Four years ago, I wrote What I Learned in 2006, my first year-in-review series that continues to this day. Since then, this website has gone from T-Mag to TMUSCLE. I've opened my own facility, got engaged, and thanks to a little bit of both, lost a bunch of my hair.
Interestingly, people seem to be writing "What I Learned in 2009" series all over the Internet. I've seen the phrase flown on banners behind airplanes, "tweeted" by NBA superstars at halftime, and printed across the back of girls' short-shorts.
But let's get something straight, folks: you're reading the original right here. Got it? Good. Now let's move on.
This week has been a busy and exciting one, to say the least.
1. There's no more fitting way to start this list of random thoughts off than with a huge congratulations to CP athlete and Team USA bobsledder Bree Schaaf, who finished 5th at the Olympics on Wednesday night. I first started working with Bree in July of 2007 when she was working her way up the ranks as a skeleton competitor for the US National Team (she was as high as 12th in the world at one point) after her collegiate volleyball career ended. A few months later, Bree decided to make the switch to bobsled - and just two years later, wound up in the Olympics.
The whole Cressey Performance "Extended Family" is incredibly proud of her hard work and how far she's come.
2. My fiancee and I had an offer accepted on a house this week as well, so between negotiations/offers and making arrangements for mortgage stuff, a home inspection, appraisal, and dates for the P&S and closing, it's been a hectic week. It'll all be worth it, though, as the move will substantially reduce my commute time (by at least 80 minutes per day!) and, obviously, improve my productivity and our quality of life. Needless to say, we are really excited about how things are developing and love what will be our new house.
3. I'm experimenting with some Underarmour Performance mouthwear right now in my training, thanks to a generous gift from CP client Dr. Jeff Tocci, who fits dozens of these each week for athletes and non-athletes alike.
There is actually quite a bit of research supporting these initiatives, so thanks to Jeff, I get to put it to the test while I'm lifting heavy stuff this week to see how I respond. So far, so good.
4. Mike Reinold and I are working hard to put the finishing touches on our new DVD set, Optimal Shoulder Performance. We definitely plan to have it up and running sometime in March.
5. No surprise here, but pitchers who throw harder are more likely to develop elbow issues. You can look at this transiently in the context of the faster arm speed placing more stress on both the active and passive restraints. However, more chronically, if you consider that the arm is moving faster, you'll realize that the deceleration-imposed adaptations (more specifically, the muscle shortening that comes from repeated eccentric exercise exposures) can lead to chronic adaptations (loss of elbow extension and shoulder internal rotation) that can place more stress on the elbow. Likewise, stud pitchers who throw the crap out of the ball are more likely to get overused - so it's really a triple whammy working against you if you throw hard.
That said, I'd rather throw 100mph with a higher risk of injury than throw 76mph and get shelled in some beer league.
Here's some recommended reading for the week...
Effective Abdominal Training - I linked to a Bill Hartman post last week, and I'm going to do it again this week, because he puts out great stuff! Check out this post, which features a video on core control.
Youk's Diary: Good, Bad of Spring Training - CP client Kevin Youkilis will be keeping a blog on ESPN.com this season, and he gave us a little shoutout in the first one. In addition to checking out Youk's blog, I'd strongly encourage you to visit and donate to Youk's Hits for Kids, a charity Kevin founded that does some awesome stuff for underprivileged kids.
7 Habits of Highly Defective Benchers - This was one of the most popular articles I've ever written, so I figured it'd be worth a "rerun."
Last, but not least, don't forget that our spring training sale ends TONIGHT at midnight. Don't miss out on your chance to get 30% off! Click here for more information.
Mike Robertson, Bill Hartman, and I recently participated on a roundtable with Pat Rigsby at his blog. The discussion is all about assessment and its role in the training process.
You definitely ought to check it out - not only for the content itself, but also the special offer in place for Assess & Correct. Here it is:
Let's face it. There are so many aspects to Strength & Conditioning that it's easy to be left wondering, "How am I going to fit everything in?" For a young coach, program design can be somewhat of a frustrating process. But, over time, as experience rolls in and confidence flourishes, the program design conundrum dies down. You find that there's more than one way to skin a cat and the concept of simplicity always seems to come to the forefront. Take a look at the following list of potential program components:
Strength TrainingPower TrainingMovements SkillsFlexibility Speed DevelopmentMobilityAnaerobic/Aerobic ConditioningWarm UpStabilitySoft Tissue WorkEtc. . .Etc. . .
Admittedly, I am one of those overwhelmed ones at times, asking myself how I'm going to "fit it all in."
However, as I noted, the K.I.S.S. principle seems to always be the end result of my analysis - KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID! Yet, this simple approach doesn't seem to mesh well with having multiple training goals for one training cycle. This brings me to my main point. You don't HAVE to have a zillion training goals for every day/week/etc. of a training period. It's OK to focus primarily on one or two things only and hammer them home.
Maybe for Athlete A, he doesn't need all this "fancy stuff" and instead just needs to not be as weak as his little sister. Or Athlete B for that matter, who's "strong enough" and would greatly enhance his/her athleticism by focusing on his/her rate of force development.
Here at Cressey Performance, things like plyometric work are condensed into one or two training sessions. Speed development and movement skills are also allocated to particular training days. As the days go by, I'm seeing more and more value of consolidating program components into particular time periods instead of trying to cover all my athletic bases in the same session, month, etc. Another point being that it's OK to let other things slide a bit while you hone in on a higher yield area. Some people may need more corrective exercise at a particular time and less strength work at the moment.
Conversely, even though it would behoove us to simplify our programming approach we must at the same time remember what Albert Einstein said - "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." This is where the Art of coaching comes in, as we find a simultaneous balance between simplifying our programs and having them still be very effective in yielding great results.
During my last internship, with Coach Michael Boyle, I had a coaching epiphany that helped me to realize how my explanation of exercises to large groups needed to be simple if it was going to be effective. I needed to make all my coaching cues much simpler as well. If you haven't read that brief post before you can find it here.
At CP, I find myself in a one-on-one situation a lot more and guess what I found? The concept of simplistic explanations and coaching cues is STILL true! Who would'a thunk it?!?! I realized that just because I can spend more time with an individual doesn't mean I need to talk his/her ear off with long lists of directions. The one client standing there in front of you still responds to the same simple explanations and demonstrations that a group of people do. The biggest difference I can find in this regard is that I might increase my initial number of coaching points to three things when explaining an exercise.
I can remember my football coach saying to me that the average human mind can only remember seven things at once. They're already counting how many reps they're doing as #1, and if I give 3 pointers to remember, that's a total of four synapses. But, let's be honest, we've all worked with clients who seem to "not be present in the moment;" it's like their minds are somewhere else when you're talking to them. So, for this reason, I'll leave the other three synapses open for "whatever." However, I'm very open to hearing what your suggestions are for filling in the rest of the synapses; feel free to post a comment below.
Having said all this, I've found there are two types of clients (as time goes on, maybe I'll discover more): the visual learner and the verbal learner. After you've taken a new client through a warm-up, foam rolling, stretching, etc. you get a feel of their kinesthetic maturity. You can already tell how well they respond to being shown an exercise or being told how to do an exercise. This way, by the time you get over to the resistance training component, you have an idea of where to start - whether it's more demonstration and less verbage or vice versa.
Has the following scenario every happened to you?
A kid or adult you're coaching is standing there watching and listening to everything you say and do. You give full disclosure in your explanations and demonstrations. It's now his turn to attempt the movement and he does EVERYTHING wrong! It's like he wasn't even listening to what you just said and for some reason your demonstrations went right through his eyes and out the apparent hole in the back of his head!
(I apologize, but you'll have to turn your volume up because the audio quality is not that good)
So, I hope you the reader can appreciate my thoughts on the issue. For some, like my mentors Eric Cressey and Mike Boyle, this concept came into fruition many years ago. I'm glad I was able to realize the same thing while under their tutelage and not out on my own. An intern's time here Cressey Performance is very fulfilling and the whole staff has so much to offer that there's never a dull moment in the day.
Sam Leahey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We just got this feedback the other day from Adam Campbell of Men's Health:
"Assess and Correct is the most useful physical evaluation tool I've ever seen. It's like having instant access to the knowledge that Hartman, Robertson, and Cressey have gained through years of experience studying anatomy and human movement, and working with real people.
"But most important, it's presented in a way that you can put it to use immediately. In fact, the design of the manual is genius because you're given a series of simple tests to identify postural and movement problems, followed by smart exercise progressions-which you can tailor to a client's ability-to correct any issues. So it's a powerful tool that will help any coach create more effective training plans, customized to an individual's true NEEDS. The upshot: Assess and Correct will make any fitness professional better at what he or she does.
"One other note: Because I'm a fitness journalist, the authors offered me a free manual for review (common in the industry), but I had already purchased it. When they tried to refund my money, I requested that they not. The reason: I found the material to be so valuable that I felt like I SHOULD paid for it. I'm not sure there's any testimonial I could give that's better than that."
Fitness Director, Men's Health
If you read this blog with any sort of regularity, it should come as no surprise to you that I'm really pumped up for the upcoming Major League Baseball season, as we saw over 30 professional baseball players from 21 different major league organizations this off-season at Cressey Performance. My excitement hit another level earlier this week when I spent some time down in Ft. Myers, FL in the thick of things prior to pitchers and catchers officially reporting yesterday.
In honor of this big date in the baseball world, I thought it'd be as good a time as ever to announce a sale on a few of my products. From today through midnight on Thursday, February 25, you can get 30% off on The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual, The Truth About Unstable Surface Training, and The Art of the Deload by entering the coupon code FEB2010 at checkout from the Products Page.
This is actually the first time that The Truth About Unstable Surface Training has ever gone on sale since its release, so don't miss out on this opportunity to pick up some first-of-its-kind research and the practical applications associated with it.
Again, just head HERE and enter the coupon code FEB2010 to get 30% off your order.
Go Red Sox!
Here is this week's list of recommended reading:
Final Phase Fat Loss - As a quick follow-up to our interview with John Romaniello earlier this week, just a reminder that today is the last day to get the low "Grand Opening" price on this great fat loss resource. It's among the best I've seen.
This is an excellent strength exercise that provides both an anti-extension and anti-rotation core stability challenge, plus the benefits of scapular stabilization and dynamic function of the rotator cuff.