In a complex sport like judo, it can be hard to define what type of strength training will transfer onto the mat. A former fighter himself, Allan Macdonald is now the lead strength and conditioning coach for British Judo where he is tasked with that exact task. On this week’s podcast he discusses the complexity of and search for transfer, the role of specific strength in judo training, and examples of exercise design and progression.
Notes and quotes
Macdonald has been working for British Judo since the lead up to the 2012 Olympics. Prior to that he also gained experience in other sports before returning to his the sport of his heart. Influenced by Bondarchuk and other coaches, Macdonald has heavily invested in the use of specific exercises for his judo fighters, where he has found a lot of rewards. To explain his approach, he goes into detail explaining the demands of the sport and how he creates exercises and training sessions to help athletes meet those demands.
- 3:00 – An introduction to judo, demands of the sport, and development structure.
- 9:30 – What judo fighters need to dominate at: gripping scenarios, throw ippon, and winning groundwork. “We want the opponent to be terrified because they know we can win standing up or on the ground. “
- 12:00 – Variation in executing key tasks. “We have 3 tasks we need to execute, but there is a massive continuum for how to do them. “
Transfer of training
- 12:45 – Transfer of training and strength. “We were more physically prepared, but lacked physicality, the psychological ability to use your physical attributes. Our opponents knew better how and when to apply force in certain positions. “
- 16:00 – Mindset vs. technique.
- 19:30 – Other types of combat sports.
- 21:30 – Strength going onto the mat. “Performance is not just about force; it’s also about efficiency. “
- 23:30 – Innovative ways to get feedback on transfer in specific exercises.
Finding transfer through specific developmental exercises (SDEs)
- 27:15 – Finding transfer through SDEs. “For senior athletes, I keep reducing the amount of general exercises. There comes a point when general strength just won’t transfer any more, and that comes earlier than most of us think. “
- 30:15 – An example of putting SDEs in training, adding variability, combining with skills training, and peer coaching.
- 33:00 – The complexity of specificity in exercise design and an example of individualized exercise prescription.
- 37:00 – Progressing SDEs.
- 43:00 – Working together with skills coaches. “The strength coach’s primary role is to support the head coach since they are the architect of the program. “
- 46:00 – Creating a conversation around problem solving. “I’m yet to see a skills coach that doesn’t want to make training more specific; it’s just about getting on the same page about what method. “
- 48:00 – What other sports can learn from judo: antifragility, robustness, and specificity of work capacity.
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:
- Join HMMR Plus to get access to more resources on training, including videos, articles, podcasts, and more. Become a HMMR Plus member to get access to all the content. Support the podcast and don’t miss out on all the great content we have on HMMR Media.
- This month’s site theme is transfer. Stay tuned for more on the topic from world-class coaches like Anatoliy Bondarchuk and John Pryor. Our first article on transfer was posted last week and looked at how off-field speed isn’t always that easy to transfer on the field of play.
- You can follow Macdonald on Twitter @AllanMacdonald_.
- For more on his approach to training, listen to his interview with the Historic Performance Podcast and chat with British Judo.
- For clips about training and judo exercises, check out the British Judo Youtube channel or Macdonald’s own YouTube channel
- Macdonald also used to maintain his own blog, which offers a great breakdown of his approach.