The Garage

I will post a couple of pictures of the garage soon. Believe you all will be underwhelmed. It is a garage first.

Youth Sports – The Profit Motive

One thing that I have not mentioned, nor has anyone mentioned is that there is a lot of money to be made in youth sports. Do the math – A soccer club with 1,000 members that charges $500.00 per player –is not unusual. So the directors of these clubs have a vested in playing more games or matches. AAU Basketball is big time business with shoe contracts and huge travel budgets. Folks this is no longer a bake sale operation. The “coaches” make much more that the average high school coach or teacher and they are really not accountable to anyone. This might be the root of the whole problem.

Also beware of some of the web sites that have appeared. I really question where they are coming from. I would be aware if they were selling training programs. Buyer beware!

Youth Development Paradigm

The following paradigm was refined by Istvan Balyi, a Canadian sports scientist. In light of the previous post it should offer more food for though about a more sane approach.


Training to Train

Training to Compete

Training to Win

FUN / Participation, strength & endurance via FUN & games

Emphasis on general physical conditioning

Specific physical conditioning

Maintenance of physical capacities

General overall development, ABCs, proper running, jumping, throwing techniques

Basic skills (and more specific skills towards end of phase)

Specific skills under competitive conditions

Skill development & maintenance

Modeling all aspects of performance

Quickness, medicine ball, bodyweight

Complementary sports

Introduce breaks from training

Frequent breaks from training

Introduce ‘ancillary capacities’

Individualization & basics of ‘ancillary capacities’

Full individualization & specific ‘ancillary capacities’

All aspects individualized & fine tune ‘ancillary aspects’

Introduction to mental training

Mental training

Mental preparation

Mental preparation

Balyi, 1997

Fancy Equipment, Gadgets and Toys

There is a lot of fancy equipment available on the market. Some of it is very fancy, very “high tech,” and very expensive. It has to be expensive to pay for the guru endorsers. I have a problem with all of this. Equipment is not the answer. Once you pay a couple of thousand for a piece of equipment or gadgets then you feel obligated to use it. You end up using it if it is appropriate to use or not. I saw this with a laser treatment device. Because it coast $20,000 plus everybody was hooked up to it. It may have been appropriate for one person, not everyone. The Mets made the same mistake a couple of years with an underwater treadmill. Because it cost so much money they used it for everything. It was not appropriate for many of the situations it was used for. That does not mean it was a bad piece of equipment, but because it cost so much there was a sense of obligation to use it. We need to think and analyze. I have worked for and with equipment companies, but my approach has always been to educate as to how and when to use something. Over the years I have found less is more. The farther away you get from the body the less effective the training will be. I know with confidence that I can equip a top notch training/rehab facility for around $50,000. There is not much glitz and glamour but I know people will get better! My garage will never be on the cover of Sport Illustrated!


Carson Palmer Rehab

My friend Patrick McHugh at North Shore Country Day school asked me to comment on the article in the May 29 issue of Sports Illustrated on Carson Palmers rehab. First of all he is obviously highly motivated to come back from the injury. That is positive. Many athletes have come back from those injuries. Is a September 10 return realistic? Without knowing all the details, but based on my experience, not very realistic. The best healer is time. Successful surgery does not mean successful return to play. It is also important to point out that as a professional athlete all he has to do is rehab. That is his job. He can spend as many hours a day as necessary without restrictions. That can often speed the process. One word of caution based on two pictures in the article. Using the underwater treadmill is fine to an extent, but you must relearn to use the ground. You can film gait as much as you want underwater, but there is no limb acceleration and deceleration. Secondly he is pictured doing leg extensions. I thought that exercise went out with Jefferson Airplane. That will cause problems. Extensions cause excessive torque at the knee. Single leg squats are preferred. The bottom line is the jury is out and time will tell.

For any of you interested in knee rehab in my opinion the most progressive person doing rehab today is Bill Knowles at Vermont Orthopaedic Clinic. Bill had an excellent article in Training and Conditioning Magazine www.momentummedia.com on knee rehab in one of the recent issues.

childhood obesity or the epidemic of overuse and orthopaedic injuries

This question was posted in response to yesterdays blog: In your professional opinions, which is worse - the current epidemic of childhood obesity or the epidemic of overuse and orthopaedic injuries in our JH athletes?

The there is no simple answer to this because the two are so interrelated. Movement and exercise should precede athletics. We all know and acknowledge that. So let’s do it. We need to get PE back in the schools. I mean really PE. Not this interactive crap where kids learn how to use machines and log on to see how to exercise. All professional in the allied fields should lobby for a national TV blackout for two weeks two weeks across the country from 3:00 to 6:00 PM. Lets get those elementary school kids away from in front of the tube and out playing. School districts and/or recreation departments need to have the playgrounds open and supervised after school so kids can be encouraged to play. I know this is idealistic, but we must start somewhere. What not idealistic.

The Demise of Track & Field

Track & Field is my passion! I owe so much of what I know about training to this sport. Most of my best friends come from some association with Track & Field, but this is a sport in big trouble. I watched the Prefontaine meet on Sunday. What a joke. The two fastest men in the world running in separate races! Come guys the essence of the sport is competition, not records! It was great to see NIKE put so much money into the meet, but does that mean that everyone has to wear the same NIKE uniforms so the fan cannot tell any of the competitors apart. Is that the way to sell the sport? If you saw the meet there was a big portrait of Bill Bowerman hanging from the stands. I wonder what he would saw if he were still alive?

Also the TV coverage sucked! Larry Rosom, wherever they got him, needs to stop talking about these stupid football analogies. Dwight Stones needs to retire, that would help the sport immensely.

The following sums it all quite well. This was in the Sunday, Portalnd Oregonian

by John Canzano:

"L emme get this straight: The two fastest men in the world -- Justin Gatlin and Asafa Powell -- are in Eugene today, where they both will run 100 meters at the Prefontaine Classic, but they won't compete against each other because you have to pay big dollars these days for that kind of exclusivity?

And let me get this straight: Gatlin still is coached by Trevor Graham, who in recent years has had nine of his athletes test positive for drugs?

Good to see track and field is cleaning itself up, no?

Two years ago at this event, athletes acknowledged their sport had a drug and image problem. They talked about sticking together and saving track and field. And yet here they are again, woeful, ignorant and with the same problems amplified."


Last Boy or Girl Standing – Training or Abuse?

I have been thinking about this for quite awhile. I am going to tell you a story today. It is not a pretty story, but it is a story that is repeated in pool, gyms and fields across our country everyday. Young growing athletes are being abused and nobody wants to say anything. If we did this to a dog or a horse the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals would have the perpetrator arrested. What am I talking about? I am talking about training the young and developing athlete. A friend of ours daughter swims on a very successful swim team. She is a very young thirteen year old of very slight build and probably has not gone through puberty. She is just off of Junior Olympic Qualifying times because she missed three weeks with a severe upper respiratory infection. She came back from that and literally swam her heart out. I saw the meet and this girl flat out lays it on the line, she competes, that is what every coach loves to see. She is also very intelligent and understands what is going on. Because of her times she has been moved up a group and now can swim twice a day. The good news is that because her school is still in session she cannot do the morning workouts. She needs strength (also has some shoulder problems that I have tried to help with) Her mom and dad are both teachers and coaches and as asked if she could come over and use our Vasa trainer and the med balls to strengthen her core. So instead of swimming a second session she is doing what she really needs to do, strength train. When I suggested that this would be a good idea to continue both she and her parents told me that if she did that and did not do both swimming sessions then she would be kicked off the team! That is really youth development isn’t it.

Wait it gets better. I asked how much she swam in one session and she said 6,000 yards. That may not be much for a mature senior swimmer, but that is way over the top for a young undeveloped thirteen year old. The next group up, the top group swims 9,000 meters in the morning and 6,000 meters in the evening. In the morning after they swim they do their Dryland on the “machines.” This is pretty typical in swimming; there are numerous examples in other sports. The end of the story remains to be written. I hope it has a happy ending, but the problem is that most do not.

This is a pure Darwinian approach. There is absolutely no consideration for growth and development. The sole criteria in this case for determining training groups are time. If you swim faster you get to work harder. No consideration for biological age, maturation or recoverability. This is a classic example of fitting the child to the sport rather than fitting the sport to the child. The good ones survive and sometimes thrive. The coaches have no idea how they make it, but they willingly take the survivors. It appears to me that in most sports there is no set curriculum or idea how to progress an athlete through the process. It is simply pile on the workload and let the cream rise to the top. Folks this is a brutal reality show. The professionals that read this blog need to wake and do something. This is not just happening in my town it happening all over the country. Young pitchers are pitching in three leagues at once. Youth baseball teams regularly play 128 games in a season. Young endurance athletes are regularly prescribed asthma medication to help their breathing. Young football players are being force fed like sumo wrestlers to gain weight. I saw this with my own daughter when as a sophmore in high school she palyed in 74 soccer matches. Young athletes regularly get ACL repairs and Tommy John surgery knowing full well that there will be problems later on. This is nothing more than a culture of excess. In future blogs I will suggest solutions. Hopefully as professionals we can write a happy ending to this story.


Coaching & Communication

To be an effective leader you must communicate with those who you are leading. Communication completes the feedback loop that gives you and the athlete a sense of self worth. Not so much the content of the message, but the mode and medium of the presentation that ultimately determines it's effectiveness. It was Marshall McLuan who said: " that the medium is the message."


Sending and Receiving

Listen more and talk less. Listen to what is actually meant, rather than what is said.

Verbal and Non Verbal

The great majority of what we communicate is non verbal.

Content and Emotion

It is the substance of the message. How you feel about it.

To understand what must be communicated -

To give information: Find out what they need to know.

To get information: Ask what it is you need to know.

Coaches tend to be good at:

1) Sending 2) Verbal 3) Content

Coaches tend to be poor at:

1) Receiving 2) Non verbal 3) Emotion

Communication also consists of:

1) Observing 2) Touching 3) Just being there.


Is there science behind this?

Have you ever stopped to think why you do what you do in training? How much is experience and how much is science. I am always trying to figure out why things work. I know some training methods work and produce results but I am not ultimately comfortable until I know why it works. That does not mean I don’t do it until I find why. Of course, we would never get anything done that way. I firmly believe practioners lead and scientists follow. But it is our job as practioners to challenge the scientists to work with us to help validate or invalidate training methods.

Coaching & Leadership

Harry Truman once said that leadership is: "The ability to get other people to do what they don't want to do, and like it." Genuine leaders have an intuition about people and ability to visualize the big picture. They think long term. They grasp the relationship of larger realities, have political skills, they cause change, affirm values, and achieve unity.

Keys to Leadership*

Trust your Subordinates
Believe in the people you are leading. Show this belief by giving them responsibility.

Develop a Vision
Share the vision; let them know where they are going and why. Do not constantly change direction and purpose; this will create confusion and lack of direction. Set the tone and the pace through personal example.

Keep Your Cool
Crisis is the test of leadership. The ultimate test of leadership ability is how well you perform in crisis situations. Know yourself well enough so you understand how you handle pressure.

Encourage Risk
Take a chance and try something new. That is the only way that you can get better.

Be an Expert
Keep learning; as soon as you think you know it all you ability as a leader will diminish. Dedicate part of each day to personal enrichment.

Invite Dissent
There is strength in diversity. Varied opinions molded into a unified program are much stronger than a strategy dictated from above.

Focus on the need to do rather than the nice to do. Determine what is important and focus on that in the context of the whole plan. Remember simplicity yields complexity.

*Adapted from Fortune, Oct 24,1988, "The Seven Keys To Business Leadership." by Kenneth Labich

You must be willing to constantly evolve and adapt your coaching methods to the situation and the matter at hand. But your philosophy must not change. Ask yourself what have you done in the last ninety days or do you plan to do in the next ninety days to make yourself better?


What is Training?

Training is the application of a training stimulus and the body’s adaptive response to that stimulus. The response can be a positive or negative adaptive response. To do everything possible to insure a positive adaptive response use the Stimulus Threshold ™ concept. Rather than seeking a maximum load in training the goal is to find the optimum training load necessary to elicit an adaptive response. This load is very individual and is based on the individual’s ability to recover. The Stimulus Threshold™ will vary as the athlete accumulates a training base. Training is pointless if the athlete cannot recover from the training. The athletes Recoverability must be a prime consideration in training program design. Recoverability is the individual athletes ability to recovery from a particular training stimulus and be able to effectively train in the next training session or training cycle. This must be carefully considered both intra-workout and inter-workout. Remember training is cumulative- we must never lose sight of that. There is too much of a tendency to focus on one workout or one training cycle and lose sight of the context of that workout or cycle in the whole training plan.

Plan Recovery!!!

Inter workout – Built the training cycle with rest and active rest days included, plan them advance, be proactive, not reactive.

Intra workout – Design “active rest” training modules that are compatible with the main objective of the workout


Innovation or Imitation

For Each of You There Is A Clear Cut Choice Between:

Requires risk taking which oftentimes does not result in short term gain
Comfortable, it may yield short term gain, but will produce long term stagnation

"Man's greatness lies in his decision to be stronger than his conditions."

Doping In Sport - Resource

I found this when I was going through some files on my computer. This is an excellent article that reveals the "secrets" of the East German Sports Machine. The authors are husband and wife. She was a former East German discus thrower who defected and he is an endochronologist. They were granted access to study the files of the doping program of the former East Germany.
Clinical Chemistry 43: 1262-1279, 1997;

(Clinical Chemistry. 1997;43:1262-1279.)
© 1997 American Association for Clinical Chemistry, Inc.

Doping in Sport Symposium

Hormonal doping and androgenization of athletes: a secret program of the German Democratic Republic government

Werner W. Franke1,a and Brigitte Berendonk2

1 Division of Cell Biology/0110, German Cancer Research Center, Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.

2 Hölderlin High School, Heidelberg, Germany.
a Author for correspondence. Fax 49-6221-423404.


Several classified documents saved after the collapse of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in 1990 describe the promotion by the government of the use of drugs, notably androgenic steroids, in high-performance sports (doping). Top-secret doctoral theses, scientific reports, progress reports of grants, proceedings from symposia of experts, and reports of physicians and scientists who served as unofficial collaborators for the Ministry for State Security ("Stasi") reveal that from 1966 on, hundreds of physicians and scientists, including top-ranking professors, performed doping research and administered prescription drugs as well as unapproved experimental drug preparations. Several thousand athletes were treated with androgens every year, including minors of each sex. Special emphasis was placed on administering androgens to women and adolescent girls because this practice proved to be particularly effective for sports performance. Damaging side effects were recorded, some of which required surgical or medical intervention. In addition, several prominent scientists and sports physicians of the GDR contributed to the development of methods of drug administration that would evade detection by international doping controls.

Key Words: indexing terms: androgenic-anabolic steroids • testosterone • performance-enhancing drugs • abused drugs • sports medicine • urine


Zonal Training for the 400Meters

This post may not appeal to many of you that are not involved with Track & Field. This represents a close to 40 year obsession with the 400 meter event. this is an approach that I have used throughout the years with real good results. It certainly is not a traditional approach.

The thinking behind this is to take a fresh look at race distribution in order to take full advantage of the athlete’s physiological and psychological capabilities. This approach should result in a concrete individualized race plan for each athlete regardless of the level of development. The goal is to have the athlete control the race, not the races control the athlete.

The ultimate goal is to get the athlete to run at the highest percentage of their maximum velocity for the duration of the race. This is based on the principle of speed before speed endurance; you cannot endure a quality you do not have. It is essentially endurance through speed, not speed through endurance.

The first step in the process is a detailed race analysis

If 50 meter segment times are available determine the fastest 50 meter segment. Then determine the slowest 50 meter segment. The difference between is the efficiency factor.

Johnson (Athens 97) Fastest 4.98 Slowest 6.14

Freeman (Athens 97) Fastest 5.64 Slowest 7.04

In most situations 50 meter race segments are unavailable so it is necessary to simulate or recreate this in training.

30 meter fly – To determine max velocity expressed in M/Sec

4 x 50 meter fly with 30 seconds recovery between runs. Look at average time for the four runs. Look at average velocity in M/Sec. Compare this to average velocity in the 400 meters.

For comparison purposes also look at the average velocity for the 200 meters in a race situation.

All training target times are determined off of max velocity or race velocity. The goal is to narrow that gap. It is an adaptation of Bill Bowerman’s date pace/goal pace idea.

Race Distribution
Traditionally the 400 meters has been broken into two segments 200/200, 300/100, 250/150 etc. I conceptualize the race into three zones, the length and duration of which is determined by each individuals capabilities based on max velocity, racing history and psychological makeup. The goal is to give the athlete an individual race plan and a context for choosing training distances. The zones are:

Zone One – Set-up (Controlled aggression, get out and set-up the race)

Zone Two – Float (Free wheeling, relation carry the speed)

Zone Three – Attack (Go after it, build and go, hold form. Unleash the energy. Own the last 50 meters)

Race distribution through the zones will determine training. Training is set-up to address the zonal concept. Training is organized into revolving cycles (blocks) based on seasonal goal and current race results as well as the adaptive response to training.

Start short and simple

50 set-up -50 float -50 attack

Manipulate these distances through the spectrum from speed to speed endurance, to special endurance, intensive and extensive tempo.

Speed Buildup Block






Finishing Block







All with 30 meter to 50 meter A3 (High Knee Run) after last repeat

Polishing/Sharpening Race Plan Refinement Block






Thematic Work Distribution

Day One – Acceleration work + Maximal Strength

Day Two – Speed Development + Explosive Strength

Day Three – Speed Endurance (Alactate)

Day Four – Extensive Tempo + Strength Endurance

Day Five – Acceleration + Maximal Strength

Day Six – Lactate Production or Lactate Tolerance

Day Seven - Recovery

Some other random thoughts
Construct Ying & Yang Cycles – One cycle short and fast followed by a cycle of long and sustained work. Put these into six week blocks.

Always include something fast! For example 3 x 3 x 100 meters Extensive Tempo

Every third 100 meters go last 40 meters at 90%

Build the race from the finish – own the last 50 meters

Always end the workout fast or explosive – “Leave em laughing”

Too much effort = Tie up

Heavy Sled Pulls

A Heavy sled is not a bad training tool if used properly. In many programs the heavy sled has a prominent place in speed development programs. This is where I have a problem using heavy sleds. A heavy sled slows everything down. It will significantly increase ground contact time. It may be appropriate for a rugby player or an offensive lineman to use for five to tem meters because they must overcome an opponent in their sports. To use a heavy sled for sports that require a pattern of acceleration to top speed is a huge mistake. It reinforces bad running mechanics and sets up a poor pattern of acceleration. Think before you use this. Why are you using it? If you are training to pull a truck in a strongman competition then heavier is better. If you are training a sprinter or a soccer player, then it is best to not go much over 10% of body weight.

Youth Sports - Problems & Solutions


Training at the beginning level focuses on winning rather than the process of learning how to train and appreciating the joy of participating and learning to test limits.

Young developmental athletes over compete and under train. The ideal training to competition ration is 4 or 5 training sessions to every competition. Realistically it should be no less than three training sessions to every one competition.

Fundamental motor skills are under emphasized or never emphasized. The lack of a foundation of fundamental movement skills will ultimately limit sport skill.

Damage done at early developmental ages cannot be corrected. Therefore it is imperative to get it right the first time.

Possible Solutions

Give the games back to the kids – Minimize adult and parental involvement. Set up situations where free is encouraged and the kids organize their own games.

Put play back into play – Every kid will not win a scholarship or a pro contract. For every Freddy Adu and Le Bron James there are thousands who have not made it.

Reinstitute mandatory Physical Education in the schools. This will solve many problems and create some other, but it would be a start.


Heavy Weights

Over the past several weeks I have received several questions regarding lifting heavy weights. Actually they have been more like statements, they usually go something like this - "I know you use a functional approach so you must not believe in lifting heavy."WRONG, I believe that you use the mode and method of strength training that is appropriate for your sport. If you play football or are a thrower in track that there are times when you must lift heavy. You would be remiss if you did not, but the key is how often and when. Most people lift too heavy too often. Maximal strength is one of the easiest qualities to attain and maintain. My other point and perhaps the most the most important is that you must prepare to lift heavy. Young high school age boys can lift heavy heavy without preparation because they are secreting buckets of testosterone, but that does not mean they should. They must prepare to lift. A patient progressive approach will ensure good sound long term development that is injury free. Stay away from canned programs that ensure results, they get results but the cost is high.


Why Hamstring Pulls?

The following is an excerpt from an article that Dean Benton, Performance Director, Brisbane Broncos Rugby League Club, Australia and I co authored for the Australian publication Sport Coach



  1. Poor timing-intermuscular coordination and eccentric strength in the short head of the biceps femoris muscle during the switch between late leg recovery and initial leg approach in the swing phase of sprinting (Woods et al. 2004);

  2. Lack of stiffness and eccentric strength in the short and long head of the biceps femoris muscle during the ground contact phase of running (Bosch & Klomp, 2005).

  3. Previous strain – Prior hamstring injury is a very good indicator of potential for future injury. (Crosier, 2004)



  • Poor running mechanics – This consists primarily of overstriding which puts the hamstrings in a vulnerable position at ground contact. Also excessive sway or lateral deviations that force the synergistic stabilizing muscles to overwork subsequently shifting more stress to the hamstrings. The hamstrings do not work alone, they need help. Poor technique when running curves and angles will put more stress on the hamstrings because of the work they have to do in the transverse plane.

  • Improper warm-up or lack of warm-up – There is often confusion between stretching and warm-up. Stretching is not warm-up, the warm-up must be active and dynamic to prepare the muscles for the forces involved. Stretching is only one segment of warm-up.

  • Inappropriate training loads – High speed work placed inappropriately in the workout will predispose the athlete to hamstring pulls. The hamstrings are primarily fast twitch Type II fibers that fatigue quickly. This demands that high speed work be done early in workout, as close to warm-up as possible to avoid fatigue. Higher intensity speed endurance work must be gradually built into the program to allow for adaptation. This type of work must be built on a sound foundation of running mechanics.

  • Fatigue (neural and local muscle) - Because the hamstrings are primarily fast twitch Type II fiber they fatigue quickly. All activities that occur in the course of a game must be taken into consideration e.g. in AFL fatigue from running then sprinting/kicking.

  • Lower back pathology – Abnormalities of the lumbar spine that potentially could cause nerve dysfunction, which in turn lead to muscle weakness.

  • Playing surfaces – A wet slippery surface will put more strain on the hamstring due to slipping.

Hamstring Injuries & Warm-up

Saturday I was in Houston watching the Houston Dynamo play the Chicago Fire. About one minute into he second half one of the Fire Players either pulled a hamstring or got a cramp that was severe enough to require him to come out of the game. The temperature at the time was 88 degrees with a heat index around 100 degrees. There was no warm-up before the second half kickoff, his team came directly from the locker room into the game. I would not allow a youth team much less a professional team to do this. That is a sure formula for putting players at risk to pull. In addition it has been my observation that teams that do not do two to three of active warm-up before the start of the second half are at a tactical disadvantage for the first five to eight minutes of the second half because they just are not ‘ready” to play. In essence they are using the start of the second half to get warmed up. It does not take much since they are metabolically already warm but the need to do some coordination and light accelerations and include some progressive stopping and starting to get ready. To do this requires cooperation of the coaching staff and some basic planning to allow enough time to accomplish this. As an aside on the same issue Phil Jackson in his book about the last year of his first tour of duty with the Lakers was always trying to get Shaq to warm-up before the second half because there was a notable drop off in production for the second half of games. Shaq refused because he felt it made him “tired.” Amazing!


A Different Look

In order to effectively train athletes for a sport or to rehab them from an injury demands a thorough undersatnding of the demands of the sport. Each sport demands a certain amount of athleticism and a certain degree of skill. Athleticism is defined as the ability to perform athletic movements with precision style and grace at optimum speed. Skill is the ability to execute the movements of the sport with a high degree of proficiency. As we look at sports and the various positions and events in the sports require different degrees of athleticism and skill.

In order to further classify this I have come up with a rating on a continuum. The continuum is a 1 – 10 scale for both athleticism and skill. 1 indicates a low level of either athleticism or skill and 10 the highest level. To use American football as an example, the game overall requires around a 6 –7 on a scale of 1 – 10 for athleticism and about the same for skill. But when you break it down by position you get a clearer picture of what the sport is about. For example a quarterback would require a 10 in skill, but only requires around a 7 in athleticism (S10-A7). An offensive lineman on the other hand would require a 5 –6 on skill and possibly a 6-7 on athleticism (S5–A6).Eventually it would be valuable to have a rating for each position or event in each sport. The athleticism rating should correlate to the physical testing battery that is used. The Skill rating should be determined by whatever are the commonly accepted parameters of good skill for the respective position or event.

This is not just an exercise in mental gymnastic, because this will help to determine the direction and emphasis in training. It has implications for test selection and skill evaluation. This should be part of the overall athletic development process.


Excelsior Physical Therapy

Some people talk the talk and others walk the walk, the crew at Excelsior physical therapy definitely walk the walk. They talk function and they train and rehab function. Last Friday and Saturday I had the pleasure of doing a seminar at their great facility. The facility is one of the best combination rehab and training facilities I have seen. More importantly the people are great. Real professionals, highly motivated individuals who wanted to get better. A great team of Doctors, therapists and ATC’s . It was fun to be there. I also got to see some treatments on Thursday. It was great to see the “average person” do activities that got them on their feet and moving. Thanks to the Excelsior crew for having me in and keep up the great work!

University of Michigan

I spent the first four days of this week at University of Michigan working with the Field Hockey coaches on designing their training program for the year. It was a great week. It is always fun to work with coaches who sincerely want to get better. Nancy Cox is the head coach and she is really clued in to what she has to do to make her athletes better. Tracey Fuchs, one of the assistant coaches was very helpful. She is the most capped player in US Women’s field hockey history. She really challenged me at times based on her experience as a player. That type of interchange is very productive and healthy and makes everyone better. I am looking forward to working with them over the next year. I learned a ton about the sport and how we had to adapt to some of the unique demands of the sport.

I also spend time with Jim Richardson, the women’s swim coach. I have been working with his team the past three years and we are starting our fourth. It has really been neat to see how we have evolved the program. Jim is very knowledgeable and analytic, so it is fun to work with him. I am looking forward to instituting the changes we have planned based on analysis of the past three years.

Last but not least I got to touch bases with the women’s tennis coaches. I was fortunate to design their program this year. Bitsy Ritt, the head coach and Amanda Augustus the assistant coach did a super job of applying the program. They gave me some great feedback. I want to congratulate Bitsy on her move to Associate Athletic Director. It hurts to lose coaches like her to administration, but it is good to have administrators who have coached at her level.

Female Athletes and Coaches

There are increasing opportunities for women to compete in sport. Unfortunately the training and preparation has not kept pace with the opportunities to compete. Female athletes need different training programs than men. From an endocrine hormonal perspective and a socio cultural perspective women are different and these differences must be accounted for in training and preparation. Women are certainly more susceptible to certain injuries, specifically ACL tears; this demands that prevention programs be incorporated in daily training. To do otherwise would be remiss. There is still much misunderstanding on the role of strength training with the female athlete. Some athletes and coaches just do not recognize its importance. Culturally in many circles it is not acceptable for women to be muscular and fit. For the female athlete to receive proper training these barriers need to be broken down.

There is no doubt that there is a need for more qualified women in coaching. We need to do everything we can to encourage qualified females to coach. The time commitment and lifestyle serve to dissuade many women because of family obligations and the general socio cultural attitude toward women in coaching. It was interesting to see the 2005 Women’s NCAA basketball final with the final two teams coached by women for the first time. Why did it take so long? Women need positive role models as coaches. They need to be mentored. The typical approach has been to take the outstanding female athlete and when she retires have her go into coaching. This approach sets them up for failure. They need to be trained as coaches. You do not just flip a switch and go from being an athlete to a coach. Ability to excel in a sport seldom equates with coaching success. They need to be educated and mentored so they can truly coach. There are few women in the field of athletic development for many of the same reasons.


Coaching Art & Science

Frank Dick, Britain's chief coach during the golden age of athletics in the 1980’s expressed today’s dilemma in coaching: "Somewhere in the last 10 years or so we have lost our place as coaches; somebody, somewhere has decided coaching cannot be respected in the way that it used to be," he said. "If this is not addressed quickly then who is going to lead the athletes? Don't tell me the scientist’s can. Science has never led sport. It is coaches that lead the process. As Winston Churchill said, scientists should be on tap but never on top." Coaching is always a delicate balance of art and science. The art cannot be taught, but it is something that can be acquired through experience. The coach must use science and be scientific without trying to be a scientist. I am not sure that our coaches today are as well prepared today in the science of teaching. In the past the great majority of the coaches were affiliated with the schools as teachers, either in the classroom or physical education, so they had a good background in pedagogy. Coaching and teaching are synonymous. We need to do a better job of training our coaches as teachers; there are some very good programs out there to train coaches, like the USA Track & Field Coaching Education program. We need more programs like that.

Jefferson Airplane Training

Beware of any training program that comes packaged with a Jefferson Airplane album. Why? Chances are that the record reflects the training. I have seen some training in football and other sports in the last few years that came right out of the sixties. More was better – that was the mantra. Hopefully we know today that is it is more than work, it is how the work is directed and applied. Anyone can work, but the difference is that those that gain from the work are doing work that is directed and applied to their sports and their individual needs. It really did not work very well in the sixties and it does not work well now. We do know better now, so we have no excuse, we have a handle on what will work and what will not. Focus, define your training objectives, find the most efficient means to achieve them. Use multi joint multi plane movements in strength training. Condition appropriate for your sport. Throw out that sixties training program and but keep the Jefferson Airplane record, it might be worth something. By the way if it is Surrealistic Pillow it might really be worth something.


Training to Your Strengths

Training to your strengths is certainly not a new idea but in many ways it runs contrary to the way most coaches think. There is something about coaches and coaching that lead us to do the opposite, train the weaknesses. It is so typical to hear a coach talk about what if. What if so and so had a better kick, was stronger or could just handle running heats? I propose that before you focus on what the athlete cannot do find out everything they can do. What are their strengths? How do they use their strengths at the present time? How is training structured now? Is an inordinate amount of emphasis being given to training to improve weaknesses to the exclusion of the strengths? When this happens, mentally the athlete begins to focus on their weaknesses to the exclusion of their strengths.

With the young developing athlete, ask the obvious question: Are they in the correct event? Instead of spending an inordinate amount of time working on a perceived weakness see if the athlete is better suited for another event. Sometimes what is perceived, as a weakness in one event will be strength in another event or sport. Find the talent that suits the event; do not try to make someone they are not.

Know yourself and know your athlete. Recognize the patterns that are strong and build on those. Just as you should not be defined by the competition, the athlete should not be defined by their weaknesses. Focus on weakness makes two fallacious assumptions

1) That anyone can become competent in most anything

2) The greatest room for growth and improvement comes in the persons weak areas

Each athlete’s strengths are unique and personal. The more that we as coaches can help the athlete explore their strengths the more sold they will be on the training. They will see progress and then begin to factor in work on strengths that can be systematically addressed.

Do not focus on strengths to the exclusion of working on the weaknesses; rather learn to manage the weakness. To begin to deal with any weakness first identify it. Is it something that is holding you back from being significantly better? This is not to say ignore your weaknesses. Work around the weaknesses to enable you to use your strengths more wisely. One approach is to let your strengths overwhelm your weakness.

Ask yourself if it is really your weaknesses that are defeating you or are you not completely exploiting your strengths. Must start by being acutely aware of your strengths. To really be a strength the athlete must be able to do it consistently. Make sure the weakness does not undermine the strength. A weakness is anything that gets in the way of excellent performance. Do not take your strengths for granted, learn them, and appreciate them. Know what is standing in the way of using your strength (s).


Early Specialization

Last night I attended a presentation by Julie Foudy. During the Q & A she was asked how she started in soccer and how early she recommended kids start. Her answer was very enlightening. She said she started playing soccer at age nine (she emphasized not age six). She said she played everything, volleyball, basketball, football with her brothers, softball and track & field. She did not focus on soccer exclusively until she went to college to play soccer. She elaborated even further that the same was true for all her contemporaries, the core players on that 99 World Cup team. Interesting all of them went on to play for 18 plus years. It is also interesting to note that she had no significant injuries during her career – I think the two are related. They all build a great base of athleticism before they specialized.

I just wish we could get this message out there. Play everything. If you want to prevent ACL injuries in females get them playing everything. Get them aware of their bodies. They will enjoy play, stay injury free and be better athletes.


Purposeful Directed Work

There is no substitute for purposeful directed work. More is certainly not better.
It is important to recognize gains a young high school athlete can make. If you understand the growth and development process and follow good progressions it is possible push them to the edge, not over the edge. The key is to understand progression. You cannoy force progress. To much too soon without establishing a good base of general strength will negate the possibility of greater return later on. It is
important to understand the various stimuli that cause an adaptive response to strength training and what the goals are. If the goal is to gain hypertrophy then volume is the stimulus, if the goal isneural then intensity is the primary stimulus. To make gains it is necessary to achieve certain stimulus threshold. This threshold is dependent on the individual and the objective of the training. Keep the big picture in mind – to achieve the training objective, it is more than one workout. Remember willingness to work is a given prerequisite for success, but it must be purposeful, directed and nurtured.

New World 100 meter Record?

Talk about an asterisk. How can we believe that this is a “clean” record? I love track & Field but this sport has big the problems right now. As soon as I saw that the record had been broken and I saw it was Gatlin, I had my doubts. After all his coach has had SIX athletes test positive. Not one or two, but six! His coach turned in the now infamous syringe that started the whole BALCO debacle. How can you not have doubts? I have followed Gatlin, he was a great talent before he went to the present coach and I hope he is really clean, but a coach with a track record like that, who knows? It is certainly unfair to cast aspersions, but there is a cloud over this sport. Let’s start by cleaning up the coaching. If a coach has one athlete test positive he or she should be banned from coaching, end of story. That might start to clean things up. Everyone in the sport knows there are drug coaches. It is amazing to see athletes’ still flock to those coaches. The powers that be continue to ignore this. As coaches we need to stand up and be heard. A clean sport might still be possible.

Medicine Ball

In the Outside magazine article there are medicine ball exercises. The weight of the ball should be no heavier that 3 kg (6.6 pounds). More is not better! Too heavy will slow the movement down and limit the range of range of motion. Seek Rhythma and flow


Training Program in Outside Magazine

I know the program is not as detailed as I would have liked. Both Paul Scott, the writer and I would have liked to have see have more detail. Unfortunately in a magazine there are always space constraints. I am going to try to answer a few questions that I have received here and will give more details over the next several weeks. One question I received was: Is this workout routine appropriate for women. Yes it is, without question. For women I might increase the weight training slightly, but overall it is appropriate for both men and women. Another question was: is it appropriate for someone 54 years old? Yes, with qualifications. You need to have a bit of a fitness background before you start. If you have not been very active cut everything in half and work up to the full program. In essence that would make the six week program a twelve week program.

Here are some thoughts and considerations:

What are your goals both short term and long term?

What is your lifestyle – sedentary or active?

What are your personal habits? Do you drink and overeat? Start by establishing a routine. Find a time that you can train every day. Commit to it and do not let anything interfere. As far as the actual program – personalize it. Make it practical for you – you do not need much, some dumbbells, a medicine ball, and stretch cord, not much else. Plan it. Do not beat yourself up. Remember it is a series of workouts that will make you better, not one. It is not about the burn. Do not depend on machines or a trainer. If the motivation is not intrinsic chances are it will not be long lasting. Think like an athlete – win the workout. Find a training partner who shares you goals. Push and encourage each other. Be committed, not obsessed.

Happy Mothers Day

Happy mothers day to all of you who are mothers. My mother passed away 16 years ago, but a day does not go by without me thinking of her. I think of her every day for her the love and encouragement she gave to me and everyone around her. She instilled a love of learning in me. She was not able to get an education herself so she made sure my brother and I did. Thanks mom, I love you. The other great Mom in my life is my wife. She is a great mother. She raised two great kids without me around as much I would have liked. She keeps me honest and does not let me get too full of myself. Thanks Melissa for being a great mom and wife. I love you.

Scott Daniels - The Quiet Man

Scott was a decathlete I had the pleasure of coaching inform 1983 to 85. Scott died of leukemia on Friday night after an eight month battle. Scott fought the leukemia just like he trained and competed, with quiet determination. Unfortunately this was one he could not overcome. He was a great athlete. I can just see that bouncy stride and that big smile now. He was the most unlikely looking runner you have ever seen. He was 6’2”and 220 pounds, great size for decathlon, not an advantage in running. His best events were the 400 meters and the 1500 meters. In fact when he broke the American record in the Indoor Pentathlon in 1984 he ran 2:33 for 1,000 meters on a very tight 200 meter flat track. It was amazing to see. He was all grit heart and determination. I will miss Scott but all of us who knew him are better people for having known him. I got to talk to Scot three days before he died; all he wanted to do was to thank me for coaching him. He did not want any sympathy. That was him, thinking about other people. I would not have known he was sick if his girl friend had not called me in advance to tell me. Thanks Scott, the privilege was all mine.


What do Doctors Know?

Doctors and Chiropractor are not trained in exercise. They have no idea how a healthy body responds to the various stimuli of training. I know you have to be careful when you paint with a broad brush stroke, but this is true in the vast majority of times. I have recently run into a situation where an athlete that I have helped over the past few years has had a flair up of chronic back problems. The athlete is seeing a chiropractor that is encouraging her to jog. I want her to sprint hills (she is a chronic over strider and hills control your stride and there is less impact forces uphill). Why jog? It just will be more pounding. Several years ago I was at a conference where one of the team physicians of a major west coast university gave a presentation. He reported that in the past year that there were twelve sacral stress fractures in the distance runners at his university. He proceeded to give an exercise prescription that was so far off the wall; I almost fell out of my chair. It was like the sacral stress fractures were a fait accompli, instead of asking why sacral stress fracture, much less twelve of them. You need to get with the coach and find out why?

I had a team physician for a major league baseball team tell me we needed to test for max VO2 because the players were not fit enough. He felt that testing Max VO2 would encourage them to do more aerobic work and get fitter. He was trying to sell this to ownership! Of course coming from a doctor it had value! A baseball player does not run a mile in the course of a season. This is just an example of how out of touch many doctors are.

As coaches, trainers and therapist we have to work with the doctors to help them understand what we do. I have been lucky over the years to work some doctors who were willing to come out to workouts and observe what the athletes were doing in training. It gave them a better understanding of the stresses the athlete were putting on their bodies day to day. I think that should be a requirement in a sports medicine fellowship. The doctors should have to spend three weeks with a coach at workouts. They will then at least have some understanding.


Outside magazine Article

There have been several questoions and posts regarding the Outside Magazine article. I will answere those this weekend when I have a bit more time. I am on my way to Buffalo to teach a seminar. Thanks for the interest in the article


We certainly have become an information driven society, but information is not always equated with knowledge. Ultimately remember it is knowledge that we are seeking not information. Today we have unlimited sources of information, but it is up to us to put it in a context framed by our beliefs, experience and education to transform that information into knowledge. This is not always easy for the coach. The athletes’ and parents access the same information as the coaches. Gary Winckler, Women’s’ track & Field coach at the University of Illinois sums it up quite well: “Getting them off the internet and not looking for short cuts. The human body does not adapt any faster than it did 30 years ago so why should be expect performance gains to be accomplished faster today. A challenge I face today that I did not face as a coach 10 years ago is helping athletes get the 'noise' out of their lives and learn to focus on the training process.” The explosion of information is “noise.” They, the athletes, do not have the background to differentiate good information from fallacious information. This makes it even more imperative that the coach stay on the cutting edge in terms of knowledge. The information that is acquired needs to be put in context of how and why it is going to be used. A good way to cross check information and stimulate new ideas is to form a local coach’s colloquium or network to share knowledge, include the ATC and the physical therapist and doctors. This does not have to formal. Meet once a month with a suggested topic for each session. In a group situation you quickly realize that there are commonalities both in terms of problems and solutions. If everyone agrees to share ideas and information and not let their egos interfere this is a great way to keep learning.


Whats Wrong with this picture?

I just saw this online. This is really hard to beieve. It really makes one wonder how seriuos we are in eradicating or at least controlling the cheating.I do undersatnd the leag issues, but someone had the guts to stand up and share the grand jury testimony. I beieve and always have believed that this was also was meant to be covered up for a multitude of reasons.It was in not in baseball or Track & Fields best interstes for ANY of this to be public.

BALCO Reporters Could Face Prison Time

By DAVID KRAVETS, Associated Press Writer

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 (05-09) 18:24 PDT San Francisco (AP) --

Five people linked to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative were convicted of doling out steroids to elite athletes. But in an ironic twist, two San Francisco Chronicle writers who reported on the probe could end up serving more jail time than any of them.

Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada are the latest reporters to become entangled in the federal government's ramped-up efforts to investigate leaks. They have been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury investigating who leaked them the secret testimony of Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and others.

The Chronicle, which published the testimony in a series of stories beginning in late 2004, is challenging the subpoena, arguing that the First Amendment protects the reporters and their sources.

Both reporters say they aren't going to talk — which means they could be fined and jailed until they divulge their sources, or sentenced to a fixed term for contempt.

"Of course, we are going to stand up for our sources and we would never betray them," Fainaru-Wada said.

A day in jail would be longer than the probation sentences for BALCO vice president James Valente and track coach Remi Korchemny, who both pleaded guilty to distribution charges.

BALCO president Victor Conte got four months in prison. Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, was sentenced to three months, the same sentence facing BALCO supplier Patrick Arnold.

Coaching Art & Science

Frank Dick, Britain's chief coach during the golden age of athletics in the 1980’s expressed today’s dilemma in coaching: "Somewhere in the last 10 years or so we have lost our place as coaches; somebody, somewhere has decided coaching cannot be respected in the way that it used to be," he said. "If this is not addressed quickly then who is going to lead the athletes? Don't tell me the scientist’s can. Science has never led sport. It is coaches that lead the process. As Winston Churchill said, scientists should be on tap but never on top." Coaching is always a delicate balance of art and science. The art cannot be taught, but it is something that can be acquired through experience. The coach must use science and be scientific without trying to be a scientist. I am not sure that our coaches today are as well prepared today in the science of teaching. In the past the great majority of the coaches were affiliated with the schools as teachers, either in the classroom or physical education, so they had a good background in pedagogy. Coaching and teaching are synonymous. We need to do a better job of training our coaches as teachers; there are some very good programs out there to train coaches, like the USA Track & Field Coaching Education program. We need more programs like that.


This is Absurd!!!

I just someone is advertising a CD that you can purchase that tells you how to make money doing speed camps. What have we come to? This is total bullshitake!!! Whatever happened to coaching and teaching? Folks, there is more to it than making money. I had a phone conversation with a former athlete who is dying of leukemia. He or I never made a dime with his training, but on his deathbed he wanted to talk to me and thank me for the time I helped him. That is a reality check. Let cut out this BS. If you can’t coach get out of it. The essence of it is to help people get better. Have I made money, sure I have (not as much as some people think), but there has never been my driving goal. My goal is to be the best I can be. If you bought one of those CD’s send it back and ask for your money back. Use the money to go out and buy a book to improve your coaching. ( By the way this is the same guy who once conned me into writing a long peice on sprint training and then charged $90.00 for it without teling me)

The Coaching Process

Coaching is a high touch not a high tech process. It is a process. You can’t coach by mail or email; you need to be there day to day with the athlete. Anyone can write up workout. I have volumes of workouts that I have used over my 37 years of coaching, it is not the workout, it is the implementation of the workout. You can have the greatest workout on paper and go out to the field and after warm-up see that it is just not going to happen. You adjust, you have a contingency pan. This is impossible to do if you are not there. If you are not there you are an advisor, not a coach. That is fine and works for some people. Go and watch a workout with Gary Winckler, Dan Pfaff or Joe Vigil coaching and you will see what I mean. There is total involvement. They are there for the athlete. They watch every step. Nothing is left to chance. You can’t do that if you are not there. I know from personal experience that not being present does not work. I have tried to “help” some athletes by sending workouts and sometimes just workout ideas, it does not work. Eyes and ears, feel and touch are the secret to great coaching.



Someone sent this to me. I must be really naive'. There is as much as stake and temptation to cheat at this level as in the Pro's

Drug study: College coaches 'looking other way'

Nearly a quarter of NCAA steroid users are 'certain' coaches knew

03:09 AM CDT on Thursday, April 27, 2006

By GARY JACOBSON / The Dallas Morning News

Among NCAA athletes who reported using anabolic steroids in the organization's most recent study, 24.1 percent said they were "certain" their coaches knew they were using the banned drugs.

Pete Carlon, athletic director at the University of Texas at Arlington and a former member of the committee that oversees the NCAA survey, said he was "startled" and "disappointed" by the finding.

"If that's true, then somebody is turning and looking the other way," Carlon said Wednesday.

Mary Wilfert, the NCAA's associate director of Education Outreach, said the finding indicates a need for additional education of coaches about steroids.

In the NCAA's 2001 study, 20.7 percent of steroid users said they were certain their coaches knew.

The NCAA, which published highlights from its 2005 survey in August, posted the entire study on its Web site Tuesday. Just 1.2 percent of the nearly 20,000 athletes in the study said they used steroids, down from 1.5 percent in 2001. Since its first study in 1985, the NCAA has surveyed athletes about their drug and alcohol use every four years.

Other findings from the 2005 study:

• Of steroid users, 17.8 percent said they got their steroids from a coach, athletic trainer or team physician.

• 4.1 percent of the athletes said they used amphetamines, which, like steroids, are performance-enhancing substances. Amphetamine use has increased steadily from 2.1 percent in 1993 and is highest (4.6 percent) in Division III.

• Use of steroids (2.3 percent) and amphetamines (3.9 percent) by baseball players equaled use by football players.

• 5.2 percent of women's softball players said they used amphetamines.

• 11.2 percent of the athletes said they had "been taken advantage of sexually" one or more times in the last 12 months because of their drinking or drug use.

• Among those who said they had used amphetamines "recently," 27.9 percent said they used the drug as treatment for attention deficit disorder (ADD) and 9.7 percent said to improve athletic performance.

Frank Uryasz, president of the National Center for Drug Free Sport, which conducts the NCAA's drug-testing program, said his group is seeing greater use of ADD medication.

"Some athletes are readily sharing their prescription drugs," he said Wednesday. Any use of stimulants, including Ritalin and Adderall, increases the risk of heat illness for an athlete, he said.

Uryasz said he expects the latest results from NCAA drug-testing to be released later this year. They will include the first findings from year-round testing of Division I baseball players.

"We had a disproportionate number of pitchers test positive," he said. "I didn't expect that."

Female Athletes & Coaches

There are increasing opportunities for women to compete in sport. Unfortunately the training and preparation has not kept pace with the opportunities to compete. Female athletes need different training programs than men. From an endocrine hormonal perspective and a socio cultural perspective women are different and these differences must be accounted for in training and preparation. Women are certainly more susceptible to certain injuries, specifically ACL tears; this demands that prevention programs be incorporated in daily training. To do otherwise would be remiss. There is still much misunderstanding on the role of strength training with the female athlete. Some athletes and coaches just do not recognize its importance. Culturally in many circles it is not acceptable for women to be muscular and fit. For the female athlete to receive proper training these barriers need to be broken down.

There is no doubt that there is a need for more qualified women in coaching. We need to do everything we can to encourage qualified females to coach. The time commitment and lifestyle serve to dissuade many women because of family obligations and the general socio cultural attitude toward women in coaching. It was interesting to see the 2005 Women’s NCAA basketball final with the final two teams coached by women for the first time. Why did it take so long? Women need positive role models as coaches. They need to be mentored. The typical approach has been to take the outstanding female athlete and when she retires have her go into coaching. This approach sets them up for failure. They need to be trained as coaches. You do not just flip a switch and go from being an athlete to a coach. Ability to excel in a sport seldom equates with coaching success. They need to be educated and mentored so they can truly coach. The women coaches in the fielsd have a responsibility to help rectify this situation by encouauraging thier athletes that they feel would make good coaches get into the profession. Good qualified women coaches will do wonders to help our female athletes get better.


A Real Good Read

I really enjoy and I think benefit from reading coaches and athlete’s biographies. I think it gives you insights into their training and what it takes to be great. The book Golden Girl does all of that. It is a good read on many levels. Obviously there are insights into a very determined athlete who managed to put her sport in perspective. There are great insights into coaching in general and coaching the female athlete in particular. Coughlin’s coach Terri McKeever, who became the first female coach on an Olympic swim coaching staff in 2004 is a very interesting and innovative coach. Her struggles as a female coach in a male dominated world are worth the price of the book. Also for Coughlin and McKeever to succeed at the highest levels while at Cal Berkeley are truly amazing. I coached there and I know how tough it is to be a success in the classroom and a success athletically. I really enjoyed this book and I am sure I will post more about some of the thoughts I got as I was reading the book.