When it comes to sprinting and hurdling, few coaches can put together the accomplishments that Gary Winckler achieved in his career. But what was more impressive than his results was his process. He continuously sought out new ideas to improve upon what was already one of the nation’s top programs. He joins us on this week’s podcast to talk about staying ahead of the curve, and how his coaching changed over his last decade of coaching, especially in regards to skill acquisition and exercise selection for sprinters.
Notes and quotes
Gary Winckler is one of the top sprint and hurdle coaches in the world. In 2008 Winckler retired after 23 years as a coach at the University of Illinois. During that time he coached over 300 All-Americans and more than a dozen Olympians, including world 100-meter hurdles champion Perdita Felicien and Olympic 400-meter hurdles medalist Tonja Buford-Bailey. He was named NCAA coach of the year three times, in addition to many other coaching honors.
- 3:00 – Staying ahead of the curve: “I found a lot of what I was reading in literature wasn’t working working very well when I applied them in my training programs. When I first met Frans it put some things together in terms of what the athlete was expressing in terms of force production and making it applicable in respect to their training load .” “The whole idea is to base your training loads on what the athlete can produce and their individual capabilities. If they are producing a lot of good forces efficiently, then we can do more training load. If not, the focus should be on the mechanics of producing better forces rather than producing lots of bad forces to meet a certain training load demand .”
- 7:30 – Posture and applying force: “Posture is the result of force application. What position you get in is the result of the force you are applying. Understanding this enabled my coaching to become an easier task. If I could focus on where the athletes were applying force, then it corrected a lot of other issues up the chain. “
- 8:30 – Simplifying coaching and cueing: “You can cue the arms, but if the arms aren’t doing what the coach wants them to do it is probably the result of compensating for something else that is happening on the ground. Focus on the mechanics of foot placement and force application on the ground. “
- 14:00 – Using the ears for feedback: “When you have been around it enough, you can have your back to a group of athletes running and you can hear which ones are running well and which ones aren’t. “
- 16:00 – Altering rhythm to find rhythm, and hurdle ranges for training: “I don’t think you can training anyone in just one kind of rhythm because they are going to lock into that rhythm and once they lock in performance will stagnate. “
- 19:45 – Reflexes: “To make sense of the foot coming vertically to the ground you have incorporate what the free leg is doing. When the foot is accelerating into the ground, the opposite leg is scissoring. That is where you get the translation from vertical to horizontal. That reflex where one limb is accelerating forward as the other is accelerating downwards is the key to an efficient hurdle takeoff. “
- 23:00 – Parallels to throwing.
- 25:00 – Coaching speed for team sports.
- 29:00 – Overtraining and the role of higher volume in training: “If a coach is remaining true to their sprinting model and doesn’t practice bad running, then the athlete’s ability to perform well will determine the volume of work they can do. If I am true to that it will be difficult to overtrain. . . . The volume is dictated by the quality of execution dictated by the performance objectives. “
- 35:00 – Microcycle planning: “You always have to ask yourself: what is the long-range objective and what is the short-range objective to get to the long-range objective. Always keep that in mind. Training is never the objective, performance is the objective, so training must fit the performance model. “
- 38:00 – Steady loading patterns.
- 41:30 – What Winckler misses about coaching.
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.
- This month’s site theme is skill acquisition. Join HMMR Plus so that you don’t miss out on our archives and new resources.
- Winckler has been a guest on GAINcast 9 and also did a four-part training talk with us about his training philosophy, the concept of reactivity, periodization, and more. The latter is included in our book Training Talk: Conversations with a Dozen Master Coaches.
- Frans Bosch was a big influence on Winckler’s approach to training. To learn more about him you can purchase Bosch’s book Strength Training and Coordination: An Integrative Approach or see our many videos and articles on the topic.
- Our friend James Marshall has put together some great notes on presentations by Winckler at GAIN: how to develop speed and training dos and don’ts.
- While Winckler has retired from coaching he is still busy making some of the world’s finest saddles. You can learn more about his business and see some of his work here. He also discussed that work in a segment on Episode 100.