The Pressure Principle

Many years ago, in 2003, I raced at the World Youth Championships in Canada. Just sixteen years old, and having only been doing athletics for two and a half years, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Going into those championships, I wasn’t really a medal hopeful; I had, at best, an outside chance. I had run 10.54 earlier that year, but then suffered a bad hamstring injury, and missed a number of races in the run up the championships. I can’t remember exactly where I was ranked going in, but on the end-of-year rankings I was equal 14th in the World (alongside Daniel Bailey), a good way back from the World Leader, Oluwole Ogunde from Nigeria, who had run 10.38 that season. As I didn’t know what to expect, I was quite nervous before my heat, which led to me running a personal best of 10.53, and feeling pretty comfortable. I was the fastest qualifier was the semi-final, which was to take place the next day. Read more


Daily Challenge

What are you doing different today and everyday to make yourself better that no one else in your world is doing? Read more


GAIN Swimming – September 16 to 18, 2016

Are you interested in being challenged as coach to make your swimmers better? Would you like to learn how to systematically make your athletes stronger and keep them injury free? If so, GAIN Swimming network can help. Read more


Is Coaching an Art or a Science?

When I was 14, I started my GCSE programme at school (for those of you that aren’t British, this is a series of exams taken at age 16 called General Certificates of Secondary Education), and one of the subjects I chose to study was physical education. As part of this subject, we had a one lesson a week dedicated to the theory aspect of PE, of which physiology, biomechanics and psychology were a big part. I remember being enthralled by all of this, and I read the textbook we were given over the course of a weekend; something that both my teachers and the other students found very weird. But I was fascinated because what I was learning was helping to explain things that I had noticed over the course of my two year athletics career – the reason I was quick was because of fast twitch muscle fibres, things like that. But I also saw the enormous potential that all this knowledge could give me in improving my sports performance. As an example, I learned about sports training principles, which go by the acronym SPORT: Specificity, Progression, Overload, Reversibility, & Tedium. The specificity principle was incredibly important to me at that point in time, because I was doing the “old-school” method of sprint training, which involved lots of long, slow runs. I hated this type of training, and what I learned gave me the knowledge, and confidence, to try and find a better way. Read more

BEIJING, CHINA - AUGUST 30:  Gold medalist Ashton Eaton of the United States poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men's Decathlon during day nine of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 30, 2015 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

GAINcast Episode 23: Being the Best

What does it take to be the best? Well for starters it takes talent, but at the highest level talent is not the deciding factor. It comes down to the decisions athletes make along the way. In this episode Vern shares the traits he sees as requirements to be the best based on five decades of experience working first hand with many of the best across different sports. Read more


HMMR Podcast Episode 60: Nick Rants

Nick is easily irritated, and sometimes he needs to let off some of that steam. On this episode we dive into a few of Nick’s most recent rants and pet peeves on a wide variety of topics. Read more


Guru or Coach – Who do want to learn from?

To grow it is imperative to find mentors not gurus to learn from and grow professionally, this should help to make the distinction. Read more


GAINcast Episode 22: Simplicity

We often think that the more complex something is, the better it is. Fancy sports cars, new computers, and Swiss watches all revel in their complexity. But in coaching simple is often better. Unnecessarily added elements can distract us from our core focus. On this episode we talk about the value of simplicity and ask how simple is too simple. 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


Back to Basics of Coaching

Each year I reread the following books to keep in touch with the basics. My roots are deep in Athletics (Track & Field) so you can see that reflected in these reading. I find that every time I go through these books that I find something new or at least different perspective. This is just one way that I work at getting better at getting better. In my opinion if you want to be a coach you need to have a “go to” list like this that will keep in touch with the foundations of coaching. Read more