Dealing With the Downsides of the Information Age

Over on the GAINcast we are in the middle of a three-part series of interviews that Vern did with staff members at the US Ski and Snowboard Association’s Center of Excellence. Throughout the course of the interviews one recurring theme has emerged: the use data in sport. We are in the information age, and many coaches spend as much time with information as they do with athletes. But despite being with different teams and working in different roles, the staff all saw this as one of the most important issues they confront daily. To put it simply, we are not always getting much in return for the time we spend with information. The final interview will be up in two weeks, but in it Troy Taylor summarized the issue well: Read more

4 Things I Learned From Frans Bosch

Dutch coach Frans Bosch started quite the conversation last year when he released the English edition of his book Strength Training and Coordination: An Integrative Approach. A look at how training methods have evolved over the last century shows a clear trend towards more specific training means. But so far there has yet to a clear look at comprehensive look at the topic in detail. Bondarchuk has written in detail about the connection between specificity and transfer, but does not spend much time answering why things work that way. Verkhoshansky wrote a book on the topic but the exercises he describes often do not fit into his own definition. Bosch’s book attempts to do just that by taking a 360-degree look at the topic. It puts specificity in context by looking at how we coordinate our bodies and how best to develop that coordination.. Read more

The Fallacy of the Strength Reserve

There is an ongoing debate about when maximum strength training reaches a point of diminishing returns. Increasing maximum strength has benefits for athletes in nearly every sport. If an athlete increases their bench press from 200 to 300 pounds their shot put results will undoubtedly improve as a result. But will the same thing happen for an athlete that improves their bench from 400 to 450 pounds? Ask a dozen coaches and you might get a dozen different answsers. Read more

Four Laws for Life and Training

On last week’s GAINcast Vern and I discussed the importance of connections in training. When it comes down to it, performance is about making connections. At one level it is about connecting muscles and joints to move together with optimal coordination. At another level it is about connecting ideas from different disciplines to find the best way to guide your athlete. At both levels we can learn a lot by looking at the field of ecology. Ecology, by its very nature, is a discipline devoted to connections: it is a branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings. Barry Commoner was a leading ecologist and his 1971 book The Closing Circle was pivotal in helping bring about the modern environmental movement. Whether you are a tree hugger or not, in reading through his work you cannot help but see that much of it can be applied 1:1 in sport. Read more

Breaking Things Down vs. Dumbing Them Down

Last month I had an interesting exchange with Simon Nainby and a few others coaches. At the time the England rugby team had ventured south to Australia for a three-match series. Fans eagerly awaited the action, but as much attention was on the coaches as the players. Australia coach Michael Cheika took a struggling squad last year and turned them into runners up at the World Cup. England’s new coach Eddie Jones, an Australian himself, was brought in to do the same and has already moved England’s world rank up from seventh to second in his first six months on the job. Both coaches were eager to prove they could continue their momentum. Read more

How Periodization Can Blind Us

Listening to John Kiely present at our seminar last month was a real eye opener for me. The man is working to reframe our whole discussion about training and it is a real paradigm shift in my opinion. Irish strength coach Robbie Bourke came out to our seminar and yesterday he posted his most recent podcast episode where he interviewed Kiely. In the show Kiely turns his sights back on periodization. While it can help us in many ways, few coaches are aware of how it can hurt us at the same time by blinding us as coaches. You can listen to the podcast below, and read some excerpts of his criticisms. Read more

Searching for Goldilocks

Much in life is linear: the seconds tick by with regularity as we get a little older and our hair keeps growing little by little. I am quite thankful that not everything in life is linear, or else my baby daughter would turn into a giant at the current rate. But training is stuck in linear thinking; if we find something good we want to believe it will keep working forever. This belief gets us in trouble. Believe me: there is too much of a good thing. Read more

Nature? Nurture? We Are Asking the Wrong Question

Are athletes born or are they made? This is the crux of the nature vs. nurture question that has been debated to death by the athletics community. The debate never moves forwards since, like so many things in life nowadays, everyone takes a position at the extreme when the best answer lies in the middle. Read more

Bondarchuk on Individualization, Transfer and Long-Term Development

Recently publisher Ultimate Athlete Concepts and Yosef Johnson put together a series of interviews with Dr. Anatoli Bondarchuk on a wide range of topics. UAC is the top publisher of Soviet training content. They have published four books by Bondarchuk, and have new titles coming out soon too including his next book which is now available for pre-order (all these books, as well as titles from other Soviet authors, are available for purchase in the HMMR Media Bookstore). I’ve put together some highlights of the recent interview below and categorized them into five topics: individualizing training, individualizing periodization, transfer of training, long-term development and implementing change in training. Please note that I have made some grammatical corrections in the quotes, but have kept the underlying message intact in all cases. You can also find the full video interviews at the end of the post. Enjoy! Read more

3 Things I Learned From John Kiely

I’ve given many seminars over the past few years, but last weekend’s event was perhaps the most unique event I have been involved in. It might have actually been the first periodization seminar ever that spent all of 10 minutes discussing the actual periods. Instead we took a step back to look at the complexity of the problems we are trying to address with periodization, strategies and processes to deal with the complexities, and then surveyed a variety strategies in action. My portions focused on some many of the best practices we can learn from some of the master coaches I have worked with and had the chance to interview for HMMR Media. My co-host John Kiely focused his time on the complexities and what we can learn from science about the problem and potential solutions. He covered many topics like mental biases and how to deal with them, gaining power through simplicity in training, and optimizing organizational processes. I could write several posts with what I learned on Saturday, but decided to focus on three big picture take-aways I learned from Kiely over the weekend. Read more