Lessons Learned and Affirmed in 2007

Here are few thoughts and lessons learned and affirmed in 2007. It was a year of growth and change for me as I turned the page on another chapter of my career. I want to thank all of you for your support and ideas in 07,all the best for a healthy and happy New Year.

Bo Didley once said, "I opened the door for a lot of people, and they just ran through and left me holding the knob." I certainly can relate.

Andrew S. Grove, the co-founder of Intel, put it well in 2005 when he told an interviewer from Fortune, “When everybody knows that something is so, it means that nobody knows nothin’.” In other words, it becomes nearly impossible to look beyond what you know and think outside the box you’ve built around yourself. Original ideas?” Cloning is alive and well – where is the fresh thinking and original ideas. You definitely cannot innovate by imitating the status quo.

If you have a criticism go ahead and criticize, but also offer a possible answer or a solution.

Read as much as possible and hang out with smart people.

Training takes times, it is not a two hour a day proposition, it is a lifestyle.

Those who label themselves as strength coaches and never leave the weight room produce athletes who are adapted to the weight room, not adapted to the game.

Pioneers get all the arrows.

You have to be true to your beliefs no matter how uncomfortable and unprofitable.

The Internet rocks! – There is great information and resources available.

The Internet sucks! – There is too much junk and vitriol that is instantly accessible.

You can’t let the fox guard the chicken coop –look what happened in Major League Baseball.

Professional sport is primarily entertainment not sport. The WWF model will become even more prevalent.

Multitasking does not work; you just do many things poorly. Focus, Focus, Focus!

The body is not a machine and the brain is not a computer – the body is a self-organizing system that is highly adaptable. It is very intelligent. It is very good at solving complex movement problems if we let it go.


Oliver Jackson – An Inspiration

When I saw the AP Release announcing Coach Oliver Jackson’s death it brought back a flood of memories. I never knew Oliver Jackson personally, but for several years when I was in high and college he was my coach. How was that? He wrote a chapter on the Sprints in a book called Championship Track And Field – By 12 Great Coaches. It was published in 1961. That was my first exposure to any kind of systematic approach to sprint training and speed development. For me that chapter was my bible. The fundamentals he preached then are still sound fundamentals today. Here is short excerpt from two introductory paragraphs:

A boy must be physically strong in order to be a good sprinter. Sprinting is a strength exercise. More muscle strength is required for sprinting than for any longer races.

A sprinter must be able to relax. Most great sprinters look as if they are loafing because they run so easily. Unless the ability to relax is acquired, a boy can never become a great sprinter –no matter how much natural speed he has.

Truer words have never been spoken. Thanks coach Jackson for inspiring me and getting me pointed in the right direction.

Renowned track coach dies

The Associated Press

Oliver Jackson, the former Abilene Christian track and field coach whose athletes won four Olympic gold medals and set 15 world records, died Wednesday. He was 87.Jackson died of natural causes at his Abilene home, said Lance Fleming, ACU sports information director.

During his tenure at ACU (1948-63) Jackson's teams won NAIA titles in 1952, 1954 and 1955. In 1964, he coached the national team during its pre-Olympic tour.

At ACU, Jackson coached three U.S. Olympic team members: Bobby Morrow, quarter-miler Earl Young and pole vaulter Billy Pemelton.

Morrow, a sprinter, won gold medals at the 1956 Olympics in the 100 and 200 meters and 400 relay. Young won a gold medal in the 1960 Olympics in Rome in the 1,600 relay, and Pemelton finish eighth in the pole vault in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. A 1959 Sports Illustrated article called Jackson "probably the best relay coach in the United States." Jackson, a former president of the U.S. Track and Field Coaches Association, was inducted into seven halls of fame, including the U.S. Track and Field Coaches Association.


Happy Holidays

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season. In this crazy mixed up world we still have much to be thankful for. For me this is a time to spend with family and friends and recuperate from the past year and get the get the batteries recharged for the New Year. I will probably not post again on a daily basis until the New Year.


To Get You Thinking

It is easy to get strong – but it is hard to apply to that acquired strength to your sport or event!


Fascia Research

Work on fascia and it’s role in the body has traditionally been placed in “Alternative Medicine” so it was good to see that there has actually been a scientific congress First International Fascia Research Congress to discuss the science of fascia.The following is from the Scientific American Website.

Rolfer discusses research about fascia

From docartemis's Blog RSS Dec 20, 2007

A few weeks ago I saw a piece on the Science magazine website about Robert Schleip, PhD of the University of Ulm in Germany, which caught my interest because after many years as a rolfing practitioner he went back and earned a PhD in Biology so that he could explore what is really going on during bodywork like rolfing.

He recently participated in the First International Fascia Research Congress, which was held a Harvard in October of 2007. One of the discoveries discussed was that fascia contains myofascial cells with contractile properties similar to those of smooth muscle. This has number of clinical and research implications.

I interviewed Robert for an episode of my podcast, Books and Ideas, which
I just posted today. Here is a link to the shownotes: http://booksandideas.wordpress.com/2007/12/20/


The Essence of Sport

Competition is the essence of sport, not records. It occurred to me that the endless chase for higher and higher performances in Track& Field and Swimming for example has taken away from the essence of the sport with is competition. Competition is striving together with the competition not fighting against them. Top marks and world records should be the result of competition not staged races with pace makers or prearranged races or time trials. In a conversation at the USTCCA Coaches convention with another coach about why Track & Field has lost following we came to the conclusion that this is one reason. If a record is not broken there is disappointment! How absurd, you can’t break records every time you compete. If the stress were on competition and the top competitors met more often then I believe that the sport would have more appeal. I also think that the constant stress on records is one of many factors that have caused a rise in the use of performance enhancing drugs.


Bits and Pieces

The past two weeks I have had the opportunity to get back to my roots so to speak. First I spoke at the M-F Track & Filed clinic in Atlantic City where the audience was mainly high school coaches. It is always good to get to speak to high school coaches because they represent such an important stage in the developmental process. At the clinic I was also able to catch up with Joe P. a frequent contributor to this blog. He is a very bright guy who has worked at the high school level for a long time. He does great work and always stimulates me to think. With a one day turnaround back to the warm and friendly confines of Sarasota Florida I was off to Phoenix for the United States Track and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTCCA) convention. I was there to meet with the event group chairs for the USA Track & Filed Coaching education program regarding revision of the Level Two Training Theory curriculum. We had about six hours of very productive discussions about the curriculum and the coaching education program in general. This is something that is very dear to my heart since I was one of the original group of founding members and the first director of the program. Secondly I was given the opportunity to give two presentations to the coaches. It was real honor to present to this group of peers. There were many people in attendance who are people that I have learned from and respect highly. As a group of coaches track and field coaches tend to get it because they have to do everything, coach technique, condition, strength train and administer, frankly that is a reason why some of the best coaches in the Athletic Development field have track and field backgrounds. The presentations were kicked off by eight hours of presentations by Frans Bosch. This was the third time I have heard Frans and once gain I was blown away. You may not agree with everything he says, but he really makes you think.(Once I digest his presentation I will post the ideas that he stimulated this time around) His presentation was a great segue into my presentations. The other thing that was neat was to catch up with coaches that I had not seen for years, some of whom had a profound influence on my career. My heart has always been with track and field, the fundamentals that I learned as a track coach have been the foundation for any success I have had as a coach working with other sports.

Recent Comments

I have been unable to post on the blog or even read the comments do to a severe computer meltdown and inability to access a suitable computer while I was traveling this past week. It goes without saying that when I read the comments this morning that I was upset and disappointed at the personal attacks and the upsetting nature of some of the comments. If this continues I will close the blog to comments, that will be a shame. I also want to repeat again I will delete anonymous comments, if you don’t sign you full name I will delete the comment. The last thing I want to do each day is act as a moderator or a babysitter to personal attacks and childish arguments. I post to educate and provoke but very little is of a life or death nature. Lets think before we write. I encourage everyone who comes onto the blog to read the introduction to get a feeling for the mission of this blog. This is not a list serve discussion group or forum, there are plenty of those sites available. I want to share ideas and


Sport or Entertainment

Listening to all the ballyhoo and mea culpa as a result of the Mitchell Report reminded me one again that this is not about sport it is entertainment pure and simple. MVP should be MVE – most valuable entertainer. Lets get real these guys may be athletes in a very loose sense of the word but they are paid to entertain. The fans demanded more home runs and a 100 mph fastball and that is what they got. The season including spring training games approached 200 games, what do expect the entertainers to do? I in no way condone drug use in any way shape or form in any discipline, but baseball and let’s not forget professional football are no more than WWF with a less predictable storyline.

Static Stretching

I just spoke at a track & filed clinic that had a large number of high school coaches in attendance. I gave three talks, one on planning and organizing training and two on strength training. In each talk I spoke briefly about flexibility and stretching and in each talk I mentioned that static stretching during warm-up was a waste of time. The predictable reaction was one of how I can do that we will have a explosion of injuries if we don’t static stretch in warm-up. Wrong – the 15 minutes of static stretching actually may be causing injuries. That time could be so much better spent actually warming up and for preparing for the workout or competition. I don’t understand the infatuation with pre-exercise static stretching. It has not place. Static stretching and warm-up are not the same. Static stretching in warm-up has a calming effect, the opposite of what you want in warm-up. Warm-up should be active and dynamic; it should activate and prepare the body for the subsequent workout. Static stretching used to enhance flexibility should be placed at the end of the workout. It is placed there when the body is warm so that maximum return from the stretches can be achieved. Also that is the time when you want the body to be relaxed and calm. I understand that from an administrative point of view there is a tendency to rush and get it over with. Don’t, this is the time when the body is most ready to make significant flexibility gains. Another point is that stretching needs to be individualized, group stretching assumes everyone has the same flexibility needs. Therefore team stretching regardless of where it is placed is a waste of time. Each individual has specific needs that often times are chronic and need to be considered. The individual flexibility routines should be selected based on a musculoskeletal screen, coupled with Athletic Competency tests and performance indicator tests. This will go a long way to insure that flexibility gains transfer to performance. Once again it is not content but context. Stretching must be placed in the correct place in the workout for optimum results.


Phil Lundin Interview

Phil Lundin is the Head Men’s Track & Filed coach at the University of Minnesota. Phil has consistently produced great 400 meter runners and outstanding jumpers. He has his PhD in Biomechanics. He is a great friend, someone who I turn to when I have questions about training. We are both Garrison Keillor fans, I always kid Phil that the difference is that he actually lives in Lake Wobegon and grew up among Norwegian bachelor farmers and I grew up in California with Italian gardeners.

What are most essential requirements for a successful conditioning program?
A clear idea of your constituency in regards to training age and competitive demands so your training reflects appropriate training progressions and exercise selection.

What are the most common mistakes in conditioning? Lack of proper work/rest ratio or the basic belief that if 10 reps is good, 20 reps is twice as good....
The generous application of general work in the general prep or off-season year after year in the career of an individual athlete.

What is "functional training" from your point of view? I am not sure what is meant by the term.

How important is specificity? At certain times of the year, it is paramount....it plays a greater role in contemporary training than in the past....

What aspect of conditioning athletes is most difficult and how have
you tried to address it?
Getting up to speed with incoming freshmen and how they respond to training loads so we can better design training to reflect what works for them individually...this is basically trial and error & requires a lot of communication and educating....

With the plethora of information available how can you determine what is best?
I stick with tried and true methods & am basically conservative (not politically, however!). In reading basic research, it is fun to take the findings and put theory into practice based on my interpretation of the data...this is dangerous, but what the hell?

Where do you stand on nature versus nurture? How much difference can training make? I am not sure....training can obviously make a difference, but natural ability can make any coach look good, including me.

What is the sure sign that a self proclaimed conditioning guru is not a good source of advice? When they start to market themselves....just kidding, but there is some truth to that.

What do you differently with the female athlete in terms of conditioning?
I do not work with females, so I am not in a position to answer....

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?
Technology.....timing devices, force mats, video analysis.....these technologies all give feedback that is invaluable in the training process.....

What's the biggest issue in training athletes today? I have a mental health resources file on my computer.....I spend more time dealing with such issues than in the past. Ken Doherty hit it on the head years ago in his "wholistic" approach to coaching athletes...his philosophy is even more relevant in today's culture....

Who has been a role model in your career and why? My Mom and Dad were both Physical Education teachers and coaches, so I grew up with sport and movement.....in my early years of high school teaching and coaching in Burnsville, MN, I was lucky to work with Dave Griffith who was one of the most successful high school coaches in Minnesota. At the University of Minnesota I got to hang with Roy Griak who has been a great mentor and colleague, and my participation in the Allerton Group....

What are the biggest professional challenges have you had to face? Given my limited abilities, I have multiple challenges daily too numerous to list...

What do you enjoy most about what you do? Dislike?I like being out on the field working with kids....problem solving with the athletes...I dislike all the paperwork and administrative tasks that have crept into the profession.....

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 have a time when I had to make a choice between pursuing a Ph.d in philosophy and sport vs. that of a sport science....I went the sport science route because I thought it was more pragmatic....I should have stuck with philosophy.

What inspired you to get into the field you are in? I grew up in a culture of movement given that my parents were physical educators and coaches....I never thought outside the box....

Is failure ever valuable? Only if you learn from your failures....

Which changes now taking place in your field that should be
encouraged, and which resisted?
We need more women in the coaching ranks....given all the opportunities to compete and the greater numbers of females competing, why are there not more female coaches? I have my own answers, but it still puzzles me....


More Books

A couple of good books I just recently finished reading on pretty divergent topics but both very interesting. No Shortcuts To The Top – Climbing The World’s 14 Highest Peaks by Ed Viesturs with David Roberts. I have always been fascinated by mountain climbing and what makes them do it. This book gave some great insights into the whole physical and mental process of mountain climbing and the inherent dangers. Viesturs in one of a select few who have climbed the worlds fourteen highest peaks. It was interesting to note how he mentioned that he had always centered his training on running and lifting weights, then in the later years of his career he discovered something he called “functional training” He mentioned that in his thirty expeditions he reached the summit of 8,000 meter peaks twenty times, he attributes that to the fact that: “I’m not a risk taker. I’m a risk manager.”

The other book is The Science of Leonardo – Inside The Mind Of The Great Genius Of The Renaissance by Fritjof Capra. I have always enjoyed Capra’s writing, in fact it was his writing that really opened my eyes and got me away from linear thinking and made me think more about patterns and relationships. This is what he emphasized about Leonard’s work. His thesis is that da Vinci was really the first modern scientist, literally centuries ahead of his time because of his nonlinear views and his understanding of complex relationships. In many ways his work was the forerunner of what is today called complexity theory and systems theory. What fascinated me were his powers of observation and his ability to relate seemingly unrelated phenomenon.


The older I get the more I value my friends. Saturday I was able to meet one of my very good friends, Kevin McGill for lunch in Lakeland, Florida. Kevin is a special friend. He is one of the most amazing people I know. We became acquainted through coaching and a mutual pursuit of knowledge in Track & Field. Kevin was one of the original Lead Instructors on the USA Track & Field coaching education program. He is co-author with George Dunn of a classic work The Throws Manual, in my opinion one of the best works on the throws written. This guy has a passion for learning like no one I have ever seen. When he was still in high school he took a train from New York City where he lived to Washington D.C. to go to the Library of Congress to get a book on Javelin throwing in Norwegian. He then used a Norwegian to English dictionary and translated the whole thing so he could learn more about the javelin. Over the years we have shared ideas and thoughts on art, literature, society, computers, politics, religion you name it. Kevin is the only I guy who reads more than I do. He has a passion for life and learning that is truly infectious. When you have friends like this you are truly blessed. If you get a chance search online for a publication he did in the 1980’s called Hammer Notes – it was labor of love that took countless hours to produce each issue. If you can find it Kevin wrote a classic article in Track Coach called "In Search of Seppo," chronicling his travels in Finland searching for the Olympic Gold medalist in the javelin. It is classic writing. I would like to see Kevin on the ICONOCLASTS paired with someone like Robin Williams.



I am not a big TV watcher, but a couple of week I was channel surfing and came across a neat program on the Sundance Channel. The program was the ICONOCLASTS http://www.sundancechannel.com/iconoclasts. The format is very unique. Two creative people from very different fields are paired and they share ideas. I have seen two episodes, the pairing were Howard Schultz of Starbucks fame and Norman Lear, the producer of All IN the Family. The other was former Secretary of Sate Madeline Albright and Ashley Judd. Executive producer Robert Redford describes the goal program: “ICONOCLASTS explores the intersection where great talents meet-and where creativity comes alive.”

How to Think

I am always encouraging you to think. Here is great post from an MIT professor Ed Boyden, with ten rules on how to think.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 Ed Boyden's Blog. Technology Review. 11/13/07. (http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/boyden/21925/).

When I applied for my faculty job at the MIT Media Lab, I had to write a teaching statement. One of the things I proposed was to teach a class called "How to Think," which would focus on how to be creative, thoughtful, and powerful in a world where problems are extremely complex, targets are continuously moving, and our brains often seem like nodes of enormous networks that constantly reconfigure. In the process of thinking about this, I composed 10 rules, which I sometimes share with students. I've listed them here, followed by some practical advice on implementation.

1. Synthesize new ideas constantly. Never read passively. Annotate, model, think, and synthesize while you read, even when you're reading what you conceive to be introductory stuff. That way, you will always aim towards understanding things at a resolution fine enough for you to be creative.

2. Learn how to learn (rapidly). One of the most important talents for the 21st century is the ability to learn almost anything instantly, so cultivate this talent. Be able to rapidly prototype ideas. Know how your brain works. (I often need a 20-minute power nap after loading a lot into my brain, followed by half a cup of coffee. Knowing how my brain operates enables me to use it well.)

3. Work backward from your goal. Or else you may never get there. If you work forward, you may invent something profound--or you might not. If you work backward, then you have at least directed your efforts at something important to you.

4. Always have a long-term plan. Even if you change it every day. The act of making the plan alone is worth it. And even if you revise it often, you're guaranteed to be learning something.

5. Make contingency maps. Draw all the things you need to do on a big piece of paper, and find out which things depend on other things. Then, find the things that are not dependent on anything but have the most dependents, and finish them first.

6. Collaborate.

7. Make your mistakes quickly. You may mess things up on the first try, but do it fast, and then move on. Document what led to the error so that you learn what to recognize, and then move on. Get the mistakes out of the way. As Winston Churchill put it, "Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt."

8. As you develop skills, write up best-practices protocols. That way, when you return to something you've done, you can make it routine. Instinctualize conscious control.

9. Document everything obsessively. If you don't record it, it may never have an impact on the world. Much of creativity is learning how to see things properly. Most profound scientific discoveries are surprises. But if you don't document and digest every observation and learn to trust your eyes, then you will not know when you have seen a surprise.

10. Keep it simple. If it looks like something hard to engineer, it probably is. If you can spend two days thinking of ways to make it 10 times simpler, do it. It will work better, be more reliable, and have a bigger impact on the world. And learn, if only to know what has failed before. Remember the old saying, "Six months in the lab can save an afternoon in the library."

Two practical notes. The first is in the arena of time management. I really like what I call logarithmic time planning, in which events that are close at hand are scheduled with finer resolution than events that are far off. For example, things that happen tomorrow should be scheduled down to the minute, things that happen next week should be scheduled down to the hour, and things that happen next year should be scheduled down to the day. Why do all calendar programs force you to pick the exact minute something happens when you are trying to schedule it a year out? I just use a word processor to schedule all my events, tasks, and commitments, with resolution fading away the farther I look into the future. (It would be nice, though, to have a software tool that would gently help you make the schedule higher-resolution as time passes...)

The second practical note: I find it really useful to write and draw while talking with someone, composing conversation summaries on pieces of paper or pages of notepads. I often use plenty of color annotation to highlight salient points. At the end of the conversation, I digitally photograph the piece of paper so that I capture the entire flow of the conversation and the thoughts that emerged. The person I've conversed with usually gets to keep the original piece of paper, and the digital photograph is uploaded to my computer for keyword tagging and archiving. This way I can call up all the images, sketches, ideas, references, and action items from a brief note that I took during a five-minute meeting at a coffee shop years ago--at a touch, on my laptop. With 10-megapixel cameras costing just over $100, you can easily capture a dozen full pages in a single shot, in just a second.


Mearsuring Success

It has to go beyond wins and losses. If winning is the sole measure of success then there are an awful lot of losers out here. Only one person can win a race, one team can win a game. Is it really that final and absolute? No way! For me going back to my beginning days of coaching I have always felt that the pursuit of excellence has its own rewards. No one should have to apologize for second place. If they did all in their power to prepare to win and fought a good fight, what more could you ask.


The following is the first sentence from an article in today’s New York Times sports page.(http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/health/AP-Tainted-Supplements.html?ref=sports) One quarter of dietary supplements purchased in a recent sampling contained traces of steroids and 11.5 percent had banned stimulants, according to a study to determine whether supplements sold across the United States are really clean.” It certainly is not shocking to anyone who has their eyes and ears open and has been around sport for any length of time. The supplement industry is basically unregulated so this should not be surprising. What I do not understand is the number of people in my field that are still pushing supplements. We should know better. Even if the supplements are totally clean what message are we sending the athletes? We are telling them that there is more that can enhance their performance aside from good training and coaching. I was shocked with an ad I saw in a recent Baseball America where the lead endorser was a former major league trainer who I held in high regard endorsing a product that was a testosterone precursor. Where does it stop? The real sad part of all of this is many of the young athletes I see just need to eat! Yea eat, eat three meals a day, not fast food, but real food. If you question many athletes at the high school and even the collegiate level, unless they are on a training table, they do not even eat breakfast. One again I am a minimalist on all of this. Take care of the basics. Believe me in my approximately 45 years of being a coach and an athlete I have seen it all and it still comes down to basic nutrition, not exotic potions.



I abhor labels. What do I mean? Here it is – he is functional guy, he is a dysfunctional guy, crossfit guy, no fit guy, hit guy, miss guy, Olympic lifting guy – What do all these things mean? To me it is plain and simple stereotyping. You hang a label on someone without really finding out what they are about. Not only is it unfair and unjust, it is wrong. Have I done this? Sure, but it is something I am working hard to get away from. Most of the time the labels are not accurate, instead of labeling someone find out their core beliefs, why do they believe what they believe? In fact is that what they believe or was that a label or an opinion passed on by someone else? Who taught them? What is their experience? Have you actually seen someone work and coach or is it just hearsay? With the plethora of internet list serve discussion groups this has been all too prevalent. I know as I look back over the year at times I have been too quick to judge and label. The end result was a shut down of any possible communication and certainly missed opportunities for learning and growth. Now I try to be more thorough in evaluating the message and not confusing the messenger with the message

Thought Provoking

The following is taken from a post on December 2, 2007 by MIT professor John Maeda. http://weblogs.media.mit.edu/SIMPLICITY/ Even though he is talking about academia I could not help but think how this applied to coaching. I know I took it to heart as I struggle to stay relevant and motivated. I am going to work hard to be more like a bonsai tree. Enjoy it, it will get you thinking.

As one becomes more mature in one's field, a few tendencies emerge:
1) greed: to dominate the field in a conscious and egotistical manner,

2) nurture: to make room for others by fostering the next generation,

3) apathy: to simply "check out" and rest on one's laurels. Although the first option seems unpalatable, I am of the belief that option three is probably worse. All three types are necessary elements to a great system of knowledge. Because everyone goes through a variety of phases in their lives. Usually greed gets embarrassing and apathy or nurtureapathy is sometimes a sign of rest that presages intellectual growth manifest as greed or nurture; nurture however is unique, as sometimes there are people that are always living in this mode all the time. sets in;

Here at the Media Lab there is a particular senior Professor I admire that I've had a longtime difficulty trying to understand how he exists. Definitely of the constant nurture variety, this Professor is someone that as he ages only increases in seriousness, yet is the proverbial light that illuminates everyone around him manifest as inspiration -- and at some times, defeat. There are those that simply cannot keep pace with him. For all his potency, he never attempts to usurp power or damage anything around himself. There is something elegant and graceful to his actions that makes him an important species in the faculty forest.

Watching him got me to think that if this Professor were a tree, he is best characterized as a Bonsai tree. Sitting in a spare, limited pot by his own choice. Trimming himself constantly so as not to burden that which surrounds. Cleaning his own roots to ensure that he does not grow out of control.

Meanwhile in the forest there are others that are more like bamboo trees. Constantly spreading out of control and with roots that suffocate surrounding growth. Note that in the forest of wisdom, peace would be undesirable. The advancement of knowledge requires natural processes of survival and evolution.

Those that sit silent are like the rocks. They are inert and take up space but add to the total beauty of the forest.

Growth, control, and repose. These three need to exist in balance to make for a good forest of thought. The difficult task for the caretaker of the forest is to ensure watering the right areas, trimming back unaesthetic overgrowth, being cautious of the growth of weeds, transplanting less-thriving species to find greater strengths, and planting new seeds. But most important, ultimately knowing when to leave the forest alone. Hmmm. I think I see something now. Thank you for listening.


Training Equipment – Then and Now

Brain wrote the following comment: In terms of what is needed to train elite athletes has the equipment needed changed much since 1968? I think that starting out in 1968 I thought that you needed a lot of equipment. Today I do not believe you do. You need the correct tools to do the job, no more no less. For me today the emphasis in the equipment area is heavily biased toward that which will help me monitor training. In 1968 artificial surfaces in terms of track and filed surfaces were new, today they are better and more forgiving, so that is a tool necessary in climates that are wet and cold. When I think I need some equipment I always remind myself of the moment constants – gravity, the body and the ground. Manipulate those three variables and you have all you need. The farther away from the body you get and the more things you put between the body and the ground the less effective you will. Use gravity and the ground, you can’t escape those. I am a minimalist; I don’t need much regardless of the level of the athlete. Equipment can be a crutch and an excuse for not training and performing. Good training methodology applied by a good coach with an athlete with a degree of talent will produce superior results. You do not need fancy buildings and chrome weights and mirrors to be the best.


The November 19, 2007 cover of Newsweek has a vintage Sixties look featuring some psychedelic images and news personalities from that year. On the cover is the headline: 1968 – The Year That Made Us Who We Are. As I saw the magazine on then table in the reception area I was struck with how true that was. It certainly was a defining year in my life. It was the year I graduated from college. It was the year I was going to go and change the world. Just like many young people of my era I was very idealistic and willing to question authority. The difference was that now it was OK to question, it was even encouraged. I remember going to see Bobby Kennedy in late May before a packed audience at the outdoor amphitheater at Fresno State. I went there convinced that I would never vote for him because he was poser riding his dead brothers coat tails. I came away convinced that he was the answer. He would solve the racial tensions and get us out of Vietnam. Two weeks later he was dead! The first candidate I had ever voted for was dead, a heavy dose of reality. Two days later I finished college not quite as idealist as I had been, really wondering what was in store.

From a sporting point of view 1968 was a time when sport changed. The Mexico City Olympics was the first track and field competition held on a synthetic surface. The podium protest of Tommy Smith and John Carlos was a rude awakening for some that sport and society were not separate. There was the scandal of athletes actually being paid to wear a certain brand of shoes. They even got bonuses for medals, all under the table of course.

Yea 1968 changed me as it changed many people. My idealism was tempered by a heavy dose of reality. Reflecting back I think that year did much to change the society we live in today, both good and bad.


Evaluating Crossfit

I plan on thoroughly evaluating the Crossfit program when I get time after the New Year. I have some pretty strict criteria that I use when I evaluate programs (including my own). I will use those criteria to evaluate it. In another post I will share those criteria.

More Heresy

The original post was not or is not intended as a diatribe against Olympic lifting, rather it is a plea for sanity and common sense in exercise selection and application. Dan posted this comment that I think requires further comment: “Though, the catch is valuable as it trains deceleration and control of bodyweight + bar.” This is another example of drinking the Kool-Aid that is the party line that no one seems to be willing to question. THINK! There are so many safer ways to train deceleration. It also begs the obvious question – Deceleration of what? The bar – great I need to decelerate the bar if I am a weight lifter other wise where do I decelerate in that pattern of movement. I always think in terms of risk and return. That is too high a risk move, especially when fatigued for the commensurate return. Also forearm length and overall arm length dictate some of the ability to properly catch and rack the weight. Where is this taken into consideration in most programs? If you want to work on eccentric loading (deceleration) in a similar pattern it is safer to do a medicine ball throw up against a wall. Believe me on the subsequent catch you will get good high eccentric loads. I use this in season with volleyball quite often, it is much easier to teach and safer. In summary I want to restate my general philosophy in regard to strength training – A sound strength training program must include pulling , pushing, squatting and rotational and derivatives of those movements in a all planes of motion with a variety of resistance modes.