- Exploration and creativity in practice leads to exploration and creativity in games
- I will take of me for you, if you take care of you for me
- At every new level of success one achieves, comes even greater challenges
- It's not always about being the fastest but knowing when to be fast and when to change tempo's – Korey Van Wyk
- It is important to note that recovery-adaptive strategies and techniques are not sufficiently powerful enough to over come bad coaching, stupid planning, or lack of talent - Tony Sumner
- Keep things more playful - increases engagement, creativity, and fun – Jake Marshall
- The way an athlete changes direction when he or she can preplan movement is different from how the athlete changes direction in reaction to a stimulus – Korey Van Wyk
- The technique an athlete uses is dependent upon their perception NOT the other way around – Korey Van Wyk
- Are closed drills useless? No. They still provide a powerful physical load. But when training time and capacity are limited, providing that load in a coupled setting is efficient and works on all aspects of agility – Joel Reinhardt
- Can we add a stressor or consequence during practice? Gives feedback and athletes aren’t 100% successful in sport – Shaun Larkin
- Training doesn’t meet the demands of games - especially lateral loads/movements – Tyler Bosch
- Connect the problem and solutions together – Shawn Myszka
- The perception-action cycle also involve anticipatory skills – Karl Newell
- Low Performance Variability DOES NOT EQUAL Low Movement Variability – Rob Gray
- High performers have consistent outcomes but use a variety of mean to get there – Rob Gray
- There is no 1 ideal technique – each athlete needs to find their own optimal movement solution – Rob Gray
- People keep thinking about sport as a series of movement solutions rather than thinking about sport as a series of movement problem – Stu Armstrong
- Thoughts for Warm-Ups
- Exploration – Don’t just do a linear lunge, rather encourage exploring different angles, depths, and stances. Add an accel out of each position to encourage adaptability of accel mechanics in various positions.
- Include Perception
- Daily Screen – Daily routine that gives athletes and coaches feedback on athletes current state and help individualize daily modality/therapy
- Starting to ask my athletes to coach things or at least ask them – how would you teach this? What words would you use?
- What you do Monday, effects Friday. I don’t coaches really think about this – mentally, physically, nutritionally, emotionally
- Give a little bit, get a lot – Tony Stewart
- I’m ok with athletes looking “bad” during agility – Korey Van Wyk
A Note on Sport Specialization
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 7-12 year olds should be exposed to as many athletic events as possible. Understand that a 7-12 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 6/10 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 7/10 – he now has a chance to compete with Johnny. If he played multiple sports, he’d still be a 6/10 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 5’11 – 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.
Ok, enough of this rant... on to normal business
- The Myth of Learning Styles
- How Fatigue Shaped the NBA Season and Playoffs
- Dinosaur or Cockroach – Adapted or Adaptable
- Very Stable Idiot – Week 14
- A Simple Addition to Practice – Add a Defender
- When to Move Beyond the Barbell – Chris Gallager
- Interview with Rajiv Ranganthan, MSU, Motor Learning, Variability & Coordination
- “People are still looking for the drills and the activities...they want the cookbook" - A conversation with Ed Coughlan & Shawn Myszka
- All Things Wellness #167 – Mike Tuchscherer
- Colyer, S. L., Nagahara, R., & Salo, A. I. (2018). Kinetic demands of sprinting shift across the acceleration phase: novel analysis of entire force waveforms. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports.
A novel approach of analysing complete ground reaction force waveforms rather than discrete kinetic variables can provide new insight to sprint biomechanics. This study aimed to understand how these waveforms are associated with better performance across entire sprint accelerations. Twenty-eight male track and field athletes (100-m personal best times: 10.88 to 11.96 s) volunteered to participate. Ground reaction forces produced across 24 steps were captured during repeated (two to five) maximal-effort sprints utilising a 54-force-plate system. Force data (anteroposterior, vertical, resultant and ratio of forces) across each contact were registered to 100% of stance and averaged for each athlete. Statistical parametric mapping (linear regression) revealed specific phases of stance where force was associated with average horizontal external power produced during that contact. Initially, anteroposterior force production during mid-late propulsion (e.g. 58-92% of stance for the second ground contact) was positively associated with average horizontal external power. As athletes progressed through acceleration, this positive association with performance shifted towards the earlier phases of contact (e.g. 55-80% of stance for the eighth and 17-57% for the 19th ground contact). Consequently, as athletes approached maximum velocity, better athletes were more capable of attenuating the braking forces, especially in the latter parts of the eccentric phase. These unique findings demonstrate a shift in the performance determinants of acceleration from higher concentric propulsion to lower eccentric braking forces as velocity increases. This highlights the broad kinetic requirements of sprinting and the conceivable need for athletes to target improvements in different phases separately with demand-specific exercises.
- Spearritt, D. (2013). The impact of field vision on performance within an English Premier league academy soccer team: A case study.
Previous perceptual-cognitive skill research in sport has often applied laboratory-based protocols to examine differences amongst elite and sub-elite performers. Contemporary research within the area has started to move away from such protocols and has begun analysing visual search behaviours within competitive adult soccer matches. The purpose of the current study was to develop an understanding of visual search behaviour in relation to performance outcome amongst elite level youth soccer players, within competitive match performance. Thirteen matches from an English Premier League academy soccer team (under 15 age group) were analysed using a specifically designed notational analysis system created in Microsoft Excel. Visual explorations conducted by individual players were collated, followed by their subsequent action when in possession of the ball. The results show significant visual exploration differences between higher and lower ability elite level youth players (p=0.000). The results of a series of categorical logistic regression analyses also show a clear positive relationship exists between visual exploratory behaviours that are initiated prior to a player receiving the ball and performance with the ball. This relationship remains when assessed amongst several match conditions including overall pass completion, attacking third pass completion and forward pass completion
- Nyland, N. (2010). Visual perception in soccer: a study of elite and sub-elite defenders (Master's thesis).
The general purpose of this study was to examine how soccer defenders explore the environment for and use the information to deny opponents goals from crosses into the penalty area. A specific aim was to determine which variables differentiated between elite and sub-elite players. An ecological approach was used as conceptual framework. Participants were at the Premier League level - classified as elite (n = 13, m = 28.15 yrs, SD = 3.82) and at the Reserve League and Academy League level - classified as sub-elite (n = 11, m = 18.3 yrs, SD = 1.40). All participants were filmed in at least one game (six were filmed in two game). A high zoom camera recorded and focused solely upon a single player and general game events were obtained from professional camera recordings (obtained from the clubs) using regular zoom. These two videos were edited and synchronized into a split-screen video.
Results indicate that players in the elite group are more perceptually and functionally active than players in the sub-elite group prior to a cross, by exploring more frequently and positioning themselves more with a back-towards-goal posture allowing them to visually perceive more of the actions of the surrounding forwards. However, it was not demonstrated any functional relationship between exportation and performance related to this defensive situation. Further, constraints such as the players posture, type of defense, distance be-tween the crosser and defender, and involvement showed some differences between the levels and may affect exploration.
- Dello Iacono, A., & Seitz, L. B. (2018). Hip thrust-based PAP effects on sprint performance of soccer players: heavy-loaded versus optimum-power development protocols. Journal of sports sciences, 1-8.
Using a crossover design, eighteen soccer athletes performed 5 m, 10 m, and 20 m sprints before and 15 s, 4 min, and 8 min after two PAP protocols. The PAP conditioning activities consisted of hip thrust exercises loaded with either 85% 1RM or a load for optimum power development. The resulting 5 m and 10 m sprint performances were impaired at 15 s following both protocols. At 4 min and 8 min, meaningful improvements were observed for the three sprint distances following both of the protocols. Meaningful differences were found when comparing the two PAPs over time: greater impairments in 5 m and 10 m following the 85% of 1 RM protocol after 15 s, and greater improvements in all sprint distances after 4 min and 8 min following the optimum power development protocol. Positive correlations between the hip thrust's 1RM and power values and the overall individual PAP responses were found. This investigation showed that both heavy-loaded and optimum-power hip thrust exercises can induce a PAP response, with the optimum-power development protocol preferred due its higher efficiency.
- Preventing Hamstring Injuries – Part 1: Is there really an eccentric action of the hamstrings during high speed running and does it matter?
A review of Van Hooren and Bosch article that argues isometric exercises may be more effective at reducing hamstrings injuries and more easily and smartly programmed into busy training schedules than eccentric exercises.
- Preventing Hamstring Injuries – Part 2: Is there really an eccentric action of the hamstrings during high speed running and does it matter?
Van Hooren and Bosch respond to the questions and comments posed by Shield and Murphy in part 1
- Bolger, R., Lyons, M., Harrison, A. J., & Kenny, I. C. (2015). Sprinting performance and resistance-based training interventions: A systematic review. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 29(4), 1146-1156.
- Unblievable – Katy Tur
- Read this in about 4-hours. Easy, interesting read as Katy tells her story as she follow Donald Trump during his presidential campaign.
- Applied Sprint Training – James Smith
- Solid, thorough read of fundamentals of acceleration and sprint development. A lot of it is based on track & field, but James works to make it applicable to field/team based sports.
- Sport is a contest of movement, movement between sports is much more similar than different
- While elite sprinters accelerate up to 60-70m, the bulk of it (90%+) is done within 30m. Thus the bulk of acceleration can sit in this range
- Enter the season fit, the sport will take care of itself
- Anyone can run relatively fast, but no one can sprint well without proper training
- Weight lifting is not the only means of strength training
- Solid, thorough read of fundamentals of acceleration and sprint development. A lot of it is based on track & field, but James works to make it applicable to field/team based sports.
- Pick-Up Dr. Stephen Osterer’s Recovery for Baseball Manual – HERE.
See past Reviews below