Really can’t comment on Crossfit. I do not have first hand experience with it. Have looked at web site and I do not see a coherent methodology. Remember when you evaluate a method it has to be more than the exercise and more than just getting tired. Look at content and context.


Do you really have to do power cleans to improve power? If you follow the party line of the National Power Clean Association you would think the power clean would be the only exercise that you need to do. If you drink the kool aid you would believe that power cleans can cure cancer! Lets get real here, I can certainly understand the benefits of the power clean in terms of achieving triple extension, but does the benefit outweigh the risk? Why not just do high pulls? It is the catch that causes problems, so eliminate the catch by just doing a high pull. Go one step further and start with dumbbells. The other issue I have with the clean is that it is a technically demanding exercise. It requires significant teaching time and individual instruction and most people do not have the time. It is hard for me to believe you can effectively teach a technically demanding lift with 90 players. I do not know about you but in most situations I have worked in there is a limited of time so if I have to spend several weeks to achieve technical perfection in a lift I am missing out on valuable training time. Also for practical reasons strength training is done after practice or after the other components, therefore you are training a high neural demand activity in a fatigued state that puts you at greater risk of injury. Also most of the times body proportions are not taken into account so we are fitting the athlete to the exercise rather fitting the exercise to the athlete. Why not just do dumbbell jump shrugs and dumbbell high pulls and gradually lead into high pulls with a bar after a good foundation is established. I have done this and the results are outstanding. This is low risk, high return. Then maybe you can go to power cleans if you really think you need to. Progression! Progression! Progression!



I saw this on the NewsHour Monday night. It is an excellent piece. A real wakeup! I think all football, rugby and soccer coaches should be required to view this. Getting your bell rung is not a joke!

New Research Raises Questions on

How to Treat Concussion 'Epidemic'

A test that measures cognitive impairment after a concussion is helping coaches and doctors realize that young athletes are sometimes sent back to the playing field too quickly after a head injury. Betty Ann Bowser reports on concussion treatment in student athletes.





Check this out this is a real nice article written by Paul Scott. He takes on the “health club” industry. Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will enjoy this article.



Paul is a writer who knows his stuff and really does his homework. I enjoy doing interviews with Paul because he always challenges me and makes me think.


Bill Ebben Interview

Bill Ebben PhD – teaches in the Marquette University Department of Exercise Science.I first met Bill when he was a strength and conditioning coach at University of Wisconsin. He has published some good research and has developed a nice program at Marquette.

What are most essential requirements for a successful conditioning program? Good program design and creative exercise selection that follows the principles of specificity. Load progression. Research and practical experience indicates that many exercisers do not self-select optimal loads. Multiples modes of training for variety as well as to be sure that the force velocity curve is "covered." training adherence, since the best program in the world, if not adhered to, is worth nothing. I think the coach/athlete relationship is key to adherence.

What are the most common mistakes in conditioning? Too much aerobic training for non-aerobic sports. Too much long slow distance training. The failure to create anaerobic interval training programs. The failure to make the conditioning sport specific.

What is "functional training" from your point of view? Adhering to the principle of sport, biomechanics, velocity, muscle action/contraction and bioenergetic specificity, with good and creative exercise selection, in order to optimize the transfer of training.

What do you do to make your training more functional? Analyze in detail the requirements of the sport or activity the person is preparing for. Create many unique exercises that match the requirements of the sport or activity.

How important is specificity? There are many research studies on this, including muscle action/contraction, velocity, biomechanics, sport, and training mode specificity and that research is pretty conclusive that it is quite important.
What aspect of conditioning athletes is most difficult and how have you tried to address it? Quantification of plyometric, speed development, and agility training intensity and volume. Many questions remain about how much, how to progress it, etc. We only have anecdotal guidelines for much of this. We do research in some of these areas to further understand as well as closely observing the adaptations our athletes make to any given prescription...we try to be methodical in our attempt to see what works and what does not. Carefully evaluate the pre and post test data.

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

training make? Id like to think nurture makes a fair bit of difference. Otherwise we should find another career. Obviously we cant overcome our genetics to become elite athletes, etc. But nurture helps a fair bit. The size of college and football players is a good example. I doubt that the gene pool evolved in one generation, resulting in players that are now 40 pounds heavier on average than they were 25 years ago. Training and nutrition has had a lot to do with that.

What is the sure sign that a self-proclaimed conditioning guru is not a good source of advice? If the ideas are not based on science and sound professional practice knowledge. If the person seems to lack objectivity. If the person appeals to emotion, numbers or uses other arguments not based on critical thinking. The fact that the person is self proclaiming is a concern in itself.

What do you differently with the female athlete in terms of conditioning? Most information suggests that men and women should be trained similarly. For example, we recently found no differences in rate of force development, etc. During jumping, for athletes of both genders who were exposed to the same training beforehand. However, our lab has found, along with other researchers, that women are quad dominant and had lower hamstring to quadriceps ratios. So female athletes should be exposed to additional hamstring training. I also have added additional upper body training for some since the gender differences in upper body strength, compared to the male counterparts, are more pronounced.

What has been the biggest innovation in training that you have seen during the course of your career and where is the biggest room for innovation in training athletes?The biggest application of an innovative idea may be periodization and the logical, annual planning for training. Better nutrition has helped. Increased appreciation for power developing strategies and more functional sport specific training. The biggest room for innovation centers on further understanding speed, agility, and plyometric program design. These variables are under-researched, especially in contrast to resistance training.

What's the biggest issue in training athletes today? At elite level, there has to be more than injury prevention training, though i recognize the concerns. At the high school and other lower levels...adherence to training. At all levels, the willingness to work hard which may be eroding in a culture where increasing automation, abundance of resources of all types, wealth, the desire for the easy fix, and a reduction in personal responsibility, may issues more than ever before. We need to embrace hard work.

Who has been a role model in your career and why? William Kraemer. Dr. Kraemer has always had time and interest, despite all that he is involved with.

What are the biggest professional challenges have you had to face? As a strength and conditioning coach, it was the never ending workload. Athletics, perhaps more than many professions really seems to require the belief that you must outwork the competition. If you are predisposed to being a bit compulsive in the first place...lookout!

What do you enjoy most about coaching? Dislike? The athletes and their development. This includes physical development but also the evolution of determination, resilience, self-responsibility, personal strength, etc.

Did there come a time in your career where you were faced with a "fork in the road?" If so, do you ever revisit the decision you made or didn't make? I took the "fork" to become a researcher/professor as my primary work and now work with athletes secondarily.

What inspired you to get into coaching? My interest in sport and the values it instills. Also, the bad and good coaches I have known. Much can be learned from each.

Is failure ever valuable? Which kind? If the failure experience is a function of a physical overload, yes, it results in optimal motor unit recruitment, sarcomeric damage that gets repaired, increase bone deformation that achieves additional minerilization, etc. Other life failures are similar: they can result in adaptations of humility, resilience, etc. And result in a sort of supercompensation (not overcompensation:)) provided a person has enough ego strength, consistent with Hans Selye's general adaptation syndrome.

Which changes now taking place in your field that should be encouraged, and which resisted? We need to continue to embrace science and solid professional practice knowledge and resist the reductionism and oversimplification that occurs with fast growth of organizations and professions. The bell shape curve/normal distribution suggests that most people are average, but average can not be the norm, for anything, in our profession. So, collectively, lets be skewed to the right!

Science and Facts

I saw this quote this morning. It struck me as quite true since I have been reading volumes of research lately in preprartion for some new programs I am doing. Sometimes science gets in the way of facts and sometimes facts get in the way of science. ”Science is facts; just as houses are made of stones, so is science made of facts; but a pile of stones is not a house and a collection of facts is not necessarily science.”
- Henri Poincare


Spectrum Squat™ Workout

The idea behind this workout is to move across the spectrum of muscle actions and to take advantage of the size principle of muscle fiber recruitment to target the fast twitch muscle fibers. The spectrum of muscle actions is as follows:Isometric>>>>Resisted>>>>Dynamic>>>> Ballistic. The workout has it’s genesis with a video of Wernor Gunthor, the Swiss shot putter, doing a similar workout and by a presentation I attended in 1987 by Giles Cometti, a French sport scientist (just rediscovered the notes) who helped to design Gunthor’s workouts. I have been playing with this concept for several years, mainly experimenting on myself, not real sure of the results because I am not sure where this fits in the whole system and where in the training plan. It is a very tough workout, “big Burn” I know that from personal experience. That is not good enough; just getting a burn is not enough, I want to know if the concept of recruitment of fast twitch fiber is correct and where this best fits in a program. Also based on some current reading if I am interpreting the literature correctly it should significantly raise GH levels. In some ways this is like the leg circuit that I have been using for twenty years. I know that it works and I know where that fits in the plan. Yet no one has been able to give a scientific answer yet as to why we get the vertical jump improvements from the leg circuit, I want to try to get some reasons before going farther down the path with the spectrum concept. Any ideas or thoughts on this would be appreciated. (Please note the ™ on the Spectrum Squats™ – That means if you use it give credit to the originator – a message to you intellectual vampires out there)

Spectrum Squat™

Isometric Squat – Hold 30 seconds

Sandbag Squat (25 – 30 % Bodyweight) – 6 reps

Unloaded Fast Bodyweight Squat (1 rep per second) – 6 reps

Unloaded Jump Squats – 8 reps

This is performed continuous, with no rest between the various squats. I have used three sets, that is all I can handle, probably a function of age. I think a young fit athlete could probably work up to five sets in a progression.


Perpetuating Mediocrity

In our local paper the other day there was an article about a former star baseball player from one of the local high schools who had played 13 or 14 years in the minor leagues and was just named a manger of a minor league team. In the article it was made to sound that his main qualification was that he was a good baseball man, never rocked the boat. This to me is an example of why sports like baseball make very little progress. Now is the time of the year that baseball teams are hiring coaching staffs for their player development/minor leagues, it is also the time when football coaches are being fired and new ones hired. If you watch it closely you will see it is a repeating process of recycling the same people into new jobs to repeat the same mistakes they made in their last job. No new ideas, no innovation, just hire friends and people they are comfortable with. Never break the mold. It is interesting to note that John Wooden said that one of the reasons he won his first championship in 1964 was that he went outside the family so to speak and hired an assistant with different ideas, the result, the famous UCLA Zone press the cornerstone of their championship teams. It is hard to get out of a comfort zone, but that is the only to innovate and make progress.


Some Dope on Doping

With the election of a new head for WADA, Barry Bonds indictment, the immanent publication of the Mitchell investigation into drug use in Major League Baseball I thought it would be a good time to talk about doping in sport. I have tried to stay away from this topic after posting quite frequently on this in past Blogs, but since I just finished reading the book Steroid Nation by ESPN The Magazine writer Shaun Assael it made me think more about why we have arrived at this place and time in regard to doping. I think he does a pretty good job of documenting what has occurred since the 1980. He put a big emphasis on the role that the supplement industry plays in the drug culture. A major focus of the book is Dan Duchaine and the Underground Steroid Users Handbook. Frankly I think that is a bit overdone. He fails to mention Dr Robert B. Kerr MD a physician from San Gabriel California and author of “The Practical Use of Anabolic Steroids with Athletes.” I think Dr Kerr was a major player in enabling athletes to beat the system in the 1980’s. He mentions nothing of the “informational testing” that was used by United Sates sport governing bodies to enable American athletes to beat the system going into the 1984 Olympic Games. This was a “service” offered to the athletes to come and be tested. In my opinion it was a thinly disguised system to teach them how to beat the tests.

Despite efforts coasting hundreds of million dollars, it is a greater problem now that ever. It has grown to these proportions because too many for too long chose to ignore the problem in the hope that it would go away. It has been with us in sport since the 1950’s.If you don’t believe me read Muscletown USA – Bob Hoffman anf the Manly Culture of York Barbell by John D. Fair. The origins of drug use in the United States is well documented here. In the early 1970’s the American College of Sport Medicine came out with a position paper on Anabolic Steroids. The basic premise was that the research indicated that they did not enhance performance. That was the party line; obviously the athletes and coaches knew they did benefit performance. My first personal exposure to anabolic steroids was my senior year in high school in 1964. A teammate of mine whose father was drug rep gained twenty five pounds of muscle from the end of football season to the start of track season. He told me has dad had given him these blue pills that he took everyday for a couple of months. Since I wanted to gain weight to play football in college I went to his dad and asked him how I could get those pills. He told me I would have to get them from a doctor. Now I know it was Dianabol. I did not, since I had an aversion to doctors and pills, still do. So I kept gorging myself and had more protein shakes. Frankly I never thought more about again until I started competing in decathlon and saw what was going on. Recognize that at that time anabolic steroids were not banned, there was no testing. At the same time I saw people getting bigger and stronger when the ACSM was telling us that they did not work. Dr Wesley Ruff, my advisor in graduate school at Stanford, gave me an unpublished study done at the Palo Alto Medical Clinic on anabolic steroids that showed spectacular gains in muscle mass. The study was done in the late 1960’s.Incidently it was the same drug that Ben Johnson was caught for.

If you want to learn more read the Dubin Inquiry report, the result of the inquiry into the doping surrounding the Ben Johnson affair. It names names and places blame. If you really want to be blown away read Brigitte Berendonks book Doping Dokumente: Von Der Forschung Zum Betrug. Unfortunately it has never been translated into an English edition. I have a rough translation, when I read it I was blown away as to the breath and depth of doping in the eastern bloc countries. To say that used systematic doping does not begin to describe the extent of doping and the resources devoted to doping. A good article by Berendonk and her husband Werner W. Franke in Clinical Chemistry 1997;43:1262-1279 http://www.clinchem.org/cgi/content/full/43/7/1262 “Hormonal doping and Androgenization of athletes: a secret program of the German Democratic Republic government” is a good overview.

So much has been made about the increasing sophistication of the testing and so much publicity has been given to those that are caught. Everyone in baseball is on pins and needles waiting for the report from Mitchell, but the cheats are out there working to beat the system because the stakes are so much higher. The fact is that the outlaws are ahead of the law. It is analogous to a 400 meter race where one opponent, the dopers, were given a 100 meter head start, you will never catch them. This was a huge problem before money was much of a factor in sport, now that a gold medal is worth millions and the huge player contracts that are available, the stakes are even higher. Without sounding paranoid I think this is a vast conspiracy involving commercial sponsors and sport governing bodies that initially chose to look the other way and now are deeply involved. There are athletes and teams that are protected. You have to be pretty dumb to get caught. What is the solution? I do not know and I am not sure anyone does. I am afraid we can look forward to a roman circus freak show if things keep going the way they are.


3 C's

John Maeda is a world-renowned graphic designer, visual artist, and computer scientist at the MIT Media Lab, and is a founding voice for “simplicity” in the digital age. He has a concept he calls the three C's he uses to teach his students the three core principles of design. When I read this I could not help but think how relevant this is to training and coaching:

Content: There needs to be a message or meaning. Everything needs a reason to exist, otherwise it shouldn't.

Context: Content doesn't live in a vacuum.

Contrast: An element is made stronger when a counter element is offered. Salt tastes saltier after one has had some sugar.

If you think about this if you do not have the 3 C’s you do not have a sound training program. It is simple and it should be simple. Evaluate your program in the context of the 3 C’s and adjust or change accordingly. Focused effort yields results!


The Recipe or the Cook

I will use a cooking analogy to illustrate the training process. I can take a recipe from one of the finest chefs in the world and try to make an elaborate thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately no matter how hard I try, even with the exact ingredients my meal will not be the same, probably not five star quality. Why? Very simple if it was just about the recipe. I could obtain a book with champions workouts go out to the field, track or weight room, give the workout and magic instant champion’s! It's not that simple.The secret is not in the recipe it is in the chef. In our world the coach is the key, we all have our own recipes, I can give you my recipe book, in fact I have on my web site, but I doubt if the results will be exactly the same. For me the coach is the key – the feeling, the intuition of when to push, when to cut back, that is not written in the recipe. You acquire that by practice, by watching and learning. It is almost a sixth sense that you develop. Each individual and each team is different. You must start with a good recipe, but you must have the highest quality ingredients, the oven at the correct temperature, you must cook it for the exact amount of time, you must stand over the stove and pay close attention to what you are doing. Building an athlete is not a microwave meal.


Today for those readers in the US it is Thanksgiving. It is day to be thankful for all the wonderful things that we have. The friends and family, the good life, health and happiness .It is also a time to think of and pray for the less fortunate. I also think it is a time to help other people. In this crazy mixed up world we live in there is much to be thankful for. Personally I get to spend this day with my wife and children that makes me the luckiest guy in the world. For those of you outside the US join us in Thanksgiving, take a moment to reflect on the good things in life and the people you love and cherish.


Dan Baker Interview

Dan Baker is the Strength coach for the Brisbane Broncos (Australian Rugby League) In my eyes he is the consummate professional. He just completed his PhD under Rob Newton at Edith Cowan University. It was a joy watching the strength training sessions this past May when I was with the Broncos. His ideas and concepts could have a huge impact in American football,but it would require a huge paradigm shift and a distinct change in mindset. He has certainly made me rethink my approach. Enjoy this interview Dan really took a lot of time to answer the questions.

What are most essential requirements for a successful conditioning program?An analytical, holistic approach to programming based upon the sports movements, forces, speeds and work dynamics (like work:rest ratio etc) should deliver a good program. What you also need is a fully supportive head or skills coach, a supportive administration to fund it and athletes with a good work ethic to enthusiastically implement the program. It is especially important that the senior athletes or best athletes have enthusiasm for the program because it they don’t, then that attitude permeates to the other athletes.

What are the most common mistakes in conditioning? In resistance training, I find that coaches are influenced in their prescriptions by four broad philosophies – 1: the bodypart philosophy, derived from a bodybuilding influence, which is typified by prescribing exercises that train the same muscles used in the sport but with little regard for other factors. For example, leg press, leg extensions and leg curls may be typically be prescribed for lower body training. 2: the “core & stability” philosophy, derived, originally at least, from physiotherapists and Pilates types. It typically entails exercises that train the body with unstable situations such as with Swiss balls, bosus etc. The underlying beliefs of this method are that if the body is more stable from doing these exercises, it will transfer better to all sports skills. 3: The heart rate philosophy, which is an older philosophy, based upon the fact that in some sports such as soccer, rugby union & league, wrestling, boxing etc, the HR is typically >165 beats per minute – therefore your resistance training should mimic this situation, most likely through circuit training with high reps and short rest periods, so that the strength adaptations occur in a nature that is specific (HR-wise) to the sport. 4: Movements and kinetics. This philosophy is based upon prescribing to train the movements of the sports, the forces and speeds encountered or generated in the sport.

In my opinion, the last of these (movements and kinetics philosophy) is the best way to analyze and train athletes. You can utilize some aspects of the others such as some circuits are necessary for strength-endurance etc (from the HR philosophy), but I think it is a mistake to be beholden to the core and stability philosophy or the HR philosophy, without consideration to the sports movements or the forces or speeds. I never actually think of bodypart training at all.

For conditioning training, especially in Australia at least, the biggest mistake is too be overly influenced by other sports programs when they do not directly apply. We should take what we need, not everything. For example, in Australia we have always had a successful background in endurance sports such as distance running, swimming, cycling, rowing and triathlons, especially the last four sports. But their endurance performance is based upon a critical speed – the athletes race at a relatively steady speed, the highest they can maintain for the race (sure they have a few speed spurts here & there, but it is relatively steady). It is nothing like soccer, rugby union/league, Australian football, field hockey, boxing etc which are more intermittent with important explosive bursts that come at unpredictable times for unpredictable durations with decisions to be made under the fog of fatigue or game pressure. So I see the biggest mistake as to much critical speed or anaerobic threshold training for intermittent sport athletes. Tied in with this coaches may say, for example, soccer is an predominantly aerobic game with 10-12 km’s in distance covered in a professional game – “So let’s go for a 10-12 km run”. It just does not take into account all the changes in speed, direction, work time at very high intensity and so on that actually occur during a soccer game.

What is "functional training" from your point of view? Analyzing the sport, you see how the body “functions” to complete the various sports tasks – then you program accordingly. What are the functions occurring in the sport – pushing, pulling, leg drive, lunging or braking, jumping, twisting, and throwing or whatever they may be. If those are the tasks involved in the sport, then those should be the tasks involved in training. We just apply a form of overload in training to these tasks to ensure a positive adaptation so that the sports tasks then become easier to perform. The overload modality can take many different forms (weight, speed, reps, decreased recovery time etc).

If you don’t look at the sports tasks, then you will probably just program using the body part approach – eg. leg press, leg extension, leg curl 3-4 sets x 8-12 reps. How many programs look like that? This basic body part approach is training, but it is not functional or good training for increasing sports performance.

What do you do to make training more functional? Again, I look at the tasks involved and also the resistances to be overcome and movement speeds and power outputs and program according to what I feel are necessary. I really emphasize power output as much as possible during most (but not all) tasks, be it ballistic power (20-40% 1RM), maximal power (40-60% 1RM) or explosive power (60-80% 1RM) in all athletes. Also in my athletes (rugby league players) the ability to “easily” overcome a resistance equal to the bodyweight of their opponent in as many different exercises (movements/functions) as possible is a key functional requirement.

Whatever the exercise or how it is varied, I try and explain why we are doing it, with a sports example. So some exercises may be a hanging rings push-up to archer or power snatch because that helps protect the arm during a bad tackle situation (ie. when the arm is hanging out like a turnstile while the opponent runs into it). If we are doing clean or snatch pulls the explanation is simple “ Because this exercise trains your leg drive and trains you to smash your opponent and lay down some pain on him”. That is the function of the exercise and how it relates to the sports task of smashing your opponent and driving him backwards. Blokes understand simple explanations like that.

How important is specificity? Exercises can have general, special or specific effects. Specificity is important, as outlined above, but so are some general exercises that lay down the foundation (technical or strength foundation) for the successful completion of special or specific exercises/effects. Every exercise I put in is important – some more important than others, some more specific than others. But too much general training, especially for the lower body is not helpful. You have to look at the sport. In my sport I say the full squat and Romanian deadlifts develop the basic general quality of lower body maximal strength, extensions of those exercises such as jump squats and clean/snatch pulls or power cleans attempt to transfer that quality into the special requirement of explosive power and exercises with the legs in an alternating or split position further transfer that power into more specific sports situations or positions. That is why we do a lot of split leg exercises (eg. cleans finishing in a split, split jerks, split leg push press, alternating leg jump squats, lunges, step-ups) or conversely split arm exercises (alternating arm versions of presses and rows) and so on.

What aspect of conditioning athletes is most difficult and how have
you tried to address it? Flexibility is one of the most difficult things because it can be boring or less challenging to the mindset of a motivated athlete – accordingly they do not do it well. That is why I like mobility training more; you are moving and stretching at the same time. You can also incorporate sports skills into mobility training, like reaching up or down to catch balls etc. Flexibility with PNF or static stretches are still necessary, especially for some problematic areas, but mobility training is more fun and dare I say “functional”. If you have a good mobility program, then you can do far less of the “boring” static or PNF stretching.

The other area is to utilize high intensity aerobic conditioning. As explained above, most field sports in Australia and other places, embraced too much training around the critical speed or “anaerobic threshold”, which may for example be equal to about 85% of the Maximal Aerobic Speed (MAS). It is more important to work in the maximal zone (92-100% MAS) or above it (100-130% MAS) for short periods (15-30 s) with an equal amount of active recovery intervals at 70% MAS (or less) for field or court sport athletes. Getting athletes or other coaches to embrace this methodology has been difficult, because historically they have not done it. Dean Benton really got the coach and players to embrace it when he joined. For years I couldn’t get the shift to occur, other coaches preferred the longer intervals at 85%. But our team was less successful for 2-3 years (which for us means we did not win the championship, even though we always made the final play-offs), so it sort of became obvious that we needed to change the methodology of our energy system conditioning, both aerobic and anaerobic, to go to the next level. Losses that hurt can also allow you to make the necessary changes – they make you go to the Big House of Mirrors so you can have a good, long, hard look at yourself from every different angle, not just in the mirrors that you like.

With the plethora of information available how can you determine what is best? There is a saying I got from another website, which goes something like “New good training information or methods does not invalidate or replace good older, training information or methods, it just adds to it.”

I look at who is providing the information and who is it aimed at. Is the provider a personal trainer or a sports performance / strength & conditioning / athletic development coach. If it is the former, I don’t pay too much attention, unless it appears really different or revolutionary. If it is the latter, I look at the level of athletes that they work with (or have worked with) and who the information is deigned to help such as junior athletes, emerging elite, elite professional and so on. I just try and imagine how that information would fit into my programs. Would it alter them? For example, if it has to do with resistance training would this information affect how I prescribe my 8 training variables of 1. Exercise 2. Sets 3. Reps. 4. Resistance 5. Lifting speed 6. Rest /recovery periods 7. Order of exercises or 8. Periodization strategy, which is how the first 7 variable come together over a few weeks to months. So if the information does not make me alter any of those variables for any of the athletes I train, then it is of no practical use to me as a strength & conditioning coach. It may be of interest to me in my very part time role as an academic, but if it is not changing my programming, then it is no use to me as a S & C C.

Where do you stand on nature versus nurture? How much difference can training make? The late Bruce Walsh, a prominent figure in the development of S & C in Australia and a national Olympic weight-lifting team coach once said during a roundtable discussion on the topic at an ASCA national conference “You can’t make strawberry jam out of pig-shit”, implying you can only get so far with poor quality ingredients. I agree, but you also have to play with the cards you are dealt. If these are athletes the coach has chosen, then I will endeavor to make them the best athletes they can be for the sport they are in. Training can make a huge difference and I would rather have an athlete with less genetic potential but a great work ethic and attitude than a gifted athlete with a poor attitude. I have a saying that I give the latter “ Where are you going to be in 10-15 years? Sitting on a bar stool in a dingy pub with a fat ugly whingeing wife and two rotten mis-behaving kids, wondering what could of been if only you had applied yourself better at training? Or will you become a professional athlete with all the riches and trappings that it brings because you embraced hard work and got the most out of your natural talent?” Because I have seen the unfortunate scenario happen to a number of talented “next best things” who thought it would all come so easily and they didn’t have to train much at all or train hard.

My other related saying is “The only place that success comes before work is the dictionary”. So for me, work ethic is important. Talent/genetics just gets you invited to the awards ceremony – hard work will help you pick up the gongs once you are there.

What is the sure sign that a self proclaimed conditioning guru is not a good source of advice? The saying “self praise is no praise at all” comes to mind. Really I think it is similar to my answer up above – who are they, what athletes have they trained, has it been done drug free (unlike personal training or bodybuilding), have they done it for years? I don’t like the word guru because it tends to imply an almost mystical knowledge that other, “less worthy” coaches do not possess. I tend to think of another word like sensei is more apt than guru because while people think sensei means “master” or “teacher”, I believe it more accurately translates as “one who has gone before” or “one who can show the way” – ie. a sensei can show the way through experience and knowledge. Can the self proclaimed guru do that? Have they the experience? A coach should be judged by their peer coaches and by the athletes they have trained, across a period of time.

What do you differently with the female athlete in terms of conditioning?
I don’t train female athletes anymore but when I did, these were the things that I did differently. 1. Be aware of the changing Q angle with female teenage athletes as it negatively affects running, jumping and landing mechanics, which in turn can cause a lot of knee and hip pain. So there are times you need to really alter the training plan to help them cope, especially in sports with repetitive running and direction changes (eg. soccer, field hockey) and jumping (eg. diving, basketball, volleyball). 2. I used a different coaching persona – more empathetic and less disciplinarian – because back then even getting females involved in resistance training or hard conditioning was fairly new (to them) and I wanted to be as supportive as possible to keep them involved and not get scared off because they had some nasty S & C C. 3. Aligned with this, give them belief that they can gain upper body strength (them = “but I am weak!”.... me = “but you can become stronger”). 4. Also aligned with this be careful or sensitive of body image issues. 5. Ask permission to touch if you deem it necessary to help explain technique etc. and make sure it is never done alone!!!!! While I never had any problems dealing with female athletes, I have heard horror stories about coaches who made mistakes regarding points 4 & 5 and there have been some big court cases in Australia concerning them.

What has been the biggest innovation in training that you have seen during the course of your career and where is the biggest room for innovation in training athletes?The biggest innovations have been in technology, not really methodology. Definitely the areas of measurement and recovery. We now have various power measurement devices like GymAware, Ballistic Resistance Trainer, Tendodyne, Myotech etc that let us know the speed or power or height jumped for every set we do. No more “I think that looked more powerful”, it either was or was not. The accountability of your programming – determining what works, what does not - goes through the roof. A lot of my academic publications are simply testing of different power training methods or theories to see if they really work and should I continue or not to use them (I got sick of waiting for exercise science academics to do this sort of applied research, they were still busy playing around with isokinetic leg extensions and curls, so I basically did the research myself). The other measurement modalities like light gates and switch mats for speed and agility have become ubiquitous, but when I started it was stopwatches! Even heart monitors, you see them on teenagers now, but again when I started it was fingers on the carotid pulse for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to determine the heart rate. I think in sports like soccer and other field and court sports, the use of GPS and other data sensors (accelerometers, gyroscopes etc) to monitor players’ movements and distances, forces and body positions has and will continue to be a major growth area. For example, the former S & C C for the Australian cricket team had to fight tooth and nail to get recovery days after 1-day internationals for the players a few years ago. Administrators thought it unnecessary. They bought in GPS to monitor workload – last month an Australian player covered 17 km (about 12 miles) in 100 degree F heat in a game in India. I think he needed a recovery-oriented day after that! So the measurement modalities are helping us also to plan recovery, which we do a lot better now. I don’t think the methods of recovery, except for supplements or medicine, are better now because what we do – massage, different types of baths, hot and cold, stretching, acupuncture etc has been around a long time. Hot and cold baths have been around since the Roman times and massage, stretching, even acupuncture, have been around since at least sometime between 1000 to 3000 BCE so they are not innovations, we just implement them better now as compared to previously in the modern era.

I just think the more we can measure, the more accountable we are for our programming and planning recovery, so that is good. Technological measurement devices provide a wealth of information not only on performance measures but also upon recovery ~ if the athlete is not well recovered then it shows up immediately in the resultant performance measures during training. So now we can use these devices not only to monitor gross training improvements or game analysis but also the day-to-day or week-to-week recovery. I am really excited about how this utilizing this data will improve me as a S & C coach.

What's the biggest issue in training athletes today?
On the negative side, the use of drugs in sport. I abhor their use. So I think things like the DEA operation Raw Deal during September 2007 that shut down over 50 steroid factories and suppliers in the US and Mexico and Marion Jones’s “outing” as a drug cheat are actually good things. Can’t wait to see what happens to some of them big and cut athletes (or trainers) when they can’t get their “gear” in the immediate future. They might start shrinking before our eyes and having sudden bad form patches. Watch for it.

On the positive side, those of us who have always trained and coached drug free – happy days for us, our athletes should do well. We, as coaches, need external authorities, like WADA, USADA, ASADA etc to drug test athletes but we also need the government bodies to do their jobs by cracking down on suppliers. I know a bloke who sold $1 000 000 worth of gear while doing his PhD about 10 years back (he reckons it was only about $700 0000) – he got fined $12 000. Wow, was he ever remorseful (“ only a days pay” he said). So governments need to get tough as well. That is an issue for me, being tough on drug use in sports.

Who has been a role model in your career and why?
I won’t use the exact words role models, but major influences or very helpful have been the following people – when I first started to train in powerlifting, Glen Waszkiel, Wayne Scarffe, Dino Toci and Mason Jardine, all world class lifters in IPF world c’ships, really helped me understand the nuances of lifting technique and what applies to what level athletes and what doesn’t. Especially Glen, I did a lot of training with him during my first year in competition. He was very experienced, 12 national titles in a row, 2nd and 3rds in the World c’ships – experience, man you just got to tap into it. He was fantastic for me. In his last ever competition, a state c’hip, he got first and I got second (by a long, long way), what an honor.

As S & C coaches, all the earlier pioneers that wrote articles in the NSCA journal in the 80’s like Vern Gambetta, Boyd Epley, Ken O’Shea, Charles Poliquin and so on. You couldn’t easily get the NSCA journal in Australia, I remember being in Canada and the US in 1986 & 87 and photocopying heaps of articles (which I still have, much to my wife’s dismay). I joined the NSCA in 1987, but you could not get earlier articles, there was no Internet and man, some of that early stuff is great – really influenced me. Obviously all the S & C coaches I have worked with have also influenced me - Dean Benton, Jeremy Hickman, Steve Nance, Kelvin Giles, Andrew Lulham. They are all great coaches. As an academic (not really a good one) I always have been influenced by practical-oriented research so Dr. Greg Wilson and Professor Rob Newton from Australia, Professor William Kraemer from the US and the Finnish duo of Professors Keiko Hakkinen and Paavo Komi. When I write academic sports science articles on strength or power stuff, most of my references will be from that group above. I think that select group of academics have influenced anyone interested in strength and power training. And the French group, I can’t remember all their names exactly, but they do great work on MAS intervals, modeling of training etc.

What are the biggest professional challenges have you had to face?
The biggest and only real professional challenge I have faced is when an athlete from another sport attempted to sue me a few years back for $1.5 million. I had professional indemnity insurance with the company recommended by the Australian Coaching Council, but guess what? They went bankrupt due to some corporate malfeance and illegalities. So there I was, that sporting team sacked me and tried to blame me so they could slip the situation (thanks for the support), I had lost indemnity insurance and I had no lawyers. Of course I had no $1.5 million sitting around in loose change in the sock drawer either nor the money to pay for proper legal representation. Luckily the federal government stepped in and provided funds for all the policy holders in legal battles and the lawyers I got quickly squashed the claim, which was “found to have no basis in fact”. However I was in legal limbo for over 4 years, with this Sword of Damocles dangling over my head. This professional and life challenge taught me many things – suing people is the realm of grubs, the lawyers who pursue this type of case or practice are grubs, some people just plain lie to get ahead in life and some people will not stand by the truth ~ when there is pressure they cave in and look for a way out, despite knowing the truth or the facts. It also reaffirmed my strong beliefs in the concept of Hindu or Buddhist karma ~ the grubs and liars had bad things happen to them not long after. A karmic payback, if you wish. I also strongly believe in loyalty (I have been at the Broncos for > 12 years and am a Life Member of 3 different organizations or clubs) and the lack of loyalty from that team/employer dismayed me. Now I wouldn’t piss in their ear if their brains were on fire.

What do you enjoy most about what you do? Dislike?
It is a great job! I enjoy seeing achievement and improvement in athletes that is brought about through dedication and hard work. I am a goal setter and I like to see achievement of goals. Every workout a player may have a power output goal for every set or a goal time to complete for an interval etc. If he gets it I say “Goal achieved” – it keeps reinforcing the training process of setting a challenging, yet realistic goal, working hard to achieve it and then attaining it. It is a metaphor for certain, but not all, aspects of life.

The only thing I dislike is the travel to work because I live 100 km (60 miles) away at the beach, so I lose 3-4 hours a day traveling and it gives me a sore back and hips. I love the smell of the salt air when I get home and open the car door.

Did there come a time in your career where you were faced with a "fork in the road?" If so, do you ever revisit the decision you made or didn't make?
Apart from the legal hassle mentioned above, I suppose it could only be when I first started or tried to start as a S & C C. Upon returning from a holiday to the US and Canada in 1986-87, I tried to become a S & C consultant coach. I could see what was happening with sports in the US and where the professionalism of sport was heading – but it was the wrong time for Australia, they didn’t believe in that stuff back then. So after getting zero clients I gave up to work in construction, which is well paid in Australia. After a few years of construction work with some part time S & C work here and there, I saw an ad in a newspaper sports section to complete a Masters in Sport Science (I already had by Bachelors degree in 1985). So I applied, got in, did it and became a consultant S & C coach 5-6 years after I first attempted. If I had not done the Masters I would probably still be working construction or in the coal mines with my brother (but coal miners are actually the highest paid workers in Australia).

Also I am really glad I pursued and completed my PhD under Prof. Rob Newton through Edith Cowan University. Doesn’t make me a better S & C coach, but some things are about goal setting and goal achievement.

What inspired you to get into the field you are in?
It was all I ever wanted to do, since I was 15 years old. I don’t know what the inspiration was. I have never actually considered why I am in this profession, it just seems normal or right to me. After being in it so long, I am singularly unqualified to do anything much else now.

Is failure ever valuable?
First we have to define failure. If failure is losing, then as a coach you must be prepared, emotionally and analytically, to cope and deal with failure because statistically you will have a lot of failure. If you look at my team and we look not just at win/loss but the number of championships won as success/failure (which is what we do to a degree), then even with four wins out of the last 12 years, which is the most of any major team in any sport in Australia, it means we have also failed 66% of the time. So we need to be able to deal with that, not go killing ourselves, not go blaming other coaches or players, not go seeking easy solutions like drug use etc but basically go to the Big House of Mirrors like mentioned above and have a good long hard look at all aspects of the operation. Determine what was done well, what needs improving, what are the trends emerging, how do we use this analysis to get back to the top.

So I see failure as being of two parts – failure of effort or failure of analysis & action. If you put in the effort, tried to the best of your ability at that time and lost the game or contest, that is not failure, that is a loss. If you did not apply yourself and lost, then that is a failure, a failure to contest.

If you lose and don’t analyze where improvements can be made or maybe you do know where improvements could be made but couldn’t be bothered, then that is a failure to analyze or action.

So failure is unacceptable if it implies lack of effort or intent, but losing is not failure. Losing can make motivated athletes and coaches even more motivated and make them take stock of their physical, mental or strategic situations. From taking stock or going to the Big House of Mirrors, they can implement changes to training that makes the athletes better.

Which changes now taking place in your field that should be

encouraged, and which resisted? There may be a seemingly endless list of things to resist if I start to rant.

I think the drive to make athletes better all round athletes is great, not trying to make 5 year olds the next Tiger Woods by specialising too early. So all round athletic development needs to be encouraged. I know early specialization sports like women’s gymnastics, diving and to some degree swimming start the athletes early, but if the kids don’t enjoy it, don’t make them do it. Parental pressure to perform well in sports so the parent can live vicariously through the exploits of the child is not good. The trend to stamp that out and to stop parents yelling out abuse or rubbish from the sidelines is gaining momentum, so that is good.

The Internet remains a good source for swapping, gaining or delivering information and products- you just need to be a “discerning buyer” of the information. So I encourage the use the Internet to learn more.

I think another good thing is that our ASCA in Australia has a professional structure that recognizes two things – whether you have completed an ASCA Level 2 or Level 3 course (the university degree does not matter) and most importantly, years of full-time experience working with elite or professional or emerging elite athletes. So we have grades of S & C C like Intern S & C C (6 months experience), Graduate (6mths-2yrs), Professional (2-4 yrs) Elite (4-8 yrs) and Master (> 8yrs). So experience working at the coal-face with professional or elite athletes is basically what it is all about and employers and coach peers must verify this experience.

This system is aimed at helping employers in the sport industry distinguish S & C C with peer recognition and years of experience from the “fly-by-nighters”, “self proclaimed gurus” and university graduates in sports science who apparently know it all. It is about a career pathway of recognition of experience. So it draws heavily on the Mentor or Sensei system. For example, Julian Jones is a Master S & C coach at the Australian Institute of Sport. He has to sign off on the capabilities of all the S & C coaches in that system as they progress up the pathway. He mentors the elite and professional S & C coaches, who in turn mentor the intern and graduate S & C coaches. We are trying to get all the pro teams and state Institutes of sports to recognize this system. The “self proclaimed gurus” may have to stay in the fitness industry where looks and hype count for everything and experience for little ~ but that probably suits them. There is more money to be made in the fitness industry anyway.



Great post on this by Tracy Fober, http://ironmaven.blogspot.com I could not agree more with what she says. Read it! Tuesday, November 13, 2007 The 411 on Back Angles and Torque When Squatting


Over the past several months I have had a lot of questions about Kettlebell training. The dialog was usually something like this – Have you heard about Kettlebell training? After I answered yes it was usually followed by a comment like this - I have heard it is fantastic, a really great work out, it really gets you tired! There are certainly no secret Russian methods here, just another method that has been around for a hundred years. It was a method that was used extensively, fell out of favor and has been rediscovered, much like medicine ball training. I was exposed to the use of kettlebells when I first started coaching. They were used extensively by the European athletes (not just the Russians) in the javelin and the hammer throw. The problem was that we did not have kettlebells readily available to use in this country. It has only been the past several years that they are readily available at prices that are affordable. Kettlebells are a viable method of training. Just like any method Kettlebell training is only effective when placed into the context of a comprehensive training program. In dong some research on good sources of information on Kettlebell training I came across this book A Complete Guide to Kettlebell Exercises and Training by Lisa Shafer (NoFearFitness.com). It is clearly illustrated and easy to follow. No Russian double speak just some good information. I personally incorporate Kettlebells as parts of progressions in various strength and power modules. It really depends on the sport and the level of the athlete. I view it as an advanced training method that you need to progress toward. It is certainly is not something I would use with beginners.


The Process – Keep it Simple

I was reading something yesterday on simplicity at the same time I was working on a new training program for the beach volleyball players that I am working with. Here is what I came up with. As I have said many times work training. Training is work that is specific and directed. Anyone can put together a bunch of exercises and make the athletes tired and sore, that is not training. I think you really have to dial in and bore down and know the sport, the position or the event and above know the individual. It is very simple and straightforward. Start with what you want to do – the big picture. Eliminate the nice to do – the fluff, the extra exercises, the garbage miles . Focus on the need to do – that is where the results are. Last but not least be sure you know what not to do. I am convinced that putting together a training program is no more that that! Once again simplicity yields complexity.

Dynamo Repeat!

Congratulations to the Houston Dynamo for repeating as MLS Champions. The championship game was the culmination of a very fine season. As a fan of good coaching, I think that is what you saw with the Dynamo. Dominic Kinnear, the coach sets the tempo for this team. He is steady and confident in his approach, he never panics. He commands the respect of his players. His emphasis is on team chemistry, many coaches talk about this but he lives it. When they had the opportunity to acquire Cuauhtémoc Blanco as their designated player, he opted out of that choice because he felt that adding Blanco would disrupt team chemistry. What kind of message does that send to the players? He believes in his players and they play hard and good soccer as a reflection of that belief. I worked with Dominic when he was a player with the Tampa Bay Mutiny. He was a real team player. He was asked to play out of position in a position not suited for his strength, but he did it and he played the position well. He was a quiet leader on the team, who led by example. He coaches the way he played. Coaching does make a difference!

It is also interesting to note that many coaches get to a championship game and try to do something different. I think their win reinforced the concept in my mind that in championship games you do not have do anything different, you have to keep doing the things that got you there.


A Commentary on Training?

When I saw this Far Side Cartoon I could not help but think of some training programs that I have designed and tried to implement.


Stretching ≠Flexibility

The two terms are not synonymous, but they are related. You use stretching as a method to improve flexibility. In reading the interview of strength coaches in the newest Training and Conditioning magazine it was interesting to read the responses to the question of flexibility. No doubt flexibility is an important component of athletic development. It is not a matter of stretching or not stretching or for that matter the type of stretching, for me it is when you strength to work on flexibility. One thing I know for sure that warm-up is not the place to work on flexibility. I know that from experience and it is substantiated by research.


You do not have to do everything all at one time. Look to logically divide the training into bite size chunks that fit into the context of the whole training plan. I like to think of it as a little bit more often. This will serve to maintain the quality of the work. Ultimately it is the accumulation of training that yields the long term training effect – that is what we want!


Space and Time

Not quantum physics or star wars, but two very fundamental concepts key to understanding Multidimensional Speed and Agility (MDSA). Space and time are key elements of “game speed.” Proficient players in team sports must have an understanding of space. Space is awareness of where all the players are on the field or court at all times. Maybe more important than where they are, is where they are not, the actual space between them. The goal is to develop the perception, vision and awareness to be able to exploit that space.

Time is the internal clock that is always ticking to make the player aware of how much time they have to execute a skill. It is not conscious, but subliminal. A novice performer is always in a hurry, rushed thinking that they do not have enough time. An experienced performer on the other seems calm and collected, in many respects the game slows down for them. They seem to have the ability to wait to make things happen.

Space and time can be improved with training as part of a comprehensive MDSA training program.


Steve Nash

I am not trying to jump on the Steve Nash bandwagon, but when Carl Valle alerted me to this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjP82KOtreE&eurl=http://www.thecrossovermovement.com/component/option,com_jd-wp/Itemid,61/ as I watched it I could not help but think back to the first time I saw Steve Nash. I was working with the Canadian National team and we were practicing at Mount Douglas High School in Victoria. Ken Shields, the head coach told me he had had invited a local high school to practice with us. My first reaction was – are you nuts? When I saw him I was convinced he was nuts! He was small and scrawny. Then he got on the court and played, he more than held his on, he was not intimidated in any way. I honestly can’t say that at that point you could predict he would be where he is today. I think he is a good example of K. Anders Ericsson's concept of deliberate practice. Ten years or 10,000 hours to achieve top level performance! It is interesting to note that during the time I worked with the national team he tested as hands down the fittest player on the team. We used the Leger beep test. His scores were comparable to a top soccer mid fielder. Enjoy the video – it is still about play – obviously he enjoys playing and competing!

Jim Richardson Interview

Jim Richardson is the Women’s Swim Coach at University of Michigan. I have been fortunate to work with Jim the past four years on the refinement of his dryland training program. Jim is one of the most dedicated and knowledgeable coaches that I know. His passion for learning and willingness to innovate inspire me.

What are the most essential requirements for a successful conditioning program? I believe that you need a plan for conditioning which will enhance the preparatory, competition, and championship phases of the season. Second I believe that you need exercise modules which can be applied in a systematic manner to produce optimal adaptation. Finally I believe that you need a competent conditioning coach who understands that conditioning is part of the bigger picture – optimal sport performance.

What are the most common mistakes in conditioning? 1) a lack of understanding of the specific sport performance elements which need to be enhanced through conditioning; 2) a lack of understanding of how and when to apply conditioning components based on a seasonal performance progression; and, 3) doing exercises which become an entity unto only themselves.

What is “functional training” from your point of view? To me functional training means conditioning in a manner that requires the involvement of the entire body – especially the stabilizing muscle groups. Training programs which are systematic and incorporate progressively developing exercises which are multi-plane in nature and require rhythm, coordination, and stabilization, characterize “functional training” to me.

What do you do to make training more functional? I try to break down swimming movements into sequential components and then look for exercises to enhance those components. I look for ways to add resistance to those component movements without disrupting the “flow” of the movement. We try to develop a plan which appropriately addresses both the protagonistic and antagonistic (when appropriate) aspects of movement.

How important is specificity? I don’t think that the conditioning movement needs to mirror the specific sport movement. I fact, I tend to prefer movements which will enhance the components of swimming movements without trying to duplicate those movements specifically.

What aspect of conditioning athletes is most difficult and how have you tried to address it? The most difficult aspect is trying to have the athletes understand that conditioning is a year-round, progressive process where the cumulative effect will have the greatest influence on swimming improvement. We try to educate the swimmers regarding their need to continually improve their level of fitness and athleticism.

With the plethora of information available how can you determine what is best? I rely on experts who have a track record of success. I try to read a lot and then seek the opinions of those I trust.

Where do you stand on nature versus nurture? How much difference can training make? I think that both nature and nurture are important. The research of K. Anders Ericsson and Carol Dweck makes important points regarding the significance of nurture in producing excellence in performance. The science of epigenetics is revealing startling new information about how our nurturing can affect our genes. I believe that training makes all the difference in performance excellence. Expertise research clearly indicates that practice over years can overcome a genetic talent advantage. You can’t make chicken salad out of turkey, but you can make some great turkey salad!

What is the sure sign that a self proclaimed conditioning guru is not a good source of advice? The person has no track record of performance improvements with an accompanying development of healthy lifestyles. They are most often dogmatic, authoritarian, and inflexible.

What do you differently with the female athlete in terms of conditioning? I think women need to spend more time maintaining a program of conditioning which will maintain their optimal body composition. Three to four bouts per week of 45 minutes of conditioning which involve the quadriceps muscles is a must for most of our female athletes. We also do a lot of upper body strength development. Those are the major differences from men to me – difficulty in maintaining functional body composition, and a lack of upper body strength.

What has been the biggest innovation in training that you have seen during the course of your career and where is the biggest room for innovation in training athletes? In swimming the two biggest innovations have been the development of significant out-of-water conditioning programs and the body balance / anchor technical work pioneered by Bill Boomer. I think the biggest room for innovation in training swimmers lies in the continued development of dryland conditioning programs and their integration with water training.

What's the biggest issue in training athletes today? The biggest issue is getting reliable performance improvement information that helps good athletes become excellent athletes. Information garnered from gifted athletes and their coaches is not always applicable to developing an athlete.

Who has been a role model in your career and why? I have had a number of role models in my career. My high school coach, Ron Goins, was also a biology teacher. He coached us to love racing and competing and we never swam out of fear of him. Doc Counsilman was the consummate teacher / scientist / coach. He set the bar for developing a systematic training program based on a comprehensive approach to performance. I admire Tony Dungy because he has proven that you can reach the highest level in your sport through teaching, honesty, trust, and empowering your athletes. Finally I admire you, Vern. You’ve stayed true to your passion; you are not afraid to ask the tough, important questions; you continue to study and learn about all the elements of human performance; and, most importantly, you are willing to share with those who really want to learn.

What are the biggest professional challenges have you had to face? Working with people who don’t “get it” the way I do. People in positions of authority or support who are superficial in their understanding and appreciation of sport performance, and who do not have a passion for making a positive difference are a source of real frustration for me.

What do you enjoy most about what you do? Dislike? I most enjoy teaching and helping young people discover “new” things about themselves and their world, and then watching them make changes to improve their lives. I dislike working with people who are not committed to those whom they are serving.

Did there come a time in your career where you were faced with a "fork in the road?" If so, do you ever revisit the decision you made or didn't make? In 1997-99 our team went through a lot of internal turmoil. The size and standing of the team dropped significantly. I considered resigning and leaving coaching. I decided that it was my responsibility to “right the ship.” I’m glad I decided to stay and work through the problems. I learned a lot of important things about myself and coaching that I think have made me a better coach.

What inspired you to get into the field you are in? I have always had a passion for understanding the elements behind human performance and I enjoy teaching. I love to see the triumph of the human spirit.

Is failure ever valuable? I think that failure can always be valuable. It contains a lot of valuable information if it can be viewed objectively. It can provide the seeds for success if you know what to look for. It provides information about performance.

Which changes now taking place in your field that should be encouraged, and which resisted? I think there is a desire among young coaches to learn more about training paradigms. We need to bring more successful coaches and training experts together to discuss what we are learning from a systematic approach to training.

We need to resist the increasing distance between collegiate athletics and the educational environment of the university. Fewer administrators and coaches have backgrounds in education. More are coming from a business or a professional coaching background. I believe that this trend is to the detriment of both collegiate sport and the student-athletes.