This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 183 – Derek Hansen.
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.
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.
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:
You may also like from PPP:
Episode 227, 55 JB Morin
Episode 217, 51 Derek Evely
Episode 207, 3 Mike Young
Episode 204, 64 James Wild
Episode 192 Sprint Masterclass
Episode 175 Jason Hettler
Episode 87 Dan Pfaff
Episode 55 Jonas Dodoo
Episode 15 Carl Valle
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