Random Thoughts: June 2018

Let me start today’s article with an admission:

I’ve been a bad, bad boy.

I love creating content, but there are times when training, IFAST or just life get in the way.

So while I’d love to write a new article every single week, I’ve been waaaaayyyyyyy off that pace so far in 2018.

But no more.

I want to re-start the process with one of my “Random” posts, as they help me get my brain reorganized and refocused.

It may seem a bit all over the place, but as you can imagine, this is kind of where my head is at righ tnow.

And regardless of where you’re at, I guarantee at least one or two of these items will help you.

So enough from me – let’s go!

1. I’m consistently shocked at how poor most conditioning programs are.

This past year I’ve gotten back into the high school strength and conditioning game a bit, training four female soccer players.

Now I realize the sample size isn’t huge, but three of them are going to play in college, so I’ve gotten the chance to review each of their summer packets.

And needless to say, I’m really confused (and frustrated, and saddened) as to where these programs are going.

In most cases if you look at a multi-week or multi-month program, you can get a general feel for where the program is heading over the long hual.

Maybe they’re moving from extensive to intensive.

Or from long duration, low-intensity cardio to higher intensity work.

But the programs I’ve seen seem to adhere to the “just cover all the bases” approach, versus something more systematic.

Or worse still, they’re focused on simply smashing the athletes, and hoping that just by virtue of doing a ton of “work” they’re miraculously going to show up “in shape.”

The hardest part of all this, though, is trying to explain to the athlete what the goal is – especially when really have no clue!

This part really frustrates me, as there are so many great resources out there now for conditioning.

If nothing else, just take the time to go through all of Joel Jamieson’s work (or listen to this podcast with Joel) and you’ll be infinitely better off.

And if you want a few free resources, I’ve written a handful of articles that could help:

But I know I’m preaching to the choir on this one, so I’ll move on!

2. We need more position-specific strength work.

One thing I think we’re missing with regards to our athletes is getting them what I’d call “position-specific” strength work.

(And before I go any further, all credit due to my guy Lee Taft for turning me on to this idea many moons ago.)

For example, in basketball when you’re defending and have to change direction, or when you’re performing a step back jumper, you need to get your foot out wide to “push” yourself and create (or close) space.

And while the general strength work in the gym can make a difference, I think this is where some position-specific strength work can really pay dividends.

Something that I’ve used a lot in recent years is band-resisted speed/power work. Not only does this teach an athlete the proper position I want them in, but it forces them to create force in angles and positions that are similar to their sport.

3. Under Developed and Over Trained.

Nothing huge to add here, just something I see far too often these days.

I think this really comes down to a few main issues:

  • Having a dedicated off-season to focus on development,
  • Young athletes playing less total games or matches, and
  • Making a bigger focus on recovery and regeneration as a whole.

And like I said at the IYCA Summit, it does us no good to complain about the situation you’re in.

Instead, list all the constraints you’re dealing with, and then get serious about finding solutions to help address them.

4. Are Before-After Tests Really Reliable?

One thing I’ve made a big focal point this past year is assessing all of my athletes on the performance side.

This does two things for me:

  1. It allows me to create a profile for where they’re at currently, and
  2. It allows me to create an even more specific program, based on their current needs.

As I’ve been going through this process, though, I’ve come to have a love-hate relationship with “the numbers.”

First off, if a kid comes in off a long competitive season and is totally smashed, they’re probably not going to test well.

So anything you do is going to improve their performance.

But I think the bigger issue here is that any time we train or test an athlete, we’re really just getting an idea of their performance and readiness for that day.

A snapshot, if you will.

And this can be really misleading, especially if you don’t consider all the potential influences on their performance.

Here’s a great example:

A young man I trained for approximately three months straight last year was making great progress with me in the gym.

All of his indicators were going up, and I was really happy with where he was at.

One day I had to travel out of town for work, so I had the interns re-assess his performance and see where he was at.

And when I got the results, they were shocking to say the least!

Almost all of his performance numbers were down. So what gives?

Well turns out a day or two before he had broken up with his girlfriend, and spent the night before enjoying the nightlife of downtown Indianapolis.

Sure this is an extreme example, but I think it’s important that we remember I think this saying (which we’ve all heard) is incredibly relevant when it comes to testing:

“Never get too high when things are going well, and never get too down when things aren’t going your way.”

5. Meditation and Creating “Mental Space”

At the time of this writing, I’ve been meditating for a few years now, and this is the second longest streak I’ve ever had (currently at 29 days).

I had a 33-day streak going last year, but life got in the way and I lost my rhythm. And at first, I didn’t think it was a big deal.

After all, I wasn’t having any mental breakdowns, I wasn’t randomly raging on my kids, and I was still doing pretty good at work.

Or so I thought.

I think one of the biggest issues with meditating is that a lot of the benefits are incredibly subtle. The best way I can describe it is creating mental space.

Imagine a small room – maybe a closet or something in your house.

And in this small room, you’ve got a ton of crap laying around, with no real rhyme or reason as to why it’s there.

If you walked into that room and closed the door, you’d be stressed out. Anxious.

Except in our case this isn’t a room –  this is what our mind feels like!

When I’m meditating consistently I just feel like everything is where it needs to be.

I have more “tolerance” for little things that would normally upset me.

I’m calmer and more relaxed.

But the biggest thing for me is when I meditate regularly I just have this feeling of being incredibly clear on where I’m at, where I want to go, and what needs to get done for me to get from A-to-B.

If you haven’t been consistent meditating before, welcome to the club! I’ve struggled with my consistency as well.

But if you want to get started, I’m a big believer in apps like Headspace (which I use) and Calm. Give them a shot and let me know what you think1

6. Complexity and Being Okay with Not Knowing All the Answers (or Knowing “Why”)

One of my biggest struggles in the past year was thinking I had to know everything about stuff.

I realize that’s really general, so let me explain a bit more.

For example, I had a guy put 5 inches on his vertical over the course of 6-8 weeks as part of our NBA Pre-Draft program.

Pretty awesome, right?

But I can’t leave well enough alone, so that leads to like 30 more questions (give or take).

  • Why did he get five inches, and the other guy only got two?
  • Was it the the decrease in body fat?
  • Was is the increase in loading?
  • Was it the super cool new exercise I just tried?
  • Was it the resets and assistance work that improved his position (and ability to load)?
  • And on and on….

As you can imagine, that can get pretty messy – especially when you come back to how many factors play a role in performance! (See point#4 above.)

So I’ve been doing my best to continue to ask the right questions, come up with logical conclusions, but not get so caught up finding the exact “Why” – because we may honestly never know!

This is something I talked about with Matej Hocevar in our podcast. And based on that discussion, I started to think more about my process:

  1. I evaluate the situation,
  2. I interpret the data in front of me, and create a program based off that,
  3. I take the feedback I get from said training to tweak and refine my model.

Quite simply, I may not always know why something works, but at least there’s a rationale and thought process behind what I do.

And keep in mind, I’m definitely not telling you to not ask why, or to not dig deeper. Just be okay with the fact that we may never know exactly why something works or doesn’t.

The goal is to continue tweaking and refining the approach, and hopefully, getting more consistent results along the way.

7. My Approach to Building Athleticism and Performance

While I love talking about new exercises, loading progressions, etc., one thing I refuse to give up on is my model for increasing athleticism and performance.

And while it may look simple, I’d ask you to take this and think about how it applies to your athletes:


8. The Thorax and Low Back Pain

While we often talk about how a lack of hip motion can correlate back to lower back pain, I think a ton of people that have lower back pain often deal with issues and restrictions at the thorax as well.

I can’t tell you how many athletes I’ve worked over the years who had great “posture” (according to the textbooks), with that big barrel chest, shoulder blades pinned back, etc.

But why did so many of them have low back issues?

Bill really drove this point home years ago at our Physical Prep Summit, and that presentation really helped me understand how important thorax motion is.

Quite simply, if you’re not assessing the thorax both early-on and throughout the training process, I think you’re missing a critical piece of the puzzle.

9. Bill Hartman and the F-R-E-E mentorship?

By the way, did you see Bill was offering up a free mentorship weekend?

If you’re a PT or physical prep coach that wants to take their skills to the next level, I’d jump at the chance to attend his next one. Be sure to check out his website if you haven’t already.

10. Lee Taft Speed Retreat

While we’re on the topic of continuing ed, Lee Taft is offering up 3-day speed retreats, and this is definitely on my radar.

I need to find a weekend that works, but Lee has been one of the strongest influences in my coaching career, and I know attending one of these weekends would make a big impact on my coaching!

11. New RTS Videos Coming Soon!

One thing I’ve been meaning to do is shoot more of my RTS Coaching Videos in the very near future.

When I do that, what would you like to see? Any specific content, or questions you might have?

If so, drop me a line somewhere (social media, comments section, carrier pigeon) and let me know what you’d like to see!

12. The Podcast is Cranking!

If it’s been a while since you’ve listened to the podcast, I’d highly recommend checking it out ASAP.

I’ve really tweaked and refined not only the format, but also the feel of the show as well. I’m really happy with where it’s at, and I I think you’re really going to enjoy it!

13. Speed Content

Another area where I really want to branch out over the next year is creating some of my own, unique speed content.

We all know that learning something is really only the first step in the process.

And the second step? It’s teaching what you’ve learned to others!

The key here is that I don’t want to simply regurgitate content. I’ve been blessed to work with some amazing speed coaches, so I won’t simply re-hash what they’ve already written and spoke about.

But, I think I have a few pieces of content already in mind, so I’ll do my best to push those out in the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned!

14. Are you Attending the Physical Prep Summit?

Speaking of great content, are you signed up and registered for our 2018 Physical Prep Summit yet?

I was a little nervous about this year’s event as I started promoting 2-3 weeks later than usual, but I can tell you this:

If we stay on this pace, there’s no doubt in my mind this will be our biggest event ever!

The thing I’m most excited about this year is the broad spectrum of topics we’re going to cover. Whether it’s business development, better understanding sports science, program design, or building culture, I think we’re in for a really great weekend on August 24th and 25th.

15. Efficiency precedes Performance

I’m going to end with a training thought, as I know that’s what you’re here for!

I catch a lot of flack for pushing the idea of efficiency and movement quality with my athletes.

And trust me, I’ve heard all of the trolls with their comments:

“Mike Robertson doesn’t load his athletes.”

“Mike’s guys aren’t strong enough.”

And on and on.

But look – the fact of the matter is, my goal is to give the coach an athlete who is fit, healthy and ready to play.

And trust me – the other work is getting done.

We’re going to build some strength.

We’re going to get more powerful.

We’re going to improve our conditioning.

But I’m simply not willing to chase all of those physical qualities at the expense of the athlete’s short (or long) term health.

Here’s the coolest part about all this: Improving movement efficiency and building physical qualities don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

It’s not like building movement efficiency is just foam rolling, doing a few resets, and banging out ab circuits.

If you understand basic biomechanics and sports movements, and you have a system to develop the appropriate movement qualities, it’s truly amazing what you can do with your athletes.


Okay all, that’s enough from me for today. I hope you enjoyed the article and have a great day!

All the best



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