3 Lessons to Learn from Bondarchuk

Today Joel Smith posted an interview I did with him recently. Martin and I got to meet Joel Smith at our Berkeley seminar last December. He is a strength coach at the University of California, Berkeley and also runs a training website called Just Fly Sports. Earlier this year Martin sat down with him and focused on transfer of training. My interview looked deeper at at how I learned the Bondarchuk method, what others can learn from it, and also some of the other systems I use in training and what I find optimal there. Read more


Another Training Talk with Dan Pfaff (Part 1)

Dan Pfaff’s name is hardly foreign for readers of this blog. As the head coach at Altis, the new name for the ever-growing World Athletics Center, he currently coaches dozens of athletes and helps run a successful coaching education program. With success producing champions in nearly every track and field event, he is without a doubt one of the top coaches in our sport. This year is no exception as Pfaff was Mr. Long Jump at the world championships taking in two medals and three top-four performances. He guided Fabrice Lapierre to silver and Greg Rutherford to gold. Pfaff helped Rutherford capture Olympic Gold in 2012 while working in the UK and starting working with him again recently. In the women’s long jump Christabel Nettey broke the Canadian record on several occasions this year and placed fourth at the World Championships, just two inches from the podium.

In addition to being a top coach and having a wicked mustache, Dan is also a top educator and a person I am always looking to learn more from. When Dan told me he would be in Switzerland for 48 hours for the Lausanne Diamond League meet earlier this summer, I booked time off work and bought my train ticket. I’m not a big fan of the Diamond League for how they treat the throwers, but there some few advantages to having two Diamond League meets in the immediate vicinity.


Two years ago he joined us for a training talk about strategies for coaching technique, training intensity, and defining key performance indicators. When he came to town this time I wanted to both take a look at his training in more detail and take a step back. To start with we talked about his in-season programming and his three-day rollover method, which I have written about a little before. In the second part of the interview, which will be posted later this week, we then took a step back to discuss his training philosophy and how he takes that to create a plan. Read more

Kiely also worked with world champion triple jumper Phillips Idowu.

Training Talk with John Kiely (Part 3)

The response to Part 1 and Part 2 of our training talk with coach and academic John Kiely has been overwhelmingly positive. It has also been a wonderful learning experience for me. To start with we discussed the issues with traditional periodization models and their scientific underpinning. Last week we continued the discussion to cover what can be learned from science and how coaches can work on improving their processes. This final part brings things together and present some final thoughts as well as five questions coaches should ask themselves when planning. Read more


Training Talk with John Kiely (Part 2)

Earlier this month Irish strength coach and academic John Kiely provided a biting criticism of periodization as it is known by most people. While we like to think of it as scientific, it is based on a shaky foundation that favors the plan rather than the process. You can read the critique in its entirety here. But as frustrated as Kiely is with the common talk about periodization, he is also optimistic about the way forward. When we continued our discussion, this was his main focus. Read more

Harvard University lacrosse player, Brad Cappellini runs the Harvard University stadium steps.   Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

Episode 12: The Offseason

The World Championships started on Saturday, meaning that the offseason is near for elite athletes. But for the rest of us the offseason is already underway. I frequently get questions on what to do during the offseason. Should you be working on building a base of strength? Refining technique? Getting in reps of throws? Building aerobic endurance and work capacity? On this week’s episode of the HMMR Media Podcast Nick and I take a look at some factors to consider when setting up an offseason training plan. Read more

Yuri Verkhoshansky with Leonid Matveyev

Training Talk with John Kiely (Part 1)

Back in 2012 Vern Gambetta forwarded me an article by John Kiely (full text here; comments by me here), a senior lecturer in sports performance for the Institute of Coaching and Performance at the University of Central Lancashire. In it, Kiely wrote about periodization paradigms in the 21st century pointing out features like individualization and flexibility that are the future of periodization. I couldn’t help but agree. Read more


Specific About Strength

At the start of the month I published an article in Athletics Weekly about specific strength. In it I give a brief introduction to exercise classification, specific strength, and some tips on implementing it to your event. Tom Crick also helped provide some great graphics to illustrate a few examples.

The article is adapted from my book The Ball and Chain where I cover this and other topics in more detail in Part IV: Training for the hammer throw. If you like it and want to learn more, pick up a copy of the full text. We also have some additional resources on this topic available for HMMR Media members, including Nick Garcia’s article on exercise classification for throwers and a post I wrote about specific strength in theory and practice. But this article isn’t just about the hammer or about throwing; it takes a look at a general idea that can be applied to any sport or event. Read more


An Overview of Traditional Approaches to Periodization

I am asked all of the time by young coaches what it takes to become a highperformance coach. My first piece of advice? Find a quality mentor. The second? Take control of your own coaching education. I recommend using curriculum-based schools or systems for staple knowledge and fundamentals, but when it comes to understanding high performance training systems or methodologies, research it out on your own and speak to experienced coaches . . . you may be surprised at what you find. Read more