It’s alllllllll coming together. 3 years as a full time coach. Entering my 3rd year at one University. Life is great, and I am more confused than ever before. I have come to realize I am not the most important member of the support staff. I am just one member of a support team that includes athletic trainers, physical therapists, doctors, nutritionists, psychologists, etc. Depending on the individual, I may not be the most critical member of that staff. We are the only support staff branch of which every athlete is required to see weekly. Because of that, I know I need to figure out the role I play for each athlete. It is a continuous learning process, but, as the dalai lama of motivation Simon Sinek says, start with why, then how, and the what will take care of itself. As I begin another semester of getting kids dialed in, I figured I would share a few “whats” that have stemmed from a lot of “why” examinations.
Drink the PRI milkshake. Drink it up!!
As with rap, in the beginning…there should have been the Postural Restoration Institute. I had the pleasure of taking PRI’s Myokinetic Restoration course over the summer under the tutelage of Ron “The Adductor” Hruska. I felt like the anatomical wool had finally been lifted from my eyes and I was absorbing the material in a manner in which it was meant to be understood. I have to thank a fellow coach for the encouragement to take the first step. As he put it, the teachings of PRI are what we should be learning from the jump. Admittedly, I have only just begun the fellowship of the ring, so shop talk is always welcome so I can steal some of your applications!
Only being a few miles out of the shire, here is what I believe an athletic performance coach can start doing with PRI. First, thoroughly understand the concepts, and this alone will improve how you coach your athletes. My very simplistic consolidation of my learnings so far are to enhance the ability of my athletes to get out of extension, figure out how to find neutral, and give them the tools to then create tension in order to maintain neutral throughout the entirety of a controlled challenge. Next, sift through the gauntlet of “correctives” and figure out the ones you can apply. Use them in your performance prep. If this process sounds familiar to another pendulum swing we have been camping out in for the past several years, you may be right, but I think this may serve to make more significant positive changes. I believe this because the concepts just make sense. As scientific as that statement is, it coincides with a growth in my programming due to a realization that all limitations will not be “corrected”. Foam rolling, ankle and hip mobilizations, and the like are not correctives. They are great ways to prep for subsequent loaded movements, but we cannot pretend we are facilitating significant permanent changes. PRI, on the other hand, is position based. This novel concept is certainly something we have all had in the back of our minds, but PRI clearly systematizes the acceptance that we have certain predispositions and affinities towards undesirable biomechanical positions and neurological innervations. Know which need to be corrected and those that can be worked around. Remember, not everyone is meant to do every movement, and you are certainly not Gandalf the Grey.
Just like big food, I want to make sure I caution everyone prior to accepting that cereal may not be the healthiest option, but it’s only a matter of time until the grainless brains prevail. We have a tendency to swing the pendulum way to far in one direction. Tread lightly, sip it slow, and apply this the right way, knowing it is simply another tool to be used that can enhance what you are already doing.
I LOVE the Olympic Lifts, but they are not to be implemented with everyone
After having some great resources to learn from over the past couple years, I am pretty confident in my ability to apply and coach all variations of the Olympic lifts. It may be because of this process that I now believe I have been guilty of prescribing them to people that were not meant to do them. This may sound blasphemes to the purest, but remember, I provide strength and conditioning services for Olympic sports. If I cannot facilitate a process by which these athletes reach their athletic potential without the use of Olympic lifts, I don’t know if I’m in a good spot as a coach. I still believe in them, I still use them with the athletes who are strong enough, biomechanically sound, and frankly, those who have the desire to do them. Without great technique, I do think most benefit is lost.
This notion is coming from an audit of my programming and realizing my plyometric periodization was truly lacking. Plyos are a huge part of what I do, but I found my Olympic weightlifting periodization to be so much of the focus that I may have lost some of the growth I could have facilitated. There has been so much chatter on Olympic weightlifting in the last couple years. Crossfit has a lot to do with that, which is fine, but can we get a couple more articles about really dialing in our programming when it comes to rate of force development, impulse, elasticity, and the bunnies you need to exhibit when you step on the field or court? (I’m sure they are out there, so maybe selfishly I want someone to send me a few…not the ones with exercise options, as I know progressions, but I’m talking periodizations…triphasic has provided some great ideas for me!)
Most of the “mobility” and “stability” exercises I have been doing for the past couple years were garbage
Garbage may be a strong word. I use it more out of frustration than anything else. I told myself my ankle and hip self mobilizations were making a difference. So much of a difference, that I would simply have to move onto stability work after a couple weeks and I would be set. It may be the milkshake talking, but I have a feeling there is more to it, and it has something to do with position.
Provide more opportunities for freedom of movement
Nothing has had as much of an impact on my programs more than the implementation of movement flow. Check out the full article I posted a few months ago, but I really do hope it provides for some good ideas moving forward. It is way easier to implement than it looks. It stemmed from a dissatisfaction in the structure of my warmups, and a notion that I was almost being hypocritical. Like most, I found myself continuously talking about how specialization is an epidemic and athletes are so mechanical. I felt like I only exacerbated that by continuing with the mechanistic nature of training without giving the chance to move freely in a way that we all talk about athletes needing. Trust me, throw in a sequence of movement flow and your athletes will be more focused, get way more out of it, and highly enjoy it…O, and give me ideas of more stuff to throw in there please!
Admit it…not many of you in the college realm know where Omega Wave, Catapult, Bioforce, and the like are going to take us, but I’ll f*#ks wit em because at this point, in the very least, its a resume builder
I am lucky I have some of these toys to play with, but I still have no clue what is going to be worth it. Like PRI, I do believe in the use of these toys to the fullest, so I hope smarter people than myself start coming out with books on how to use these things to program in the team setting.
My speed work has had way too little of a reactionary component
Don’t get me wrong, a good chunk of my SAQ programs are devoted to auditory and visual reaction versions of many drills. It’s just that I have seen way to many great “technique” guys turn to gumby during testing or competition. Nowadays, I always make sure to ask myself, “Is it worth the time?”. Knee up, toe up is only going to take you so far. From there, you have to make sure you are getting from point A to point B faster than the other guy or ball.
If you ain’t pushing for smaller groups, you ain’t gluten free
I realize it is not feasible for some coaches, but if you can do it…DO IT! I have had coach to athlete ratios close to 1:50-60. That should be illegal.
The first step is admitting we have an extension problem
My only goal in life is to take athletes out of extension, find neutral, and provide the tools to allow them to dominate that position. I just cannot see athletes that are stuck in extension benefiting from the acceptance of technique that sees the exacerbation of a faulty pattern jammed into a bony block of false stability, and expecting externally resisted work to be done from that position.