Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lessons and Notes from the Seattle Sounders Mentorship

Oh what I thought I knew.....

It's funny looking back at how much I thought I knew when I first started out with a frat boy like confidence on how I could train any athlete, anywhere. Then I heard Gray Cook talk for the first time and was put in my place like a dog who just shat on the carpet and it's owner found out. Tail between my legs ready to listen to anyone and everyone for more advice and knowledge.

I'm still an infant in this coaching world but feel I have worked very hard in my early years to at least be able to hold a respectable conversation about training or be able to ask questions where eyes aren't rolled in the back of their head saying "Here we go again..."

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to travel to Seattle for the Seattle Sounders FC Sports Science mentorship. Sounders fitness coach, David Tenney, set up a great weekend with some great speakers including Patrick Ward, Joel Jamieson, Darcy Norman, Jordan Webb, and of course Coach Tenney. What was even better about this conference was it was limited to only 30 attendees making it open for a lot of discussion, networking, and a relaxed atmosphere.

This conference also put my tail back between my legs. Listening to these guys talk made me realize, yet again, I have oooohhhh so far to go as a coach. I'm just scratching the surface of what there is to learn. Here's some notes and take aways from the weekend

-Stress comes in good and bad forms. You must account for it all and be able to individualize and adjust training in response to it.

-You also must measure this stress in some form. There are expensive, high tech ways (Omegawave) and inexpensive, low tech ways (resting HR and questionnaires). This gives you a much better idea and allows for better communication with your athletes.

-Recovering from stress can happen in many ways. Certain methods are good at certain times and sticking to one way will not work all the time. Example, ice baths are great if you need to recovery in a short period of time from game to game, but might not be the best idea at the beginning of a training program because the inflammation is the bodies way of recovering.

-Soft tissue work doesn't always need to be deep tissue work. Sometimes just stretching the skin will relieve a lot of tension. Patrick showed me this first hand with my calves.

-Recovery reserve, movement reserve, and fatigue reserve- Go read Patrick Wards article here. Huge concepts that help you figure out how to see a bigger picture.

-There are some many systems intertwined that we will never know it all or can say "this one thing will determine..." Learn principles, use methods, measure results, ask questions, analyze and assess. It's a never ending puzzle.

- Fitness/S+C coaches working with team coaches should have disagreements, friction, even arguments. If you don't make it personal and keep the purpose in mind, that is how you will evolve and find more efficient ways. Loved the story Sounders Coach Sigi Schmid told us how he met with UCONN's soccer coach, and he complained about how much he fights with his S+C coach. Sigi's reply, "Yeah, you're supposed to disagree. That's why you're both there."

-Smaller incremental changes are necessary with many of your athletes. Patrick Ward talked about how he has changed a golfers motion so well when they got on the course they had no control over their new motion. He realized he added too much at one time. Add stress, let them recover, add a little more, let them recover.

-Specificity with our drills must be looked with a different lens. It's a measurement between a movement and a skill, that's it. Start from what your trying to improve and go down the chain keeping in mind your original skill. A good way to know if a drill is specific, if you had elite athletes doing it, would they be better at it than an amateur? If so, it's probably specific. Go read everything by Joel Jamieson @

-One main goal we want is to increase the consistency and durability of our athletes. We want their trainablility (their ability to recover from a stress) to improve. Sometimes that means recovering instead of pushing further.

I could go on and on about what I learned at this event. These things are a lot of fun, and I encourage any coach to find 1-3 of these to attend per year. You really do learn a lot from listening to how others think and put pieces of the puzzle together. It's also refreshing to see the top coaches in our industry are so open to share their philosophies and knowledge.

1 comment:

  1. Casy nice little recap of an epic weekend. and i am excite to see you have a blog looks like you have some interesting stuff on here ill have to check it out.