I keep an open work document where I jot down quotes, articles, research, podcasts, and any other notes that I keep during the year. The following is this years collection of the above.
You can find 2018 in Review - HERE
2017 in Review - HERE
When you have your own facility, it can be awfully tempting to join arms with a sport club/AAU team. They have a lot of teams, a lot of athletes and it sounds like a potential match made in heaven.
BUT be careful, these offers aren't typically ideal.
Over the past 7-years, BBA has been offered a number of these with different academy's and AAU teams, and we've politely declined all of them.
Let's go over a number of reasons.
1. Do you know all the coaches, employees, leadership with that facility? How do they present themselves on social media? Are the coaches qualified and have the athletes best interest? Do they have good athlete and coach retention? How is the husband/wife of the owner? What kind of freedom will you have as a "sub-leaser" in their facility?
Do you really want to be associated with a facility that changes coaches every 6-months, has loud mouth coaches, an overbearing spouse of the owner, is about maximizing profits over maximizing player development and experience? Pretty quickly your business will be associated, for good and bad, with the facility you're under.
2. Athletes change teams ALL THE TIME. The turnover in academy's and AAU programs are insane. Every year kids are on new teams, so why set yourself up with 1-team when there is absolutely no loyalty in these businesses? It's far better to be in a position to help all athletes, from all teams.
3. Just because you're in-house, doesn't mean athletes will use your services. Sure they have 15-teams, with 15-kids on each team, but that doesn't mean they will all train with you. In fact, I would guess less than 10% of athletes would actually use your services (if they are an extra service).
Now your service may be included in membership fees, which is nice, but as a coach who actually cares about athlete development, this is in no way a good setting for athlete development. What this usually means is you're allotted 20-30min, 2xday/week for 8-weeks with each team. So now you're crammed with 15-30 athletes in a session (they'll often give you 2-3 teams at a single time) for 20-30minutes, and somehow you're expected to connect and help these athletes improve? I'll pass
4. Lack of Control. I'm a control freak and I would hate having my schedule, facility availability, space, equipment, etc controlled by others. And this is what happens when you're in another facility. During certain periods you may have access to the whole facility. During other periods, you may only have 500sq/ft. Certain weekends will be all yours. Other weekends, they'll have try-outs or team practices and you won't have access. I'll pass.
5. As a business I think it's a poor approach to align yourself with one club. Why would you want to limit yourself? If you're business is under the roof of a certain baseball academy or basketball AAU team or anything else, you are eliminating yourself to athletes who are not a part of that organization. You are also eliminating yourself to athletes in other sports (if you're in a baseball academy, good luck getting swimmers or basketball players).
6. Finally, while all of these organizations will make it seem like a mutually beneficial relationship, it is typically in their best interest.
They get someone to sub-lease space (reduce their rent). Space that they would otherwise be paying for. Space they still get to use.
They get to add a low-cost addition to their programs without any additional overhead. This helps separate them from other programs, but like I mentioned earlier, this will likely have less of an impact on your business than you think.
Have you ever been to one of these places? Kids, siblings and even parents are hanging out/running around at practices, lessons, etc. I never felt comfortable with this as I know these kids, parents would be messing with my equipment, swinging/jumping on my racks when I'm not there. On a Sunday afternoon, when I'm not at the facility but they have a team practice, I do not want my expensive equipment being messed with.
Finally, you're at the mercy of this business. They all of a sudden quit or move...tough luck. Owner gets a divorce...good luck with that. Coaches get drunk in front of kids at a tournament... great look for you to be a part of.
Overall, give yourself more freedom and don't neglect yourself to other athletes. And remember, there is no loyalty in youth sports. I have a varsity HS coach bring his kids to our program, but uses another person train his HS team.
How does that make sense?
It doesn't, and that's all youth sports. They don't make sense, so don't put your business on the line by aligning with another.
As a business, having more options = more clients/costumers...right?
The reality is this isn't true and it doesn't create a strong business.
I've seen so many places try to have a new 'flavor of the month' and before long they have no identity.
In a rush to build clientele they'll offer a yoga, bootcamp, self-defense, boxing, powerlifting and they spread themselves so thin, they lose touch with what they actually want to identify as.
Not only that, but you then ask your staff (or yourself) to wear many hats and this leads to being average in many areas, great in none. How can you expect your staff to be great when they're asked to coach a athlete session, a bootcamp session, a HIIT session, a mobility session and a yoga session in the same day?
Depth > Width
Have a speciality that people know you for. If you want to be successful long-term and work with a certain population, you have to let that be known.
I've seen this first hand with competition in my area. Facilities try to offer a dozen different packages, for every crowd imaginable and before long this approach actually further helped to cement BBA as the place for athletes. They were so worried about trying to get people through the doors, in any way, that this actually distanced themselves from the athlete population.
If you look at what we offer, it's very simple. Athletes make up about 90% of our business, with a small group of adults to compliment that. If you look at our social media, our posts, our content... it's all geared towards the athlete population. Our message and our model is pretty straight forward and therefore we get that population.
We don't try to muddy the waters with different classes or programs to accommodate everyone, we focus on athletes and because of this any serious athlete in our area comes to our door and no one else.
Now, is there a downside to this?
Absolutely, our adult program stays relatively small because many see it as something similar to our athlete training ie competitive, intense and having a specific athletic goal. Some of our athletes also mention how their friends are intimidated to join because they don't think they'd keep up.
I have friends in the private sector that work in specialized facilities, for example a baseball facility that works with primarily baseball athletes. They speak to how athletes from other sports often don't know if they should train there because they are a 'baseball' facility. So they might lose potential football or basketball athletes.
That being said, I'll gladly lose a few potential clients who may interpret our programs as not right for them, for the many others that seek us out because they know exactly who we cater too.
So as tempting as it may be to offer a myriad of programs to try and get as many people through your doors, this strategy will soon handcuff and worsen your product (unless of course you want to be just a general fitness & wellness facility with no real emphasis).
Make sure you stick and promote your main program. Less is more in this area.
For the few out there that actually follow our work at BBA and listen to our podcasts, you probably notice our theme... we are movement based.
We take a movement centric approach to training our athletes, which is backwards from the weight room centric approach most S&Cs take. We value the weight room, but it is only an accessory to our actual movement training.
With that being said, we try to base our movement training and subsequent learning process from an ecological, CLA, rep without rep standpoint rather than a perfect practice, mental model, rep after rep standpoint.
With this process has come the difficult task of communicating with coaches as the terminology used are not likely to be seen in college classes or in common coach interactions. This is sad because the literature is rich and deep in this area and very valuable for all coaches to be familiar with. Being on the same page, and understanding the basic terminology will help coaches have meaningful discussion on these topics.
Below are basic "definitions" of key terms that are common in movement discussions and will help put everybody on the same playing field. You will also find some important books to consider, numerous research articles to explore, podcasts that clearly layout and discuss these principles, and websites that contain great information.
A big thanks to Tyler Yearby (@TylerYearby) for his help and contributions to this work. Many of the following are additions and inserts from his study, so the thoroughness of this list is in major part to him!
Have fun exploring this deep rabbit hole!
The environment offers “ability” of actions – the ball has catch-ability, the gap has jump-ability, the space has run-ability. Affordances are dynamic; they can change over short and long time scales based on changes in the environment, task, and organism.
Information in the environment is directly perceived, which contains affordances (opportunities for action). Information specifies affordances, those properties of the environment whose perceived meaning is the actions they both allow and invite and organism to perform (Araujo, D., & Davids, K., 2011).
Ecological Dynamics framework sustains a scientific approach to studying the behaviors of neurobiological systems, especially processes of action, perception and cognition (Ecological Dynamics: a theoretical framework for understanding sport performance, physical education and physical activity, Seifert, l. & Davids, K., 2016).
Kugler and Turvey  considered that "Ecological science….is a multidisciplinary approach to the study of living systems, their environments and the reciprocity that has evolved between the two (I also liked this from the same paper).
It is better to think of technique as the execution of a decision. Technique is linked to the information source, so it isn’t absolute or permanent; it varies depending on the context in which a movement is being asked. Technique is a result of individual, task and environmental constraints of a particular movement. Technique is the outcome of intention and perception, thus technique needs to be studied in that realm.
Coordination is a property of the solution that emerges from each individuals movement system in response to the constraints the system is facing.
This past weekend was the NFL Draft, and as this weekend arrives every year, so do the cries from people with daily stats on how may NFL draftees played multiple sports, quotes of college coaches saying they recruit multi-sport athletes, and the claim playing multiple sports is key in them getting drafted.
A HUGE discussion was brought out by Keir Wenham-Flatt with this tweet – I encourage you to read all the branches this tweet spurred
I want to share my thoughts on this topic, as it seems I've been booked into promoting specialization by some coaches because I disagree with their commentary and language used. In today's world, having an opinion that differs from the majority gets you yelled at, called an idiot, or the worse of all... blocked on twitter.
In fact, Tony Holler, a coach I highly respect and enjoy his work, blocked me because I disagreed with his opinion on this topic, and instead of having an intelligent discourse, he blocked me and proceeded to tweet negative things about me... heartbreaking
So, here are some random thoughts on specialization
1. First I want to make it clear, I don’t think anyone is truly pushing specialization - in the terms that specialization actually exists. THIS is where I think many of these coaches go wrong – if they’d actually read the literature on specialization, they’d know that it points to NOT specializing at young ages (7-13), and instead to get involved in many athletic endeavors – and this is something I don’t think anyone is disputing.
Again if you’ve read the literature, it actually points to encouraging specialization around ages 16-18 – well guess what – That’s a sophomore through senior in HS. So if a HS kid is passionate about a sport and wants maximize his/her ability in that sport – the literature actually supports this decision.
So, that’s the difference – when to specialize, NOT if specializing is bad. I think we all agree 7-13 year olds should be exposed to as many athletic events as possible. Understand that a 7-13 year old specializing is vastly different than a 16-18 year old specializing.
2. Let's Try an Example
We have Johnny and Billy - both are HS Juniors.
Johnny was blessed with the genetic lottery - He’s a very gifted athlete. Football is his primary sport, with a scholarship on the way. He also plays basketball and track. Johnny is a 9/10 football player, and even though he only plays basketball during the season (3-months out of the year), he still manages to be a 7/10 basketball player because of his raw athletic ability. Physically dominant kids like Johnny can afford to be less technically & tactically skilled in their lesser sports and still be good – hence why he is a 7/10 with only playing basketball 3-months out of the year.
And remember - When you're a good athlete you get pulled into multiple sports. It's not that playing multiple sports causes one to become a good athlete - it's being a good athlete causes one to be pulled to play multiple sports.
Billy on the other hand was not blessed with superior genetics, he's a pretty average athlete. Billy loves basketball; it’s his passion and his ultimate goal is to play college basketball - ultimately he realizes DI is out of the question and DIII is his likely route - but that shouldn't be any less of a reason to pursue this goal.
Unfortunately for Billy, he’s only a 5/10 basketball player.
So, how can Billy compete with Johnny in basketball???
Well, Billy decides to specialize in basketball. He improves his basketball specific skill set, IQ, specific perception, and learns the nuances of the game that can only come from accumulating time in that sport.
Basketball season comes around and now Billy is a 6.5/10 – he now has a chance to compete with Johnny. If he played multiple sports, he’d likely still be a 5/10 and wouldn’t see the court.
By his senior year, Billy has raised himself to a 7.5/10 basketball player, good enough to be a starter and earn an opportunity to play at the DIII level.
Who is to say this is the wrong path for Billy?
I can hear the critics – But he’ll burnout, that doesn’t sound fun, he’ll never be as athletic if he played multiple sports, etc.
But I ask – who led this situation?
It was athlete led; Billy decided this is what HE wanted, and it is wrong for an adult to criticize his decision – and this is where I get frustrated.
3. The language I see used by coaches needs to change.
Athletes NEED to run track; they MUST play basketball; they HAVE to play baseball. If you're under 6'6 and don't have a basketball scholarship yet - you NEED to be playing football (these are real quotes from coaches - publicly displayed on Twitter)
Ever thought for a second that the athlete just doesn’t like those sports? That they don't like track or football or any other sport?
My argument is how is this any better than the AAU coach saying the same thing?
We get pissed if an AAU coach says - If you want to play college basketball you NEED to play AAU. If you want to get noticed by college coaches you HAVE to play AAU.
It’s the same thing – it’s an adult with an agenda trying to lead the decision.
Athletes should be encouraged to play multiple sports – no doubt. But coaches shouldn’t FORCE or MAKE HS athletes play multiple sports. If a kid doesn’t like a sport, stop trying to push them to do it.
A who cares if a kid wants to play hoops all year long, and they’re only 5’10 – if it’s athlete led and the kids passion – awesome.
4. If a HS kid can start to specialize his/her education, then why not sports?
Junior and senior HS kids are asked what careers they’d like to pursue and encouraged to specialize their schoolwork towards those careers.
My junior and senior year, I don’t think I took an English class; instead I loaded up my schedule in the math and sciences because that’s what I enjoyed.
Why is it different for sports?
Or how about this - why don't college or professional athletes play multiple sports?
If playing multiple sports is the panacea of athletic development - why don't athletes post HS do it?
5. What classifies as playing multiple sports?
I have a number of Jr. & Sr. football players who don’t play another sport but play pick-up basketball 2-3 days a week. I have college basketball players that golf 2-3 days a week. Does playing a wide variety of games in the backyard as a youngster count multiple sports?
Does this negate specialization?
6. A final piece and hardest for people to come to terms with – Specialization works!
When done right, specializing has worked for tons of athletes all over the world. Look at sports like gymnastics, swimming/diving, tennis, soccer, golf, basketball, baseball - the majority of the athletes in these sports have specialized from a young age. Look at countries who send little kids to specialized camps from a young age to groom them into Olympians.
7. Clearly it is much more complex than
specialization = bad
multiple sports = good.
And that’s how this whole thing got started – coaches with an agenda (yes I said agenda) trying to get better athletes to play their sport.
At the end of the day kids should define their own athletic experience.
Trust me, I played 3 sports in HS and couldn’t imagine only playing a single sport in HS – but I also understand everybody is different and kids should lead the decision-making process.
I keep an open work document where I jot down quotes, articles, research, podcasts, and any other notes that I keep during the year. The following is this years collection of the above.
You can find last years review - HERE
Harper DJ, Kiely J. Damaging nature of decelerations: Do we adequately prepare players? BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine. 2018; 4 :e000379. Doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2018-000379 :
Wild, J. J., Bezodis, I. N., North, J. S., & Bezodis, N. E. (2018). Differences in step characteristics and linear kinematics between rugby players and sprinters during initial sprint acceleration. European journal of sport science, 1-11.
Simperingham, K. D., Cronin, J. B., & Ross, A. (2016). Advances in sprint acceleration profiling for field-based team-sport athletes: Utility, reliability, validity and limitations. Sports Medicine, 46(11), 1619-1645.
Cross, M. R., Lahti, J., Brown, S. R., Chedati, M., Jimenez-Reyes, P., Samozino, P., & Morin, J. B. (2018). Training at maximal power in resisted sprinting: Optimal load determination methodology and pilot results in team sport athletes. PloS one, 13(4), e0195477.
Silva, P., Garganta, J., Araújo, D., Davids, K., & Aguiar, P. (2013). Shared knowledge or shared affordances? Insights from an ecological dynamics approach to team coordination in sports. Sports Medicine, 43(9), 765-772.
Matute, H., Cubillas, C. P., & Garaizar, P. (2017). Learning to infer the time of our actions and decisions from their consequences. Consciousness and cognition, 56, 37-49.
Broatch, J. R., Petersen, A., & Bishop, D. J. (2018). The Influence of Post-Exercise Cold-Water Immersion on Adaptive Responses to Exercise: A Review of the Literature. Sports Medicine, 1-19.
The present findings suggest that CODS and RA are 2 different and independent skill domains that define agility. These qualities should be diagnosed by discrete assessments and enhanced by different training methodologies.
Soccer [n = 15 male] and rugby [n = 21; 9 male and 12 female] club-level athletes were individually assessed for horizontal force-velocity and load-velocity profiles using a battery of resisted sprints, sled or robotic resistance respectively. Athletes then performed a 12-session resisted sprint (10x20m) intervention with either a) load that represented maximum power output or b) load that represented a 10% decrease in maximal unresisted sprinting velocity. Both protocols had minor effects on sprinting performance (average of -1.4 to -2.3% split-times respectively), and provided trivial, small and unclear changes in mechanical sprinting parameters.
Both resisted-sprint training protocols were likely to improve performance after a short training intervention in already sprint trained athletes. However, widely varied individualised results indicated that adaptations may be dependent on pre-training force-velocity characteristics
The initial steps of a sprint are important in team sports, such as rugby, where there is an inherent requirement to maximally accelerate over short distances. Current understanding of sprint acceleration technique is primarily based on data from track and field sprinters, although whether this information is transferable to athletes such as rugby players is unclear, due to differing ecological constraints. Sagittal plane video data were collected (240 Hz) and manually digitised to calculate the kinematics of professional rugby forwards (n = 15) and backs (n = 15), and sprinters (n = 18; 100 m personal best range = 9.96-11.33 s) during the first three steps of three maximal sprint accelerations. Using a between-group research design, differences between groups were determined using magnitude-based inferences, and within-group relationships between technique variables and initial sprint acceleration performance were established using correlation. Substantial between-group differences were observed in multiple variables. Only one variable, toe-off distance, differed between groups (d = -0.42 to -2.62) and also demonstrated meaningful relationships with sprint performance within all three groups (r = -0.44 to -0.58), whereby a stance foot position more posterior relative to the centre of mass at toe-off was associated with better sprint performance. While toe-off distance appears to be an important technical feature for sprint acceleration performance in both sprinters and rugby players, caution should be applied to the direct transfer of other kinematic information from sprinters to inform the technical development of acceleration in team sports athletes.
The primary purpose of this study was to determine if a difference existed between peak speed attained when performing a sprint with maximal acceleration versus from a gradual build-up. Additionally, this investigation sought to compare the actual peak speed achieved when instructed to reach 75% and 90% of maximum speed. Field sport athletes (n = 21) performed sprints over 60 m under the experimental conditions, and the peak speed was assessed with a radar gun. The gradual build-up to maximum speed (8.30 ± 0.40 m·s −1 ) produced the greater peak speed (effect size = 0.3, small) than the maximum acceleration run (8.18 ± 0.40 m·s −1 ), and the majority of participants (62%) followed this pattern. For the sub-maximum runs, the actual mean percentage of maximum speed reached was 78 ± 6% for the 75% prescribed run and 89 ± 5% for the 90% prescription. The errors in attaining the prescribed peak speeds were large (~15%) for certain individuals, especially for the 75% trial. Sprint training for maximum speed should be performed with a gradual build-up of speed rather than a maximum acceleration. For sub-maximum interval training, the ability to attain the prescribed target peak speed can be challenging for field sport athletes, and therefore where possible, feedback on peak speeds reached should be provided after each repetition.
Sleep deprivation of 5-days (6.5hrs) vs healthy sleep opportunity
(9.5hrs) in 14-18 y.o’s showed significantly worse symptoms of Post Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing. Verbal memory also decreased. Concluding that sleep deprivation of just 5-days increases concussion like symptoms and that sleep deprivation has adverse effects on emotional and behavioral functioning in teens.
Research shows that people infer the time of their actions and decisions from their consequences. We asked how people know how much time to subtract from consequences in order to infer their actions and decisions. They could either subtract a fixed, default, time from consequences, or learn from experience how much time to subtract in each situation. In two experiments, participants’ actions were followed by a tone, which was presented either immediately or after a delay. In Experiment 1, participants estimated the time of their actions; in Experiment 2, the time of their decisions to act. Both actions and decisions were judged to occur sooner or later as a function of whether consequences were immediate or delayed. Estimations tended to be shifted toward their consequences, but in some cases they were shifted away from them. Most importantly, in all cases participants learned progressively to adjust their estimations with experience.
Post-exercise cold-water immersion (CWI) is used extensively in exercise training as a means to minimise fatigue and expedite recovery between sessions. However, debate exists around its merit in long-term training regimens. While an improvement in recovery following a single session of exercise may improve subsequent training quality and stimulus, reports have emerged suggesting CWI may attenuate long-term adaptations to exercise training. Recent developments in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms governing the adaptive response to exercise in human skeletal muscle have provided potential mechanistic insight into the effects of CWI on training adaptations. Preliminary evidence suggests that CWI may blunt resistance signalling pathways following a single exercise session, as well as attenuate key long-term resistance training adaptations such as strength and muscle mass. Conversely, CWI may augment endurance signaling pathways and the expression of genes key to mitochondrial biogenesis following a single endurance exercise session, but have little to no effect on the content of proteins key to mitochondrial biogenesis following long-term endurance training. This review explores current evidence regarding the underlying molecular mechanisms by which CWI may alter cellular signaling and the long-term adaptive response to exercise in human skeletal muscle.
The aim of this study was to investigate spatiotemporal and kinematic changes between the initial acceleration, transition and maximum velocity phases of a sprint. Sagittal plane kinematics from five experienced sprinters performing 50-m maximal sprints were collected using six HD-video cameras. Following manual digitising, spatiotemporal and kinematic variables at touchdown and toe-off were calculated. The start and end of the transition phase were identified using the step-to-step changes in centre of mass height and segment angles. Mean step-to-step changes of spatiotemporal and kinematic variables during each phase were calculated. Firstly, the study showed that if sufficient trials are available, step-to-step changes in shank and trunk angles might provide an appropriate measure to detect sprint phases in applied settings. However, given that changes in centre of mass height represent a more holistic measure, this was used to sub-divide the sprints into separate phases. Secondly, during the initial acceleration phase large step-to-step changes in touchdown kinematics were observed compared to the transition phase. At toe-off, step-to-step kinematic changes were consistent across the initial acceleration and transition phases before plateauing during the maximal velocity phase. These results provide coaches and practitioners with valuable insights into key differences between phases in maximal sprinting.
The ability to detect deceptive movement was examined in skilled and novice rugby players. Participants (14 per group) attempted to predict direction change from video of expert and recreational rugby players changing direction with and without deceptive movement. ConWdence associated with judgments was recorded on each trial to seek evidence regarding use of inferential (heuristic-based) and direct-perceptual (invariant-based) judgments. Novices were found to be susceptible to deceptive movement whereas skilled participants were not; however, both skilled and novice participants were more conWdent on trials containing deceptive movement. The data suggest that the skill-level diVerence in sensitivity to advance visual information extends to deceptive information. The implications of this Wnding, and the importance of considering the underlying process of anticipation skill, are discussed.
Michael Zweifel CSCS-
Owner and Head of Sports Performance. National Player of the Year in Division 3 football. Works with athletes including NFL, NHL, and Olympic athletes.