HMMR Podcast Episode 175: Rediscovering play (with James Marshall)

Play is often disregarded as a form of training, but it is a lost art that can be a valuable tool in developing athletes. Over the past few decades, the rate of play has drastically declined among children worldwide. James Marshall has put this point front and center in his approach to long-term athlete development. On this episode of the podcast Marshall joins us to discuss play and how it can be incorporated into more formal training sessions.

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Notes and quotes

Marshall has been helping people achieve their fitness goals for more than 25 years. He helped recreational athletes prior to working with Professional sports teams such as London Welsh RFC and Exeter Chiefs, as well as National Governing Bodies like England Golf, England Rugby and numerous Olympians. He is also a faculty member at GAIN and is a leading expert on the theory and practice of long-term athlete development. We didn’t mention the topic directly by name, but touched on it in the course of looking at the role of play in athletic development, how that can be put into a training plan, and various other related topics.

Play and learning to move
Planning strategies and transfer of training
  • 20:30 – Setting up the session and microcycle.
  • 26:00 – Transfer from gymnastics to other sports.
  • 28:00 – Gymnastics, LTAD, and learning weightlifting.
  • 32:00 – Creating an exercise toolbox: “We have a very narrow definition of strength: what you can squat or clean.
  • 37:00 – Defining microcycle themes and examples from Marshall and Nick.
  • 41:30 – Changing culture to find the play mindset in pro sports.
  • 47:00 – Finding your inner child and the right competitive question.

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.

Further reading

The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic:

  • Join HMMR Plus so you don’t miss all the content on our site, including past episodes of the podcast, our deep article archives, video library, and more. If you like the podcast, don’t miss our latest book Training Talk: Conversations with a Dozen Master Coaches for more in-depth insights on training from some of the world’s top coaches.
  • You can read Marshall’s blog and find more resources, including upcoming educational opportunities, on the Excelsior Group webpage. You can also find him on Twitter at @CoachExcelsior.
  • Marshall has a series of educational gymnastics videos on YouTube that would carry over to other sports, including this one on rolls.
  • Long-term athlete development is also a topic covered on GAINcast 69 with Patrick McHugh.