Entries by Vern Gambetta

The State of GAIN: connecting the dots

It has been one month since GAIN 2018 finished. Eleven years ago, when we started GAIN there were 16 attendees including the faculty, this year there were 89. While the best chance to learn from everyone is to be at GAIN in person, we also are sharing some resources for those that could not make it. Last month I put together some reflections on GAIN 2018. This month on the GAINcast we share one evening’s gold medal roundtable with six members sharing experiences supporting Olympic champions. Below you can watch the first keynote from GAIN where I introduced this year’s theme: connecting the dots.

Perils of reductionist thinking

Focusing on muscles and isolated movements is mentally convenient. It is very easy to break the body and movements into parts and separate systems and focus on thus parts to the exclusion of the whole. It may be convenient and easy but is not right, it ultimately leads to confusion.

Some food for thought regrading functional movement

As a coach, particularly as a conditioning coach, following the functional path has at times been frustrating but ultimately a very satisfying experience. The path has been narrow and very winding at times and clear and well-paved at others. Beginning on the path there were more questions than answers. I found there were not a lot of sources to go to initially. But the farther I got down the path the more I found signs that many people had been there before. I would see a concept here, a training method there, hear a presentation or read an article. All of them were on the track, but there was no unified direction. I realized that in athlete development there were commonalities that had to occur to achieve successful development.

EMG studies and muscle action

Put a muscle at a mechanical disadvantage or isolate it and you will get high degree of muscle action on an EMG. Put that muscle into a movement where it is has to work with other muscles and now watch what happens. The pattern of activity will be quite different.

Athletic development: the basics

When I was growing there was a TV program about two detectives on the LA Police department. It was called Dragnet, the main character was Sargent Joe Friday, Badge 714, his famous line was “just the facts” when talking to a witness. To paraphrase Sargent Friday in coaching athletes to be better it all comes down to “just the basics.” That being said I have come to the realization that there is often not a good understanding of what the basics are.

The road not taken

I was just reflecting on the poem Road Not Taken by Robert Frost: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” Personally, having taken the one less traveled it has been filled with rewards and surprises as well as disappointments and defeats. Above all it has been a learning journey that continues today. I would not do it any other way.

Efficient running mechanics

Efficient running mechanics are a crucial aspect of running performance. Everyone pays close attention to correct mechanics up to the 400 meters and then it is as if it does not matter anymore, when in fact it actually it is as important. Good sound running mechanics can go a long way toward preventing injuries, optimizing stride length and stride rate for more efficient utilization of energy stores. Improving running mechanics involves strengthening of all the involved muscles, the postural muscles as well as the legs. Technique practice in the form of specifically prescribed drills done with precision should be part of daily training. Constant awareness of good running mechanics must be stressed during each run.

GAIN 2018 wrap-up: recollections & reflections

GAIN 2018 has been finished for just a little over a week and I already can’t wait for next year – only 343 days to go for GAIN 2019! For my wife and I GAIN is a lot of work, but each year it is gratifying to see the work come to fruition. For all involved it is a special time of learning and sharing with other with professionals across many disciplines and sports with varied perspectives from around the world.

Fifty years on

This is not the easiest blog I have ever written. I must admit I am struggling to find the right words to express my feelings today. 50 years ago, yesterday I was studying for my last final before graduating from Fresno State college when I turned on the TV and found out that Robert Kennedy had been shot. Four years before during my senior year in high school his brother had been shot. The 1968 California primary was the first time I was old enough to vote. Next morning, I took the final and then found he had died. I can still remember the hollow feeling I felt then. Needless to say some of the dream died that day.