal muscle strength is also known as Maximal Voluntary Contraction (MVC).

The main finding from the study was that voluntary RFD became increasingly more dependent on MVC and less dependent on muscle twitch contractile properties as time from the onset of contraction increased (Figure on the right).

Put another way, contractile RFD during the very early phase of muscle contraction (<50ms) is related to the intrinsic contractile properties of the muscle, whereas RFD during later time intervals (150-250ms) is related more closely to maximum muscle strength

The graph on the left indicates that the voluntary RFD measured at the time interval of 200ms was strongly correlated with MVC, where the explained variance (r=0.89) was 89%.  This means that 89% of the variance in voluntary RFD at 200ms can be explained by the variance in MVC.

In conclusion this means Maximal Strength training has a great influence on Voluntary RFD >90ms especially around 150-250ms which we might define as Late RFD.  So for things like acceleration in sprinting, jumping and change of direction maximal strength could have a big impact on directly enhancing sports performance.  When it comes to things like the ground contact during top speed sprinting and unloaded striking and kicking, maximum strength could ”underpin” high velocity movement.  However, training would need to be more targeted to early RFD training methods to improve these qualities.

 

How do you Measure Maximum Strength?

Now we know maximum strength is important how do you measure it?  The traditional weight training method is to determine your 1 Repetition Maximum on a Back Squat or Deadlift.

You can calculate the Peak Force in Newtons once you convert your body mass into weight, and add the weight of the bar.  A elite level of strength on the back squat might be around 2 x body mass so for a 85kg male (weight of 833 Newtons plus weight on bar of 1666 Newtons) that’s a total Force of 2,499 Newtons.  This is sometimes represented as a unit of acceleration as a multiple of body weight, which in this case is 3.0 times body weight.

The back squat is limited by your concentric strength in the weakest part of the movement (the bottom of the descent).  A preferred method to determine strength is using the isometric method.  Elite levels on an Isometric Mid Thigh Pull (IMTP) are as high as 4.0 times body weight.  We know that we can create more force isometrically than we can concentrically so a goal to aim for would be to develop 3.0 body weight concentrically and 4.0 body weight isometrically.

What’s next?

Having built Maximum Strength as measured by strength in the Isometric Mid Thigh Pull (IMTP), we need to transfer that strength into sport specific attributes.  I’ll go into this in more detail in a follow up blog but this is the first time I have seen the concept of ”Dynamic Strength Deficit”

(CMJ Fpeak / IMTP Fpeak)

Using the results of the study by Kawamori_et al (2006) they recorded a Peak Force on the IMTP of 3,177 Newtons, and 1,449 Newtons on the Counter Movement Jump.  Using this example the Dynamic Strength Deficit would be (1,449 / 3177) or 0.47 indicating extra training time should be spent on dynamic strength training.

In terms of Speed-Strength monitoring to see if the dynamic strength is improving, Duncan went on to share the initial findings they have been getting from the use of the Landmine punch throw– which I believe ”Boxing Science” first came up with.

 

In the next blog I’ll look a bit more in detail at the Power Protocol used here and the Jump profile I use in Tennis.  This way you can profile you athlete in terms of Force and Velocity.  I hope you have found this blog article useful and now understand how maximal strength can help improve sports performance.

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