Random Thoughts – February 2017

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It’s been a busy couple of weeks here.

I’ve had a few guys in for their NFL/CFL pro-day training, and needless to say, 9-10 sessions per week takes up a fair amount of your week!

Beyond that, I’ve been working on a handful of fairly major projects that have taken up the rest of my “free time.”

All of which is to say that no, I haven’t forgotten about you.

And yes – I still love writing!

With that being said, I’ve had to hunker down for a few weeks, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

While I can’t promise a weekly article just yet, that time is coming quite soon.

In the interim, here are a ton of random thoughts I’ve had about the training process over the past couple of weeks. Enjoy!

Warm-ups

  1. Hooklying Band Pulldown 2I think the hooklying position is my new best friend. Especially for some of these big guys with huge chests and a massive anterior tilt, this is one way I can help them not only position, but feel, their abs.
  2. It starts with abs and hamstrings. I’ve talked about this since 2003, and yes the exercises have changed a bit. But if I can help an athlete find their abs and their hamstrings in a warm-up/reset session, I feel like I’ve done my job. With so many guys locked in the sagittal plane, if I can give them even a little freedom of movement, it goes a long way to both their performance and health.
  3. I must get better at adding skill into the warm-up. One thing that Lee Taft does a wonderful job of is layering skills into this warm-up. I do a good enough job of helping athletes get their physiology right, improving their mobility, respositioning their body, etc. But I need to get better at layering skill work into the warm-up, so that the transition from R3 (Readiness/warm-up) to R4 (Reactive/explosive work) is more seamless and integrated.

Speed

  1. The more I coach speed the more I value the role of angles. Especially when it comes to the horizontal force vector, all you have to do is look at the angles and you can often see why someone is going UP versus OUT. The real question then becomes, “Why are they doing that?”
  2. Bill Hartman was right – it’s all about airflow. If you can’t move air, you’re going to be severely limited in how (and where) you can move. If you’re a sprinter and only have to go straight ahead, moving air forward and backward in your thorax may be enough. But if you’re a cornerback or running back in football that needs to move in multiple directions, that’s not going to be enough.
  3. Change of direction, changing levels, and “movement variability” are all closely related. And again, it comes back to restoring motion in the sagittal plane first. If you can’t move air into the back side, if you can’t get the pelvis underneath you, then you’re going to be limited in your movement options (or have to “cheat” to get your motion).
  4. The body will find a way to feel the foot and get feedback from the ground. Ideally this will come way the foot, knee and hip being in an alignment. But with a lot of these big guys, they have a tendency to collapse the knees, torsion through the lower leg, and pronate the foot. So the question becomes, is this strategy potentially injurious? And if so, how can you address it via training to reduce stress and strain?

Strength

  1. For many years, I’ve believed in a “Pseudo Max Strength” phase for my athletes. It wasn’t super heavy, but heavy enough. And the more info I see from my guys Tony and Ty with regards to their force training manual, I’m starting to understand why it worked so well.IFast-023
  2. Strength training isn’t just about strength – it’s about holding position. I’ve searched for years to find a good way to describe this, but I think this is it. When I coach a split-squat or a step-up, my goal isn’t to make someone brutally strong – it’s the wrong exercise choice to do that. Instead, my goal is to teach them proper position – and to get them to hold onto that. But this is universally true across exercises in the gym; I want to teach my athletes what their option position is, and then get them to hold it under times of stress/fatigue.

Conditioning

  1. If you change direction in your sport, you need to change direction in your conditioning. This is something I made a priority in my off-season conditioning the last 2 years, but conditioning is more than just the inner-working physiology that an athlete endures. It also involves the contraction types that we see in sport (i.e. joint angles, body positions, contraction types, etc.). The last level is including skill/technical/tactical/cognitive elements as well, but I think that’s best served being addressed by the team sport coach.
  2. Not every guy has to be in elite shape walking into camp. But they DO need to be in good enough shape so that camp doesn’t break them down. If a guy wins the beep/Yo-Yo test in soccer, great. Good for him. He’s probably got some genetic predispositions on his side, but he’s also worked hard in the off-season to get in shape. Awesome. For the rest of the guys, I need them to come in with enough conditioning that we can continue to build going forward. With enough conditioning so that they don’t get injured. Because here’s the thing – even the best off-season program won’t have them 100% ready for the pre-season. And even the best pre-season program won’t have them 100% ready for their first match. There’s levels to this, and it’s better undershoot a bit and think about the long game, than to crush someone too early and then wonder why they burnout 1/2-2/3rds of the way through their season.

Summary

As promised, this is a random collection of thoughts. I do hope, however, that it stimulates some thought and makes you a better coach/practitioner as a result.

All the best

MR

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