Pacey Performance Podcast REVIEW- Episode 297 Cam Josse

This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 297 – Cam Josse

Cam Josse

Website

Background: 

Cam Josse

Cam is Performance Coach for American Football Indiana University since March 2020, and spent most of his career in the private sector, most notably at DeFranco’s Training from 2013 to 2020.

Discussion topics:

What are the benefits of Max Speed training for Team sport athletes?

”I will never argue that team sport is acceleration dominant in nature, your bread and butter is going to be your ability to accelerate.  But through the research I have done and talking to researchers like Ken Clarke, who has done a lot of research on top speed, I have the approach to training that I don’t want to leave any stone unturned.

So what are some of the benefits we are seeing from maximal speed training?

  1. It is going to affect your entire speed curve- if you can be faster and hold onto that top speed then you are going to be faster at every segment below that
  2. The biggest game breaking plays are going to involve these explosive longer distance runs over 60 Yards and they are in a high speed environment where often they struggle because they don’t know how to cope with the dynamics in that environment.  Even though they are very rare that doesn’t mean we should neglect them.
  3. It is so neurologically unique there is no other way to really operate and train that. We can’t do much in a weight room setting, or outside of achieving top speed to help the athlete develop in that environment.  It’s a very elastic environment (in contrast to the more muscular actions of acceleration).
  4. Developing ability to active and utilise the elastic components and not just the muscles is going to protect their structures.”

Why do you focus so much on the split times, such as 10 Yard segments?

”When I look at the different segments to me it paints a picture and tells a story, and every 10 Yard segment is going to tell you a different story.  Just looking at the 40 Yard sprint and the total time we see the outcome but we don’t always see the story of how they got there.

  • First 10 Yards – high force production and horizontal orientation (strength-speed)
  • 10 -20 Yards – you will see the pure explosive qualities coming to light there (speed-strength)
  • 20-30 Yards – reactive and elastic ability
  • 30-40 Yards- max speed ability

At a recent study of NFL combine in 2016 everyone was at around 95% of their maximum speed by around 20 Yards and obviously the ones who were faster and had better velocity capability were at a lower percentage of their maximum speed because they could spread it further, but some of the slow or stronger guys like linesmen were almost at 100% by 20 yards.

The only way I think you improve the segment beyond 20 Yards is sprinting at high speed, I don’t think there is much of anything else that is going to help develop that further.

With regard to the exercises that might be associated with different segments Cam used the example of someone dominating the triple broad jump, you are probably someone who is going to be very powerful and have longer coupling capability- meaning you are able to produce power over large ranges of motion with your hip, knee and ankle.  You are probably going to dominate hill sprints, light resistance sprints.  You have a lot of power against lighter resisted activities.

Once you go beyond 20 Yards that’s where the benefit of some of those more general activities start to fizzle out.  I think you have to make it more specific to what is happening on the field.  Some plyometric activities such as long bounds, or dribble runs (A runs) and shorter coupling activities where you are working through shorter ranges of motion and truly elastic, truly plyometric activity, you’re probably still going to be good up to 30 Yards.

Beyond 30 Yards it’s about how well you operate at >95% of your maximal speed capabilities.

 

Do you think there is an overemphasis on ”drilling” of speed in the team sport setting?

”Yes 100% and I have been guilty of that myself, I have learnt a sprint technique and feel like I have this secret sauce, so now I’m going out seeing all these athletes and saying he sprints like shit, and if they were in my programme I would be able to work with them! I think that the problem is, a lot of coaches just want to be heard because we are passionate about what we do, and like to feel like we have some influence over our players.

Know your role! We are facilitators not dictators.

We give them hints and provide them with environments that they can then utilize and develop themselves to realise their own potential; we are not here to just hold their hand.

I can give you an example of some work with an athlete I did a few years back who was getting prepared for their NFL pro day.  I was not able to attend his pro day.  I hand held him through the entire process of training, I over drilled him, I over cued him, I was constantly just like if he made one small error I had to fix it there and then!  Needless to say, he went to his pro day and I was not there to hold his hand and he completely shat the bed!  He needed me to tell him what to do at every segment of the run.  That was where it hit me that I didn’t give him ownership of his own develop!

Look at what are the stable components of movement (attractors)- so for example, how do we get them to understand how to create a positive shin angle in acceleration, maybe it’s not a cue at all from the coach, maybe its to use some resistance so they can feel it.  Or maybe for change of direction, a general principle of movement is to lower your centre of mass (COM) towards your base of support (BOS).

 

What do you think about borrowing the technical model from a sprinter and trying to generalise it to team sports?
”I’m of the opinion that if we are going to borrow from a certain discipline we should try to understand the efficient principles of that discipline.  So if we are going to squat an athlete, let us try and search through the strongest and healthiest power lifters to find out what they are doing right, and borrow that.  Same thing for Olympic weightlifting, to understand how to do it in an efficient manner, and it’s the same for sprinting.

So think about why we would do a linear sprint, it’s not to necessarily to develop game orientated speed because ‘game speed’ is incredibly complex.  It’s because we want to develop the athlete’s SYSTEM to produce very high speeds.  So if we are going to develop the athlete’s central nervous system to produce very high speeds in a safe and efficient manner, maybe they aren’t ever going to hit their top speed in a game, but we are doing it to overload the speed side of things and push that athlete’s speed ceiling a little bit higher.  So that’s where we do look to track & field for that specific context.  It’s not that we think it’s a cure all that if someone just runs the fastest linear sprint possible they will be a great team sport player, because I think we can all agree that is absurb, otherwise we would just try and get Asafa Powell and Usain Bolt to play football!
What are the team sport athletes common faults when sprinting?
”Check out the article on SimpliFaster- Sprinting in Team Sport: The Butt-kicking Epidemic.  Three classic butt kick types are discussed
1Classic Butt-kicker
2.  The Forward-Leaner butt-kicker
3.  The Over-Arching butt-kicker
Are there any general methods you can use to correct these butt-kicking errors?
”Be aware that people with very long limbs might look like they are butt-kicking to the naked eye because the heel is getting close to the butt, but it’s not really where it is in relation to the butt, it’s more where it is in relation to the centre line (the landmark that really matters).  It just looks like butt kicking because the athlete has a really long shin.
Yes there are general-individual methods I have come across (which seems to work for around 80% of people):
  1. Cueing to make them realise where their limbs should do in time and space- but it’s very rare that this would fix it alone as they have been doing something a certain way for so long
  2. Cueing to develop Force application into the ground – getting the athlete to understand a concept using motor term descriptors such as ”pop off the ground” when you are at top speed.  Another cue is imagine that the ground is getting hotter and hotter with every step you take.  I prefer pop to punch, as the athlete can sometimes punch far too hard, and it wasn’t smooth, fluid and graceful.  Punch is a better for acceleration, as it’s more aggressive.
  3. Cueing to think as if you are running upstairs as you move towards the horizon- it seems to promote front side mechanics better as when you run up stairs you have to have great front side mechanics!
  4. Drill/cue-  Med ball punch run (4-6lbs) held in front of their body right around the level of the navel and then I just tell them to run and try and contact your quad to the med ball.  It promotes a cyclical high knee activity which is very similar to top speed sprinting (similar to Altis who use the dribble run).  With the med ball you don’t need to go full speed but it just gets them used feeling what it feels like to achieve that front side lift, and it gives them something to aim for.   They may feel a weakness in an ankle when the limb comes down from that kind of height as they are not used to transmitting that much force through the ankle.

Top 5 Take Away Points:

  1. Importance of speed reserve- increasing top speed is going to affect your entire speed curve- if you can be faster and hold onto that top speed then you are going to be faster at every segment below that
  2. SAID principle- to get faster at top speed  the only way I think you improve beyond 20 Yards is sprinting at high speed, I don’t think there is much of anything else that is going to help develop that further.
  3. Know your role! We are facilitators not dictators- it’s better to say no little than too much.
  4. Top speed isn’t the cure all- we don’t think that if someone just runs the fastest linear sprint possible they will be a great team sport player, because I think we can all agree that is absurb
  5. Find cues that work for your athletes

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

Twitter:

@IUcoachJosse

You may also like from PPP:

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.

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  • 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…
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Pacey Performance Podcast REVIEW- Episode 292 Loren Landow

This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 292 – Loren Landow

Loren Landow

Website

Background: 

Loren Landow

As of March 12th,2018 Coach Landow is now the full-time head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Denver Broncos Football Organization. He maintains his ownership/founder of Landow Performance in Centennial, Colorado.

Discussion topics:

Tell us a little bit more about your background and education

”When I came out of school (did a degree in Kinesiology with a minor in Nutrition) I got involved with my first mentor Greg Roskopf who was the developer of the Muscle Activation Techniques.  I took a year long course which was pretty intensive and extensive, and during that time I was still working with and training athletes and used my Middle school athletes as my guinea pigs in 1997-98, and trying to figure this thing out that we call performance training.

I got involved with Velocity Sports Performance through Lorence Seagrave, and around that time I got to know Dan Pfaff, which was followed by the start of Landow Performance, and the vision I had.  This vision involved needing a lot of space to train athletes in, and I wanted to pay people really well, who could make a living in this field and not having to worry about holding down two or three different jobs to pay their bills.   At the time of writing I have 30 staff and around 12 what I would call full-time staff.”

In your UKSCA presentation why did you put so much emphasis on the importance of frontal and tranverse plane drills?

”Steven Plisk, who is another mentor of mine, always said that in periodisation and programming:

to be a better specialist you need to be a better generalist

To be a sniper in our field you need to understand your biomechanics, anatomy, biochemistry, programming and all the different subject matters which make up what we do; you have to be really good at those general subjects to really dive in to be able to give somebody something pretty specific and pretty individual.  When we look at movement, there are infinite movements we can do, but when you really break it down to fundamental quadrants and cardinal directions, what can you really do in those planes?

So I started breaking it down, not reductionist, but a generalist mindset, and say ok, if I can be really good in moving in the sagittal, frontal and transverse plane those are really the crux of how you build change of direction.  At the end of the day I’m going to use a transverse or frontal plane type of movement to bridge two gaps of acceleration.

People talk about reacting to the environment, and the environmental constraints…well we have constraints within our body, and if we are not a good locomotive athlete, not a good mover, we don’t understand fluidity and coordination, you can make the environment as dynamic as you want, I don’t think I am going to be as efficient as I could be, as if I spent a decent chunk of time mastering myself and how I move in space.

When it comes to structure and function you can really narrow all common movements down into four common forces:

  • Shear
  • Distraction
  • Torque
  • Compression

So if I can build closed models where I work on the robustness of the athlete, and marinate in those movements to make you more resistant to the torque and shear forces that take place at the knee joint, I do believe we can teach the body and the neuro-muscular system to be more robust against those types of forces, when we are exposed to them on the field.”

What teaching progressions do you use when you are teaching an athlete from scratch through deceleration?

”I’ll teach them good squat and lunge patterns in the isometric fashion and being able to get into those bent knee positions that ultimately look like deceleration, and I’ll do that even with my elites as they don’t bend and move as well as you would think.  Maybe it’s because of their training age saturation, and maybe they just didn’t seem to care when they were going through these rudimentary stages of learning.  For me, it’s not that I want to make everything closed, because I’m very big into open movement.  But I think early on you have to teach some closed patterns.

I’ll start with different skipping patterns then they’ll have to absorb into a BILATERAL deceleration, they might start with jogging and sitting down into the squat position.  But once they start having better control with that, I’ll take it into a light acceleration and then we are going to decelerate into a split stance.  So those of the kind of things I may pay attention to early.  The thing I love to do, say I’m doing a linear acceleration, is put on the brakes into a good deceleration, then I’ll take them into a back pedal action and have them put on the brakes.  Now I’m getting that good deceleration, eccentric loading in those reverse mechanics and I get great deceleration on the achilles.  Over time there are some good things happening in terms of tissue tolerance and I do these things at low intensity.  Things are progressed over time and that ultimately becomes, okay, you’re going to accelerate for 15 yards and put on the brakes at 7 yards; now you’re going to put on the brakes at 5 yards, now at 3 yards, now you’re going to put the brakes on when I clap.   So there are different ways to make these drills go from closed to open.’

[Daz comment: check out this article ”Taking a step back to reconsider change of direction and its application following ACL Injury]  There was a very interesting reference to research looking at what percentage of maximum speed could be attained prior to changing direction- in this case back pedal].

Eccentric control of pronation/supination

Principles change based on  foot position.  When we are jogging, running and sprinting, there are different elements of stride pattern and positioning.  When I’m in a frontal plane it’s on the edges, I start to use the inversion/eversion qualities of the foot, still pronation/supination of the foot but it’s in a different plane so I’m stressing those structures of the foot differently up the chain.  You don’t want too much of one , or two much of the other so how do I find the ability to manage and mitigate both supination and pronation?  I love the side shuffle drill.  Even though in sporting action it’s usually one step and go, I like to saturate the skill and put them under different forces and different loads so they absorb those forces.

In terms of ongoing assessments during training how are you identifying where people are potentially having energy leaks and where you potentially need to spend more time?

”I used to think that you take someone out of their shoes and you see them squat or lunge and you see this great contoured [high] arch, and you’re like, that’s a strong, stable foot, that’s great.  And it might be, but in many cases we see people who get their dorsi flexion from their phalanges (toes), and what happens is that they actually keep the mid-foot plantar-flexed so the foot still looks like its got that contoured arch, and that’s not a good thing because the talus can’t move and glide.

What I look for now is you need to have stiffness in the foot, but you need to have compliance in the foot.  You need the fore foot, mid foot and rear foot mold and adapt to that flooring, and so you do want that, it’s just a matter of degrees. So now, I actually look for someone who has a little bit more of a flatter foot, a foot that can actually splay (spread) to the ground, not arch up, because that’s when you get those intrinsic stabilising and eccentric control.  When the foot is clawing that’s more of a concentric action, and I want more splay that creates more eccentric control that allows me to have cleaner motion from the rear-foot, mid-foot and fore-foot, not to mention the ability of the talus to glide and the tibia to move forward and back really well.

 

[Daz comment: the muscles in the anterior (aka extensor) compartment are responsible for dorsiflexing or extending the foot.  Extensor digitorum longus extends or lifts the second to fifth toes.  Extensor hallucis longus extends the big toe, aka halux]

So now I ask an athlete to dorsi flex and if they are pulling up more from their extensor digitorum (longus) and extensor hallucis (longus), more than their anterior tibialis, you’ve got to pay attention to that.  Because if you just look at dorsi flexion with shoes on you are going to be biased to what you are seeing.

The problem when people start doing ‘barefoot’ work is that they go for the gusto! It’s not about sprinting in barefoot, it’s about doing these intrinsic movements (such as standing on two feet or one foot and rotating around your feet to feel the eversion/inversion etc) to get you a better foundational stability.  I may squat them and do lunges but I think people are getting a little too carried away doing all their locomotive drills barefoot.  Is the juice worth the squeeze for the risks/benefit?

The knee is the servant of the foot and the hip, emphasizing the importance of what is going on above and below.  The foot has more than three degrees of freedom, so there is a high availability of movement and therefore instability and the hip is the same thing.  The knee doesn’t have that, it is mainly sagittal, it has a little bit of rotation but not much so at the end of the day, if you are unstable through the hip and/or foot that knee becomes the torque converter through what those two joints maybe can’t decelerate, so to me it is really important that you have a programme that looks at the eccentric control of these joints.  People get hyper focused on the knee, especially during injury, and they’re not spending enough time working on the foot and the hip, and the trunk!

What goes through your mind when you’re trying to work out where athletes need to spend their time when you’re trying to fix and improve their deceleration patterns?
”I’ll pay attention to the athlete doing a closed drill in front of me or maybe watch some of their footage on film in their sport, and look what happens when they go to decelerate, is their base really wide, is it really narrow, how unaware are they?  Then, I’ll look at what does their next action look like when they come out of it? Who are the athletes who can decelerate with one foot, with the awareness, strength and mobility to decelerate with one foot and the other one is on the gas, and is already going into acceleration.  Is it a relative strength issue, is it a base issue, is it a lack of locomotion coming out of the deceleration?
Even though I do like closed drills I try not to over coach.  Let them get eight reps in before I say something, then I might say ‘try this.’  I want them to feel it.
If I’m constantly giving you a cue or something to change, you’re never getting a chance to feel something on your own.
How are you identifying from a linear speed perspective how and what the athlete needs to spend time on when time is so precious?
”I think I have to look at the sport, and where it lives, and in most of the sports I work with it lives in acceleration.  So I spend a good amount of time on acceleration, but I still spend time on maximum velocity qualities because I think it’s critical to develop the skill of maximum velocity even though some athletes may never even touch it in their given sport.  But it’s important that when that should happen they have the prerequisite skills so they can pull it right out of their pocket.
I’ll try and build a good understanding of acceleration patterning, how you should punch forward and minimise heel lift up to the rear end and keep a low heel lift as you go through your thigh punching in acceleration; the better I coach that in a team sport, the more the athletes can auto regulate when they go to their change of direction work.  If I’ve done a good job of grooving those patterns in, and then on their change of direction days I’ve shown them, hey the same things we worked on acceleration on the Monday, this is the bridge on your changing direction work.  The better job I have done on a Monday the better it blends into their Tuesday and Friday change of direction days.
I don’t get carried away with a tonne of crazy drills.   These aren’t track & field athletes; I might have some athletes that have genetic potential to be track & field but they don’t play that, so I need to teach off a technical model and I need to have bandwidth off what is acceptable based on what their jobs are.
I look for:
  • Posture
  • Patterning– rhythm
  • Positioning– limb positioning
  • Placement– foot strike (what part and where is it hitting the ground)

The first two are the most important to me, and then what I do is I think what are the three drills I can use that can influence all of those factors. Going back to that generalist specialist idea, if I take care of those four P’s a lot of the rest of it takes care of itself.  I find drills that are marching, skipping and running in nature and will allow me to replicate that.  And then, when they get on the field, they will self organise, do what you do when you play your position.

Tissue tolerance vs Motor Skill

People might get the wrong impression that all I do is closed drills, and that couldn’t be further from the truth! One final thing I want to stress about my philosophy is that it is a periodised view of movement.  Yes early in my off-season we will do more closed drills, more rhythm based, such as shuffles and cross-overs. Then I get into closed drills that have a deceleration emphasis, then I get into open drills, where you don’t know when you’re stopping.

People always talk about motor learning and you should never do the same drill twice.  Well, yeah, that’s great but how do I get stronger on a bench press?  Do I get stronger by doing one rep on a bench press, then go do a rep on a single arm DB press, then do a rep on an incline? No, you have to SATURATE!!  If we talk about the Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands (SAID principle) I have to impose enough of a response to adapt to.

Top 5 Take Away Points:

  1. Be a Generalist- to be a better specialist you need to be a better generalist
  2. Common forces- you can narrow all common movements down into four common forces: (shear, distraction, torque, compression).
  3. Eccentric control of foot- appropriate dose of barefoot work to strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the feet
  4. Four Ps of Coaching observation- look at posture, patterning, positioning and placement.
  5. Tissue tolerance vs. Motor Learning- you have to ‘saturate’ a drill to impose enough of a demand on the structure to adapt.

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

Twitter:

@LorenLandow

You may also like from PPP:

Episode 295 Jonas Dodoo

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 295 Jonas Dodoo

This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 295 – Jonas Dodoo

Jonas Dodoo

Website

Background: 

Jonas Dodoo

Jonas looks after a group of Elite Track and Field Sprinters who have attained success on the Olympic and World stage. He also oversees the Speedworks Charity Program for a fast-evolving Development Group which runs out of the Lee Valley Athletic Centre and is now the Head Coach for a new academy based in the East Midlands.

In addition to this, Jonas has consulted with many many Professional Sports Teams and individual players, including Derby County FC, West Bromwich Albion, Arsenal, Bath RFU, Northampton Saints, Wasps Academy, and Rugby 7’s 

Discussion topics:

Tell us a little bit more about your background and education

”I grew up playing sport, lots of different sport. Was always explosive and elastic, but couldn’t stay in one piece. I’ve got terrible feet, terrible ankles, no movement in my toes. But it sent me down a road to learn, to understand. I think originally it was to go and fix myself, which was my biggest driver. And then I got exposed to great coaches, great therapists. And I did my master’s thesis under Dan Pfaff or studied him as my thesis and had an opportunity to do a PhD in sprinting or to go and try and coach someone to at least be a bit faster. And I went down that route.

So I started in rugby, ended up in athletics and during my athletics coaching career I got exposed back into rugby. And then since that point, maybe over the past eight or nine years, I’ve worked with, you know, various individuals in rehab projects. I’ve worked with various teams in short and long-term projects and really the past three years for me, I’ve been based at Loughborough University with my elite squad of sprinters and then used essentially my down days, so 20% of my week, spent either with Derby County, at one point with West Brom and with England rugby in the build up to the World Cup. So those would be my major projects. And alongside that, I run workshops. I do a lot of coach education and a lot of mentoring.

So it’s been an up and down journey, always driven by my hunger and curiosity about how to make people faster.  I’ve also been very inquisitive for sports science, very inquisitive, probably because I’ve been surrounded in British Athletics by some great biomechanists and great strength and conditioning coaches. And it’s made me question, did my athletes do well because of me or despite? Did I just choose really good athletes who’ve chosen the right parents, who had good genetics?

I’ve got this constant need to reflect and ask myself, could that be better? And so it’s driven me down the road to developing for a labour of love, our binary video analysis app. And basically it’s a poor man and dumb man’s dart fish.

Binary Motion Analysis App

The first thing Dan Pfaff pushed us to learn as apprentices is observation skills.  He would say, leave the programming to me. Here’s a program, carry on with it. Don’t worry because that could rack your brains for hours and hours a day. Instead, watch movement, watch video, watch from upstairs, watch from downstairs, zoom in, zoom out. And when you’ve got this injury problem, understand what you can do from a movement perspective, from a coaching perspective, how you can create an environment that will distract the athlete from that injury or that pain and redirect their focus towards more effective movement and pain-free strategies,

And so coaching eye was something that was really hammered down very early for me. And by accident, I realized that coaching eye was something that everyone wanted to learn from me.

People come and said, okay, what are the cues, what do you see? And so I’m constantly trying to develop my coaching eye but what we’ve done here with binary is we’ve developed an app that allows you to say rather than have a debate about stride length versus stride frequency, what’s more important. What model, what shape is the priority? Is it this big, long shape? Is it a bit of a smaller shape with more frequency in deceleration mechanics? What’s the priority?

There’s so much debate and lack of consensus in sports science, that if you’re an inquisitive coach, you can easily get lost, easily buy into one side of the argument. I’m saying, take a step back. What’s our priority? Velocity, that’s our priority. And what do we want the shape of velocity to look like? We want it to keep getting faster. If we can find a way to make it get faster really steep and keep it continuing to get faster, we have high acceleration and we have high velocity. We have a good RF and we have a great DRF, right? That’s JB Morin’s language.

Daz comment: (definitions explained)

Ratio of Force (RF)– is a ratio of the step-averaged horizontal component of the Ground Reaction Force (GRF) to the corresponding resultant force.

Index of Force Application Technique (DFR)- expresses the athlete’s ability to maintain a net horizontal force production despite increasing velocity throughout accelerated sprinting.

In practical terms RF reflects the ability to project a large amount of your force in the direction you want to go

In practical terms DFR reflects the distance over which athletes are able to accelerate (i.e., distance to peak velocity).

The reality is what binary does for us is it helps us take a step back from our bias and go based on what we’re seeing, what’s happening with the data, what’s really happening. And in elite settings, people have Lasers and speed guns and video analysis, 3D analysis, Opto jump. People have got these tools, 1080, great tool. Dyno speed, very similar tool. They’ve all got these tools that give you some of the information or all of the information. And all I’ve been trying to do is go, okay, this is what I’ve experienced. This has helped me in my journey. How do I simplify it, distill it and make it available to anyone that has an Apple device? Yeah, at least to a more recent one, iPhone 5 not good. Yeah, but I have an iPhone 7, it records at 200 frames per second, it does the job.

My expectations are probably based on my bias. This is what I think good movement looks like and fast speed looks like. And I think over the past five years I’ve been able to take a step back from my bias or at least combine my bias with reality, with real data, with real numbers and actually maybe close the line between what I perceived them to be able to do and what they actually do. A long winded way of describing it.”

Can you tell us more about your reflection process

”So I guess during my degree and doing my masters in coaching science it really wasn’t about the science of sports science or anything like that, but really more about psychology. For me, my learning through my masters specifically, learning from great people I always noticed that no matter what they did, they look back and say, ”it could be better or where could it be better, at least?” They asked that question. So when I think about reflection, I think about reflection in action. You know, some people say I’m a great scrambler, no matter what the session plan is, I’m rarely scared or even intimidated about changing the plan on the go within the set, yeah, within the minute. If I see something and I think it can be better, I’ll make the change within reason. And so there’s this reflection in action and I think I can only do that because I’ve been coaching for so long and I’ve coached so many different types of people and I’ve made enough mistakes and I’ve had enough regret for making those mistakes that it really influences my decision making.

And there’s reflection on action, like reflection in hindsight. My wife was an Olympia, my wife was an elite coach, has coached to really high level and in multi events, in long jump and she was probably the biggest influencer on my coaching philosophy and specifically around training design, session design. And she is an important reflective, almost mirror for me. She knows what to say, when to say it. She really knows what not to say. That’s probably her gift. That’s what I’ve learned from her, is that I give too much information. I’m too honest sometimes. And I’m not just too honest, I’m also a bit black and white. So like I’m a bit too direct sometimes. I’m a bit too frank and she’s almost the opposite.  Reflection for me is a big deal because the better we can reflect, the better we can accelerate our development. And I think maybe that’s always been my issue is that I’m in a rush and not a bad rush, but I don’t like wasting time. I like being efficient with time. So if to apply that to my own philosophy as a coach, it means that whatever I can learn in a year, the question is, can I learn that in six months.

Now, a great coach Mike Afilaka says ”you can’t microwave experience’‘. And it’s true, yeah. Even if you learn every single thing on speed in Wikipedia, everything to do with speed right now over this six weeks, seven weeks of COVID, does that make you a better coach? Actually, you might get worse because you’ve now got more information, you don’t know what to do with it, you know all these new rules, but you don’t know how to apply it into your environment. Some of them seem like they contradict what you’re already thinking. And you now have to practice and make sure that will balance up within like a training scheme.”

In terms of developing your business and having a business head on as well as a coaches head, how difficult has that been?

”That’s been really tough. I’ve always believed coaching should be selfless because athletes generally are selfish, and we need that balance. And so I’ve done that, but people see the website, people see the successes, the consultancies, the athletes’ performances, but they don’t see my bank account. And they don’t see the fact that I spend 80% of my time on the track, but track only brings in 20% of our household income. So I spend all my time chasing consultancies, doing extra work, work until midnight, just so I can coach. That’s the luxury of being an elite coach. Most of us are doing other work or just coaching track and field in general, most people do other work and the passion of the sport is driving them to the track on a daily basis.

That was fine when I was young and dumb and single and no kids. And then I had Logan, so that was five and a half years ago and actually that was all right. But even then that there was a sign. I was burning myself out.  From that point I noticed that the stress and pressure of being a dad and being the main source of income and also being a lead coach in an elite group, where I am their dad as well and trying to run a business or at least keep everything in balance was too difficult.

In my experience, the way I invest my energy into my coaching and to my athletes, I’ve realized that my family, my kids needed that energy as well. And so when I was giving that energy to both parties, I was burning the candle from both ends. So the small things that we’ve done, moving to Loughborough because I was working in Derby County and it was all close, it was real easy. My athletes, all of my consultants had been in one place at least for a year or two made sense.  It was very well balanced. Then I started working for England RFU. So I’m driving back down to London now and even further than London, I’m driving down to Berkshire.

The balance for me has been very difficult and I’m in debt as a result. And would I go back and change it? I really don’t know because also I got to be completely in the deep end, in the deepest ocean of coaching and I’ve been experienced and exposed to amazing opportunities, amazing players and athletes and systems and coaches. , Everyone says high performance sport is not healthy for the athletes, their bodies, for us and our emotional energy and all of those things.

I see many, many coaches who really shoot up to the top of, let’s say of whatever it is. Yeah, they’ve got really high status who follow managers around, maybe where managers are going from club to club or follow athletes around when they’re going from country to country, when they’re relocating who’ve had two marriages, who don’t have kids that really liked them, who have lots of money in their account. But when they go home and sit down and really look around, they, you know, they’ve maybe sacrificed their family for their career. And I was very happy to sacrifice myself for my own energy, my own social time for my career and that’s paid off, but I’m not happy to sacrifice my family for my career. And that’s been an important turning point for me.

If during the most stressful times you don’t feel you can carry on committing to what you’re doing, then you shouldn’t take it on because that’s what you need to be prepared for. When things go smoothly, that’s the easy time. The hardest, most challenging and sometimes the most exciting time is when everything’s going wrong, because that makes you have to adapt. You either adapt or you die. And if you don’t have that adaptive energy, because you’re spending it with your family, then the coaching dies. If you don’t have that energy for your family, because you’re spending it with your athletes, then your family dies essentially. And so the reality is finding that balance has been really important for me. Knowing my worth has been important for me. Showing my work in my unique way, I’m dyslexic. I like to read, but even just yesterday, I did a tweet, spelling mistakes everywhere. So I’m not going to be writing the most informative blogs. But I know my topic, I know my subject, I know coaching, I know people, I have emotional intelligence and I like to summarize and simplify things.

So finding my business side has been difficult because not many people do things the way I do it. And so I didn’t have a model or template to copy. But actually my business and mentoring and consultancy and stuff has happened by accident more than on purpose. People come to me and have come to me and asked me more and more questions, it’s made me go, oh, you’re an expert or you’re an elite person and you’re asking me this question that I think is fundamental. That’s my bias. It’s fundamental to me, but it might not be to you. Maybe there’s a product there. Maybe I can replicate that and share that with more people. Do you think more people be interested? So I’ve gone into business almost not by looking for a product and trying to sell it. I’ve almost been just people come in to take this product and I’ve gone, I should repackage that and make that available for other people.”

It’s what you’re doing already that you’re just modifying and tweaking to make a business out of it.  And that’s not a businessman talking, that’s a coach talking to make a business.  I think that’s really interesting to me.

”For me, it’s love, like I know that if I love something and I might love it because it’s interesting ‘cause it’s a puzzle. I like puzzles, because it’s challenging and forcing me to be outside my comfort zone. But if you love something generally when you’re tired or when you’re pissed off it, you don’t give up. Yeah, and maybe it makes you work harder. And you take a step back from it, maybe you sleep on it and actually you have some deep reflections and you’re better, right. So for me, it’s always been about the love. If I love a topic, if I love a subject, then I’m going to , generally, I’m going to be good at it and I’m going to understand it.

And through that understanding I’m going to pull it apart, like a video machine. I’m going to open it up and look at all the parts and I’m going to put it back together and I’m going to summarize it really simply. And that’s how I like to just live in my world. And it just happens that that’s how people enjoy learning on deep topics. They just want to know to heuristics. They just want to know the rules are and the KPI’s. You know, it’s one thing to know the rules, but if you need to apply those rules in your setting and break those rules, do you just need to know the rules before you break the rules or do you need to know these broken rules too?

So it’s one thing to know basic mechanics and another thing to know what can I do right now, next week to make my players better, to make me better as a coach.”

Let’s talk acceleration principles, what are the principles that you live by when it comes to acceleration?

”If we’re just talking about the basics of acceleration, the goal is to get from A to B. So if we took a hundred metres, the goal is to get from zero to a hundred as fast as possible. And obviously we can break that into phases. And when we’re speaking more specifically about initial acceleration, obviously we can in team sports and even in track and field, we can measure a 10 metre time, right? Five metre or a 10 metre time is traditionally used to get an understanding of someone’s ability to accelerate. But many of my clients and many teams will put down timing gates. You know, if they want to do speed training at their club, they believe that if they put down timing gates and they drive intent, this is an important thing, a lot of people talk about that sometimes the biggest priority in speed training is just getting the players to try hard and actually intent, high intensity in the effort and the speed and the timing gates can help that then they give them a time.

If your goal is your 10 metre time only, then you might be missing a trick because I can run to 10 and you can run to 10 in the same time but I might be at a higher velocity than you.

And all that means is we’ve got to 10 metres at the same time, maybe you’ve been a drag car and you’ve got there by really your first four steps going and then actually your rate of acceleration drops off. So you did most of your work in the front side of the race. And maybe I’m still a drag car, but I’ve got a tiny bit less horsepower, but maybe I’ve got less drag too. Like literally I’ve got less air resistance and so I might get to five metres in 1.0, let’s say you get there 0.90 but we still both get to 10 metres at 1.7. I’m accelerating still. You give me three more steps I’m in front of maybe even one more step I’m in front of you.

 

So when we talk about acceleration, we’ve got to be careful that we’re not setting a goal over a 10 metre time and encouraging a technique and a strategy that gets us there fast, but puts us in a bad position.

And then you think rugby, you think, okay why does it matter? If my aim is to get to the 10 metres, if my aim is to get to my defender or my attacker as quick as possible, and that 10 metres is in front of me, I just need to be there as quick as possible. But actually you look at, you know, you listen to someone like Frans Bosch or John Pryor or Dean Benson and Eddie Jones, they talk a lot about options positions, right? You need to be able to get to 10 fast, but be in a position where you can organize your body to make a decision. And that position is often in a position where you can remain reactive with your feet and you still have control of your center of mass. You’re not over rotating.  You’re in a position with your pelvis and your trunk where you can rotate and you can do other actions where you can scan if you need to, and then use your upper body if you need to, while still using your legs to push you to go faster.

And that position is an efficient position. The reality is by the time I get to 10 metres, I need to be in an efficient position to make a decision in team sports. And I also need to be an efficient position to keep getting faster in a linear sport. So for me, efficient acceleration, no matter where we’re at looks the same. You maintain a frequency and a stiffness that allows you to be energy efficient, but also be in a position to make choices and make decisions. So that would be my first start of acceleration. I haven’t talked about postures. I haven’t talked about shapes. I haven’t talked about what the fundamentals of athletics in 100 metres versus hurdles versus maybe long jump, that’s all a secondary discussion.

Can you produce the right forces and throw yourself where you need to go? That’s again, JB and RF, yeah. What ratio of your forces are you directing forwards? That’s how effective you are and you can be really effective without being efficient. We can both run a 1.70 and we could say 1.70 is the time that we need in our sport, but I might do it in a way that really allows me to one, save energy, two, be in a position to make a decision or three, be in a position to keep getting faster. That might take more stress off of my lower limb and that might just give me a bit of an energy reserve that I can use better to continue going for repetitive actions in the game.”

Coaches are often deciding which metrics such as stride length, stride frequency to focus on etc.  Do you think there is too much focus on that?

”So I think there’s too much focused on it, yes. I think or I know that the effective and efficient strategies are about the best combination of your spacial temporal characteristics. So your ground contact, air time, step length and if you’re going to look at a drive index or you’re going to look at some kind of way of combining those numbers, that is all about combinations. And neither is it about maximizing your stride length, neither it is about maximizing your stride frequency. It’s about finding this optimal because of the fact that our limbs don’t work in isolation, energy transfers through our pelvis to each limb. So it’s not about getting the most out of the pushing leg and getting a massive toe off distance and making a massive shape because if you do that, what you may end up doing is not having any pretension in your swing leg that’s in front.

So if you really think back to what are the biggest priorities in sprinting or in performance it is one to project yourself towards where you want to go from A to B. And it’s another thing to be prepared for the next step.

Those are the two priorities; project and be prepared. And if you over project you’re under-prepared, and if you’re over-prepared, you’re under projected or you under project.

So we’re always looking for this balance and the great thing about binary is that we’ve got all of the spatial temporal numbers. We’ve got all of the angles and orientation numbers. We’ve got everything, most things that you can get, everything that you can get from motion analysis, we can get, but if you’re only going to go for one thing, I’ll go for velocity or go for acceleration. I’ll go for the reality of the fact that we want to be fast, we want to spike our acceleration and maximize our speed, is those two things. So we care about speed and acceleration. Now, acceleration as a number or power as a number normalized, average, horizontal external power, but let’s just call it power, versus acceleration, they kind of give you a similar thing and the great thing about them is they take into context, the velocity you’re moving at and the rate of change as well.

So those would be metrics that I would hang my hat on because they don’t tell a lie. You can make a perfect shape and if your acceleration is less and your velocity is less, it’s not fast. It’s not what you really want. With that you need to take into account that people develop over time. Sometimes when they learn something new, it slows down and it gets faster. So there is a bit of art behind recognizing what you should hang on to and be patient with and what compliments that exercise.

If that’s a shape you want to do, are you complimenting it with some strategies around training it, creating what capacity, increasing the mechanical properties of that muscle group or that system. If you combine teaching and training, then that new movement pattern is more likely to be successful, but regardless, look at velocity, look at acceleration. Rarely is it something we can look at because we don’t have the tools. We don’t have a 3D Vicon system or a pitch or in your clinic and now we do.”

Is it only experience that can allow you to differentiate what you need to change?

”No. I think for me, pretension and preparation for the step are key things to understand (Daz comment: that perhaps doesn’t rely on extensive experience if you know what to look for). We definitely want to project ourselves where we need to go, and we definitely need to be prepared for the step. I’ve said this before. So no matter what change we make, we have to make sure that there’s an acceptable bandwidth of projection and preparation. So let’s say velocity goes down because we’re working on something and we’ve interrupted the habitual flow of the athlete. We’ve maybe given a taboo internal cue, but it was necessary for them to make sense of it. That we’ve played with some drills to give them some context and for them to find a feeling so that internal cue is now poo-pooed because now they understand the feeling of it. And then they’re working on it. Sometimes when you understand a feeling of it, but you’re still working on it, you might decrease maybe your velocity. Your rate of force development might reduce a bit, because you want a bit more control.

So velocity it might go down, but you want to see the classic spatial, temporal variables, ground contact time, step length. You want to see rhythm. That’s what you want to see, even if they get a bit slower and even if you’re coaching something within a session, and you’re having undulations really in how well they’re applying the skill, you want to see flow. You want to see a gradual change. You want to see that if you looked at your step length, that every step is getting a bit longer. If you looked at ground contact time, every ground contact time is reducing. If you’re looking at initial acceleration, you want to see that the ratio of air to ground is changing and that they’re spending less time in the air, more time in the ground in the first step and that this relationship remains at least for your first three to four steps. And then we start to see a break point, which is essentially where they start to spend a bit more time in the air and less time on the ground.

So there are some rhythms that we expect in running smooth flow, like a plane taking off. You want to see a smooth flow. And there are some rhythms that we want to see in velocity, velocity, gradually getting faster. And once you understand those rhythms and we want to stick to those rhythms, we understand that there are also rhythms in all of the other characteristics. Gradual change really is the name of the game and John Keily, and I think maybe Craig Pickering had a paper on smoothness, and it’s the best paper ever for me. I love John Keily’s work because it’s just a great summary of what we want in our data. We talk about smoothness and we know what smooth, silky movement might look like or smell like or sound like, but we don’t know what smooth, silky data should look like, smell like or sound like. And actually it’s very similar. It’s very, very similar. You can look at someone’s data and see their step have gradually changing. And suddenly there’s a bad rhythm. You know, suddenly, you know, it was increasing by 10 centimetres each step and then suddenly it increases or decreases by 20 centimetres. There’s something going on. Or it stays the same when it should have been changing. There’s something going on.

So it’s not just experience. I think if you know what to see in good data and good movement, you can figure out and decipher what you see in your environment.”

Can you comment on team sports versus sprinters?  How can team sports go about trying to best utilise the 20 minutes warm-up time?

Athletic Performance Academy

”I think, this is where like I’ve always talked about projection, switching and reactivity. I’ve always said that these are really important umbrella terms that help me make sense of the world. And I think if I was going to focus on acceleration and I wanted to maximize the learning, as well as the mechanical load or development of specific muscle groups, I’d pull a pulley. I’d pull X-Genies, I’ll pull a sled, I’ll do something resisted, right? And a lot of our clients and teams, especially with this new preparation for preseason, have bought 20 X-Genies. And they’ve linked them all to the walls, players can’t share equipment. If they’ve bought 20 X-Genies, they put them all in a wall and they recognize that the resisted running does lots of the teaching for them.

Projection I really think has orientation. ‘Cause when you say projection, we’re not really saying where, which direction you want to project. I feel like if we’re talking about orientation, we’re talking about some of the summaries from one of the resistance running research, which is RF again, keep coming back to it. Are you able to project a large amount of your force in the direction you want to go? Is that large ratio of force going forward, going horizontal? So for me, that’s one of my first priorities, orientation, and I’m going to use resisted running for it. Another priority is range of motion. If you have a relatively large range of motion on the front and the back side of your running cycle, not just the front side, not just the back side, if you have a relatively large range of motion on both sides of the flexing leg and the extending leg, then that tells me two things:

One. It tells me that you’re extending the leg, you’ve pushed your center of mass outside and away from your center of support. So you’ve had a nice extension of your posterior chain. So great. You’ve got a large range of motion in the backside. Two. On the front side, if at the moment of toe off, when you finish extending your knee is relatively high, even in acceleration (so we’re saying your hip angle is maybe closer to 90 degrees than 110 degrees), then clearly during the step, your thigh has punched forwards. But if at the moment of toe off, when you finish extending your front thigh is actually down here, then clearly during the stride, your thigh didn’t come forward quick enough. So at the moment of toe off is a great time to see, okay, what’s happening with extended leg. What’s happening with a thigh in front?

So finding an effective range of motion in your legs during projection and orienting yourself forwards just describes a lot of things, but for a novice coach, if I just want to make sure all the forces go forward, I’ll use a sled. Are they utilizing their range of motion? If not, then why? Is it because they’re not pushing against the ground or is it because they’re not punching their knee forward? And the nice thing about punching your knee forward whilst pushing against the ground is it pushes your center of mass out in front. It makes it easier to orientate your forces forwards.

So this RF puzzle that’s the all our real goal is, and can be solved by orientating yourself forwards and separating your limbs really well. So once you’ve done that, that’s the projection part done. That’s the pushing part done. Then you got to be prepared for the next step. So then the question is, once they’ve done these actions, and then they swapped their limbs, does their shin land in a position where it’s stiff, the ankle is stiff, the heel doesn’t drop. (Daz comment: this is the reactivity part).  The shin is stiff, is stable and allows the hip to extend early. Or does the shin land vertical, the heel drops, the shin has to roll forwards before the hip can push again. And if you’re in that position, that’s less stiff, that’s less reactive. Do you want some compression, some load before you explode? Yes. As any performance that can have a bigger touchdown distance and during a tiny bit of deceleration on the step and tiny bit of breaking it, they almost use that time to multiply and potentiate extension, right? They’re getting that highest eccentric to then load the concentrate action.

So fine, but there’s a bandwidth. There’s landing too far behind and too stiff and not enough pressure to push and there’s landing too far out in front and almost decelerating too much. So that’s five or six minutes talking about what I would be summarizing for a coach. So I’ll go back to it. If you orientate yourself well and go forward with good range of motion in your legs and then switch your limb so you can be reactive and do it again, then I think nearly all performance can do that. Rugby, football, forwards, backs. There’s a bandwidth to it. Maybe you get a bit less out the back, a bit less out the front. Maybe you’re landing a bit further out in front, a bit further out behind, but I’m talking about centimetres. And, generally the summary is the same for everybody. And so when we look at our teams, well players, if I was in a setting and I had 20 athletes, I would just be getting them to pull heavy things, recognize how to orientate themselves well with a good range of motion. The heavier it is the more horizontal I have to be and actually the better I have to switch because I have no air time.

If more horizontal you are, you don’t have air time. No air time, less time to be prepared. I’ll pull medium things because I still have to orientate myself, but I have a bit more time. I’ll be pulling medium weight because it gives me a bit more velocity. It’s more challenging. I’d be running without any resistance. Same drill, same task and I think that differential loading allows them to explore different strategies to do the same task. So it’s just movement variability. It’s just giving them options.  Are we doing resisted running for the physical, mechanical loading, or are we doing it for the teaching and the differential learning and almost creating a constraint for these guys to make sense of the world and, to explore different strategies?

I think we’re doing both. I think on some days we do minimal amounts of runs and we’re really just using resistance running for teaching and potentiation and on other days do large amounts of resisted running done with variability and combined with plyometrics.  This would allow us to create a massive work capacity to do anything else when it came to speed work, because it meant that we had lots and lots of contacts, high velocity contacts into the ground conditioning the Achilles, conditioning soleus, conditioning foot position, conditioning knee to be stable, the hip to be the prime mover, really locking in lumbar and just making sure these guys push through their bums and stabilized through their feet. And so when we move to either more pre-planned or more rugby related stuff, the guys just seemed to be able to tolerate it more than usual. Lower limb injuries went away, hamstring stuff minimized, and actually we seemed to see that when we dropped some gym work on a specific day and replaced it more with resisted running, that they didn’t just run faster, run PBs and run fast times and GPS. Their next gym session, they also came in and they seem to be wired.

Yeah. So again, long-winded but I think for me the summary is if we clarify that our goal for all our performers is to orientate large forces forwards with a decent range of motion and to make sure we can be prepared for the next step, then our RF will be good, but our DRF will also be good. That’s easy to coach. That’s easy to do in large squad because you’ve really got two goals; if go forwards when you pull something heavy and you don’t orientate yourself forward, you don’t go anywhere. So it’s great for athletes to feel because when they pull something heavy it can suddenly change something about their synchronization of their limbs or sequence of their movement or spine discipline.   Because the priority is really, do you have good spine discipline? Do you have good shin discipline? And the shins would tell you a story about the whole run just by looking at the shins, right.

That’s really easy to teach because if you don’t, if you’re trying to pull something heavy with bad spine discipline and shin discipline, you won’t go anywhere. You just won’t go anywhere. You won’t move anywhere. So the athletes figure it out. And the athlete who don’t figure it out, that’s when you intervene. But if you have tools that teach what you want for you and you just have to provide some feedback, then you can get large changes in acceleration and velocity within large squads. You don’t have to be super coach to make those changes happen.”

Can you finish off by commenting on GAME SPEED, the teaching versus training, and how we ensure transfer from one thing to another?

”I think they’re two different things. Firstly, so ”teaching” and ”training” for me is really down to the fact that just because someone looks pretty doesn’t mean they’re going to actually run fast and then just because they can run fast, it doesn’t mean they’ll do it in a game. So if you want to make sure that technique turns into fast running and physical robustness to do those actions repeatedly, you almost have two tasks there. Can you run fast, great. Can you do that eight times within a eight minute period? Yeah, it’s a different discussion, right? Teaching and training for me is understanding what exercises, what mechanical properties are necessary to run fast.

What does that mean? It means that for me, that if I want to develop someone’s ability to run really, really fast in outright running, I’ve got to make sure they also have the physical tools based on things that I’ve done maybe in the gym with eccentric work, with flywheel work, with isolated versus inter-segmental work. But also I need to probably in team sports, more importantly design running conditioning sessions that develop the technical movements, but under some duress. And you know, everyone’s like if you’re doing speed work and you’re not giving people enough recoveries, then you’re a bad coach. But when you’re training for speed or you’re training speed is two different discussions. If I’m training for speed, I sometimes have incomplete recoveries. When I’m training for speed, I want the movement to look similar, but I also want to create the physical underpinnings, the energy system, the work capacity, the tolerance to essentially mitigate risk when I trained speed.

So that’s a really important concept. Everyone wants to sprint now in sports, but people are now getting more injuries again because they’re doing too much sprinting at the wrong time. They don’t understand phase potentiation. They don’t understand how to drip feed it over time. And when they drip feed it, what else they should be doing on the field with resisted running, with repetitive speed endurance or repeat speed endurance and with your gym work. You do that so that when you need to run really, really fast, you can do it. You can recover from it and it’s got less stress on the body. So movements and muscles or teaching and training, that’s where it comes to.

Game speed is more about once they’re confident and clear and they have repetitiveness, they have the ability to do it almost under fatigue and under some kind of distraction, game speed is more like, can you replicate these movements, high velocity actions whilst being super distracted when you don’t really care about the movement? Where you care only about the outcome. You don’t care as much about thinking about it. You know you need to be in the right position and be there fast but you’ve got a number of distractions. So game speed to me is a big deal. Eddie Jones loves speed work, loves speed training but if it doesn’t finish with some game speed, if it doesn’t look like what they need to know, and if we don’t put them in positions and scenarios and stress test those scenarios for them to be able to run fast and be efficient or and be effective in the skill work, then there is no transfer and he won’t be happy.

I’ve done most of my learning with the great team coaches. Mike Ford, originally at Bath, said it’s great that you do speed work, but firstly, do they stay healthy? Secondly, does it turn into the game? And if is a no to any of those, you failed your task. And so really for team sport coaches, if you do the first stage and you do the right teaching and you underpin it with physical qualities, the likelihood of transfer just increases without even game speed. Yeah, that’s the reality. If your guys have the physical capabilities to repetitively do what you want them to do, and that’s their path of least resistance, that’s probably the most important thing here. That when they’re under stress, that when their body decides I need to get from here to here as soon as possible, the body knows that the most efficient way for me to do is use this movement pattern. That doesn’t happen because they’ve done wickets or pulled the pulley once or twice. That happens because the strongest muscle groups in the most efficient chain for them to use are the ones they choose to use. It’s a chain that you’ve trained. And until it is, then you just have people running fast, running straight lines, running PBs and GPS, great. But then when there’s a break and I have to do a box to box, they completely regress to what is comfortable, what is normal. What is the path of least resistance.

So I think game speed is a complete separate topic. I think game speed, you have to learn and design your game speed from top down. You have to have good skill coaches, good head coaches who are clear about what they want, clear about what their players do or don’t do very well and can teach you. I’ve been taught by some great technical coaches about what they want and I’ve just regressed it, reverse engineered it and gone, oh, that’s just a skips for height. And I was talking about high balls on one of our mentorships the other day about going up for a high ball in rugby and the skill of doing that is just a skip for height. Is really just a skip for height, under lots of pressure on a, maybe an unstable surface because you’re running and jumping but it’s skips for height.

So if you can dissect the perception action from the physical, and you can be clear about the two, you can develop the physical and make sure that they’re clear about the technical as well as have the physical capabilities. And then you put them under more and more stress so that they can connect this new skill under the main skill, then it transfers. Some people, have the perception. So make sure they can perceive it, great. But if they don’t have the wheels or they don’t have the chassis or they don’t have the suspension to do the task, it is great that they make the right decisions, but they’re in a Ford Focus, not in a, I don’t know, Porsche Boxster. I don’t know. I’m not very good with cars. I don’t know why I use this analogy. But hopefully that kind of gives you a flavor of where I would go with things.”

Top 5 Take Away Points:

  1. Coaching eye- one of the most important skills to learn as an apprentice coach is observation skills.
  2. Step back and remember the goal- What’s our priority? Velocity, that’s our priority. And what do we want the shape of velocity to look like? We want it to keep getting faster.
  3. Coaching vs Business- they don’t see the fact that I spend 80% of my time on the track, but track only brings in 20% of our household income
  4. Outcome vs Process- If your goal is your 10 metre time only, then you might be missing a trick because I can run to 10 and you can run to 10 in the same time but I might be at a higher velocity than you.
  5. Projection and Preparation- biggest priorities in sprinting or in performance it is one to project yourself towards where you want to go from A to B. And it’s another thing to be prepared for the next step

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

Twitter:

@EatSleepTrain_

You may also like from PPP:

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.

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  • If you’re not subscribed yet, click here to get free email updates, so we can stay in touch.
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Since you’re here…
…we have a small favor to ask.  APA aim to bring you compelling content from the world of sports science and coaching.  We are devoted to making athletes fitter, faster and stronger so they can excel in sport. Please take a moment to share the articles on social media, engage the authors with questions and comments below, and link to articles when appropriate if you have a blog or participate on forums of related topics. — APA TEAM

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Pacey Performance Podcast REVIEW- Episode 272 Hakan Andersson

This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 272 – Hakan Andersson

Hakan Andersson

Website

Background: 

Hakan AnderssonSprint coach Sports Performance Consultant and Educator based at Sports Performance Center, Vaxjo, Sweden.  61 years old and 35 years coaching, with keen interest in Athletics and sprinting in particular.  Retired in 2018 after 36 years in Fire Brigade.

 

Discussion topics:

Where would you actually start jump training and plyometrics with young sprinters?

”A  local doctor really opened my eyes to sport science and he really introduced me to some great scientists.  The first scientist I met in the flesh was Carmelo Bosco, and everyone had heard about counter movement jumps, rebound jumps and squat jumps.  He was the Father of that and was doing a lot of pioneering work on the stretch shortening cycle in the mid 80s.

Sprinters have been doing jump training for hundreds of years but it was the Russians and Fins who took it to another level with more science and planning in an organised level.

When we talk about plyometrics what we probably mean is jumping (although there will be throwers that will object to that) so it’s some kind of ballistic movement and a wide spectrum of movement.  Jumping is great for developing general and specific coordination, so it has definite room in the programme for everyone and the earlier you start the better.  Everything you have to learn with coordination is easier if you start at an earlier age.  Plyometric ability jumping seems to be like a natural thing to do growing up.

In a more structured training environment with young sprinters you have to start with building resilience, you can’t start with intensive jump training when you weigh 90 kg and you’re 30 years old.  Before puberty you can start with rope skipping and hopscotch coordination.  Jump training can be very intense, and neuromuscular tension and forces can be very high so you have to be careful and it can easily be overdone.  It has to be individually monitored and progressed.”

 

Training load for plyometrics. How is that something that you moderate for your athletes? Ground contacts?

Ground contacts only say so much.  It is also the height you are jumping from and how much you attack the ground.  It is very easy to produce high ground reaction forces if you attack the ground or you are landing from high, so you can’t start in that way.”

 

Is there a way that you quantify how much plyometric training your individuals are doing?

”You can’t only talk about numbers and intensity.  There is no perfect scheme, you also have to use your gut and see how people are responding to the training.  You can’t say how many contacts you should be doing in a session, in a week in a month.  It only says so much about the load.”

 

What other considerations are there for coaches using plyometrics with team sport athletes?

”Henk Kraaijenhof says Plyometrics is for cats not cows! It all depends what athletes you have.  If you take sprinters you see a wide range of different body types.  You have the greyhound, very light frame elastic type who often respond well to jump training and often respond negatively to heavier resistance training.  Then you have the more muscular types that are usually more stiff, less elastic and usually respond better to heavier resistance.  So it’s the same in the team setting; you have different kinds of players, and you have to treat them as individuals.

It can be very easy to overdo it and lead to injuries because of the intensity that can occur in some of the exercises.  But I think that everyone can benefit from some type of plyometrics.  You also have to take into consideration that it has a diminishing returns.  If you talk about weight training, people may respond to the heavier resistance training and it may transfer to sport fairly well but there is usually a diminishing return where that last 20-30% of strength doesn’t really transfer, and it’s the same with plyometrics.  If jump training was the best solution then jumpers would be the best sprinters but they are not! So there is a diminishing return there too.

If you can jump 16m with standing five jumps and run 10.20 seconds for 100 m does it mean you will run 10.0 seconds because you jump 17m? Not necessarily, but I think that everyone will benefit from jumping to some extent.

Take for example an ice hockey player and their season is over end of May/beginning of June and you start training them and you start with hurdle jumps you are going to run into trouble in a couple of weeks.  You have to be very careful.  He can jump but he can’t land because his feet are fixed in skates for months of the year.  So it will be such a stress on the system, especially if you are on the heavy side.”

 

How would you modify the training for the sort of person you mentioned that may not respond as well to plyometrics?  And what would you put in the programme?

”First of all you have some kind of objective way of judging what kind of athlete you have.  An experienced track coach can see who is elastic and who is not.  You can also test people and use something like the reactive strength index, the relationship between jumping height or flight time and the ground contact.

People who display a high RSI usually are the elastic type, and most of the time you can expect them to respond well to jump training.  If you use subjective means to determine someone’s type you need to have a lot of experience.

We used to test a lot.  Nowadays we measure a lot in training to see how they respond, it doesn’t just have to be a testing session per se.

We used to use a counter movement jump and ask people to jump as high as possible but many times we saw no transfer to sprinting.  When it comes to the RSI it’s a better test in my opinion, and if they score well in the RSI they are usually in good condition to run well.  We have guys who score almost 4.0 with ground contact of 0.150 m/s.  A good RSI is also related to power output, with high RSI you have a high power output and you see numbers exceeding 80 Watts/kg.”

 

How do you incorporate horizontal and vertical emphasis jumping into your training?

”Both horizontal and vertical places an important role in sprinting and I don’t really understand the debate between the vertical camp and the horizontal camp, they are so connected.  Just like contact times versus contact length, people forget about contact length.  We have to move the centre of gravity in stance phase in a certain time.  Remember contact time is the outcome of running velocity.  And the velocity at toe off is the result of the magnitude and direction of force, so they are connected.  So if you try to mimic the ground contact of an elite sprinter at say 80-90 milliseconds then remember they have to move their centre of mass horizontally.  If you try to mimic that by jumping vertically they are a totally different thing!  So both forces play a big role.

In initial acceleration of course you can produce a lot of horizontal force and you can use the knee extensors more, and in top speed of course the vertical force is more significant but if we want to keep accelerating we need to make sure the propulsive forces are exceeding the braking forces.

Unilaterally bounding is more tricky and the forces are high because of the speed so it’s important to do this beyond just vertical jumping which may be good for training stiffness.  The bounding is better for training hip extension.

In team sports I would probably do more horizontal jumping but it all depends on their experience.   You have to respect the landing and the impact forces especially if you are a little heavier or jumping on a hard surface.  You might start on grass or jumping up stairs, and the jumping height.

I would start with a skipping rope and see how they respond and progress it slowly.  If they are coordinated and can learn it they can benefit from it.”

In terms of resisted sprints where would you start someone?

”Resisted sprints are an excellent idea for developing horizontal force capability in a safe way.  We have being doing some form of resisted sprints for a long time such as hill sprints.  In the last couple of years there has been some interesting technology come to the market.  We use the Dynaspeed in Sweden and there is the 1080 motion, and there are lot of resistances that you can programme in and do it a lot more accurately.

Sprinting is all about producing rate of force in a short time in the right direction but it is also about rhythm, and coordination and relaxation.  I find sometimes, and sprinters say it too, that sleds can be very disturbing because you are working with friction and the resisted force oscillate a lot when you are working with sleds.

The new technique using constant pulling force (dynaspeed) can be programmed so you can work in all the different acceleration phases, different loads and so we use it a lot and I think this will be a big part of the future in sprinting when it comes to being more precise and working more specifically, and more important than plyometrics actually.

You want more information than speed, I think.  You want to see what happens to stride length and frequency when you load them with resisted sprints.  Especially with assisted sprinting it is crucial to know, as it is very easy to pull people too hard, and you damage their mechanics.

The way I see it, if we use pretty heavy resistance and I programme the system to use say 30% of body weight equivalent or 60% body weight with a sled, friction dependent, the maximum velocity that you will achieve with a sprinter is roughly around 4-5 m/s which is equivalent to his first or second stride.  So with a heavy sled it is like training their first few strides but for an extended period of time.

If you do lighter resistances you can work on different phases of the acceleration curve, so it’s a very good tool and you can work your way through the whole acceleration period starting your session.  You start with a heavy resistance and the initial acceleration and you end up with the training programme developing the later part of the acceleration.

We usually use assisted sprints in the later part of a preparation period.”

 

When you say heavy resistance sprints what kind of load are we talking about?

”If you refer to the literature they are always referring to sleds.  If you talk about motor resisted sprints like muscle lab or 1080 it’s usually about half the resistance.  So the heaviest resistance we go to is about 30% of body mass, and that slows them down extensively to the speed of the first step. (which is equivalent to 60% on a sled).

We start with heavy sprints for a couple of weeks and then we reduce the load through the training period, and usually mix it too with super heavy, medium heavy and light weight but we emphasis one side of it and always with a combination of unloaded.

Resisted sprinting alters mechanics at the heavy end if you try to run with an erect position! If you stay in the same position as you would in the first couple of strides of acceleration then it obviously doesn’t alter mechanics but if you try to run in an upright position with 30% of your body weight then it would. ”

 

How would that work when you are working with team sports?

”The heavy resisted sprinting would be more considered strength work.  In football, sprinters never start their sprints from the true low acceleration position, they start from a more upright position so they have to accelerate a lot more with hip extension than knee extension, like a sprinter would.

In a game scenario a footballer starts a sprint from a more upright position, or from a moving position, and never from a low stance.

So the heavy resisted work in a low position is beneficial if it is seen as strength training for them.  For people who can’t do a lot of jumping it is a safe way of working even if the resistance is high and the speed is low, it is still much faster than anything you can do in the gym.”

 

What are some of the testing options have we got to help coaches decide where to spend their time?

”I think timing sprints is important to ensure the intensity is where you want it to be.  Hand timing is fine but electronic timing can help further.  It is much easier to monitor.  Electronic timing is a good investment.

We are now using IMUs with Musclelab that can detect ground contacts at touch down and toe off so we can calculate stride frequency, contact time and flight time.  If you can measure speed every time we also have the contact and stride length.  So we can follow the stride kinematics and kinetics as the athlte

We use Ergotest company based in Norway.  Musclelab is the brand and we use 16G IMU can sample up to 1000Hz, wireless and put it on the laces of the shoe.

Force platforms are great for seeing how they produce force eccentrically and concentrically, as jump height is not enough so that is another useful metric to see how athletes produce force.  I’ll use the force plates when doing drop jumps  and counter movements I have replaced the contact mats with force plates as I feel I get more information from that.”

 

Top 5 Take Away Points:

  1. Start early- everything you have to learn with coordination is easier if you start at an earlier age.  Plyometric ability jumping seems to be like a natural thing to do growing up.
  2. Progress slowly- build resilience and it has to be individually monitored and progressed.
  3. Monitoring jump load- it has to be about more than just ground contacts.  How much you attack the ground and how high you jump must also be taken into account.
  4. Transfer to sprinting- If jump training was the best solution then jumpers would be the best sprinters but they are not! So there is a diminishing return there too.
  5. Direction of force- Both horizontal and vertical places an important role in sprinting

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

Twitter:

@sprintcoachSWE

 

You may also like from PPP:

Episode 286 Stu McMillan

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 286 Stu McMillan

This blog is a review of the Pacey Performance Podcast Episode 286 – ALTIS

Altis

Website

Background: 

Stu McMillan– Coach and CEO at ALTIS. Formerly based in Calgary, Canada coaching winter sport athletes from 1998-2010.  Became sprint coach with GB Track & Field athletes in 2010 until end of London games 2012.  Moved to Phoenix, Arizona and started Altis 2013.

Kevin Tyler- Altis President (and former Head of Coaching at UK Athletics)

Dan Pfaff- sprint coach

Andreas Behm- hurdles coach

John Godina- throws coach

 

Discussion topics:

How did ALTIS come about?

”John Godina had set up the World Throws Center, with a vision of setting up a training centre but also he saw this big gap in the profession, especially in North America of coaching track & field events.  So he started his company World Throws Center as a vehicle to educate throws coaches but also as a training centre to coach elite throwers.

But his vision was always to expand that out into all of the other event groups within track & field.  Within an hour of their first meeting John had offered Stu a job to help him build what they were going to call the World Athletics Center, which was rebranded as ALTIS in 2015.

The vision was to offer a more professional track & field coaching service and second to that was to offer a professional coach education service to other track and field coaches.  So from the get go we have always believed in the co development of coaches and athletes.

In the first year we had 7 athletes on board, the second year we have 23 athletes, the following year we had 65 and the year after that we had 108 and by that time it was getting a little bit too chaotic.  So from an operations stand point so we reached out to Kevin Tyler who at that point was lead sprint coach for University of Oklama, to help us with the day to day operations.”

 

What is the vision for ALTIS over the next 5-10 years?

”We started off as a track & field company that wanted to do some education.  Now we are an education company that also does some track & field.  When we started off we had this in house coaching programme, the Apprentice coach programme, that we are probably best known for, where every month that we are coaching people we are visited by 10-15 professionals from all over the world.

Now when we started that programme in 2013 80% of the people than came to visit us were from track & field, and now every month we have 20-30 people come visit us and 80-85% of them are from other sports, so it is less and less track & field, and that has been part of our strategy moving forward.  The reality is that track & field is a difficult sport from which to try and operate and sustain a for-profit business within.  There just is not the money in these some of these smaller amateur sports.

I don’t know what the next 5-10 years will look like but we are trying to lead some of the change and doing a better job of helping educate the younger coaches coming through navigate their way through the chaos of the coaching profession.”

 

Where do you look for inspiration from the education side of the business to have more impact on the industry?

”With age, often, but not always, comes wisdom, so you are better able to synthesis your way through all the disparate and conflicting information so we see our role as trying to make sense of it all.  So first and foremost we see our role as taking these perhaps 100 conflicting ideas and synthesis it into what is truly important.

Where we get the inspiration for that I think is maybe two or threefold.  First and foremost is my primary mentor Dan Pfaff who can take really complex information and reduce it to a sentence or two that makes sense for a person who doesn’t have the wisdom that he has.

Second a great friend of mine Jon Beradi who build Precision Nutrition who saw the noise in the nutrition space and didn’t want to be a part of it, so he started an online digital nutrition education curriculum.  So I take a lot of inspiration from what he built and how he built it, communicating it in a way that made sense to everyone in the space whether they are just starting or whether they’ve been in the space for 10 years plus.

Third is EXOS, which is the building in which we house ourselves, and we are so lucky to have this relationship with Mark Vestegen, and how they have built their system.

 

Do the underpinning characteristics of speed differ between track & field and other sports?

”Backing up a little bit, the question to ask yourself is, is speed a primary limiting factor in the sport you coach? If the answer is yes, then where is it within the hierarchy of KPIs (key performance indicators) within that?

If it is one of the top ones, and you determine that it is an important factor in your sport then it is contingent upon you to understand that.  A decade ago it was all about the strength part of strength & conditioning, and very little about conditioning.  And within strength it was really only about what happened in the weight room, just around Olympic lifts or Power lifts, and it was very reduced and it didn’t have a great transfer over to what the sport is.

The role of an S&C coach was really about getting an athlete in front of me more stronger and more powerful, and if I do that then I’ve done my job.  But over the course of the last 5-10 years we have begun to think a lot more about ‘transference‘ and is the work I’m doing transferring over to the sport in which they are performing?  So then that becomes the objective.

It is pretty evident that most S&C coaches don’t know a tonne about speed development, or mechanics or any of those things around speed.  It is changing, and there is a greater respect for it and I think it stems from a better understanding of the role of the S&C coach and knowing it is more than getting them bigger, faster stronger in the gym.  The strength components are much easier to measure, and therefore much easier to justify our positions or roles within the performance team.

But to answer your original question, I don’t really see much of a difference.  The underpinning things that are important to getting athletes fast are important whether you are getting them prepared to run a 100m or whether you are preparing them to play rugby, basketball, or American football.  It’s just where in that hierarchy of KPIs do those speed qualities exist? So in track & field for example, the mechanics of how an athlete moves down the track is really important.  It’s a primary factor and it is one of the most important factors in determining whether that athlete succeeds. Is it as important for let’s say as important for an offensive lineman in American football, no! But it is more important for a wide receiver to move mechanically sound, then yes!  For an offensive lineman I wouldn’t spend a tonne of time teaching him how to upright sprint but I’d coach them enough so that he doesn’t hurt himself when he has to do these stupid NFL combine tests!

At what point do you move away from isolated sprinting to a more contextual environment for a team sport player?

Well that’s the big question obviously, and it just goes back to that question about transference.  It’s no different from what we are doing in the weight room.  What are we doing in the weight room by doing a power clean, or a squat or a reverse hyper?  Do we do any of those things out on the field, no we don’t do any of them, so they are so many generations away from from the athlete actually does on the field.

It’s very funny to me and curious to me the argument from technical coaches who tell me, ‘well my athlete doesn’t get upright, he only accelerates so why are you teaching them to upright sprint?’  So I say, ‘well does your athlete clean 60kg on the bar and put it on their shoulders on the field? So why are you getting them to do that as well?’

That being said, it’s still a very valid question.  Working back from the sport we need to be able to justify every piece of the preparation programme whether it is sprinting, lifting weights, jumping or throwing.  We need to be able to justify it.  Going back to the previous example, if you are a premier league footballer or a wider receiver in American football then the need to teach someone how to sprint properly becomes more important.

Then the question becomes content versus context.  You’re probably not going to be thinking about your technique while you are actually moving around the field.  You might be subconsciously aware of it, but you’re definitely not consciously thinking about driving your knees up or using your arms etc.  But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be working on that from a less contextualized standpoint away from the confines of the game.

What I say, and what my argument is, probably the more experienced you are the longer you’ve been in a sport, the longer you’ve been moving a certain way, the less time that we as professionals should spend trying to change that way of moving or improve/perfect that way of moving.  But if you’re a 12 yr old soccer player and you can barely move your limbs with any efficiency or force then it is part of our role to try to teach you how to move properly.

 

Are you thinking about sprinting when you are playing a team sport?

”I always share the story of me playing soccer and I remember vividly having a one on one with the defender.  Now this was my second stint playing soccer as a 30 yr old having retired from the game at 24 yr.  I hadn’t changed anything else in those six years apart from spending a lot of time learning how to run faster and more efficiently.  As I push the ball past him, my brain just goes somewhere else for a split second and I lock into my sprint technique thinking about leaning forward, head down, pump my arms, then as soon as I get by him, my brain locks back into the sport and off I go again.

Now the ecological dynamics people say it is always an interaction between the task and the environment.  Well, it’s not always.  Sometimes we use these fundamental skills that we develop in other areas of the physical preparation, whether that’s jumping, or running or squatting.  Sometimes we use them as metaphors within the confines of the game, and you refer back to all the training you have done and for a split second your brain goes back into a fundamental skill before you lock back into the game.

 

When, where and how do you incorporate speed sessions into Youth athlete programmes?

”Firstly, it depends on what you mean by youth? Are you talking about an 8 yr old or perhaps a 15-16 yr old?  Have they started to specialise in their sport? Generally what you will see if you look at a playground with a group of 8-10 yr olds running around, most of them run a lot, sprint a lot and they are pretty efficient in how they move.  It is probably getting a little bit worse as they play less but generally it’s pretty good.  If you look again at that same group 5-6 years later, most of them are no longer moving well.

If they are 8-12 yr old you are probably doing enough sprinting within their play already, now you may have a few that are not great movers who you might want to say okay, twice a week for 10 minutes we are going to work on making you a little more efficient in the way in which you move.  But the training may be enough if they are running around and sprinting.

Now when they are 15-16 yrs the technical demands are playing a much greater importance than the relevance of some of these other things like sprinting, such as doing small sided games and having less and less opportunities to open up and run.  So I would encourage coaches, for whom this is your case, to provide your athletes with opportunities to open up and running and sprinting.  It doesn’t have to be a lot, just work it into your warm ups and do 5-10 mins sprinting, say three times a week.

Sprinting in warm-ups

On a related issue of warm-ups I find it totally baffling having watched some Premier league soccer warm-ups that the players will not do any sprinting during the warm-up.  Sure they’ll do 4-5 step bursts or some really sloppy strides but not once do they do any actual sprinting!!

And as far as planning it into training days, look at what the technical plan is for the training session.  If the plan is going to do a lot of sprinting, we’re not doing any small sided games (SSG), okay well then I’ll just put 3-4 x 20-30m sprints at the end of the warm-up.  Or if we are doing mostly SSG today then we won’t open up a lot so I’ll have to work more sprinting into the warm-up and do 5-6 x 20-30m.  The take home is not so much how we do it, but that we do it! We’ve gone too deep into the specialisation of the sport and the technical demands of the sport, and started to ignore the capacity demands and the strength, power and speed and how people move!

At Altis we look at three different speeds, slow, medium and fast velocity.  We have three planes of movement- forwards, sideways and backwards.  And we look at three arcs- short- medium and long arc (with a long arc being the entire body is working fully).  When we get together as a group we will do something to hit all nine components over the course of a session.

 

What is your philosophy of what goes on in the weight room (both for track athletes and then secondly as team sports)?

First and foremost, we always start with the sport and the athlete as individuals. So understanding the athlete is primary.

So the first question I ask is, why is this athlete in front of me good at what they do?

I then design my programme towards whatever is it that makes them good at what they do (strengthen strengths).  So if they are good at what they do because they have got really good force producing capabilities, then I’m going to spend more time doing, relative to other things closer to when they need to compete well, on force producing abilities.  So I will train them towards that kind of work.  Now that’s for elite sprinters.

But if I’m working with a 14-15yr old I’ll still ask the same question, why is this athlete in front of me really good at what they do, but I’ll spend more relative time filling in the gaps at what they are not good at.

They are super strong- so I’ll do stuff in the weight room to make them super stronger.  And when they are competing I want them feeling good about themselves- doing things they are confident in and comfortable with.

Philosophically as a coach, we tend to see a weakness in an athlete and they say, ‘if only I could improve this weakness, this athlete would be so much better.’  I worked with a speed skater in Canada who for almost four years leading into the Winter Games 2010 was one of the best sprint skaters at the time, he had the World record, he had won a number of world cups.

In the year leading up to the 2006 Winter Olympics the coaches and physiologists decided there was a gap here, I think we can make this athlete better if we spend more time on building his strength endurance. Now he was really pretty dominant on the first lap, and he was even pretty dominant on the second lap but tended to drop off a little in the second lap.  So in the Olympic season, you can guess what happened? he lost his mojo, he lost his top end speed because we only have finite amount of stuff we can fit into the envelope, so by working on more strength endurance stuff around the second lap, that took away from what actually made him, him, what made him good! And because you took away stuff that made him feel really good about himself he started losing his confidence and started competing less well.  Now I think he went into the games and didn’t even medal, maybe 5th or 6th where he went into the games and the previous quadrennial period as the dominant skater!  So this is a little lesson to think about when to work on strengths and when to work on weaknesses.  We need to be really careful on where we spend time working on things where athletes aren’t very good at.  How does that make you feel psychologically if you just go into every training session doing things that are hard and you feel you suck at?  You can just become a totally different person.

 

What is your process in determining the exercises in the weight room that have the biggest transference into sprinting?

Part of that is just experience, having access to literally hundreds of athletes in Calgary and put them into little boxes and try stuff out and over the course of that time we figured out so much of what can transfer and what can’t.  But now that I’m working with 10 athletes who are all hoping to go to the Olympic games it doesn’t give me much opportunity to trial and error.

We know that for example, there isn’t a high degree of transference between say a heavy back squat and running fast.  That may be surprising to some of your listeners.  If you look at the eight finalists in the 100 m sprint and you ask yourself how much these guys can back squat.   Now some strength coaches will look at the story of Ben Johnson who apparently did a 600 lb back squat the day before the 1988 Final and that’s kind of become the bedrock of their understanding of the relationship between strength and speed.  Where he was an anomaly.  If you look at the the eight sprinters at the final in Rio (2016) there wasn’t one of them who could of full back squatted over 150 kg.  I had one of them (the Bronze medalist) and he couldn’t back squat 60 kg!!

So strength as we typically define it in the weight room as ‘load’ is not transferable to speed.  Now some governing strength abilities within that do, so eccentric RFD is very important, so can you find some exercises within the weight room to develop that ability within strength that transfers a lot better!

Werner Gunther was in the Swiss bob sled teams and I got the chance to watch this guy train over the course of a winter.  Around the same time in 2001 I watched a guy called Adam Archuleta who lit up the NFL combine that year, and his metrics tested out of the roof!  Now his trainer at the time Jay Shrayder did a lot of drop catch work with a really overloaded fast eccentric component as a part of his strength.   I also listened to D Schmidtbleicher who found within his research it was that the stretch was the most important part not the shortening, it was the first ‘s’ in the SSC (stretch-shortening cycle).  What I took from that was that we have a finite amount of energy available to us so we can choose to say do hurdle hops or depth landings.  We can probably do more depth landings if we don’t have to worry about the concentric component (the second ‘s’), than we can full hurdle hops so it is a little bit more efficient.

So taking what I learnt from these three athletes around 20 years ago I started working with my athletes what I eventually called reflexive eccentrics (Reflexive Eccentrics. Term used to describe low-load, high-velocity eccentric (yielding) exercises)

which is taking a weight 40-70% 1RM and then dropping explosively into a catch position. So for a squat, if you’ve got an athlete that does 200 kg for 3 reps then we put a 100kg on them at drop into a half squat explosively for 3-5 reps.  Be as quick through that eccentric portion as you can.  This is the part of the work that we do in the weight room that has the most transference and then what we do is try to identify the specific exercise that that type of work transfers over the most for each individual athlete.  So we category athletes upon the way in which they move, are they double leg or single leg dominant, or are they push dominant or pull dominant?  So if we have an athlete that is a double leg push athlete we will do a lot more double leg squat movements.  Whereas if you have an athlete who is a single leg puller then the exercise we would be doing more in the weight room would be say for example, a single leg RDL.

 

How do you categorize the athletes into the full buckets (double, single, push or puller)?

Observe and ask questions

I watch them!  Now that is not a good answer for a young coach because a young coach doesn’t have the experience or the eye to see that this is how the athlete moves, but I actually challenge coaches to do this.

The easier one to observe is if they are anterior chain or posterior chain dominant.  If the sprinter has big glutes, big hamstrings, big calves, long Achilles, he/she is almost certainly going to be a puller.  They pull themselves down the track.  On the other side of the equation, if you have someone who has big quads, chest, shoulders, triceps, and a little bent over the waist chances are they are a pusher.

Also, ask an athlete which athlete they prefer. If they prefer a squat they are probably a pusher, and if they say Dead lift chances are they are a puller.  Also then ask them if they would prefer to do it on leg or two legs? They are always going to choose the one they are best at, because that’s their bias.  If they are not sure, you can get them to try and see what movement they are more comfortable with, and use our philosophy of moving towards their strengths.

Arcs and fascial chains

This goes back to what I said about asking the question about why are they good at what they do?

  • Are they super stable in performing BIG OPEN SHAPES? Big arc person vs. small arc person? Big arc is perhaps more fascially dominant and small arc is perhaps more muscularly dominant
  • Snatch is full chain arc (foot to overhead), clean is medium chain arc (foot to shoulder)
  • Super tall really skinny fascial dominant athlete might be good at overhead back MB heaves but not so much at underhand forward heaves

Top 5 Take Away Points:

  1. Identify limiting factors – is speed a primary limiting factor in the sport you coach? If the answer is yes, then where is it within the hierarchy of KPIs
  2. Content vs. Context-  how much impact can you make on sprint technique out of context from the game?
  3. Opportunities– give athletes opportunities to open up and sprint as part of their weekly training
  4. Importance of eccentric strength- this is the type of strength that has higher transfer to sprinting
  5. Observation skills- watch them move and ask questions.  What they like is what they are good at!

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

Twitter:

@StuartMcMillan1

 

You may also like from PPP:

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.

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

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

Jurdan Mendiguchia

Research Gate

Background: 

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

 

Discussion topics:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Risk Factors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JM on the use of the nordic in hamstring injuries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Individualisation of Hamstring Recruitment Profile

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

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

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

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

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

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

JM on use of Isometrics in Hamstring injury reduction training

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author opinion:

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

 

Top 5 Take Away Points:

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

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

Research Gate:

Jurdan Mendiguchia

You may also like from PPP:

Episode 252 Steve Saunders

Episode 248 Hamstring roundtable

Episode 243 Jack Hickey

 

Hope you have found this article useful.

Where I am next presenting?

 

Speed, Agility & Quickness for Sports Workshop

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

Book your spot HERE

 

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  • 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.
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Hamstring Injuries- Part 1 of 2

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

Australian Catholic University

Website

Background: 

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

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

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

 

Discussion topics:

JR on the contrast between academic research and real life

”The risk of finding nothing.

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

JR on predicting hamstring injuries

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

Non modifiable

  • History of hamstring injury
  • Increasing age

Modifiable

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

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

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

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

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

JR on predictive modelling

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

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

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

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

RT on hamstring architecture overview

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

Two dimensional ultrasound image of bicep femoris long head

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

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

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

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

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

RT on hamstring higher and lower volume interventions

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

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

RT on hamstring injury risk

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

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

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

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

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

JH on asymmetries as part of the rehab process.

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

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

RT on alternatives to Nordics

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

Other considerations:

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

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

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

RT on use of Isometrics

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

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

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

JH on use of Isometrics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author opinion:

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

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

 

Top 5 Take Away Points:

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

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

Twitter:

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

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

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

You may also like from PPP:

Episode 55 JB Morin

Episode 217, 51 Derek Evely

Episode 212 Boo Schexnayder

Episode 207, 3 Mike Young

Episode 204, 64 James Wild

Episode 192 Sprint Masterclass

Episode 183 Derek Hansen

Episode 175 Jason Hettler

Episode 87 Dan Pfaff

Episode 55 Jonas Dodoo

Episode 15 Carl Valle

Hope you have found this article useful.

Remember:

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

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

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Pacey Performance Podcast REVIEW- Episode 227 JB Morin

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

JB Morin

Website

Background: 

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

Discussion topics:

JB on the contrast between academic research and real life

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

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

JB with an overview of what Force-Velocity Profiling is

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

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

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

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

  • My Jump app
  • My Sprint app

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

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

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

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

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

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

      JB on what the Force-velocity profile actually looks like 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Author opinion:

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

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

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

       

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

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

      A word of caution: A Case Study

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

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

      Initial findings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

       

      Top 5 Take Away Points: 

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

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

      Email: jean-benoit.morin@unice.fr

      You may also like from PPP:

      Episode 55 JB Morin

      Episode 217, 51 Derek Evely

      Episode 212 Boo Schexnayder

      Episode 207, 3 Mike Young

      Episode 204, 64 James Wild

      Episode 192 Sprint Masterclass

      Episode 183 Derek Hansen

      Episode 175 Jason Hettler

      Episode 87 Dan Pfaff

      Episode 55 Jonas Dodoo

      Episode 15 Carl Valle

      Hope you have found this article useful.

      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 204 James Wild

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

       

      James Wild

      Background: 

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

      Discussion topics:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      I divide my speed sessions into five different sections

      Drills:

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

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

      Jumps:

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

      Priming activities:

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

      Free Sprinting or change of direction:

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

      Sport specific speed:

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

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

      James on protecting hamstrings

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

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

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

      James on coaching cues for improving sprinting performance

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

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

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

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

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

      Author opinion:

      Assess don’t guess!

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

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

      Top 5 Take Away Points: 

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

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

      Email: 

      You may also like from PPP:

      Episode 227, 55 JB Morin

      Episode 217, 51 Derek Evely

      Episode 207, 3 Mike Young

      Episode 64 James Wild

      Episode 192 Sprint Masterclass

      Episode 183 Derek Hansen

      Episode 87 Dan Pfaff

      Episode 55 Jonas Dodoo

      Episode 15 Carl Valle

      Hope you have found this article useful.

      Remember:

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

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

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      Pacey Performance Podcast REVIEW- Episode 212 Boo Schexnayder

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

      Boo Schexnayder

      Website: www.sacspeed.com

      Background: 

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

      Discussion topics:

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

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

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

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

      Boo on his philosophy related to plyometrics

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

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

      In Place Jumps:

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

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

      Short bounds:

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

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

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

      Extended bounds (Advanced):

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

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

      Depth jumps (Very Advanced):

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

      Boo on the ratio of vertical to horizontal jump training

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

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

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

      Boo on the use of Plyometrics in Team Sports

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

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

      Boo on his principles around programming of plyometrics in the week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Boo on his principles around use of circuit training for recovery

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

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

      Author opinion:

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

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

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

      Top 5 Take Away Points: 

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

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

      www.www.sacspeed.com

      You may also like from PPP:

      Episode 227, 55 JB Morin

      Episode 217, 51 Derek Evely

      Episode 207, 3 Mike Young

      Episode 204, 64 James Wild

      Episode 192 Sprint Masterclass

      Episode 183 Derek Hansen

      Episode 87 Dan Pfaff

      Episode 55 Jonas Dodoo

      Episode 15 Carl Valle

      Hope you have found this article useful.

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