Monday, July 28, 2008

Review the year

Its coming to that time when many seasons are starting or finishing and I wonder how many of you review or reflect on your programs. When I mean reflect look at how the players responded to you, what the testing results showed/how did the team perform/what could you change did you survey your players to see what they thought of your work/did you interview the head coach and get feedback from him. This is simple research to make yourself a better coach I would be interested to see what people do. I use a survey for players every 6-8 weeks to get their thoughts on the program, I regularly speak to the head coach about the program and also the medical staff to see if there is an injury pattern that I may be able to help with. Its all about being better and realising you will never be perfect and there is always much to learn and much room for improvement

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Have we reached our limits

We often read that the human has reached or nearly reached their physiological limits in a sport or particular event. The one that springs most to mind is the 100m sprint and this maybe true but in team sports I believe we havent even come close. In football (soccer) I believe the game can be played at a greater intensity/greater distances can be covered/the difference between 1st and 2nd half performance can be decreased and players can perform at the highest level wellinto their 30's and maybe even beyond. It all comes down to the physiological development and preperation. On the World stage the game is often played between 2 teams that know they have to play again in a few days so it always sems to be players are playing within themselves. Also too often there is little time devoted to physiological development and pre seasons dont really exist. The answer is specific programs that can be completed in short time periods. Regular 20-30 minute sessions combined with intense ball work will do the job and how many professional players really put in a decent weeks work. The generation Y athlete in many cases is lazy and lacks passion and it is reflected in the intensity games are played. Have a look at a game of Irish hurling or football one day it is crazy and the players earn little money however the intensity is ferosious - there is alot to learn for our Gen y professional about passion and desire

Monday, July 21, 2008

What is your Plan

Do you have a plan or do you run session after session and dont really know how it all fits in. Athletic Development is like a jigsaw puzzle and without all the pieces in place it will never be complete. To often there is no substance to a session even though it may be a great session on its own it is useless if it doesnt fit into a plan. I suggest you read what Vern Gambetta has been writing about on his blog as I agree with what he says. I am tired of the trainer that runs sessions that have no contribution to the overall plan or the trainer that has no plan. Ask yourself each session where does this session fit in? What is the link to the last? and what is the link top the next? If you can answer these basioc questions go back and plan. We are all brought up on the work of Tudor Bompa re periodisation but is this the way it should be -I dont think so but still this is what is taught in under grad degrees the world over so the world is full of strength and conditioning coaches that follow Bompa models that are not effective in most situations. Look at professional teams ask yourself questions when there are substantial injuries, ask yourself questions when they burn out by the end of the season or they are not ready at the start often the answer lies in poor planning by the S&C coach.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


I think an athletic development program is often like working your way through a maze. It must be planned and take into account all the obstacles along the way. There are so many questions that need to be asked and in the planning stage such as when does the season begin?, is there a pre season comp, Is the pre season comp important to the club, how long is the reguler season, when are the finals, what are the strengths and weaknessess of the team and individuals, what style of play does the head coach want, what are likely obstacles, what are possible obstacles, what are unlikely obstacles etc etc. Of cause you have your standard programing blocks and progressions but these are often manipulated by circumstance e.g. injury, performance etc but just like a maze you may be headed up a path but than that door shuts so you must be able to change direction and get back on the right road. Obviously experience helps but the planning never stops. Work in small blocks (4 weeks), have the big picture in mind, test to ensure you are on the right path but be humble enough to change tac if things are not working.

Vern Gambetta

If you want a read a great blog go to Vern's blog at For thos of you who dont know Vern he is one of if not the best authority on Athletic Development around. I was fortunate to see him speak onece and he is humble and informative and what I like is he speaks his mind. He keeps it simple and his blog is what I read first each day. The following post that he made the other day was a great one have a look below

By Vern Gambetta
July 04, 2008
Training Program Evaluation
Many people have asked for my opinion and/or an evaluation of various programs that are commercially available and very popular. Since I have not been able to observe these programs first hand for an extended period of time and in the spirit of maintaining a positive tone on this blog I thought it would be better to give you the general principles and ideas that that I look for in a program. From this you can draw your own conclusions. These criteria are the same criteria that I use to evaluate and continually upgrade my own training programs. • What is the philosophy of the program? • What are the goals and objectives? • Does it result in being adapted or adaptable or are you creating one trick ponies? • What is the context of each exercise and workout? • Is there a clearly identifiable progression? • Does it train movements and do the movements connect? • Is it manageable? Is it time efficient? • What is the big picture? Is it training or just mindless work that gets you tired? • Is it principle driven? • If it is norm based, where did the norms come from? • How is progress determined? What are the criteria for progression? • Does it travel well or do you need certain equipment or a trainer to implement it? • Are there injuries? If the answer is yes, is there a discernable pattern of injuries? • How much does it cost to be certified in the program? • Are various methodologies appropriately used? For example are power cleans done to fatigue with an Olympic bar? • Is it based on one series of exercises or machines? • Is it mindful or mindless? • Is it age appropriate? • How are people evaluated before beginning the program? • How are intensity and volume determined? • Is it one size fits all or is it individualized? In summary evaluation of an exercise or training program must be dispassionate and objective. Try to eliminate bias. I have the advantage of being able to draw on years of experience, so I have seen what has worked and what has not over the years. Remember that a hammer can be a very effective in the hands of a skilled craftsman or it can be very destructive if used improperly.

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Read Vern's blog each day it is well worth it


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Winning in Extra time

Another night and another enjoyable moment. Tonight we played a quater final of a cup competition and won on penalties after playing the last 20 minutes of extra time with 10 men. Although we didnt play that well our physical performance was great and hows to me that we are on the right track. I believe more than ever that the classic periodisation model is not specific to today and the environments we work in. What worries me is that this is what is being taught to our students as maybe the lecturers dont have a true understanding thus just teach what they were taught. Vern Gambetta talks about Planned programing and about working in blocks of 4 weeks and I think he is right on. The season is not about maitainance its about manipulation I truly believe that players in team sports can perform at higher levels and with less injury if the planning is right. Its like a puzzle that we are constantly working at and every team is not the same puzzle.