A Very Slippery Slope

What happens when you take basic movements that are normal to human motion and make them conscious cognitive actions? For example, when you consciously try to get the VMO to fire in gait or any other muscle for that matter, you are in effect creating neural confusion, which will result is disjointed movement. Movement is not a cognitive process. We subconsciously recognize patterns and they replay those patterns with whatever variations that are necessary depending on the situation. Remember flight or fright? In most activities there is not enough time to think about what you are going to do. You simply have to run the program. That is one reason why it is so important to give children a rich and varied repertoire of motor skills. If they learn basic movements during the skill hungry years then those patterns will stay with them and they will be able to recall them later when they constitute the components of athletic movements. See the big picture. Design activities that incorporate muscle synergies. Give the body movement problems to solve. Believe me the body will discover solutions. To do otherwise is to fall down a slippery slope.


Real Good Stuff

There are two great posts on other blogs today. See Seth Godins Blog at http://sethgodin.typepad.com sure made me think about how much I am getting through when I teach and coach. Guy Kawasaki’s blog http://blog.guykawasaki.com will resonate with any of you that have worked in losing situations. It made me realize how many Bozos I have seen in professional sports.

The Forty - A true test?

The NFL Combine is going on now in Indianapolis. As a track coach it always makes me chuckle when I see the 40 Yard times published. They are not bogus times, but they are trying to compare apples to oranges. A sprinter in track has to react to a gun, that reaction can vary and can change a time at a distance like the Forty up to two tenths of a second. At the combine all the times are with self starts, there is no reaction to a gun. Also I always question how much movement they allow which can also make a huge difference. The biggest question I have is what does the Forty have to do with football? It is much like the Sixty in baseball. Both were first used by people who were innovators in the their games at the time, Paul Brown in Football and Branch Rickey in Baseball. The Forty is the approximate distant a player has to run to cover a punt and close in time duration. The Sixty is the sum of the distance from First to Third base if you run in a straight line. Most people that know both games agree that the times have little relationship to the respective games, so why use them? Either devise more representative tests or just stage a football only Forty Yard track meet where players compete by position and they do have to react to the gun. Then I guarantee you won’t see very many sub 4.5 times. I like Bill Belichick’s term Functional Speed, it is the speed you can apply to the game. It is not as measurable, but you sure can see it.


Reading & Research

Patrick T. Donovan MEd, ATC, PES Assistant Athletic Trainer, at the University of Illinois at Chicago wrote to ask me what I was reading and researching. I am taking a very eclectic approach. Much of my research and reading has been outside the area of training and rehab. I am always looking to find better ways to teach and understand movement. Therefore the search for knowledge must be broadened. I am always looking for better ways to explain the things that I see and do. With that said here are some books that I have read recently that have proved helpful:

1) Planificacion del Entrenamiento Deportivo by Juan Manso, Manuel Valdivielso and Jose Caballero

2) Planificacion Y Organizacion Del Entrnamiento Deportivo by A. Vasconcelos Raposo - These first two are in Spanish, but have some of the best current information on periodization that I have seen. They go beyond anything I have seen in English.

3) Running – Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology Applied in Practice by Frans Bosch and Ronald Klomp. This is one of the best books I have come across in the last 15 years. I am now on my third read.

4) The Dominance Factor by Carla Hannaford, Ph.D. This is a must read. I have neglected to implement some of her tests in the past, but I am going to use them going forward.

5) The Zen of Creativity – Cultivating Your Artistic Life by John Daido Loori. Some great insights into the Zen approach.

6) Complexity – The Emerging Science At The Edge of Order And Chaos by M. Mitchell Waldrop. I have just finished my fourth read of this book. A wealth of stimulating ideas from quantum physics. Very though provoking. Non mathematical, conceptual or I could not read it.

7) The Info Mesa by Ed Regis. More on complexity but a little different approach.

8) A Whole New Mind – Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age by Daniel H. Pink. This has been panned by some scientists but it has a a wealth of good information and is presented in an interesting context.

9) The Ten Faces of Innovation by Tom Kelly. This is a follow-up to The Art of Innovation by the same author. These will make you think. If you want to innovate and see the world differently through new eyes read theses two.

I have always believed that knowledge is power. I am always trying to find new solutions to old problems. If you want to lead you must keep learning, as soon as you think you know it all, you will be beaten. Besides learning is fun!


Drawing In Again

Here are some comments on the drawing in maneuver from two people that I really respect. Frankly as a coach I see no value for this, but it seems to have taken on a life of its own. I think it would be just as valuable to put a hockey puck between the cheeks of your buttocks. I think even Forest Gump would figure this out pretty quickly. Last night I was watching the scene in “The Karate Kid” where Mr. Miagi is putting it all together. Not once did Daniel have to cognitively think about what he was doing. Wax on or wax off cued the action. I feel that the same is true with drawing in, you can’t think about it. The action of bracing will recruit the muscles that must be recruited in the order they must be recruited to insure quality movement. ( My Comments VG)

People I know who teach the "drawing in method" of activating the TA and multifidus in fact have a difficult time getting the muscles to contract with this method. An instructor for the North American Institute of Orthopedic Manual Therapy uses diagnostic ultrasound while a person is lying supine to see if they are in fact contracting these muscles. He found that PT's and Pilates instructors who were sure they were activating these muscles were actually not contracting them based on this imaging method. They were able to contract these muscle gps using the ultrasound for feedback.

I don't necessarily agree with this method unless the mechanical problem has been diagnosed and/or addressed. Is the inability to rotate being obstructed at the vertebral motion segment, or soft tissue fibrosis. Either of these scenarios causes pain due to mechanical deformation but they are managed differently. Another possibility would be inflammatory pain but this never lasts more than 20 days unless it is continually aggravated. Until you have a thorough mechanical exam it would be a leap to say you have an "instability" causing pain.

According to Nick Bogduk, MD spinal researcher and anatomist, the multifidus generates as much force as a baby's fart. Hardly enough force by itself to stabilize normal to high level activity.

Noel M. Tenoso PT, OCS

Advance Sports & Spine Therapy (503)582-1073

As for the "drawing in" technique- For most intents and purposes, it's a waste of time. Again, something is shutting the TA off. However, I'm wondering if there are exceptions to the rule. Let's say you have a person in they're 50's that has an arthritic ankle from an old fracture in they're younger days. That proprioceptive feed through the knees, hips, SI joint, is disrupted. Would one then choose to do some isolation stuff for the TA? Or, here's another scenario. You have an obese athlete or client. Now you have abdominaltosis pulling the TA forward, mechanically shutting it off. Would drawing in be appropriate then?

Joe Pryzulta. ATC & C.S.C.S.

True Sport

This is what sport is all about. Moments like this are precious. There will always be championships and records, but situations like this are rare and special. It certainly made my day. Thanks to Patrick McHugh for sending this to me.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBYPaNc57 Ik


Limiting Rotational Movements

There is some current thought out on limiting or eliminating rotational movements from warm-up, specifically movements that involve the lumbar spine. Apparently the basic premise is that the function of the lumbar spine is to stabilize and limit ROM greater than 5 degrees. This comes from Gray Cooks and Shirley Sahrmann research and work. Sahrmann says "The ability to resist or to prevent rotation may in fact be more important than the ability to create it." I would like to know your opinion of this maybe you could blog it? This was sent to me by Michelle Hart-Miller. I thought rather than try to answer this myself that I would ask some of my colleagues who are more knowledgeable than me in this area to respond with their thoughts. (Remember Monday’s blog that you cannot be an expert in everything)

I, personally, DO the trunk rotational dynamic warmup exercises with my
athletes, but I agree that the primary function is to limit ROM greater
than 5 degrees. Why I do them and How? Why)I believe that if you do not
have each level of the spine ready to do up to 5 degrees of rotation, the
ones above and below will be asked to rotate more than 5 degrees and can
be injured. How)I believe that if you start with a very limited ROM in
the exercises and loosen up to a comfortable level of ROM. I believe that
these are to be done dynamically, meaning continuously moving/get in get
out, not static hold to stress the surrounding ligaments. They are not
for increasing ROM and should not be done aggressively enough to stimulate
ROM. These are VERY early in our warmup as they are NOT to be done as
aggressively as I have seen some trainers do, but they, in my opinion
should be done. Thats my opinion here at the Center.

Tom Bratcher, PT
Center for Athletic Peformance and Physical Therapy
Scottsdale, AZ

My first comment would be how they (Cook & Sahrmann) came to the 5 degree conclusion. It's nearly impossible to get a decent goniometric assessment of pure lumbar rotation without factoring in the thoracic spine. Gary Gray doesn't even bother- he uses the "total body functional profile", which is more practical.

The second thing is, if you look at the anatomic configuration of the facet joints of the back, it's clear to see they were designed to facilitate rotation.

A few observations from my point of view as an ATC with muscle energy and ART background.

1. The multifidus, transversus, & rotatores musculature of the lumbar spine in those with chronic back pain feels like mush. They have been proprioceptively "shut off". It's not just my opinion, it's well documented on MRI's. What shut them off?

2. Very rarely will I see someone with low back pain who doesn't have bi or ipsilateral deep hip rotator ( piriformis, gemelli, et al.), and adductor hypertonicity. If rotation can't take place in the hip, what do you think will take the hit?

3. Much has been made of iliopsoas TIGHTNESS, but I'd like to see more research done on WEAKNESS.

MET teaches you not to focus on the hypermobility, but rather to be a detective and seek out thehypomobility somewhere else in the kinetic chain that has contributed to it.

Joe Pryzulta. ATC & C.S.C.S.

A "bony" rotational stability (and for that matter frontal plane stability) is inherent and consistent with the design of the lumbar spine. That design changes as we move cranially towards the scapulae, arms and head to allow more freedom with rotation (sensible architecture with upper trunk rotation necessary to facilitate control of arms and head).

Worries or concerns about exceeding these natural limitations (with good training) in a healthy athlete are, in my opinion, unnecessary. I believe it might be more negligent to "avoid" or "protect" these motions than to incorporate them into the routine.

Even with the injured athlete we look to solve "rotational" motion/stability problems oftentimes first, as rotation is a(the) key component motion to restore function.

Also, I believe we are traveling a slippery slope with "isolation" and "cognitive" based training. Zeroing in on specific regions does not fit the complex neuroscience behind pure motion. I'm not saying that there is no place for isolated, cognitive training, but to expect that to carry over to an integrated, subconscious highly complex motion seems unlikely.

Jeff Woodrich,PT
Buffalo Rehab Group Physical Therapy,PC
& Athletic Training and Performance, LLC

I use rotational movement as part of dynamic warm up and training, but where the rotation comes from is what I think is the key point.
I believe that I see increasingly tight hips in my patients and the athletes I train. I especially see limited hip extension and internal rotation. My feeling is that the amount of sitting our society does is beginning to rob our hips of their potential mobility and strength and we are then demanding more of our spines. I also find it interesting that many of my patients and athletes have to be "taught" to unlock their feet when performing rotational movements. We have no idea how to move in the transverse plane or how to manage the demands of it. To avoid it completely, in my opinion, would be a mistake.
I tend to spend quite a bit of time trying to restore hip ROM and thereby theoretically decrease the demand on the spine. I then work to integrate the ROM into rotational movements beginning with the feet all the way through the top of the head and out to the hands.
I think that training rotation is essential, especially since so many of us don't manage the transverse plane well.

Thanks for stimulating the discussion.

All the best,

Bob Helfst, MS, PT, ATC, CSCS
Muncie, IN

First, I don't think you can generalize with any type of exercise. I think it depends on the individual and his or her needs/requirements.

Overall, I feel transverse plane motion is absolutely necessary in the lumbar region. Practically everything we do from daily activities to sport skills requires the abilty to rotate through the trunk.

Problems in the lumbar area are usually the result of deficits in others...hip tightness, poor scapulo-thoracic mechanics or even lack of proper ROM in the lower extremities.

The Lumbar spine is designed to work in three planes of motion to allow for proper (as Vern would say) loading and unloading of the entire body.

Limiting motion here would affect mechanics somewhere else. Find where the client/athlete is successful (which plane they are most successfull in) and start there. Then, tweak in the other two until function is restored.

A. Rod need more lumbar ROM than my grandma... but, she needs it for what she needs to do...ROM is dependant on what the user needs to do. Limiting motion to 5 degress? All I care about is are they able to get through their available ROM to allow for proper loading...so when they unload they are successful. I will move up and down the chain to make adjustments for strength and flexibility as necessary.

The body is a chain- link system. To limit one area is a mistake... that is not the way we were designed. If someone has pain in that area I have to decide what is the culprit and adjust from there.

Every client is an individual case.

John Perry P.T., C.S.C.S.

Obviously rotational exercises are not appropriate for people with lumbar instability. The exercises as well as the individual must be evaluated before prescribing them. Eliminating rotational exercises all together is far too extreme.

Jose Vazquez P.T., C.S.C.S.
Strength & Conditioning, Texas Rangers



I was talking to a colleague of mine the other day and he mentioned a person in his city who was advertising the latest Eastern European Periodization for speed training. What is amazing about this was when he investigated this “speed training” it included NO SPRINTING! The whole program consisted of lifting and heavy lifting at that. I know I have titled this amazing and have use amazing twice already but this is more than amazing, it is stupid. In fact I classify this in my exclusive training category called Pretty Stupid Stuff (PSS). You do not have to be a coach or a biomechanist to figure that to gain speed that you must sprint. Strength is only one part of a very big picture.

There is one surprising fact about programs like this that are biased toward one component or method, they get results with young athletes. I should qualify this to say young athletes who are beginning training. They are like an open book. They have huge windows of adaptation so in essence for the first six months to a year of training doing ANYTHING will improve them. (As an aside this is the reason the high speed treadmill programs show speed increases with this age group. A flawed method gets them in shape.) The problem with this is that sooner or later they will pay the piper for this biased one sided training and most of the time it is sooner.

Just imagine you were sent from mars to earth to study sprinting. You would get off your spaceship and go out to see a track meet. You would watch the sprinters sprint. Then the next few days you would go to this training program and see the athletes do nothing but lifting weights. The typical Martian comment would be “ that sure doesn’t look like what I saw at the track meet.” The moral of this story is, to evaluate training programs become a Martian.


Coaching Thoughts From Down Under

This was sent to me today by Dean Benton, friend of mine who the Director of Conditioning for the Brisbane Broncos, Rugby League team in Australia. Some of these are old coaching clichés, but there are also some great thoughts here. Enjoy it!

Don’t ever let anyone out work you.

Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening.

Stand up so you will be seen. Speak up so you will be heard. Then sit down so you will be appreciated.

In coaching you will have thousands of opportunities to keep your mouth shut. Take advantage of all of them.

Nothing fails like success, we don’t learn from it. We learn only from failure.

Coaches who know all the answers usually don’t understand all the questions.

Habit is persistence in practice.

Rules are for when thinking stops.

You can tell when you are on the right track- it is normally uphill.

No sport can progress and grow without good coaching. In the final analysis coaching is the only real advantage one organisation has over another in a competitive society.

Smart coaches learn from their mistakes. Smarter coaches learn from the mistakes of others.

One of the most important things I ever learned came later in life- it was how to say I don’t know.

Never ask a question you don’t want to hear the answer to.

The most important skill to acquire now is learning how to learn.

You will never leave where you are until you decide where you would rather be.

Coaching is a progressive course, not an end to be reached.

Coaching cannot really be taught, it can only be learned.

It’s never too late to be what you might have been.

It’s easy to find fault, that’s why so many people do it.

Never argue with an angry person.

Greatness occurs when your children love you, when your critics respect you and you have peace of mind.

The best test of whether someone is a qualified coach is to find out whether anyone is following him.

You don’t have to be brilliant to be a good coach, but you do have to understand other people- how they feel, what makes them tick, the best way to influence them.

Coaching is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.

Good coaches make their players think they have more ability than they have, so they consistently do better work than they thought they could.

There always free cheese in the mousetrap.

You already possess everything necessary to become great.

Show me and I may not remember. Involve me and I will understand.

To the unwilling nothing is easy.

We are all self made, but only the rich ever admit it.

When all else is lost the future still remains.

You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.

If you don’t have a plan for yourself, you will part of someone else’s.

Those who are at war with others are not at peace with themselves.

Agreeing to something in principle only means that you have no intention at all of carrying it out.

Make yourself necessary to someone.

Our lives would run a lot more smoothly if second thoughts came first.

Be yourself- no one else is qualified.

No one drowned in sweat.

If you wouldn’t write it and sign it don’t say it.

Fifty years ago people finished a day’s work and needed rest- today they need exercise.

Without discipline there’s no life at all.

A conference is a meeting at which people talk about things they should be doing.

If your mind goes blank, don’t forget to turn off the volume.

Solving problems is sometimes easier than living with the solutions.

Short speeches are not always the best, but the best speeches it seems are always short.

The three secrets of success in public speaking are – be sincere, be brief, be seated.

When I am dead I’d rather have people ask why I have no monument than why I have one.

The problem with most people is they would rather pray for forgiveness than fight temptation.

Don’t waste time learning the tricks of the trades. Instead learn the trade.

Diligence is more important than intelligence.

Most people will agree with you- if you will just keep quiet.

A committee is a group of people who keep minutes but waste hours.

It takes a lot of things to prove your smart but it only takes one to prove you’re dumb.

The rooster crows but the hen delivers the goods.

Hospitality is making your guests feel at home even though you wish they were.

The greatest tragedy in life is people who have sight but no vision.

Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, by doing nothing and by being nothing.

Progress was alright once but it went too far.

I really don’t deserve this, but I have arthritis in my back and I don’t deserve that either.

Explanation, demonstration, Imitation, Repetition, Repetition Repetition Repetition.

Coaches are divided into two groups, those who love to talk and those who hate to listen.

Coaching is teaching.

Get your players to think in twos. Two tackles or be prepared to do two runs together. If you could get your players to do things in threes no one would ever beat you.

I never learned anything while I was talking.

Players have one thing in common they are all different.


The Big Picture

This blog was stimulated by a phone conversation that I had yesterday with Jim Radcliffe, the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach at University of Oregon. Jim is one of the few DI Strength and Conditioning coaches who actually works with all sports, not just football. He also trains the total athlete. He related to me a situation that recently occurred. Some young people, new to the field were observing a workout where he was demonstrating a drop step. One of the people asked Jim if it was hip abduction or hip adduction, another chimed in that he thought it was internal rotation. Jim paused for a second and answered that it did not matter, his job was to coach the movement to make them better. As he and I discussed this we both came to the conclusion that this is the problem today with people entering the field. They are not getting the big picture, they are not seeing the forest for the trees. It comes back to the “guru” syndrome, in order to sell a product it must be complicated or people will not buy it. We are also caught up in making it scientific in order to justify inclusion in an academic curriculum. This started in the late sixties when Physical Education became Kinesiology and Movement Science. (Incidentally this was just the time when Physical Education began to be eliminated from the schools.) Believe me the foundation of everything we do must be scientific, but when we get out on the field or in the clinic we must get the job done. That requires common sense and good observation skills to translate the knowledge into more efficient movement.

The majority of problems in training and rehab can be solved by making them simpler. Do not overlook the obvious. Simple is not simplistic. Simple is not stupid, in fact it is brilliant. Remember the body has an inherent wisdom in regard to movement, our job as coaches and therapists is to tap into that wisdom and bring it out. We do that by giving the body movement problems to solve. Start with simple problems and move to more complex movements as mastery occurs. Movement should not be cognitive, it should be instinctive. We can move and think about individual muscles and how they must fire. In Zen the transmission of wisdom from the teacher to the student there is nothing that is transmitted. The student already has what the teacher has. The student is already the teacher. Because of this all that is necessary is to awaken in the student that knowledge. This is also true in movement. Each athlete has it within them, it just must be awakened. The best way to do this is to allow them the joy of discovery. Never lose sight of the big picture.


Bill Knowles

For those of you intersted Bill Knowles web site is www.isporttraining.com

Thoughts for Leading the Athletic Development Revolution

I was inspired to write this on a red eye flight from Portland back to Sarasota on Friday night, impossible to sleep but a good time to think. Perhaps this will stimulate some thoughts for you and inspire you to lead.

  • Focus, focus, focus – A laser like focus is imperative to lead
  • Chose to lead rather than to follow, you can’t lead from behind the pack
  • Do the right thing and success will follow
  • Work smart, with direction, intent and purpose
  • Relationships are paramount. Only work with people who share the same passion
  • Recognize that you can’t be an expert in everything
  • Your life runs your coaching; your coaching does not run your life
  • Status and recognition are not important
  • Use technology; do not let it use you. Combine “high touch” hands on coaching with high tech
  • Have an “ah” moment every day

In my opinion the world of coaching, training, and functional rehab will only change through example and leadership.


Unstable Enviorments for Training & Rehab

As a training surface a gymnastic floor or resilite wrestling mat is ideal. The athlete can work barefoot on these surfaces. This serves to significantly increase proprioceptive demand because of being barefoot and the compliant nature of the surface. If available sand that is well groomed into a consistent surface can also be a very good tool. All three of those surfaces significantly increase ground contact time and slow things down. This demands a tradeoff. But remember using unstable surfaces is a double edged sword. The goal is not to keep increasing the instability until it becomes a circus act. There is a tipping point where there are diminishing returns and you are creating ‘artificial instability.” Remember the goal is not to make them proficient on the unstable surface, but to make them comfortable in their training and competitive environment. If not where do you stop. This is a coaching call, there is no hard science to determine this point. Rather than more instability, move toward the competitive surface. The body will adapt quickly so move them along in the return to normal surface.



I have received some questions about SPARQ and my involvement. SPARQ is an acronym for speed, agility, reaction and quickness. It a company based on Portland< Oregon. It is directed at young athletes primarily high school age. Last when I got involved they were developing SPARQ Rating for various sports. The purpose was to give the kids an SAT of Athleticism. It is a neat concept because each event is scored and the points are totaled for an overall SPARQ Rating (like the Decathlon). I think this should be a good motivational for the coaches and athletes. The goal is to improve the total score. In order to do that you must train in a multidimensional manner. Check out the web site www.sparqtraining.com. If you are interested in the SPARQ training network contact them or contact me and I will forward it.

Hannah Teter - Gold Medal!

First congratulations to Hannah Teter for winning the Gold medal in the Half Pipe snowboarding today in Turin. As I mentioned last week Bill Knowles has worked with her the last two years on her physical training and also rehab when necessary. He obviously has done a great job. There is a story behind the medal that reinforces the cumulative effect of training and the necessity of guidance from someone like Bill who sees the big picture. A month ago her knee began to swell for some unknown reason. It turned out there was a condral defect. The Snowboard team medical staff wanted her to do nothing but pool work. Bill knew how important it was to keep her strength up and no irritate the knee. So he devised a program that maintained her strength. She was only on the snow four times in the last two and a half weeks. He had view video of her runs when she worked and also video to help visualize before she went to sleep. Good coaching plus a talented athlete equals a gold medal. Congratulations Bill.


Online Coaching

Before I comment on Online Coaching I want to direct you to Tracy Fober’s excellent comments on the use of the trap bar and proper use of the deadlift. Go to www.ironmaven.blogspot.com

In regard to online coaching, I question if it is really coaching. I know over the years I have tried to coach some athletes long distance via phone, fax and then in modern times email. I just don’t feel that is real coaching. Coaching demands a physical presence. I need to see how an athlete “handles” a workout. Heart rates, lactate, perceived exertion are all good measure that can be communicated online, but how did the athlete achieve those measures? The foundation of athletic excellence is commitment, I just do not feel that as a coach I can expect nor give the same degree of commitment without being there.


Questionable Exercises

The BFS signature exercises are the Box Squat and the Dead Lift. As far I am concerned booth exercises have questionable value. The box squat results in very heavy loading of the spine. This is especially harmful in the young growing population, although it is not an exercise I would recommend for any age group. The dead is another risky exercise. First it is a slow movement. They recommend a trap bar which actually enables the athlete to lift heavier without as close a regard to technique. The dead lift is inappropriate for high population and I seldom use with mature athletes.


Commercial Strength Training Programs for High School

In December and January I had the opportunity to speak at two Track & Field Clinics, one in Oregon and the other in Iowa, invariably the quest arose: what do you think of BFS? BFS stands for Bigger, Faster, Stronger probably the oldest of the programs. There are many others, but not as popular as BFS. Over the years I have been very outspoken in my criticism of these types of programs. Since the clinics I have received several emails and phone calls asking me to comment on this. I think the best approach would be to ask some questions that elicit the characteristic of a good high school strength training program. You coaches, athletic trainers, parents, athletes, administrators and physical therapist answer these questions and then make a decision. Do not make a decision based on hype or slick marketing.

  1. What is the scheme of Progression? How does the program progress throughout the year and how do they progress from year to year?
  2. What kind of Injuries or risk of injuries is there? Is there a remedial injury prevention aspect to the program. What is the rate of injury of athletes using the program?
  3. How is growth and development accounted for? Do the freshmen do the same exercises and program as the seniors?
  4. Does the program take into account the different needs of various sports or is it the same program for all sports?
  5. Does the program take into account the different needs of the female athlete?
  6. Does the program have an in season program to maintain strength?
  7. What is the objective of the program? Is it to gain muscle mass? Is it to gain basic strength?
  8. Are the exercises appropriate?
  9. Do you have to buy special equipment or bars to do the program?

Think about these questions. Remember young athletes are highly adaptable and can accept big loads, but that does not mean that is appropriate. Think in terms of four years rather one year. Also it is about strength you can use and apply on the field.


Bode Miller – Spoiled Hippie Child

Who cares what Bode Miller has to say? He is another rich spoiled athlete with an attitude and a distorted sense of self worth. Bode, if you can’t handle the heat then get out of the kitchen. Oh by the way, how about giving the money back that those companies are paying you? Better yet why don’t you donate the money to a worthy cause and get a real job!

Random Thoughts

First of all check out Tracy Forber’s blog www.ironmaven.blogspot.com. She is a physical therapist in St Louis. She offers a real refreshing perspective. Read today’s blog on Movement Literacy.

The response to yesterday quiz was interesting. The athlete was Mary Pierce. I was reading an article on tennis when I saw those facts. I was amazed! You can figure out from there who the guru is.The obvoius question is that if this training is so good and cutting edge why is she and many others who train there always hurt?

Last week I read the book “Juicing the Game.” I had seen and avoided it, I just wasn’t up for another expose’ on drugs and sport. I have lived that first hand. This was different because the author put in the context of baseball as a business, an entertainment business at that. EVERYONE involved in the game knew that performance enhancing drug use exploded in baseball in the mid nineties. The owners, the trainers, the coaches all chose to ignore it because after the strike and the World Series was cancelled the game needed a shot in the arm. The answer was the barrage of home runs and pitchers throwing in the upper nineties. This brought the fans streaming back into the stadiums and the dollars started to flow again. The take home point for me was that it is not sport, it is entertainment. It is essentially a roman circus.

Another book that I just finished was Herman Maier’s autobiography. It was an interesting read to see how he was able to come back from his horrendous injuries. I wish there would have been more detail on his training and rehab, but his comeback is nothing short of amazing when you think that they were actually considering amputating his leg.

If you get a chance watch the snow board competition in the Winter Olympics. Bill Knowles ATC has worked with Hannah Tetter, an 18 year old who is on the US team. She has trained in a multidimensional manner. I am excited to watch her performance, although she is coming off a little knee problem I am excited to see her compete. Bill does some real interesting progressive rehab that is real outside the box. He has had great success. His approach will be detailed in a future issue of Training and Conditioning magazine.


Name That Guru

This is a quiz for all followers of the exercise guru’s. It is a two part quiz 1) name the athlete and the sport she plays 2) Name the guru who trains her. The prize two weeks training with the guru, a signed copy of his (you will have to buy it of course) and paid up health insurance policy. 1) Since 2000, she has suffered rotator cuff tendonitis, tendonitis in ankles, chronic lumbar spine inflammation and abdominal strain! 20 Who is the famous guru who has enhanced this athlete’s performance?



It is not necessary to make training or rehab complicated. It should be simple without being simplistic. Simplicity yields complexity. I feel if you can’t explain what you are doing in a sentence, then it is probably not worth doing. Training and rehab is simple movements leading to movements. Movement is fundamental to human existence. We should not have to think about movement. It is impossible to think about firing the glutes before the hamstring or whatever. That is taking a reflexive subconscious activity and making it conscious. That just creates robots. One movement sets up other movements, in essence setting off a chain reaction. All we have to do is initiate the movement voluntarily or involuntarily. “Simplicity means the achievement of maximum effect with minimum means.” Dr Koichi Kawana



Last spring I injured my right knee. Frankly at the time I did not think to much about it. I did a little therapy and rested it. Bout it began to get progressively worse, pain in the posterior lateral aspect of my knee. I had several very good functionally oriented therapist look at it and they all felt that my fibular head was slightly displaced. It made sense because with minimal manipulation there was relief. All of them encouraged my to go see an Orthopedic doctor. Well where I live in Sarasota Florida it is hard to find an Orthopedic doctor whose does not specialize in hip or knee replacements for geriatric is hard to find. I finally found one doctor who had a great reputation as a surgeon. That should have been my first clue. Before I ever saw him on my first visit they took x rays. Good I knew I needed that, because I had not had that done originally. The doctor came in looked at the x rays for all of 30 seconds and said there was nothing remarkable there. Ok so I expected him to do a clinical exam. He never toughed my knee! If I would not have stood to tell him where and how and hurt he would not have asked. In and out 5 minutes tops, order an MRI and I see next week to go over results. Amazing! So I go get my MRI and see the doctor again. He reads the radiologist report to me. No surgery necessary. Arthritis. Three minutes later I am out of the office. There is something seriously wrong with this picture. If coached like that I would be fired in ten minutes. Furthermore as I have been practicing what I preach and doing remedial rehab type exercises everyday it is getting better. My therapist friends were more correct than the doctor. The moral of the story is that I now have even less faith in doctors than I did before. They do not understand function. In fact the fact that are good surgeons my mitigate against them understanding function. Successful surgery does not mean a successful return to play!



I do not have many heroes, but yesterday I talked to two of my heroes. They are both coaches, but more important than that they are great people. They are Dr Joe Vigil who has been a professor and track coach for 50 plus years. He is in his mid seventies now and still coaching with a passion that that puts people one third his age to shame. When I called yesterday he was at the Olympic Training center in San Diego testing the group of distance runner he oversees. I said, Joe I thought you were going to retire, his answer was priceless, “no I am just going to step back a bit.” He has helped me in countless ways over the years. At out first Coaching Education Instructor training and curriculum development school he gave a three hour lecture on energy metabolism that blew us all away, no notes!

My other hero is Chet Diemedio. Chet is a retired Philadelphia police officer who started coaching at the rookie level with the White Sox in !987. That is when I first got to know him. He is the most positive uplifting person I have ever been around. He is also a patient and methodical teacher. There are many millionaire stars in the big leagues who were tutored by Chet at the rookie level. If you talk to him you would never know it, he is one of the most modest individuals I have ever been around. He certainly has every reason to toot his horn. He is in his mid to late 70’s now and still works six days a week. He is truly an inspiration.

Phenoms and Hype

Surprise, surprise Freddy Adu was released from the US World Cup training camp! This is an outstanding young player who needs to grow and improve. Just because he received untold millions in endorsements does not mean that he is ready to play at the World Cup level or for that matter in the MLS. Get real, how can a player who never has started for his club team make a World Cup team? This is just another example of what we have done wrong in sport development. All the shoe company hype and money cannot make the player better. Development takes time, training and maturity. There are not many 14 year olds who have the maturity and presence to become millionaires and keep a perspective. I saw a 10 year old player at Chivas in Guadalajara who was the best 10 year old player I have ever seen! Will he make it? Who knows? Was he a young ten or an old ten? Will he grow? There are so many factors that must be considered on the road to being a successful senior player at the international level.

On another note I saw that Steve Ralston was released fro m the US World Cup team due to a thigh injury. This made me sad. I a big Steve Ralston fan. I got to work with him when he with the Tampa Bay Mutiny. He is the consummate professional. He quietly and efficiently went about his and each year became a better player. I hope his leg heals and he gets another chance. It is a pleasure to see fly down the wing and send beautiful crosses into the box!


The Time of the Year - NFL Combine Prep

This is the time of the year when college football stars and wannabes flock to gurus to get ready for the NFL. For those of you who do not know it the combine is the annual rite of passage to the next level, the glorious world of the NFL. Some have termed it a meat market, which is probably a good analogy. Probably 70% of the combine has nothing to do with football. The physical tests, headlined by the gold standard 40 yard dash are supposed to be an indication of the player’s athletic ability. The players now spend the six weeks leading to the combine doing combine training. Combine training is nothing more than preparing for the tests. Most of the players are wasting their time and their agent’s money. For everyone who improves their times on the various tests there are ten who do not. They would have been better off staying with what got them invited to the combine in the first place. Many teams do interviews with the players. Part of combine prep is rehearsing the interviews. Let get real here! This has taken on a life of it’s own with little relationship to the ability to play the game. Teams would be much smarter to devise truly functional tests to assess what they think needs to be assessed for the player to play in their system. (More on my ideas on this in another blog)


Talent & Genetics

Athletic success at the highest levels of sport are obviously based on talent and genetics. It has been my experience that talent and genetics get you there, but with rare exceptions it is those athletes that have a detailed plan that stay there. One off success is one thing, sustained excellence is another. An example that comes to mind is Edwin Moses the two time Olympic champion in the 400 meter hurdles. In his long career he certainly had many challengers equally as talented but he was able to defeat them all because he had a plan and stuck to that plan. The plan was his plan and it worked for him. It probably would not have worked for someone else. The difference is the plan and the execution of the plan.