Entries by Vern Gambetta

That Time of Year

Next week most collegiate and high school fall sports begin practice. Conventional wisdom dictates that these sports start with a “training Camp” usually eight to ten days of two or three times a day practices. Supposedly the purpose is to get ready for the upcoming season. Frankly this is a vestige of times past when there were no off-season programs and the players had to get in shape (Not that you can get in shape in two weeks anyway). In reality what happened then and still happens today is that over the course of this training camp fatigue accumulates and the risk of injury increases. In addition the fatigue from this period carries over into the first competitions thus compromising game performance. To compound the problem it is typical to start the training with testing to determine the player’s fitness for the game (I say that somewhat facetiously). If the player fails the test then they are made to do so-called remedial work (AKA punishment) until they pass the test. They are also expected to practice thus compounding the problem of fatigue. By the time they are “in shape” the season is one third over. Here is an example from a major DI school in Field Hockey (This is more the norm than the exception).

Great Advice & Food for Thought

Some wise words of wisdom and some real food for thought from Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz: “Grow with discipline. Balance intuition with rigor. Innovate around the core. Don’t embrace status quo. Find new ways to see. Never expect a silver bullet. Get your hands dirty. Listen with empathy and overcommunicate with transparency.

USA Track & Field Coaching Education – An Overview (Part Three)

Can you teach someone to coach? Coaching is definitely an art. It is a feel for saying and doing the right thing at the right time. I question if this can be taught. On the other hand the technical aspects can be taught and coaching skills can be improved in this manner. Communication skills, leadership skills, and psychological skills all can be enhanced through education. All of this is dependent on the desire of the coach to want to be better. Just because a coach attends a course and passes a test is no guarantee of that individual’s ability to coach. This is another reason that the focus should be on education rather certification.

USA Track & Field Coaching Education – An Overview (Part Two)

The curriculum is composed of two basic components: sport science and event specific. The goal in each area was to teach fundamental principles that the coaches could immediately apply. It was designed so that coach with little or no background in sport science or coaching could understand the material. Evaluation at level I consisted of a multiple choice, open book, take home exam.

USA Track & Field Coaching Education – An Overview (Part One)

A couple of weeks ago when going through some old computer files I came across an article I wrote on the USA Track & Field (Then known as TAC) Coaching Education program. This weekend I will be going to the USOTC in Chula Vista for some planning meetings on the coaching education program. As I have gotten back involved over the last eighteen months I have become increasingly aware of how few people know the history and origins of the program. The programs started with a meeting at the 1981 TAC Convention in Reno. A group of us felt that we needed to start a coaching education program.

Championship Season – Swimming

My favorite time of the training years is the so-called championship season. I say so-called because champions shine all year by winning workouts and preparing for this special time. This is the time leading into and including all the big championship meets. This is the time where all the hard work pays off and the time to shine and compete. I am privileged to work with three swim clubs as a consultant on their dryland training – Carmel Swim Club, Carmel Indiana, Dynamo Swim Club, Atlanta and Sarasota YMCA Sharks.

Cut to the Chase

Focus clearly only on what needs to be done to get training results that translate in competition performance. This demands focus on the training tasks that are meaningful. Eliminate the nice to do activities that make you tired but don’t make you better. It is so trite to say but less is more.

Oblique & Intercostals Injuries

Oblique strains and pulls and intercostals strains are injuries that you seldom saw or heard of fifteen to twenty years ago. The two injuries are different injuries; I think one mistake is to group them together. Now they are both a very common occurrence in baseball both in pitchers and hitters. If you look closely at the mechanism of the injuries based on the demands placed on the body in the activities that cause these injuries it is clear that both are force reduction injuries. They occur in deceleration of the trunk after a violent ballistic action of swinging a bat or throwing a pitch.

Communication – Getting the Message Across

Effective coaching is about sending and receiving messages. Notice I said sending and receiving. It is a two way process. Effective messages are clear, on point and brief. The message should be conveyed with appropriate emotion and content that elicits the desired action or response. Words create images and images create action so select the words carefully to communicate the message you desire.

Pay The Piper

There are no shortcuts, crash programs or quick fixes that will get you there faster. You will always have to pay the piper whether it is sooner or later. It is better to pay up front by being very thorough in the development process with a balanced program that builds a solid foundation. All components of fitness must be trained at all times of the training year and the career, just the proportion and emphasis changes with advancing training age and proficiency.