What I Learned at The Seminar-Part I
First, it must be said that it is an absolute honor to be associated with this event. There are so many people who make The Seminar possible that if I attempted to list them all I’m certain I would miss someone. So with that in mind, I’d like to say thank you to everyone who was involved with the weekend, from the presenters, to the people in attendance both in Richmond and via the web, to the people who help out behind the scenes with everything from transportation, to set up, to helping with the presenters, everyone, thank you very much for being a part of it. I hope The Seminar is something that you enjoy and are proud to be part of as much as I am. Ok, now that that is said, let’s talk about what I personally took from the weekends’ presentations:
We started out with Mike Robertson discussing what, in his opinion, corrective exercise is. Leading up to The Seminar, Mike said numerous times that the lineup had a ton of really smart people, and Mike Robertson. Mike’s humble thought of himself was immediately proven to be just that, and he showed very shortly that what he should have said was, “there is a great line up of smart people” and left it at that. His holistic approach is, in my mind, dead on, but so many people miss the boat on it. They pass the buck, or just run and hide from actually training whomever it is they are working with and just trying to “fix” them. They can actually train because that’s what corrective work is, and that, to me, is a priceless message: get them better no matter what.
Lesson: The whole is equal to the sum of its parts, and at the same time, the HOLE is equal to the sum of its part. Work to improve performance while working the corrective strategies needed, both on a team and individual basis.
Understanding that, as Dan John said, “the goal is to keep the goal the goal”, Cal brought programming back into focus in his presentation. His methods, which can be found in his book here, are unique, but very focused because “the more specific we can make the stress, the farther we can push the organism to the direction we want it to be.” Keeping a focus to your training and making sure that your training is within that focus is the best way possible to lead to the adaptations to your athletes. Although this sounds simple, in reality it is a very complex, specified, and important concept to follow.
Lesson: Find what qualities need to be improved with that athlete and design the training to stress the athlete to improve the specific quality.
Monitoring the readiness of your athletes and understanding what the technology you are utilizing is telling you is an important aspect of preparing your athletes at the proper volumes and intensities. Joel’s discussion on monitoring training was exactly what people needed because too many people don’t understand how to actually utilize the information that their monitoring device (be it Omegawave, iThlete, BioForce, or whatever it may be) provides. Tracking the information and finding trends, correlations, and actually learning what it means to each athlete you work with is what is needed to understand the load that the athlete will be able to accommodate to at that point in time.
Lesson: Quantifying the response to the training and then actually training is crucial to actually prepare your athletes with the proper volume and intensities to have consistent improvement.
Landon Evans is a rare individual in our field. He not only has the ability to control the athlete’s physical preparation, but also has the legal ability to provide actual nutritional advice. That to me is huge. One of the reasons I feel that track and field coaches can provide the best information is because they can control every aspect of the athlete’s preparation, and Landon is very close to being able to do that. He dove into the entire training process, from his evaluations/screening procedures for athletes, to programming, to nutrition, to how practice influences physical preparation. Basically, Landon gave our audience a look at the whole movie, not just a preview, and held no punches: develop relationships with coaches, understand what they are doing to the kids in practice, attempt to educate them, train the athletes accordingly, but actually TRAIN them, and do it right.
Lesson: Everything matters and needs to be accounted for in every aspect of what we do. This means practice needs to be accounted for with how we handle our athletes, and it also means that athletes need to be held accountable for what they are doing.
There are many people in this field who I call straight shooters, who don’t care what you think of what they say, they’re going to tell you the truth, or at least the truth in their minds. At the top of that list is Val, and that’s why I love the guy. Stating that the US is good at sports the rest of the world could care less about is just one example of that. Think about that one for a minute, and you will probably say, yeah he’s right. Although my favorite point of his presentation was discussing what is really important when developing an athlete, ranking different “qualities” you may say, and physical preparation was third. Yes, THIRD! That means that there are 2 things that are more important than that. So what does that mean about this profession? To me that means we need to find things that are associated with the top two, and although some things we shouldn’t touch, just based on what we do and what we know, but there are ways we can “fit” into the top two.
Lesson: Skill is the most important part of being a successful athlete, and as a coach of physical preparation you must develop the skills that are needed for that athlete to be successful. That does not mean I’m going to teach basketball players to shoot a jump shot, but I can help them with “general sporting skills” like cutting, acceleration, jumping, sprinting, so on and so forth because those are skills that must be developed, improved and perfected.
When Dr. Natalia Verkhoshanksy told me that her first topic was the Shock Method of training, I had to jump at the opportunity. To learn from the disciple of the man who developed it and a person who is expanding on that work is a dream to me. Dr. Verkhoshansky did not disappoint, and in my opinion, went above and beyond expectations. In a 2 hour presentation she covered the science behind this method, studies where this means was looked at with different types of athletes, and the execution of the exercises themselves. Then, she went a step further. Dr. Verkhoshansky went through the entire progression of Specialized Strength Training leading to the Depth Jump. What I do not think people understand is how much of a gift that was. This was her father’s life’s work presented to the attendees (and available now on DVD) in a 2 hour presentation where not only do we know the why’s and how’s, the but what’s and when’s. To me, that’s coaching gold, and I cannot thank her enough.
Lesson: The progression of jumping exercises matters, and there is a right way to do it, and that way was researched over and over again, so this very well may be the “Holy Grail” of developing special strengths in athletes in a progressive nature throughout their entire career.
General Adaptation Syndrome
An attempt to summarize this presentation in a paragraph would be improper. Dr. Verkhoshansky brought information that had not been translated into English to further clarify the “stress response” and Hans Seyle’s General Adaptation Syndrome. The connections to the programming, progressing, and performance demonstrated in this presentation are so immense that trying to categorize and quantify it in a few sentences would be a futile effort. I can say, without hesitation, that this presentation made me take a big look at how I program and the when’s, where’s and how’s for when we progress the means, intensity, and volume of work. Although it is highly scientific in nature, all of the information was brought together and shown how the research relates directly to the physical perpetration of the athlete, and how the adaptations to the stressors lead to improved performance.
Lesson: “For every substance, small does stimulate, moderate doses inhibit, large doses kill”
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