“I predict the sun will rise in the east. When it does I will then declare that I can control the movement of the sun.”The big secret is that there is no secret. I have been saying this for years. There is always a guy ready to take credit for someone’s combination of hard work and great genetics. I hate the money grubbers who always claim to have found the holy grail of training. All they have really found is a list of high net worth parents who are willing to pay for a dream. I have trained the world’s best athletes for almost thirty years and I know there is no secret.Work hardEat breakfastTake care of your bodyThose are the secrets. If you think you need to spend ten thousand dollars for training secrets than you are a fool. It’s like Bernie Madoff. He had a secret investment plan that made everyone money. How did that work out? The world is full of guys who overpromise and under-deliver. The sports training world is no exception. I love how guys can meet a great athlete and suddenly be the reason for his success. I have trained some of the world’s all time greats in every sport known to man and at no time did I ever mislead the media to think I made them.As I said above, the secret is hard consistent work. Nothing more nothing less. The secret is being able to do what others won’t. Not because your dad wants you too or your Mom wants you too but, because you want to. The secret is sacrifice. Sacrificing a night out with friends to lift, shoot baskets or shoot pucks. The secret is getting up hours before you have to so you can eat breakfast. The secret is never missing a workout. The secret is getting out early at practice to work on weaknesses.There are so many secrets and none cost money.
Archive for the Strength Coach Podcast Category
I wanted to just put up a quick post about Joel Jamieson’s BioForce Heartrate Variability monitor. I have been using it for about two months and have found the info to be really valuable. The process takes about 3 minutes in the morning and allows you to gauge what your training can or should look like that day.
For those that are unfamiliar Heart Rate Variability measures the time between heart beats. A high heart rate variability score indicates a healthy parasympathetic nervous system and a good state of recovery. I have to admit, I was confused at the start but the ability to simply plug-in and run the app surprised me.
I can put this simply. Even if you are confused or intimidated, try it. It is so simple and sensible that I am positive you will be saying “I can’t believe I didn’t do this sooner”.
Joel is offering a free trial so, what have you got to lose?
Kids just need to play. I know this sounds simple but as adults, we want to organize play. We want structure, and coaching. All the things we crave as adults. Kids don’t need or want much of this. To paraphrase Cindi Lauper, kids just want to have fun.
This is why I love the TPI Cyclone Circuit idea. I call it the ADD Olympics. My son loves it. We often go to the gym in the winter and pass a tennis ball with a cut down hockey stick, then we play off-the-wall, then we kick a soccer ball, then we make an obstacle course with jumps, sled pushes etc. He thinks it’s fun.
I never coach. I simply let him “play” and as he plays, he develops multiple motor skills. As coaches we see that a kid needs mobility, strength etc and we start coaching and teaching. However, this is like watching a kid do his times tables and saying “he needs more Algebra”, “he can’t do Algebra” . Any intelligent teacher would say “he/she is not ready for that yet”. I think we sometimes miss that part in the fitness and strength and conditioning worlds.
Kids just need to move and develop a wide range of basic skills. They don’t need “coaching”. They need a wide range of experiences that touch a wide range of areas. Experience is king, competency comes much later. You can’t refine a skill you don’t have and attempting to do so just turns kids off to activity.
How much is too much? Your kids will let you know. When my son say “lets kick the soccer ball now” we do.
Originally Published: Saturday, 14 April 2007 at www.t-nation.com. Many of my readers think this is the best thing I have ever written.
This year I’ll enter my twenty-fifth year as a strength and conditioning coach. Last month I watched Barbara Walters celebrate her thirtieth year with a special called “30 Mistakes in 30 Years.” I’m going to celebrate my twenty-fifth anniversary by telling you my top twenty-five mistakes. Hopefully I’ll save you some time, pain, and injury. Experience is a wonderful but impatient teacher. And unfortunately, our experiences in strength and conditioning sometimes hurt people besides us.
Mistake #1: Knowing it all.
I love Oscar Wilde’s quote, “I’m much too old to know everything.” Omniscience is reserved for the young. As the old saying goes, you have one mouth and two ears for a reason. I’d take it a step further and say the ratio is four to one: two eyes, two ears, and one mouth.
To continue down the cliché road, how about this one: “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” When I was young I had many answers and few questions. I knew the best way to do everything. Now that I’m older I’m not sure if I even know a good way to do anything.
to read the remainder click here
“Most men die of their remedies” Moliere
As many of you know I love to read. As you also know I like to write. StrengthCoach.com and StrengthCoachBlog.com allow me to combine two things I really enjoy. I can read a book and then review what I’ve read so that others can consider picking up the book.
One of my recent reads ( actually a listen) was Great by Choice. This was another excellent book from Jim Collins who brought us Good to Great and Built to Last. In Great by Choice Collins collaborates with Morten Hansen, a management professor at University of California at Berkeley on another great read.
Although there were numerous great points in Great by Choice two really stood out to me as a business owner.
The first major point, the concept of The Twenty Mile March, is discussed in chapter 3. Twenty Mile Marching describes a methodical approach to growth and success that focuses on a concept that I love. 20 Mile Marching is the idea that that slow and steady wins the race. Grow too fast and you outgrow staff and facilities rapidly and struggle to deliver. Grow too slow and you fail to develop as a business. The 20 Mile March is a method that we embraced as we grew Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning, although at the time we didn’t know that was what we were doing. What we did know was that although we wanted to grow our business we didn’t want to grow it too fast. I can remember once considering a television advertising campaign and then saying to my partner Bob Hanson “what if the campaign is successful?”. I’m sure that thought surprises people but my feeling was that we were growing at an acceptable rate and that a large increase in business would strain our ability to deliver a quality product. We would not have enough space or enough staff to perform at a level we were comfortable with so we did not go the TV route. Instead, we 20 Mile Marched. As Collin’s said “20 miles a day on days we only wanted to do 10 and 20 miles on days we felt we could do 30”.
In chapter six Collins introduces another concept that I loved, the SMaC Recipe. SMaC was an acronym for specific, methodical and consistent. On page 128 Collin’s and Hanson define the SMaC recipe as “ a set of durable operating practices that create a replicable and consistent success formula”. In other words, your SMaC recipe was your plan for your 20 Mile March. The march would be specific, methodical and consistent. The SMaC recipe was the details of the 20 Mile March. Collins stated that the SMac recipe was intended to “provide guidance on what to do and what not to do”. As I read about the SMac Recipe the thought came into my mind was “we have that” and, I liked that thought. At MBSC we are organized with daily schedules to the minute and a well thought out series of progressions and regressions for every exercise. That is our SMac Recipe.
As I read Great By Choice I couldn’t help coming back to thoughts about Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning and feeling we were in fact, Great by Choice. Collins talks about how “managing the tension between consistency and change is one of the greatest challenges for any human enterprise”. In order to consistently deliver a best-in- class product we need to control growth and, manage change. Great by Choice will help you to do both.
I confess, I’m part of owner of StrengthCoach.com but that still won’t stop me from telling you to sign up. We have now added Strength and Conditioning Webinars to all the other content and, the fact is there is probably too much content to read and watch. ( that’s a really good problem)
For less than $15 a month you can get your questions answered by some of the industries best on our forums as well as read two articles, watch one video, and get continuing ed updates. Take a minute and check it out if you are not already a member. You won’t be sorry. In fact, you can do a trial for only $1 for 3 days. You have nothing to lose. If you try it and don’t like it ask me for the dollar next time you see me. I’ll be happy to give it back
I wrote this in December for StrengthCoach.com but figured I’d share it here also.
How could knowledge be a curse? Don’t we talk at length about the value of continuing education?
Unfortunately, knowledge can be both a blessing and a curse. In fact, too much knowledge can sometimes actually make you a bad teacher. How many times have you taken a class or heard a lecture by an expert in a field and left confused?
The speaker has The Curse of Knowledge.
In the book Made to Stick, the authors describe a very simple study done at Stanford in 1996 by Elizabeth Newton which serves as a perfect illustration for The Curse of Knowledge.
Newton divided the study participants into two groups: tappers and listeners. The tappers were given a song to “tap out” on the top of the desk. These were simple songs like Happy Birthday and The Star Spangled Banner. The listener’s job was to try to recognize the song. The tapper tapped out the song on the desk top while the listeners listened. Pretty simple, except for the fact that the tappers had The Curse of Knowledge. They knew the song and could hear it in their heads. The listeners had no such knowledge. The interesting thing about the study was that tappers thought that listeners would get the song right fifty percent of the time, but in actuality, listeners only got the title of the song two percent of the time. The tappers (think teachers) were frustrated because they knew the answer to the “test”. They also couldn’t understand how the listener (student) could not “get it”.
Now just substitute teacher for tapper and student for listener, or coach and player, or boss and employee. Look at the numbers. Fifty percent expected but two percent results. These stats make how we run practice , how we teach or, how we run our staff training seem really important. This study explained so much to me. It explained why I say KISS so much. Keep It Simple S _ _ _ _ _. What I really am saying is remember the listeners. Don’t strive to show how smart you are, instead, strive to show what a great teacher you are. I now believe the key to KISS is to strive to MISS ( Make It Simple S _ _ _ _ _). We need to keep it simple for our staff, students, or team by making it simple. We need to make sure that the Curse of Knowledge does not frustrate us and our students, players, or employees.
I always tell my coaches that if it appears that the group is not grasping a concept, back up and say “let me explain that again. I must have done a bad job explaining it the first time”. This puts the onus on the teacher, coach or boss. Sven Nater, one of John Wooden’s prize pupils, wrote a book entitled You Haven’t Taught Me Until I’ve Learned. It is an excellent title. We must realize that we have not taught until someone has learned and that our knowledge can often be a detriment not a benefit. Understanding The Curse of Knowledge is the key to great instruction in any field.
This is a reprint from three years ago but, things have gotten worse, not better
It is amazing that coaches who have accomplished so little can find the time to criticize those who actually work for a living. I guess the beauty of being underemployed is that there is plenty of time to keep up with the writings and workings of your enemies. However, the beauty is that the criticism reminds me of the great quote below and continues to strengthen my resolve to improve my program and my athletes.
The Man in the Arena
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
This wonderful quote from Theodore Roosevelt goes out to all the internet experts who never write articles but, consistently post criticism of what other have written. They are never “The Man in the Arena”, instead they are the fan in the stands shouting at those who play.
Great minds like Columbus and Galileo were ridiculed by small minds. Sports has the term Monday Morning Quarterback. Strength and conditioning has internet experts.
It is amazing how many experts there are who know all the answers after all the questions have been answered by someone else. You know what I want to know? Have they ever even heard Paul Hodges or Stuart McGill speak in person? Have they ever conversed with these people?
Paul Hodges has done one person deep needle EMG studies on himself because he could not find subjects. Stuart McGill travels around the world and has spent thousands of hours researching the spine.
The average internet critic has spent hours trying to find the hole in the argument, to celebrate briefly the “I gotcha moment” alone in a room. The highest compliment one can achieve is to be the subject of mindless criticism. It indicates that you have truly made it.
As you read this today this blog will pass one million views. Currently we are just over 999,000. I want to thank everyone who has read or subscribed over the past few years. When Anthony Renna encouraged me to blog I never envisioned one million views or the impact these views would have on the field.
The following is excerpted from a piece I wrote previously and is used with the permission of http://www.strengthcoach.com
Training for the forty yard dash is an interesting process and has become a near obsession in football. The reality is that most athletes are looking to reduce the forty-yard dash time by as little as .1 to .2 seconds. In order to accomplish a one to two tenths of a second reduction I have always advocated training for the first ten yard segment of the forty yard, as this is the area of greatest potential change.
In fact when training athletes for the NFL Combine I have never had an athlete run longer than a twenty-yard dash. Our athletes routinely have gone to the NFL Combine without ever having run a forty-yard dash. To some this may seem foolish but I prefer to view the process as both intelligent and cautious. Athletes rarely injure themselves running a ten-yard dash but often seem to incur muscle strains from repeat forty-yard dash attempts.
In fact, in a race that takes from 4.3 seconds to 5.3 seconds to complete at the elite level, the first ten-yard segment takes the longest time and by default is the easiest to impact. Ten-yard dash times range from 1.5 seconds to 2 seconds.
Each proceeding ten yard segment taking roughly 1 to 1.1 seconds to complete. By simply improving performance in the ten-yard dash, we can easily take off the elusive .1 seconds that so many athletes are looking for. In fact for most elite athletes the forty-yard dash is actually a test of acceleration and not one of speed. I believe we mistakenly use the term speed when in fact we are referring to acceleration. When we say an athlete has great speed we actually mean that he or she has great acceleration. In the famous Ben Johnson versus Carl Lewis races top speed was not reached until the 60-meter mark. This means that the athletes continued to accelerate for a full 60 meters. An athlete that runs a 1.5 second ten yard dash may be capable of a 4.3 second forty yard dash. However, the athlete may run a 1.5 second first ten segment and 2.6 second twenty. This means that the acceleration pattern is as follows:
0-10 1.5 sec
10-20 1.1 sec
When looking at the chart above it becomes glaringly obvious that the initial segment takes 1.5 times the length of the other three. As a result it is obviously the segment most apt to be altered.
Think about this. The forty-yard dash should be run in approximately seventeen steps. Simple. An athlete with a normal stride length will measure out at about 7.5 feet. This means that a reasonably good sprinter will cover 15 feet, or five yards, every two steps. I believe the big key to the forty yard dash is to get the athlete to develop stride length in the first ten yard segment by pushing, not overreaching. Why seventeen? The first five-yard segment should take three steps; the remaining seven segments would take two steps each for a total of seventeen steps. Is seventeen the magic number? No. The key is to teach athletes to push, not reach and to minimize stutter steps. We try to get our athletes to master three steps for five yards and five steps for ten yards and, to do it without a reaching action. We continue to emphasize that stride length is a function of back-side action-reaction and not front side reach. We teach lots of push with no emphasis on stride length from the front side mechanics. In fact we never do B-skip type drills, as I believe they teach improper mechanics and are not appropriate for forty-yard sprinters.
Here are the keys to the first ten yards.
- Is the athlete moving quickly or does he look like he is moving quickly? What does this mean? Many athletes come out of the start with great turnover and go nowhere. They remind me of the Roadrunner from the cartoons. Wheels spinning and going nowhere fast. Often these guys look fast and run slow. Generally these guys are fast twitch athletes who do not like the weight room. The great accelerators often look slow coming out because they are producing great force and minimized steps. Running is all about Newton’s First Law. Action-Reaction. Force placed into the ground produces motion forward, very simple. The start is clearly not about turnover or frequency but about force into the ground. This is the reason there is such a strong correlation between vertical jump and forty-yard dash times. Vertical jump is simply a measure of Newton’s First law. When an athlete applies force into the ground, the ground applies force back in an equal and opposite manner. More force, more vertical displacement.
- Have you timed your athletes for a 10 and 20-yard dash? As I said in the previous paragraph I’ve seen slow guys with lots of turnover and very little movement? Try being objective versus subjective. Time your athletes not just in the forty, but also in the ten and twenty. 1.5 sec hand held is fast. 1.8 is average for a ten (adult male).
- Next, video the ten yard dash and the twenty yard dash. See how many steps it takes an athlete to run ten and twenty yards. Don’t tell the athlete to cut down steps, simply tell him to push the ground as hard as possible. Simply telling an athlete that you are counting steps will cause over striding. You want to see how many steps it takes. This will tell you if you have an athlete who is moving his feet but not applying any force. A good sprinter will run the 10 in 5-6 steps and the 20 in 9-10 steps.
- Also look at the video and see the first step. Does the athlete gain ground? A good indicator of a powerful start is that the foot taking the second step does not touch the ground while the front foot is still on the line. In other words, after step one you should not see two feet in contact with the ground. You will be amazed at how many guys simply step out of the start instead of pushing out of the start. Just as we confuse speed and acceleration, we often confuse first step and first push. A quick first step does nothing. It is the push that creates the action-reaction, not the step. What you want is great push, not a great step. This also relates to stride length. Stride length is accomplished by great forces placed into the ground, not by things like knee lift.
- Another great indicator that the athlete is beginning to understand powerful starts is when the athlete appears to be falling forward out of the start, almost out of control. I tell my athletes to drive themselves out of the start so aggressively that they almost fall flat on their face. I cheer if they look like they are going to fall. That shows me great aggressive push.
- Time each test three times. Either average all three or take the middle, throwing out the high and low. You don’t want to record a mistake. Electronic timers don’t make mistakes unless there is a malfunction. Throw out scores that are obviously wrong.
- Weight is on the front hand and foot. This is not track. There is no block. The back foot can be minimally helpful.
- Hips are low, don’t raise the butt. You can’t push out from straight legs.
- Never take instructions from a track coach on forty technique. They are used to blocks, you don’t have them.
- Eyes are between the hand and foot. Don’t look up. The head should be in a normal anatomical position
- Weight should be so far forward that if you don’t run, you would fall.
1. Dive Starts- have the athlete dive into a crash pad from the start position. This is a great drill for teaching first-push power
2. Timed 10’s- I love timed tens. I try to watch the start and count the steps. We use a Speed Trap timer and don’t watch the clock. We will time every week, sometimes twice a week. A few rules.
• Tell the athletes only three attempts per day. This leaves time for the athlete to ask for “one more” at least twice. I really want to time five reps but, always tell them three.
• Try to get the athletes to forget about the timer and concentrate on the technical things you want done. Big push out of the start, great hip extension etc.
• Please note: – the use of a timer is an excellent way to reduce anxiety about being timed. My athletes are very comfortable about being timed by the time the Combine or Pro Day comes around. It also should be noted that many athletes will choke and revert to old patterns as soon as a timing device is presented. Timing early and often allows the athlete to see the changes in pattern like stepping out of the start or stuttering. The timer also generally reinforces that these behaviors are slower, not faster. Frequent use of the timer does what the book The One Minute Manager calls “catching someone doing something right”. We focus on execution, not time. Great execution will lead to better times, which will ingrain proper habits.
3. 3 for 5, 5 for ten (this is a tough drill as you will constantly have to emphasize that stride length comes from push, not reach, be careful with this drill) I view this as an advanced drill and one that must be monitored constantly. Success is not accomplished by number of steps or strides but quality of strides.
4. One Leg Starts- this is another great drill to teach the athlete how to use the front foot in the start. Simply ask the athlete to run a series of timed tens using only the front foot. This will teach the athlete how to focus on exploding of the front leg. Often our athletes will move from abysmal at this drill to being able to run as fast as from a three point start.
Just a reminder, these drills will improve what you already have. They are teaching drills. The real key to speed lies in increasing force production. To really improve speed these drills and cues must be combined with a lower body strength and power program that emphasizes maximal strength. Don’t underestimate the value of force production in the forty.
Another reminder, if you really want to understand speed, pick up a copy of Charlie Francis Training for Speed. Charlie Francis hits on basic concepts in a way no one has before or after. In spite of any perceived scandal Francis is still the best sprint coach of all time.