Archive for May, 2017
Sprint more. Jog less.
It’s 2017. Cars will soon be driving themselves, you can 3D print a house, and by some feat of black magic, I can now get delivery from Amazon on Sundays. But, the most incredible thing I’ve seen recently is that athletes are still attempting to get faster by jogging. Now, I don’t hate jogging inherently. For some populations it can be a fun and rewarding sort of thing. But, for athletes trying to actually get faster? Please God, no. I’d rather hear a tape recording of Fran Drescher laughing for an hour than listen to another athlete tell me they are jogging to get faster.
Sprinting is a beautiful thing. It’s Neuro-muscularly dense with highly choreographed limb movements, and at the highest levels both graceful and violent. Jogging? Sorry, there ain’t a ton of grace and violence required to slog out a 10 min mile. I deal in getting kids faster, not slower. Here’s what gets me about the jogging stuff. If I want to train my body to be really fast, why would I do that by going really slow? Sprint! Sprint with a purpose. Sprint well. Video yourself sprinting and see what you need to work on. Speed kills. Don’t kill speed by jogging the life out of it this summer.
Practice Your Sport
This is mainly a dig at football players, but this premise can easily be extended into other sports realms as well. As a former slightly above average college football player, I have actually lived it. In my playing days I set up shop in the weight room all summer long.
One year I worked at a camp from June to August and didn’t have access to a car. So I’d bike every day after work to a gym to get mah swellz on. Five to eight hours a week on biceps and triceps, zero hours a week on backpedaling and pass rushing. Well-intentioned for sure and my arms looked great, but misguided none the less.
Now, I always work something sporting into my athletes’ warm ups prior to the weight work. Route trees for wide outs, medicine ball suplexes for wrestlers, or defensive slides for hoopers. I will find some exercises that transfer to competition and will aid the athlete in their sport of choice.
Take an Active Role
While I want to avoid throwing TOO much information at my charges to avoid a paralysis by analysis issue, I think most of the “best” athletes I’ve trained don’t just take everything I say for granted. They question, try to find out more, and if possible I point them in that direction. There is tremendous value in learning something new. Read a book or talk to someone who has been around the water cooler for more than a week. The “why” behind the “what” should be a feature your trainer can explain in some sort of detail.
There’s one very successful college athlete that I haven’t worked out in years, yet I still text frequently with training talk. The kid does his homework and then some. He reads, listens to podcasts, experiments on himself. It’s pretty cool watching from the sidelines and seeing the work he is putting into his craft. You need to take ownership. The information is out there. Find some reputable sources and don’t just blindly follow one idea or philosophy.
Find a body weight that works for you, your sport, and your position
I’m talking to you 150 pound linemen and 125 pound pitchers. Force = mass x acceleration, right? It’s tough to deliver a blow or throw something really fast if you are having trouble filling out a medium sized t-shirt. At 16 or 17 a 190 pound left tackle might work for the high school level. Or maybe, you’ve got some good junk that transcends your slighter frame in the schoolboy ranks.
But, eventually you are going to have to get large enough for the level you are playing at. Sure there are outliers, smaller guys in the professional ranks. But those are generally the types of players with off the charts athleticism. Look at the level you are trying to play at and see where you stack up with your size, athleticism, and skill set. Target what you need to improve and attack it.
Strength Train with a Purpose
I love 1×20, I also love 5,3,1 and believe it or not, I have seen good results from 5×5. You know what I like the best though? Trying really hard. While methods are important, the effort and application will trump the program nearly every time. The pursuit of getting better with every workout is a fundamental part of all of this.
There are smart ways to train. There also isn’t a magic bean. Realize that effort and working smart are your best friends on this odyssey. Two focused days a week beats five half-assed sessions every time. More is not better, better is better. Train, recover, and reap the benefits.
Measure Your Progress
Feeling like you are stronger or are jumping higher is a nice thing. But wouldn’t you want to know it too? Find a strength or athletic measurable that makes sense for your sport, test it, then retest after several weeks. If you have gotten better continue what you are doing. If not, get back to the drawing board.
I like to think I have been exposed to a variety of different training philosophy’s through the years. From circuits and Olympic style splits in college to power lifting influenced methods to 1×20, I have a pretty solid grasp of what is out there in terms of improving young athletes. Jeff makes me look as green as my father in laws lawn. He has picked Louie Simmons (godfather of modern power lifting) brain at Westside Barbell, written for major sports performance publications (elitefts, CVASPS), skypes with arguably the greatest strength coach ever (Anatoliy Bondarchuk) corresponds with arguably the greatest track coach ever (Henk Kraaijenhof) is a protoge of sports biomechanist Dr. Michael Yessis and still finds time to bust my chops when I do something questionable with one of my athletes ;).
You may have heard the phrase “leave no stone unturned” in seeking knowledge. Jeff will figuratively blow up a mountain to make some more stones to turn over. I think the guy has read more books in the past year than most will in a lifetime. Recently, he has sunk his teeth into the field of sports vision and is doing some pretty incredible stuff with his athletes. Since this sub genre of sports performance is still new to many coaches, parents and athletes I thought it would be cool if I could get him to sit down and answer a few questions on the topic.
Brian– Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
Jeff– I am the owner of a training facility called Dynamic Correspondence Sports Training, that is located in Pittsburgh PA.
B– You hear the term sports vision thrown around a lot, what does this phrase mean to you?
J– The term “sports vision training” to me is synonymous with term “strength and conditioning.” Both resemble only a part of what we do and what an athlete needs and what we do as coaches. Vision is about the input side of how an athlete perceives whats going on. To me what “sports vision” really is about, is understanding the athletes input side and how it affects the athletes output. Their movements and actions on the field / court. We aren’t necessarily trying to just improve the athletes visual skills, but rather teach them how to better use the ones they already have.
B-You have a lot of fun looking toys that you use with your athletes for their vision training. Would you mind explaining a little about what they are and why you use them?
J-The toys that we have are just tools in the toolbox. They all serve a purpose but not all of them will fix every issue that an athlete needs. Its important to state that because a lot of these technology companies claim that they can do everything. The fact of the matter is they are all just tools. But if you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
So depending on what we are trying to work on, will use our FitLights as a visual stimulus to work on eye-hand, eye-foot reaction & coordination. We will also use the lights as a visual stimuli for motor learning if we are trying to work on some technical drills. We will also use the lights along with some numbered charts & or a ping pong machine to work on visual information process, reaction, identification and eye-hand coordination.
B– Can visual work be done daily? When would you recommend scheduling it in a training session and why?
J– It can! What is great about doing “visual work” is that it is not taxing on the athletes nervous system. So its great to do daily, while recovering from games/practice/training. Recovering from injury.
B– What are some common visual issues with many athletes?
J– Insufficient binocularity. Which means the inability for the athletes to focus and receive information from both eyes in order to create a 3D objects which in turn helps with depth perception (the ability to perceive the world in three-dimensions and to be able to determine distance and speed between objects).
Also the ability to control their eyes while they are thinking. Conscious thinking can effect eye control. You see this in a lot of athletes that either look up, down, or around while they are thinking. Some even go “consciously blind” while they are thinking. This means that they visual block out the information they are looking at to concentrate on whatever they are thinking about. For instance: how many of you have ever read a few pages of a book, but then forgot everything that you just read because you were mentally thinking about something else?
B– Can visual issues like tracking the ball be fixed? How?
J– Yes and no. Depends on the issues as to why they are having trouble tracking the ball. They can certainly be improved upon.
A lot of times parents / coaches will tell an athlete to focus on the ball, but that doesn’t always improve tracking skills. So we can teach the athlete how to focus better.
B– Can you share any visual success stories you have had with your athletes?
J– All of our high school baseball and softball players average batting average is over 500. On base percentage of 800.
B– Dr. Harrison and Slow The Game Down has been around for the better part of 40 years. With Coastal Carolina using their products and winning the College World Series last season do you think more folks will start trying their methods?
J– I believe that with everything that is going on with concussions in sports that vision – perception and action are going to be the avenues that coaches will begin to start looking for to improve their athletes performances. Also, if people just take a second to look at the results that Dr. Harrison and Slow the Game Down has had throughout the years…I mean their results speak for themselves.