Friday, November 25, 2011

What Environment Do You Supply?

I recently went through the Titleist Performance Institute's (TPI) Junior level 3 certification.  TPI does a great job of bringing together research from multiple backgrounds to create a simple and organized program that anyone could immediately implement. 

Denis McDade was one of the presenters, and said something so simple, yet very profound.

"If you have to demand someone to do something, than you haven't created an environment where they value that particular skill, exercise, or program."

I immediately slapped myself and did 20 pushups for not having already thought of this statement.  This is coaching at it's greatest.  Looking in the mirror and asking what do I want my athletes to value?

Do I provide the environment for them to grow these values?

What can I do to improve the way I communicate these values?

This can range from big picture ideas such as hard work, being on time, being respectful, all the way down to the everyday training details like mobility, stability, lifting technique, and so on.  I know in my programs I need to do a better job of having the athletes value regeneration through methods of hydration, nutrition, sleep, etc.  They all know they should be eating better and sleeping more, but they don't have a emotional connection because they haven't been in an environment has made it important to them..... yet.

One of the big picture ideas that immediately came to mind was in Remember the Titans.  Denzel knows his job isn't football in training camp, it's creating an environment where they boys respect and fight for each other.  If this scene doesn't fire you up, I don't know that we could ever get along.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Flanking Fitness Part 2: Youth Sports and Physical Acitvity

If you haven't read part 1 yet of Flanking Fitness, go back and read that first.   Our entire field of sports performance or athletic development training is based on a flanking manuever.  We (coaches/trainers) will improve athletes at their sport without actually practicing the sport itself. 

As we look at youth sports, I feel that we are in some serious trouble.  Physical education is being cut at schools daily if it hasn't been already, obesity rates for youth are the highest it's ever been, media has scared parents from letting kids play unless a "play date" is arranged, and club sports now have elite level teams for 5 year olds.  There are some serious battles on both ends of the pendulum. 

On one extreme, kids are unhealthy in every way possible and absolutely hate physical activity.  On the other, kids are put on a traveling team at age 7 and our early dropout rates are absurd.  On either extreme, the end result seems to be the same.... Instead of physical activity being a beneficial and fun way to improve your quality of life, it has become something we think of as a chore and another event to try and schedule in on our iPads. 

How are we facing the youth fitness problem head on?  Play dates, sessions with trainers, forcing kids on sports teams, etc.  Physical activity and athletics is now a chore.  

How can we flank it?   Dave Jack and I had a conversation a while back on how making it fitness based is the wrong idea for young kids.  Making it an enjoyable experience through movement is imperative.  We can't hit this head on where we force kids to move.  I wish like hell we could bring back fun PE classes with gymnastic rings, climbing ropes, jump ropes, monkey bars, etc.  The playground seems to have disappeared in every facet of physical activity.  These fun environments are gone.

I grew up in an environment where physical activity and sports were just apart of what we did.  All of my friends growing up still play sports, rock climb, snowboard, etc. because it's fun.  We have this connection with fitness in a way that we don't even consider it fitness, it's just how you live.  We also were allowed to ride our bikes everywhere and play sports without 10 parents and a doctor watching.

My biggest suggestion is to create environments where MOVEMENT is fun.  Create a positive experience, and let everything else fall into place.

I wish I had more specific answers because I know how sports has made my life so much fun and how many great people I've met playing basketball, soccer, or lifting weights.  These have become life long connections that we still talk about and share to this day.

Comment below with your idea's on how we can win the battle on youth sports. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Flanking Fitness Part 1

Flanking has been used throughout history in wars, political campaigns, and economic depressions.  The United States was founded on flanking with the Boston Tea Party, the Green Mountain Boys (C'mon I'm a Vermonter), and our militia.  Flanking is an indirect solution in order to achieve a direct result.  If we went head on with the Red Coats during the Revolutionary War, we would have most definitely lost.  Instead, we had farmers ambush from the woods and use unique tactics in order to achieve the same result.  Flanking is the essence of thinking creatively and "outside the box."
If Mel Gibson can't do it..... Chuck Norris can.

So how do we do this in performance training, fitness and youth sports?

RFESS or Bulgarian Split Squats
Facing it head on: Practice sprint mechanics and doing more sprints. 
Flanking: Power and strength work in the weight room. Single leg work, deadlifts, core work, mobility and motor control will all improve speed on the field.  If a kid has weak hips, all the sprint mechanic drills won't fix that, but doing the right things in the weight room will lead to tremendous gains. 

FMS (Functional Movement Screen)
Facing it head on:  Improve movement by practicing the "big 3" screens.
Flanking: Use correctives on the "little 4" that will indirectly improve the big 3 and movement in general.  Soft tissue work, stretches, mobility and RNT/motor control are all flanking the direct issue.  The entire Joint by Joint approach is based on a flanking idea.  Where ever the pain is, look above and below the joint.

90 seconds gets twice the results
6 Pack Abs or "Getting Lean or Toned"
Facing it head on: Do situps and crunches or buy a bull$*&T product from an infomercial. 
Flanking: Delete the negatives from your diet (grains, sugar, and processed food), eat more veggies and lean meats, do full body strength exercises, and add some high intensity intervals.

Eliminating Joint Pain
Facing it head on: Surgery, pain killers, and braces.
Flanking: DNS, SFMA, ART, Graston, chiropractic work and the dozens of other therapies that address soft tissue, the neurological response and treating the body as a whole unit.  The therapy and clinical world is completely founded on flanking pain.

Youth Fitness (obesity, participation, and physical culture)
Part 2.........

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fedex Day Take 2

I recently had one of Sports Performance classes go through another Fedex Day (click on the link if you aren't familiar).

13 athletes, 8 boys and 5 girls, all were freshman in high school.  Mainly multi-sport athletes that play basketball, soccer, and lacrosse. They had 1 hour to do whatever they wanted in a weight room, as long as they're exercising, they included a warm-up, and wrote down an overall reasoning for the exercises. 

What I thought was a positive:
-My favorite was that all the girls did farmer's carries.
-No sit-ups were done for core.
-A relative good mix between upper and lower body- improvement on the past
-A lot of TRX rows and pull ups were performed
-They were asking questions about certain goals and what exercises will help improve them
-Everyone was smiling and laughing
-Many wanted to try a new exercise or make up a matrix for something else (we do a lot of matrices)

Things I think need improvement
-No one did an olympic lift or big power exercise.  Only a couple did box jumps and jumping exercises.
-I would have liked to see more boys do leg exercises
-Lower posterior chain work was absent.
-Very little Single leg work

What do I do from here?  Evaluate how I am coaching the "needs improvement" side and see if by next trimester the kids value olympic lifts, lower body posterior chain work and a lot more single leg work. 

I highly suggest you try this to see how your athletes value what you are teaching them.  It also is fun for them to have some time to just try things out and experiment while your there to keep them safe.