Hamstrings and Oblique Pulls in Baseball

I am amazed and astounded at the number of hamstring pulls and oblique pulls in baseball. I do not have any first hand knowledge of specific situations, but I am quite aware of the training culture in this sport. I have lived this day to day and seen what can and cannot be and what should and should not be done. It is beyond belief to see players miss months with a hamstring pull. That is appalling and alarming. There is either gross negligence, incompetence or a completely flawed rehab and training methodology. I suspect a combination of the three. Based on my experiences in Track & Field I would expect an athlete to miss three weeks on the outside. Oblique strains are a different story, they take a long time to heal. Those muscles once injured basically never rest because they are involved in breathing and other everyday activities that we are hardly aware of.

Here are some reasons why I think there is the number of hamstring pulls in baseball and my opinions on why the rehab is taking so long:

Players do not sprint enough. They only go all out during the games. They save themselves.

When they do run they only sprint straight ahead, they do not run curves and arcs. The hamstrings are under greatest stress coming out of turn (rounding a base).

Lack of understanding of hamstring function.

Lack of understanding of the mechanism of injury - hamstring pulls are deceleration injuries.

Improper strength training - use of hamstring curls and strengthening exercises that focus on the hamstring in non-functional positions.

Over reliance on machines for “running.” – Elliptical machines that lock you into a limited range, stair steppers that do the same, and high-speed treadmills that foster incorrect running mechanics.

Lack of understanding of correct sprint mechanics, as they are adapted to the sport.

Once they are injured rehab must emphasize getting their feet back on the ground string with walking and extensive work on the non-involved leg. They should be jogging in two days! I know with the Mets there was over reliance on a new therapy pool, the players lost coordination and did get a “feel” for the ground. Therapy pools are OK, but should not be the main focus.

In regard to the oblique strains, here is my two cents worth:

Excessive amounts of non-functional “Ab” work done in seated, prone or supine positions.

Over emphasis on flexion/extension movements, not enough rotation in training.

When medicine ball is done, there is too much emphasis on the throw, not enough on the catch.

Once again a lack of understanding of the mechanism of injury, it is a deceleration injury. It occurs not accelerating the bat or the ball, but in deceleration.

I am not very optimistic that we will see these injuries controlled in the near future. Baseball is a monkey see monkey do sport, way too many fads in training, not enough good training methodology. The front office administrative types rely way too much on Doctors who have no understanding of function or training. Too many egos, not enough teamwork. The result is that there are millions of dollars of players on the sideline.


Perdita Felician - Second in the World

It was neat to see Perdita get second in the 100Meter Hurdles yesterday at the World Athletics Championships in Osaka. As many of you know she fell in the final in Athens. It has taken her this long to get back to best form. I am continually amazed at how the athletes that Gary Winckler coaches can consistently be at their seasonal or lifetime best in major championships. He truly understands Planned Performance Training. There are many lessons to be learned from Gary.

Trash Talking & Lack of Respect

Joe P. made the comment that he thought this could be traced back to Muhammad Ali, I agree with that. That was the starting point. I think it was the shoe companies that raised the ante. They are the ones that continue to run these ads that promote disrespect for the opponent and for that matter authority. I think coaches, parents, and administrators should call on these companies to clean up their acts. What would be wrong with positive portals of completion? I would love to see an ad where a superstar says “I could not have done without my opponent.” (The problem is that the opponent might be wearing a different brand)

Tuesday, University of Michigan

It was real neat learning day for me yesterday. We met and evaluated the last four years of the dryland program. We paid particular attention as to how it correlated with in the water training. It is neat to work with a guy like Jim Richardson whose training is principle based. We are working on evaluating the elements of the program, what needs to be reinforced, what needs to be changed and what needs to be added. Once again it comes down to need to do, nice to do and want to do. These kind of long term working relationship are what I live for. It is a creative problem solving process with the goal to keep the swimmer healthy and swimming fast.

Pinball Coaching

I call Pinball Coaching the approach where the coach is constantly looking for the secret, the new latest and greatest training for instant success. Pinball coaching is impulsive and filled with scattered unrelated ideas and concepts that occasionally yield results. One year there is one answer, next year another answer. I have even seen the answer change from week to week. It is the opposite of the systematic and sequential approach that yields consistent results. It seems that the Pinball coaches are always looking for the 2% that will put them over the top, the Holy Grail so to speak. Frankly the solution is in the other 98% that is where the secret is. Consistent systematic training accumulating over time will yield consistent and championship results. I also think it is quite ironic that some of the prominent pinball coaches I know are identified as “Scientific” in their approach, when actually they are latching onto voodoo science and pseudo science in their search for the ”answer.” As Gertrude Stein said: “The answer is there is no answer.” Science can help us formulate intelligent questions that help us to guide our training.



Bill Jensen in The Simplicity Survival Handbook pointed out that the number 1440 represents the number of minutes in a day. How you choose to use those minutes is totally up to you. It got me thinking – How do I use those minutes? How much time do I workout? How much personal time? (Not enough) How much professional development? How much time wasted in frivolous activities that do not need to be done?

I am writing this blog in the Tampa airport on my way to Ann Arbor to work with University of Michigan Women’s Swimming. This is the start of the fifth year working with them. This is a real highlight each year for me. The opportunity to work with Jim Richardson, the coach, is worth every minute of being there. He is a coach who gets it. He is always learning and trying to improve. I get fired up being around professionals like Jim.


Self promotion - Are you kidding me?

I resent the anonymous post on self promotion. Please have the courage to state your mane. That was exactly what the coach said to me. Anyone who knows me, knows I am the consummate non self promoter. That being said I do have to make a living and one of my main sources of income is the GAIN Network. I probably should be a lot more self promotion. If this bothers you don’t read the blog!


I am reading a real thought provoking little book by Bill Jensen called The Simplicity Survival Handbook. This is what he suggests about managing time:

Say no more often

Question more often

Call Time Out and Whoa more often

I know this is advice I will take to heart! It made me think about managing my time or letting my time manage me. We all have time, it is what we do with the time that determines our happiness and productivity.

Visit to Excelsior Orthopaedics

I just got back from a three day visit to Buffalo to work with Excelsior Orthopaedics. They are part of the GAIN Network (Gambetta Athletic Improvement Network). The program coordinator of Excelsior Sports training is Ron Brissette. He just finished an eight week Train to Play™- Soccer program with the Canisus high school boy’s soccer team. The coach, Sam Belsito, was very impressed with the progress of his players. In the first days of practice he observed a huge difference in their readiness to play. This summer was the beginning of their program, they also just completed a Sport Ready™ Program for younger athletes just beginning to train. It has been fun to see the program get off the ground and move forward.


Thought Provoking

I think this is very relevant quote in today’s world, not just the sport world. “The glory of great men should always be measured by the means they have used to acquire it.” Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Nadal and Federer – Striving Together

The Latin derivative of the word competition is competere to seek together. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal epitomize this. To be a great champion you must have a worthy opponent to push you to greater heights. This is what these two men are doing. Here is excerpt from this week’s Sports Illustrated that is very revealing about these two men and should make look at the current issues in sport in a slightly different light:

… And here’s where their rivalry is different from most: There’s not a trace of animosity in it. Each man is relentlessly differential toward the other, dispensing more props than a Broadway stagehand. Says Nadal, “To me he is the best player.” Says Federer, “Trust me, I know how good Rafa is.”

Here them gush like this it becomes apparent they are not opposite after all. They were both raised in traditional European families that regard ego as a major character defect. Federer’s modesty is as characteristic as his silken backhand. ( He spent part of his last Christmas break visiting an orphanage in India) But Nadal’s not prima donna either. At the French Open the two-time defending champ was spotted sweeping the clay courts when he was done practicing. “We’re no better than anyone else,” says his uncle and coach, Toni Nadal.

There are many lessons here for our spoiled American superstars. You do not have to trash talk and beat down your opponent to be the best. Let your performance do the talking. Seek out and relish worthy competition, and honor them, that is the essence of true sport.


Scott Radinsky

During my visit to Buffalo to work with Excelsior Sport training I had the opportunity to visit with Scott Radinsky. Scott was a pitcher in the White Sox organization when I first started working for the White Sox. He was left handed pitcher who was drafted in 1986 out of Simi High School in California. He is now the pitching coach for the Triple A Buffalo Bison’s in the Cleveland Indians Organization. It was great to visit with Scott and reminisce about the training we did over twenty years ago. His statement to me was they are telling us that some this stuff is new, but it is things we did in 1987. Scott was really the fist guinea pig in the integrated model of rehab. Scott tore his labrum during instructional league in 1987.He had surgery done by a friend of mine, Dr Alan Strizak in California. We were told that we could do anything we wanted with Scoot because he would ”never make it.” I took that as challenge because I thought this kid had heart and talent. He was just quiet and reserved; in short he did not fit the norm. He did all his initial rehab out at Dr Strizaks clinic. Steve Ogders was helping at the time working with individual players while he was still training for decathlon, so he helped with Scott’s rehab. We had him throwing right-handed about three weeks post op (He was left handed). He continued surfing; I figured the paddling would help him. He then missed the whole1988 while he continued his rehab and progression back to pitching. In 1989 he pitched for our South Bend team and dominated the league, he was throwing four to five miles per hour faster than before surgery. In 1990 he made the major league team and pitched for the White Sox, then the Dodgers, the St Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians and Florida Marlins. He had a very productive major league career, that was interrupted for one year by a bout with cancer.

I have seldom had an athlete work harder than Scott. He completely changed his body after the injury. He transformed himself from a not very fit surfer dude into a lean athlete. Nobody wanted to play med ball with him, because he threw the ball so hard. He is as fit today as when he was pitching. He proudly told me that he still does all the workouts. Scott was one of a group of amazing hard working pitchers from the White Sox organization who went on to have very productive major league careers. The pitchers of today could learn a lot by talking to him and those other pitchers and seeing what they did.

As a post script when I got home that evening I flipped on the tube and saw that Joe Borowski had just gotten his 36th save for the Indians. He was another one of those hard working pitchers who forged a very good career for himself. Good hard directed work does pay off.


Wake Up - Call to Action

This will probably not be a popular post in certain quarters, I am going to challenge some people and hopefully make all of you think. This post is not a knee jerk response or impulsive, rather it is a culmination of my observations of what I see going on in the field today. It is also not an indictment, this is a challenge, a challenge to change and get better. There are many great professionals out there who are working hard to improve and get better, to all of you stay the course, get active and help define this field. To the other get off your butts, keep an open mind, learn, stop repeating the same experience over and over.

Here are some things that I have seen first hand that prompted me to write this:

Punter at school in SEC hurts his back while testing 1RM squats two days before the start of practice, he cannot punt for two weeks.

At another Division I school swimmers are made to power clean and back squat with weight – the swimmers have back problems.

I know Division I Track & Field coaches who will not let their athletes anywhere near a strength coach.

At one school all athletes in all sports are tested on the big three, regardless of sport demand.

At another school hockey goalkeepers are tested on bench press maximum reps with 185 pounds and then tested on twelve minute run.

I could go on with numerous examples, but hopefully this makes the point.

Here are some questions and statements meant to stimulate thought:

Is what you are doing based on an exercise or a method of exercise or is it principle based?

Are you creating athletes who are adapted to the weight room or are your creating adaptable athletes ready for all the demands of their sport?

Do you ever participate in or watch a whole training session/practice in a sport you are working with?

How is strength training integrated into skill development, technical and tactical development of the sports you are working with?

If your weight room was closed for repairs could you still train the athletes you work with?

Do the sport coaches you work with believe in, endorse and participate in what you do or do they tolerate it?

What is your job? Are you a coach or a weight room supervisor?

Does everyone you work with get the same program?

How many injuries to the athletes you work with can be traced to exercises or methods you are using?

Are you fit enough and proficient to demonstrate what you are teaching? Can you talk the talk and walk the walk?

If you do not want the trainer (ATC), Doctor or Physical Therapist telling you what to do, then what are you doing to be proactive and take command of the situation?

We need to wake up, stop trying to build Strength & Conditioning into a separate empire. We must recognize that out job is to help the coaches put the healthiest, athletically prepared athlete on the field. Strength and Conditioning is not an end unto itself, it is a means to an end. Remember it is the sport coaches whose job is on the line, not yours. All of us (myself included) need to take a close look at what we are doing and how we are doing it.


Thoughts on Training

Real training is characterized by:

No Fads

No Frills

Just Training appropriate for the sport



I have always said it is essential to differentiate between the Need to Do and the Nice to Do. Yesterday my colleague, Bill Knowles, gave me another to one to consider – The Want to DO.

Finally a thought from John Wooden: “Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out.”


Work or Training

I was talking to a swim coach the other day and he made the following comment: “I saw something on a web site on Kettlebell training and it looks really hard. I think I will put it in my program.” I took a deep breath and admonished him to take a step back and think about what he was trying to achieve. It is hard, but is it beneficial training in the context in which he wants to use it? Kettlebells until you puke may make you tired but will it make you better? Before all of you over react and think I am bagging Kettlebell work read the rest of this post.

Kettlebell work is a viable training method. It is not new and it was not invented to train the Russian Special Forces. In fact there was Kettlebell training before there were Russian Special Forces. I do not see it as a focal point or a cornerstone of a training program. It is one piece of the training puzzle. In my estimation there are many things that must be done to prepare and lead up to Kettlebell work.

In my system it is a mode to achieve the following: Total body work - Pulling movements, Upper Body – Pushing movements and Core – Swinging and chopping. As a mode of training it must fit the system – not the other way around. If you do not approach it that way, then the tail is wagging the dog.

There are secondary adaptations (I want to credit Carl Valle for this term) that occur with Kettlebell training aside form the strength gains:

1) Increased proprioceptive demand

2) Greater recruitment of synergistic and stabilizing muscles

3) Greater metabolic coast? (Jury is out on this one)

Use the mode in a system as part of a spectrum strength training approach. One caution is that you can develop some nagging wrist and elbow tendonitis if you do not use proper grip and learn proper technique.


More on Lane Kiffin

My reply to the following comments, to clarify my last statement: Not sure I understand your last comment/question. Are you saying that having an opened door to take advantage of is a bad thing? No by no means, he had contacts, proved himself at USC and has a great opportunity. If you have contacts use them, but you still have to do the job.

Surely with all of your contacts someone has done the same for you? (I mean this with all due respect) – Certainly not starting out. I had NO contacts. I started as Junior High school teacher. It was not until I had coached eight years that I was able to develop some contacts. I had to prove myself every step of the way. I think that is what Kiffin has had to do. I am sure his name opened some doors but he had to do the job or he would not be where he is today.

Venice Volleyball – Leg Circuit Test

Friday we tested on the Leg Circuit

Bodyweight Squat x 20 (Break Parallel)

Bodyweight Lunge x 20 (Lunge as long as leg length)

Bodyweight step-up x 20 (Touch head at full extension)

Jump Squat x 10

The test was one time through the circuit for time. The whole squad was under 1 minute 10 seconds which is outstanding. One girl broke the one minute barrier, even though she had to do five extra lunges. In my system this indicates they are right on course in terms of the whole program. They have been training since January 11. This week they play two pre-season games, next week the regular season starts. The challenge now will be to continue to build during the first third of the season.


Paying your dues

There was an interesting article in this weeks Sports Illustrated about Lane Kiffin the very young head coach for the Oakland Raiders. I read the article with great interest on two levels: One was how proud his father must be (Father is longtime NFL assistant) and second is, what are his fathers contemporaries are thinking about this - What has this young whipper snapper done to deserve being a head a head coach at age 31? I know I have been pretty outspoken about paying your dues, but this guy has paid some dues and he will pay some dues big time if he does not produce. It took some guts and calculation on his part to accept the job, also knowing that he would be working with a toxic owner in Al Davis. He has also made some interesting picks in assistant coaches. In response to a reporters question about that he said: ”Sometimes you have an assistant coach teaching the same thing for 10, 12 years in a row, almost going through the motions. I’ve got guys whose livelihoods depend on how they coach and how we play.”

My question is how many doors were opened for him because he was lane Kiffin’s son that would not have opened for him. It will be interesting to watch his growth and progress.

Define “Athlete”

My post on John Daley being an athlete has generated a lot of response both on and off line. My friend Kevin McGill has challenged me to open it up to the readers for a definition. I have no problem with that. What do all of you define as a n athlete. One ground rule – PLEASE – no names as examples. As Sergeant Joe Friday used to say on Dragnet – Just the facts or in this case, just a definition!


Some Real Athletes


Who is the Athlete?

Who is the athlete - the rider or the horse?


You can’t tell a book by its cover

Do not let appearances fool you. Yea, John Daly is an athlete. He probably does not use good judgment in his personal habits, but by many standards he can still get it done. He does not have to run the course, if he did the he would either be smaller or not play. If you use the appearance criteria then why do big fat linemen get a free pass? Fitness is relative to your sport and position. In fact I recall my early days with the White Sox when we got a pitcher to lose twenty pounds in the off season. The result was he really looked good in a uniform, but he lost velocity and could not get anyone out.

Golf and Athleticism

I was a bit surprised by the comment the other day that the golf swing is not an athletic skill. I have to disagree – it is a very demanding closed athletic skill. Just because it is a closed skill doesn’t mean it is not athletic. If that were the case shot, archery and similar activities would not be athletic. I am definitely not a golfer, never played the game. (I do think golf courses are great places to run.) I have always been fascinated by golf and its physical and skill demands. The demands are intricate, just like any skill it can be trained. What does seem funny to me is that with all the knowledge of biomechanics that there is still so much “opinion’ in regard to the golf swing. It seems to me that based on biomechanics there are certain absolutes that must be achieved to have an effective golf swing.

The Gravity Challenge

Can you beat Mr. Gravity? You may cheat him but you will never win!

Mr. Platehead

If your only look at the world through the hole in an Olympic weight plate, you will lose peripheral vision. Continually looking at movement from one point of view becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Look at the big picture, look at relationships and connections. How can these be enhanced and fostered. If there is a problem, where is the breakdown occurring? Approach each training problem with a beginners mind, have no preconceived notions. Think and look global, see movement with different eyes. Be willing to take a risk. Try a new path. There is a big difference between a routine and a rut. Are you in a rut with your training programs? Remember a tool in one persons hands can be a weapon in another’s.


Key Ability

Tony Dungy said he was “only interested in one ability – availability.”

Losers Laments

I peaked too soon

I peaked too late

I never peaked

My periodization was too linear

My periodization did not undulate, but I did!

I have not started speed work

Too much speed work


Yesterdays Far Side Calendar – Dogs or people does it matter?

Starbucks Experience

I got up early and did some reading. I got a craving for an iced decaf Café Mocha with four iced cubes (no whipped Cream) and a piece of banana loaf, so I packed up my books and my notepad and drove over to a nearby Starbucks. I had to stand in a line for a couple of minutes, no problem, the Bob Dylan song they were playing got me through that. I decided to sit there for awhile and just people watch. It was a fascinating slice of American culture 2007, I think this probably replaces sitting around at the old country store or the neighborhood diner. I got there at 7:30, obviously peak going to work time. Line out the door, no problem for people to queue up to pay $3.50 to $4.50 for a cup of coffee (By the way Garrison Keillor does not call it Starbucks, he calls it ten bucks for that reason). There were several groups sitting around meeting – A Christian men’s business group reading the bible – probably praying for the next dollar. A group of elementary school teacher’s getting ready for their first week of school and a couple of old geezers talking about how Hilary would lead the county to ruin.

I could not help but think of an interview I saw with Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks, on CSPAN earlier in the year. His statement was: “It is not about the coffee, it is about the experience.” He has certainly created an experience as evidenced by what I see every time I go to Starbucks. They have great service, employees who seem to care about the customer. The guy making my mocha today apologized because he put six ice cubes in the mocha, not four. Come on, but he was genuine. Next time you have a spare twenty minutes go to a Starbucks and see what I mean. This past eighteen months I have had the same experience in Edinburgh, London and Brisbane.

A note: In the interest of full disclosure I am a Starbucks stockholder. I bought the stock this past year because of my experiences at Starbucks. I felt that anyone that that did business like this had to succeed.

How True

Is not this true in any sport?

Take a strong wrestler, get them tired, and they aren't as strong.
Take a quick wrestler, get them tired, and they aren't as quick.
Take a technical wrestler, get them tired, and they aren't as technical.
No matter what kind of wrestler, everyone is afraid of getting tired.
It's those who learn to perform when they're tired that find success.
- J. Robinson


Some Thoughts

Here are some random unrelated thoughts that
I found in my notes. I write notes and thoughts in a little notebook that I carry with me. Sometimes they make no sense after I read them. I found these today, they seemed to make sense to me, and so I think they would be worth sharing.

A comment from an unknown athlete: “They call it work, I call it a game.”

From a coach in Australia talking about Rugby: “Skill them as a prop, condition them as a rugby paler.”

Regarding chess moves: “does not play moves, they play global patterns.”

Play the game, don't work the game. Be a kid, have fun!

Tiger Woods - "The Art of Winning"

The following are excerpts from an article entitled It Was Over Long Before It Was Over By DAVE ANDERSON in Mondays August 13, 2007 New York Times Sports page. Tiger Woods epitomizes what Dweck calls the Growth Mindset. I have always been very impressed by how handles pressure and how he conducts interviews. There are many lessons to be learned from this great athlete.

Of all the elements in Woods’s wizardry, the most impressive has been his gift for what he called the “art of winning”: to stay steady in the pressure cooker of the back nine, or to thwart a challenge. Nobody does it better. And he knows it.

“I know what to do when I’m in that situation, I know what it takes,” he predicted Saturday evening after his 69 in the third round. “There’s a certain feel that you get out there that you can understand what the guys could do and are capable of doing on the back nine, the round, how the wind’s blowing. You just get a certain feel for what the number’s going to be that day. And a lot of times I’ve called the number and I’ve been pretty good on it.”

But like all golfers, Woods had to lose to learn that art of winning. Of his 264 events as a pro, he has won 79 (59 on the PGA Tour), but there were 185 that he didn’t win. And for all his amateur and junior success, including a six-year streak of three United States Amateurs and three United States Juniors, there were many more tournaments that he did not win.

“I think it’s a process of learning,” he said. “A lot of junior and amateur events I played in, I didn’t win that many. But you live and learn. You apply that knowledge. And over the years when I’ve put myself in position to win, I think I’ve done a better job of that as I’ve matured.”


Those who ignore history

Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it. There was a great interview the other day on Public Radio about this handbook that had been produced for US Servicemen posted in Iraq during WWII. The interview was with Lt. Colonel John A. Nagl who wrote a forward to the reprint. The point of all of this is that if some of our leaders both political and military had read this book we might be where we are now.

A Classic

This is the google quote of the day:
If the Phone Doesn't Ring, It's Me
- Jimmy Buffett

Fair Question

In response to my post on entitlement there was the following response:

Seems it should be less about age category and more of a focus on quality experience. There are quite a few younger coaches out there who have a lot of quality experience and there are plenty of older coaches (been around for over 10 years) who are horrible.

Does this mean that the older coaches have 'paid their dues'? Not sure I believe so.

Vern would love to get even more clarity on your opinion!

Glad to. You are right this is not completely about age. There are coaches my age who have had one experience many times. I abhor that as much as the young coaches who want it now. Quality experiences (plural) are important. In regard to paying dues I really can only speak for myself and the coaches I interact with. Paying your dues is important. When I hear coaches that have five or ten years experience asking for a pay raise because they have been on the job for x years, I get upset. What have you done? What have you contributed to the profession? You cannot have it now. I know how I have grown and learned from successes and mistakes. There is no substitute for this. I feel it is a stepwise process, much the same as developing an athlete.One of the best degrees I have is from the school of hard knocks!

What does this mean?

Yesterday I was searching for some information for a project when I came across this on a university’s strength and conditioning site:

Linear/Undulating Periodization
Olympic-style Weightlifting

What exactly does this mean? Is this philosophy? This remands me of the coach who told me his philosophy was to train the “Big Three.” I always thought a philosophy was an underlying belief.


Salt Pills AKA Happy Pills

Joe thanks for reminding me. I guess I suppressed that from my memory as part of the post traumatic stress response. We were required to take salt pills! The next year under a new coach we introduced to to the first version of Gatorade which we called called Bulldog Pee, absolutely impossible to stomach.

I also forgot that my post AM practice replenishment drink was Mountain Dew. I think that was the first year it was out. Fifteen cents a bottle from the locker room vending machine.

Life in the big city

My daughter took this picture on a recent visit to New York City

Kary Mullis Quote

Kary Mullis on the process used in his Nobel Prize winning work on Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) “In a sense, I put together elements that were already there, but that is what inventors always do. You can’t make up new elements. Usually the new element, if any, it was the combination, the way they were used.”

George Kennan Quote

“A knowledge of human history should have warned us, perhaps against the assumption that material things and gadgets might have more than a limited bearing on human happiness.”

Update - FB Circa 60's

Just found out from a friend of mine that when my former college coach went to work for the Tampa Bay Bucs in their first year year that they did more of the same. The problem was in the 1970's he should have known better. Here is what they did:
"Year 1 Bucs. The players were only allowed one 12 oz. drink during a 2+ hour practice. Two-a-days went for almost six weeks, well into exhibition games."

Coaching Structure & Teaching Model

Always be FUNdamental

Have two or three drills that you use to start each session – do not allow them to be mundane – coach them

Great coaches stress fundamental at all times

Account for individual difference in the team context wherever possible

Stress Situational Awareness – Game Sense

There is no correct or incorrect way to do things – Get er done

The perfect game has never been played

Mistakes are OK as long as you learn from them

Create adaptable athletes who do not have to think – make it reflexive and reactive

Basic Teaching Model (Remember athletes learn things by doing)

Show it (Visual of you doing it)

Chalk it (Diagram)

Talk It (Auditory)

Walk It (Kinesthetic)

Do It!

Start each session with a theme – Maybe even a word they have to use to key into a desired action

Give them homework

Give them the pan for each two weeks – make sure the parents get a copy

Be organized – Everyone responds to that!

Teaching and Coaching is selling

Correct unacceptable behavior and praise good behavior

Entitlement or Paying Your Dues

This post might be more appropriate for two old broken down coaches sitting on the front porch of a rest home talking about the good old days, but here goes: You just being there and putting in the time are not enough. Good enough is not good enough if you want to be the best. To be the best at what you do requires more that saying you are the best. You must pay you dues. Earn respect. Continue to learn. Never be satisfied. I must admit I am baffled by a lot of what I see I see today in the younger generations, especially generation Y and X. For some reason these generations seem to have a sense of entitlement. I have heard too many thirty something coaches complaining about the long hours and low pay, the time they must put in the off season, in short all things that are part of earning your way. Wake up guys and gals pay your dues. Show your worth. Do not let other people define your jobs, you define them. Do the job better than anyone else. Prove your worth and then and only then will you get rewarded both professionally and financially. I asked someone the other day why he deserved a pay raise when the team is terrible and underachieving, there are too many injuries. I asked him what he had done to make the team better? The response was it is not my fault, then whose is it? It is simple if it is to be it is up to me, my fate is in my hands where it should be. Get up, get out, get going seize the opportunity and prove your worth and then the rewards will come.


Herbie-Hancock Quote

“A great teacher is one who realizes that he himself is also a student and whose goal is not to dictate the answers, but to stimulate his students creativity enough so that they go out and find the answers themselves.”

American College Football Circa 1965

Over the past week I have talked to different people involved in college football today. Some were strength and conditioning coaches and some football coaches and some athletic trainers, kind of covering all the bases from skill, to physical preparation to injuries. After these conversations I could not but help to look back on my days as a college football player and contrast it to today. It was certainly a different era.

I played at Fresno State College in the mid 1960’s. We practiced twice a day, morning session 9:00 Am to 11:30 AM with another session in the evening from 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM. Full gear at each session, full contact at each session. No air conditioning anywhere. Fans, non existent, shade was precious. In the California central valley it typically got up to 100 degrees during the day. Morning workouts began with the temperature around 80 degrees Fahrenheit and ending in the low 90’s. For evening workouts the temperature was usually around 100 degrees. It was hot, damn hot. The uniforms did not breathe and they were heavy. We were not allowed to take our helmets off during practice. We did our conditioning in full gear and they ran the piss out of us. One water break during practice, we got a Dixie cup and were implored not to drink too much because it might cause stomach cramps. We began practice after Labor Day and went ten days of two a day practices.

During training camp we had a training table. Breakfast was at 7:00 AM Lunch at 12:30 and Dinner at 4:30 Pm. We were required to be there. The only meal I could eat was lunch. I was afraid to eat breakfast before morning practice and the same with dinner before evening practice. I started my sophomore season during two a days at 220 ponds wearing 46 long team blazer. We played University of Hawaii in Hawaii at Thanksgiving I weighed 186 pounds. No training table in season. I lived in the dorm and they would keep a dinner for me if I got there before 7:30. The dinners were awful and not near enough to main mass. There was no training table in season except for pregame meal. That was the highlight of the week for me. I would get in line behind Harry Miller, the team captain, who could not eat before games. I would eat his steak and baked potatoes, with heaps of sour cream and then eat my steak and anything else I could scavenge. The toughest part of the game for me was pregame warm-up. I was hoping I would get hit and lose my dinner.

We did no weight training in season, in fact in the off season we were on our own. We were implored to stay in shape, but given no program. Fortunately I started working out with the track jumpers and throwers which led to where I am today. In fact our red neck racist line coach found out that I was lifting weight and tried to get me to cut back because I might “muscle bound.” I was a terrible football player and small, the only way I could survive was to lift weights.

Knowing what I know now coaching was primitive at best. We hardly had team meetings or film sessions. Scouting reports were two or three pages of mimeographed plays. We played a very good schedule including San Diego State, Cal Poly, Long Beach Sate, LA State, University of Pacific, Montana Sate, San Jose Sate, Washburn University, University of Colorado and University of Hawaii. The last won was big for me. My whole goal in my sophomore year was to make the traveling squat to Hawaii. I started out as fourth string center and through injury and attrition I climbed the depth chart to second string near the end of the season. We played Hawaii in the last game over thanksgiving. I was afraid I would get hurt or piss off the red neck line coach and not make it, but I did. Four days in Hawaii I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was my first plane trip, and a jet at that, I got a window seat and looked out the window the whole trip. What a rube!

The team during those days was interesting. I was the only player who made it off the freshman team. The main source of players was from junior colleges. Most of my teammates were three to four years older than me because many of them had been in the army or marines during the Berlin and Cuban Missile crisis. I was an 18 year old sophomore playing with 22 and 23 years guys who had seen it all. I could not believe when they laughed at he coaches. It was also the first time I had been around black athletes. Everyday before every practice everyone had to get their ankles taped, no pre wrap in those days. By the end of the season the tape cuts were ugly. I hated waiting in line for forty five minutes every day waiting to be taped, but on the other hand for me this was my education to the ways of the world, listening to the guys telling stores of being in Germany during the Berlin Crisis or one of the black players talking about visiting his grand parents in the south and being chased by the KKK.

This whole experience was an education. I learned a lot about things that I would never do as a coach. I think the experience motivated me to become a coach. It certainly turned me off to football and the brutality that was encouraged. I really think the players playing today are quite fortunate to have better coaching and knowledge of simple things like hydration. Looking back I am really amazed that no one ever died of heat exhaustion. I am also surprised that there were very few injuries.


Steve Nash

This guy is not a one trick pony. Read the article in today’s New York Times Sports page. During the summer he plays soccer. He plays on different recreation league teams in New York.

Nash spends most of the year running the point for the Phoenix Suns, but in the off-season, he can be found playing soccer in rec leagues in New York. “It’s better for me than just running lines,” he said. “I don’t want to play a lot of basketball until September’s over or I’ll burn myself out. I just shoot, work out and play soccer.”

I think there is a real message here that reinforces what many of us have been preaching; it is about having a base of athleticism and movement skills. He grew up in Victoria, Canada playing a wide array of sports. He probably played more soccer than basketball in his youth. His brother is a National team player for Canada. When I first saw Steve Nash he was a junior in high school at a private school in Victoria. I was the conditioning coach for the Canadian National Basketball team at the time. Ken Shields, the head coach invited him over to an evening practice and scrimmage with the National team at Mount Douglas high school. He was not as tall and physically mature as he is now but clearly you could see the potential and the athleticism. From then on he polished and honed his basketball skills, but never forgot the athletic base. In testing during my time with the Canadian team, through 1994 he was by far the fittest player as measured on the Leger Beep test. Today it is cool to want to be like Steve, but I am not sure everyone understands what he has done to get to where he is today.


What we have going is a classic communication issue. You are not reading what I am writing and you are not hearing what I am saying. I am embarrassed by some of the verbal barbs that have been passed back and forth the past few days. Let’s suffice to say that this must end. I will not tolerate the personal attacks that have been appearing. Be professional and responsible in your comments. I am going to weigh in with a comment that I hope ends it all. Drug use in sport is cheating. Cheating should not be tolerated. Major sports organizations have turned a blind to cheating because without drugs it would not be the same show and it would hurt the bottom line. The end!


Dirty Ugly Secrets

In baseball and many other sports there is a huge conspiracy of silence that has gone on and continues today. I am convinced NOBODY is really willing to confront the problem of drugs in sport head on. I will use baseball as an example. Coaches, trainers, owners, general managers all knew or strongly suspected what was going on. The approach was “if we ignore the problem it will go away.” In baseball there is a culture of tolerance for drugs in the form of alcohol and amphetamines.

I am really interested to see who Mitchell has talked in his inquiry. Have they talked to Jason Giambi’s personal trainer who had to know what was going on? Have they talked to everyone involved with the Texas Rangers during the Juan Gonzales era? Have they talked to all the team trainers, assistant trainers, conditioning coaches and clubhouse people? I suspect not. Why because they do not want to know how deep the problem is.

Anonymous Posts

Please identify yourself when you post. I do not moderate the comments (I have better things to do) Try to keep the comments professional and not personal. If you are unwilling to identify yourself, then do not post. I do not want this blog to turn into another list where everyone argues over petty points. Hopefully we can stay above that. Differing opinions and dissent are encouraged. Think before you respond, like I think before I write the blogs. My goal with this blog is to define the field of Athletic Development, to do that we must all think outside the box and question.

One Trick Ponies

Are you training a one trick ponies? What do I mean? Essentially are you putting all your eggs in one basket and emphasizing one component of training method with you athletes. If you are I would urge to reconsider because that one trick will wear thin. Now what?

Joe Vigil

Joe is one my mentors and a continual inspiration to me. Tuesday evening I got a call from Joe. It is always great to hear from him. He is a precious resource, a great coach, scientist and person. I wanted to ask me some questions about training, specifically the origins of the SAID Principle. I was taken aback, because here is the guy I learn from asking me my opinion. The bottom line is here is PhD coach of tremendous athletes always trying to learn. We could all learn a lesson from this. No matter how you know you should never stop learning. Joe has a PhD in exercise physiology and at least two master degrees yet he still does one hour a day of professional development reading daily, usually at 4:00 AM. He is now helping with Ryan Hall’s training, watch out for this kid in the long run (no pun intended).



You are not leading if no one is following.

Where was Bud?

Last night’s breaking of the Hank Aaron record by BALCO Barry is a shame and a shame. To me it just points out that this is entertainment not sport. It is actually theater of the absurd. Let hear it for flaxseed oil! By the way Bud was hiding somewhere with his other crone owners counting the attendance dollars accrued by all of this.

Rocky Had IT Right

Was Rocky Balboa onto something when he was training in the meat locker? Current thinking would seem to indicate that he was ahead of his time. My friend Dean Benton, Performance Director for the Brisbane Broncos, said that if had his way he would have the team spend halftime in a refrigerator truck. When he first mentioned it I thought he had lost it. Since then I have come across this more and more. I heard a of a rugby team in England using a cold storage facility for recovery. I am in the process of researching and have a couple of research articles that seem to suggest there is validity to this. Anecdotally the comment is the players feel refreshed. I have no idea of protocols or ideal temperature but it certainly is thought provoking. Will teams that are traveling ask the hotel to use their walk refrigerator? If I were a betting man I would say yes. If anyone has more information on this or actual research please send it to me.

Dancing on the edge

Can a genius be satisfied with the mundane and the status quo? I was watching a documentary on movie producer and director Sam Peckinpah. His approach made me thing about this. He was always dancing on the edge, pushing the envelope on what could be done in film. It got me thinking that this was also true in human athletic performance. To be the absolute best, you have to push the envelope; you must dance on the edge. The difference between highest level athlete performance and sickness and injury are balancing on a razor edge. It is almost like you have to be a gunfighter; you must be on the edge, living with the constant realization that there is always someone out there who could be faster.

I am convinced that is why so many athletes will not retire and when they do they have a tough transition to normal life. High level competition and training is an almost constant rush, an adrenaline high necessary to get to the top and stay there.


Venice Volleyball

Actual pre-season practice started today. I will be work with the 11 girls who made varsity. It does seem weird to have so few to work with, but I am going to enjoy it. We are working it so that each girl has some physical literacy homework based on individual needs. Each girl will also have some mental skill things that they have to work on. During two a day practices I will work with them for one session and the other session will be led by one of the girls. The idea here is to develop responsibly and leadership. They have worked as hard as nay team I have worked with professional or amateur. If they keep focused and build on their base this season will be an interesting journey

Answer to Words

In answer to the following query: “That stated, when do you "isolate" a joint or in other words the ankle complex might need to get "special exercises" to ensure it's working properly or the adductor/hammy complex needs manual therapy to break up adhesions….just curious to what you do in actual practice….” I try to avoid isolation at all costs, in my world there is no place for isolation or reductionism. If the ankle joint needs special exercises we will work hard to devise movements that cause the ankle joint to dominate the movement, so we don’t have to take another step to integrate it back into the system. If manual therapy is needed or based on a qualified medical opinion then I will not do anything. I will find the best qualified physical therapist that knows ART and ASTYM and have them work on it. I AM A COACH, not a therapist. I work with great therapists as part of a performance team. Also in another comment in you post you seem to imply that that movement is initiated by the core, movement occurs around and through the core, it is not initiated by core. Gait is the cornerstone of function. In short what I do in practice is coach – no hidden agenda. I learned the hard to not to try to be something I am not. In those immortal words from Steve Myrland " Don't try to pick the fly shit out of the pepper."


Words are just that, words. Words by themselves have meaning, but they do not have the same power until they are put in context. The same holds true for an exercise, an exercise is just that, an exercise, until it is put in context. This is a consistent theme that I continually try to emphasize. Words and exercises represent a reductionist, isolationist approach. Context represents the opposite, a big picture, integrated, quantum approach. It is so trite to say that the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts, but it is so true.

In the process of building and rebuilding an athlete it is not linear and reductionist. Rather it is a process of never losing sight of the big picture stressing coordination and integration of all components recognizing that the body is a self organizing organism.



In response to following comment: “Love the stimulating questions. Would also love however to hear your own answers to your questions!” If I had the answers I probably would not be asking the questions. If I did have the answers then I would not be writing this blog, I would be sitting in a hut, on top of a mountain, with a long Grey beard, wearing a wizard cap dispensing eternal knowledge. Gertrude Stein once said: “The answer is there is no answer.” In my little world questions are more important than answers.

Listen To Your Body

Coaches always tell athletes to listen to their bodies. Do we ever tell them what they should listen for or listen to? What if they don’t hear anything? What if they are deaf?

Making Changes

Make small changes in many areas - rather massive change in one area. The thought is paraphrased from a presentation by Bill Sweetenham, Australian Swim Coach

Why Do Single Leg Squats?

A picture is worth a thousand words - we play on one leg!

Two of My Heroes

Jim Radcliffe and Gary Winckler are two of my heroes. I admire what they have done as coaches. They are two people who are great teachers, firm and fair and are always working to get better. They are all about substance, not style. If this were the old west they would be the quiet sheriff in town who kept order without ever firing their guns. These guys are class acts. I have been reminded of this in the last two weeks as I have used them as sounding boards for advice on a big decision I have to make. When the bottom fell out two years ago they there to help, unlike a lot of the hangers on who professed friendship and bailed when it looked like I would no longer to be able to help them. I am proud to have these guys as my heroes,the bonus is that they are also my friends.


The Revolution Now - The Blog Two Years Later

Today marks the second anniversary of this blog. Two years ago when I started this journey I had no idea where this was going to go. I was at the low point of my professional life. I was looking for something that would get me back on track and would help to reignite my passion for teaching and coaching. I know that I had to define and in many ways redefine myself and my personal mission. I could let my very toxic experiences with the NY Mets and the Nike Oregon project either defeat me or give me a renewed sense of purpose and direction. Working on the blog brought me back to a focus and a purpose of what I wanted to do moving forward with my life and my career. Just the process of selecting the name of the blog really helped to redefine what my mission had been and what it would be going forward. My mission had always been to build and rebuilt the complete athlete, but I realized to continue to that I had to get back on the functional path. I also realized that the filed that I worked had very little direction and definition so I set out on this journey to define the field of Athletic Development. We are making progress and the blog has contributed. Your frank and candid comments have really helped to move this process forward. No one person can and should define this field. It must be a collective effort. In the next years going forward with this blog and with other projects that will be my sole focus. Literally everything I do will be dedicated to that purpose. I hope you will join me and contribute to raising the standard of professionalism, refine the body of knowledge and raise the level of expectation of all those involved.

This is not an ego trip, rather it is my passion and my life. The knowledge and relationships that I have made through coaching are priceless. I want to be able to give back and share successes and failures. The whole field is at a crossroads now. We can get on board and chose to define the field and coach and teach or we can whore out and become glorified personal trainers chasing the almighty dollar wherever it will take us. Defining the field will create jobs and income opportunities that are professional and up lifting. I recognize that all the idealism in the world will not put bread on the table, but to make money we must never compromise our ideals or there will be very little satisfaction or substance to what we do

I want to thank all of you loyal readers. Tell other about the blog. Let’s start a revolution to define this field. In the next few weeks I will have some exciting announcement of what I will be doing going forward and where I will be on my journey along the functional path, I hope you will join me. Remember the pursuit of excellence has its own rewards.


Profound Thought

Training is not linear, nor is life linear!

Where Have They Been?

If you ignore the problem it might go away.You have to ask why they have not been doing this all along. I think they do not real care about clean sport. They are more concerned with getting great marks, TV contracts and sponsorships. My bullshit meter went to ten on this one.

Drug testing to increase at Osaka
Drugs testing laboratory
The IAAF is aiming to boost its fight against drugs
Athletics' governing body (IAAF) will carry out its largest-ever anti-doping programme at the World Championships in Osaka later this month.

Over 1,000 samples will be taken during the eight-day event, eclipsing the 885 tests conducted at the 2005 Worlds.

"We will not tell the athletes what tests we will conduct, nor when," said IAAF president Lamine Diack.

He said the measures would "highlight our ongoing and aggressive commitment to the war on doping".

Diack added: "We know that the overwhelming majority of our athletes compete fairly, so it is for their sake that we must do all we can to chase down and sanction those who attempt to cheat and lie through the use of doping practices.

"Anyone considering cheating should be aware we will use every available method to catch them and that should we choose to do so, we can store their samples for testing at a later date."

Since January the IAAF has collected more than 1,000 unannounced out-of-competition samples.

How Screwed Up is This!!!

This is really sad. Now all the pimps will haunting the playgrounds. What a mess.

Man U signs nine-year-old YouTube wonder kid


LONDON -- Manchester United have signed a gifted nine-year-old after his grandfather sent the Premier League champions a DVD showcasing the boy's talents which has become a YouTube sensation.

Rhain Davis, who was born in England but has lived in Australia since the age of four, was hailed by the British press on Thursday as the next Wayne Rooney after the United striker.

The boy's dribbling and scoring prowess for an Under-10 side in Brisbane, Australia, feature in a four-minute YouTube clip, already viewed more than 800,000 times.

United confirmed the signing but played down the hype around Davis, who has moved back to Cheshire in northern England with his father, near the club's training ground.

"He's a member of our academy and we don't comment on individual members," a United spokesman told Reuters.

He added that the club sign about 40 players of Davis's age every year and, as is standard, will decide annually whether to renew his contract or release him.

What was so unusual in Davis's case was that his skills were brought to the attention of United's youth scouts by the DVD submission, which could inspire other hopefuls, the spokesman said.

"We're bracing ourselves for a whole series of DVDs," he added.

Davis has been thrilled at the chance to rub shoulders with some of his idols.

"The best part has been meeting lots of players like Wayne Rooney," he told British newspapers.