Cricket – Functional Training Conference

This was another really fun day. It was along day of teaching. I lectured all morning, basically providing the theoretical foundation for the afternoon practical sessions. I find this a very stimulating environment. There is a great combination of young physio’s and coaches and very experienced people. As I reflect back on yesterday and look forward to another day of teaching, I can not help but think this that this is like the good old days 15 –20 years ago in the states before the explosion of commercialization and personal training. This is all about real world coaching. When I get back, I fly back tomorrow morning, I plan on taking a few days off after going for about three months straight and then I post some more specific comments on what I learned here.


English Rugby Practice

was really fun to watch other professionals work. I got to watch the first 45 minutes of practice including warm-up with the English National Rugby squad. Dave Reddin (On the right) did the warm-up, while his assistant Calvin Morriss (left) testing the player’s urine samples from that morning to test for dehydration. I guarantee you there is no American pro football team that are doing what these guys are doing. Actually that is the case for rugby, it is quite a progressive sport with many teams emphasizing cutting edge applied sport science. Dave tailor each warm-up to the technical or tactical session that will follow. He is part of the coaching staff, not an afterthought. Calvin has a PhD in biomechanics. What a staff! It was educational and inspirational just being around them.


England Day One

Arrived in Manchester yesterday morning. Richard Smith, my host from the English Cricket board picked me up. Richard is the National Academy Physiologist and Sport Science Coordinator. It was good visiting with him and learning about the plan and vision for cricket development. It is very impressive. I am spending today with the cricket. We will be going over their screening tests and I will present my ideas on core strength & Stability. Should be fun.

The English rugby team is having a training camp here so I was able to catch up with Dave Reddin, the head strength and conditioning coach and his assistant Calvin Morriss. I am going to watch an hour of their practice this morning.

Yesterday afternoon was a discussion/mentoring session with the EIS Strength & Conditioning staff here at Loughborough. It was fun sitting with the those five young coaches and sharing ideas and information. We all share the same concerns and problems regardless of the country or the sports.


Students learn hipper ways to get fit

That was the heading of an article in our local paper. The main goals were to get the “more sophisticated” students of today excited bout taking PE because it is no longer required after sixth grade. They took away the requirement to allow more time to prepare for the FCAT test, another standardized test instituted by another Bush to test academic performance. The gist of the article is that the curriculum has been redesigned to offer activities the students actually want to do. I have no problem with revising the curriculum, and getting away from the old roll out the ball methods, but I do have a problem catering to the kids. We are supposed to know better. We should be able to put together a curriculum that challenges them and is required.

The article cited some real good statistics:

Ø Nine out of ten middle school children are sedentary for three or more hours a day.

Ø Less than one in ten middle schools require the suggested 225 minutes of exercise per week.

Ø More than 9 million children ages 6 to 19 are overweight, triple the number in 1980.

Ø 88 percent of the schools that require P.E. teach group or team activities.

Clearly there is a need for action now!


England Trip III

I am off tomorrow for my third trip to England this year. This trip I will send five days at Loughborough University (Pictures of the Loughborough track and English Cricket Centre) with my time split between the English Institute of Sport Strength and Conditioning group headed by Bob Smith. Not so much formal presentations, but discussion and problem solving. Wednesday I will be the English Cricket

Board Phyio’s and Strength & Conditioning staff reviewing their screening procedures and presenting my ideas on dynamic core stability. Thursday and Friday I will be presenting to a workshop sponsored by the English Cricket Board. The title of the workshop is; Functional Training In Injury Prevention & Performance Enhancement (Optimising In Season Training, Performance & Recovery) I am really looking forward to the trip.
Loughborough University is one of the largest Universities in Europe. It has a great reputation as a Physical Education school It truly has been the cradle of coaches in Britain for the past fifty to sixty years. It is the lama mater of Sebastian Coe, Dave Morecroft and Steve Backley all famous British track & Field athletes. The following is a picture from my last trip of the EIS Strength & Conditionig coaches from the various ceneter. This was at Bisham Abbey


Real Stupid Stuff

I almost wrecked my car when I saw this. We had just finished our workout yesterday evening and as driving away from the complex I looked over to see a team little guys running on crushed shell trail in full football gear. They were trudging along behind this fat “coach” (I use the term loosely). They looked to be all about seven or eight years old. The trail is ¾ of a mile long and you can’t cut across because it circles a pond. How stupid. What possible reason for doing something like this. From now on those kids will HATE running. It has nothing to with football. I honestly think that with many coaches at every level, if you do not know what to do, just do mindless conditioning that will build mental and physical toughness. I know that was the way it was with the Women’s US national soccer team the past few years.

Interview with Joe Przytula, ATC

Joe is the athletic trainer at Elizabeth High School in Elizabeth New Jersey. He works in the real world, with growing developing kids. He is a frequent contributor to the blog. Joe is someone that really admire for his professional approach and constant desire for self improvement.

What are most essential requirements for a successful conditioning program?
As an athletic trainer, the greatest gift you can give an athlete is to injury proof them as much as possible. It's impossible for the high school ATC to screen every athlete, but we have the advantage of watching the athlete in training and competition. Many acute & chronic injuries have what I would call "precursors"- biomechanical markers that could lead to joint trauma. The tricky thing is they could be one inch or several feet from the joint in question. Hunt them down like a detective and prescribe remedial work.

The second would be to make it fun. Is their work productive or are you just making them tired? Keep making the little changes that keep them wondering what you're going to do next. Come up with little games when it's appropriate-high school athletes love competition. Remember, laughter is great for the core!

What are the most common mistakes in conditioning?
Too much emphasis on absolute strength. About 10 years ago, there was a great research article in the NSCA journal that I thought went unnoticed. It looked at the 1RM averages for the squat, bench, and power clean for NCAA football teams that went to bowl games. They found that the strongest teams weren't necessarily the most successful. There seemed to be a baseline that was needed to play at that level, but going beyond that didn't improve team success. I think in this age when the abuse of strength enhancing drugs is rampant, athletes need to know that more is not always better.

What is “functional training” from your point of view?
Multijoint, multi-directional, multi-plane, multi-speed, Proprioceptively enhanced exercise & program design. It's OK to emphasize one single plane, as long as the environment is created to coax the body into stabilizing in all three. This paradigm stays the same for your joint mobilization & soft tissue techniques. When appropriate, use the integrated isolation concept to take advantage of all that good stuff coming from gravity & the ground.

What do you do to make your training more functional?
Whenever possible, I'll design rehab "circuits" that meet the energy system demands of the sport. The circuit will emphasize strength, agility, balance, flexibility, & power. I find this is a good way to rehabilitate small groups of athletes at the same time. I integrate functional manual therapy into the circuit.

We are fortunate to have a pool in our school. I think it's a great modality because it allows me to work with different percentages of body weight early on in the healing process. In my experience, it is the BEST way to reduce edema and preserve function in the early stages of ankle & knee injuries.

How important is specificity?
On the high school level, improving general athleticism is more important. As I get older, injury rehab looks more & more like remedial physical education.

What aspect of conditioning athletes is most difficult and how have you tried to address it?
The injured athlete must understand they cannot take a passive role in the rehabilitation process. All too often they look for the magic bullet that leads to disappointment. They lie there and expect the athletic trainer to do all the work to make them better. I am quick to empower them by telling them the truth- that I have never healed anyone. All a good ATC can do is point out the boulders that inhibit healing so they can push them out of the way.

With the plethora of information available how can you determine what is best?
Try to stay away from the internet, and focus on the peer reviewed journals. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, The Journal of Arthroscopic & Related Surgery, and the Journal of Electromyography & Kinesiology are good examples.

Where do you stand on nature versus nurture? How much difference can training make?
A few years ago I was working with a wheelchair bound student with MS who's goal was to be able to turn a doorknob and open up a door by their self. It took a few months, but we did it. Don't short change nurture.

What is the sure sign that a self proclaimed conditioning guru is not a good source of advice?
Unwilling to put their stuff through the scientific method & peer review process. In fact, they get very insulted that you even suggested it.

What do you differently with the female athlete in terms of conditioning?
More time must be spent in the strength end of the spectrum. It's easier said then done, because in some countries there is still a strong cultural bias against women in sports.

What has been the biggest innovation in training that you have seen during the course of your career and where is the biggest room for innovation in training athletes?
On the evaluation end of it. The 3D computerized cinematography equipment and the Dartfish stuff are giving us great information about the human body in motion.

What's the biggest issue in training athletes today?
Athletes today have more distractions than we had. It's an argument just to get an athlete to take off their I Pod during rehab. The local club coach or fitness guru telling them everything you're doing is wrong.

Who has been a role model in your career and why?
Dick Malacrae, the former head ATC at Princeton., and Vern Gambetta. Dick was the 1992 winner of the Pinky Newell Award, the most prestigious honor an athletic trainer can receive. I was fortunate to hear his acceptance speech. It's 14 years old now, and I'll still take it out every once in a while and read it to keep me focused.

That is around the same time I met Vern at our state NSCA meeting. Before that I was just copying the treatment protocols of the latest gurus. I thought I was doing something wrong because they weren't working very well. After hearing Dick & Vern, I knew I had to start looking down different roads. It made me a more effective ATC, but also made things a lot harder. I realized I could no longer cookbook my approach.

What are the biggest professional challenges have you had to face?
For some reason, my functional approach is a tougher sell to the younger generation of coaches. Their education was technologically heavier than mine, and rely heavily on machines & computers.

What do you enjoy most about what you do? Dislike?
The multicultural environment where I work. I think I've learned just as much from them as they've learned from me. However, the hours I put in are brutal, and cause me to spend way too much time away from my family.

Did there come a time in your career where you were faced with a "fork in the road?" If so, do you ever revisit the decision you made or didn't make?
I made 12 grand a year at my first job out of college. I had to work a night job unloading trucks to make ends meet. I began taking courses at a local college, planning to switch careers. It was the women entering the profession that improved working conditions for the ATC. They required more family time, and demanded more pay for their time away from them. They refused to put up with the garbage we did.

What inspired you to get into the field you are in?
I started out as a business major. I would pass the training room every day to go to my swim class. It always looked hectic & crazy in there, in a fun way. There weren't many opportunities out there for ATC's, most high schools didn't even have one yet. The only thing I regret is not doing a double major and going on to get an MBA. I think it would have helped me. The money to do it just wasn't around in those days.

Is failure ever valuable?
Scott Berkun said it better than me: "If you plan correctly, you will be wrong many times during the design process, but through doing so, you will dramatically improve your chances of success."

Which changes now taking place in your field that should be encouraged, and which resisted?
The NATA becoming more politically active is creating more job opportunities for athletic trainers, which indirectly has improved working conditions by creating more competition for the ATC.

On the negative side, I have had articles passed on to me where MD's are referring patients out to personal trainers for orthopedic rehabilitation.

Huge Sale

Go to www.gambetta.com there is a huge sale on everything that we sell video, books, and equipment. Buy now and help pay off my children’s college education and help start our nonexistent retirement fund.


Dave Brubeck - An Inspiration

The other night I caught the tail end of an interview with Dave Brubeck regarding his performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival. I admire creative people and I am a jazz and have always been a fan of Dave Brubeck. It was great to hear to hear him and see that he is still just as vibrant and creative as ever. At Monterey he performed a new work the “Cannery Row Suite” honoring John Steinbeck. As a jazz fan one of my earliest exposures to the genre was to Brubeck. In college I used to play his concert at Carnegie hall by the hour. That album got me through many long nights writing papers in college; in fact I still listen to it today. He is now at least 84 and he continues to tour and produce. When asked why he kept going at age 80? “Because I want to better than last time” (He was starting on a multi city tour of Europe) That is what it takes to be great!


Eat Your Spinach

I distinctly remember my mom telling to eat my spinach or I could not go out and play. Now you don’t dare eat spinach. What would Popeye do? I live in Sarasota, Florida on the gulf coast, beautiful beaches and warm water. I can’t go in water anymore because of Red Tide. I can’t take ibuprofen anymore because it will lower my testosterone levels, God forbid that should happen for an old fart like me. A few years a go we were told to eat more fish, but now we can’t eat too much fish because of high mercury levels. What’s going here? Is life dangerous for your health?

More "Russian Hamstring" Stuff

What I have read over the last day has been a bit of a concern to me as I have used this exercise with players.

I did so on the recomendation of FIFA's injury prevention programme, see link:


.... talk about misleading information!!

This was posted in response to the posts on the Russian Hamstring exercise. As far as I am concerned this is another example of the ‘Doctor as god’ syndrome,” because the study that showed a supposed reduction in ACL injuries in female youth soccer players was sponsored by a Doctor then of course this must be an OK exercise. To my knowledge there has been little or no research on the issues that I brought up. FIFA endorses is because the Doctor is a team doctor for US Soccer. This perhaps is one of the most frustrating things I have seen over the years. Things like this take on a life of their own and no one ever questions them. When the study was being done involving this exercise and several other questionable practices I spoke to the person designing the study and my comments fell on deaf ears. In fact I would not let my daughter participate in the study because I thought several aspects of the program were fundamentally flawed. There is so much more to it that what they looked at, but the conclusion that I came as flawed as this exercise is and several other things they did, if you get them doing something then ACL injures will decline! By the way for a routine that is more beneficial to include in warm-up go to www.gambetta.com/downloads and see the Lunge & Reach Routine.

More on Gurus on Gurus

I think some of you have misunderstood my posts on this. Everyone must make a living, my self included. What concerns me is when the motive is pure and simply money. You cannot get the spectacular results these people claim in the time frames they propose you train in. The focus is not on quality teaching and coaching, it is on $$$$$. More kids, more money. I also have been a junior high school and college coach. In my day we were no so entrepreneurial to charge kids for summer camps, that was just considered part of the job. Today you have to because of funding cutbacks I understand that. I want to see these young guys focus on learning to be better coaches. Too many of them put the $$$$ first instead of learning to be quality coaches. Just attending one seminar and going to a workshop on how to make money running speed camps does not make you a coach, much less a good coach.


More on Russian/Nordic Hamstring Exercise

This is an email I got from Dr. Dan Cipriani, a great PT and a professor at San Diego State. I think he explains the shortcoming of the exercise l quite well from a more scientific perspective than.

I completely agree with you on the Russian exercise - not at all reproducing the normal forces of the hamstrings...the hamstrings are a "hip" muscle much more than they are a "knee" muscle...their moment arm at the hip is greater for producing torque. In addition, the hamstrings are generally injured during the late swing phase of running/walking just prior to foot contact, when the muscle is at its longest position (extended knee, flexed hip)...and also right at heel contact, when it is working first eccentrically control hip flexion followed by concentric hip extension to propel us forward. Lunges would be a better choice as would be theraband eccentrics, replicating the swing phase of gait (let the band pull the swing leg into hip flexion with the knee extended, while the hams slow this down).

The argument that the hamstrings are necessary for ACL reconstruction is based on misinterpretation of research related to the role of the hamstrings as a knee stabilizer. Research showed that the hams can control anterior tibial shear by producing a posterior shear force to the tibia. The problem with this finding is the fact that the hamstrings is only effective at producing this significant posterior shear when the knee is flexed at least 70 degrees from full extension (this aligns the distal tendon attachment at the tibia closer to the horizontal plane)...when the knee is near full extension, the hams are not effective at producing a posterior force - and the ACL is at greatest risk when the knee is at near full extension...not flexion.

Daniel Cipriani, Ph.D., P.T. Department of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences, San Diego State University

Playing on Sunday Afternoon

I heard a commentator talking about a high school football phenom the other day. His most cogent comment was that he has the ability to play on Sunday, inferring that someday he could play pro football. I could not help but think how many of those I have seen in my career. There is so much that happens between Friday night under the lights, to Saturday afternoon at old Sate U to Sunday afternoon playing for pay (not that the good ones do not get paid at old State U). We do kids an injustice when we hang tags like that on them. Most of the problems these kids have is taking care of business the other six days of the week, in practice, in training, in the classroom and in their personal lives. It is a process of growth and maturation; it is not just punching your ticket and going to the next level. We mislead these young talents into thinking they are something they are not. All of their self worth is wrapped in their identity as athletes. Witness Maurice Clarett, what will he do now? Let’s hope the prison has a football team for him to play on.

Lunge or Squat?

I was asked by Jason Krantz to comment on lunges versus squats. I cannot choose between the exercises in a total program they have slightly different functions depending on the level of athlete and the phase of training. Also where they are used in rehabilitation must be considered. The most basic leg exercise is the single leg squat. That is really the basis of a sound lower extremity strengthening program. It is always somewhere in the program. The body weight squat is another foundation exercise which is the starting point. Of equal importance to the bodyweight squat is the lunge, starting anterior and then working into the frontal and the transverse plane. The lunge is a more versatile exercise in terms of being able to work in multiple planes. It is an exercise that is always somewhere in the program. Perhaps the most useful variation of the lunge in terms of strengthening the hamstring group is the lunge and reach. (See picture)

More Gurus's on Guru's

Listen I am not against someone making money. I am against people getting ripped off. These guys selling these programs are NOT concerned about quality instruction. They are businessmen not coaches. We all need to make a living, yours truly included. Look at the previous post this morning on in season training. I guarantee this will end up being copied “adapted” and be on a for pay as someone’s magic six work week program to a DI scholarship. I am for sound teaching methodology and getting back to coaching not selling!

In Season Training - College Soccer Example

Someone wanted a sample in season program, here it is, including my thoughts as to why things are done.

Testing: As far I am concerned this should not be a major emphasis in the fall. This should be emphasized in the winter/spring with the goal being to identify strengths and weaknesses to better direct the off season training. I recommend the Yo/Yo (Beep Test) with a team goal of 15.6 without the goalkeepers. The 300 Shuttle test – the key here to reflect game fitness is as little difference between the two runs as possible.

Conditioning: When the team reports set team goals. Determine leaders for each area of conditioning, so they are responsible and have ownership. Rather than have extra sessions for someone who does not test well, have a team session instead. The theme should be a little bit more often! The conditioning sessions do not have to be long and killers, they just need to be consistently applied. Training is cumulative. Conditioning should be part of every practice. No one-day is a conditioning day but different components of fitness are addressed in each practice in a sequence so they are fresh for the games. My thought is that the season is too short and each game too important to have the players going into the games with dead legs. In order to do this we need to put our heads together so that the technical and tactical work correlate with the fitness theme for the day. Do not under estimate the conditioning value of various small-sided games with defined conditions. The key is to look closely at the intensity of the small sided game and define the conditions to achieve the fitness as well as the tactical objective. Size of field, number of touches, the number of players will change the work to rest ratios which impacts the component of fitness you are working on. Also consider putting small segments of fitness, speed and speed endurance drills between soccer specific drills during practice. That breaks it up and makes it more game like. This is the ideal sequence:

Good warm-up every day. Pool recovery session wherever possible – especially Wednesday & Thursday

Day One – Aerobic Emphasis – 30 –60 seconds with 1:1 work to rest ratio. Lower intensity with shorter rest. Not high volume. Strength Train

Day Two – Speed development and agility work possibly working into speed endurance. Strength Train – Core work

Day Three: Emphasize Speed Endurance – 8- 10 seconds in duration with 30 –40 seconds recovery. Strength Train

Day Four – Speed Acceleration – Short & quick. Agility. Strength Train - Core work

Day Five – Good sharp warm-up. Footwork. Get quick

Day six – Game

This obviously must be adjusted when there are multiple games in a week.

Preseason: Plan the recovery days first! This will make it proactive not reactive. Look at specific recovery sessions in a combination of work outside and in the pool. Good recovery will allow them to work at a higher percentage of their capacity at all times. Therefore the sum total training effect of the preseason will be greater than if they are completely torn down. Also carefully consider time of day for training.

Strength Training: This should be done at the field to insure that it is done with concentartion, intensity and effort. It would be good to have dumbbells in pairs from 12, 15, 20 25 and a couple of pair of 30,s. The majority should be in the 10- 25 Lb range. Have enough so no one is standing around. They work in pairs. If they are not lifting they will be doing core work, so that a fifteen or twenty minute workout will involve no standing around. It should be total activity for the whole workout.


Guru’s for Gurus

This is really amazing. I know we all have to make a living, buts let get real. We now have a second generation of guru’s who are teaching people how to be guru’s. What about quality instruction, what about helping kids and teaching – where does that fit in? Look I make my living teaching and coaching, but money has never been the sole objective. (Probably should have been a higher priority) This kind of stuff upsets me:

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What is these peoples background? Is there sound reaching methodology? There is so much that needs to be and can be done. I guess I have been stupid not charging a lot of the kids I worked with. I don’t know about you, but I think I am going to enroll in this program now. If I can make 100K doing this then I can make up for all those years paying dues and working for $12,000 a

Nordic or Russian Hamstring Exercise

The so called Nordic or Russian Hamstring exercise has continued to grow in popularity, usually as part of an ACL prevention program. I will get directly to the point, this is a dumb exercise. Sure it works the hamstring, but once again it works the hamstring in isolation. Movement is dominated at one joint, the knee. It does work the hamstring eccentrically, but at very slow speed, no where near the high speed eccentric activity that occurs in running or in planting and cutting. It puts great stress on the distal hamstring. If you want to feel the burn, this is a god exercise, but as far as any kind of functional strengthening of the hamstring it has no value. It definitely is not in my toolbox of exercises. Incidentally I have first hand experience with this exercise going back 32 years. Sam Adams, the coach at UCSB, introduced this exercise to all of us who were there training for the decathlon. We felt we need more “hamstring” strength. There were no hamstring pulls in the group up to that time. Within six weeks of incorporating this exercise there were three hamstring pulls. I know this is anecdotal, but results and action speaks volumes. Go to the web page www.gambetta.com to see the article that Dean Benton and I wrote on Hamstring for suggestions of better exercises. If I had to choose one it would be the lunge. More on lunges tomorrow.

Simplicity, Innovation and Change

Simplicity, Innovation and Change - Wow that is a mouthful, but in my eyes they are all related. In order to stay the same we must change, that is where innovation comes in. I know I am always trying to find a better way. Innovation is not just change for the sake of change; it is change with a defined purpose. As I have already stated in blog, simplicity is the key. Sometimes it is no more than changing the sequence of exercises other times it takes more. But above it is all simple. I have just finished reading a simple book on simplicity – 100 pages. Absolutely brilliant! It is by MIT professor John Maeda. It is called The Laws of Simplicity – Design, Technology, Business, Life. There are ten laws and three corollaries he calls keys. Go to lawsofsimplicity.com to read the laws.

The whole time I was reading the book I could not help but think of the things that have worked consistently well for me over the years. A sequence of exercises like the Leg Circuit can spin off into a very complex leg strength development program if you don’t initially try to make it more than it is. Another key point regarding simplicity is that simplicity does not mean dumbing things down. If anything it is the opposite. I believe that to make things simple you must have a real clue, if you do not, things will become complicated without trying. I also could not help thinking about a piece that that I heard on NPR the other morning on a popular style of running that is being promoted as the answer to injury free running. When I got through listening to it, I was confused. I went to the web site and read the transcript and I am still confused. They are taking a simple natural activity like running and making it complicated. Play, run like you life depended on it, that is sprinting. Your foot will land correctly. Play, run like you are stalking a meal for two hours you would have the perfect gait to run a marathon. Make it simple. As a whacked out, drugged out former javelin thrower that I used to know said: “Get your center gravity beyond infinity.”


Frankie Andreu

I admire Frankie Andreu for speaking out and owning up to his use of EPO. As best I can tell his motives were clear, it was to help the sport of cycling by coming clean. In every sport there is an unwritten rule that to speak up is to “throw your teammates under the bus”. How absurd, how will we stop this if the athletes and coaches themselves do not start to speak out? Everyone is afraid to speak out. If you do you get threatened by a lawsuit like Lance Armstrong did with Andreu. If Lance Armstrong has nothing to hide why does he always bring out the big gun lawyers every time someone even hints at drug use around him? That is the problem; the big time athletes and their sponsors can hire expensive lawyers and stonewall the system and bury the little guys who know what is going on. I know personally I have seen a lot and if it were not for legal constraints I certainly would like to speak up even more specifically about things I have seen. Unfortunately I can’t afford a million dollar lawyer. Meanwhile the cheating goes on!

Game Fit

What is game fit? In games that require quick starts and stops that are classified as intermittent sprint or transition game sports what do you have to do to be game fit? Watch the game, watch closely what happens in the game. The problem arises because there is a disconnect btween what you will see in the game and how players are trained and tested. If you believe what you see in testing then it would be the ability to cover as much ground as possible in a twelve minute run or the ability to run three miles in a certain time. This is where the problem originates, to be game fit requires the ability to start and stop quickly and repeat quick movements in a climate of fatigue. There is no question that in sports like soccer, rugby, basketball and similar sports that having a good aerobic capacity will help with recovery between intense bouts of exercise. You raise that aerobic capacity not by distance running but by doing interval at the velocity of VO2 max and the accumulation of all the other training that is taking place. Just because a player runs six or eight miles in the course of the game does not mean that they should run six miles continuously in training. Look at how they accomplish that distance in a game. A great majority of it is walking or slow jogging! However it is during the quick bursts and the explosive actions that the games are won or lost. This should be a huge clue. Training slow will make you slow and not necessarily fit to play the game.Go to www.gambetta.com downloads and look at the sample soccer program to see how I propose doing it. You can get game fit for soccer or basketball by seldom doing anything over 30 seconds in duration!


Tim Lang Interview

Tim is presently the strength and conditioning coach at DePaul University in Chicago. Before that he was the strength and conditioning coach with the Texas Rangers. Tim was an intern for me, in fact the first in pro baseball in 1991. He was also my assistant with the White Sox for several years. He was also a high school teacher and coach for over twenty-five years. He is a great friend and the consummate professional.

What are most essential requirements for a successful conditioning

Support from the coaching staff - without their support you are
limited in what you can do.
What are the most common mistakes in conditioning?
Overtraining - this is an issue with conditioning coaches who allow
sport coaches to "run" the conditioning program, there is a difference between support and interference. Coaches usually equate work with (total collapse and fatigue). they do not understand the complexity of training periods, yearly, monthly, weekly and daily cycles.
What is "functional training" from your point of view?
The ability to support and balance your body weight while completing simple and complex athletic movements.
What do you do to make your training more functional?
We do multiple single leg movements, not only vertical but horizontal and change of direction movements. This is true in the weight room as well as during conditioning.
How important is specificity?
Depends on the time of the year, the training age of the athlete and the comfort level of the conditioning coach. In my mind specificity does not necessarily mean copying or mimicking a specific sport specific movement. I believe that it is important to train athletic movements. Athletic movements are similar for a variety of sports. Core rotation and angle twists, lower body explosiveness (take off- landing), Upper body follow through (arm movements - load/unload), Agility movement patterns - work/rest ratio (game situations)
What aspect of conditioning athletes is most difficult and how have you tried to address it?
Lack of motivation, settling for less than doing their best. Being
comfortable with being mediocre. You as a conditioning coach must be a salesman, you must believe in what you are doing and be excited each and every day - show them what intense training can lead to. Sell it to their pride. Once you have one of two athletes buy into your program, use them to help sell the product, (they should help teach some lifts, they should be placed in a position of leadership)
With the plethora of information available how can a coach determine what is best?
Trust who you get the information from. How does the info fit into
your philosophy. Have a philosophy, stick to it, modify and learn but know what you stand for. Don't change just for change sake.
Where do you stand on nature versus nurture? How much difference can
training make?

There will always be those athletes who are going to be exceptional no matter what the do or don't do. We can always make a difference - intensity and proper progression is the key.
What is the sure sign that a self proclaimed conditioning guru is not a good source of advice?
When he makes claims that are so outrageous they cannot be believed. When he is the only person who can run a specific type of program – when his exercise is the best ever developed and you must purchase the product and training DVD.
What do you differently with the female athlete in terms of

Females require more of a training base. Many have not been exposed to regular training programs. They are typically weaker in their upper body (shoulders) - we use crawls and crab walks and roller coaster pushups for improvement, they have difficulty with intense lower body explosive training (poor landing technique) - we include take off & landing training
What has been the biggest innovation in training that you have seen during the course of your career and where is the biggest room for innovation in training athletes?
Innovation (I don't know if there is anything that is innovative -
everything has been recycled from somewhere and someone. As conditioning coaches we know how to copy, we should know how to modify. The one thing that I've seen is more attention to detail, more attention to proper form and performance. The inclusion of more women in the conditioning coaching field)
What's the biggest issue in training athletes today?
Allowing individuals who are not conditioning professionals to be
involved with the design, implementation and evaluation of conditioning programs - i.e. (personal trainers who passed a simple written test, athletic trainers whose background is rehabilitation, coaches who want to do it the way that they did it 15 yrs ago) Not evolving with the influxof knowledge, staying status quo - not stepping out of their comfort zone.
Who has been a role model in your career and why?
Vern Gambetta - he gave me my start and believed in me. He took a chance on a 40+ year old high school teacher and football coach.

What are the biggest professional challenges have you had to face?
Personal Trainers while in professional baseball. (and now - the
personal training guru's) Coaches who coddled and babied their athletes - never wanting to challenge them, accepting the easy way. Coaches who did not understand the role of the conditioning coach, did not understand what could be done, did not change their old notions about training.
What do you enjoy most about coaching? Dislike?
I like seeing the athletes improve during their sport, I like seeing
how they take what we've worked on and applying it to their sport. I like working with motivated athletes, I enjoy the challenges of the athlete who wants more. I dislike lazy, unmotivated individuals. I dislike the waste of time with administrative stuff{administrators} (not test results, but meetings to discuss meetings)
Did there come a time in your career where you were faced with a "fork in the road?" If so, do you ever revisit the decision you made or didn't make?
Yes, I left teaching into strength and conditioning - sometimes
on those bad days I look back and see that I would've been retired (now)if I stayed in teaching. However; it was time for me to leave high school teaching - I made the right decision even though I took less money to
stay in this profession and leave high school teaching.
What inspired you to get into coaching?
I've always been a coach - I enjoy challenge, I enjoy the aspect of
competition, I enjoy the relationships developed in this profession. I knew that my skills would not allow me to continue to compete at a high level, coaching kept me involved in the sports that I love.
Is failure ever valuable?
Yes, How can you learn if you've never experienced setbacks. It has forced me to "look at" things differently, it allowed me to be more self analytical and self critical. Self evaluation is very important.
Which changes now taking place in your field that should be encouraged, and which resisted?
*Becoming a much more professional field. Certification (which could be even more stringent - look at the European model for coaching).Resist the watering down of the profession by allowing personal trainers and others to receive the CSCS certification - the new certification available is a step in the right direction.


Childhood Obesity and the New PE

Last night on the evening news there was a piece on the rise of childhood obesity. One of the proposed solutions was the so-called new PE. This consisted of work with treadmills, exercise bikes and other apparatus some of it very high tech. Every child had a heart rate monitor and they were taught to stay within certain well defined exercise zones. The teacher was not teaching he was supervising. The commentator remarked on how much this looked like a health clinic. Precisely, that is exactly what it looked like and as we well know health clubs do not necessarily promote good health. The stress there is on appearance (I digress). As I watched this I could not help but think how much money all the equipment cost. With the cost of the equipment they could have financed the salaries of two more teachers to decrease the class size and actually teach and motivate the kids by making it more individual. One huge problem with PE today s that it is a dumping ground, the class sizes are significantly higher than the "academic" subjects because you can handle more people in PE. It is not unusual to see gym classes of 45 to 50 students. This is a fallacious assumption. The new PE is not the solution. New PE or old PE not much effective is accomplished in that environment, beyond crowd control.

There is no doubt that childhood obesity and other diseases of inactivity are huge problems (no pun indented). But this "high tech" approach is sending the wrong message. It is sending the message that you need sophisticated exercise equipment to exercise and a heart rate monitors to effectively workout. Sometimes what is old is new. We need to get back to vigorous activity that challenges the youngsters to their ability level. We need to teach them how to use their bodies, to experience all patterns and varieties of movement and to learn to push themselves. There is so much that can be done without equipment that is what should be taught. Lets not create another dependency and give them an excuse not to exercise because they do not have equipment. This is a problem that has many dimensions that are indicative of serious problems in our society as a whole. As professionals we need to get PE recognized as important for physical, cognitive and psychological development.


Unstable Surfaces & Training

In the latest Journal of Strength And Conditioning Research, Volume 20, Number 3, August 200 there is a review written by David G. Behm and Kenneth G. Sanderson titled “The Role of Instability With resistance Training” It is a good review of the scientific research. From a practical, experiential perspective the latest issue of Training and Conditioning magazine (momnentummedia.com) September 2006, Volume XVI, Number 6, has I article that I wrote called ‘In Search of Instability” (That is instability in training surfaces not mental instability!)

New Book

It was very exciting to receive the page proofs for my new book yesterday. That means we are on the home stretch toward publication. The process of writing this has been a long one, much longer than I thought when I began, but I think everyone will be pleased with the end product. It is due to be published in December by Human Kinetics. The title is Athletic Development – The Art & Science of Functional Sports Conditioning


The Facilities and Equipment Trap

Facilities and equipment should never be the determining factor in program design. I always start with the assumption that I have a bare room or a field with no equipment. If you start with that assumption then the focus is on the athlete and what they need to do to get better. Too often if facilities, equipment and even to a certain extent training methodologies become the first determining factors in a program, then we tend to fit the athlete to the facility, equipment or methodology. It should be the other way around; the program should fit the athlete in order to achieve optimum results. Don’t get me wrong a good training facility can only enhance the training, but it is not 100% necessary. I have seen world champions train in what was no more than a closet. The basis of everything you do is manipulating the three movement constants, the body, gravity, and the ground. They will always be there and they travel well. Look at your environment for tools that you can use. Tress and rocks work well; you can climb tress and throw rocks. When those possibilities are exhausted then start looking at equipment that will enhance the program. For example before I moved to Florida hill sprints were always a foundation of speed and speed endurance development program. Where we live in Florida there are no hills, so I had to improvise. More sled work and work with vests had to suffice. It is not the same but I had to understand how it differed and account for that in the programs. It works, not as well as hills, but it works. The bottom line is they we are in a results oriented business. I must admit I would find hard today to coach without my medicine balls, dumbbells, hurdles, pulley machine, rings and all the other toys I like to use to use, but if I had to I would.



Respect is something that you earn, that is something I was always taught. You do not have to be friends with someone to respect them. Just like discipline respect starts with self respect. If you do not respect yourself how can you respect someone else. This leads me to all the taunting and disrespect that is going on today in sport. The essence of competition is to strive together with the competition in order to raise the level of play and then the best team or individual will win. They will win not by putting down the competition, but by respecting and honoring their effort. It is not possible to be a champion without a worthy opponent.


The Basics of Movement

This is an illustration from a book that is virtually a bible for me:
Gabbard, Carl., Leblanc, Elizabeth., and Lowy, Susan.
Physical Education for Children-Building the Foundation,
Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1987
As a coach or a therapist if you can addresses all of these
components in preparation to play or in rehab to return to
play then there is a high probability of being successful.
Throughout normal training these components should be
touched on in a good sound training program.

The Most Important Person Not Playing in the Game

Who is that? Not the coach that is for sure, not the parents, you should not know who they are. If they do their job well they are very invisible – the official. The official at any level of sport can have a profound influence on the outcome of the game. Their ability to pay attention and stay on task to focus on the game is paramount. They do not get to go to the bench to rest. At the youth sport level the official can teach the players more about the game in the course of one game than the coach can in a week. Learning the rules and playing by rules significantly improves the quality of play and also prevents injury. One of the reasons for the high rate of injury in youth soccer and girls basketball is poor officiating. The officials lose control of the game and the players play out of control increasing their chance of injury. Officials must be game fit to be able to effectively officiate a game. This is one of the biggest deficiencies in sport today. I know Major League Baseball has tried to address this. At the youth and high school level it is becoming increasingly difficult to get officials at all because of the lack of respect and abuse. So I guess it is hard to expect them to be game fit, but if possible this should be addressed by officiating associations.

Coaching Youth - A Good Book

I highly recommend the book Coaching Youth Soccer – The European Model by Kevin Mc Shane. Kevin is the soccer coach at ST Albans school in Washington D.C. This book is a result of his observations and study while on a year sabbatical in Europe. Even though it focuses on soccer there are many observations that are universal to youth sports in general. I think this should be required reading for soccer coaches. I actually think the higher ups in US Soccer would benefit greatly by reading this book.


Great Post on Status Quo

Read Seth Godins Blog today http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/
It is a great post on things people to say to maintain the stautus quo. It certainly struck a familiar chord with me. I have heard some of this stuff way too much!

Sport Ready

Despite all our advances in sports science and increased sophistication in training today’s athletes are not as “sport ready” as athletes from past generations. They have not paid their athlete dues or as Kelvin Giles has said earned the right to train and compete at higher levels. Sure they have the talent and that is what carries them. Look at the injuries, pulled hamstrings, strained oblique muscles, pulled groins and calve muscles, even some of the shoulder injuries and non contact ACL injuries, they could be prevented or significantly reduced with a sound athletic development program that prepares the athletes athletically to withstand the forces involved in running, jumping and throwing. Look at Martina Navratilova , she is still competing (and competitive) at age 49. Why? She has paid her dues by preparing athletically, she comes out of a system as a youth that prepared the athletes to play by providing them with a rich repertoire of motor skills upon which to build to build their specific sport skills. Today we are trying to identify them early and then get them into a specific sport as soon as possible. Expose the young athlete to as wide a range of movement skills as possible and demand competence in those skills before they specialize in specific sports. I am reading an interesting book now by Thomas E. Ricks, called Making The Corps, he follows a platoon of recruits through their training at Parris Island. I am not a military person but I am fascinated by how the Marines are able to mold their recruits into Marines. What I found it particularly interesting and how this relates to this blog is that before they start actual training for any combat (The specific Skill) they are drilled for weeks in basics of teamwork and communication. This should be a clue, when lives are at stake; they take care of the basics first. I sincerely maintain that we are putting a generation of athlete’s athletic lives at stake because we are not taking care of basics. If we keep following this totally dysfunctional path we will see injuries go off the charts. Sure we will see great performances, but the cost will be high. For my consulting business I am designing a Sport Readiness module for those who engage my services. It has been the most difficult of all the modules to design because of the context of the society and culture we live in. Red light green light an tag games are basic; hop scotch is basic ACL prevention. Let’s get real and wake up and give the kids a chance by being FUNdamental!


Kevin McGill Interview

Many of you outside of track & field may not have heard of Kevin McGill. He is a great friend and confidant who is perhaps the world’s foremost authority on the throws. He is co-author of the Throws Manual published by Track and Field News. Kevin defines passion. When he was still in high school, living in New York, he took the train to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and checked a copy of a Norwegian javelin manual (in Norwegian) and then proceeded to translate it with a Norwegian/English dictionary so he could learn more about the javelin. In the 1980 he self publish as a labor of love a periodical called Hammer Notes (Devoted to the Hammer throw). If you can get a hold of any of those, they are classics. Kevin is a special person. I think you will enjoy this interview.

What are most essential requirements for a successful conditioning program?

The coach first needs to know the training history of the athlete, and if possible the detailed records. Second, the coach needs to perform specific tests to measure the athlete generally and specifically. Third, there needs to be some analysis of the movements involved by the coach. Finally, the coach needs to master periodization, so the training plan can be completed. The history, test results, analysis...all need to be implemented into the plan.

What are the most common mistakes in conditioning?

I would say that for preparation for a big meet, there is panic, and a resort to heavy loading. Instead of more rest and recuperation, the athlete gets pounded and cannot recover. "Less is more" -- is ignored.

What is “functional training” from your point of view?

Functional training could be perhaps summarized: literally anything done without a machine. A machine isolates the movement...so anything off the machine could be part of functional training.

What do you do to make your training more functional?

For 40+years, I have checked what other countries did in preparation for track and field. I found in some ways, that the Finns borrowed the US physical education ideas from the late 19th Century and early 20th...and improved the approach. While there may have been 25 medicine ball "drills" in 1910, just guessing...the Finns might have 500 for the javelin alone. If you see the basic approach, then you can do the same thing, and instead of following a set routine...you invent like a Finnish coach. There are also hundreds of exercises using the old wooden wall bars, rarely seen in modern gyms. Bring them back!

How important is specificity?

It is highly overrated. It assumes the body can only be trained in a mimic of the actual event technique. If this were true, why not just toss around a weighted javelin all day...since it would be specific. But..coaches learned about the core, and it goes back to Tennessee Ernie Ford song:

"With the leg bone connected
to the knee bone,
and the knee bone connected
to the thigh bone,
and the thigh bone connected
to the hip bone.
Oh mercy how they scare!"

The great coaches sing this song each day, but it is called pattern recognition. They see what the pattern is in the movement, and can then devise a way to improve the movement parameters. Maybe it is getting stronger; maybe more flexible...that is coaching.

What aspect of conditioning athletes is most difficult and how have you tried to address it?

----It is to control the nutrition and other aspects, outside of the workout. It takes a lot of motivation to convince the athlete: "Don't have 5 beers after you leave here." I spent time talking about goals, and then sticking in there the idea that control of these other aspects enables the training plan to succeed.

With the plethora of information available how can a coach determine what is best?

----It is by travel. Go to other coaches, meet with them, discuss things. Find a mentor and bounce ideas off them. Try something and fail. Then admit you failed, not the athlete. Write down a plan, study all the time, and revise. Be flexible but learn enough so you don't change the whole plan when the temperature drops 1 degree.

Where do you stand on nature versus nurture? How much difference can training make?

------If you want to run 9.80, and you have only run 11.60 in your junior year of high school, then I would say Mother Nature did not give you the fast twitch needed. BUT...you might get to 11.10 in college?? Or you figure you can train for the 400. For things requiring blinding speed, then it is more nature than nurture. For most everything else, it is the other way around. Or course..this is a highly charged question, and can be debated until the end of time.

What is the sure sign that a self proclaimed conditioning guru is not a good source of advice?

-----I think the biggest tip off is: secrecy. One of the top athletes posted on the Internet after the recent WC, and said he would keep some of the training tips (from a "guru") secret. Many "gurus" think that their variation is the only way. The best conditioning people can give explicit advice, and be helpful...because they are above this paranoia which exists with the gurus. NO ONE has 100% of the pie, and the way to success is to have a give and take with other coaches. This way, even the expert can learn a thing or two. Once you have someone who says: I HAVE THE ANSWER...run, don't walk, in the opposite direction.

What do you differently with the female athlete in terms of conditioning?

----I was lucky at Columbia to have some women who showed me that not much had to be changed. They wanted to train like throwers, not women throwers. In this day and age, perhaps you protect the knees a bit more with younger athletes. If the women have been playing soccer, basketball...and are in good shape, it is the knee where you just show more concern.

What has been the biggest innovation in training that you have seen during the course of your career and where is the biggest room for innovation in training athletes?

I think it was the adoption of the rubberized medicine ball. In fact, I did help a major catalog company get on the bandwagon first. Prior to that, I used duct taped Everlast leather balls, and split enough to fill a local beach with the sand.

What's the biggest issue in training athletes today?

Facilities for the post-collegiate athlete could be endangered if more and more schools bar athletes from using them. The US needs to put training centers in all through the US, where our top athletes can get assistance. Also, athletes need better funding to continue in the sport, so they don't have to resort to calendars and car washes to support themselves.

Who has been a role model in your career and why?

Anatoly Bondarchuk has been my role model since I met him in 1982. He was completely open in discussions about technique and training. There was humility and sincerity that I did not experience with some top American coaches. Meeting him convinced me to get involved in Coaching Education after that.

What are the biggest professional challenges have you had to face?

It was in dealing with an NCAA athletic director who did not see eye-to-eye on the composition of a track and field program. In fact...it led me to change careers.

What do you enjoy most about coaching? Dislike?

I don't coach day-to-day right now, but do enjoy helping coaches with information. I hand out CD's with information, or make tapes of important.
Did there come a time in your career where you were faced with a "fork in the road?" If so, do you ever revisit the decision you made or didn't make?

---When I decided in 1993 to get out of full time coaching, and go into selling timing equipment, I would say that was the big fork. It turned out to be the right decision, but it was awfully hard walking that last day.

What inspired you to get into coaching?

I always enjoyed biomechanics and technique. I started helping guys on my own team, and that led to my first coaching job in Bakersfield, CA in 1968. As soon as one kid got a PR, I was hooked. He was a pole vaulter, from Mexico, and I was invited to their house. I ate Mexican food for the first time. I associate that first improvement with eating that food! Was it the food or the PR that convinced me to stay??

Is failure ever valuable?

It is more of an education that success. Some successful coaches have never had to eat humble pie. It is then, as you put your fork into humble pie, that you decide: either learn this sport, or get the hell out.

Which changes now taking place in your field that should be encouraged, and which resisted?

In the coaching of track and field, there is less help from the USOC in biomechanics now, than 20 years ago. I would like to know why is that. Finland has a wonderful biomechanics situation for their people. The US needs to look at the current sorry state of affairs in the technical events, and do something. There are too many parading around, doing cheap clinics, with the idea...they have the message. Baloney. Coaches...be selective. Don't buy the fluff. Dig for the real information. Learn to actually create a plan that your peers would be jealous of.

Fall Sale of Books, Video’s and Equipment

I have been very careful about posting business related items on the blog, having differed that to the web page www.gambetta.com As I move forward and reestablish my business I will need to put various posts on the blog announcing various business activities. I definitely need to make a living! All of that being said there is a giant fall sale on the web page for books, videos and equipment. Check it out! You will save a ton of money if you buy now


Overhead Exercises & The Shoulder

Overhead exercises are not necessarily bad for the shoulder. This is almost as big a myth as the knee over the toe. The shoulder is designed to allow the arm to move overhead. But we must focus again on linkage. The arm is on of the last links in the kinetic (referencing from the ground up) instead of worrying about overhead activity we should focus on how the arm get overhead, to understand that we need to look down the chain at the core and the hips. To get the arm directly overhead requires a inclination of the trunk to allow the head of the humerus to clear and the glenoid fossa. Simply instead of eliminating over head activity work on how the arm is getting overhead. One of the main jobs of the core is to help position the extremities. When we do strict presses and seated behind the neck activities and combine those activities with a high volume of movements that occur in tennis, baseball and swimming, then we are asking for trouble. Instead focus on hip mobility, core strength, dumbbell pressing movements standing that allow the trunk to help position the arm. See my video Functional Shoulder Exercise for numerous exercises that address getting to overhead.


I have received quite a few inquires regarding certification. I do not and will not offer a certification. There are already too many certifications . Another certification will only confuse and muddle an already confused field. I will offer a Mentorship program that will be an in depth educational experience. It will offer a bend of hands experience and in depth theory. Tentatively it is planned to last at least five days. It will require a significant time and monetary commitment. There will be required pre readings and assignments. I am still working on it and hope to have it ready to go in early 2006possibly late this year if I can get my act together.The goal is to help define the fieldof athletic development and significantly improve the the level of education of the people who attend.



What is convenient is not always correct. Machines are convenient, you can lift more weight, but does that strength apply or transfer.

Bob Mathias and Dutch Warmerdam

Bob Mathias and Dutch Warmerdam – they were two of the greatest athletes of the 20th century, yet hardly anyone knows who they are. Bob Mathias just passed away this week (See earlier blog) but these obituaries due not do him justice. He was a big man who as athletic and graceful as a ballerina. He received significant media attention in his era, but that pales n comparison to where he would have been today. Dutch, on the other hand achieved his greatest success in the era before and during WWII. He was the first man to pole vault fifteen feet. He did this on a bamboo pole into a sawdust landing pit! He was the track the track coach at Fresno Sate when I was there. He would workout at lunch time, running sprints. At that time he had to be in his late 40’s or early fifties, he was so great to watch run. A real athlete, like Mathias, graceful and rhythmic in his actions. I can’t help but think what he would do today with modern equipment.

Training Men & Women

Men and women need to train differently, especially in regard to strength training. Women must strength train more often and continue strength training right up to the peak competition. The main reason for this is the difference in endocrine hormonal profile and the difference in muscle mass.


Program Design – The Michigan Women’s Swimming Experience

I am presently at the University of Michigan working on designing the dryland training program for University of Michigan Women’s swimming. This will be the fourth year that I work on this. It has been a very good experience because Jim Richardson, the coach, gets it. He has a great background in physiology and biomechanics. Unlike many swim coaches he is not looking at dryland training as another way to hammer them. He recognizes that the gains they make out of the water can reflect in improved streamlining in the water and a reduction of injuries. We spent nine hours yesterday analyzing the past three years programs and refining and revising the program for this to reflect what we have learned and the cumulative adaptive response. The challenges moving forward is to have the swimmers that have been through the program for three years to continue gain training adaptations. To achieve that objective we have made some significant changes in the sequence of the training phases. The incoming freshmen will have a beginning program. We also will do more in the water tensiometer strength testing. An interesting side note that Jim pointed out yesterday is that there have been no shoulder problems in the last three years. I tend to take that for granted, but in swimming that is unheard of. I think that is because of the constant emphasis on linkage of hip to shoulder, extensive rotational core work and the correlation of the dryland work with the actual swimming.


High Tech - High Touch

I was sent an article from the Sydney Australia newspaper about the Sydney Swans visit to the highly secret AC Milan High Tech training center. They were visiting the center because AC Milan has no soft tissue injuries over the past two years. Is there really a secret here or is that they have paid attention to basics and made sure the players comply? In nine years with the White Sox minor league system we only had five hamstring pulls and six groin pulls! The secret was a high touch approach; doing basic work everyday and ensuring it was done with intensity, concentration and effort.


Bob Mathias

I just found out that Bob Mathias died. He was hero of mine growing up. He may have been one of America’s greatest athletes. He won his first Gold medal in the Decathlon at age 17 at the 1948 Olympics. He won a second in 1952. He was also a great football player at Stanford.

Bill Bowerman

I have just finished a terrific book that is a must read for anyone who wants to be a better coach or a leader. The title of the book is Bowerman And The Men of Oregon by Kenny Moore. Bill Bowerman was the longtime track & field coach at the University of Oregon who is now probably better known as one of the founders of Nike. Bowerman is a person who had a profound effect on my coaching career so I had a strong connection to the book. He spoke at the first Track & Field coaching clinic I ever attended in February 1968 when I was a senior at Fresno State. I was thinking about going into coaching, but still a bit unsure, after sitting in on Bowerman’s talks there no doubt of what I wanted to do – I wanted to be a coach like him. He was passionate, very outspoken and strong in opinions. He made complicated things simple and easy to understand. Over the years I tried to attend anytime anywhere he was doing a clinic. He did not change his foundational beliefs. He was a great innovator. His ideas on training the middle distance and distance runner are still very relevant today, even though everybody seems to ignore them. He understood adaptation. He understood that his runners had had to do more than run. He was an innovator in shoe design in the 1950’s by making special shoes for his runners. He was a generalist in that coached other events and even coached football as an assistant at University of Oregon. His mantra was “Stress, recover, improve, that’s all training is.” If you want to learn about training and read some great stories read this book. When I finished I could not help but think what Bowerman would think of the state of the sport of Track & Field today – I think I know – he would not have been happy and he would have done something about it!