Seminars – Appearances

Tulsa, Oklahoma Friday August 18, 2006

A combination of Functional Path Training and Speed to the Max

This will be a one day seminar hosted by Grand Health and Racquet Club.

10 contact hours for ceu’s

To enroll please contact Geof Eng at geof@grandhealthandracquet.com

Drug Wars - Another one bites the dust!

How long is it going to take to figure out that it is the coaches and agents who are big part of this drug issue? You cannot coach an athlete on drugs and not know it. Justin Gatlin is coached by Trevor Graham who has had six other athletes test positive. Sure he sent the syringe to USADA, how did he get it? What was he doing with it? How tough is that connection to make. Why don’t the USOC and USA Track& Filed take a stand and ban the drug coaches. Here is what Darryl Seibel, a U.S.O.C. spokesman said: “We are thinking about broadening the scope of responsibility and accountability to include individuals who have the ability to influence the athlete, such as coaches, trainers and agents,” He said the committee could deny those people access to the Olympic training centers, accreditation to the Olympics and access to high-performances services provided by the committee. Why not outright ban them and fine them? Make everyone sign a contract that states that if they or an athlete they are working with tests positive they are banned from being coaches or agents.

We need to get our heads out of the sand if we want clean up sport. Right now the outlaws are so far ahead of the law it is scary. There is so much money at stake, not only in athlete’s contracts but also the sponsors have so much to lose if a high profile athlete goes down. I believe the sponsors and the sports governing bodies are part of a vast conspiracy to sweep all this under the table. They constantly demand higher performance levels with unrealistic competition schedules. What is the limit?

English Institute of Sport

I finished up on Friday with a presentation on the 3S System – Sport Specific Speed to the English Institute of Sport group at Loughborough University. Before that Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I was the English Institute of Sport at Bisham Abbey. Both are beautiful places. Loughborough is one of the most famous physical education schools in the world. I felt honored to be presenting there. Bisham Abbey is right on the river Thames, outside of London. This is obviously a rowing center due to the proximity to the Thames. Monday afternoon after I flew in I got to visit with Dave Reddin, Head Strength & Conditioning coach with British rugby and Calvin Morriss, his assistant. Always great to get together with this guys, they are real forward thinkers. Currently working on some player profiling that should prove very interesting. In their role they are not with the players on a daily basis, only when the National Squad is assembled. This presents some unique challenges that they are working hard to overcome. In addition having won the last world Cup they are fighting a culture of complacency. Later Monday afternoon with Calvin I was honored to meet Steve Backley. Steve is a former javelin thrower, the best ever from Great Britain. He is a many time Olympian and a place winner in several World Championships. He is retired from competition now. I was pleased to find out that in the early Nineties he had used some of my ideas on shoulder rehab to get back to throwing. Had a great visit talking about sport today and bit about training.

On Tuesday Kelvin Giles, who is the Elite Player Development Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for Australian Rugby Union presented all day on Physical Competencies and their assessment. It was great to finally meet Kelvin. It was a very outstanding presentation that clarified many of the issues that I have had with “functional Screening.” I will post more on this later in the week. All in all it was a great week. I will share more of my thoughts when I get settled in back home.


Here We Go Again

Yesterday I attended a presentation that highlighted multiple shoulder dysfunctions and the subsequent remedies. The problem was most of the evaluation focused on the shoulder and then they got real progressive and looked at the scapula. They spend all of two minutes out of 90 minutes talking about the hip shoulder relationship. Guess what the position was of most of the exercises to remedy the dysfunction – yes you got it – kneeling, sitting, and lying supine or prone. No wonder there are still a so many shoulder problems. Remember get hip to the shoulder. It does not matter if it is a pitcher, or grandma, the shoulder works the same. Joe Przulta did a great presentation on this several years ago, perhaps we can persuade Joe to post this on my web site.


Cool Friends

I really like Tom Peters. He has a place on his blog where he periodically talks about his cool friends. http://www.tompeters.com That inspired me to do the same, hence my post on Steve Odgers yesterday. I also have been working on the acknowledgements for my new book, since I am already way over the space allotted, I thought a good way to acknowledge and recognize those who have influenced me was to do it on the blog. So when I get back from England I will start posting on cool friends and people who have had an impact on career and my life. Iam also going to talk about people I want to meet or would have loved to meet who passed away.

Trip to England

I will probably not post as frequently until the first week in August. I am going back to England to do two presentations for the Strength and Conditioning coaches at the English Institute of Sport. http://www.eis2win.co.uk I am also meeting up with Dave Reddin and Calvin Morris, who are the head and assistant conditioning coaches for British Rugby on Monday afternoon. These are among the best. It should be a great learning experience.

Now What?

You have done all your ‘functional screening” and you have found all these restrictions and limitations. What do you do now? How do you approach fixing those things? Can they be fixed or are they part of that individual’s movement signature or fingerprint? Are these legitimate questions and concerns or am I overreacting? I know that I am a coach. As a coach my job is produce results, do no harm, and progress them toward their goals. For me the ultimate accountability is what occurs on the field. I could not help but think as I watched Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux pitch an inning last night – what would a function movement of those guys show? I think it is pretty predictable; there would be some terrific imbalances. Where do you intervene? How do you intervene? Will it matter? Remember everything is connected. Some connections are very visible and some are quite transparent. The body will protect where it needs to, loosen where it needs to, it will accommodate and adapt, so lets train and rehab it as the highly adaptive organism it is. GIVE THE BODY CREDIT FOR IT”S WISDOM!


A very productive read

Just finished reading The Art of Project Management by Scoot Berkun last night, this is a good read for anyone who has to lead or organize a project. Berkun was a project manager at Microsoft on the internet explorer project. He is a very good writer, not overly technical; in fact he is quite philosophical. A coach is a project manager, in fact anytime he used PM (project manager) I just thought coach. There is even a chapter on how to deal with politics; boy did I wish I would have had that 35 years ago. Here are couple of great quotes that appear in the book on planning.

“No battle was ever won according to plan, but no battle was ever won without one.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Well in my opinion a battle works according to plan. The plan is only a common base for changes. It’s very important that everyone should know the plan, so you can change it easily…the modern battle is very fluid, and you have make decisions very fast- mostly not according to plan. But at least everybody knows where you’re coming from, and [then] where you’re going to, more or less.” Major General Dan Laner, Israeli Defense Forces Commander

Strength Training Simplified

Here it is in nutshell. If you are unsure what to do in strength training, remember this PPS. PPS is pull, push and squat. If you incorporate those movements and their derivatives you cannot go wrong. Lunge and step-up are derivatives of squat.

Steve Odgers

Yesterday when I mentioned Steve Odgers in the blog, several people wanted to know what Steve is doing now. He works for Scott Boras, the baseball agent. Steve is Director of Boras sports training, in that capacity he works with their clients. He is now working with some of the biggest names in the game. I thought some of you might be interested in how Steve and I became associated. I first met Steve in the winter of 1983. Steve was a student at UC Irvine. He was on the track team, competing in the decathlon. Through that year and the next years I watched him train. The more I watched him the more I became impressed with his potential. He did not really have a lot of guidance except in the throws. He used to come out an hour early and stretch for at 30 minutes, yet he was plagued with hamstring injuries. In the late spring of 1984 when he was hurt again I approached him about training with me the next fall. We started working together in the fall of 1984. That first year was a tough one. I probably killed him. The main thing was to get over the hamstring issues, which he did. He marginally improved. That summer he got to compete for the USA against Canada in a team decathlon in Edmonton. He had a tremendous first day and was running well in the hurdles when he fell. It was evident to all that he was ready for a big break through. That breakthrough came the next year at MTSAC Relays where he scored 7992 points. Then his dumb coach upped the workload and he never was quite the same the rest of that spring. He placed fifth at Nationals with a 102 degree fever (overtraining?) The next year he injured his knee in the javelin and had to have the knee scoped. In 1988 he had a good year, certainly not what we expected, but I now realize that the lingering effects of the knee surgery were hindering him. He was ninth at Olympic trials. 1989 was his best year. He was second at the Olympic Festival, sixth ranked in the US and twentyfifth ranked in the world.

I can’t say this about very many athletes that I have coached, but Steve came as close to anyone I have coached to reach his physical potential. He was only 178 pounds, small for a decathlete, yet he was a great thrower, very good 400 meter runner and became a good hurdler. Without size, the decathlon is an even tougher event. In January of 1990, the major League strength and conditioning job with the White Sox opened up and I was able to persuade our General Manager to hire Steve. It was one of the best moves the organization has ever made. That was the first year we had an influx of players from the minor leagues. The players expected to train and Steve was there to work with them I mean actually get down and dirty and run and jump and throw with them. He was still a world class athlete and he could outshine most of them. When I left in 1996 Steve became Director of Conditioning and stayed with the Major League team. It was because of Steve that the White were one of the most injury free teams of the nineties. He left after the 2003 to work for Scott Boras. He is probably the only conditioning coach ever mentioned in a Hall of Fame induction speech. Carlton Fisk thanked Steve for all his work that prolonged his career. He was a big factor in keeping Jack McDowell healthy to win the Cy Young. Steve is one of the best conditioning coaches I know. He is definitely the best in baseball. I am proud to have had a small part in his career.


Some Lessons from the School of Life

  • Know yourself – Be honest with yourself
  • Define Yourself – If not you will never be comfortable with who you are.
  • Accept that change is a constant. Be a change agent
  • Lead don’t follow and don’t look back to see who is following.
  • Know the difference between “I can’t” and “I won’t.”
  • Never take yourself so seriously that you cannot laugh at your self.
  • Learn to listen more than you talk. That is why we have two ears and one mouth
  • Know what you know. Know what you don’t know
  • It is a lot better to be inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.

Balance in Perspective

Yesterday I was talking to Steve Odgers, former Director of Conditioning for the White Sox, and one of my former athletes. He was relating the emphasis at the NSCA Convention on training Balance. This was something he and I instituted years ago in his training and in working with the White Sox, especially the pitchers. His feeling, one that I share, is that that there is now a misplaced emphasis on static balance. It is about balance in motion, not balance in stillness. The missing ingredient is that without the ability to reduce and produce force all the balance work in the world will be ineffective. In our programs now it is about five minutes out of a ninety minute session. It is a small part of a big picture.

NSCA Convention

Good overview of 2006 NSCA Convention by Tracy Fober at http://ironmaven.blogspot.com


Downloads Now Available

We have added a new section to our web page for downloads. There are now seven downloads available. Periodically I will post stuff that I have written or interesting articles that I have come across. If any of you have anything to share please send it to me and I will review it and if it is appropriate I will add it.

ASTYM Presentation

Gatlins WR Stats

Shoe Biomechanics Atrticle

Soccer Training Research Articles

Hamstring Prevention Article

Lunge & Reach Pictures

June 06 Outside Magazine article

Todays Workout

Monday July 17, 2006

Warm-up # 1

Core Circuit A x 1 Circuit


DB Complex

High Pull x 6

5 x Complex

1 min recovery between each complex

DB Alt Press x 6

Upright Row x 6

DB Squat x 6

DB Row x 6

Low Box Step-up 5 x 10 each Leg (3 Forward/2 Lateral)

High Step-up 3 x 10 each Leg

Squat & Press 2 x 6

Core Work

Marching Core

Bent Leg

Outside In

Inside Out

Figure Eight

Straight leg

Outside In

Inside Out

Figure Eight

Hurdle Unders - Two of each drill


Today’s Breakfast Club Workout


Weyand’s work on Running Mechanics

Misha Filipovic,Belgrade,Serbia asked me: What is your opinion about Dr.Weyand’s work? We just had a conversation about this with Dr Jesus Dapena, noted biomechanist from Indiana University, at the USA Track Field Coaching school. I think the work of Dr Weyand is basically sound. Faster top running speeds are achieved with greater ground forces not more rapid leg movements by Peter G. Weyand, Deborah B. Sternlight, Matthew J. Bellizzi, and Seth Wright J Appl Physiol Vol. 89, Issue 5, 1991-1999, November 2000

I really do not see that much different from the work of Ralph Mann. I think people are trying to make too much of the differences and not looking enough at the similarities. One major difference is that Weyand’s work has been mainly done on the treadmill at velocities that are slower than sprint velocities. Mann’ work has been done in competition with world class athletes. To better understand sprint mechanics I think their work with the synthesis provided by Bosh and Klomp give a truer picture of what is happening at top speed. Nobody has done a good study of acceleration mechanics since Betty Atwater in the late 1970’s.Unfortunately to my knowledge this work was never published. This is where work needs to be done.

As an aside Dr Weyand was protégé of Thomas A. McMahon who did much pioneering work on track surfaces and muscle stiffness. His book is a classic work, but you better have your math and physics skills sharpened to understand it in depth. As a history major I was able to glean some key points. By the way McMahon was a very interesting who tragically died in his fifties. He was also a novelist and held academic appointments in several departments at Harvard University.

Guaranteed 50 Inch Vertical Jump!!!

The Bullshitake detector went off the scale on this one. They guarantee a 50 inch vertical jump. In another place they guarantee to double your vertical jump! They have the secret and if you pay enough you too can get the secret. Off course the program only costs $447.00 if your order early, it goes up to $697.00 if you miss the deadline. This is the biggest heap of Bull Shitake I have ever seen. Do they understand what a 50 inch vertical jump is? I have tested Michael Jordan and he is not even close. The best I have ever tested on a Vertec is Mike Cameron, Center Fielder for the San Diego Padres, when he was with the White Sox. His vertical was 39.5 inches. He is a great athlete! The greatest improvement I have ever had an athlete make was in six months, Mike Heathcot a pitcher with the White Sox, improved from 28.5 inches to 39 inches. There was no magic there, just a lot of hard work. What is amazing is that people get sucked into this hype and BS. There is no secret. If you want to improve your vertical jump – JUMP! Cut out all aerobic work. Lifting must be carefully cycled with the jumping. Realistic improvement if you have good explosive qualities is a 3 inch improvement in a three month period.


On Line Coaching

There was an article in the Thursday New York Times on online coaching. I know that some of the readers of this blog do that, but I am not a big fan of online coaching. To me it is not coaching. It is advising, that may be semantic, but it is an important distinction. Coaching is not necessarily high tech, but it is very personal and high touch. To be effective as a coach you must be physically present. It is more than writing workouts and getting the results of the workout. For example I have had two athletes do the same running workout and achieve the “target time”, but one athlete was really straining and the other athlete was cruising. If I had not been there I would not have known that, I would have moved to the next level of training, which was not appropriate for the athlete who was straining not training. I speak from personal experience having tried to coach by mail several times, it just does not work for me. I would be interested in your comments pro and con and how those of you that make it work do make it work.


Magic Muscles

I call these the magic muscles - Glute Medius, Transverse Abdominis, Internal Oblique – If they can do everything people think they do then they must be magic! Stability is a moving target; no one muscle can be responsible for stability. It is these muscles working in synergy with other muscles that produce efficient flowing movement that reduces and produces force effectively. As far as compensation, it does occur. There is normal and abnormal compensation. Athletes are great compensators; they know their bodies and how to efficiently accommodate. Abnormal compensation usually results from some sort of a traumatic event that forces the athlete is a position or a series of movements that they cannot handle.

NSCA Convention

It just occurred to me after reading Tracey Fobers blog http://ironmaven.blogspot.com that the NSCA convention in going on right now. Any of you who are attending I would be interested to hear about any great presentations or information that you learned. This used to be a big event on my calendar, but frankly over the years the quality of the presentations seemed to decline significantly. There were too many people trying to sell stuff instead of sharing ideas. The last one I attended, in Minneapolis, I basically only went to the research presentation and a presentation by Stuart McGill which was at best average. Not because of the quality of the presenter, but he felt he had dumb it down for the audience.


Pictures from England

These are pictures from my “Following the Functional Path” seminar. This was held at Hinckley United Football Club, with Julie Hayton as the host.


This is not a real link. I put this on as a joke. Maybe there should be a domain for bs


Every Sunday here at Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida they have a Drum Circle. My wife and daughter and I went this past Sunday. The combination of the drum rhythms, the warm weather and the people practicing Capoeira (See pictures) just made you want to move. Capoeira is a Brazilian Martial art originated by the slaves on the sugar cane plantations. They disguised it as a dance so the slave master would not know what they are doing. The rhythms and movements have great application to sports movements. In fact the Brazilian soccer team’s warm-up is said to consist of various Capoeira movements.

Houston Dynamo Pro Soccer

Any of you soccer fans out there who live in Houston , Kristen Gambetta, my daughter works for them in sales. If you are interested in tickets and you want to talk to someone who knows about my training methods. Contact her at



She is a 2005 graduate of Rice University where she played soccer and ran track (sprints). This is the closest to a sales pitch you will get on this blog

False Prophets Bearing Gifts

I received the following via email this morning.

Olympic Medalist Reveals Her Secret “Cheat” for Winning the Marathon Advanced (but perfectly legal) “hydration therapy” helps athletes increase stamina and endurance up to 28.7% Now you can drink the same refreshing, energy-boosting sports drinks they do when you work out or compete for the next 60 days -- FREE!

This is the kind of pseudo science crap that confuses people. I know Deena Drossin’s coach, Dr Joe Vigil. He is an exercise physiologist. He had her as prepared as any athlete could be for that type of competition. Hydration was big factor, but a 28% boost – get real. Deena Drossin put in eight years and 40,000 miles of running to get that medal. There is no magic formula or secret method. It is systematic directed work that is individualized to meet the needs of the athlete and their event.


Groin Injuries in Soccer

Scot Dew, who is a soccer coach who wrote to me to ask what to do about groin injuries. First of all do not allow the players to strike a ball, until they have done a thorough warm-up. This is one of my pet peeves with soccer. They kick to warm-up rather than warm-up to kick. I believe that doing the mini band series daily is important to prevent groin injuries and to warm-up. In fact it is the first thing we do in warm-up.

Mini Band Routine

(Band above ankles, keep tension on band at all times)

Sidestep x 20 each direction

(Big step with lead foot, small step with following foot)

Walk - Forward/Back x 20

( As big a step as possible)

Carioca x 20

(Cross in front, step apart, cross behind step apart)

Monster Walk- Forward/Back (wide & low) x 20

Multi-plane lunges in strength training are very important. We also include a Lunge and Reach Series in warm-up daily (It probably is better to call it a step & reach series as the length of the lunge progresses as you get loser)

Hurdle Walks, both over and under are very effective prev

ention exercises. Also include the following:


(Use in warm-up and follow it with hurdle walkovers)

Jack Knife Crawl x 5

(Walk feet to hands and then walk hands away from feet)

Creepy Crawl x 5

(Spiderman, low and long, keep the head down)

Tubing Leg Strength (Attach tubing low)

(10 reps of each exercise with each leg if before a workout. If after running do 20 reps of each leg)


(Essentially like a “B” Drill – Standing, face the attachment, step over the knee, emphasize out, down and pawing back)

Hip Extension

(Standing, face the attachment extend the leg back while keep the leg straight)


(Cross the Midline – Standing, side to the attachment, keep the exercising leg in the air)


(Standing, side to the attachment, start with legs crossed and take the leg out– keep the exercising leg in the air)

Book Recommendations Revisited

Joe wrote to ask why I had not included Mel Siff’s Supertraining? On this list I only included the books that had a profound effect on my career. I think Siff made a tremendous contribution, but I never found his work earthshaking. It did not have the effect how I did things like a Councilman or a Doherty. That being said I occasionally refer to it in regard to periodization. Also remember Siff comes from a strength training perspective.


The Garage

Joe, thanks for the comments. As far as Feng Shui we are trying to lend energy to the world, not hoard it. Check the new website www.gurutoys.bs for all our new products. If you look closely you will see some of the sophisticated tools we use!

Book Recommendations

Brandon Bovee wrote to me to “ask you what would
be the top 5 books you would recommend that I read in this lifetime.” I can’t pick five books. I have read over seventy books since the first of the year. I love reading. I will share with some of my must reads and books that have really influenced me. There are more but I picked these off the top of my head.


Track & Field Omnibook by Ken Doherty

Principles of Sports Training by Harre

Running by Bosch & Klomp

The Science of Sports Training by Thomas Kurz

Weight Training by Stone & O’Bryant

Science of Swimming by Counsilman

Track & Field by Smolinsky

Sports Science

Kinesiology by Logan & McKinney

Biomechanics – A qualitative Approach by Kreigenbaum & Barthels

Textbook of Work Physiology by Astrand

The Inner Athlete by Nidefer

Mechanics of Athletics by Dyson

Strength and Power in Sport (Second Edition) edited by Komi


Seven Story Mountain by Thomas Merton

Mastery by George Leonard

The Silent Pulse by George Leonard

The Power of Resilience by Brooks & Goldstein

Frames of Mind by Howard Gardner

Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman by Gleick

Leadership and the New Science by Wheatly

Staying With It – On Becoming an Athlete by Jerome

Non Training – Fiction & Non Fiction

Cannery Row by Steinbeck

Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck

The Log From the Sea of Cortez by Steinbeck

The Nick Adams Stories by Hemingway

Anything by John McPhee

The Ninth Wave by Burdick

More Breakfast Club Photos

Burn with Vern Breakfast Club

We have just revived the Breakfast Club in our now infamous high tech garage training center. Today it was a pleasant 81 degrees and 87% humidity when we were working out. The regulars are myself, Chris Dapolito, former Quarterback at Duke who is playing American Football in Europe, Jon Haskins, former pro football player that I have worked with over the years just getting in shape and Kristen Gambetta, my daughter just home for a few days vacation. This is the workout pattern for the Foundation Phase from now until July 30. Enjoy the pictures.








Total Body


Step-up Emphasis

Core Rotations




Upper Body


Partner or Wall Throws



Total Body Throws


Total Body


Lunge Emphasis

Upper Body

Core Rotations





Work (Sand)


The World Cup

I was happy to see Italy win. Sad to see Zidane end his career on such a down note. I do not like to see a championship at any level end on Penalty kicks. I think there should be sudden death but that does not fit with the demands of television. Also it would be good to have a bit more recovery time between the semi finals and the finals. The cumulative effects of fatigue were evident in both teams. The length of the season and the length of the tournament take its toll.

Coaching or Training

Are you coaching them or are you training them? That is a legit question. Anyone can train someone, to coach someone is another issue. Coaching is more than getting athletes to do work. Anyone can work. Monkeys work! It is more than just a bunch of exercises thrown together to get a burn. Anyone can do that. Each session must have a specific goal that fit into a unified whole.


Coaching Books

These are three real outstanding books on coaching. There are very good insights into coaching regardless off the sport. I am a big fan of reading coaches and athlete’s profiles and biographies. I think that you can learn much about training, what to do and more importantly what not to do. Clive Woodward, was the coach of the English Rugby team that won the 2003 World Cup. His approach was very innovative. He brought organizational ideas from the business world and training ideas from many other sports. Arsene Wenger, the Manage of Arsenal, revolutionized English football with his tactical and technical approach to the sport, but most importantly with his emphasis on conditioning and nutrition. Jose’ Mourinho has gained fame as the manger of Chelsea in the English Premier League. He is the consummate professional coach. He is trained in sports science and his coaching reflects that. The following are quotes from each book:

“Jose’ Mourinho is a coach who develops constantly. His ideas, training methodology and concept of play are systematically analysed and studied, and are constantly evolving. He has progressed in such a way that he clearly states that he is not the same coach today as was at practice two years ago. The end of every season is a landmark, and he invariably spends the holidays studying and preparing for the future. No matter how good the previous season, there are always changes to be made for the next one – nothing stays the same.” Page 181

From Wenger: “Like an athletics coach, he ran things by the stopwatch. He reduced the number of distance runs, and replaced them with intense timed runs and bleep tests. There was specific running work says Platt. 30 seconds on 30 seconds off. It was just very organized and very detailed.” Page 223

From Woodward: “Over the years, I’ve encountered many different versions of inherited thinking, or tradition as some call it, in business, sport and government. The symptoms are always the same: blind faith in the ‘way,’ nepotism to protect the institution, a culture that heavily discourages, even punishes, any questioning of authority, and where change is anathema.” Page 38

Random Thoughts

As far as Eric Gagne’ Mark Day wrote in wondering if a functional movement screen would have identified or prevented the problem? I do not think so, I think some common sense would prevented the problem from the outset. If you have a bad knee it will affect your pitching mechanics!

Misha Filipovic wrote the following: “I watch some pictures and clips about German*s fitness training. Am I right that Verstegen*s program is some version of yours Functional path philosophy. If I am right, can you comment his methodology. Do you think
that he did some mistake? Do you change something in their preparation? I think that physically Germans did very well, but it will be interesting to see your opinion from your experience.” Misha, I will comment on what constitutes optimal conditioning for soccer in the next few days. I will not comment on his methodology because I am not familiar with it. I will post more detail on my web page. One thing to remember about all of this is
Germany made it to the final in 2002 and was very fit and fast!

Prehab - A Flawed Concept

Prehab is another guru term that has taken on a life of its own. The term was originated by Pitching guru, Tom House. I think he coined the term because so many of his pitchers were getting hurt using his program that he had to prepare them for post op rehab, hence the term prehab. There is no place for the term. Every sound training program should have an injury prevention component build into it. It should be relatively transparent. If there are particular issues in a particular sport or with a particular athlete then there should be a remedial component designed to address that. This may seem like splitting hairs, but words create images and images create action. Remediation and injury prevention are part of a good program. I work hard to make those components transparent without deemphasizing their importance to the athletes. The interesting thing for me is to watch these people that are putting such emphasis on prehab. They seem to have the most injuries! Could it be that that the prehab is setting them for injuries? Remedial work in inherent in good training progressions which go a long way toward preventing injuries, so carefully design your progressions to incorporate a remedial component. Also do not be in a hurry, progression takes time. The message is remediate daily, even with elite athletes. Hide it in the warm-up and with in other training tasks so they relate it to the movements of their sport.

Sprinter's life was short but sweet

This is an article from my hometown newspaper the Santa Barbara News Press. John Zant was the writer that used to cover our high school meets when I was coaching at Santa Barbara High School. This is one of the best articles he has ever written. Life is so precious and short, but this young lady ran a great race. I know here father and I know how tough this has been on him and his family but their faith and beliefs sustained them and will continue to sustain through this. Our thought and prayers go out to the Smelly family.

Sprinter's life was short but sweet
John Zant ,
July 7, 2006 8:03 AM
Smelley hit the finish line Tuesday.
"It was time," Russell Smelley said.
His daughter's life was a sprint, ending just a few weeks past 15 years.
But it was beautiful while it lasted.
"She soaked up life to the last moment," Smelley said. "There was nothing she missed out on until the end."
She wanted to be a sprinter on the San Marcos High track and field team. Smelley, who coaches the sport at
Westmont College, could see she had promise. In the seventh-eighth-grade County Championships last year, Alyssa ran the second leg of La Colina Junior High's winning 400-meter relay team.
But in August, before she could start high school, Alyssa suffered a seizure caused by a brain tumor.
Months of treatment followed at Children's Hospital in
Los Angeles, but the inoperable tumor would not go away.
Alyssa came home in February to spend the rest of her life with her family -- parents Allison and Russell, and her 10-year-old brother, Travis.
They did some outings together. The Make-A-Wish Foundation enabled them to spend several days at
Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure.
"Alyssa was in a wheelchair, and the first thing she wanted to ride was the California Screamin'," Smelley said.
That's a gnarly roller coaster.
"Allison couldn't look."

Another time, Alyssa wanted to get on the trampoline in the backyard. "She was able to bounce on her hands and knees," her father said.
Late May brought some happy times. One of Smelley's
Westmont runners, senior Jessie Goulder, won the women's marathon at the NAIA national championships in a record 2 hours, 49 minutes, 14 seconds. And defying expectations, Alyssa made it past her 15th birthday on May 28.
But everybody knew she wouldn't be around much longer.
"You approach it like you're walking backwards," Russell Smelley said.
His choice for summer reading was David McCullough's biography of John Adams, a founding father who persevered though his own family tragedies.
"John Adams was a marvelous man," Smelley said. "Two hundred years later, I was getting encouragement from him."
The Smelleys also received generous support from close friends in their couples group, fellow members of the
Free Methodist Church and Westmont colleagues.
About 20 of them were gathered in the Smelleys' home three days ago. Alyssa's breathing had become shallow. Travis got home from a sports camp at
1:10 p.m.
"We have a blessing song we sing to our kids," Russell Smelley said. " 'May the Lord bless you and keep you . . .' We were surrounding her and singing when she took her last breath at
1:23 p.m."
It was the Fourth of July.
"John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day (in 1826)," Smelley said. "She's in good company."
A celebration of Alyssa's life will take place at
2 p.m. July 15 at the Westmont gym.
John Zant's column appears Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. E-mail: jzant@newspress.com


Eric Gagne'

I always hesitate to comment on injuries or training of athletes that I have not worked with personally or have first hand knowledge of, but the case of Eric Gagne, start relief pitcher for the Dodgers is too good to pass up. The latest in a series of injuries is two ruptured disks in his back. The following statement is a classic: The 30-year-old right-hander was admitted to St. Vincent Medical Center on Wednesday because of lower back pain the Dodgers said was unrelated to baseball activity.” This just shows how backward thinking the sport of baseball is. The body is a link system. His elbow problems started when they kept pitching him with a bad knee – unrelated? Disk herniation, could it be that he was compensating in his pitching motion for the pain in his elbow? You can treat the symptom, or even operate to remove it, but eventually you must deal with the cause.

American Sport Decline

No one of those individuals is solely responsible for what we see happening today in sport in our country. They are merely symbols of how out of touch people at the top of the sport pyramid are. For example take tennis. Bollettieri talks about needing to tap into the talent in the inner cities, yet he charges a minimum of $25,000 a year for his academy. If you go visit the academy there are more foreign kids there than American, because it is based on the ability to pay. Soccer is similar, it cost $3 -4,000 a year to play for some elite clubs. It is questionable if either of these systems has produced results. The basis of success in sport is fitness. Our kids are not as active, there is no physical education. It is questionable if the ones who are participating are being taught sound fundamentals. We need to get back to basics of movement and build sport skills and fitness on that base.


Causes of American Sport Decline

Isn’t it interesting that now that there are no Americans left in Wimbledon that everyone is wondering what has happened to American tennis. Nick Bollettieri is quick to chime in with his solutions. Two week ago it was what’s wrong with American soccer and Bruce Arena was quick to chime in with his comments. Before that that it was David Stern, commissioner of the NBA on the lack of fundamentals in American basketball. There is a common thread here. There is an old saying that you cannot solve a problem by seeking solutions from those who created the problem! Guys take a look in the mirror.


Gordon Parks Quote

"The guy who takes a chance, who walks the line between the known and unknown, who is unafraid of failure, will succeed." Gordon Parks

The Art of Connecting

This is from a great blog called Presentation Zen http://presentationzen.blogs.com this was posted on April 24. I do not know if it is OK to duplicate something off someone else’s blog but I was telling some of the coaches about this in Las Vegas so I decided to post it. I am a big Jazz fan so this resonates with me on several levels. Enjoy it.

Jazz and the art of connecting

Most students of jazz will not go on to be professional players. And few students turned on by the creative arts in school will go on to be professional artists. And that's OK. Knowledge and understanding of the arts and the experience of pursuing excellence with, say, an instrument or a brush, etc. can teach students a lot about life and the value of focused effort, patience, teamwork, perspective, creativity, problem solving, and a million other things. All things that will serve the student well no matter what profession(s) she ends up dedicating herself to.

I made barely enough money with music to pay for my college years. Though music is not my profession today, jazz still inspires me in my professional life as well as in my personal/spiritual life. Jazz, of course, is about dialog and a kind of conversation with other musicians and a connection with the audience. Jazz is inspiring to me; it's lessons can be applied to other aspects of life, even the art of presentation. Below, then, are eleven quotes by jazz greats of yesterday and today which I find particularly inspiring and applicable. Following the list is a short video clip of a gig I did in Osaka earlier this month with some very accomplished musicians.
(1) “The most important thing I look for in a musician is whether he knows how to listen.” (Duke-Ellington)
The best communicators in the world are almost always the best listeners. Talking is easy; any dope can do that. But listening is hard. The lessons learned in life come more from when we open our ears not our mouths.
(2) “Writing is like jazz. It can be learned, but it can’t be taught.”

I'm not sure I've ever been taught anything about making presentations, but I have learned a ton from observing great presenters, from people like Steve Jobs to scores of people far less famous, such as college professors, etc.
(3) “Don’t bullshit… just play.” (Wynton-Marsalis)
Audiences today are busier than ever and have developed built-in "crap detectors" to filter out anything remotely insincere or shallow. They may not interrupt you or walk out of the room, but that doesn't mean they have not stopped listening. Guy Kawasaki has some good tips for those presenting to venture capitalists. If you're asking an audience for money, it is a safe bet that they will have zero tolerance for any overly optimistic views of future results unless you have strong evidence.
(4) “If they act too hip, you know they can’t play shit!” (Louis-Armstrong)
With practice we can become more polished. But too much polish turns a presentation into a TV-like infomercial unworthy of an audience's trust. Presentation is a very human thing. Practice, rehearse and make it great. But keep it real. Keep it human. And remember that it is about them (the audience), not us.
(5) “Master your instrument. Master the music. And then forget all that bullshit and just play.” (Charlie-Parker)
Studying design and presentation, communication, etc. is crucial. But when we present, all that matters is that moment and that audience. Get to the point. Tell us something memorable. Quit worrying and just inspire us or teach us (or better yet, both).
(6) “It’s taken me all my life to learn what not to play.” (Dizzy-Gillespie)
Most presentations are too long or filled with information that was unnecessary and included for the wrong reasons (such as fear). Knowing what to leave out takes work. Again, anyone can include everything and say everything, it is the master presenters (or writers, etc.) who know what to cut and have the courage to cut it.
(7) “You can play a shoestring if you’re sincere.” (John-Coltrane)
In most situations, you don't need the latest technology or the best equipment in the world. Showing that you are well prepared and ready to present naked is far more important. A poor presentation is not any better simply because expensive equipment is used to project images. Sincerity and respect for the audience matter far more.
(8) "When people believe in boundaries, they become part of them."
(Don Cherry)

Many books give prescriptions for the "best way" to present. There is no "best way" or "the correct way" to make a presentation. There are only two kinds really: good ones and bad ones. You know the difference because you've seen them both. Don't be afraid to be unconventional if you think "unconventional" will work best for your situation. Conventional wisdom is often the unwisest choice of all. "Conventional wisdom" about presentations is at best a prescription for mediocrity.
(9) “Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple.” (Charles Mingus)
This is my favorite quote of all. Many presenters -- very smart people -- either take something essentially simple and confuse an audience or simply fail to make their more complicated material meaningful to their audience. Simplicity ain't easy. In fact it's hard.
(10) “I can’t stand to sing the same song the same way two nights in succession. If you can, then it ain’t music..." (Billie-Holiday)
Even if you have the same set of slides or the same key points from one night to the next, every presentation is different because every audience is different. We must avoid the "canned presentation" or the "canned pitch" at all cost. If we focus on the audience and place priority on their needs, we're on the right path.
(11) “A great teacher is one who realizes that he himself is also a student and whose goal is not to dictate the answers, but to stimulate his students creativity enough so that they go out and find the answers themselves.”

My best teachers as a child and my favorite presenters of today have this in common: they inspire, stimulate, motivate, provoke, and lead...but they do not dictate.

Italia Avanti!!!

It was so great watching Italy triumph over the American trained German machine. The Italian were skillful (a given at this level), they were FAST, Specifically fit and always first to the ball. When I found out that Germany had not touched a soccer ball since their last game I felt it was only going to be a matter of time. The Italians have been pioneers in the application of speed and power training to soccer. They also have done a lot with specific fitness for the game over the years. I do not know what the Italians specifically do on a day to day to day basis, but having worked with some Italian players on the pro teams that I have worked with they have good training backgrounds in speed and power. I am looking forward to the final. I want France to make it so I can see Zidane play again but it is hard to get that Italian out of my blood.

USA Track & Field Coaching School

I had the pleasure of attending the Sprints and Jumps sessions at the Level III USA Track & Field Coaching in Las Vegas. As many of you know my background and my passion is Track & Field. The coaches that have achieved in this discipline, those who have really developed athletes are a joy to be around. They think multilaterally. They have to. They cannot afford to follow fads and they must produce. There is no smoke and mirrors because the stopwatch and tape measure are unforgiving. When I am around these guys I can turn the BS Meter off because there is none! Who are these guys? You probably will not read about them in Men’s Health or Muscle and Fiction, they are not on tour with the guru crew. They are on the firing line working to preserve a sport that does not provide instant gratification. These are the guys I learn from, Gary Winckler, women’s track coach at University of Illinois, Phil Lundin, men’s Track Coach at University of Minnesota, Bo Schexnayder, assistant coach at LSU, Dan Pfaff, assistant men’s coach at University of Florida. These guys are great people who are willing to share time and ideas. Phil Lundin did a great presentation on his program for development of the 400 meter runner. It was a great blend of science and practice. It was clear the adaptations he has had to make for the weather and the university environment. He does develop talent and it was clear how he does it in this presentation. He has had two men under 45 seconds in the 400 meters, both from Minnesota. Dan Pfaff did several outstanding presentations. They also reflected the blend of science and practice. Dan always really gets me thinking. Gary Winkler (who by the way is my hero) did a great presentation on periodization that contained many subtleties that I had not seen before, more on Gary’s stuff in a later blog. It has also been neat to see the development and the maturation of the younger coaches who are very involved. They have now formed their own network to exchange and share which is wonderful. A special thanks to Mike Corn for his tireless efforts in organizing all of this. There was a level III School, a Level II school, an instructor’s school, and a level I school all going on at the same time and he keeps it running like a well oiled machine.


Hamstring Injury Prevention Exercise Selection

The following is an excerpt from an article that Dean Benton and I wrote for Sport Coach in Australia.

Continuum of injury prevention/performance enhancement exercise:
The placement of exercises on the continuum is ultimately determined by the relationship to the function of the hamstring in actual running. It helps to look at the continuum as progressing from a low speed, high force emphasis, to high speed/high force exercises that are ballistic in nature. At the general end of the continuum the exercises do not as closely resemble the criteria activity. As the exercises progress along the continuum the movement pattern is similar and force time characteristics more closely resemble the actual activity. The goal of all of these is multifaceted, to improve functional strength, improve intermuscular coordination and improve mechanics of sprinting.




Low step ups

High Step-up

Lunge & reach – 3 planes

Walking lunge & high knee

Hanging horizontal bridge

Cable hip extension

Resisted moonwalks

Straight leg bounds

B drills

15 Degree Hill Sprints

Complementary exercises:

The following training modules contain complementary exercises that should be implicit in a comprehensive strength & conditioning program. Although they may not specifically train the ”hamstrings” they involve the hamstrings in patterns of movement that force them to work through amplitudes of movement and at speeds that that prepare the hamstrings for the stresses they will encounter in sprinting and multi directional movement.

Running technique training – This should be fairly obvious, but the attention to detail necessary the time necessary puts coaches off. This does not entail making the athlete conscious of hamstring firing or involvement, rather the emphasis is on the rhythm and flow of the movement. Posture and relaxation are primary considerations. This should involve work on top speed running starting at ten meters and working up to alternating periods of hitting top speed and floating at top speed. It is also imperative to work on mechanics of running involving curves and angles to condition the body for the differing demands that put the hamstrings at risk. Stair running is a good means to reinforce proper top speed mechanics without undo stress on the hamstrings. The stair sprints should not exceed ten seconds in duration. The emphasis is on hips over the foot at contact and tall posture.

Mach sprint drills – The primary emphasis of these drills are to superficially strengthen the muscle used in sprinting. There is some carryover to technique but they are primarily specific strengthening exercises. The “B” series of foreleg extension and pawing back has little relationship to technique, but it is a primary exercise to strengthen the hamstrings as they work to decelerate the foreleg. The skipping aspect of the drills serves to train the stiffness component so important to learn to optimize ground contact. When executing the skips it is imperative to actively drive the foot into the ground to set up the proper ground reaction.

Low amplitude hops/jumps – This serves to facilitate muscle stiffness. Stiffness is the opposite of sagging which would be the leg collapsing at ground contact. This aspect has not received as much emphasis as its role in sprinting demands. Straight leg bounds, ankle bounces, low hurdle hops all reinforce stiffness. The emphasis here should be on the knee being almost locked. Emphasize bouncing type movements which result in very short ground contact times. Cue the athlete that the ground is hot.

Hurdle dynamic hip mobility exercises – It is hip mobility or a lack thereof that is the genesis of many hamstring problems. These drills should be incorporated daily as part of warm-up or cooldown. Without proper hip mobility the leg will not be able to work through the full range of motion. This limitation will eventually lead to flawed mechanics especially in a fatigued state.

Resisted hip abduction/adduction exercise – The hip abductors and adductors play a major role in stabilization. In fact the Adductor Magnus is sometimes referred to as the fourth hamstring. If they are weak or not coordinated with the hamstrings more strain will be placed on the hamstrings.

15 deg hill sprinting – Hill sprinting at a 15 degree grade provides an excellent means to develop good top speed mechanics. It is virtually impossible to overstride sprinting up hill.