As technology has proliferated over the past decade, so has data collection among athletes and coaches. Data collection is nothing new, but as the amount of data and the ease of obtaining it seems to be growing exponentially. I was just speaking to a scientist from Push last week and their new device will soon let you capture all kinds of metrics with the touch of a button in training. Other devices are adding different metrics. But with all the new data, it is important to keep in mind two principles of data collection.
Last week I started sharing some of the best training material I’ve run across online recently. Due to the great response, I’ve pulled out a few more quotes and words of wisdom from my June journal.
In Riga last week one of the Swiss sprinters asked me when I would run out of things to write about. That will happen as soon as I stop learning. When will that be? When I keel over.
In a New York Times op-ed last week, author David Epstein presented a case against specialization in youth sports. He cited several studies showing that early specialization appears to have detrimental effects on athlete development.
In the Performance Podcast interview I did last week I talked a bit about how coaches often aren’t measuring what matters in training. This idea lies at the heart of the concept of transfer of training. Take a look at American football and you see how obsessed fans and coaches are with 40-yard dash times or weight room numbers. But what really matters is how well someone plays on the field and, in case you’re new to the blog, those measurements are not always related.
Coach Wil Fleming and I go back a ways. We competed against each other back in college and while he has moved on starting his own gym and running a great blog and podcast, we still keep in touch to talk about training occasionally. A few years ago I did an interview for his blog about Westside Barbell. This year he provided input in our coaching roundtable about Olympic lifting for the throws. And just last week we chatted about specific strength for his new venture: The Performance Podcast.
I’ve given a teaser and interviewed the translator, but I have yet to give my own thoughts on Dr. Bondarchuk’s new book The Olympian Manual for Strength and Size. As we are sending out the pre-orders I thought it was time for me to weigh in with my thoughts. As I normally do in my book reviews, I will give an overview of the book, discuss in detail it’s organization and content, and then summarize what I like and didn’t like. If you would like to order the book, you can do so in the HMMR Media Store. As discussed below, if you order the book from HMMR Media I can also help answer some questions you might have after reading it.
Last year I looked at when hammer throwers reach their peak and last week I looked at shot putters. FiveThirtyEight even looked at this aspect of tennis. I decided to continue the project by looking at javelin throwers. I often train together with the Swiss national javelin coach Terry McHugh. McHugh sits just outside of the top 100, but when I complain about getting old he is the first to tell me otherwise. He knows from experience since he threw his personal best just days shy of his 37th birthday. On the other hand I know a few javelin throwers who careers have been ended quite young due to injuries. With this in mind I figured it would be an interesting event to look at.
I like numbers. In an interview in February I said the technology I use and profit from the most is Microsoft Excel. I guess this explains why I work in tax, but even in training I am constantly analyzing the data I get out of my own training and of my athletes. Numbers are the feedback that is easiest to work with.
In talking about whether to use three or four turns last week I concluded that the decision has to be individual based based on what rhythm fits each specific athlete’s qualities. For many athletes the question should not just be three or four turns, but also toe turn or heel turn. Using four heel turns is a technique that is almost always forgotten as an option.