Pacey Performance Podcast REVIEW – Episode 385 Paul Comfort – Part 2

This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 385 – Paul Comfort

 

The majority of the episode focuses on isometric training.   Due to the amount and quality of information the full podcast review will be split up into two parts.  This is a Part 2 of 2, which will focus on practical applications of isometric training and eccentric training.   Click here to read Part 1.

Paul Comfort

 

Paul Comfort is a Reader in Strength and Conditioning and programme leader for the MSc Strength and Conditioning at the University of Salford, and is this week’s guest on the Pacey Performance Podcast. He’s here to talk to Rob about isometric testing and training, and why there has been a recent resurgence in its popularity.

 

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🔊 Listen to the full episode here

 

Discussion topics:

 

Isometric Testing & dynamic performance

 

”Just try to make this transition over into the isometric training side of things. And I probably should have mentioned this at the start actually, what are the links to dynamic performance when doing isometric testing? How is that link made?”

 

”So if you look at something like the isometric mid thigh pull or the isometric squat, there’s a huge number of studies out there that show strong correlations between your ability to produce very high forces, so the peak force or peak force relative to mass, and performance in other dynamic strength tests or tasks. So 1RM squat, 1RM deadlift, snatch, power snatch, clean, power clean performance, etc. And in weightlifters, they’re almost perfect correlations, which isn’t surprising because they’re so used to getting into those positions for the isometric mid thigh pull.  But even if we look at how they relate to things like sprint performance, jump performance, there are still strong correlations there. Now correlation doesn’t mean cause and effect just because there’s a strong correlation. It doesn’t mean if we increase peak force in an isometric mid thigh pull, you will increase your 1RM performance or your sprint performance.

 

However, there are a few studies out there that do indicate that as your peak force increases, your ability to accelerate increases. Or as force at a specific time point increases, your ability to accelerate during a sprint or a jump, etc increases. Now that makes sense if we go back to your basic biomechanics, because we know that it’s your relative net impulse, with impulse being force x time and relative meaning dividing it by your body mass. As long as your body mass stays the same, if you can increase the amount of force you produce in the same given time point, your ability to accelerate will have increased.

 

 

Now when we evaluate it in a isometric task, then we’ve got to hope that the athlete can actually use that force and still produce a higher force in the same time frame when they perform their dynamic task. But if you’ve got the right balance between what you’re doing in the weight room, and their skill specific training, the sprint drills you might do, the jump training, the bounding and plyometrics. If you’ve got the right balance there, you should get that transference. No amount of work in the weight room will immediately transfer to a really highly skilled task. But even just on observation, if you get somebody much stronger and their peak force goes up and then their force at 150 milliseconds goes up, their ability to accelerate when they’re sprinting, jumping, does start to improve.

 

There is sometimes a lag time. So the problem with some of the research is that you do a four week or a six week block of training. You get to the end of that block and you retest them [without doing a deload first]. Well, actually, if you’ve used progressive overload, which we should all be doing, you’ve had a progressive increase in possibly load or intensity, definitely in volume. And therefore we’ve added fatigue across that few weeks of training, whether it’s four or six weeks. And you look at some studies, there’s not an unloading week, there’s not a deload week, but that’s what we do when we train people normally. You have an accumulation of fatigue during that three, four, five, six week buildup. And then we have a week where we back off, we deload, we taper, whatever term you want to use for it, then retest them when fatigue is dissipated.

 

 

And the reason I mention that is if you look at a lot Dr. Andy Fries early work on overreaching, over training, they really battered people. Some of their training programmes, you look at them and think how the hell did people get through that? And you find that peak force or their maximum strength is pretty stable. It doesn’t decrease dramatically. You can push people really hard and maximum force production doesn’t go down. But their ability to produce force rapidly decreases. So if we’ve got a similar approach where we’ve got a progressive increase in volume and we then test them right at the end of that block, it’s not surprising that you’re going to see a slight decrease in their ability to produce force rapidly because they’re fatigued. So we need that appropriate deload or taper before we retest.

 

And it doesn’t always happen within the research. Partly due to time constraints, partly due to them getting the athletes to actually take a bit of time off. And sometimes because people just don’t know any better, which is problematic in itself. So, there is that strong correlation, but it all comes down to your ability to produce force, high forces in a short duration, which is why it’s so important to have that. If we do an isometric testing to really try and quantify how much force they can produce in a certain time point, because that will indicate that they can generate a greater impulse and therefore if they can apply that greater impulse during sports specific tasks, we will get greater acceleration, whether that’s of their mass or whether that’s of an object they’re throwing or whatever it might be.”

 

Isometric Training

 

”Transitioning to the isometric training side. So as you’ve said right at the start, this is a complementary method of training to your traditional strength training, but just taking it back again, what are the benefits of isometric training and what areas does it plug that traditional strength training maybe doesn’t?”

 

”Well, I think one of the things that’s really useful is it’s minimally fatiguing. So because you are actually not moving through a large range of motion and you can easily control the duration of each isometric muscle action, you can minimize fatigue. It doesn’t have the eccentric component in there, which we get with traditional strength training, which while really beneficial, actually, if you are using an unfamiliar task may cause muscle damage, may cause DOMS, pain, inhibition and that’s one of the concerns with athletes when you introduce a new stimulus is if they come back in a day or two later complaining to the medical staff that they’re really sore. Some of them, if they’re not used to that type of training, we’ll be saying they’ve pulled the hamstring or they’ve pulled the groin or whatever.  No, you are just sore because you don’t train hard enough.  That’s what happens most of the time. It’s unlikely they’ll have pulled something in a structured weight training programme or resistance training programme if you’ve been appropriately progressive in nature. So it’s not as fatiguing.

 

And then the other benefit is everyone has sticking points during certain exercises. You start trying to do a squat, a deadlift, if you fail, there’s always a specific point you’ll fail at, normally somewhere midpoint through the range of motion, depending on where your weakness is. So you can train people in those weak positions and that can help them get through those sticking points.

 

 

And you can do that without adding a huge amount of extra volume. But as I mentioned earlier, and as you’ve just restated, it isn’t a substitute for your standard resistance training. Otherwise you’d have to train at so many different joint angles to get that transference throughout that full range of motion that you’d end up with all sorts of issues in terms of time.  For example, I’ve been trying to do an isometric squat. It’s taken me an hour to get all these different positions for enough repetitions with enough force while that was really counterproductive because I could have done that just with a few sets of squats doing a dynamic squatting type task.

 

So, you know, there are some benefits, but you’ve also got to take a step back and think, what do I really need from this?”

 

”What does the research say around that transference of specific positions? So if I’m training at a particular angle, what’s the transference?”

 

”Well, a lot of the early research seems to indicate that you’re looking at plus or minus 15 degrees from the joint angle you were training at. And that seems to be correct if you are just doing isometric training. Some of the more recent studies that have been published seem to show a slightly greater range, but that is when they’re combined with dynamic heavy strength training. So that probably helps with that transference, because you’re still doing other training and that’s the problem you get sometimes when we’ve got to do really well controlled studies in very controlled environments so that we know that whatever our intervention is, is what’s had the effect.

 

But then we also have to do those studies where they’re more ecologically valid. They are what we would do in an applied environment. So they are what we’re going to do with our football team, with our rugby team, with whatever that sport is. And then that’s when we seem to find that either what was done in that control lab environment doesn’t work or it doesn’t work as well; or sometimes, oh my God, this works much better because it’s in addition to other types of training. Some of the early studies on isometric training showed an increase in rate force development, but a decrease in jump performance. Well, how does that work? You would assume that if your rate force development increases, your jump performance should increase, but actually they were assessing rate of force development during a single joint isometric task. And then comparing that to jump performance where you’ve been training at zero velocity for the last six weeks.

 

So, and your jump height is determined by your velocity at takeoff and you are used to training at zero velocity. So is that really surprising when we think about specificity of training that your jump height decreased? No, it’s probably not. But again, look at the studies where it’s combined as an addition to your normal training and we tend to get beneficial adaptations. And it’s not just about the performance side of things, there’s a lot of research showing the benefits for isometric type training. As an analgesic, if you’ve got tendon pain before training in competition, actually to create adaptations in your tendons to make them stiffer, to increase the amount of collagen, etc. So they’re more resilient to stress strain and therefore injury.

 

However, bear in mind a tendon doesn’t know what type of muscle actions are occurring. It’s just got stress and strain applied to it.  But the benefit is it’s very, very controlled when it’s isometric. And if somebody has got a bit of pain, you can ramp that up progressively. Whereas it’s not quite the same because you suddenly throw them into a plyometric task.”

 

”In terms of the manipulating the variables when it comes to isometrics and potential recommendations, how can we manipulate isometric to get what we want? And if there’s any recommendations out there, that would be great?”

 

”If you look across the research, it’s pretty varied. I don’t think there is a true consensus because the studies are set up to get different results. Some are tendon related, some are for performance. If you think about it practically, if you identify where someone’s weak point is, that point that they slow down,  unintentionally during an exercise. So if you are going to use an isometric squat to supplement your dynamic squat training, find what that sticking point is. Find the point that they’re really having to grind through and you don’t need to assess velocity of the movement. That point with a heavy load where they really start struggling, we can all see that. They can tell you that posture. They know it because they thought they were going to fail at that point.

 

That’s the point that their face goes purple as well. So it’s really easy to spot. So actually doing some repetitions, not necessarily for a prolonged duration because you still want a really high effort. And again, the problem is if we do a really prolonged duration and a near maximal effort, we will induce fatigue. So you’re looking at your three to five second efforts, we know that you should be able to achieve peak isometric force in under two seconds. And from looking at all the forced time data that I’ve collected with isometric squats and mid thigh pulls, within five seconds, everyone’s force production starts to go down. So if you’re looking at a three to five second effort near maximum, I personally find that to be one of the most effective ways of getting people to get through sticking points. And we also want to train our athletes to express force rapidly.

 

So actually doing really prolonged holds may be grate for rehabilitation purposes. And if somebody’s had a niggling injury and that’s continued, that might be really, really beneficial, but from a performance point of view, doing three to five repetitions, three to five seconds per effort. And if you can assess that with a strain gauge or with a force plate setup, that will give you some additional feedback, but even without that you can tell if they’re working hard or not.  Watch an athletes’ face, are they holding their breath? Are they gasping for breath when they finished a repetition? Are they shaking during the task? Most people will. So you can see most of that without the strain gauge or without an isometric mid thigh pull. But actually if you’ve got the force plate to do this type of testing during their training you can also get people really competitive.

 

So if you and I were training, we can both, if we’re sort of a similar stature, we can both get onto a force plate, and do an isometric squat. I do a five second effort. Step away, you do a five second effort and we compete against each other. You’re really going to get maximal buy-in and maximum intent then. And you might not need to do it with your whole squad. There may be some athletes you think, right, this will be really useful for them. And again, a good way of sort of judging those joint angles based on where you perceive their weaknesses to be. And that’s easy during some of those dynamic strength exercises. You’ll really see that.”

 

Eccentric Training

 

”I’m just conscious that we’ve talked about isometrics been supplementary and not to miss out eccentric and concentric contractions, which you’ve mentioned as well. So where does eccentric focus training fit into this and what are the benefits? What we can gain from eccentric training?”

 

”So with eccentric we can again get really, really high forces being produced. We’ve got to implement that eccentric load appropriately though. And I’ll come to that in a moment. We know that if you’ve got a high eccentric load, which is greater than the load during a concentric task, that we can increase fascicle lengths. And if we can increase muscle fascicle lengths, we increase the potential for those fascicles to shorten at higher velocity. So I’ll try not to go off topic here, but if you look at the force velocity relationship, the majority of people get that wrong and I’ll hold my hands up. I’ve probably made that worse with some figures I’ve put in publications, textbooks, etc, but the force velocity relationship comes from fascicle shortening velocity and individual fascicles and the amount of force they can generate.

 

It’s not movement velocity, which is how most people interpret it. So it’s how quickly your fascicle can shorten. Now if your fascicles shorten more rapidly because they’re longer and you’ve got the optimal pennation angle for that, you will undoubtedly get a higher movement velocity from those individuals.  Eccentric training increases fascicle length because you are getting the muscles being stretched while it’s producing a high force. And that’s the key. You need a high force, so you can do tempo type eccentric training. We can get people lowering down over a prolonged period of time. That increases time under tension that may create a hypertrophic stimulus where we get more muscle mass. But it’s not truly eccentric training.  You’re moving at a really low velocity. 

 

[Personal communication with Paul: ”it’s not truly eccentric training because as was stated earlier, a high eccentric load has to be one which is greater than the load during a concentric task, in order to increase increase fascicle lengths.  tempo training prescriptions are usually around 80-85% 1RM for 3-5 seconds lower and you the lift it back up concentrically.  This is a good introduction to the controlled tempos but the load is insufficient to overload the eccentric component.] 

 

The goal of eccentrics is to get a higher force at a higher velocity but how you train that in the weight room is focus on the higher focus component. Imagine trying to squat down quickly with a high load.  That doesn’t happen if you are squatting and you put extra weight on the bar. If you want to move at high velocity, you relax and gravity accelerates you down. You can’t move any quicker than just relaxing and letting gravity push you to the floor. With safety bars and stuff like that in your power rack, obviously you don’t want to get squashed or crush your athlete.  So the key thing is if you are trying to apply really high force or using a high load, the eccentrics in that situation with multi-joint movements need to be slow and controlled.

 

Personally, if I’m doing it and I’m trying to use an eccentric overload, I’ll do a front squat because it’s so easy to drop the bar rather than a back squat. You’ve got to be good at jumping out from under that bar if you start to move too fast or have it set up inside a rack with the safety bar set just around your minimum squat, your maximum squat depth, the minimum height you’re going to achieve.

 

They’re really, really beneficial, but again, as an addition to your normal training. Now, if you’ve got no equipment and I’ll just stick with a squat as an example, because it’s probably the easiest one. If we want to create eccentric overload, go above your 1RM, set those safety pins. Go to about your maximum squat depth and do a very slow controlled squat. Probably going to take three to five seconds to get down there. If you think about when you’re going for a 1RM anyway, you squat down slowly. You don’t go down rapidly, because you’re going to get squashed. So you go down slow. If you’ve gone 10% above that (concentric 1RM), you’ll go down slower. The only problem is then you need a couple of strong people to lift that bar back up or you need to unload it and then lift it backup.

 

So it’s not always practical. There are some commercial devices on the market where you can do that and it’ll winch it back for you. But most people won’t have those. The other option is to use weight releasers, the j hooks that hang on the end of the bar, you can put weight on it. You get to the floor, they’ve got an angle on them, so they’ll actually flip off when you get to the bottom. Just make sure you set the height of those weight releasers, five to eight centimetres longer than you need so that when you get to the bottom of your squat or whatever lift you are doing, that they do release and make sure you’re symmetrical when you squat down because if one comes off one side and not the other, you’re in a whole world of trouble there.

 

 

So practice it with the warm-up weights and slowly build up. And you’ve got a whole range of things you can do with that. You can do it to almost try and potentiate or enhance your propulsive phase. So you could put 80% of your 1RM on the bar, 30% of your concentric or your traditional 1RM on the weight releases, you’ve got 110% 1RM. Squat down, then release, and then you come up as explosively or fast as you can. You can use it for hypertrophy as well. So we get that increased time under tension on the way down and we can use it for actually just getting that higher eccentric stimulus. As long as you squat, you get back to the top and then two people hook the weights back on for you.

 

The nice thing is for that you can end up doing that as a cluster set. Somebody put the weights on, you then pick the bar back up, step back, squat again. It takes a little bit longer, but actually you do less volume if you’re doing that high loads eccentric type training because it does create some muscle damage.

 

Now the other thing to bear in mind with this is that muscle damage is not a bad thing because it gives you the repeated bout effect. And it’s not just from eccentric training. You get that just from a novel stimulus. So if you’ve been focusing bilateral training, front squat, back squats, deadlifts, and you suddenly throw in a load of split squats, lunges, rear elevated split squats, you’ll ache in different places. The next day you’ll feel it more in your glutes and you groin, etc, because you’re stabilizing.

 

That’s not because it was a much higher load. It might have been a lower load overall. If you work out the total load lifted, it might be a lower volume. But it’s a novel stimulus. So when you introduce a novel stimulus, whether eccentric or whether they’re just going from bilateral dominant to unilateral, ideally build it in progressively because you will get a little bit sore, but that initial bout of, especially if it’s eccentric training, protects you against some of that muscle damage and the soreness and the inhibition during the subsequent bout. So your first bout, do a really low volume. If you’re doing it with squats, maybe do it on your first repetition of a squat or weight releasers. So if you’re training at 80% of 1RM, you put that extra 30% on, so you lower 110% your 1RM.

 

Do do it for one rep. Your first rep of a set and do it on the first rep, maybe the three or four sets. That is likely to give you a protective effect. Next time you can do it within the set. You know, you can cluster your set. If you’re doing sets of six, rep one as the weight releases on, then you do two and three normally, rank the bar, put the weight releases back on, do rep four with the weight releases five and six or without you’ve doubled the volume of eccentric training. So build it up progressively, because the last thing you want is your athletes coming back in telling you how much they’re aching the next day, turning around to the coach saying that they’re in bits, turning around to the medical staff because they won’t want you doing that type of training again, but it can be really beneficial.

 

And the few studies that are out there that there’s one by Mellissa Harden, where she used a control group trained athletes and some very well trained athletes. It was some GB cyclists, and they showed within a four week period substantial improvements in maximum and rapid force production from doing that type of training, using an eccentric leg press. Now there is an issue with that. No one else has access to that eccentric leg press apart from British cycling, but hey it worked. It shows, you know, the theory holds true. There’s a couple of studies by Simon Walker, which I think both Rob Newton, Keijo Häkkinen and Gregory Haff were part of that research group at that point, looking at different types of eccentric training in a more applied environment, more ecologically valid. So not just isolated, single joint eccentric training. And again, they’ve shown big increases in a short duration.

 

But again with a relatively conservative loading paradigm that they’ve used and I think that’s the key thing is you have to do a small amount because we know it will create some muscle damage. So be conservative with it. A lot of the research, researchers will say, we need to get this stimulus. We need to make sure it has a positive effect, but you know, if you turn around, look at some of the early studies on Nordics where they were doing 50 plus repetitions in a week, or sets of 10. I know after three, my subsequent reps are pretty poor because it feels like everything’s going to cramp up. And we now know that those lower volumes are maybe not quite as effective, but you get much better adherence and longer term, they will be more effective.

 

So you’ve really got to be conservative with how you apply that eccentric load. There’s lots of different ways to do it. But there are some pretty simple and easy to apply options in a normal setting if you haven’t got specialist equipment. And the weight releasers you can buy those for probably 200 pounds or if you know anybody that’s good with metal work, they can probably make some for you.”

 

Top 5 Take Away Points:

  1.  Isometric training/testing – use it for maintenance of strength during periods of fixture congestion.
  2.  KPIs for isometrics – Peak Force (relative to body mass)and Rate of Force Development (RFD)
  3.  Validity/Reliability – be aware of different time points used for testing and also the different tests (isometric squat vs IMTP, and 50, 100, 50 ms etc).
  4.  Time period of isometric – for peak force perform 3-5 trials of up to 4-5 seconds and for RFD use a 1-second explosive effort.
  5.  Strain gauges could be a less expensive alternative to force plates, but will be less reliable.  Likewise single joint tests will be more useful than multi-joint isometric assessments.

 

Want more info on the stuff we have spoken about?

 

Paul Comfort Research Gate

You may also like from PPP:

 

Episode 383 James Moore

Episode 380 Alastair McBurnie & Tom Dos’Santos

Episode 372 Jeremy Sheppard & Dana Agar Newman

Episode 367 Gareth Sandford

Episode 362 Matt Van Dyke

Episode 361 John Wagle

Episode 359 Damien Harper

Episode 348 Keith Barr

Episode 331 Danny Lum

Episode 298 PJ Vazel

Episode 297 Cam Jose

Episode 295 Jonas Dodoo

Episode 292 Loren Landow

Episode 286 Stu McMillan

Episode 272 Hakan Anderrson

Episode 227, 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

 

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Pacey Performance Podcast REVIEW – Episode 383 James Moore

This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 383 – James Moore

James Moore

 

James is the leader of the specialist physiotherapy team at the Centre for Health and Human Performance (CHHP) in Harley Street.  James has 25 years of experience in physio, graduating with an honours degree in physiotherapy from Kings College London. He was Clinical Lead Physiotherapist to the English Institute of Sport, with a special affiliation to UK Athletics. He spent a period of time working as Head of Medicine for Saracens RFC, before moving on to manage the intensive rehabilitation unit (IRU) at Bisham Abbey for British Olympic Association and was Head of Performance Services for the British Olympic Association and Deputy Chef de Mission for the Rio 2016 Olympics and beyond. He is currently in clinic two days a week and also has a number of consultancies including with Andy Murray.

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? Listen to the full episode here

 

Discussion topics:

 

”Would you be able to talk to us about Andy Murray’s progress, is he on track for where he wants to be at this point in the rehab and the return to performance journey?

 

”From a physical point of view we are in a really really good place.  He played nearly 12-13 weeks in a row last year at the end of the season off the back of having some pretty major niggles and came through that without any issues.  He has come through the Australian Open including a 4 hour match.  Andy’s expectation is super super high and rightly so – he’s still got the talent, he’s still got the skills, he’s still got the tennis IQ to play at the highest level.

 

There is no substitute for what is in essence four years of competitive play, if you go back to 2016 I think he played 87 matches when he was world number 1 and last year we played about 40, so we are at about 50% and so you need to build that tolerance up and that 10% top end fitness.

 

 

His V02max is low 60s which is great, but at his best he was low 70s (ml/kg/min).  He’s strong, he’s deadlifting 270 kg, quarter squatting 260 kg at 84 kg and can produce 1500 W on a Watt bike so physically we are in a good place and what we need to do now is transfer that into the consistency on the tennis court.  That just takes time, good coaching and continuity from the rest of the team to help him deliver.”

 

”Why do athletes get hip and groin pain in the first place?”

 

”I don’t know that we have all of the answers yet.  Do we have the exact aetiology?  [MEDICINE- the cause, set of causes, or manner of causation of a disease or condition.]  I don’t think we do.  I think we have strong indicators, for example, we know that if you play a kicking sport (football, rugby, Aussie rules, Gaelic etc) you have a much higher percentage chance (you’re probably 3 x more likely to overload your pubic joint and your adductors) than you are in any other sport.

 

However, when you start to shift from a kicking sport to twisting/turning sports (non primary based running sports so badminton, squash, tennis, ice hockey, short track speed skating), yes you might run as part of your conditioning to supplement the sport but it’s not a primary requirement of what you have to do in the sport.  Yes, you’re sprinting on the Tennis court but you may be covering 3 km in a two-three hour match, and we know that when you twist you increase your risk of hip related injuries.

 

We also know that if you run in a straight line you also really increase your risk of hip related injuries and a lot of that comes down to the cumulative repetitive force within the joint and what we know is that bones don’t like reciprocal movement- the same movement over and over again, so running in a straight line is generally one of the worse things you can do for bones.

 

We also know that women as a rule will have a lot higher risk of running related injuries in the hip and men as a rule will have a much higher risk of groin related injuries.  So when you put all that together, I think it’s really hard to find a place to hide on the sports field.

 

The lumbo-pelvic-hip complex as a unit is the hub for power creation in speed and power based athletes.  Yes, the soleus might be one of the strongest muscles in the body, if not the strongest, but when you’re really looking at peak torque in high level sprinting and running and kicking, you’re talking way over 9 x bodyweight of impact loading and in the triple jump it is 15 x bodyweight going through the hip!  So the forces are just huge and then it just comes down to capacity, tolerance and how much you can build up.  I would just call it supply and demand – there is a huge demand from the sport, and then you have got to build up the supply for the individual.

 

 

If you don’t get that right, in terms of training capacity and/or individual capacity, that’s when you’re potentially going to get an overload and injury.”

 

”So why are the sites of injury for males and females different, it is purely anatomical?”

 

”No, I don’t think it is, for a number of different reasons, although the reason why I hesitate is because there is more evidence coming out more recently starting to look at that (anatomical differences).  Around 15-20 years ago we were talking about width of pelvis and angles of muscles going into the groin, like you would talk about the Q angle of the knee and patella-femoral load, and really there was no evidence around it. So the morphological (structure of the body) may not make a difference.  Certainly the muscle mass and the forces being produced may make a difference.

 

There are also a number of other factors such as line of force (males tend to be more straight down and females tend to be more diagonal), angles at the pubic joint, and the anterior pubic ligaments being significantly stronger in the female, as well as hormonal profile and elasticity of ligaments in females.”

 

”How can we differentiate who needs surgery and who doesn’t’?’

 

”The decision making process around surgery becomes multi-factorial, and we certainly have advised surgery for a number of different reasons.  Certainly from a clinical point of view, there has been a anecdotal significant reduction in groin surgeries as there has been an improvement in core stability in terms of the functional load transfer across the anterior pelvis.

 

In football we typically see 15-20% of footballers having a groin related injury, so 1 in every 5.  The game is faster, the players are bigger, stronger, the ball is moving faster on the pitch, and it’s in play for longer, which increases your exposure.  So while we are seeing this transition we are still playing catch up with the demands of the sport.

 

The key really is that the physical signs should match up with the subjective complaint of pain.

 

If the pain is disproportionate to the physical signs then you have probably got tissue damage beyond the point of repair.  When we start to look at groin surgery, whether we are talking about abdominal or adductor surgery, with abdominals they can produce force but it’s painful and you’ve got palpable gaps or issues with the inguinal canal, and they fail a period of rehab (2-6 weeks) where there they just can’t put enough load the tissues without provoking symptoms.

 

You’ll genuinely know whether they are going to succeed in a programme of rehab.  We’ve looked at them and we’ve said ”this is surgery,” but they want to go down a conservative route but at 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks they fail their markers, and so you then go through that.  That’s a really good process psychologically to let the player adapt as well as tick the box in terms of doing your strength work before you go down that route; and then there’ll be certain people who will have been told that they need surgery, but there will be some obvious deficits and when they start to load the pain subsides but the pain is usually fairly consistent with their physical signs.”

 

”Do athletes have to stop playing in order to recover from these kind of injuries?”

 

”Most groin overload injuries don’t stop you from playing but they just limit your performance.  So we will have lots of people who will just feel like they are at 60 or 80%, I can pass the ball, I can run but I can’t put some shape on the ball, and put my foot through the ball.  Everything has to be controlled, and if I do try and push it I get sharp pain, I’m a bit incapacitated for a few minutes but then it settles and I’m able to go again.

 

It’s very easy to manage people and keep them ticking over and then it comes to the bigger question of the relevance to the individual- if they are 80% fit are they better than the next individual coming in?

 

As a medic part of our job is to protect the athlete from themselves and protect them generally, but then also as a performance scientist is to push them to that red line and get them as close to that red line as possible and keep them there for as long as possible.  It’s easy to stop injuries, you just don’t train very hard, but if I want to win stuff I need to go right to that top end and push my body and that’s a difficult balance to strike.

 

With overload load related injuries, if we want to strip that back we need the reduce the load and then build it back up in a progressive overload manner and then you can build capacity.  So it would mean dropping them out of training, whether that means complete reduction of training or modified training (allow them to run but don’t allow them to kick) to reduce some of the markers.  So they can do part of the training but not all of the training, and it depends on the demands of the training.”

 

”How do we decide how to structure the rehab programme, are there some key approaches that need to go in no matter what?”

 

”Does the tissue that is the source of pain need to be loaded or unloaded?  I get a lot of people coming in with adductor related groin problems, and they’ve been loaded but the adductors are the strongest part of the chain when you assess it, and their abdominals and/or hamstrings are not functioning well.  So in that case, you want to reduce the adductor/adduction load and increase the abdominal/hip flexor load and maybe hamstring.  A lot of that comes down to asking where are we from a capacity and/or strength point of view which requires a little bit more investigation away from just the pathology point of view.  And that’s part of the trick of examining the individual from a pathology/pain source point of view and also examining them from a function perspective.

 

The adductors bring the leg across your body but they are also a significant hip flexor- and there is an argument that the adductor longus is the second most important hip flexor behind iliopsoas but they are also significant hip extensor, so once you go above 45 degrees of hip flexion they become your most significant hip extensors (and adductor longus decelerates hip extension in running mechanics).

 

The adductors are the main muscles that bring you out of a deep squat and they the are the main muscles of hip flexion and the adductor magnus off loads the hamstring, so maybe the adductors are over working because the hip flexor complex is not good enough, so maybe we need to bring up iliopsoas (which has an adduction moment arm).  Or maybe the hamstring and the glutes are not doing their jobs properly so we need to increase the hip extension function to take some pressure off the adductors.

 

So what makes it a little more complex is that your abdominals also aid in hip flexion and control hip extension moment arm, and your obliques also control side flexion which your psoas also controls, so my right side psoas is a controller of left side flexion.  So that becomes quite critical in terms of how the adductors, abdominals and hip flexors work as a unit to get a balance across the anterior pelvis.”

 

For every adductor load you give someone, you should give them an abdominal load to balance the pelvis.

 

For every abdominal and adductor load you give someone, you should give them a glute load to balance the pelvis.

 

  1.  Hamstrings first – as they produce extension moment and adduction moment at the hip and help to control the pelvis, and if the hamstrings are inefficient the adductor load will go up.
  2.  Abdominal load – in particular oblique bias including CSA of tissue not just control
  3.  Hip flexor load
  4.  Muscle capacity of running muscles – calves, quads and glute function as it relates to muscle capacity, and what does normal running look like technically, as if we can’t run then we are always going to struggle to kick or twist on the run?

 

 

It’s all about quads and calves

 

”So it’s about addressing the whole kinetic chain.  Also be cautious about having the philosophy of it’s all about posterior chain and hamstrings and glutes and a posterior bias.  If you just look at elite track & field athletes they have huge quads!  So the first point is you have to produce vertical force in order to start running and that’s all quads and calves which you need to get that right first to produce your stride length.  Then once you’ve got your stride length, it’s all about hip torque to produce your stride frequency.    Stride length gets you up to 7 m/s and hip torque gets you beyond that!”

 

”Would attention on running mechanics help with this return to performance following groin injuries?”

 

”I think we need to start with what do we think is the minimal dose that we need to apply to the individual to try and reduce the risk, and if that comes in the form of a running mechanics or another stimulus.  If the goal of a running stimulus is to improve the running mechanics and get them to move more like a sprinter I think that is really really difficult.

 

An elite 400 m sprinter will probably do near enough 2000 m of high quality speed work three times a week plus of all the drills which will probably be about 500-1000 m of work at the beginning of every session.   So we are then talking about 7,500-9000 m per week of high quality speed work and that’s done week in week out for about 9 months before you get to race season.  So the dosage to really get good mechanics and to really condition the tissues to that kind of load are really really high.

 

So maybe a footballer or rugby player is doing 1000 m of high quality speed work per match so I’m not sure you’ll necessarily see them get the same amount of dosage.  But with that being said, if our goal is to condition the tissues to increase limb speed, shorter foot contact and a cognitive stimulus to get the patterning from a central nervous system or Frans Bosch decentralised spinal reflex point of view, that is reasonable.  We’re not trying to turn them into runners, we are just trying to condition the tissue and not necessarily trying to hit the ”right positions’ from an elite sprinting point of view, but we are trying to get quick limb movement and short foot contact, where the outcome and the coaching cues will look different which is a very different coaching approach to coaching an elite sprinter on a track with spikes where you want a high knee, I want you to increase your stride length and that sort of thing.”

 

”Are there any key positions that you are looking for when you are observing a change of direction?”

 

”Different sports will have different strategies- e’g a rugby player may use muscle forces (concentric/eccentric) vs a basketball player using elastic/reactive (isometric forces).  A change of direction also looks very different if you are moving over 5-10 m and getting up to 6 m/s versus a winger bombing down the pitch at 9-10 m/s.

 

Look at it with a coaching eye.  Does it look efficient? Does it look effortless and free and I’d almost go back to coaching the individual and the way the individual moves and what feels right rather than getting into a very specific criteria for this is how you change direction.”

 

”Are there are any particular markers that you would look at as part of this return to performance following groin injuries?”

 

”We have different markers for different stages of rehab.

 

Early stage – start with clinical markers and reduction of pain such as squeeze test, abdominal load test and then can I get the abdominal to adductor ratios right (see next stage)?  Markers need to move away from pain/pathology to function around the groin so 20 kg HHD or 2 Newtons/kg force across the groin and progressing to 25 kg HHD.

 

Next stage – progress to running specific markers, and balancing the pelvis, looking at ratios of adductor/abdominal and adductor/hip flexor and hamstring/hip flexor ratio, so you can start to see where the weak link is.  Most elite level athletes get injured where they are strongest not where they are weakest, because they compensate to their strongest area which is the path of least resistance.    Most of the aspiring athletes get injured where they are weak because they are trying to produce force and they just don’t have the capacity to do it and don’t have the compensatory strategies.

 

We might also have a functional test such as split squat for indication of capacity across the pelvis.  When we get to return to running we can look at vertical force qualities, what’s their isometric squat like, peak plantar flexion force like, have they got some RSI markers we can look at?  As well as looking at the balance between flexion/extension ratios.”

 

Key ratios:

 

ADDUCTORS – 30-35 kg, and should be 60% of hip flexion, and 80% of extension.

 

ABDUCTORS – a little bit less than adductors- 20% behind adduction, and 60% of extension.

 

EXTENSION – should be primary torque producing force and FLEXION should be about 10% behind extension.  Adduction should be 20% behind extension.  You should be 40% stronger into extension than you are into abduction as a general ratio across the hip.

 

Look at those numbers relative to performance.  In order for the way you run and/or kick, what do we know is your norm or what is the ideal we need to get you to?  It’s about ratios around the hip rather than absolute numbers and it’s about the relative number relative to the numbers the athlete can produce in the demands of their sport demands.

 

 

Top 5 Take Away Points:

 

  1.  Surgery decision process – The key really is that the physical signs should match up with the subjective complaint of pain.
  2.  Rehab process – Does the tissue that is the source of pain need to be loaded or unloaded?
  3.  Muscle balance – For every abdominal and adductor load you give someone, you should give them a glute load to balance the pelvis.
  4.  It’s not all about posterior chain – you have to produce vertical force in order to start running and that’s all quads and calves which you need to get that right first to produce your stride length.
  5.  Use your coaching eye -Does it look efficient? Does it look effortless and free and I’d almost go back to coaching the individual and the way the individual moves

 

Want more info on the stuff we have spoken about?

 

CHHP specialist physiotherapy clinic

You may also like from PPP:

 

Episode 380 Alastair McBurnie & Tom Dos’Santos

Episode 372 Jeremy Sheppard & Dana Agar Newman

Episode 367 Gareth Sandford

Episode 362 Matt Van Dyke

Episode 361 John Wagle

Episode 359 Damien Harper

Episode 348 Keith Barr

Episode 331 Danny Lum

Episode 298 PJ Vazel

Episode 297 Cam Jose

Episode 295 Jonas Dodoo

Episode 292 Loren Landow

Episode 286 Stu McMillan

Episode 272 Hakan Anderrson

Episode 227, 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, 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 381 Alistair & Tom Part 3

This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 381 – Alistair McBurnie & Tom Dos’Santos

 

Alistair and Tom are interviewed in a two part series (Episode 380 and 381).  Episode 380 focused more on Deceleration ability.  Episode 381 focuses on change of direction ability.

 

I’ve created a three part blog series out of it.  In Part 1 and Part 2 the full script of the podcast was included for Episode 380.  In this Part 3 blog an edited version is included with the key take home points from Episode 381.

 

Alistair McBurnie

 

Alistair is a sports science analyst for Manchester United’s first team, having worked his way up from coaching at academy level.

 

Twitter

 

 

Tom Dos’Santo

 

Tom is a lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he teaches strength conditioning and sports biomechanics. Previously, he’s worked at the University of Salford, and England Northwest and Manchester Thunder netball squads.

 

Twitter

 

? Listen to the full episode here

 

Discussion topics:

 

”Would you be able to talk to us about the key positions we should be worried about when it comes to effective change of direction and how we train those?

 

”@Tom: there is a whole range of definitions in terms of if we are just talking about a change in path of travel or reorientation of our centre of mass.  I’ll break down change of direction (COD) into four phases.

 

  1. Initial Acceleration – to initiate the movement
  2. Preliminary Deceleration – depending on the angle (particularly for more aggressive COD anything 60 degrees and above)
  3. Preparatory postural adjustments – stride length and preparatory positions to optimise final foot plant (there will be some potential braking over the penultimate step and prior steps
  4. Execution phase – final foot plant – then re-accelerate

 

There are probably five or six different change of direction actions during the execution phase.

 

  1. sidestep cutting action – involves lateral foot plant abducting at the hip and pushing off towards the opposite direction
  2. cross-over cut – medial foot placement on the same limb and push off in the same direction
  3. shuffle step – a series of lateral foot plants – we see that from an evasive perspective (rug
  4. split step (jump cut) – jump into the cut and push off that one limb, or land bilaterally and then push off one limb
  5. spin maneuver– typically a 270 degrees blind side turn- popular in ball carrying sports to avoid being tackled
  6. Pivot – turn to 110-120 degrees or more performed bilaterally or unilaterally
  7. Deceleration – which is an agility action in its own right

 

Performance-Injury Trade Off

 

Some of the technical characteristics that are required for faster performance could be at odds with potential increased knee joint loading.

 

There is always going to be some injury risk with changing direction.

 

The faster we run the greater the knee joint load so typically we need to reduce our momentum into that, so the penultimate foot contact is key.  I believe that a lot of the poor postures adopted in that final foot contact are a by product of sub-optimal positioning on those preparatory steps, particularly in the penultimate foot contact.  I think it’s a really important step to put you in the optimal position to execute an optimal final foot contact.

 

Penultimate Foot Contact

 

We encourage EARLIER BRAKING particularly with these sharper COD as it’s a safer strategy with the penultimate foot contact because we decelerate in the sagittal plane, the knee joint is in a stronger position, GRF vectors are aligned with the knee joint centre, and we go through substantially greater range of motion (typically you go through double the amount of knee flexion, around 10-120 with the penultimate foot contact- PFC 100–120° versus FFC 20–60°) which equals greater angular displacement. Thus, based on the work-energy principle, ↑ work = greater reduction in kinetic energy and ↓ velocity.

 

Figure 1. The image on the left illustrates final foot contact (FFC), and the image on the right illustrates penultimate foot contact (PFC).

 

Final Foot Contact

 

If we think about the Final Foot Contact (FFC) you are asking the limb to go from a rapid braking phase to a rapid transition into a propulsive phase, so asking it to do two things during ground contact, whereas the PFC can focus purely on braking, and it goes through increased range of motion which is a safer strategy.

 

For a sharper turn (180 degree) we encourage to decelerate more in the anti-penultimate step, start rotating in the PFC to start lining you up in the correct position.

 

Brake early and lower your centre of mass

 

That’s going to put you in the optimal position to create that perpendicular force with a wide lateral foot plant in order to change inertia and accelerate laterally or medially in this sense.  By having a wide lateral foot plant we need to acknowledge we are going to increase the moment arm in the frontal plane, so that’s going to increase knee valgus loading, so there is probably this Goldilocks affect- not too wide but not too narrow.

 

 

Frontal Trunk control

 

Another performance-injury trade off.  If your objective is to have the greatest exit Velocity we should be encouraging medial trunk lean.  However, this is the argument that we need to ”drop the shoulder” which is a deceitful maneuver to unbalance and fool your opponent however we do get increased moment arm in the frontal plane and that is going to increase the knee valgus

 

If the objective is to complete the task as fast as possible we try and rotate early towards the direction of travel.

 

Hip Extension and Knee Flexion Paradox

 

If we want to decrease the risk of injury we just need to ask the athlete to run slow and land really softly.

 

Slower athletes display lower knee joint loads and go through greater knee and hip flexion, they distribute the load further up the chain.  Faster athletes, make ground contact/land in initial hip flexion, they don’t go through any further hip flexion so maintain the isometric and go purely into hip extension- so possibly resisted hip and knee flexion could be a strong performance indicator, while also acknowledging the greater knee joint load of this strategy.

 

Foot Position

 

We encourage a neutral foot position.  If you are excessive internally rotated this will increase the susceptibility to knee abduction moments and having excessively rotated outwards can lead to pronation and lead to tibial rotation.

 

A big debate is if we heel strike or not?  I wouldn’t want to change direction just on the ball of my foot.  I assume I am going to increase the loading and susceptibility to ankle injuries and we need that firm base of support.

 

Optimal Technical Model

 

I don’t think it exists but we do need to acknowledge the Performance-Injury trade offs and address the technical deficits that aren’t going to offer any performance advantages.”

 

”@Alistair: I think that enhancing an athlete’s physical capacity is probably the most effective way to mitigate injury risks and develop their strength/power qualities to enhance performance.

 

Control to Chaos Continuum

 

I also like the Control to Chaos Continuum.  During a session I always start with pre-planned drills to begin with.  This allows you to make sure that you execute a certain volume of left and right change of directions, so you know how much work you did in the session, and it’s way of making sure you are getting the required dosage that you can build on.

 

 

Within more of an agility based drill you do forsake that element of control because it does become more chaotic.  But these are really important for game performance and this would be a good segway into the technical session.”

 

”Is COD testing losing its place in an applied setting?”

 

”@Tom:  I suppose it is, but I don’t think it should be.  I still think there is a time and place for it.

 

COD Testing

 

Pre-planned COD testing and training seems to be getting bashed at the moment as it’s not sport specific and it doesn’t involve perception-action coupling.  However, we test and train sprinting in a pre-planned environment.  Everyone is okay addressing sprint mechanics in a pre-planned environment, everyone is okay addressing jump mechanics in a pre-planned environment.  But as soon as we want to do a COD drill we immediately must throw a ball and a defender in, when in fact most athletes don’t warrant the right for that because they can’t MASTER THE MECHANICS in the pre-planned.

 

We don’t programme our plyometrics by going to a 50 cm box and thinking about an overhead target.  We do it in a controlled manner.  We still want those pre-planned elements in our training, we are not saying completely remove the unplanned elements, just think about the volumes and dosages.

 

I’d argue that in most sports our coaching philosophy is we want robust 360 degree athletes who are proficient at changing direction off left and right limbs from low, medium and high velocities

 

If we start breaking it down into our tests and we say we want our athlete to sidestep cut off 45 degrees, 90 degrees, do some aggressive pivots.  But then we also need to make sure they are equally proficient off both limbs.  So from a timing gate perspective, that means they need to do at least two trials on the left, two trials on the right, at 45, 90 and 180 degrees.  But that’s 5 metres, which shows that they are good at decelerating and changing direction from a low entry velocity.  So do I do repeat the same thing at a high entry velocity? Before you know it, we probably need 30 trials to build up this multi-directional speed profile and that’s just for one sidestep cutting action.

 

The other issue with timing gates is we are getting no insight into movement strategy, we are just getting an indication of how quickly they are getting from A to B (which is fine when the objective is in most sports is to get from A to B).  Particularly we want to know how are they entering, how are they changing direction and how are they exiting?  With the advancement of wearable non invasive technologies we are starting to get more insights into this.  We can mask our deficiencies in COD with superior acceleration and linear speed capabilities.

 

Change of Direction Angle Profile

 

We do Force (Load)-Velocity load profiling with our jump squats which takes 45 minutes so why can’t we do the same thing on the pitch and view this testing session as an isolated training session to elicit a training stimulus.

 

We can build a picture of 45 degree, a 90 degree and 180 cut for each isolated COD cutting task such as a sidestep cut.

 

Agility Assessments

 

I don’t think there will ever be a perfect agility assessment because sport is chaotic.  I am not a fan of one versus one testing, looking at how successful one is at evading an opponent.   I think it’s quite floored because we are still not getting an insight into perceptual-cognitive speed.  How do we standardise that defender for the attacker, how do we standardise the starting position? We can’t use a generic stimulus such as flashing light or arrow because they don’t differentiate skill level.  You need a sport specific stimulus and I don’t think you can complete that on the pitch.

 

To evaluate we should be looking at the movement quality and not just completion time or COD deficit, which are floored in my opinion.   We should be filming our athletes completing COD tasks to see how they are executing them – are seeing if they are adopting double foot contact or predominantly loading on one limb, and look at their trunk position etc (whether it’s during a testing session or during field based conditioning sessions).

 

The reason why I’m still a big advocate of these pre-planned tests is because we are focusing on that perception-action coupling (with agility drills).  What we are interested in is the mechanical ability to perform that task irrespective if we add some externally directed attention or agility stimulus.

 

If an athlete is poor at performing that task, it is only going to be amplified and worsened in an unplanned environment

 

I still think that a lot of athletes don’t really excel at these pre-planned tasks where we are evaluating the physical and mechanical ability to perform the COD task.

 

COD Deficit

 

The COD deficit is really popular as a way of getting an isolated measure of COD ability by subtracting a linear sprint time of equivalent distance from the COD test time such as the 5-0-5.

 

505 completion time – 10-meter sprint time

 

But it seems to be maybe potentially biased to slower athletes.  If you are ‘slower’ (but achieve the same 5-0-5 time) you’ll arguably going to have a ‘better’ COD deficit but the athlete is slower!

 

If you think of a test like a 5-0-5 a faster athlete is actually at a disadvantage because they have greater horizontal momentum and they are going to have to apply a greater braking force in order to decelerate and perform that task.  So something we have to factor in with the COD deficit is the athlete’s entry speed.

 

A better option might be to break the COD completion time down into three phases we can assess:

 

  1. Entry time– point they enter COD to FFC
  2. COD time – initial contact to toe off of main foot contact (FFC)
  3. Exit time

 

 

If you’d like to read more about this, see Tom’s article on Simplifaster for more information.

 

Also pay attention to the pacing strategy (which might be indicated by entry time).  When you do a 5-0-5 you might see some athletes start decelerating prior to the entry gate (so they want to decelerate over 6 metres- 1 metre before the gate) which is a self regulatory effect where faster athletes potentially don’t want to utilize their full speed because of this braking load tolerance, and want to make the task easier.  It seems to be the same for weaker athletes as well.  It seems to be a physical capacity issue; eccentrically strong athletes can approach faster and decelerate quicker.”

 

 

Top 5 Take Away Points:

 

  1.  Performance-Injury Trade off – Some of the technical characteristics that are required for faster performance could be at odds with potential increased knee joint loading.
  2.  Optimal technical model – I don’t think it exists!
  3.  Pre-planned COD tasks – we want those pre-planned elements in our training, we are not saying completely remove the unplanned elements, just think about the volumes and dosages.
  4.  Assessing movement – we should be looking at the movement quality and not just completion time.
  5.  COD deficit – could potentially be biased to slower athletes.

 

Want more info on the stuff we have spoken about?

 

Science of Multi-Directional Speed

You may also like from PPP:

 

Episode 380 Alastair McBurnie & Tom Dos’Santos

Episode 372 Jeremy Sheppard & Dana Agar Newman

Episode 367 Gareth Sandford

Episode 362 Matt Van Dyke

Episode 361 John Wagle

Episode 359 Damien Harper

Episode 348 Keith Barr

Episode 331 Danny Lum

Episode 298 PJ Vazel

Episode 297 Cam Jose

Episode 295 Jonas Dodoo

Episode 292 Loren Landow

Episode 286 Stu McMillan

Episode 272 Hakan Anderrson

Episode 227, 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, 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

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=> Follow us on Twitter

Pacey Performance Podcast REVIEW- Episode 380 Alistair & Tom Part 2

This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 380 – Alistair McBurnie & Tom Dos’Santos

 

Alistair McBurnie

 

Alistair is a sports science analyst for Manchester United’s first team, having worked his way up from coaching at academy level.

 

Twitter

 

Tom Dos’Santo

 

Tom is a lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he teaches strength conditioning and sports biomechanics. Previously, he’s worked at the University of Salford, and England Northwest and Manchester Thunder netball squads.

 

Twitter

 

? Listen to the full episode here

 

Discussion topics:

 

Do we think the boot worn sensors are going to be the next thing to integrate within performance departments?

 

”@Alastair: I think so. I think it’s just the next level really, isn’t it? We talk about whole body loading and evaluating the key performance metrics we currently have which might include total distance, high speed running, sprinting distance, accelerations, and decelerations. I’m not telling you things that are reinventing the wheel there. I think everyone are using them as the key monitoring metrics, in particular in football.

 

 

Individualising Training

 

We want to make athletes better at performing these high intensity actions and to just have an insight into the volume. This player performs, you know, 200 metres of sprinting distance in a game. That’s great from a volume perspective and programming of weekly and monthly training volumes.

 

But in terms of how are we actually programming how are they achieving that movement (volume) and information about the movement strategies and the special temporal variables that you get from these kind of technologies I think will give us more insights into the specific drills that can target them because if we’re looking at horizontal deceleration and we uncover that a player’s ground contact time may be a bit too elongated, we’re then stripping that back and going, right, what can we do in the gym to make sure that we’re actually increasing elements that are going to improve ground contact time or stiffness if you’ll like?

 

 

So I think when we get to a point where we can move a lot of the stuff that is typically done in a lab and moving it to the field and almost ”testing without testing” players within their athletic development training programs these technologies are able to pick up every single action that they’re doing. So it becomes a point where we don’t have to worry about getting athletes in for a testing battery. It can almost be done as part of the day-to-day practices, as part of the warm-ups, etc.”

 

In terms of developing the qualities needed for good deceleration ability in the gym, when people look towards that, what should people be focusing on based on what we’ve just spoken about for the last 45 minutes?

 

”@Tom: So I think it’ll be very similar to change of direction, especially when we think about that angle-velocity trade off again. So we think the shallow change of directions, being more velocity dominant, more concentric and reactive strength dominant, whereas particularly anything 60 degrees, 90 degrees and above are probably a bit more of eccentric strength training focused.

 

So in terms of physically preparing athletes, we like to think about specific musculature and segments that we want to target. And then maybe think about the underlying physical qualities and strength qualities. Let’s discuss the musculature first, and then some particular physical qualities and training methods.  It should be a mixed multi-component and a multi-segmental model and It’s not just one specific area, or one training modality that is going to bulletproof our athletes.

 

Trunk Control

 

And I think the kind of the training recommendations that myself and Alistair will go through are probably applicable not only for deceleration, but change of direction, curvi-linear speeds, accelerations and high speed running. So trunk control, if we work our way down, trunk control is going to be a massive. Trunk contains approximately half of the body’s mass and that needs to be supported typically on one limb where we’re doing these deceleration and change of direction actions. And we need good control in the frontal plane and the sagittal plane.

 

So there’s a lot of evidence showing that from a change of direction perspective anyway, lateral trunk flexion is going to increase our knee valgus moments because we get laterally directed ground reaction force vector that increases the moment arm and subsequently increases loading.  So frontal plane trunk control is going to be massive.

 

Technique modification training so basically good cuing and good coaches are telling athletes to adopt a bit more of a neutral trunk posture, and make sure they are in their correct alignment. I know some people have used medicine balls to try and reinforce optimal trunk alignment. I think Enda King and the Sport Surgery Clinic have shown it to be quite effective.

 

Our dynamic trunk stability exercises and balance training has also been shown to be quite effective at improving frontal plane and transverse plane trunk control. In terms of correcting sagittal plane and avoiding anterior trunk displacement, probably in the opposing muscle groups and the posterior aspect especially erector spinae and glute max exercises target that trunk control and reinforce that bracing and again, instructing our athletes to try and avoid excessive forward trunk lean when we’re decelerating and performing these change of direction actions.

 

And there’s also evidence showing these deficits in trunk control can increase ACL injury risk and have been prospectively shown to increase ACL injury risk. So with that multi segmental model focusing on correcting that anterior pelvic tilt, getting that dynamic trunk stability in the sagittal and frontal plane seems to be key.

 

Hip Complex

 

Then, because from the biomechanical aspect during these decels and change of directions we create these large hip flexor moments and more externally applied knee flexor and hip flexor moments. So they need to be supported and counteracted with an internal hip extensor and knee extensor. So again, the musculature around the glutes, and external hip rotator strengthening is going to be key to tolerate those large hip flexor moments, trying to resist that change in hip flexion essentially. But also it’s going to be key in terms of frontal plane control particularly the femur. So again, there’s evidence showing that a knee valgus can increase knee valgus loading, like a two degree difference can increase the torque by around about 40 Newton metres.

 

 

And by having high levels of glute activation it can resist and oppose and support that potential knee valgus loading and preventing that knee valgus position. So that would be key from that perspective, but it’s also key for facilitating braking.

 

Anterior Aspect

 

If we start going onto the anterior aspect, so the quadricep strengthening is going to be key, particularly for those eccentric muscle actions and to support those large external knee flexor moments. So we’re getting internal knee extensor moment. So we have high levels of quadricep activation, but we have this kind of performance-injury trade-off. So we need the quadriceps for the braking aspect and we need them for the propulsive aspect if we want to go and re-accelerate and perform a change the direction.

 

However, if we don’t have high levels of co-activation of the hamstrings, this can increase our anterior tibial shear. So again, I’m going to focus on ACL injuries because I love ACL injuries, but it’s kind of like a multi-planar mechanism. So we get our anterior tibial shear, which can result in this anterior tibial translation of the tibia relative to the femur. That seems to be one of the primary contributors of ACL loading.

 

If we get these aggressive quadricep activation at these extended knee postures, typically within 0-40 degrees where the quadriceps insert, we can get this anterior tibial translation. So although we do need, I’m not saying we avoid high levels of quadricep activation, we do need it, but we need to make sure we get high levels of co-activation of the hamstrings as well. Hamstrings are bi-articular, originating in the pelvis and insert into aspects of the tibia and the fibular, but their role is to prevent that anterior tibial translation to try and oppose and create a posterior shear force. And again, there’s lots of evidence showing that having weaker hamstrings and fatigued hamstrings can increase ACL loading, and there are some musculoskeletal modeling showing that.

 

So although we do need high levels of quadricep activation, we need to make sure we get the high levels of co-activation of the hamstrings as well. And that could be a whole range of different fast eccentric velocity exercises, slow velocity exercises, isometric, eccentric, and even potentially some concentric strengthening exercises as well.

 

Lower Limb

 

If we move down the limbs, we’ve focused on the knee and the hip there and the trunk. There is a whole debate around the gastrocnemius, but the gastrocnemius is a kind of antagonist to the ACL and can increase ACL loading. There’s some evidence showing that we need to increase soleus activation, particularly around the ankle, the ankle acts like a kind of dampener and a shock absorber for deceleration and our change directions. So although we need that quadriceps, some people argue that soleus activation is key.

 

How you go about isolating soleus without getting gastrocnemius would be quite difficult. I probably don’t have the answers there. Probably some more intelligent people might be able to answer that. And then we also have a kind of like our intrinsic foot stabilizer muscles and that kind of perennial muscles as well to try and prevent those excessive inversion angle of velocities because lateral ankle sprains are a common injury mechanism during these decel and change direction actions. So specific exercises to target ankle stability and foot stability.

 

So they’re the key muscles and musculature that we want to target. I’m not saying that this is the right or only way to go about it. It’s a whole different range of methods. My whole philosophy about transfer of training is focused on the adaptation that we’re trying to elicit. I’m not going to say we must do Olympic lifts or must do this as long as you’ve got a rationale behind your exercise and we’re trying to elicit some sort of musculoskeletal or mechanical biological adaptation, that’s key.

 

Physical Robustness

 

So in terms of reducing risk, we’re trying to reduce those high risk deficits that are linked to the potential to generate multiple planer knee joint loads. So any frontal plane deficits, such as knee valgus, tibia rotation, lateral and frontal plane trunk control. So again, this is quite a performance-injury trade off. We need athletes to generate high impact ground reaction forces, but they need to be able to tolerate them. So having athletes physically robust enough, there seems to be this emphasis now and shifting away from kind of injury prevention, but more focus on physical robustness to tolerate these loads.

 

So again, to tolerate these potentially hazardous knee joint loads in particular, is increase muscular support round about the knee span and non knee spanning muscles around glutes, around about the hip, around the knee as well, the quadriceps and the hamstrings and the lower limb as well and they can support in some of that loading. By mechanically loading these structures, we are stimulating some musculoskeletal adaptations to hopefully strengthen those tissues, so they’re more robust to tolerate them.

 

And what Alistair alluded to before in terms of reducing injury risk, is that careful monitoring and sequencing in periodisation of these high impact activities. So getting into these advancements in technology, we’re monitoring a number of accels and high speed running. There seems to be this sweet spot, not too much, not too little in terms of high speed running, I think was it Malone who identified maybe six to seven sprints of 95% and above. We just don’t know from a change of direction and deceleration perspective, but we encourage practitioners to monitor hopefully these proxies of ACL and lower limb loading, and probably try to avoid these rapid spikes, maybe 10 to 20% on a week to week.

 

And then you’ve got the development of the kind of perceptual cognitive abilities as well. So if we can start identifying some of these cues a bit earlier, so we can make some anticipatory posture adjustments and get these high levels of pre-activation. This again should hopefully dissipate some of the loads. Probably a debatable area, whether it’s in strength and conditioning coaches’ job to work on perceptual cognitive speed, I would encourage people to work with a motor skill expert, but I suppose it comes down to working with a skills coach, motor skills experts to try and identify working on perceptual cognitive speed. So we can identify these cues earlier, put us in a position to make these anticipatory posture adjustments earlier. Give us the physical affordances to hopefully adopt these safer, and more mechanically robust strategies to reduce loading and optimize performance.

 

Multi-Component Training Model

 

Damien Harper’s has been calling it the dynamic braking performance framework we are a big believer of a multi-component model. So not a one size fits all, but including some trunk stabilization, balance, plyometric training is a very good transferable exercise for not only for improving performance, but improving lower limb control and neuromuscular activity patterns, but also get some eccentric strength development in the weight room. I encourage a multitude of different exercises that focus on all aspects of the force velocity curve. So having some fast eccentric velocity exercises, whether that’s through plyometric training, maybe some ISO inertial training or some kind of more coordination overload. Some more slower eccentric velocity exercises, whether that’s more AEL, (accentuated eccentrics loading), or I don’t know, maybe some Nordic curls, for example, or just increasing time under a tension and tempo training.

 

I probably encourage people to read the work of Tim Sycamore, he did a two part review. Not my area of expertise, but I know you’ve interviewed Alex Natera and Daniel Lum, big emphasis on isometric training at the moment, particularly if we could try and mimic some of the postures and deceleration and change of direction. However, we probably do need to target particularly that kind of triple flexion position in a range of different postures, because the greater the angle of change direction, you typically go to greater range of hip and knee flexion as well. So you probably need maybe a 140 degree angle, maybe a 120 degree and a, maybe an 90 degree angle with different postures. And I know there are advocates of yielding and pushing isometrics. I don’t know too much about that.

 

 

I think you can elicit some very good tendon adaptations and get something hopefully quite non-fatiguing positive tissue adaptations as well as those sports specific postures, whether it’s unilateral or split position. And then the reactive strength qualities that we could target in the weight room, our typical ballistic training, our Olympic lifts, not only during the propulsive phase, but whenever we decelerate the barbell, not getting into a debate whether we need to catch or just do the pull of variations. However, if you just do the pull of variations, arguably you get a nice fast eccentric loading, when we decelerate the bar, so that could be a really good method as well. And just your generic tissue conditioning and your general resistance training your back squats, deadlifts targeting those key segments that are target before.

 

And there’s finally, and I’ve talked for ages about this focus on movement quality. Essentially movement is a skill. These injuries occur due to some sort of biomechanical limitation that’s increased load into that specific joint or structure. So trying to optimize the technical characteristics and maximize performance, but also potentially mitigate injury risk. There is a performance-injury trade-off associated with some of the techniques, but we’ve shown that in as little as six weeks, we can modify athlete’s technique during cutting and turning by giving some externally directed verbal cues and introducing these in the field, as part of a field based warm-up.  I don’t buy that athletes and coach said they haven’t got time to throw this type of training into their training programs  before every technical tactical session.

 

From a deceleration training perspective, I do think we do need some interventions looking at enforced stopping as a fast eccentric velocity training method, but also as a strategy to reinforce these optimal mechanics. If we want our athletes to move well, we need to practice the skill of decelerating and change of direction in pre-planned environments, but we can get onto later if you want.”

 

”@Alastair:  I think you emphasized a great deal that we really believe that the fast eccentric loading component of specific horizontal decelerations in the field is a really key and potentially potent stimulus. And I think we can talk about the, the gym based strategies, which obviously should work in harmony with the field based athletic development strategies.

 

So I think you can’t just decide, right, I’m going to focus on all these eccentric training methods in the gym, and that will create super robust resilient athletes. I think you also need to make sure that they are specifically applying all these elements in field based drills. We’ve got a library of different drill examples that we can provide obviously targeting in multiple planes as well, because we’re not just decelerating in the sagittal plane, change of direction maneuvers occur in the sagittal plane, the frontal plane and the transverse plane.

 

You’ve got this point where it’s almost a harmony of the gym based programming and the field based programming to get the adaptations that you want. Chris Bellon talks about using the short to long approach of acceleration development with the pioneer of that is being Charlie Francis, but talking about seamless sequential integration, whereby we are developing shorter acceleration distances first and foremost in the training cycle, and working a lot alongside that or the gym based methods that actually provide the foundation for the subsequent phase.

 

So as an athlete is then starting to be exposed to greater acceleration distances, they have the prerequisite physical strength and power qualities to almost harness that to optimum effect. And I think you can see how that would theoretically apply to horizontal deceleration training. So if we were to develop the foundational eccentric strength qualities alongside the pitch based stuff which might be at this point a bit more of a technical focus, making sure that we’re getting the right positions in both the sagittal and frontal plane. So we start with methods such as flywheel training or tempo eccentric training, but then developing those foundational eccentric strength qualities for the subsequent phase to which then you might actually open up the distances.

 

We use deceleration runways a lot, which is where you can almost increase the drill distance or the approach velocity before actually making a more intense, horizontal deceleration. And by having the prerequisite eccentric strength qualities that you’ve developed in the previous phase, you should be in a better position to tolerate the deceleration demands there. So I think it’s always about using both gym-based and field-based athletic development exercises to create these athletes or to promote these characteristics that we want to see from both performance and injury risk perspective.”

 

”@Tom: Sorry Alistair, just one point. I suppose it comes down to your point about the monitoring. Like we said before, we can easily integrate these kind of field-based runways and decelerations into our field-based training. We don’t know too much about the optimal dosages. So we encourage a conservative approach, with careful periodisation. I probably would say maybe only theoretically maybe 100 to 200 metres of enforced stopping probably only that’s needed because we need to be monitoring the technical tactical base sessions as well. We don’t want to overexpose athletes, but I think we certainly need more research in that area about the optimal dosages and whether that differentiates between athletes, whether they’ve got high levels of physical capacity. I’d imagine athletes with great physical capacities are able to tolerate greater dosages of this enforced deceleration training, but a kind of a careful conservative approach is what we’d recommend.

 

But if you’re not monitoring, you’re just guessing, so that’s why we would come back to if you’re at least getting some monitoring of the frequency and potential deceleration distances, in addition to whether you are prescribing five or 10 metre decelerations, I think that’s a really big thing to think about.

 

I would also just say going back onto what we know about horizontal decelerations and the unique, physiological and biomechanical characteristics that might separate them from other potential multidirectional speed elements that you’ll be exposing your athletes to. So almost looking at it from a macroscopic perspective and going right, what training sessions are we carrying out this week, the next week, over six weeks and going, right?

 

Can we sequence these in different ways? Because we know that the recovery timelines of these more biomechanically focused elements with eccentric loading might be quite different to what an acceleration focused session might be.  So almost looking at it over a six week cycle and actually sequencing your accelerations, your high speed running, which are maybe more of a concentric focus with less muscle damage than a horizontal deceleration would impart. And actually making sure that you’re sequencing them differently rather than just going right, I’m going to deload on week five.  You actually might want to look into it and go, I’m going to deload these accelerations and high speed running in week four, and then pick it back up in week six, and actually you might want to give a bit more time for that adaptation to happen with the horizontal decelerations. In that way we can actually harmonise and sequence different variables at different times.  You might be deloading and not targeting a specific multi-directional speed quality in one week but it doesn’t mean that you can’t target another element.”

 

 

Top 5 Take Away Points:

 

  1. Boot worn sensors – might be the next development to measure inter-limb differences
  2. There are a number of muscles that need to be conditioning for deceleration including trunk, hip complex, quadriceps and hamstrings and calves.
  3.  Training for deceleration needs to be a multi-factorial approach including an emphasis on eccentric training, as well as isometric, reactive strength and technique/movement quality.
  4.  Integration – the gym based strategies, should work in harmony with the field based athletic development strategies.
  5.  More research is required – we don’t know the optimal dose of enforced stopping but conservatively we suggest no more than 100-200m and this work should be considered to have different timelines of adaptation and recoverability due to more biomechanical loading (than acceleration).

 

Want more info on the stuff we have spoken about?

 

Science of Multi-Directional Speed

 

You may also like from PPP:

 

Episode 372 Jeremy Sheppard & Dana Agar Newman

Episode 367 Gareth Sandford

Episode 362 Matt Van Dyke

Episode 361 John Wagle

Episode 359 Damien Harper

Episode 348 Keith Barr

Episode 331 Danny Lum

Episode 298 PJ Vazel

Episode 297 Cam Jose

Episode 295 Jonas Dodoo

Episode 292 Loren Landow

Episode 286 Stu McMillan

Episode 272 Hakan Anderrson

Episode 227, 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, 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 379 Jose Fernandez

This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 379 – Jose Fernandez

 

Jose Fernandez

 

Jose is the leader of Sports Science at the Mahd Academy in Saudi Arabia, and was Head of Sports Science at Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros for five years prior to that.

 

Twitter

 

? Listen to the full episode with Jose here

 

Discussion topics:

 

What kind of things were you most proud of in the five years in your previous role with the Houston Astros? 

 

”Creating an infrastructure able to support some of the decision making, which is not just the decision making with regard to strength & conditioning which is what we usually think of.  When it comes to sport science we think of collecting data in the weight room, collecting external load and internal load data.  I think my work reached a little bit beyond just the traditional understanding of sport science to influence the way we were recruiting players for example, and how we help our scouting department with some of the decision making because at the end of the day we are using very similar technology and collecting very similar data, and we can help them go through those processes in a little more objective way and support those decisions.

 

It starts from taking it slowly and going step by step and showing value in any way you can.  At the end of the day there are two things you need to achieve; one is to influence in your work performance and the other is injuries and try to keep the players healthy and try to win more games or perform better.  The other part is make the life of the coaches that are working with you easier.  You are helping them save time, make better decisions and things like that.

 

 

Once you are able to help them at the early stages and they feel like you are not just there to say- this is what we are doing now, we are collecting this data and now you have to change your training because this technology is now saying this number is red instead of green.”

 

Can you give an example of how you made it easier for the coaching team?

 

”When I first arrived there wasn’t much in the way of objective data to help describe training or help evaluate where the players were getting better or maintaining certain adaptations during the season or not.  So my first goal was to profile the players in very simple ways.  The way I look at athlete profiling I try to think of it in terms of three different buckets.

 

  1. Aerobic fitness
  2. Force (max force) but also force x time (Power related capabilities)
  3. Speed (change of direction and acceleration)

 

I think those three buckets are not just important for my sport but probably universal for most sports and then you can customise a little bit based on your environment and where you are actually working.  When I think about those three buckets I feel that in most sports we are going to be able to prescribe training programmes with that information.  I think that in most sports Aerobic fitness and especially force and power are going to be in some way related to performance on the field or court.  I’m not saying that if you are stronger you are going to score more but when you look at the sport from certain actions there are certain things that start to correlate – ability to change direction, ability to be explosive in certain actions -throwing a ball at 100 mph, swinging the bat with certain power.


The second part is that, especially if you are working in North American sports where the schedules are very dense and heavy, usually the players that are stronger and aerobically fitter are the ones that are going to cope better with that stress; the ability to recover faster between high intensity efforts, and even from game to game.

 

So let’s go into how I collect the data.  For aerobic fitness I usually look at an intermittent field assessment- usually a 30-15 or a yo-yo IRT and usually I like to do that at least once per quarter so somewhere between 8 and 12 weeks get an update on that.

 

For strength and power this is interesting because a lot of people say, the schedule is so heavy, you play 162 games I am not going to bring the players up to anywhere near maximal loads.  From a philosophy point of view I actually like to bring them up to near max load load every 4-6 weeks because when you actually break down the schedule there are plenty of opportunities to load the players- the schedule and the games are not the same.  In a week we are going to be bringing the players up to anywhere between 2 and 4 reps with a barbell speed of somewhere between 0.1 and 0.3 m/s.  Right there you are automatically going to have a repetition maximum estimation.  This is part of training, this is not an actual assessment.

 

I am more interested in the training adaptations from one training cycle to the next training cycle, rather than going day by day or even week by week because at the end of the day I’m not thinking about fatigue changes, I’m thinking about adaptations to training.

 

With force plates you can also look at more specific force profiling based on specific positions that the players are actually doing on the field.  So for example, you can do an isometric squat assessment on the force plates at specific knee angles that are somewhat specific to what the baseball player is doing on the field, and understand what forces they are producing in terms of peak force and RFD.  Then you can compare that with two things; with what they are doing in a dynamic movement in a jump type assessment, a power related assessment.  The other thing you can do is collect very granular data on players performing sporting actions at a very high intensity level, with force plates on the mound.

 

 

So immediately you can compare whether a player is able to express certain levels of force physically in an isolated movement which has nothing to do with their sport and then you bring that player into a specific motion at a high intensity and you are able to compare if there are any deficiencies there as that will give you a clue if there is a technical fault or whether the player is not physically ready to create certain levels of force.  So now you can start giving advice on whether to work from a technique correction point of view or whether this is purely an output problem that we have to develop in the weight room, for example.

 

Most people are doing very similar assessments but it is that research that you do in the background to try to filter a little bit the noise within the force plates and try to understand what are the metric that are more important for your specific environment.  For a point guard in basketball it might be this and this metric because this is important for what they have to do on the court and for a baseball player it might be two or three other metrics.

 

For speed, in baseball we used to use a 30 Yard dash as that is specific to first base distance, and use speed gates to get the splits for acceleration and top speed.  You can elaborate more on top with video analysis and more specific technique type assessments with 1080 and computer vision etc.

 

I want to be very clear that it is not so much about testing; it’s that as part of training we are sprinting, as part of training we are doing max strength, as part of training we are doing aerobic fitness type of sessions – well let’s find opportunities to measure that objectively and update our database with the information so that if a player gets hurt we have specific benchmarks and if we have to make specific adjustments we can go back and see what the player has been doing.”

 

With the stress that is on the upper specifically in baseball was there any sort of profiling that would happen in that area?

 

”Yes there is.  The three buckets that I mentioned are more performance based.  When it comes to prevention we can be a little more granular.  So for us in baseball it’s shoulders, elbows and hamstrings.  We were looking at a couple of isometric strength assessments with a couple of options- shoulder external and internal rotation strength balance and maximal outputs and then we have the ASH test with force plates to look at RFD for the shoulder.

 

 

It’s a lot more important for pitchers because of what they have to do in every single game so then we will try to pair that data collection with when they have to pitch and get an idea of how they are recovering from games and if there is anything we can do to adjust and prepare for the next outing.”

 

What do think about wearable technology and some of the trends now to monitor things outside of your training sessions?

 

”If you work in a very complex environment when you have one or two coaches for 30 or 35 players, how much can you use 24 hours of information from many of those players and make changes on a daily basis?  So that’s why I am going for very basic buckets for athlete profiling and just focus on simple things that can guide your training process and help you understand if your athletes are getting better from training cycle to the next one.; rather than trying to optimise 99% your recoverability from one day to the next, as that is something that is going to be really hard to do in professional sport environments.”

 

 

Top 5 Take Away Points:

  1. Show value to coaches in any way you can – make the life of the coaches that are working with you easier
  2. Keep your athletic profiling simple – three buckets – aerobic fitness, force and speed
  3. Use specific tests to answer specific questions – is it technical fault or the player is not physically ready to create certain levels of force?
  4. When it comes to prevention we can be a little more granular.  So for us in baseball it’s shoulders, elbows and hamstrings.
  5.  Keep it simple – just focus on simple things that can guide your training process and help you understand if your athletes are getting better from training cycle to the next one.

 

Want more info on the stuff we have spoken about?

 

You may also like from PPP:

 

Episode 372 Jeremy Sheppard & Dana Agar Newman

Episode 367 Gareth Sandford

Episode 362 Matt Van Dyke

Episode 361 John Wagle

Episode 359 Damien Harper

Episode 348 Keith Barr

Episode 331 Danny Lum

Episode 298 PJ Vazel

Episode 297 Cam Jose

Episode 295 Jonas Dodoo

Episode 292 Loren Landow

Episode 286 Stu McMillan

Episode 272 Hakan Anderrson

Episode 227, 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, 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

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=> Follow us on Twitter

Pacey Performance Podcast REVIEW- Episode 380 Alistair McBurnie & Tom Dos’Santos

This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 380 – Alistair McBurnie & Tom Dos’Santos

 

Alistair McBurnie

 

Alistair is a sports science analyst for Manchester United’s first team, having worked his way up from coaching at academy level.

 

Twitter

 

Tom Dos’Santo

 

Tom is a lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he teaches strength conditioning and sports biomechanics. Previously, he’s worked at the University of Salford, and England Northwest and Manchester Thunder netball squads.

 

Twitter

 

? Listen to the full episode here

 

Discussion topics:

 

Why is it so important that we do focus on both performance and injury risk and what’s your thoughts on the importance of training deceleration for both of those aspects?

 

”@Alastair: I think when we talk about deceleration we’re either referring to it as an action immediately preceding a sprint or the penultimate steps before a change of direction maneuver. So it’s almost like a prerequisite for a lot of actions or high intensity actions that are going on in match play across all team sports.

 

Performance Perspective

 

And I think from a performance perspective, a lot of Tom’s works looked into the penultimate steps preceding a change of direction maneuver. And we know that within that effective deceleration underpins effective change of direction performance. And that is simply because in order to reduce horizontal momentum and reduce the  requirements of the final change of direction foot plant, as a braking requirement, we almost want that final change of direction foot plant to be more of a propulsive element to which that deceleration and application of high deceleration braking force underpins that.

 

So from a performance perspective, I think being able to slam on the brakes both quickly and effectively will be conducive to change of direction performance, but also being able to react to situations in game play.  When players are trying to evade opponents, being able to create that separation from the opponent and exploiting the space is really important.

 

Injury Risk

 

From a more injury risk side of things, there’s a lot of things going on in terms of what are the implications from both a biomechanical and physiological perspective. We touched on this a lot in our recent review that was published in Sports Medicine. But essentially what we’re trying to discuss with respect to horizontal deceleration is that they are unique actions in comparison to other high intensity key performance indicators. We talk about acceleration and high speed running, being a very important thing to both expose athletes to, and prepare them for and monitor during the weekly training cycle.

 

But I think deceleration needs to have the same focus. And from a biomechanical perspective, you’ll see that, and this is the work done by Damian Harper. He likes to see a higher impact peak and loading rate from a deceleration, so that higher spike in ground reaction force you’ll typically see versus an acceleration which can be down to the rapidly imposed nature of horizontal decelerations, but also the movement strategy performed as well. So that heel foot contact and that stiffness in comparison to a more mid to forefoot striking strategy for your acceleration.

 

 

Then from a more physiological perspective, horizontal deceleration obviously have that really strong eccentric element to them which can impart muscle damage. And this is going to have acute implications as well as chronic implications because we also know that the high eccentric force requirements of horizontal decelerations can  disrupt the structural integrity of the muscle cells.  Over the course of a long competitive season, under fatigue conditions, that may actually exceed the muscles’ capacity to tolerate those high eccentric loads. And it could cause these acute muscle strain injuries we see.

 

But then probably from more a chronic perspective, we’re again talking about these team sport athletes who are required to repeat these high intensity performance over multiple matches, high fixture densities and repeating these high intensity actions may cause a sub maximal repetitive loading consequence, which may surpass the remodeling rate of the biological tissue because of the limited recovery timelines.

 

So in essence, we’ve got this athlete who if they aren’t physically prepared enough or don’t have the physical capacity to tolerate the high braking demands, as well as the technical proficiency to dissipate or attenuate the braking loads, coupled with the fact that they are required to repeat these high intensity actions multiple times within a training week or within a cycle, they may be susceptible to injury due to the elements that we’ve just discussed in terms of the biomechanics and physiology of decelerations.

 

So we want to understand that horizontal decelerations have these unique elements, which if we can understand and highlight, we can sequence them appropriately within a training cycle and hopefully reduce the relative risk of injury that athletes may be susceptible to, but also improve the performance as well, which I’m sure Tom can talk about a little bit more with his work.”

 

”@Tom:  As Alistair was stating before we can treat deceleration from a performance aspect from two perspectives; treating it as an isolated agility action. So if we consider Warren Young or Shepherd Young’s definition from 2006, a rapid whole body movement with a change of direction or velocity in response to stimulus. So deceleration in its own right is its own unique agility action, as Alistair was saying before.

 

Performance Perspective

 

We typically see it with our wingers potentially in rugby, American football, even soccer, doing those enforced decelerations from an attacking perspective to try and create that separation in order to maybe re-accelerate again or catch a ball or receive a pass.

 

Then from a change direction perspective, we’ve discussed something known as the kind of angle-velocity trade off. So typically as the angle increases, we need to reduce our horizontal momentum in order to perform that intended angle or change of direction. And typically, as angle increases our momentum muscle reduce and normally the ground contact time will increase in proportion to that angle.

 

Based on the biomechanical literature, it seems to be that in terms of the preliminary deceleration, there’s probably a minimal requirement to decelerate prior to, or for change of directions around about 45 degrees and below from a pre-planned perspective. Obviously there’ll be scenarios in multi-directional speed sports, where if you are having to perform a shallow change of direction where we only need to slam on the brake slightly for an acute angle change of direction, but typically in terms of the foot contact the second to last foot contact that we’re interested in (penultimate step), it seems to be 60 degrees and above, and we’ve even shown some evidence that even the anti-penultimate foot contact has a significant role in deceleration.

 

Figure- example of 180 degree cut

 

And again, some of the evidence seems to show that deceleration distances for these sharper change of directions can range from anywhere from about four to seven metres. So it highlights a multi-step nature of change of direction to reduce that momentum in order to deflect our center of mass.

 

So that’s key for performance. You’ve probably seen yourself as a practitioner athletes run too quickly and they can’t perform that intended angle of directional change, which probably affects their ability to deflect the centre of mass and makes them more susceptible to being tackled if it’s a invasion sport where we’re trying to evade our opponents. So it’s kind of like a speed accuracy trade off.

 

Injury Risk

 

Then from the injury risk perspective, deceleration actions are associated with injury inciting events. As Alistair has said before, we can get round about six times body weight of impact ground reaction forces within 50 milliseconds. So my background is ACL injuries. That seems to be the kind of window when these ACL injuries occur, these ACL injuries and other tissue injuries occur when we experience a mechanical load that exceeds its ultimate tensile strength.

 

So that could just be one single catastrophic load, the body’s load, and we can be referring to torques or knee moments in particular, which is just ground action force multiplied by the moment arm. So if you are landing stiffly and have a high impact ground reaction force, we’re potentially going to increase our knee joint loads and that could potentially increase load into the ACL and the other tissues and structures in the knee in particular. And over time if that single loads is high enough, that could result in a rupture, but as Alistair described really well before, potentially there’s this mechanism of a fatigue failure.

 

So we see athletes performing hundreds of decelerations, hundreds of change of directions without getting injured. So why is it that one time they do get injured? Is it because of a fatigue failure mechanism where we gradually get this reduction in structural integrity and the low tolerance of that tissue? If we experience chronic exposure to these sub maximal loads, which gradually weaken the knee ligament or the other tissues and without adequate rest and preparation, that sub maximal load now becomes a load that it can no longer tolerate, which therefore results potentially in a rupture or strain or whatever, the injury mechanism there is potentially there.

 

So they are associated with ACL injuries, other soft tissue injuries, ankle injuries in particular, if we experience some high inversion angular velocities, during decelerations. Jordan Mendiguchia, has been discussing this and another is JB Morin, if you’re talking about anterior pelvic tilt, and although knee injuries seem to be the predominant injuries associated with decels and change of directions, there’s also the potential to generate potentially some hamstring strain injuries as well. Particularly if we get rapid trunk flexion with an extended knee posture which we need when we’re decelerating.

 

And I think they’ve described it really well, particularly with an anterior pelvic tilt with this rapid trunk flexion, we’re going to get a lot of extreme lengthening and loading at the proximal portion of the hamstring. So in addition to knee injury risk from a knee ligament and a quadricep tendon and patellar tendon perspective, we’ve also got to be thinking on the posterior aspect and the proximal portion of our hamstrings as well.”

 

So with the importance of this based on what you’ve both said, let’s talk about monitoring and testing, so maybe come to you Tom, on testing, and then the monitoring side of thing day-to-day, come to you Alistair on that. Is that alright, Tom?

 

Testing

 

”@Tom: Yeah. So I suppose we’ll go from like bronze standard completely field based to the gold standard methods in terms of testing deceleration. So from a basic perspective, I think coaches need to start appreciating, maybe just using the coach’s eye and start evaluating the technical aspect in terms of deceleration and potentially using high speed cameras. We’ve all got smartphones. Generally, they all can record 120 frames per second or above. So there’s nothing to prevent us now from doing some enforced deceleration with athletes filming predominantly from the sagittal plane from the side and observing some of the technical characteristics.

 

Bronze Standard ?

 

If you have got the ability to observe in a frontal plane, we’ve experienced it before at Salford City, some of our players during just a simple linear deceleration task, will display high levels of knee valgus. So from a movement and quality perspective for every task, I know Kinogram is a very popular for acceleration. I think we should be doing the same deceleration from a movement quality perspective.

 

With the simple way of measuring deceleration, we need to be thinking about what the KPIs are, what are our key metrics that indicate an athlete who’s very successful and very competent at deceleration. So probably the key thing that we’re after is time to stop a deceleration or distance to stop. We want athletes to be able to brake very quickly over a short amount of time and over a short distance.

 

So one crude way of doing it is just simply with a tape measure. There have been some research studies that have used a tape measure. Now one way is to run and once they get to the cone and the tape measures, they slam on the brakes. Not the best way of doing it. A lot of athletes will probably adopt a kind of pace strategy or start decelerating prior.

 

The next step I’ll probably recommend is probably again using high speed cameras.  There’s probably two ways of assessing deceleration, which Damien Harper speaks about and I think Phil Graham Smith has done before.  We have decelerating to a predefined point. So maybe that’s 15 or 20 metres, or you sprint to a certain distance and once you reach that marker, then you slam on the brakes. So Damien Harper’s a big advocate for that one. Phil Graham Smith has done the former where you actually decelerate to a predetermined point.

 

So what we could do with our cameras, we could position the camera probably about five to 10 metres away in the sagittal plane from the marker. And what Damien Harper did is he examined the approach velocity from 19 to 20 metres just before they had to slam on the brakes and then using your cameras, you can identify a tracking marker potentially on the pelvis or use the whole body if you wanted to. And then you would measure the distance it’s taken them to decelerate from that marker, past that point. And you could work out the time to stop. So we get a distance to stop and a time to stop.

 

But what we need to factor in is the athlete’s approach velocity as well, because it’s going to be bias towards lower momentum athletes. If you are a larger momentum athlete so heavier and faster, you’re at a disadvantage, because you’re going to require greater braking or net, horizontal braking impulse to decelerate and reduce your momentum.

 

The issue with those tasks is that it does require 2D analysis. So it can be a bit more time consuming and based on some of Damien Harper’s or Phil and Paul Jones’s research, athletes tend to start decelerating before that 20 metre mark. So they were reporting deceleration distances of three to four meters, when in fact they actually started decelerating potentially one to three metres before that point. So that’s something that we need to bear in mind if you are just measuring distance to stop from that predefined point.

 

Silver Standard ?

 

Probably the next step or the best way to go is potentially using like a radar or a laser device. So we have Stalker speed guns. So that’s what Damien Harper’s used. That samples at 47 Hertz, so we get an instantaneous velocity profile for our athletes. I know Paul Jones or Phil Graham Smith have used LabX which I think sample at 100 Hertz, so we get a bit more data. With deceleration we’re interested in meters per second squared and some people are interested in peak deceleration values. However, that only represents one data point and that could just be a freak or random part of data.

 

 

So I know Damien’s a big advocate of measuring average deceleration drawing the deceleration task and he started breaking it down into early and late deceleration. And the beauty with that device is we’re able to identify when they’ve started decelerating. So even if you are putting that 20 metre checkpoint, you can identify if they’re decelerating, maybe two to three metres earlier. And that’s what Damien Harper seems to be finding. Maybe around about the 17 and a half metre marker point, they seem to be putting on the brakes, which is fine as long as you are monitoring. He identifies deceleration distance as the distance from when they’ve achieved peak velocity to going towards that back pedal. So zero meters per second, and then in a negative direction.

 

So we can get those metrics from that. And in terms of the potential metrics that we want to examine, we can get our deceleration distance.  They seem to be our two KPIs that we’re interested in. So getting the distance to stop and time to stop with appreciation of that athlete’s entry velocity. So I don’t think it’s one single metric, we have discussed a possibility of maybe creating a ratio. So take the athlete’s initial entry velocity, and then maybe looking at the ratio of that entry velocity or peak speed and their distance and time to stop.

 

I believe the Ergo Test is another device that’s around about 5,000-10,000 Euros. Stalker speed gun is a bit more affordable, about $2,500 and LabX, I think a bit more difficult to hold of. I believe companies such as Playermaker, which is wearable for the foot, are working on the device potentially to start monitoring it in the field. And then the unique aspect of that is we’ll start to be able to monitor foot to foot and load distribution between left and right limbs to see if there’s any asymmetries.

 

LED React, another company are using radar and they’re creating kind of like a 25 metre radius dome, and they’re potentially working on a deceleration test using that same similar bit of technology.

 

Gold Standard ?

 

Probably the gold standard, but probably very difficult to implement in a field would be 3D motion analysis where we can get that instantaneous assessment of centre of mass velocity, but that requires Qualisys or Vicon, very difficult to implement in the field. Although there are now the advancements in marker-less technology as well and I know Jonas Dodoo has started using Binary sports app where identify the marker, and then they automatically track them. Not too sure on the validity of that approach.

 

But again, a bit more insight into not only just a kind of the instantaneous velocity, but we’ll get a bit more insight into how they’re performing the deceleration, so you can get some insights into some of the spatial temporal characteristics, limb velocities, step length, step frequencies, etc. So that’s a really good, I think there’s a lot of potential there. And I think over the next three to five years, I think marker-less technology will be amazing and probably bridging the gap, getting more insights to practitioners in the field.”

 

From a day-to-day monitoring point of view, Alistair, when it comes to deceleration, what kind of things are you doing? Is it like deceleration count? Is it deceleration intensity using player tracking etc?

 

Monitoring

 

”@Alistair: I think Tom’s alluded to a lot of potential technologies down the line are going to be very useful and give us a lot more insights to assessing and monitoring these actions. But I think based on current technologies (and I think pretty much every top club are using them now) is usually through GPS tracking. It is obviously very useful and it tells you a lot of information in relation to  the volume and also the intensity of whole body movements.

 

I’d like to underline that it is just whole body movement and for us to really understand what’s going on in terms of what is the actual movement strategy of the athlete, we currently won’t get that. We’re able to more deeply analyze supposed centre of mass velocity with these units. But I think even that will take a lot of extra work within the day-to-day practices. So like you said, we’re using count currently. I think it’s over three meters per second squared where we are classifying them as high intensity actions. And that’s the same for accelerations as well.

 

I’d like to highlight that there are differences between the demands of a high intensity acceleration versus a high intensity deceleration, which currently just use the same arbitrary cut off value, whether it’s three metres per second or 2.5 metres per second or whatever. But in actual fact the actual maximum rates of deceleration are much higher than acceleration. We also know about the biomechanical requirements of decelerations versus accelerations being very different. There may be a bit more of a metabolic cost to accelerations versus greater biomechanical loading of decelerations.

 

So I think we probably need to look into it a little bit more to see how we’re actually evaluating the different actions instead of using these arbitrary thresholds. I know that there’s been recent work, I think Damien was involved again to do with individualizing a high intensity locomotive profile using both acceleration and deceleration, but also your max aerobic speed and max velocity. And I think they’re the key things really going forwards because if we move away from horizontal decelerations just for a second, high speed running at the moment, we’re all using this arbitrary cut off, whether it’s 19.8 kilometres an hour or 20 kilometres per hour to assign the absolute volume of running that they’re doing at that intensity.

 

I think if we really want to individualize it, you want to be using that max aerobic speed versus the maximum sprint speed and getting that anaerobic speed reserve. And I think the same can be said for horizontal decelerations as well. So unfortunately I don’t have the answers to what potentially can be the next movement for the centre of mass velocity elements but I think realistically, we want to be getting the inter-limb differences, which these more foot based accelerometer technologies are going to be offering just to get a bit more insight into what are the asymmetrical loading patterns between limbs.

 

And obviously there’s going to be position elements to that position specific elements to that and just more simply individual elements to that. You know, some players might prefer to use or have a dominant leg to turn off or to decelerate off. And if we’re able to monitor that at both the acute chronic level, we will be able to uncover the trends in relation to if one specific limb is getting overloaded versus another one potentially getting under-loaded? So is there going to be spikes in workload between the limbs in that sense?

 

So I think until we have these technologies validated and more use in research going forwards, we’re at a point where we’re going to have to make do with what we’ve got currently. And I mean, there’s still valuable insights to be made from GPS.

 

And I think if we’re to focus on horizontal deceleration as a key performance indicator within a weekly micro cycle, we’re looking at it from these two acquisition days. So on a day-to-day; we’re looking at two acquisition days, maybe potentially being a G -4 and a G -3, that being the days before a game, as these are windows of opportunity to  train horizontal decelerations.  From a monitoring perspective, you might get that using just simply counts of horizontal decelerations, you can get an indication as to the volume that has been carried out in a training session, whether that is through athletic development training or the sport specific practice through manipulation of drill parameters.

 

You could maybe see typically on an intensive day where the pitch areas are a bit smaller and you’ll see a larger volume of accelerations and deceleration and change of directions being performed. And then that will give us an indication of the volume of deceleration work that these players have been exposed to during training day or this intensive theme day. And I think that is more your volume element and I think Damien Harper discusses this kind of deceleration endurance aspect if we’re looking at it from a more physical rationale.

 

However, then I’d also highlight that in a typically more, what we call extensive training theme where you open up the pitch areas and typically, this is where you get the exposures to maximum velocity, and there’s higher volumes of high speed running, which is obviously a key training theme within the week. If you’ve got one match at the end of the weekend and on these extensive training days, we’re going for that high intensity movement speed. But you’d probably also see these high intensity decelerations be performed there. So with the greater distances that you typically get in from opening up the pitch areas, this enables higher movement speeds, which require more intense braking to slow the athletes down.

 

So I think if we’re looking at volume on an intensive training day and looking at the volume of high intensity deceleration actions on a more of a extensive training focus day, you might want to look at the intensity of the high intensity deceleration. And I know Tom’s criticized that potentially maximal deceleration doesn’t tell you a great deal because it can actually be just an erroneous movement action. And obviously the kind of unit error involved in that as well from a technology sampling rate perspective, it’s difficult to uncover. But maybe it’s just a way of informing are we actually exposing our athletes to high intensity or very high intensity deceleration actions that potentially offers a bit of insight, and opportunity to track that over time to see when our athletes, when our players have been exposed to above 90 to 95% of their maximum sprinting speed. And if they’ve not done that in the last few weeks, that’s something that we need to sit down and go, right, we need these players to be exposed to that stimulus.

 

And I think the same can be true for horizontal decelerations. I think if a player’s not being exposed to maximal intensity decelerations, it’s something that we need to sit down and go, right, well, we need to make sure that we’re preparing these athletes because this is going to be happening in competition.

 

I think currently based on the technologies that we have available to us at the moment, talking more about these whole body measures of exercise volume and intensity with GPS tracking, I think they’re probably our best bets to give us insights into the volume and intensity of actions. And there’s obviously frequency and density and all that kind of thing that needs to go on as well. But I think moving forwards, we really want to have a bit more insight into the interim differences between what potential deceleration loading is occurring which these kind of accelerometers like Playmaker or the IMUs and maybe give us a bit more insights into all the spatial temporal factors, such as ground contact times, stride rate, stride frequency.

 

We don’t actually know what athletes are exposed to during competition and training. Hopefully we can end up using these technologies in a bit more of our day to day practice to actually uncover the trends on an individual basis to see what is normal for an athlete and go, right, okay. So this player performs a significant amount of turns or deceleration on their left limb. Why is that? Is that a positional requirement? But then to go, is that normal for them? And actually, you know, they might turn a lot more off their left limb and they might actually have a lot more loading going on through their left limb. Just trying to find a bandwidth of what is normal, what is a spike, what is an under-loading to inform more individualized training strategies or interventions as a consequence of that monitoring.”

 

 

Top 5 Take Away Points:

 

  1. Horizontal decelerations are unique actions in comparison to other high intensity key performance indicators
  2. There are several testing options ranging from smart phone recordings, to radar guns to motion tracking.
  3. Currently GPS tracking is the main way of monitoring decelerations in professional sport
  4. There are key differences between the demands of a high intensity acceleration versus a high intensity deceleration with more of a metabolic cost to accelerations versus greater biomechanical loading of decelerations.
  5.  Future research – measurement of inter-limb differences using foot based accelerometer technologies

 

Want more info on the stuff we have spoken about?

 

Science of Multi-Directional Speed

 

You may also like from PPP:

 

Episode 372 Jeremy Sheppard & Dana Agar Newman

Episode 367 Gareth Sandford

Episode 362 Matt Van Dyke

Episode 361 John Wagle

Episode 359 Damien Harper

Episode 348 Keith Barr

Episode 331 Danny Lum

Episode 298 PJ Vazel

Episode 297 Cam Jose

Episode 295 Jonas Dodoo

Episode 292 Loren Landow

Episode 286 Stu McMillan

Episode 272 Hakan Anderrson

Episode 227, 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

 

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Pacey Performance Podcast REVIEW- Episode 373 Jeremy Sheppard & Dana Agar-Newman

This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 373 – Jeremy Sheppard & Dana Agar-Newman

 

Jeremy Sheppard

Jeremy is a strength conditioning coach with Canada Snowboard, previously having also worked with the Canadian Sport Institute.

Twitter

Dana Agar-Newman

Dana is a senior practitioner at the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific, and a head strength conditioning coordinator at the University of Victoria.  He has also worked in rowing and rugby, including with the Canadian women’s rugby sevens team at Rio 2016.

Twitter

 

The duo have recently written the jumping and landing training chapter in High Performance Training for Sports (second edition).

 

 

? Listen to the full episode with Jeremy & Dana here

 

Discussion topics:

 

When it comes to jumping testing and analysis what options have we got?

 

”Thinking about how we’re testing jumping is more important now than ever as technology is expanding rapidly.  There are a number of tools out there that can give you a number for jump height but it may not actually be how high that athlete has truly jumped- their centre of mass, it may not even be a valid number.  So it’s really important to know how jump height is being calculated with the tool that we choose.

 

Even if we are using something like a force plate our choice of software can also impact whether we go with one company or another.

 

Flight time Method

 

  • My Jump – iPhone App – through frame rate of your camera
  • Opto jump
  • Jump matt

 

Another tool is something like a Vertec, and now a lot of us are using force plates using single or multiple force plates so you measure asymmetries and that uses the impulse-momentum method.  That;s important to know because all those tools give us a slightly different measure, so you’ll jump higher using the flight time method often than you will using the impulse-momentum method using the force plates.  The reason why is because the flight time method assumes you take off and land in the exact same position when in actual fact most athletes are going to land with a slight flexion of the hips and knees, and slight dorsi flexion in the ankle so it will inflate the jump heights slightly.

 

 

Each tool has advantages and also cons.”

 

Measure What Matters

 

When it comes to identifying the metrics we want to analyse how does that conversation differ between sports?

 

@Dana: ”You should always take your testing and try and compare it to the KPIs or your sport because there are so many metrics that come out of a force plate; I think in our script right now there are 90 metrics maybe even more, but you should really be trying to narrow those down because a lot of those metrics may be telling you the same story and a lot of them may not actually be that reliable.

 

So start with that, and then with the metrics that are reliable then you want to be comparing them to the key actions and KPIs within the game, so when this metric moves, that metric moves in the game as well.

 

You can look at different levels of athlete, that would be your basic level of analysis, so are these metrics different in lower level athletes compared to say higher level athletes.  Then you could look at a regression approach where you are predicting performance on the y axis and the force plate metric on the x axis; if the force place metric moves I know that I can expect to see a certain movement in this performance metric.  And probably a more advanced way of doing it is to look at the individual level so you’re saying with this individual athlete, when this metric moves I expect to see this metric to move over here in this KPI.”

 

@Jeremy: ”Take volleyball for example, there are some sports where the KPI is the outcome of the jump, and the outcome of the jump is how high you jump.  That’s really important not to forget, and the variables we look at can help us to differentiate individualised training but there may be variables within a jump or even a something like a style of jump or a context that never or rarely occurs in the sport but it has a relationship to a component, and that component relates to the KPI skill.

 

 

So if I think of the spike jump in volleyball, where you have an approach, well you might say there is no depth jump involved.  But what we found, and what we have repeatedly found over and over again, is that depth jump performance is related to your ability to attenuate those forces in your approach and convert from horizontal to vertical.

 

If you’re looking at measuring the spike jump performance in context there is so much noise, but if you take a depth jump that’s very repeatable, and that depth jump relates to that transition ability of horizontal to vertical.  So the influence of the depth jump and its unique way of developing or in this case testing the stretch shortening cycle relates to your ability to take those steps and then transition in the penultimate step to convert into a vertical displacement.  It’s not cause and effect but it has a high influence on that.  So then you connect those dots to the actual performance.”

 

@Dana: ”there is a big push to make testing super super sport specific, but we already have a sport specific test and that’s watching the game!  The question really comes well why is this athlete not able to jump as high as possible above the blocker (to use Jeremy volleyball example).  You need to take the test and make it more general.  Another example would be a lot of these aerobic tests that have become super sport specific.  Well if the athlete tests poorly on it, well was it because they had a poor vVO2, poor change of direction ability, their anaerobic speed reserve wasn’t that big?  You’ll still left with the question, what was the limiting factor with this athlete, and there is a place for making the test more general.”

 

Are there any considerations for individualising training for youths versus seniors or males versus females etc?

 

Youth vs Adults

 

@Jeremy: ”You need to learn your context, which is not a quick fix if you are new to the sport.  You might do your neuromuscular profiling but with children you might identify some really great things to do but I’m still not going to do them because of a myriad of other reasons, because of their biological ability to tolerate that load, because they might be growing fast, and because we want to be here for a good time and a long time, so you might subordinate the ”correct thing” muscularly in the hierarchy of training needs because they have so much gain to make elsewhere.

 

The analogy I make with this, is similar to nutritional supplementation – I do not like to buy nutritional supplements for athletes who cannot drive past a McDonalds because what’s the point? You have to earn the right to be in the penthouse suite and you have to have a foundation.  So that 15 year old might need a lot of other things first, and it’s not that the cool neuromuscular stuff is not important, but they are getting a lot of jump volume from playing the sport, and maybe I don’t want to add to it until their movement is better, their knowledge of recovery and regeneration is better.  If I keep adding highly individualised neuromuscular training just because I can, and my ego says that that makes me feel better at the end of the day, I may be creating a false economy and a false message.   So what me measure matters as it communicates to our athletes what we think is important.

 

You train a dog, you coach people.  So it’s about the bigger picture of education.

 

Men and Women

 

One of the challenges is if you have a sport where they depth and participation is really low it can actually be difficult to make well intended differentiation between men and women.  Whereas a sport like volleyball is wonderful because the participation is high and the depth is tremendous.  And so I find myself looking at trends in stature and strength levels and looking at ”people who present this way, rather than men who and women who,” as the top level of men and women because the participation in both sexes is really high.

 

@Dana: ”As athletes move up in sport, the top level can be quite homogenous, so a variable that could separate high and low level performers may no longer separate elite performers and the metric you look at maybe slightly different depending on your population.

 

The analogy I like to give is that if you’re going to a dance to find your life partner, the metric you need that $15 to get your ticket to the dance.  But once you get into that dance, your dancing skill begin to matter.  Can you dance?  So money matters initially, but later on it’s something else, can you dance?  It’s the same thing with testing athletes.  Certain things may be important when testing low level athletes, and may no longer separate the population with higher level athletes.”

 

I’d love to get some insights and your process you go through when choosing exercises for jump training?

 

@Dana: ”In diving the youngest divers I get in the weight room are 12/13 years old and the oldest diver at the Toyko Olympic games is 27 years old.  So a very different thought Initially it is all about teaching them a wide variety of movements in the gym, teaching them to land properly and teaching those skills and maximising training days.  With the higher level athlete it comes down to the assessment driving the exercise selection.

 

  • Loaded Jump profile – squat jump
  • Isometric mid-thigh pull (IMTP)
  • Counter movement jump (CMJ)
  • Depth jump profile

 

From those tests there I’ll choose my variety of exercises along with a conversation with the coach to see what they are seeing technically.  So there are some things that are really hard to measure if you get stuck using that single tool.  It gives you nice easy numbers to interpret but I think its really important to go back and observe that athlete qualitatively [performing their skill].

 

 

Initially I was really big in doing the Force-Velocity (F-V) profile with my higher level athletes and training off the F-V profile.  I was finding results exactly you find in the research, where everyone’s jump heights improved initially, but after a while, once they are optimal (and the divers got to optimal really quickly because they were doing a tonne of jumping every day and training consistent in the weight room).  So what I ended up doing is biasing them to more Force dominant in the off-season and then I would try to shift them to optimal (doing more velocity work) and sharpen the knife leading into competition.  What I found is that if I was trying to keep them at optimal I wasn’t moving the needle at all.

 

The Depth Jump Profile

 

If you find that you need to work on the more elasticity and stretch tolerance of the athlete something I would also recommend is to jump off a series of increasing heights and the key thing to note is that athletes should be experienced at depth jumps.  If they are, what you will find is that athlete’s jump height will continue to increase as they drop from increasing height up until a certain point and then it will start decreasing again.

 

So the question myself and Jeremy discuss often is, should we train at the optimal height where they jump highest or are we better to train slightly at the deflection point where they are starting to come down again?

 

For me in the off-season I will train at the deflection point and then leading into season I’ll train at the optimal where they are jumping the highest.  I don’t have any research to back that up but it seems to be working.

 

@Jeremy: ”I’ll do jumps above that deflection point and some times much higher but they just land- because landing is so critical to snowboarding.  I’ll also do jumps below optimal but it’s a different style/skill, where I don’t instruct them to jump as high as possible.  Having them do these lower heights where the point is not necessarily to optimise the impulse, it’s to basically get off the ground as quickly as possible, so it’s a different style and when I write that in the programme its a drop jump, not a depth jump.

 

Is programming for a sport that has one big jump different from a sport where you have to jump hundreds of times a game?

 

@Dana: ”I think that comes down to conditioning.  You need to train what you do, so you need to increase your capacity of movements, as well as how high you can jump, and both of those things are important.  In a sport like volleyball to build that repeatedly I probably wouldn’t be doing that much stuff at body weight, I’d probably doing a few things to stimulate qualities such as doing heavier and lighter than bodyweight as they are already doing so much jumping at bodyweight.  I’d probably also be looking to implement a few worse case scenarios in training, and looking if they are already getting that in the training.  If they are then I wouldn’t be doing that outside of the training session in the weight room.  But if for certain athletes who aren’t getting enough game time to stimulate those physical qualities you may need to pull it out to a more general setting to stimulate certain qualities.  So you have to look at what they are getting out of the sport and then fill in the pieces.

 

@Jeremy: ”What happens when you working in a sport like Volleyball where there is so much jumping you’re going to have the good fortune of meeting a freak, who has an extraordinary physical quality or skill and in volleyball that shows up often because you’re testing jumping all the time.  Your outlier in the vertical jump can often be your least well rounded strength trained athlete.  In the gym setting and any other strength assessments you do, they are not the impressive one and they are often one of the ones you are most concerned about and don’t test well.

 

Where that will manifest is that they will have the largest drop in their jump sustainability in say their 1st set to their 5th set, or over the course of a tournament.  Now you could argue that that’s okay because even at the end of the match or the tournament they are still jumping better than other people, but it still leaves clues what you’re looking at.

 

Leave your ego at home thinking you’re going to part of a project to take a 100 cm vertical jumper and take his vertical jump and make it 105 cm because really the work that is punching you in the face, is if someone is dropping that much over the course or a match or tournament, that opens up a big window of probability of injury because they are playing until tremendous fatigue and literally speaking they cannot handle the rigours of the sport.

 

And if they are this alpha that is a major athletic quality on the team then the success of the team is related to their ability to stay in the match, and so the work might actually be the boring stuff, and the actual job to be done is movement quality and making them neuromuscularly stronger that’s going to make each landing less fatigue inducing.  So you don’t change the game but the game is now relatively less fatiguing for the athlete.  So what you have to put your ego around is the fact that you’re going to make your 5th set performance much better!

 

@Dana: ”In terms of landing during jump assessments, how the athlete lands can influence the metrics you are seeing.  For example, if you absorb the force over a greater time you are going to find lower peak force and that comes down to impulse (which is Force x time) which is essentially your change in momentum.  But absorbing force over greater time may not be applicable depending on the sport you may be working with, and so you may have to absorb that force quicker so there will be a higher peak force to get that same area under the curve.   So the jump strategy should be sport dependent and the strategy will influence what metrics you are doing to look at.”

 

 

Top 5 Take Away Points:

 

  1. Sport KPIs- You should always take your testing and try and compare it to the KPIs or your sport
  2. Indirect KPIs – something that rarely or never occurs in the sport but it has a relationship to a component, and that component relates to the KPI skill (e.g depth jump vs. approach spike jump in volleyball)
  3. Signal vs the Noise – there is a place for general tests to best identify limiting factors in athletes.
  4. Training at the optimal jump height – case for training at the deflection point and then leading into season I’ll train at the optimal where they are jumping the highest.
  5. Jump sustainability – athlete with largest drop in jump sustainability is often biggest injury risk.

 

Want more info on the stuff we have spoken about?

 

You may also like from PPP:

 

Episode 367 Gareth Sandford

Episode 362 Matt Van Dyke

Episode 361 John Wagle

Episode 359 Damien Harper

Episode 348 Keith Barr

Episode 331 Danny Lum

Episode 298 PJ Vazel

Episode 297 Cam Jose

Episode 295 Jonas Dodoo

Episode 292 Loren Landow

Episode 286 Stu McMillan

Episode 272 Hakan Anderrson

Episode 227, 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, 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 367 Gareth Sandford

This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 367 – Gareth Sandford

Gareth Sandford

Researcher and physiologist for Athletics Canada, working with the Canadian Sports Institute, and the University of British Columbia.

Website

Background: 

 

Gareth Sandford

 

He previously earned his master’s in Sport Science and Physiology, where he did a year’s placement at Chelsea Football Club. He has also coached in the UK, US and in a tribal community in India.

 

? Listen to the full episode with Gareth Sandford here

 

Discussion topics:

 

What is the Anaerobic Speed Reserve and Why Would You Use It?

 

”Signal vs. Noise Principle- what question are we trying to answer? What decision do I want to try and make at the end? I want a test with high signal and low noise, so if I want to measure aerobic fitness and I include a COD in that test (which includes an acceleration and a deceleration), or if I include a rest period……which has an implication for different recovery kinetics between individuals both from a ventilation/breathing side of things but also what is going on in the muscle.

 

Every time I add another one of these factors to the test I am creating more noise and so the thing I originally wanted to look at and make a decision about, which was aerobic fitness, I’m now adding more and more variables to. So, when I re-test did they improve because their COD was better, meaning they were better at accelerating and/or decelerating, or is it better because we got some peripheral adaptation and the muscle can better recover from that high intensity effort? Or is it because the training we did aerobically worked and we got fitter from that? And if we are honest, I can’t answer that question clearly. Now I understand there is this tension between sport specific nature of a test and sport specific training. But when it comes to sport specific testing I think you need to think about what are you trying to make a decision about?

 

I use a 50-m sprint (MSS) vs 6-minute trial (MAS).  The Anaerobic Speed Reserve is the difference between maximal sprinting speed (MSS) and running speed at VO2max”

 

 

What is the Critical Speed?

 

”Critical speed – is the last intensity where the body (from a fuel perspective) is primarily relying almost exclusively on the aerobic system to deliver that performance and in a highly trained endurance athlete (middle distance runner, 10K runner) you could sustain that intensity for 40-60 minutes, so for things like the half marathon, the 10k, marathon these are really important central variables to training and improving aerobic fitness. The reason that is important is because if you can raise that intensity, it essentially delays the chaos that goes on at a muscle level at a harder intensity. So a big aim of training is to raise that speed, and push that further and then build out from that speed your durability at that pace. So that’s one of the big aims with endurance training.

 

The challenge with implementing critical speed TESTING with runners is that a critical speed model requires a 2-3 minute all out effort and an all 12-minute effort. To use that test you are blowing a hole in someone’s training week. For the 2- and 12-minute scenario there are maybe, I’m going to say, less than 5 world class runners who could run you a reliable 2-minute and 12-minute all out effort; people like Laura Muir who are strong at 800m, 1500m, 3k, 5k. Therefore, the testing of critical speed is very challenging so what I tend to do is use a 6-minute trial (which might equate to about a 2k time trial).

 

Critical speed (or the lactate threshold- which is approximately, not exactly, similar to critical speed or the second inflection on a lactate curve) you would get that typically in an endurance athlete at 85-93% MAS. So, in a team sport athlete where the durability of those paces is not going to be as high, because it is not such an important training aim, that percentage is going to be slightly lower, probably in the 75-80% range, but what that also means is, there is some head room to push that up. So, when we are doing testing with our team sport athletes for aerobic purposes yes MAS is the thing we measure but we are using that for two purposes. 1- to prescribe sessions around MAS but also 2- to understand where approximately that critical speed is going to sit underneath it. And then we can use both of those as training zone stimulus with our athletes.”

 

What are the types of models that you can use in developing athletes with aerobic qualities like footballers?

 

”When you put a sub-group lens on top of that and look at the more endurance-based athletes within your group, the critical speed particularly, is like bread and butter for those guys. So someone like a Jordan Henderson or a James Millner, very different type of athlete to a Raheem Stirling. If you gave Raheem lots of long efforts at critical speed that would break someone like that; it’s too much of a stimulus from a number of angles. But for your more aerobic run all day type athlete that kind of stuff is really going to maximise the aerobic qualities they have. Whereas the more speed endurance, harder anaerobic stuff probably flattens them a bit (they don’t have the same glycolytic capability at a muscle level to cope with that). If you look at it from a muscle physiology perspective, if they are more slow twitch as an athlete their muscle machinery is built to work more aerobically, that’s their preference. So, you want to maximise that type of system in that type of athlete.

 

 

If you take Raheem the principle of critical speed is still important because there is a minimum aerobic demand to be able to handle 90 minutes 3 times a week. The question is how do you get there? The principle is still important, but you get there differently. This is where moving back from going ‘’here’s my training model, and going [instead] who have I got in front of me?’’ You can then be more specific in how you apply that critical speed principle to that speed-based athlete.

 

So someone with a speed based profile, who would probably have a slightly lower MAS and a very fast maximal sprinting speed, around 10 m/s sprinting speed (what I would consider a speed type athlete for team sport or middle distance endurance athlete). A more endurance-based athlete might be a bit lower on sprinting speed around 9 m/s but would have a very high MAS (so smaller speed reserve).

 

So the repeated speed or interval based approach is how I would tackle developing those aerobic qualities in those speed based athletes. There a few reasons for this; the research says that to build aerobic fitness you have to accumulate time at VO2 max. But the challenge is with that, if you are metabolically more fast twitch things become very anaerobic very, very quickly. And so the stimulus that was intended to be primarily aerobic actually isn’t. There are recovery and enjoyment implications of that and you just can’t get the type of volume you want to maximise that stimulus, and instead it tends to flatten and overcook people.

 

Repeated sprint or Interval based training allows you to run at a faster speed which is more mechanically in their wheelhouse. You can cap the amount of anaerobic based stimulus that is generating by duration of the repetition. Perceived exertion can be really high and very uncomfortable if they do a traditional plod. With intervals, you’re not looking to get faster, you’re just looking to build volume. As an example, 200m at 16-sec pace- let’s say calculate these speeds based of MAS and critical speed as an estimate and looking to build up the volume by the number of those reps you can do.

Now the more endurance- based runners I would actually consider taking a leaf out of some of the more middle-distance running philosophy and doing more tempo runs which is a workout that is in around that critical speed landmark, starting at the 6–8-minute repetition range length and build that out, progressing up to 20-30 min with a highly highly trained athlete (10 years training at 30 yrs old). So, I would be looking at how I could sneak that into my training week.”

 

What is Tempo running and what are the ways in which a coach can use it successfully to train his or her athletes?

 

”Jessica Enis case study: How do you build the endurance aspect of the 800 m race for example without taking away from the speed-based events (high jump, hurdles etc). It’s the same question middle distance and team sport coaches are asking. What they did was every day for a warm-up, Jess would do some kind of plodding jog. She didn’t particularly enjoy it but it was her warm-up. What they did over time was pick up the pace of that a little bit so that actually it was nearer the critical speed type effort, and they started with 2 mins, and then 3 and then 5-mins and all of a sudden across a week they accumulated up to 20-35 mins of work at critical speed. So micro-dosing it like that over time compounds and builds aerobic adaptation. So when you retest and you look at where MAS is you can judge those sessions of critical speed based on how someone is breathing. When we test that pace in the field and I’m listening to their breathing, If breathing is sounding like it is getting out on control then they are working too hard because they have moved beyond that sustainable pace.”

 

 

Top 5 Take Away Points:

 

  1. Signal vs. Noise Principle-  I want a test with high signal and low noise.
  2. The Anaerobic Speed Reserve is the difference between maximal sprinting speed (MSS) and running speed at VO2max
  3. Critical speed – is the last intensity where the body (from a fuel perspective) is primarily relying almost exclusively on the aerobic system to deliver that performance.
  4. Know your athlete – repeated speed or interval based approach better way to develop aerobic qualities in speed based athletes.
  5. Tempo runs – used as part of a warm-up can be useful way to micro-dose time spent at critical speed pace.

 

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

 

Twitter:

@Gareth_Sandford

 

You may also like from PPP:

 

Episode 372 Jeremy Sheppard & Dana Agar Newman

Episode 367 Gareth Sandford

Episode 362 Matt Van Dyke

Episode 361 John Wagle

Episode 359 Damien Harper

Episode 348 Keith Barr

Episode 331 Danny Lum

Episode 298 PJ Vazel

Episode 297 Cam Jose

Episode 295 Jonas Dodoo

Episode 292 Loren Landow

Episode 286 Stu McMillan

Episode 272 Hakan Anderrson

Episode 227, 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, 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 362 Matt Van Dyke

This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 362 – Matt Van Dyke

Matt Van Dyke

Director of Sports Science for the Houston Texans

Website

Background: 

 

Matt Van Dyke

 

As the Director of Sports Science for the Houston Texans, Matt is responsible for the management of training loads and other performance aspects implemented to each individual athlete in order to maximise performance and readiness. Prior to this, Matt has worked at the University of Texas and University of Denver, designing and implementing speed, strength, conditioning, and mobility training programs for men’s lacrosse, alpine ski, baseball, tennis, swimming and track and field.

 

Discussion topics:

 

Tell me a bit about your background

 

While I was getting my Masters I did two summer internships and six months full time working for Cal Dietz at University of Minnesota.  Then I moved to University of Denver as Head of Strength & Conditioning for 2.5 years, where I also met Dr Nick Studholme (he runs a system called FNOR – Functional Neural Orthopaedic Rehabilitation).  I transitioned to more of a sports science role at University of Texas looking at the athlete through a holistic lens.

 

I now work in an NFL setting and being part of a sports performance team where I sit in the middle of Strength & Conditioning staff, Sports Medicine Staff and Nutrition & Wellness, and from my perspective providing the best insight that we have available from the testing and monitoring into athlete availability for our coaches and management.

 

How do you decide what to test, and what metrics to evaluate within those tests?

 

You first have to evaluate what you as an individual or you as a staff VALUE, because you need to have a system and process of testing sports performance.  Understand that the context of it is king, as we all understand that an athlete isn’t great because their jump metric is ‘X’ and there is way more that goes into it.

  • What aspects do we feel are valuable linked to on field performance?
  • Link between positional demands and physical preparation
  • What is our end goal of change and did we create that change?
  • In season is really about fatigue management, and that’s where auto-regulation comes into play
  • We have to be able to have actionable data- we don’t just want to collect data
  • Create buy in, which ensure that the athlete gives effort in their testing.
  • How can we help them recover more and create that unbreakable athlete?

 

Would you mind taking us through the six pillars of athletic performance?

 

”I would say that those six pillars in some combination or other create every single athlete movement goal or process that an athlete can produce on the field.

 

 

(taken from article: Athlete assessments: evaluation of more than just athletes)

 

Now it’s all about fitting the training programme that you are going to implement based on the context that you have available; so if you talk to Cal he is going to use block periodisation for all of these; well he is going to have his athletes for 40 something weeks of the year potentially so that’s going to be a different model than a group that potentially has 8-10 weeks with their athletes out of the year, and obviously as you progress through different levels of sport the availability to them changes pretty drastically.

 

Repeat sprint ability is truly your end goal for the majority of team sports.

 

This would look different for a cyclical sport like track & field or swimming etc.  The speed component is ultimately what we are chasing after but if we are only going to see our athletes at certain times throughout a year and they are get a lot of that from on field then we are going to focus on the pieces that will move the needle that they are probably not getting. But again, it entirely depends on the context of the situation that you are in, of how you would programme to achieve each of those.

 

In terms of the energy system work for repeat sprint ability the oxidative system is not going to be specifically trained like it would in a block periodisation system, but it’s going to be more like a repeat sprint ability, we’re not going to go out and train the glycolytic system and run 300 yard shuttles because that’s not beneficial to them.  They need to produce intense amounts of force and energy in a matter of 4-6 seconds, sometimes as short as 2-5 seconds, and then recover from that.  So in the couple of weeks we have with them we are going to make sure that we are preparing them for those demands and not just necessarily the long slow aerobic work.”

 

How would you programme for those demands of the key 3-4 second bursts before the sub when you have those constraints?

 

”The more I look at it, the more I’m going to err on the side of quality training.  If I’m looking at velocity drop off in the gym or the field we don’t want to see ever greater than a 10% drop, then we are training in a fatigued state.  There are times in a game when you are going to need to do that, but if you use the analogy of the heavy slow back squat versus the drop jump, the impulse is going to be significantly higher in the drop jump even though the total force over the two jumps may be similar.  So we want to look at the impulse and the quality of that foot strike with limited time, and once they can do it once, can we get them to do it  repeatedly.

 

Early on in the off-season will have days designed specifically for acceleration, change of direction, some type of volume training so it’s going to be a little bit more the conditioning side of things and then as we gear towards the season it’s going to be more of a repeat sprint ability. It’s almost like a high to low approach but then as you get closer to the season it’s going to be more like a high to moderate approach as the lows aren’t really lows anymore, as if you are going to practice for 3-4 days in a row the athletes have to be prepared for that.”

 

Let’s dive into the strength pillar.  Tell us a little bit more about the triphasic method and your take on it

 

”The big pieces of it are the 6 physical components that we have spoken about already, but then really it’s about how can we take the work that Cal has done and then restructure it slightly to fit into the context that we were in at Denver.

 

The most important take away is that people want to talk about just the eccentric, the isometric and the concentric and say okay well that’s the triphasic system, but the way I look at it is, yes the muscle action is a component of the triphasic system but when you really get into it there is also that modified undulated block within the week that he is going to do, and the block periodisation.  Cal has undulated the programme in order to ensure that there are never too many training qualities trained in the same block.  And so that block periodisation piece is going to break up each of those physical performance qualities and train them based on how long they are retained within the athlete’s body.

 

The eccentric, isometric and concentric pieces are obviously key and people understand that and implement that the most.   Realistically it is shifting into that power and speed, creating more of an elastic tensile system and now can I do that under high velocity conditions which are going to be required in sport.  Now the majority of time is going to be spent in that strength component because you never really know what an athlete has done when they come to you, and the motor learning from eccentric and isometric is going to play a key role as well.”

 

Daz comment- Matt wrote a fascinating article as a guest post on Max Schmarzo Blog ‘Programming Application to Match Desired Adaptations, (October 2017).’

 

He talks about how he integrates the Joe Kenn Tier System to improve basic strength and then uses the Triphasic system to peak his athletes and improve reactive strength  (what Matt calls his ”Tierphasic” system).

 

  1. Increase fitness and function
  2. Improve basic strength (Tier system)
  3. Improve reactive strength (Triphasic system)
  4. Increase power and speed
  5. Maintain physical attributes throughout competitive season

 

The Triphasic system takes the newly developed force producing capabilities and increases the use of that strength in a reactive manner. It is in this phase the three muscle action phases are individually trained as this continues to allow adaptation to both the nervous system, muscle tissue as well the biomechanical efficiency of that movement.  The stretch-shortening cycle is the focus of Triphasic training, and the goal of triphasic training is to train and optimise each component of the stretch-shortening cycle separately.  In the final concentric phase timed sets become particularly important (around 55-80% 1RM, mean bar velocity 0.67-1.0 m/s).

 

The final off-season primary goal consists of training that improves the athlete’s power and speed.  I believe this is the most critical aspect for the transfer of training onto the competitive field in many sports as they are completed at the highest velocities (around 55% 1RM or less, mean bar velocity 1.0 m/s).  This is known as the ‘below 55’ method.  It can use light weights, at body weight, and accelerated speeds.

 

Oscillatory training is utilised in this block to prepare your muscles to fire as rapidly as possible, and also train your antagonist to relax more quickly, allowing an even faster contraction.

 

 

French contrast training is utilised throughout all of the triphasic blocks.  These series of styles of plyometrics, including weighted, body weight and accelerated, prepare them for the below 55 training block.

 

How did you programme oscillatory training into the triphasic method?

 

Oscillatory (OC) training is implemented throughout the Triphasic Training Method.  To the untrained eye, these brief, 3-4 inch movements applied with well trained athletes can appear gimmicky and useless, this could not be further from the truth.  The OC methods utilised are able to improve strength within specific movement ranges, and involve a rapid ‘push-pull’ motion in an attempt to maximise the ability of an athlete to reverse the muscle action phase at high velocity.

 

When we actually get into the strength it does depend on how many days you have to train but typically about 2 days or so of eccentric training is going to give you a good stimulus, and same for isometrics.  Based on the context of how you are implementing it whether you have 3 or more days training, if you had three days then we would typically implement it in the strength block.  So if you have 3 days of training, days 1 (medium intensity-medium volume) and 3 (lower intensity and high volume) would be whatever muscle action you are in (eccentric, isometric, concentric), and then that middle one would be the reactive day (high intensity low volume) so we are going to potentially do timed sets there to match the weight room to the demands (such as 5 seconds get as many reps as you can).

 

Tissue tolerance using OC

 

Tissue tolerance is created through the use of 30 second OC work in the general preparation training block.  In this phase the athlete is introduced to the OC methods through a moderate intensity and increased volume.    It is through the increased volume that strength and skill learning within specific ranges of motion take place, while also maximising the metabolic requirements of the general preparation block.

 

Strength and power blocks

 

You are typically going to train that in a disadvantageous position so you are going to train that in your weakest range of motion with high loads above 80%.  Bear in mind 80% 1RM is only 80% of your strength at your weakest position, and so that oscillatory method puts you at that sticking point for the entire 5 seconds so now you are talking about training strength at their weakest position.

 

 

Speed phase

 

As you progress through the blocks you can switch that oscillatory into more of an advantageous position now its about more about speed, or a critical joint angle that you might be in during acceleration or top speed.   With the goal of maximising neural drive in the speed phase the advantageous position can be utilised, with moderate loads of 45-55% 1RM.

 

The ultimate goal of the entire system is this thought process of contraction and relaxation agonist and antagonist working together, and there is a huge component of motor learning.

 

 

That’s why eccentric to isometric to concentric (reactive), and then power and speed (which are commonly left off because we are focused on the strength component) is important to remember that the firing patterns are most changed by the high velocity movements.

 

So with this skill learning of this speed training programme did we create a change in that relaxation- as the only difference between Matveyev’s fourth and fifth level classification of athlete was how fast they can relax their antagonist.

 

Progress throughout the Annual Cycle

 

As increased data is collected within the annual cycle, the time of year also becomes important in the evaluation process. With the understanding of athlete progression from general to specific throughout the annual process, it should be accepted they will not perform at the highest level on all testing metrics throughout the entire year. Rather, there should be key milestones within the annual training process that an athlete should aim for based on their individual results from the previous year and the positional baseline requirements.

 

If each group (sports coaches, medical team and S&C team) has a different goal for an athlete that does not work in synchronisation, the athlete will not experience the full benefits of the program being implemented. This misalignment could happen anywhere in the organisation and create a situation that could have easily been avoiding with communication.

 

This becomes particularly important in transition periods within the annual cycle. All groups must understand the goal and outputs required of athletes when a new phase begins. The example in the Figure below represents those phases and how the consistent building for “what is next?” is critical for athlete performance and reduced injury risk. When this pattern is understood by everyone involved, athlete assessments and progress become increasingly important as the ultimate question is asked “is this athlete prepared to tolerate this new training/practice/competition phase?

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Take Away Points:

 

  1. Testing/metrics- You first have to evaluate what you as an individual or you as a staff VALUE.
  2. Repeat sprint ability is truly your end goal for the majority of team sports.
  3. The stretch-shortening cycle is the focus of Triphasic training.
  4. Oscillatory training is utilised to prepare your muscles to fire as rapidly as possible, and also train your antagonist to relax more quickly.
  5. In annual planning the ultimate question to ask is “is this athlete prepared to tolerate this new training/practice/competition phase?”

 

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

 

Twitter:

@Matt_Van_Dyke

 

You may also like from PPP:

 

Episode 372 Jeremy Sheppard & Dana Agar Newman

Episode 367 Gareth Sandford

Episode 362 Matt Van Dyke

Episode 361 John Wagle

Episode 359 Damien Harper

Episode 348 Keith Barr

Episode 331 Danny Lum

Episode 298 PJ Vazel

Episode 297 Cam Jose

Episode 295 Jonas Dodoo

Episode 292 Loren Landow

Episode 286 Stu McMillan

Episode 272 Hakan Anderrson

Episode 227, 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, 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 361 John Wagle

This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 361 – John Wagle

John Wagler

Director of Performance Science and Player Development, Kansas City Royals (MLB)

Website

Background: 

 

John Wagler

 

Previously, he earned his PhD at East Tennessee State University, worked at DePaul University as a strength and conditioning coach, and spent some time prior to that as a baseball coach.

 

Discussion topics:

 

What are the benefits of eccentric training?

 

”The benefits of eccentric to me really comes down to the fact the force production isn’t constrained by the lengthening velocity.  We can produce really high forces at really high speeds, which happens to occur quite often in sport.  That pairs pretty well with how we need to adequately prepare athletes for the demands of sport.

 

A lot of the tangible benefits are with longer term applications of eccentric training in programme design:

 

  • Fast fibre cross sectional area changes
  • More explosive performance
  • Longer fascicles
  • More sarcomeres in series
  • Stronger anabolic signals
  • Stiffer muscle tendon units

 

I think the commercialisation of flywheel has been a big part of the resurgence in interest in eccentric training, as well as researchers who have done a lot of research in this space (Dr Haff, Jamie Douglas – see his review paper below ?, Melissa Harden)

 

Chronic Adaptations to Eccentric Training: A Systematic Review

 

 

Direct links to dynamic athletic performance, what kind of benefits are we going to get from eccentric training?

 

”On the shortening velocity side that’s where the sarcomeres in series come into play for performance, and from the injury risk side we are getting longer fascicles as well, so something like the Nordic leg curl is very well supported in the literature especially when you do add eccentric overload, and it really seems to have an influence on muscle architectural changes within the muscle.

 

 

There does seem to be a preferential hypertrophy to fast fibres which can help us in a couple of ways, obviously we are going to have bigger and faster fast twitch fibres, but there is also a potential or theoretical situation where we have less drag from the slow twitch fibres just because the fast twitch fibres are making up a larger relative proportion of the whole muscle cross sectional area.  And you do have a stiffer muscle tendon unit which is going to lend itself very well to dynamic athletic performance.

 

You have stronger anabolic signalling with eccentric training and more satellite cell activation which in theory is going to get you some more muscle size change at the fibre specific level rather than whole muscle, and then more voluntary agonist activation and down regulation of any inhibitory response of the nervous system.   That’s not to say because of that list I should only focus on eccentric training as it’s only a piece of the puzzle but I do think it’s an under appreciated programming variable especially with its versatility.”

 

With all its benefits why would coaches not take this on board, and implement some of it into their training programme?

 

”Some of it is on the athlete safety side with the supra-maximal eccentric loading, and that all gets bucketed into eccentric training, although eccentric training does not necessarily have to be supra-maximal, but I do think there is a stigma that this a very stressful stimulus, and it is, like even in the sub-maximal versions of it, there is certainly some physiological stress associated with this that doesn’t necessarily appear with other training methods.  But I do think there is a way to programme in it, with the acknowledged apprehension because of the potential implications of recovery status of their athletes.

 

People point very readily to the repeated bout effect and that’s certainly something that we need to consider, but you are still going to be disruptive to the recovery status of the athlete if you are progressing and providing adequate overload and variation regardless of what you are doing with the eccentric training side so the repeated bout affect doesn’t absolve us from considering the stress induced from eccentric training.

 

The repeated bout effect refers to the adaptation whereby a single bout of eccentric exercise protects against muscle damage from subsequent eccentric bouts. … There is some evidence to suggest that the repeated bout effect is associated with a shift toward greater recruitment of slow twitch motor units

 

For anyone who hasn’t introduced eccentric focused training before, where would you start and what would you recommend for people to progress through?”

 

”Level zero for me would be the tempo or movement cadence manipulation with eccentric training.  There is actually not a tonne of support for it, especially in terms of strength and power adaptations which is pretty logical if I slow the eccentric phase down I’m not going to be able to use as much weight, and that intensity down shift has implications for strength and power changes.

 

 

There has certainly been some studies that have shown muscle size changes but my interpretation of literature is that I have yet to be convinced that slowing down the eccentric phase is superior to regular ol resistance training without a targeted approach to movement cadence.  But that being said, I do think there is a lot to be gained to revisit technique and make sure that those things are really sound and to make sure you are stressing tissues the way that you intend.

 

I like flywheel as the next logical progression.

 

 

There is a little bit of elongation, let’s call it, between the eccentric and concentric phase when you have to overcome the inertia at the bottom of a squat for example, where it can give people time to produce a lot of force but they are not necessarily ready to produce that force rapidly, so the flywheel lends itself well next, plus there is a little bit more [research] support on the hypertrophy side, and especially for the lesser trained athlete so you’ll also see some strength, power, and change of direction changes as well.

 

Then you get into things like accentuated eccentric loading (AEL) and you might progress into that from sub-maximal to supra-maximal and things of that nature, and because of the higher eccentric rate of force development (eRFD) most notably, that lends itself really well to progress to plyometrics and top speed sprinting, which are kind of the tail end of what you would want to expose that athlete to in terms of the highest level of eccentric stress.  Whether you want to bucket plyometrics into eccentric training is up to your interpretation, but to me that’s kind of the end of the road, and AEL does a good job of setting you up for some of those more advanced plyometrics.

 

  1. Tempo training
  2. Flywheel training
  3. AEL
  4. Plyometrics and sprinting

 

All that being said, I think it’s important too that it’s more about the blend of these methods, that you’re not going to do one of these methods in isolation, and you would do elements of each no matter what stage of training you are in, and that’s important to be able to set you up for success in progression.”

 

How can people progress their use of flywheel to then progress onto AEL?

 

”Flywheel has a longer transition between the eccentric and concentric phase, to give them more time to produce force.  There is also an element here where the athlete can control the intensity.  A lot of the eccentric overload present in flywheel training is mediated by the concentric velocity.  So although there is an element of progressive overload in absolute terms with the size of the wheel, a big chunk of that is mediated by the athlete.  So you have a bit more versatility to meet the athlete where they are at, and progress them accordingly.

 

Accentuated eccentric loading (AEL) prescribes eccentric load magnitude in excess of the concentric prescription using movements that require coupled eccentric and concentric actions, with minimal interruption to natural mechanics.

 

 

 

  1.  Eccentric load is in excess of the concentric load– doesn’t need to be supra-maximal, which automatically makes it different from tempo training where you have the same load on the way down and the way up, and makes it distinct from flywheel training where you have the same inertial load on the way down and way up.
  2.  A coupled eccentric and concentric action– which makes it distinctive from negatives (eccentric only training).
  3.  Minimal interruption to the natural mechanics of the selected exercise– which further differentiates it from flywheel training, a lot of times you are wearing a harness, and if anyone has ever been on the flywheel device, it’s a great training tool so this isn’t a criticism, if you squat on a flywheel it’s different than if you squat with a barbell in terms of the mechanics which will stress tissue differently.

 

To do this you can use manual resistance from a partner (push ups and nordics etc), weight releasers, hold dumbbells especially as it applies to plyometrics.”

 

 

What are the specific benefits of AEL outside of what we have spoken about with eccentric training?

 

”There does tend to be an acute testosterone and growth hormone response that persists a little bit longer than with traditional loading, and possibly some alterations in glycolytic enzyme production and lactate clearance ability with AEL which could have some advantages for sports that have a large endurance component (soccer, 400m runnner).  AEL was typically reserved for strength/power type athletes but that may not be the case with that new research that while it is pretty thinly supported in the research it is intriguing enough to continue to explore.”

 

Can lower end athletes benefit from some of the AEL methods?

 

”In terms of loading and the stimulus you are providing, there is not really a barrier to entry besides obviously you have to consider eccentric training is pretty stressful so they are probably going to take a little bit longer to get through the recovery process from that training.

 

I think too if you are looking to apply AEL for potentiation you have a much narrower window to operate with to actually induce that potentiation.  You are walking a tight rope between fatigue and potentiation, and those weaker or less trained athletes, that tight rope is just going to be much thinner.  So those that are stronger probably have a little bit more margin for error on programme selection.

 

 

I thought for sure with the mechanistic underpinnings there would be a potentiating effect with AEL, such as the muscle is in a greater active state, more calcium sensitivity etc, but it’s actually a really mixed bag [in the research] especially when it’s narrowed to resistance training such as bench press or squatting with weight releasers, there’s just as much research that shows that it is detrimental as it is beneficial to that acute performance, and there appears to be a pretty big sensitivity in programme design and load structure.

 

Plyos vs. Resistance Training (Short-term acute effect)

 

So if you were going to do it, and to make sure you are not burying the athlete, it would be best to do it alongside some sort of augmented feedback such as a velocity measurement or a between set counter movement jump.  But on the plyometrics side, it is still a little bit of a mixed bag, but there seems to be a little bit more clarity in terms of what is going to work and what isn’t going to work.  The studies that do have a favourable acute effect from AEL tend to be ones that have a conservative loading (holding a pair of 10kg dumbbells and also plyometrics that have a lesser centre of mass displacement (AEL doesn’t tend to work with a really large displacement like a deep squat which causes a fatigue effect).  But a tight coupling, the rapid eccentric action with an eccentric overload does appear to be where you can induce some potentiation.

 

I would tend to put my more stressful content at the beginning of the week so I can provide my athletes with the recovery at the back end of the week. So for me AEL to me fits better at the beginning of the week particularly in season, so for players that have a high speed running demand especially upright top speed type running, having an AEL exposure early in the week to expose them to some higher eccentric rate of force developments but not necessarily what they are going to encounter in sprinting.  And then have a top speed exposure later in the week, where it is an emphasis in their training, acknowledging that if they are training in their sport in between they will still do some high speed work between those sessions as part of their sports practices.

 

A nice progression could be:

 

  1. AEL counter movement jump (with dumbbell release at bottom)
  2. Depth jump (shock method)
  3. AEL depth jump (with dumbbell release at bottom)
  4. Repeat serial hurdle jumps

 

Where does this fit into the bigger programme?

 

”With AEL specifically I do feel it fits very neatly at the tail end of a cycle where you do have a demand to develop some maximal strength or retain the maximal strength you have already developed but stage some of those higher power output or higher velocity efforts, where you are trying run your fastest, jump your highest, be at your best, kind of staging a taper, would be where I would put AEL, in terms of what it can retain and what it can expose the athlete to in terms of high eccentric RFD.

 

If you are going to follow AEL with a taper you are okay with the intentional high stress nature of that eccentric training, so if you are going to pull training content away to promote that recovery AEL fits really well as part of a over reach to stage taper, or the block prior to set that taper up.”

 

 

Top 5 Take Away Points:

 

  1. The benefits of eccentric training is that the force production isn’t constrained by the lengthening velocity.
  2. Eccentric training progression: tempo training, flywheel to AEL and finally plyometrics and sprints.
  3. Less advanced athletes will need more time to recover from high stress eccentric training.
  4. There may be a more clearly defined benefit of AEL with plyos for potentiation.
  5. In annual planning AEL will fit more towards the end of a training cycle with the goal to develop some power prior to a taper.

 

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

 

Twitter:

@DrJohnPWagle

 

You may also like from PPP:

 

Episode 372 Jeremy Sheppard & Dana Agar Newman

Episode 367 Gareth Sandford

Episode 362 Matt Van Dyke

Episode 361 John Wagle

Episode 359 Damien Harper

Episode 348 Keith Barr

Episode 331 Danny Lum

Episode 298 PJ Vazel

Episode 297 Cam Jose

Episode 295 Jonas Dodoo

Episode 292 Loren Landow

Episode 286 Stu McMillan

Episode 272 Hakan Anderrson

Episode 227, 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, 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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