Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Perform Better Long Beach Summit Review

For the past three years I have attended Perform Better's 3 Day Summit in Long Beach. This is by far one of the best educational events to attend. The presenters are some of the best in the world, there is a wide range of topics, and the best part is that the attendees can spark up as much good info as the presenters give. On that point, I have to thank coaches Elsbeth Vaino, Tim Vagen, Chris Dubois, Chris Shah, Sean Skahan, Jack McCormick, Seth Munsey, Rett Larson, and many others who I had the privilege to meet, and discuss everything from overall power to connecting with clients and athletes. You guys truly made the weekend a special one.

Now onto some notes and tidbits that have been resonating in my skull over the past two days. I'll shoot some notes from some of my favorite speakers and lectures I attended.

Dan John- 4 Quadrants of Lifting
-The role of the strength coach is easy, the impact is why you're really there.
-GET KIDS STRONG- my kids need to be lifting heavier!
-Food journals are the biggest key for nutritional compliance. if someone hasn't filled it out make that the beginning of their warm up.
-Starting at the beginning of EVERY new skill, drill or tool takes courage and humility
-Did I say get strong?

Lee Burton and Gray Cook- Corrective Strategies and Movement Code
-You can't correct someone out of constant daily negatives- eating apples won't help you if you haven't quit smoking.
-must have positive short term responses to obtain long term adaptations
-progression is the hardest thing to adjust for each individual
-3 major foot positions-attack the weakest
-core/spinal muscles fire differently in different foot positions
-don't turn movement problems into anatomy!
-would you change and eye chart for a elderly person to drive? than why would you change movement
-systems beat programs every time
-proprioception is key!-article to come on that later
-limited movement patterns decrease the ability to adapt
-risk of injury is 2.5x greater if FMS is 14 or below/asymmetry is present.

Mike Boyle- Success Secrets
-Write goals down- NOW!
-want to make more money? impact more people
-early adapters will always succeed. be able to go with the flow instead of resist change
-what will people say about you in 10 years? great question to ask about yourself
-before all the BS, get good at what you do!
-cliche's are cliche's because they are true
-crazy parents and coaches are your best source for marketing- see opportunity in them
-net vs gross- net=meaningless, gross=meaningful

Rachel Cosgrove- Breaking Through with Female Clients
-Women remember the "breakthrough moment"- Give it to them!
-treat all female clients like athletes no matter what
-every before and after story had a coach or person who provided the knowledge and support-be that person
-Be real with your clients and find the connection point- don't be superhuman
-Mirror language helps with connection and trust
-NEVER force your idea of what they should be, guide them to theirs
-people remember images and stories- use good analogies
-BEST ADVICE OF THE WEEKEND- What one change can you make this week that will have the biggest impact on your results?
-For women looking for fat loss, use jean size instead of the scale
-progressions, challenges and records keep them coming back for more.

Todd Wright- Dominate Your Space
-4 tips- curiosity, communicate, systems(organization), surround yourself with good people
-movement is driven by gravity, ground reaction forces, mass and momentum
-driven from top down AND bottom up
-proprioceptors- transducers of information (20x more in dense fascia segments)
-the bodies ability to adapt is AMAZING
-the best athletes have the ability to own their space not be the absolute strongest or most powerful
-agility is a auditory or visual response that changes ones sphere
-strength can be added through power

Dave Jack-Good to Great
I would love to talk about certain points Dave made but it would honestly do no justice. He spoke straight from the heart and his voice and passion are what made the talk GREAT. He could have been talking about how to sell hotdogs at a baseball game and I was all in.

All of these speakers provided some amazing insight into training, nutrition, communication and other aspects that can only make me and the other attendees better coaches. I suggest every coach attend events like these to sharpen your knife. Sometimes you get brand new information you've never thought of and often you get reminded of the little things you need to do better.

Me, Tim Vagen and Elsbeth Vaino
Me and Chris Dubois hanging!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

When Early Specialization is OK

If you look at every Youth Fitness or Sports specialist, there is a common theme about early specialization. Many of the experts strongly feel that kids MUST play multiple sports and avoid early specialization, and for good reason I agree. Multiple sports create a balance of skills and athletic ability that can be hindered by specialization. I am completely on board with this concept and believe playing multiple sports at a young age truly develops physical literacy, which creates better athletes in the long term. Many world class athletes credit playing multiple sports as a reason why they are so effective.

However, in certain circumstances early specialization can be very beneficial for developing athletes, under one circumstance: it is self imposed because of a deep love of the sport. I shouldn't even use the word specialize. It's more of a deep obsession that has been ignited by special circumstances.

A great example is Ted Williams. If you've read anything about his childhood, he played baseball ALL THE TIME. He would search for anyone to pitch to him, day after day, year after year. He enjoyed playing baseball at a level that few people can comprehend. In our perception, he specialized at a very early age, and according to most experts he would not fulfill his athletic potential. I think his athletic career turned out to be pretty decent.

Many world class athletes actually did specialize at an early age, but their specialization was self imposed. I will steal two concepts from two of my favorite books and authors, that leads to this early obsession. First is from Daniel Coyle who wrote The Talent Code. Coyle writes about the idea of ignition in this article, and sums it up with these three points.
  1. The moments are serendipitous. Nobody sets it up; there’s no mediator. It happens by chance, and thus contains an inherent sense of noticing and discovery.
  2. They are joyful. Crazily, obsessively, privately joyful. As if a new, secret world is being opened.
  3. The discovery is followed directly by action.
Go read the rest of that article, and The Talent Code while you're at it.

The next concept is what Malcolm Gladwell centered his message around in the book Outliers. They need the right opportunity and environment to grow this ignition and skill. Gladwell's research and interviews discovered that many so called "gifted" performers actually were given an incredible opportunity to consistently practice their passion. Often at a young age, or the right age. If Ted Williams was born in the Rhode Island instead of San Diego, he would not be able to practice hitting day after day, all year round, and my guess is would not have been as good of a hitter. A big reason why you see most great baseball prospects from warm climate states and hockey players typically come from the northern states.

Where our culture goes wrong with early specialization is when the passion and desire comes from external sources, e.i. the parents or coaches. Now kids have a full time job playing baseball or soccer, before their legal age to work. Kids are now unwillingly forced to play a sport most of the year if not all because they showed "potential" in their local league. The special cases where early specialization is beneficial, usually comes out of chance and letting the love of the game naturally develop.

So it's OK if a kid who loves playing basketball all the time to play it a lot more than other sports. If he's playing out of a love for the sport, let him be. My guess is most of the time they will want to play other sports with their friends anyway, but letting them have this special bond with an activity they love is something we shouldn't say is wrong. What is wrong is when take a kid who just likes to play and tell them they must love to play, and play a lot because if you don't make the all star team when you're 8, you'll have no chance at a college scholarship. Like Ron Burgundy says, "It's science."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Underlying Factor of the 10,000 Rule

The concept of 10,000 hours to becoming an expert is often very misunderstood. Many believe that simply practicing all those hours automatically qualifies one as an expert. This concept first was discovered by Herbert Simon, who found that experts learned approximately 50,000 chunks of information usually over a 10 year span. Anders Ericsson also researched into this concept and discovered the importance of deliberate practice.

Deliberate practice is "not inherently enjoyable," according the Ericsson. It requires working in a constant struggle, pushing limits, and reaching just outside your grasp.

Simon included a key word that many will over look in his definition of an expert, learned. Those who consistently push and learn are those who become experts. Simply going through motions for 10,000 hours and staying in a comfort zone does not make one an expert because they have 10-15 years experience. What's the quality of that experience? Did they learn 50,000 new chunks of information, or did they just observe?

A great example in my own life was when I was in high school and used to shoot baskets for hours upon hours. I would shoot jumper after jumper but often it was a set shot, without dribbling or a casual pull up, over and over. As a result I was a good shooter when open, but off the dribble or when guarded closely, I would struggle. If I had added moves, pushed the speed of my release, or even changed to different spots (free throw to baseline perhaps), that would have been deliberate practice. Shooting the same shot over and over had a low transfer of learning to my actual game. I may have had as many hours as a lot of college players by the time I was 16 but I didn't have the same amount of quality work of someone who practiced more efficiently.

The old saying of it's not how long you practice but how you practice, actually is being scientifically proven by Ericsson and many others. The only difference they find after a certain point of expertise is the number of hours in deliberate practice.

I get worried when parents and coaches read about the 10,000 hour rule and think that putting their kid into 100 games a year and 5 summer camps that will speed up the process. The 10,000 hour rule is a long term approach that relies more on consistent and quality practice. Simply forcing kids into more games and specialization at a young age is detrimental is so many ways.

To sum it all up, 10,000 hours of practice depends on the quality of those hours. True experts seek consistent improvement of their craft, while the others stay content.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hierarchy of Questions for Athletes with Nagging Injuries

I wrote this article back in March after a discussion on strengthcoach.com. It will be posted on strengthcoach.com this week but wanted those who don't have the membership to be able to read it as well.

Mike Boyle inspired me to write this article not only to share good information but more to have the right questions to ask and also the right hierarchy of needs for athletes with certain nagging injuries. Coach Boyle recently talked about too much emphasis on the Functional Movement Screen being the answer for everything. While it should be apart of the evaluation process, there are other factors to consider.

1. Workout Program

A) Is it your program they’ve been training with consistently?

a) If this a reoccurring injury you’ve seen with numerous athletes in your program?

-If yes, you need to look at your program and what needs to be changed.

-If not than move onto #2

B) Were they working out with someone else before they came to you?

a) Yes- Overlook program and see changes that need to be addressed.

b) No. Move to #2

2. Extra Work

A) In-season with a coach

a) Do they perform an absurd amount of conditioning/extra running?

-If yes, good luck. You don’t want to step on shoes but you want to help the athlete. Making connection with coach and educating is your best bet but is not always easy to do.

-If no, go to B.

B) Self induced extra running/workouts

a) Do they “run” or over train to an unhealthy extent?

-If yes, try to eliminate extra work by educating athlete and show them how jogging and too much training leads to these types of injuries.

-If no, go to 3 or 4.

C) Do they jog?

-If yes, than look at either eliminating or helping them jog properly. Also go to ¾

3. Nutrition (not always needed but could be a factor with certain injuries)

A) Have the filled out a proper nutrition log, and have an adequate diet?

- If yes, and they were truthful than go to 4.

-If no, than look for changes in their diet than can be made, especially in regards to water, lean protein, vegetables, and fruit. Still go on to #4

4. FMS (some could argue this goes first and others last. Either way if you have the time I would FMS them anyway)

A) Do they have a score below 14, asymmetries or pain?

-If Yes, than either refer out or use correctives.

-If no, refer out or go back to #1 because they probably are lying.