Pat Connolly has been at the top of the sport both as an athlete and as the coach of top sprinters like Evelyn Ashford and Allyson Felix. On Wednesday I posted the first part of my interview with her, where we discussed her general philosophy, the importance of repetition, and specific training methods. In this part she continues to discuss mental training, the differences in coaching men and women. We finished by getting her thoughts on doping. Having been involved in the sport since steroids were first introduced, Pat was one of the first vocal anti-doping advocates, having even testified in front of Congress to lobby for support. But the sport has evolved and so have her thoughts on the issue, which she describes below. Read more
Readers of this site should know the name Harold Connolly. He was not just the last American to win gold in the hammer throw, but also a global celebrity in the 1950s as he overcame adversity to reach the top of his sport for more than a decade. After he retired from throwing he continued as a coach, mentor, and strong advocate for the hammer throw until his untimely death in 2010. What hammer throwers might not realize, however, was that despite all of Harold’s accomplishments was not even the most successful coach in his own household. That title belong to his wife: Pat Connolly. Read more
At the start of my training talk with strength coach John Pryor from the Japan Rugby squad, I mentioned his approach blew my mind. I’ve gotten to know a lot of strength coaches from a wide range of sports, but never before heard a field sport team use such a methodical approach to transfer of training, specific strength, and complex periodization as when he described the Japan squad’s buildup to this year’s World Cup. Read more
In the first part of our training talk with John Pryor from the Japanese Rugby squad we discussed how he worked with Frans Bosch to develop specific training methods for his backs. The unique approach took players out of the weight room and into situations where they were forced to develop the strengths they needed to play the game plan designed by coach Eddie Jones. Read more
In the waning minutes of their opening World Cup match against powerhouse South Africa in September, Japan was trailing by three points. With play entering injury time, the game could end any second yet Japan declined the opportunity to kick a game tying penalty and instead opted to to enter a scrum for a chance to win (or lose) the game. For those of you that do not know rugby, the scrum is likely the image you are most familiar with. Eight players from each team pack together to fight for control of the ball. It is a test of strength, patience, technique, and resolve. Japan won the scrum and took the ball back despite being smaller, weaker, and less experienced. They then went on to win the game. Read more
On Tuesday we published the first part of our training talk with the extraordinary coach Dan Pfaff. Dan has been enjoying a successful summer as head coach at Altis. To start out our interview we discussed in-season training methods and his 3-day rollover plan. In this final part of the interview we take a step back to discuss his training philosophy and how he takes that to create a plan. Read more
Dan Pfaff’s name is hardly foreign for readers of this blog. As the head coach at Altis, the new name for the ever-growing World Athletics Center, he currently coaches dozens of athletes and helps run a successful coaching education program. With success producing champions in nearly every track and field event, he is without a doubt one of the top coaches in our sport. This year is no exception as Pfaff was Mr. Long Jump at the world championships taking in two medals and three top-four performances. He guided Fabrice Lapierre to silver and Greg Rutherford to gold. Pfaff helped Rutherford capture Olympic Gold in 2012 while working in the UK and starting working with him again recently. In the women’s long jump Christabel Nettey broke the Canadian record on several occasions this year and placed fourth at the World Championships, just two inches from the podium.
In addition to being a top coach and having a wicked mustache, Dan is also a top educator and a person I am always looking to learn more from. When Dan told me he would be in Switzerland for 48 hours for the Lausanne Diamond League meet earlier this summer, I booked time off work and bought my train ticket. I’m not a big fan of the Diamond League for how they treat the throwers, but there some few advantages to having two Diamond League meets in the immediate vicinity.
Two years ago he joined us for a training talk about strategies for coaching technique, training intensity, and defining key performance indicators. When he came to town this time I wanted to both take a look at his training in more detail and take a step back. To start with we talked about his in-season programming and his three-day rollover method, which I have written about a little before. In the second part of the interview, which will be posted later this week, we then took a step back to discuss his training philosophy and how he takes that to create a plan. Read more
The response to Part 1 and Part 2 of our training talk with coach and academic John Kiely has been overwhelmingly positive. It has also been a wonderful learning experience for me. To start with we discussed the issues with traditional periodization models and their scientific underpinning. Last week we continued the discussion to cover what can be learned from science and how coaches can work on improving their processes. This final part brings things together and present some final thoughts as well as five questions coaches should ask themselves when planning. Read more
Earlier this month Irish strength coach and academic John Kiely provided a biting criticism of periodization as it is known by most people. While we like to think of it as scientific, it is based on a shaky foundation that favors the plan rather than the process. You can read the critique in its entirety here. But as frustrated as Kiely is with the common talk about periodization, he is also optimistic about the way forward. When we continued our discussion, this was his main focus. Read more
Back in 2012 Vern Gambetta forwarded me an article by John Kiely (full text here; comments by me here), a senior lecturer in sports performance for the Institute of Coaching and Performance at the University of Central Lancashire. In it, Kiely wrote about periodization paradigms in the 21st century pointing out features like individualization and flexibility that are the future of periodization. I couldn’t help but agree. Read more