I have been thinking a lot about this since our meet this afternoon. I am a bit worried about the sport I am so passionate about and particularly the events I am so passionate about.
About Nick Garcia
Nick Garcia is one of the leading high school coaches in the country. For more than a decade he has served as the throwing coach at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California. Garcia is also an active thrower and has been throwing the shot put for the last fifteen years. As a student at California State University Northridge, Garcia was a two-time Big Sky conference champion in the shot put and has continued to progress collegiately. You can find him on Twitter at @nick_g_garcia.
Entries by Nick Garcia
When Martin and I outlined Bondarchuk’s approach to periodization at our seminars in December we received a few comments that, while it sounds great in theory, it could not be implemented in a high school or college setting. College coaches are under pressure to produce results fast, the argument goes, and traditional methods work better over the short-term. Others said that this may work for elite athletes but that high school athletes need to build a better base before moving on to a more complex method that includes emphasis on specific exercises out of season. Last month Derek put together a great comparison of different approaches to periodization, but one thing he didn’t address were arguments like these.
After a year of using the system myself I felt it was time that I go ahead and implement it with some of my high school athletes. I had the perfect candidate to experiment with: a young thrower on my team named Ginika Iwuchukwu. As a freshman and sophomore Ginika had played basketball in the winter and we only had a short time to prepare her for the upcoming track season. During this time I had her on a traditionally periodized training plan and at the end of her sophomore year she had thrown right at 12 meters (39 feet). Looking ahead to her junior year she decided to focus on throwing. Therefore, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to apply Dr. B’s system or what my idea of what the Dr. B. system was. Rather than going into the structure of the program, which Martin has explained and had examples of it up in the past. I will go over the results we got, mistakes I made, and what I am doing differently this year compared to with Ginika over the last two years.
In my last post I talked about the book Only the Paranoid Survive. The central theme is about finding “inflection points.” When you figure out that the situation you are involved with has reached an “inflection point” it is time to change. When do we know its time to change? Author Andrew Grove explains that we need to “figure out who our major competitor is and see if they’re about to change. If there is more then one competitor then there is something significant going on.” When this is realized there are a number of things that Grove suggests you do.
Being that I am from San Jose, California I have always followed our Bay Area sports teams. One of those teams being the Stanford University football team. A number of years ago Stanford was considered one of the worst football teams in all of NCAA Division I football. Then came Coach Jim Harbaugh. There was an immediate effect as soon as Coach Harbaugh took over Stanford football. In the following years Stanford went from one of the worst football teams in Division I to one of the top programs. This obviously intrigued me and led me to read everything available regarding Coach Harbaugh’s coaching style. After I found that he endorsed a book called Only the Paranoid Survive, I immediately purchased it in hopes that it could be applied to my own coaching.
From June 17th to June 21st I was fortunate to present at and attend the GAIN Professional Development Yearly Conference at Rice University in Houston, Texas. First off, GAIN stands for Gambetta Athletic Improvement Network. Vern Gambetta is known as the father of functional sports training. (Martin has reviewed his most popular book here). The great thing about Coach Gambetta is that he does not limit himself to being involved with one sport. He is involved with and has had success coaching numerous sports to optimize their athletic development living by the philosophy that you must “Link, Sync, Connect, and Coordinate” the body in order to have optimum sports performance. He has worked with levels ranging from youth swimming clubs to the Chicago White Sox, New York Mets, and Chicago Bulls. He has also worked with elite track athletes, premier soccer teams, rugby teams, and beach volleyball players.
Back in January I wrote about how I will give several presentations at Vern Gambetta‘s The Gambetta Athletic Improvement Network (GAIN) program this summer. A few weeks ago Vern announced the compete week-long schedule for the event, which will take place from June 17th to 21st. This year’s program will include top track coaches like Vern, Gary Winckler, Vince Anderson, and Steve Magness. Also there will be Oregon strength coach Jim Radcliffe and many other specialists in training, sports medicine, and physical education.
In addition using heavy shot puts a great way to develop specific strength is through the use of specific developmental exercises. These are exercises that Bondarchuk defines as exercises that use the same muscles, same systems, and parts of the competitive movement.
There are lots of specific developmental exercises you can use for the shot put, but here are 7 exercises I have been using in my own training or with my athletes lately.
I first met Coach Vern Gambetta in 2003 at a USATF Level III National Throws Summit in Las Vegas. I was only 23 but when Coach Gambetta spoke I immediately knew how passionate he was about coaching. Not just track and field, but every team, athlete, and sport he had the opportunity to work with. Coach Gambetta’s systematic approach to training is practical and produces great results regardless of the event or sport. He has taken my knowledge and skills to the next level. Whoever has the opportunity to work with him should consider it an extreme privilege.