Venice High School Girls Volleyball - Overview

Venice High School Volleyball

2007 Training Plan Overview

Mission Statement

To train with intensity, concentration and effort to be the most athletic

and specifically fit volleyball team in Florida





Foundation I

Get Structurally Strong

Lay the Foundation

Six Weeks


Test and teach

Foundation II

Strengthen the Foundation

Six Weeks


Build the volume of strength training


Fast & Explosive

Six Weeks


Higher intensity work/ lower volume


Get Vertical

Six Weeks


Emphasis on Jump Improvement

Pre Season


Six weeks


Integrate strength, power and jump gains with VB skills

Competition I


Six Weeks


Individualized programs

3 x week

Competition II


Three - Four Weeks


Individualized programs

2 - 3 x week

Championship Season


Three Weeks


Individualized programs

2 x week

Where are the Coaches who can Teach?

I found this on ESPN.com last year and saved it. This article really hit home with me, I think what he is talking about transcends basketball, it is a problem with all sports. In regards to basketball I can’t watch a game at any level anymore. There are no fundamentals. The most basic aspects of the game are non existent.

America needs more 'teaching' from its coaches

By Jay Bilas Special to ESPN.com

I have been watching more high school and junior basketball than ever, and I am worried about what I see. The canary in the United States' basketball coal mine has not yet died, but it is starting to teeter on its perch. No reasonable basketball person can refute the fact that the fundamental skills of American players are slipping, and so is the American game. I believe a primary reason is an increased emphasis on coaching the game, and a decreased emphasis on teaching our kids how to play the game. Pete Newell, the legendary coach and teacher, has often said that basketball is "over-coached and under-taught". He is absolutely right, and that is finally catching up with us, as is the rest of the basketball world.

Generally, "coaching" consists of team preparation, the devising of game plans and schemes to defeat opponents. When you are coaching, you are dealing with strategies, different offenses and defenses, and putting in plays to take advantage of the skills, strengths and weaknesses of your players. The measure of a coach is the quality of the development of his system, and has been distilled into winning.

"Teaching" consists of instruction and training of individuals in the fundamental skills of the game, and in teaching players how to play, instead of how to run plays. The measure of a teacher is not in winning, but in the fundamental soundness and skill level of the players taught. A player with excellent fundamentals and skills can play successfully in any system. Generally, American players are less skilled than their European counterparts. The United States produces the best "athletes" in the game, but not necessarily the best "basketball players".

Here are the reasons why American coaches, at all levels, have gotten away from teaching, and have gravitated more to coaching.

Immediate Gratification of Coaches: Coaches, especially at the grassroots and high school levels, seem more interested than ever in winning rather than developing well-skilled and fundamentally sound players. They are impatient, and too focused on winning games instead of developing players. It takes time to teach and instill discipline. While it may seem more important to spend the majority of time in practice working on the execution of halfcourt offense, or putting in new set plays, it is far more important to develop the skills of your players. Coaches do not have enough time with their players anymore, which means that floor time cannot be wasted. High school coaches get less floor time than ever to teach, and less and less access to their players. Players now play an excessive amount of games over the summer in AAU competition, which means that they play many games and have far fewer practices.

While young kids are busy traversing the country to play in AAU competitions, they are spending hour upon hour running up and down the court in a helter-skelter atmosphere where, 95 percent of the time, they do not have the ball in their hands. What this does is cement bad habits -- and habits, good or bad, are what players revert to under stress. If these same players were in focused practice environments instead of in so many games, they would spend the majority of time with the ball in their hands, working on their skills and footwork.

Increased Specialization: Basketball in this country has become over-specialized, and players have become "systematized". Kids are identified by size and body type into positions way too early on in their development and are "coached" differently. As young kids, players are told, "you are a point guard," "you are a power forward," "you are a center." Then the guards and big guys are separated, sent to opposite ends of the floor, and coached to work upon different skills that are specific to position. In Europe, players are encouraged to work on the same skills, whether small guard or big forward.

The result of this specialization is that our players are boxed into positions, and therefore limited. Why should kids be labeled and limited into being "point guards" or "shooting guards" and coached to be only that? A point guard is coached to be a primary ballhandler, while a shooting guard is coached to be a scorer and therefore limited in making the "transition" to the point. Similarly, big guys in America are used as screeners, rebounders and low-post robots. Very few programs in America, college, high school or lower level, produce versatile and skilled big men who can dribble, pass and shoot.

We cannot expect the players to combat this trend. Players want to play and will do whatever the coaches tell them to do because, ultimately, the players want to play out on the floor, and coaches control playing time. Doing what the coach tells you to do is a necessary element of gaining playing time at any level. And we cannot expect players to simply work on individual skills on their own. We would not expect kids to educate themselves outside of a classroom environment, we certainly cannot expect it in sport.

European programs approach teaching differently. Players are not limited in how much they can practice, and therefore spend from 60 to 90 minutes in the morning working on footwork, shooting and ball skills. The same players then practice another 60 to 90 minutes in the afternoon on more team-oriented concepts. There is no separation of big guys and guards, every player works on the same skills. As a result, European players are generally more well-rounded and more fundamentally sound. And they are more coveted by coaches at all levels.

Shoe Companies and AAU Basketball: Contrary to popular belief, the shoe companies and AAU programs are not full of bad people looking to exploit kids. As in any endeavor, there are good people and bad people in those organizations. However, it is clear that the goals of the shoe companies and AAU programs are at odds with the proper teaching and development of fundamentally sound players.

Whether well intentioned or not, shoe companies are in the business of selling shoes, not growing the game. While the major shoe companies have "grassroots" programs, they are more interested in growing their influence than in growing the game. The best evidence of that is in the national camps run by Nike and adidas every summer. These camps are designed to showcase players against the best competition, not improve their skills. Instead of running stations in the morning or early afternoon, where the players would spend time at each different basket in the gym working on individual skills, they play games all day.

The coaches and scouts evaluating these players would much rather watch the kids in one game per day and get the chance to evaluate skill levels through station work. And the kids would be better off as well. But teaching is not the goal.

The same goes for AAU programs. Far too many AAU coaches are more interested in playing and winning games, rather than teaching young players the skills necessary to be successful players. While young kids are traveling the country playing games, they are not able to practice or work on their games. It is really that simple.

Skills 'Players' Need to Have
Fundamentally sound players need to be able to handle the ball, shoot the ball, pass the ball, and use their feet. Unless a player has these basic skills mastered, he will be limited and therefore easy to guard and difficult to play with. Here are the basic skills needed by every player on the court:

Ballhandling: If a player cannot handle the ball with either hand, he will get attacked and overwhelmed by the defense because he cannot go anywhere off the dribble. To be a competent ballhandler, a player needs to be able to control the ball with either hand, and know the proper use of the dribble given the situation. Once a player knows when and how to dribble, how to set up his man to make a dribble move, and has the basic skills and footwork, he becomes much harder to guard, and much more valuable to any team.

The best way to become a better ballhandler is to handle the ball more often. Repetition is the key to success as a ballhandler, whether it is doing game speed drills in dribbling around cones or executing the footwork and handling of a spin move, rocker step or reverse pivot. Ballhandlers must also learn to handle the ball playing against a defender. That is the only way to learn how to protect the ball, use the body, and learn to set the defender up for counters. If you want to make players better handlers of the ball, make them handle the ball. And make the big guys handle it in the same situations you ask guards to handle it.

Shooting If you cannot shoot the ball, you will always be able to get an open shot, because nobody guards a substandard shooter. Like ballhandling, the best way to become a better shooter is to shoot the ball over and over again at game speed. The motto for shooters in practice should be "game shots, game spots, at game speed". Shooting "game" shots over and over creates muscle memory, and provides confidence to the shooter.

The first thing shooters must learn to do is to look at the basket when they catch the ball. Defenders must believe that you are a threat to shoot the ball, and nobody will by that if you don't look at the basket, and no good defender will go for a shot fake. In looking at the rim, a player will be able to see what is going on under it as well. To be a good shooter, a player has to use his feet effectively to create space and get open, and must be ready to shoot as the ball arrives. Good shooters go straight up and down without drifting, and therefore don't have to shoot at a moving target. They have their shooting hand under the ball, and the elbow under their shooting hand. The motion should be up and not out in order to shoot a soft ball with good trajectory and velocity. Whatever shot a player wants to perfect, the proper repetition of that particular shot is the key. No player can get that proper repetition by simply playing in games, but must be made to do it in practice.

Passing: No skill in American basketball that is more neglected than passing. Good coaches will tell you that the quality of the pass determines the quality of the shot. That is absolutely correct. In order to score, the defense has to be moved, and the pass is the most effective way to move a defense.

Players need to be taught how to properly throw two-hand chest passes, overhead passes, bounce passes with either hand, and to pass with exactness and imagination. The first rule of passing is that, if you have a clear path to an open player, pass him the ball. You do not pass-fake to open people, you pass the ball to them. Passing should not be a last resort, after you have exhausted all possibilities to obtain your own shot. Rather, you should pass the ball to get your team the best quality shot. Watch any game, on any level, and see for yourself how many times passes are made only when all other avenues have been closed. It happens a lot.If a player cannot pass, he cannot play, and the ball dies in his hands.

Footwork: Basketball is played with the feet, and every phase of the game is dependent upon good footwork. In any game, a player plays 90 percent or more of the game without the ball. Learning how to play with your feet, offensively and defensively, is of vital importance for basketball players at any level, and an area in which youngsters need the most attention and instruction. Without attention to detail of the footwork necessary to execute basic moves in the game, and to create space, the player is severely limited.

The United States has the best athletes, the best coaches and the most basketball resources in the world. We need to spend less time coaching, and more time teaching, especially at lower levels of the game. We need to encourage coaches to teach, not just to coach, and for players to practice, not just to play. There is no reason why our best athletes cannot be our best players. If we do a better job of teaching, the level of play in the United States will skyrocket, and the game will be better for it.


Here We Go Again

Someone just sent me a link to a new website that allows to access “great” workouts in a multitude of different sports and training activities for one great price. This is the Wallmart or Sams club of Athletic Development. I know I will piss more people off by this post and alienate a lot more but this is ridiculous. It is precisely this approach that is killing this field and adding confusion to confusion. Folks it is not about more workouts. It is about the Why of the workout? How do they fit for each individual and each team? Are they sport and age appropriate? I have books of workouts that I have written since the sixties, for everyone but me and the team or individual they are written for those workout are useless. They were written in the context of the training cycle and for the individual or a team. I was very reluctant to put sample workouts in the new book for the precise reason that people would copy them. The same with posting the workouts that I have posted on the downloads on the web page. They are not to copy, they are to learn from. Look at the reason behind the exercise, the order and sequence. Training is more than a bunch of exercises. It reminds of the George Carlin routine on baseball scores, he reports the scores for yesterday’s games – 3 to 2, 5 to 1 and 1 -0. This is like a workout with out context. Here is the strength portion of yesterdays Venice girls volleyball workout

Jump Shrug 3 x 6

High Pull 4 x 6

Single Leg Squat 3 x 10

Squat 4 x 20

Lunge 4 x 20

It might as well be baseball scores without the teams. Without the details that might as well be written in Sanskrit.

Unhappy Meals

Unhappy Meals is the title of a great article from the Sunday New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/magazine/28nutritionism.t.html?th&emc=th
magazine written by Michael Pollan. It really made me think. After reading this it is no wonder that we have an epidemic of obesity and diabetes. The solutions are rather simple. This is a must read!


Conditioning Considerations for Tournament Play

I think it is important to state my bias up front. I am not in favor of tournament play at any level except for the state, regional or national championship play. Tournaments have no place at the younger developmental ages. Here are my reasons:

Cumulative fatigue severely compromises technical elements and quality of play

Cumulative fatigue predisposes the player to injury both in contact and non-contact situations

Tournaments compromise the players overall development because it can take up to a week for a player to fully recover, therefore a vital week of training is lost

The ideal is for the player to play one game a week, which represents the ideal ratio of training to game play of four to five training days for every game day. Unfortunately this is not the case, so I will give some practical pointers to help you better prepare your players for tournament play from a conditioning perspective. In order to get optimum return from your team’s participation I suggest you enter into the tournament with one of the following specific objectives:

To develop the players for championship play by simulating the environment of a playoff situation

To expose or “showcase” players

To win

Having these specific objectives as part of a season plan will allow you to evaluate the performance in the context of the whole season.

Obviously the conditioning goal throughout the year is to prepare the player to play the entire match or game at the highest degree of efficiency with the least amount of fatigue. Tournament play should not compromise that goal; therefore actual conditioning should not be altered in specific preparation for tournament play. A vital point is to remember that you are not conditioning so much for actual play as you are for the ability to recover adequately between games in order to play effectively in the next game. The specific conditioning considerations are more of a management issue during the actual tournament. The significant training implications are the reduction in the quality of training in the week(s) following the tournament. The following are the intra tournament considerations that can make an appreciable difference for your player in the course of the tournament:

Warm-up – The warm-up before the first game of the day should be the longest and most complete. Each subsequent warm-up does not have to as extensive unless there is more than five hours between games.

Cooldown – This is a must. It should incorporate movement through large ranges of motion as well as static stretching.

Pre-event Nutrition – Be sure to eat. In many tournament situations that I have seen with early morning games the players try to sleep longer and do not rise early enough to eat. They begin the tournament in a depleted state that only gets worse as the tournament progresses. What each player eats is very individual.

Intra-event nutrition – In the second and possibly third game of the day one quarter of a sports bar, at half or during a substitution, with water can help keep energy levels up.

Post event Nutrition – Get carbohydrates into the system within the first twenty to thirty minutes after the game. Research has shown that taking advantage of this window can significantly help maintain glycogen stores.

Hydration - Drink as much possible starting the night before. During any break in the action drink, water is OK. If you use a sports drink carefully look at the sugar content.

Between game recovery/regeneration – Above all get off your feet, if there is adequate time between games five to ten minutes in a swimming pool can really help.

Between day recovery/regeneration – Use a whirlpool followed by a dip in a swimming pool as close after the last game of the day as possible. Be sure to eat foods high in carbohydrates.

Know you players:

What are their fitness levels?

How physically mature are they?

How well do they recover?

What is their skill level?

Carefully monitor minutes played. Use the tournament as a learning tool to gain information about your players and your team. What is each player’s response to fatigue as the tournament progresses? Who does get stronger? Whose performance drops off due to fatigue? This is a plus in that it can give quick directed feedback to enable you to adjust your plan for the remainder of the season.


Visions of Eight

I have been searching for the 1972 Olympic film “Visions of Eight” Does anyone know where it can be purchased? One of the eight segments called “The Fastest” is absolutely spectacular, possibly the best sprint footage ever, a terrific teaching toll.

The Fastest. Kon Ichikawa (Japan). "The men who compete in the 100 meter final cover the distance in about ten seconds. To catch this fleeting moment I used 34 cameras and 20,000 feet of film. I feel this race somewhat represents the modern human existence. I wanted to expose this." In stunning use of slow motion footage, 22 year old Valery Borzov of the Soviet Union wins the gold; Robert Taylor of the United States takes silver; and Lennox Miller of Jamaica, captures the bronze medal. 6:00.

Teaching Movement

Mark the key is letting them explore the dimensions that their bodies can move in. The prime ages to this are the so called ”skill hungry” years ages 7 to 9. Set up games and situations that elicit the movements that you want to see. For example colored dots or shapes on the floor with a particular task needed for each color or shape. Simple cues like run loud or run quiet will help them learn different foot strikes through discovery. I always use the analogy of Karate Kid Part One – Wax on Wax off!The more gamelike the better


The following was posted yesterday on Seth Godin’s blog http://sethgodin.typepad.com/

99% of the time, in my experience, the hard part about creativity isn't coming up with something no one has ever thought of before. The hard part is actually executing the thing you've thought of.

The devil doesn't need an advocate. The brave need supporters, not critics.

It also made me think that too often we try to be original when what is more important is to stick with what is known and proven and build upon that. I know some of the most creative ideas I have had about training came in the middle of a session when I had to solve a problem with a movement in a particular athlete or even as simple a thing as not having enough medicine balls and had to adapt. Little things like that triggered some significant changes and adaptations. It makes me think of a line from one of my favorite Texas Tornado songs – A Little Bit is Better than Nada and sometimes you get the whole enchilada.


Teaching Athleticism

There is a saying that “You don’t need to see different things, but rather to see things differently.” Sometimes we overlook the obvious. In the incessant search to improve performance we have gotten away from the essence of it all, the foundation of athleticism. It can be developed through a systematic approach to athlete development. It is imperative to look for every opportunity to incorporate elements of athleticism in all aspect of training. Specific sport skills are a combination of patterns of complex motor programs. They are patterns that can be reproduced when we tap into the wisdom of the body. Though experiencing all different patterns of movement we learn to let things happen. We learn to let the motor program run. We cue an action that will result in a “chain reaction” of efficient movement. We need to emphasize a free play approach that results in fluidity and improvisational skills.

Should we try to teach every movement and then coach it? Or should we allow the athlete the joy of discovery through exploration? There seems to be a worry about them getting it wrong! My answer to that is: What is wrong? There must be spontaneity, a joy, and anticipation in movement a sense of discovery of sport skills and training, not a robotic programmed approach. It has been my experience working with athletes at all levels in a wide variety of sports that athletes will find their own best way of doing something if they are put in a position where they have to adapt. Each athlete has a “movement signature,” it is their stamp, their personal interpretation of the skill. They are very adaptable. We need to encourage an extemporaneous approach much like a great jazz musician improvises. What has caused this? There are several factors:

Early specialization in one event is a serious problem that has contributed to the decline of athleticism. The broader range of motor skill developed through free play and exposure to many varied motor programs is a big limiting factor. The choice is to produce better all around athletes or produce highly specialized one-sport specialists with very narrow skill ranges. Ultimately the goal is to produce the best athlete possible with a rich repertoire of motor skills to select from to better execute the specific sport skill.

One sided training with an emphasis on one or two components of performance rather than a blend. The components of performance, and therefore training are: speed, strength, stamina, suppleness, skill and recovery. There is a synergistic relationship between all components therefore all components must be trained during all phases of the year in varying combinations

Monkey See – Monkey Do Syndrome. Just because an athlete has been successful with a particular training method does not mean the method is the best or should be copied. It is my experience that many athletes are successful in spite of, not because of their training. Make sure that what you are doing is based on sound training principles and a good progression. Above all make sure it fits the athletes you are presently working with.

“Nobody gets hurt, but nobody gets better.” Training that is so conservative or narrow that the athlete is never challenged will not produce results. This is the justification for many machine-oriented strength training programs is that they are “safe” when in fact, because they fail to challenge the athleticism of the athlete they might actually predispose the athlete to injury.

It is always easy and convenient to look to the “Good old days” as being better. The simple fact is that before the advent of specialization athletes learned and competed in several sports. It was not unusual to see a high school athlete compete in three or four sports. This was not so bad. The athlete may not have been as good early, but once they did chose to specialize they had a broader base of motor skills to draw upon to enhance their chosen sport skill. Sometimes it is good to look back to gain perspective to move ahead. We cannot go backward, but we must look for ways to enhance athleticism that has been lost due to early specialization.


Two Foot or One Foot Jump

Mark was wondering why some people prefer to jump off two feet and others off of one. Back in the mid eighties when I was working with the Bulls I saw it up close. Charles Oakley, could not jump off one foot. Tex Winter, one of the assistants, felt it was really hindering him. We tried a bunch of stuff to try to get him to jump off one foot, but under pressure he always reverted. Conversely in testing vertical jump on the Vertec with Michael Jordan, he was terrible off two feet. When he took a step and went off one foot the difference was unbelievable. In short I think it represents a personal preference and it may represent where you play on the floor. Certainly with young kids I think it advisable to devise games that encourage all types of take offs.

Stretching is NOT Warm-up

How clear can that be? Yet I still see teams wallow around on the ground for ten or fifteen minutes at the start of practice to “warm-up.” How stupid can this be, we certainly know better but this is still a prevalent practice. When someone pulls a muscle it is usually blamed on the fact that they did stretch enough before training, how absurd! I always use the analogy of the cat or dog who is wakes up from a nap, they do not stretch they move slowly and rhythmically first through progressively bigger ranges of motion. If they are scared out of a dead sleep they burst away. A few years this was the topic in a roundtable and Art Venegas, the Track & Filed Coach at UCLA put it quite well, how many times do you see someone stealing hub caps on a car pull a muscle. It is pure flight or fright, all they are thinking about is getting the hell out of there. Kind of doubt they stretched for twenty minutes before. There is a lesson there. If you are spending more that 2 – 3 minutes static stretching as part of you warm-up you are wasting time!

Flexibility work has a definite place in a comprehensive training program. The flexibility work should be based on individual needs, not group stretching.


Anonymous Posts

Please when you do post put your name on the post. I also would appreciate an email address. I am laying out what I say for everyone to see. If you have a comment negative or positive put your name on it, not initials. Two comments on the last anonymous post:

1) The past is not dead! Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it.

2) As far as who I have coached I will put my record up against anyone’s – I do not chose to advertise whom I have worked with. It is the athletes who do the work and should receive the credit. One thing I do know is that there were no drugs involved.

Assessing Force Reduction

Initially I use a lunge test. Look at the difference in distance right to left, look at ability to smoothly return to stating position without deviations. You can also look at Lateral lunge for frontal plane and then rotational lunge for transverse plane. I also use a hop and stick test. Hop for distance and stick the landing and hold for five seconds, repeat with the other leg. They should be able to absorb ankle/knee/hip.

Fit to Test or Fit to Play

There is a real and distinct difference on one hand and some real lessons to be learned on the other. It all depends how the “fitness” tests are used and how they are framed in the overall context of the annual and career plan. The goal is accurate feedback in a competitive environment of the physical qualities that could determine success in the game. Selection and timing of tests sends a message. Therefore decide what message you want to send. If you are going to use a two or three mile run test upon reporting then you are sending a message to the team that it is an endurance sport and they need to get ready for that. The game could be the opposite, but if their place on the team depends on it they will train for the test!


Play on One Leg – Train on One leg

When I saw the picture of the field hockey players on the left it made me immediately think about why we train the way we train. I am an advocate of single leg squats and unilateral & reciprocal training exercises of the lower extremity (for that matter the upper body also). When you consider the forces that player must attenuate on one leg in stopping and starting it makes sense to train unilaterally. Also consider the phenomenon of bilateral transfer in doing work with one limb. Bilateral transfer refers to the phenomenon of improvement in function of one limb by working on the opposite limb. This is based on the Contralateral function of the brain hemispheres in controlling movement through both cortical and sub cortical impulses that enable movement to be transferred from one side of the body to the other side. That does not mean that regular squats are not part of the routine, they are but when and where in the program is the key. Single leg squats, lunges and step-ups and step downs are the constants because essentially in most sports the movement is off of one leg and onto the other leg in multiple directions and multiple planes. The strength work must be closely coupled with Multi Dimensional Speed and Agility work to add the speed element to the high force element. This also has an implication for testing. We need to test strength on one leg, stability on one leg and the ability to reduce force on one leg. If an athlete is deficient then they must be given remedial work to remedy the deficiency and their actual training drills and exercises must be modified. If not the risk of injury rises significantly as well as ingraining incorrect movement patterns.


Drawing a Straight Line

I am not proposing you ignore anything. I know those athletes were the best in their country; I was in Colorado Springs when they broke all the National Records in 82 & 83. Look closer at the message. I am amazed that people keep seeking the secret and the Holy Grail. What got his best athlete from 10.1 to 9.86 – look at the change in physical development. That was not a normal performance curve. Why not study drug free coaches like Esa Peltola or a Gary Winkler who has consistently produced over the years with lesser quality athletes. None of the ideas are revolutionary. Take away the drugs and what do you have. You can massage until the cows come home, but without the juice you cannot recover from the high intensity work. Someone mentioned Korchemy that is another good example, without drugs look and see what his people were running - sloow. We must isolate the drug coaches, not give them credence or recognition. You can get fast without drugs, it takes a lot longer and there is very little margin of error.


Joe Vigil Interview

There is an absolutely great interview with Joe Vigil talking about Deena Kastor at http://www.flocasts.com/flotrack/speakers.php?sid=104 Joe is one of the greatest coaches of our era. He has been a mentor and an inspiration to me. Listening to the interview brought back a flood of warm memories for me. He is the type of coach we should all aspire to be. He has a PhD and multiple master’s degrees and is always learning. When I wrote the blog on the coaching talent search Joe was the model. After 50 + years of coaching he still is working to be better.

Drawing the Line

I have received quite a few emails with links to a well known drug coach who is now on a lecture tour of Australia. It has prompted to think again about where we draw the line. I challenged someone on this guy and his “information” and their retort was that he is a hell of a coach. My comeback is how do you know? Was it the drugs or the coaching? Lets remember that doping is cheating. If you chose to cheat I won’t play. Those of you looking for the magic bullet and or the “secret” of his success need to wake up. I saw some of the training first hand, there was nothing special. It was what we did not see that helped his athletes. This was at the center of one of the most systematic doping programs in sport that does make a difference. I suppose it is the same mentality that would cause people to buy a book by OJ Simpson. Folks there is plenty of sound accurate information out here. Learn it and use it. In summary I quote my good friend Steve Myrland: "THIS IS WHAT A GURU-CULTURE DOES: IT CAUSES MYOPIA. IT PERMITS PEOPLE TO SELECTIVELY VIEW INFORMATION WITH THEIR BS DETECTORS TURNED OFF AND REMAIN HAPPY. HEAVEN FOREFEND THAT THEY MIGHT QUESTION THE TEACHER AND RISK GIVING OFFENSE!"


Coaching Talent Search - Raising the Bar

The following comment was posted in response to my post on the coaching talent search:

“Are you trying to define the field by eliminating the majority of it? Looks to me a great start of a job interview.”

If anything I am trying to motivate to raise the bar. What I posted is what I expect of people that I work with, what I expect of myself and I feel should be the standard if this is to be considered a profession. There are no hidden agendas here. We need to get our act together. It is tough to find good qualified people, I hope this does not eliminate anyone, but rather motivates people to seek further know ledge and raise the bar. As far as a job interview that is what I had to do several times in my career to even be considered for a job! Take the challenge and run with it!


In the newest issue of Atlantic Magazine Robert Kaplan wrote an article about the historian Herodotus. Kaplan is the Distinguished Visiting Professor in National security at the United States Naval Academy and a regular contributor to Atlantic. The quote below jumped out at me as particularly relevant. This pinpoints a major problem that we have today in medicine, athletic development, athletic training, for that matter in everyday life.

"In the academy (Naval Academy), specialization has become both a necessity and a curse. Too much narrow expertise is the inverse of wisdom. But the explosion of facts that need to be categorized demands a growing number of parochial subdivisions within any given field. We must fight against the tendency to become, as the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset feared we all would, “learned ignoramuses.”

Today I see more people specializing in narrower and narrower areas. I am so thankful for the guidance that received early in my coaching career that steered me toward being a generalist. My specialty is as a generalist. When I wanted to become a track coach, Red Estes, then the assistant track coach at Fresno State suggested that I train for the Decathlon, that way I would learn all the events. I would experience it first hand. That was the best advice I received. It allowed me to make to connections, to question some of the conventional wisdom in each individual event. I definitely found out what worked and did not work quickly. I learned how to be efficient in my use of training time. I learned the importance of intensity. Today it seems everyone wants to be a distance coach. I watch the distance coaches at the USAT&F Level III schools and they act like the other events have the plague. This is a great example of an event group that needs to go to the jumps and sprints to understand the broader dimensions of training. The same can be said about many areas, too many strength coaches only know strength. I am shocked to find out how many strength coaches have NEVER gone to talk to the track coaches at their schools. Get out and see and experience the world. Do not be afraid to explore what you don’t know. Know what you know and do not know. Get off the internet and read, read journals in all fields not just athletic development. It is amazing what you will learn.


Faster Forty DVD

The goal of this DVD is to improve your Forty time through Zonal Training™. We break the Forty down into four zones that allow you to train to improve your weaknesses and maximize your strengths. The zones are:



Top Speed


Each zone represents the possibility to improve hundreds of a second through the correction of common faults and the systematic application of specific drills. Those hundreds can add up to tenths of a second in the Forty.

You will learn a progressive system designed to improve your speed by:

  • Improving Sprint Mechanics using the tried and proven PAL teaching progression to improve overall sprint mechanics.
  • Improving Acceleration
  • Improving Top Speed
  • Achieving better consistent Starts
  • Teaching Specific Drills designed to improve each zone
  • Correcting common errors

Included is a detailed six-week program where the focus is on one thing – Improving your Forty. If you follow the program you will get faster! It is basic very specific work designed to accentuate your positives and improve your weaknesses

This Functional Athletic Development DVD is in an interactive format composed of simple, easy to use drills that will improve your forty. This represents a synthesis of biomechanical research on sprinting and our experience helping athletes to improve their speed.

Improving your Forty will not necessarily make you a better football player, but it will get you noticed. The speed you gain with this program can be transferred to the field through more specific work. To order go to www.gambetta.com/

Coaching Talent Search

I am starting a coaching talent search. It has been disappointing to witness a trend in placement of Athletic Development coaches who lack the proper coaching skills and possess scant expertise. Since I quite often receive requests asking for recommendations for jobs, I have decided to address this by starting a clearinghouse for those Athletic Development professionals who fit the profile outlined below. This is not a placement service, and there will be no fee for this. My goal here is to help define the profession and help good qualified people attain placement in positions where they can use their knowledge and advance the profession. Do not send anything if you do not meet the profile. Please do not call me. If there is a job opportunity I will have the prospective employer contact you. I am looking for remarkable people who will make an impact in this field.

Athletic Development Coach Profile

Statement of Philosophy of Training and Coaching (Two Paragraphs Maximum)

Specific Short Term and Long Term Goals

Education and relevant course work

All Coaching Experience – In any sport at any level

Specifically whom did you coach

What were your responsibilities?

Teaching Experience – Formal and informal

Areas of Coaching Expertise – Be Specific

What are your Strengths? What makes you special and stand out from your peers?

What are your Weaknesses? Where do you need to improve? How do you plan to address your weaknesses?

Appearance – Do you look the part? Are you fit and do you present yourself well?

Skill Proficiency – Do you have the ability to demonstrate what you are teaching?

Work Ethic – Are you willing to go the extra mile and work until the job is done?

Certifications & Accreditations – List all in any field

List three books on Training or Athletic Enhancement that you have read in the past three months

List three refered journal articles that you have read in the last three months

What are you doing on a regular basis to improve your knowledge and ability as a coach?

Send to www.gambettasports@hotmail.com


How Breakthroughs Happen

How Breakthroughs Happen – The Surprising Truth About How Companies Innovate by Andrew Hargadon. This is a must read for all coaches. It is a great coaching book. I know you think I have finally lost it because the title doesn’t say anything about coaching. That is precisely why it is a good coaching book. As coaches we are constantly searching for breakthroughs, what this book did for me was to reaffirm and confirm where my reading and research has been leading me, breakthroughs are there right in front of us we just need to put things in historical context and recombine people, ideas and objects. Breakthrough innovation occurs by fully exploiting the past, look back to move forward. Networking is an essential element in achieving breakthroughs; lone rangers seldom achieve breakthrough ideas. Breakthroughs are also the result of getting the right knowledge in the right hands at the correct time; it is amazing when you do that how things happen. Formal education in an area can serve as a constraint; Hargadon feels it can force people to conform to the confines of a particular discipline. To achieve breakthroughs start each project with a clean slate, he recommends starting “start stupid.” The following quote from Descartes certainly sums up the spirit of the book: “Each problem that I solved became a rule which served afterwards to solve other problems.”


Today I reach a milestone of sorts, I turn sixty. In my community I am officially in the category my wife and I call the “old people” as opposed to the “older people.” I saw this quote the other day that certainly resonated with me.

"Isn't it becoming a little bit sexier to be older?"

Crawford Hollingworth, director, Headlightvision


Alex Kipchirchir

I just found out that Alex Kipchirchir was ranked Number One in the World in the 1500 meters for 2006 by the panel of Experts from Track & Filed news. I had the pleasure of working with Alex two years ago when I was working with the Nike Oregon Project. I learned a ton from talking to him and watching him train. I hope that the strength work we incorporated in his training made a little difference. His stories of morning 10 miles runs at 7,500 altitude as the sun was rising and interval workouts with 80 runners on a dirt track at noon and then another workout at 4:00 pm certainly made me realize why Americans have a tough time competing. I think you will see big things to come from Alex in the years to come. Congratulations and good luck.

A Must Read!

This is great story on Martin Luther King day www.nydailynews.com/sports/story/488452p-411360c.html


Moving to Learn - Some Great Thoughts

I stumbled across this when I was searching for some work by Carla Hannaford. This may be one of the most succinct and hard hitting pieces I have seen on the importance of movement. As soon as I post this I am going for a walk, I have been in front of the computer for too long. Pass this on to your school board members, the Secretary of Education and even the big Bush.

More Movement, Smarter Kids

By Rae Pica

Most people can understand how physical activity can impact not only their child’s physical development but also his social/emotional development. But intellectual development? What could movement possibly have to do with learning? After all, schools – where most of the child’s learning is supposed to take place – are our prime promoters of inactivity. (“Sit still.” “Stop squirming.” “Don’t run.” “Stay in your seat.”) If movement were critical to learning, wouldn’t the schools be employing it?

Certainly, you’d think so. Those of us who’ve understood the connection between moving and learning for a very long time have been waiting just as long for the educational “revolution.” And yet, not only is movement in the classroom a rarity, but also physical education and recess are being eliminated as though they were completely irrelevant to children’s growth and development. Perhaps the revolution will only finally arrive when you, as a parent, become aware of movement’s role in cognitive development and learning and begin to insist the schools do what’s right for children and not merely what the policy makers think they should be doing.

As Einstein so succinctly pointed out, “Learning is experience. Everything else is just information.” Piaget, the noted child development specialist studied by future teachers, labeled this learning sensorimotor and determined it was the child’s earliest form of learning. Since then, brain research has proven them both right.

But the most recent brain research has done much more than that. It’s now understood that, because a child’s earliest learning is based on motor development, so too is much of the knowledge that follows. The cerebellum, the part of the brain previously associated with motor control only, is now known to be, as Eric Jensen, author of numerous books on brain-based learning, puts it, a “virtual switchboard of cognitive activity.” Study after study has demonstrated a connection between the cerebellum and such cognitive functions as memory, spatial orientation, attention, language, and decision making, among others.

Thanks to advances in brain research, we now know that most of the brain is activated during physical activity – much more so than when doing seatwork. In fact, according to Jensen, sitting for more than 10 minutes at a stretch “reduces our awareness of physical and emotional sensations and increases fatigue.” He tells us this results in reduced concentration and, most likely, discipline problems.

Movement, on the other hand, increases blood vessels that allow for the delivery of oxygen, water, and glucose (“brain food”) to the brain. And this can’t help but optimize the brain’s performance!

All of this, of course, contradicts the longstanding and much-loved belief that children learn best when they’re sitting still and listening and working quietly at their desks. It also helps us understand why

  • one Canadian study showed academic scores went up when a third of the school day was devoted to physical education.
  • a Canadian study demonstrated children participating in five hours of vigorous physical activity a week had stronger academic performance in math, English, natural sciences, and French than did children with only two hours of physical activity per week.
  • a study of third-grade children participating in dance activities improved their reading skills by 13 percent over six months, while their peers, who were sedentary, showed a decrease of two percent.
  • in France, children who spent eight hours a week in physical education demonstrated better academic performance, greater independence, and more maturity than students with only 40 minutes of PE a week.
  • children who participate in daily physical education have been shown to perform better academically and to have a better attitude toward school.
  • a study conducted by neurophysiologist Carla Hannaford determined that children who spent an extra hour a day exercising did better on exams than students who didn’t exercise.
  • recent research demonstrates a direct link between fitness and intelligence, particularly in children under 16 and in the elderly.

It is a huge mistake to think the mind and body are separate entities. The truth is that the domains of child development – physical, social, emotional, and cognitive – simply do not mature separately from one another. There’s an overlap and interrelatedness among them. And children do not differentiate among thinking, feeling, and moving. Thus, when a child learns something related to one domain, it impacts the others.

Research shows that movement is the young child’s preferred mode of learning – because they best understand concepts when they’re physically experienced. For example, children need to get high and low, small and large, wide and narrow shapes to truly understand these quantitative concepts. They need to act out simple computation problems (demonstrating the nursery rhyme “Three Little Monkeys” to discover three minus one equals two) to comprehend subtraction. They have to take on the straight and curving lines of the letters of the alphabet to fully grasp the way in which the letters should be printed.

Writing in Early Childhood Exchange, developmental and environmental psychologist Anita Rui Olds says: Until children have experiences orienting their bodies in space by going up, on, under, beside, inside, and in front of things, it is possible they will have difficulty dealing with letter identification and the orientation of symbols on a page. The only difference between a small “b” and a small “d,” for example, both of which are composed of a line and a circle, depends upon orientation, i.e., which side of the circle is the line on?

Eric Jensen labels this kind of hands-on learning implicit – like learning to ride a bike. At the opposite end of the spectrum is explicit learning – like being told the capital of Peru. He asks, if you hadn’t ridden a bike in five years, would you still be able to do it? And if you hadn’t heard the capital of Peru for five years, would you still remember what it was? Extrinsic learning may be quicker than learning through exploration and discovery, but the latter has greater meaning for children and stays with them longer. There are plenty of reasons for this, but one of them just may be that intrinsic learning creates more neural networks in the brain. And it’s more fun!

Carla Hannaford, in Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All in Your Head, states, “We have spent years and resources struggling to teach people to learn, and yet the standardized achievement test scores go down and illiteracy rises. Could it be that one of the key elements we’ve been missing is simply movement?”

* * *

Rae Pica is the author of A Running Start (New York: Marlowe & Company, 2006). Rae has been a children’s physical activity specialist for 26 years and is the author of 15 other books, including the textbook Experiences in Movement (3rd edition) and the award-winning Great Games for Young Children. Rae is known throughout North America for her active and informative keynote and workshop presentations and has served as a consultant for many groups, including the Sesame Street Research Department, the Centers for Disease Control, Gymboree, and Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues. E-mail her at raepica@movingandlearning.com.

New Download - “Clearing the Kinetic Chain for the Throwing Shoulder”

Joe Przytula, A.T.C., CSCS, C.M.T. was generous to share with us a presentation he had done with the overall theme, “Clearing the Kinetic Chain for the Throwing Shoulder” This presentation reinforces the concept of linkage, how the parts of the body work together to produce efficient movement. There are three downloads:

1) Joe’s PowerPoint - “Clearing the Kinetic Chain for the Throwing Shoulder”

2) References

3) Speaker Notes

Go to www.gambetta.com/resources

There is a wealth of information here, enjoy it.

Edward O. Wilson

Naturalist is the biography of Edward O. Wilson professor of Evolutionary Biology at Harvard and a pioneer in the field of Sociobiology. His area of expertise is ants, but he is also an outspoken advocate of biodiversity. This is a narrative of his life. I find books like this fascinating. It shows how he developed his thought process as a scientist. It was also interesting to see how science has changed in the course of his lifetime. This is a very stimulating and informative read. I am adding him to the list of people I want to meet and interview some day.


Aussie Women’s Field Hockey Mission Statement

This mission statement was developed by the TEAM, not the coaches. Based on what I have seen and heard they lived this, it was not just words on paper.

Thought Provoking

This was on Seth Godin’s blog http://sethgodin.typepad.com/

January 10. It reminded of many conversations I have had over the past few weeks about the fields of coaching, physical therapy and athletic training.


and the other

Getting an MBA

Keeping your promises

Being board certified

Looking patients in the eye



Buying an expensive front loader

Giving renovation clients an honest estimate

Having a fancy building

Hiring a nice receptionist

Putting a new logo on the planes

Cleaning the peanut butter off the seat tray

Spending $100 million on special effects

Leaving the ads off the non-skippable coming attractions on the DVD

Having a new POS computer

Waiving the late fee because of a snowstorm

Offering the lowest rate for a cell phone

Not tricking customers with a bait and switch

Hiring expensive executives

Firing the ones that don't grow and change

Moving the call center overseas

Answering the phone after one ring

Using a state-of-the-art chipset

Designing the device so it is easy to use

Hiring a brilliant tax lawyer

Doing your books in a way that's transparent to employees and investors

Making a lot of money

Donating a lot of money (quietly)

Putting on a conference

Taking a risk and making the conference interesting

Making the world's best chocolate

Charging way more than the competition

Having a custom Wordpress blog with bells and whistles

Writing stuff people want to read

Having contrary opinions

Expressing them with kindness, respect and attribution

Making it to the top of the heap

Listening to the people on their way up

Sucking up to the boss

Respecting the doorman

Designing a six page spreadsheet for strategic analysis

Having the guts to cancel the product or shut the division

Having a great idea

Sticking your neck out


Thoughts from Training

Here are a couple of thoughts from this weeks training with Venice Volleyball. Everyday the emphasis is in ICE. What is ICE? it is an acronym for Intensity, Concentration and Effort. That is the way we want them to approach each training session. Of course those are just words if is not stressed and practiced. I try to pint out great concentration, effort or intensity and I also remind when it is not here. We are asking for this for an hour. This prepares for the game.

The other thought is that we are seeking 100% improvement, impossible you say, well not really. Think of it this way if you can improve 1% a day it is possible or even 1% a week. It is possible but it demands ICE + focus.

More Ssustained Excellence

One that I forgot was Saint Johns University in Minnesota with John Gagliardi as coach. He is the most non traditional Football coach ever! They do not scrimmage, they do hit is practice, they do not study film, they have no formal off season conditioning program, despite this, or actually because of this they go deep into the DIII Playoffs each year and John Gagliardi is still coaching well into his seventies and he began coaching his high school team when he was 16! That is longevity and sustained excellence.