Bill Knowles has developed a reputation as the top return to play specialist in the game. But reducing the impact of injuries starts before the injury even occurs. Dating back to his time as a ski coach he learned how a proper athletic development program can reduce injuries before they even occur and make athletes better in the process. On this episode of the podcast, Knowles joins us to discuss how he integrates doses of athletic development into training for soccer and examples of how he uses randomness as a tool to develop stiffness and more robust athletes.
Notes and Quotes
Knowles currently works as Director of Reconditioning and Athletic Development for HP Sports in the Philadelphia area. In this role he is heavily involved with in designing the athletic development prorams for both the Philadelphia Union Academy and the Philadelphia Union MLS team. He also provides intensive reconditioning programs to world-class players across every major professional sports league returning from injury. He honed his skills working as an athletic trainer and athletic development coach in skiing for over 20 years.
We focussed on two main topics in this episode. To start with we discussed how coaches can be effificient and integrate athletic development elements into training on a consistent basis, and the benefits that this brings. Later in the episode we looked at Knowles broader philosophy of athletic development and some of the tools he uses for creating robust athletes.
Integrating athlete development into training
- 4:45 – The value of consistency and a dollar a day. Part of an injury reduction model is constantly delivering strength to the athletes throughout the entire year, including in-season. “We need to micro-dose athletic development. Most programs cannot afford the $10 workout. But you can invest a dollar a day. The cumulative effect will be higher.”
- 8:30 – Simplicity yield complexity. Examples of simple solutions to solve complex movement problems.
- 12:40 – In-season training for soccer and American football. “The training every day is a withdrawal, so we need to keep to keep investing in athletic development to keep it balanced. “
- 16:30 – Injury reduction through athletic development: The best availablility is availability. If they are hurt, you can’t coach them. The injury prevention model is the same as the athletic development model.
How randomness can create more robust athletes
- 18:00 – The false chase of perfection.
- 19:45 – Being off balance in the air is an uncomfortable place to be, but the more you do it, the more comfortable you get: You have to increase the bandwidth of uncomfortableness of athletes.
- 21:00 – Do we need to teach landing skills? Landing is the first level, but using random, off-balance and off-axis landing strategies take it to the next level: “We work on next-play position. “
- 27:00 – Strategies to develop stiffness: “Every day we focus on two things: the stiffness of the foot-ankle complex and stepping to the ground drills. “
- 29:30 – Pushing down into the floor and why you need to “push don’t squish .”
- 33:00 – Comparing running and throwing mechanics. Additional strategies to develop the abilities of athletes to push.
- 37:00 – Using aquabags as a tool to create chaos in training: “There is a lot of learning going on about stability and stiffness if no two reps are the same. “
- 41:00 – Is there a window of opportunity for physical literacy? “You are never too old to learn and improve, but it gets harder and takes longer.”
To hear more on these topics, listen to the full episode above. Also be sure to subscribe to our podcast and review it on iTunes.
The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic:
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- Knowles was a guest on GAINcast 49, where the discussion focused on reconditioning. You can watch a good presentation on athletic development from Knowles on Youtube.
- You can learn more from Knowles on Twitter (@billknowles_hps) and from the HP Sports webpage.
- More from Vern about how simplicity yields complexity.
- If you are interested in aquabags, they are available for sale in the HMMR Media Store.