Hamstring Injuries- Part 2 of 2 [Are We Heading in the Right Direction?]

This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 266 – Hamstring Injury 

Jurdan Mendiguchia

Research Gate

Background: 

Jurdan Mendiguchia– Physiotherapist, Researcher and Injury Consultant.  Jurdan is a World expert when it comes to injury prevention and rehabilitation, particularly in hamstrings and ACL.  He has 40+ research papers to his name (see link above to Research Gate).

 

Discussion topics:

JM on the current approach to hamstring injury rehab and prevention and how would you say there is room for improvement in this area

”Good question.  The issue of hamstring injury definitely needs a new boost, a step forward.  I think it has been an injury that contrary to other types of injury such as ACL, has been approached from a very analytical and isolated point of view.  This influences the intervention carried out.

To give a clear and simple example, in the ACL injury, inciting events such as jumping and side cutting were biomechanically analysed to later analyse how the trunk, hip, ankle or even anatomy influence this inciting event providing a multifactorial approach to the problem.  Consequently injury prevention programmes have been directed to correctly and repeatedly perform the movement related to the injury mechanism such as side cutting.  I never see a guy only perform squats to prevent the ACL injury!

Everything was reduced to the action of the hamstring at a specific time of sprinting, the main injury mechanism.  And from there the measurement methods such as isokinetic and eccentric (Nord board) and prevention training arised.  It has been focused at that concrete moment without going too deep into how the trunk, pelvis, the other leg interaction influence that moment.  Unsurprisingly that was extrapolated to the prevention methods, and most of the research methods have focused on improving the specific strength or isolated strength of the knee flexor without knowing which exercises activate one hamstring muscle or the other!” (rather than the correct performance of the movements related to the injury like in the ACL!)

If we go the literature we can see a huge difference between the articles dedicated to the nordic and sprinting, at least in the injury related area.  I wonder myself, since it has been more than 18 years since the first study carried out in the AFL that suggested that eccentrics are effective in reducing this type of injury.  So it is not a new thing, and at least in the major leagues all the football teams I know are doing eccentrics at least weekly.  And what is still the biggest injury problem today? Hamstrings!

We can assure ourselves in the knowledge that the velocity and intensity of the game has increased but then maybe eccentrics are not effective enough to battle against actual player demands.

We cannot ignore what is happening and continue to not listening to the concerns of the coaches of the teams frustrated and under pressure because they continue with the same injuries despite using eccentric exercises. What has been suggested does not solve, at least entirely, the problem.

Without criticising what we have done in the past, we need for sure, something else.  If we can agree that it is a multifactorial injury, and the factors interact with each other the current force or range of motion measurements and isolated measurements are not able to show us these associations.

Therefore everything goes through the development of new ‘contextualised screenings’ that allow us to decipher the primary factors to correct.

When we talk about context we are talking about the main injury mechanism, that is none other than the sprint, and of course it is not the only injury mechanism as there are injury mechanisms related to overstretching, trunk perturbations etc.

If we want to be more close to success and succeed from a injury prevention perspective at least in football, in my opinion we need to perfectly know our sport demands and delivered adaptations and our coaching methods and training.”

JM explaining the role of the trunk and pelvis when it comes to hamstring injuries.

”It has been shown that anterior pelvic tilt is a risk factor for hamstring injury, if we only base it theoretically on elementary anatomy, we know that the hamstrings attach to the pelvis at the ischial tuberosity.  An increase in anterior tilt will increase hamstring length.

Risk Factors

  • Anterior pelvic tilt (related to bicep femoris)
  • Increased Trunk and Hip Flexion (Functional MRI shows it increases bicep femoris signal intensity).  Sprinting with inclined trunk there is more bicep femoris lengthening mostly at the beginning of the acceleration phase
  • Interaction of one leg with the other- the pelvis is the only joint that connects the legs

It has been shown that to run faster you need a deep anterior pelvic tilt.  But the mismatch is that while it could be good to run fast like in track and field and soccer,  but if you go too far it can be dangerous from an injury perspective.”

JM on the focus on knee flexor strength rather than the multifactorial issues around sprinting

”The thinking process is not bad because it was hypothesised that late swing phase is where the injury probably happens.  It is true that it is the moment where the hamstring acts as an absorber doing negative work in order to prevent the tibia going away.  So yes, we focus on that and probably generally speaking it is good.

But at this same moment the anterior pelvic tilt happens, ipsilateral gluteus maximus force happens, contralateral iliopsoas lengthening happens.  So if you look at the entire movement you can see all this happening concomitantly (next to each other!).

I don’t know why we focus only on that (knee flexor strength).  In fact we see that there is no relationship between isolated testing and mechanical properties of sprinting.  That makes sense to me as the function of the biarticular hamstring muscle is totally different to what we are doing when we test in isolation.

If you compare the cross sectional area of a football player’s quadriceps and hamstrings with a non player, the quadriceps are equal but the hamstrings are greater.  But when you normalise with knee extension or knee flexion strength, it is less in football players.  This is probably because we are not testing how this group of muscles are functioning during sprinting.

We know that footballers have greater cross sectional area which means probably they are stronger, but when you normalise and measure knee flexion during isokinetic movement you have less hamstring compared to people who don’t do football.”

JM on injury prevention methods he would use if he was working in a Football club full-time

”This dichotomy of sprint versus nordic that is trending is totally wrong, and also dangerous.

Consider the this case study of an elite coach considering increasing stride length with a sub 10-second 100m sprinter to increase performance.

You need to be structurally prepared for the task that your coach (or the game) demands.

Therefore if his structure is not prepared to run in that way, he can have all of the strength in the world, but if you don’t correct his structural issues sprinting in that new way with the increased stride length for him it would be harmful.  Sprinting is not the new injury recipe either.  If the athlete is not prepared to run properly or does it wrong in terms of shape or volume the sprint will become counter productive 100%.

In fact, in football sprinting has become the new nordic.  If you hear coaches right now, they will tell you that you are old school if your players don’t sprint.  I think that’s not the right way to think.  If from your screening methods you interpret that the cause of your player’s injury is a decrease (lack) of strength, either from the hip or knee, the prescription of a strength programme in the gym will be adequate for sure.

But therefore the answer to your question is almost always, ”it depends.”  Do not apply anything as a recipe or established protocol.  Look what your athlete needs, because if not, as many people do, we can treat people by email or twitter without seeing the patient!”

JM on the use of the nordic in hamstring injuries

”The use of the nordic for more than 20 years has shown positive results, in relation to hamstring injury prevention.  Therefore we can say that as a general measure it seems that it has turned out to be advanced in it’s day.  But I wonder if right now it’s enough, according to the training methodology that is undertaken by most of the football teams that contain eccentric work in their programme and looking at the current epidemiology data showing no injury reduction.

I wonder too, if a single exercise satisfies the individual and multifactorial needs of the individual and the pathology.

Another thing in relation to your question, is the reason why eccentrics and the nordic exercise in particular is effective, because consistently too it has not been proven the prediction ability between eccentric strength level and injuries.

But it is true that there are architectural adaptations to eccentric strength such as:

  • alterations at the aponeurosis level
  • change in extracellular matrix with increasing collagen
  • change in protein isoform
  • dynamic pennation angle increases (to protect fascicle from lengthening)
  • tendon stiffness (increase in tendon compliance during sprinting results in a decrease in musculotendinous length).

A fatigue provoking protocol after eccentric exercise decreased tendon compliance and increased fascicle length and this can be related to different role of the tendon being compliant at low loads and intensities but acting as a force transducer and stiffening structure at high loads and highs.  No one as far as I know has analysed that after an eccentric strength intervention.

It is true that lately much attention has been paid to Fascicle Length as a possible injury protection mechanism to explain the positive effect of the nordics, with respect to hamstrings.  It has been suggested as a risk factor in football despite having a low association.  Theoretically, the idea is based on a hypothetical increase in sarcomerogenesis after eccentric work.  This assumes that the addition of sarcomeres in series in humans after eccentric exercise will protect the muscle from damage.

However, although theoretically supported I think that today with the technological knowledge we have with it is hard to demonstrate the relationship between fascicles and hamstring injury.

There are technical limitations on fascicle measurements.  We know too, that hamstring architecture changes throughout the muscle and only one region is measured. ”

Moreover, the measure is static, so we are assuming that what we are measuring statically will happen dynamically, without considering  muscle tendon interaction and behaviour.

 

JM on role of ‘activation’ work and its role as a risk factor for hamstring injury 

”In one prospective study no association between muscle activity and hamstring injury during isokinetic measuring was found.  But in contrast another study showed prospectively too, doing a prone hip extensor extension manoeuvre, a delayed hamstring recruitment compared to erectors in those players that after suffered an injury, with no difference in EMG amplitude at all.

Another study showed an association between decreased EMG activity of gluteus and trunk muscles and hamstring injury in a prospective study of football players sprinting overground.  (prospective definition- likely to happen at a future date).  But in terms of hamstring activity there was no association between EMG of biceps femoris and hamstring injury during follow up was found.

There is still equivocal data in the research comparing the reduction (or not) of bicep femoris EMG activity when comparing injured to non-injured leg, with some studies showing differences and others not.  But they use different techniques such as functional MRI and EMG, so it is difficult to compare because the physiological processes behind them are completely different.  There are also differences in the type of exercises used.

There could be something there, but we know at this point that EMG has limitations, it neglects regional hamstring activation, it has high variability and there is an inhibition during eccentric contraction and we have to account too for crosstalk.”

Individualisation of Hamstring Recruitment Profile

”Concurrently in hamstring muscles, the distribution of activation and the distribution of torque generating capacities varied greatly between individuals during a maximum knee flexor task on an isokinetic dynamometer.  Moreover, significant negative correlation was observed between the imbalance of hamstring activation muscle and the time to exhaustion.

This individual variability is not in isolation and has been confirmed in other muscle groups.  Regional EMG patterns are highly individual, and each individual maintains similar proximal to distal and inter-muscular EMG patterns across different running speeds.

This confirms the idea that activation sequence and patterns are very very individual  and that has made me wonder if the hamstring pattern is so individual, is there a gold standard?

  • How much can we rely on previously conducted studies knowing the variability between people?
  • Will it be necessary to change the pattern of activation after the injury?
  • Will it be as easy as changing the activation pattern during running and prescribe a hip dominant or knee dominant exercise?

With these questions I don’t mean that EMG pattern is not related to hamstring injury but we have to question things and we have to move further in this field to give more rigorous advice and opinions.

Currently there is not a gold standard, we don’t know if it is good or not to change the patterns of people after the injury has happened.”

JM on use of Isometrics in Hamstring injury reduction training

”I know that there is a debate about the isometric or eccentric behaviour of the fibre at the time of the injury.  It looks clear that towards the end of the swing phase during sprinting the hamstring muscle-tendon unit lengthens and the hamstring forces increase. But what about the muscle fascicle or fibres? Do they increase because the muscle is stretching, or decrease because of the force and activation increase?

I don’t think that anybody knows for sure right now!

Both visions (isometric and eccentric) share the idea of the inability of the fibres to withstand the mechanical forces imposed during sprinting.

If you want to reproduce the injury mechanism and the same behaviour and same adaptation to the muscle tendon and fascicle don’t jump between isometric and eccentric contractions- simply run!

But more relevant and important than the type of contraction is the time and velocity of the contraction depending on the effort that we want to create at the muscle tendon junction.

We will choose different parameters of time by increasing the contraction time or velocity depending on whether we want to reduce or increase stiffness and so on.   Control the time and velocity parameters that will induce different effects on the different structures.

Sometimes with the authors there is a mismatch between performance and injury.  With a more stiff structure that is good for performance but may not be as good from the injury perspective.

Author opinion:

At APA we always promote the use of using a range of methods to develop athleticism.  As Vern Gambetta once said, ‘Assess, Don’t Guess.”  The answer to the question concerning what the athlete needs is almost always, ”it depends.”  Do not apply anything as a recipe or established protocol.  Look what your athlete needs, because if not, as many people do, we can treat people by email or twitter without seeing the patient!”

 

Top 5 Take Away Points:

  1. Research– injury prevention programmes need to be directed to correctly and repeatedly perform the movement related to the injury mechanism
  2. Risk factors- multifactorial including anterior pelvic tilt, hip and trunk flexion and tendon stiffness
  3. Assessment- currently we assume that what me measure statically will happen dynamically
  4. Activation- patterns and sequence are very, very individual
  5. Velocity vs Contraction type- more important than the type of contraction is the velocity

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

Research Gate:

Jurdan Mendiguchia

You may also like from PPP:

Episode 252 Steve Saunders

Episode 248 Hamstring roundtable

Episode 243 Jack Hickey

 

Hope you have found this article useful.

Where I am next presenting?

 

Speed, Agility & Quickness for Sports Workshop

Date: 22nd Feb 2020, 09:00AM-13:00PM Location: Gosling Sports Park, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6XE

Book your spot HERE

 

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Hamstring Injuries- Part 1 of 2

This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 248 – Hamstring Injury 

Australian Catholic University

Website

Background: 

Josh  Ruddy– Running loads and hamstring injury risk.  Two years into PhD embedded with one of the AFL teams.  Looking at hamstring injury prediction.

Ryan Timmins– completed PhD, now supervising Josh- and working with elite soccer programme Melbourne Victory.  Looking at reducing injury risk.

Jack Hickey– clinical exercise physiologist, completed PhD and now sports rehab injury lecturing and research.  Looking at hamstring rehab.

 

Discussion topics:

JR on the contrast between academic research and real life

”The risk of finding nothing.

We try to grow our research projects around what the industry actually requires and what questions that they might have, so that in turn organically grows interest.”

JR on predicting hamstring injuries

”Background was studying high speed running loads and how that influences the risk of hamstring injuries.  High speed running and Workload in general is quite a hot topic.  Large weekly changes in high speed running loads increase the risk of hamstring injury.

Non modifiable

  • History of hamstring injury
  • Increasing age

Modifiable

  • Biceps femoris long head fascicle length
  • Low levels of eccentric hamstring strength
  • Workload (and in particular high speed running volume)

High speed running was considered to be distance covered above 24 km/h.  Approximately anything over in terms of a week to week change.  Doing 200 metres more than the previous week doubled your risk of injury.

It is really important to consider that the numbers and statistics reported in studies are actually really specific to the cohort from what they are derived.

Optimal threshold and optimal cut points are really only optimal from the particular cohort that they are derived.

They are derived from looking at injury rates above and below a specific thresholds and once they are determined you then actually retrospectively apply that threshold to that same cohort.  It might not necessarily be relevant when talking about other cohorts.  Sometimes people get too caught up in those numbers being hard and fast rules.  For example, it is thought that you need to be above 256 Newtons for eccentric hamstring strength at the start of pre-season or you are going to get injured.  When really they are just there to act as a guide.”

JR on predictive modelling

”It’s a pretty broad term, and there are a number of different facets and elements that fit under that umbrella term.  It is taking some data and identifying different patterns that occur within that data, and then applying what you’ve learnt from that initial data and applying it to a new data set.  The aim to predict specific outcomes at an individual level.

This is different to the research that looks at associations at a group level which will not allow us to predict specific outcomes at an individual level.  In practice we don’t really want to predict injuries.  We want to identify risk, mitigate risk and prevent those injuries from ever occurring.

In practice the way predictive modelling should be applied is to identify risk and mitigate risk so you have no injuries to predict!

At this point in time we can’t predict injuries with a degree of certainty.  Furthermore, predictive models and machine learning (computers learn and identify different patterns from a data set) require a large data set.  A couple of seasons of GPS data and injury rates doesn’t necessarily constitute big data.

RT on hamstring architecture overview

”Basis of my PhD the impact that muscle architecture may have in modifying risk of future injury.

Two dimensional ultrasound image of bicep femoris long head

  • Pennation angle– angle at which fibres insert into base of muscle (aponeurosis)
  • Fascicle length– bundle of muscle fibres (estimated from trigonometry)
  • Muscle thickness

We assume that number of sarcomere series could modify the amount of strain we can tolerate.  If we have more sarcomeres in series are we hypothetically able to withstand the effects of large amounts of repetitive damage (such as running, kicking, change of direction).

We assume that by having a longer fascicle we actually have more sarcomeres in series which are our smaller functioning units of muscles.  If we have more sarcomeres in series then in theory we will have better ability to withstand repeated eccentric contractions, or muscle damage.  And as a result have a better buffer against that risk of injury.

Ability to increase the eccentric overload in hamstrings such as exercises below will increase fascicle length by having more sarcomeres in series.

  • Nordics
  • 2 up, 1 down RDL
  • Kbox flywheel (squat to hinge)
  • or even leg curl 2 up, 1 down

RT on hamstring higher and lower volume interventions

How we can implement lower volume interventions and whether there are different adaptations to high volume interventions.  Whilst the nordic is a great exercise and reduces the incidence of injury the volume prescribed is quite high which means not everyone wants to do it.  We have found that with lower volume nordic hamstring training interventions we can promote similar muscle architecture and strength adaptations to that if we did a high volume intervention.  Although we didn’t look at injury risk as part of that study.

Following a decent dose during two-week pre-season (I’m assuming twice a week) those gains can be maintained with one times a week (2 sets of four nordics done at a really high intensity).

RT on hamstring injury risk

”In bigger stronger athletes like in rugby when their hamstring asymmetry is greater than 15% then the risk of injury doubles.

Less well trained athletes first step to improve risk of injury is improve the level of strength first

So its a two-part approach.  If you’re weak get strong.  If you’re strong, stay symmetrical.

Typically see average 305N across 180 athletes in Australian A-league football (soccer).

Very rare to pull below 350N in AFL.  Risk in asymmetry tends to occur around 450N in Rugby.

JH on asymmetries as part of the rehab process.

You have an individual athlete who comes in with an injury and you may not and actually rarely have any previous injury history on that individual.  So to benchmark their rehab we can use the strength of the contralateral non-injured side.  Yes we try to close those gaps but we make it clear to the athlete that we certainly don’t want to make your non-injured leg any weaker.  You want to train both the limbs as they will still be at risk of injury in their non-injured limb.

We can compare at the time of testing or at baseline when they started the rehab.  If it’s a short term hamstring injury of a few weeks that will be quite different to a 12-18 month ACL intervention.   It’s generally advised to use the non-injured limb at baseline as a control.

RT on alternatives to Nordics

”From a practical standpoint it is very hard to get 40 blokes to do a 45 degree roman chair 2-up 1-down on one piece of equipment (longer length hip dominant exercise).  Whereas it is much easier to get 40 blokes to do nordics on the side of the pitch.  So that creates some considerations for a squad wide intervention in terms of what equipment you have available to you to implement that and isn’t going to p@*s off the coach in the mean time.

Other considerations:

Can we make them stronger if we can’t implement a squad wide cohort level?

If guys have some spine issues we might need to find some other variations for them

Maybe some isometric exercise in addition to some really well prescribed high velocity sprinting intervention actually allows you to improve strength and fascicle length.  So 8-10 sprints throughout the week at greater than 95% maximum velocity.”

RT on use of Isometrics

”Both eccentric and isometric methods can live together in harmony. I don’t think you need to be in one camp or the other.

Currently there is no evidence that muscles (fascicles) undergo eccentric lengthening during sprinting.  The theory is that all of the lengthening that we see in the musculotendinous unit is actually just slack being taken out of the tendon and the muscle itself is just contracting isometrically to hold it’s shape.  So everyone in the isometric camp, goes, well that means we should just train isometrically to adapt to that isometric stimulus and as a result have the ability to withstand that risk of injury.  We have no evidence to suggest either way! So why throw it out the bin? It has a place.  The heavy isometric work might condition the tendon.

But there is a lot of research that eccentric training has beneficial adaptations and even injury risk reduction so the nordic has an important place in that programme as well.  So if you do both as well as do a well planned sprinting programme done regularly and you overload the hamstring you will cover most of the bases.”

JH on use of Isometrics

”There is room for both.  I suppose from a rehab point of view in terms of isometric exercise, one of the traditional approaches to acute muscle rehab they generally follow the progression guidelines of:

  • starting with low level isometrics
  • progressing to short length isotonic (concentric-eccentric)
  • introducing longer length and eccentrically biased exercises towards the end of the rehab

This has changed a little in recent times but at this point in time everything is theoretical.  So basing your whole approach of rehab around isometric training is flawed just as is basing your whole approach around eccentric training is probably somewhat flawed as well.

There are certainly some high level variations of isometrics that may have some benefit and certainly some transfer to high speed running.  But the biggest problem we have right now is that we just don’t have the evidence and that’s where we need more research.

To some extent we disagree with the traditional model of rehab just because we don’t believe there is ever a point in time where you should only be doing one type of contraction mode.

It makes more sense to do all types of contraction mode from the start right through the rehab, but just do it at an appropriate intensity.

Ultimately there needs to be more research to shed light on these topics, but it is clear there is benefit from a range of contraction modes.

Author opinion:

At APA we always promote the use of using a range of exercises, that require a mixture of physical capabilities- it’s just the focus and intensity of those exercises that changes at a given point in time.

For this reason APA would agree with the recommendations to include a range of isometric, isotonic and eccentric exercises and maintain an appropriate balance based on the needs of the individual.

 

Top 5 Take Away Points:

  1. Research– grow research projects around what the industry actually requires and what questions that they might have
  2. High speed running– Large weekly changes in high speed running loads increase the risk of hamstring injury
  3. Numbers– don’t get too caught up in the numbers! Thresholds and cut offs might not necessarily be relevant when talking about other cohorts
  4. Importance of strength- if you’re weak get strong.  If you’re strong, get symmetrical
  5. Variety is the spice of life

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

Twitter:

@joshua_ruddy / joshua.ruddy@acu.edu.au

@jackhickey89 /  jack.hickey@acu.edu.au

@ryan_timminds / ryan.timminds@acu.edu.au

You may also like from PPP:

Episode 55 JB Morin

Episode 217, 51 Derek Evely

Episode 212 Boo Schexnayder

Episode 207, 3 Mike Young

Episode 204, 64 James Wild

Episode 192 Sprint Masterclass

Episode 183 Derek Hansen

Episode 175 Jason Hettler

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, clickhere 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 227 JB Morin

This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 227 – JB Morin

JB Morin

Website

Background: 

Jean-Benoit Morin, often known as JB Morin, is a full professor at the University of Nice in France.  He has a PhD around sprinting and sprint mechanics.

Discussion topics:

JB on the contrast between academic research and real life

”It’s very, very important to me to go and see people at the elite level, to see the real life issues, and the real life context.  In my opinion, it’s a way to ask better questions, it’s a way to challenge what we do, and it’s a way, I think, to better design what we do.

The main issue is that when people work with athletes, they work with individuals, and they work with individual changes in everything.  When they read research they see group results, and we all know that group results can be influenced by individual variability.  For example, you can see some group results that totally contradict some of your single player’s behaviours.  Sometimes applying the group result to a single player might not be effective.”

JB with an overview of what Force-Velocity Profiling is

  1. High Force- Low velocity
  2. Mod high Force- mod low velocity
  3. Mod high velocity- mod low force
  4. High Velocity- Low Force

”What we call profiling means building and assessing the individual spectrum of the force output at various possible velocities of motion.  We know that every load, every velocity is associated with a different level of force output.

What we understand from the F-V spectrum analysis is that if you analyse performance through a single load velocity condition, like you do a jump test or a 30-metre sprint, you only have one point of information.”

JB on some of the tools and simplified methods to monitor accurately in field conditions

  • My Jump app
  • My Sprint app

”With my friend Pierre Samozino we published some equations that allowed us to profile people out of the laboratory, and we confirmed these equations against reference devices.  Then some Spanish colleagues designed some Apple apps to measure the input easily in the field.  One of these is My Jump, the other app is My Sprint.  I have absolutely no conflict of interest.  I make zero money on what they sell.

These apps only measure accurately the inputs that are needed for our equations to calculate the mechanical outputs.”

JB on how to develop an optimal profile for horizontal or vertical force velocity

”We have computed the optimal profile.  The idea is very simple.  You can have the same 30-metre time with very different force-velocity spectrums.  And our question was does the force-velocity spectrum influence your performance, because we know that for the same Pmax we can have different profiles.

I can say now that yes, there is an optimal profile for sprint performance.  It depends on the distance you want to optimise, so it will not be the same for a 20-metre than for a 60-metre.  And so depending on your actual profile and the optimal profile we calculate, we have a better way to individualise the training.

The funny thing is that we have taken the 40-metre distance, and the actual profile of Usain Bolt, and we concluded that for his world record his F-V profile for that distance was not optimal.  It means that by having a different profile than he had, he could have run the first 40-metres faster.”

      JB on what the Force-velocity profile actually looks like 

      ”The analysis of the profile is velocity based force output.  Basically in sprinting and jumping, the profile looks linear.  It’s clearly linear even if the muscle cells or the muscle fibres have a hyperbolic F-V profile.  But when you do a global multi-joint exercises it’s linear, and so it goes from your maximum theoretical force output, down to your maximum theoretical velocity output.

      Then, our approach is to say where is your weakness on that curve? For example, if you’re someone who does only five 10-metre sprints, like a basketball player, maybe if you have a weakness on the V0 end, it’s not going to be a big issue because your sport doesn’t require a high V0.  If you are the same guy with the very same profile but you’re a 100 metre sprinter then yes, you will need to work on that.”

      JB on Resisted sprints and where we are at in terms of the research

      ”If you use zero resistance, you will sprint for a couple of seconds close to your V0 and then the higher the resistance the closer you will sprint to your F0.  Resistance is a way to set the running velocity, because there’s a clear relationship.

      Research wise until 2017, there had been some research on resisted sprints, but only 10% body mass let’s say.  I will not talk body mass, I will talk decreasing speed.  So 10% decreasing speed, or 20% decrease or maximum 30% decrease, and there was no research on other parts of the spectrum.  So it means the complete left side of that spectrum, even the middle side had not been investigated.  And even to date, there’s only one single study using loads that decrease your velocity by more than 70-80% which we call ‘heavy sleds’ or heavy loads.

      The problem with using percentage of body mass is that it can lead to very different resisted forces according to the surface, for example dry versus wet turf or concrete versus grass.  So it’s better to calculate as a percentage of velocity decrease. But to do that, we need to measure velocity. The best way is to set the load as a function of the decrement in velocity we want to observe.”

      JB on how resisted sprints can effect athletes mechanically in terms of what their actual sprinting will look like

      ”We need to be very careful between acute changes, which means how they run while pulling that resistance, and obviously some things change.  Yes of course the running pattern will change when you pull a heavy load.  But the big question is not acute changes.  It’s chronic changes. And to date there has been no study on heavy loads and how the sprint pattern changes.  How do the acute changes interact with sprint performance?  What do we want? We want people to run fast, okay? We have to put that as a balance between changes in sprint kinematics and changes in sprint performance”

      Author opinion:

      I’ll break scientific convention here for once and speak in first person!

      I have personally listened to JB Morin speak in the UK on three separate occasions and I have used the Force-Velocity profile with one of my athletes. Even after listening to the presentations, this podcast and reading the journal articles I’m still not 100% clear but one of the key concepts I have needed to get my head around is what JB means by ‘optimal.’

      Where I think we have got things confused (or at least I have), is in terms of where certain types of activities fit on a Force-Velocity curve,  Below is an example of one of the more accurate interpretations in my opinion.  I say this because it puts jumps closer to the middle of the curve.  If you’re not convinced just look at the velocities of sprinting versus jumps.  Jumping take off velocity is much slower than sprinting velocity.

       

      My understanding is that we can assume that for most athletes doing a squat jump or countermovement jump, the ‘optimal’ jump performance should occur at their own body mass.  If it doesn’t it’s because they don’t have the optimum balance between force and velocity qualities.  In my head I am visualizing a body mass squat jump as being roughly in the middle of the F-V spectrum and so intuitively it requires a balance of force and velocity to perform it well (otherwise it wouldn’t be in the middle)!

      Furthermore, the relative difference between actual and optimal represents the magnitude and the direction of the unfavorable balance between force and velocity qualities.  The goal of training therefore is to identify the imbalance (Force Deficit or Velocity Deficit or Well-Balanced) and then carry out an individualised training programme that will target different parts of the F-V curve.

      A word of caution: A Case Study

      I wanted to give you a bit of real world feedback on my experiences of using the spreadsheet that JB has made available on his website.  A bit of background, I asked my athlete who is a 60kg female elite athlete to do this test early in her winter training and again towards the end of it.  During the same week she did a 1-RM prediction of back squat using a Gym aware with submaximal loads up to 85% 1RM.

      I also used a Carmelo Bosco formula (which was inspired by my reading of Jeremy Sheppard’s work) to determine what percentage of her body mass squat jump height she could reach with 50% (speed-strength) and 100% (strength-speed) of her body mass loaded on her back.

      Initial findings:

      Initial feedback from the squat, the Carmelo Bosco formula and the F-V profile (34% of the optimal) was that she was Force Deficit. So I spent the winter period making sure there was a strong emphasis on maximal strength.

      When I did my analysis of the training block I was delighted that she had gone from 107kg to 141kg back squat, her speed-strength percentage had shifted from 57% to 61% (65% was the target) and the strength-speed percentage had shifted from 13 to 23% (35% is the target).  We still have a way to go but a 10% improvement of strength-speed was great in my book.

      When I did the F-V profile re-test it only went from 34% optimal to 38%.  I was perplexed!!!!

      Thankfully JB was kind enough to take a look at my spreadsheet and the first thing he said was- ”Daz- you cannot use this data unless the R2 value is at least 0.95.”  All the validation studies required this level of correlation.  JB said that in the piloting period he found that in less well trained athletes such as some of the youth volleyball players he worked with they also had lower R2 values and a lot of this was to do with poor technique.

      Looking back, my athlete was not doing lots of heavy squat jumps in the training so her main exposure to the task was during the actual testing.  JB said he was confident that without looking at the video he would imagine that she did not perform the exercise well with loads.  So it didn’t allow you to see the improvement in her F0 that was probably there.

      He also highlighted that she didn’t have a nice enough spread of loads.  In one instance where she attempted four loads, the final load was too close to the penultimate load so this creates a bit of noise.  In the case of the re-test, she did attempt 100% body mass but because her technique wasn’t great, the extra spread in data was most probably offset by poor mechanics!

      So the lesson is check your R2 values and to ensure they are very high, make sure the athlete is very competent in the task, and the loading is spread evenly across a range of loads.

       

      Top 5 Take Away Points: 

      1. Individualisation– new approaches to academic data analysis should consider the group response and also the individual response
      2. Build a profile of the athlete– don’t just look at split times and jump height, look at how they sprint and jump and use a F-V profile to see the imbalances!
      3. Resisted sprints– set the load as a function of the decrement in velocity you want to observe
      4. Valid data is key– the correlation R2 value needs to be 0.95 for meaningful interpretation of the F-V profile
      5. Decide what’s important– Do you want technically perfect athletes with a consistent sprint technique or faster athletes? Any acute disturbances in mechanics from resisted loads must be balanced with long term improvement in sprint times!

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

      Email: jean-benoit.morin@unice.fr

      You may also like from PPP:

      Episode 55 JB Morin

      Episode 217, 51 Derek Evely

      Episode 212 Boo Schexnayder

      Episode 207, 3 Mike Young

      Episode 204, 64 James Wild

      Episode 192 Sprint Masterclass

      Episode 183 Derek Hansen

      Episode 175 Jason Hettler

      Episode 87 Dan Pfaff

      Episode 55 Jonas Dodoo

      Episode 15 Carl Valle

      Hope you have found this article useful.

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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

      => Follow us on Facebook

      => Follow us on Instagram

      => Follow us on Twitter

      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

       

      Hope you have found this article useful.

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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

       

      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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