Who am I?

I am possibly going through an old age identity crisis, but I have been thinking a lot lately about how people define themselves or let other define them. It got me thinking about how I define myself, so at the risk of coming across as vain and self-centered I thought I would share how I define myself. This is partially as a result of spending too many years letting others define me. I have learned to have a chance to make an impact and lead a purposeful life you must define yourself and stay true to that definition. Here it goes. Read more

Read this book! The Playmakers Advantage

For the past fifteen years I have been focused on what to do to get better at getting better. I have explored cognitive neuroscience, recognizing that the brain and how we train the brain is the key to getting better at getting better. In that pursuit I have read numerous books, devoured research literature, attended seminars and talked to as many experts as possible. The deeper I got into the process I knew I was on the right path. This is why I am encouraging you to read The Playmaker’s Advantage: How to Raise Your Mental Game to the Next Level. Len Zaichkowsky AKA Dr. Z and Dan Peterson have done a masterful job of compiling the research and their extensive experience into a comprehensive informative guide to the latest information on training the brain to improve sports performance. Read more

Fit for the test or fit to play?

Do you want your athletes fit for the test or fit to play for the game? There is a real and distinct difference on one hand and some real lessons to be learned on the other. It all depends how the “fitness” tests are used and how they are framed in the overall context of the annual and career plan. Read more

Clearing the path or preparing the athlete for the path

A recent post reporting Tony Strudwick’s comments is what prompted me to write this post.

Let’s stop putting inordinate amount of time in clearing a smooth and direct path for the athlete. All it does is set up unrealistic expectations. No journey toward athletic excellence is straight and narrow toward the destination without any bumps in the road, detours or breakdowns. Instead let’s shift the emphasis back to where it should be: preparing a robust adaptable athlete to negotiate any path put in front of them. To quote my colleague Bill Knowles what we have today is a “Medicalization of sport (sports medicine/sports rehabilitation): the process by which sports specific conditions and problems come to be defined and treated as medical conditions, and thus become the subject of medical study, diagnosis, prevention, or treatment.” Read more

Current reading list

Since I last reported on my reading in April I have read fifty-one books. The topics represent a range of interests beyond sport. I find myself reading more history going back to my roots as a social science major. Here are some that stood out for me: Read more

Junior World Championships

Recently the Junior World Track & Field Championships were televised. I watched with great interest. It was interesting to see the wider variation in body types than what you see at the senior level. I couldn’t help but think as I was watching how many of these athletes would go on and be a factor at the senior level. By being a factor, I look at it several ways: Read more

Where are you looking?

A drunken man was intently searching the ground near a lamp post. My friend asked what he was looking for. The drunk replied that he was looking for his car keys, so my friend helped him look without success. Then he asked whether the man was certain that he dropped the keys near the lamppost. “No,” replied, “I lost the keys somewhere across the street.” My friend asked him “So why are you looking here?” The drunk quickly answered, “The light is much better here.” Read more

Free Preview: Vern Gambetta’s Foreword from Training Talk

The following post is taken from the Foreword I contributed to Martin Bingisser’s new book Training Talk: Conversations with a Dozen Master Coaches.

Foreword

Back in 1987, I took a leap of faith. After 20 years of experience as a track and field coach, I moved to a new town for a new job in a new sport as director of conditioning for the Chicago White Sox. I was confident I could handle the challenge, but in the back of my mind there was still some doubt. I had never worked in baseball before, and the profession I had entered, athletic development, hadn’t even existed a few years prior.

After arriving, the doubt quickly faded as I took a look at baseball through the eyes of a track coach. Why didn’t my javelin throwers have the shoulder problems that pitchers did? It was simple: I started looking at the pitchers as javelin throwers in long pants. I took what I knew about preparing the whole kinetic chain to throw the javelin far and adapted that to the demands of pitching. To the surprise of many, we stopped having shoulder problems, and the pitchers became more durable. This was a lesson I was then able to apply many times over in other sports. Don’t look at the sport as a unique activity, instead look at the movements, and connect that to what is being done in other sports. This is a lesson you will learn from the coaches in this book. If they have one commonality, it is the ability to see movement with different eyes and make adjustments accordingly.

» Buy now: you pick up a copy of Training Talk in the HMMR Store.

No matter the sport, a good coaching philosophy must stay true to the same fundamental truths of coaching. In this book, Martin has sought to discover these truths through interviews with some of the best minds in coaching today. This book is a reflection of Martin’s intellectual curiosity and passion to learn. His probing questions allow you, the reader, to get to the essence of the concepts and training methods.

I am honored and humbled to write this Foreword and to be included as one of the coaches interviewed for this collection. These coaches are an eclectic mix of experts from athletics and field sports, but the one thing they have in common is that they are the best of the best. Together, the interviews provide a comprehensive overview of the process of developing the athlete from many points of view. Most importantly, as I did 30 years ago, each of these coaches has gone outside their specialty and, in many instances outside their sport, to learn and challenge themselves to improve. This sends a powerful message about what it takes to be on the cutting edge.

By selecting coaches that transcend sports and disciplines, Martin underscores the unity of training ideas and concepts. The need to communicate across sports to share knowledge and learn. This collection of interviews features coaches who are thought leaders that have produced results at the highest levels of sport using this approach. None of them is narrow in their areas of interest or specialization. They all go where they need to go to find answers. They all use lateral thinking to connect dots in seemingly unrelated manners. They did this, not by being followers, but by questioning and building connections outside their fields of expertise.

All of these coaches share:

  • deep knowledge;
  • passion that fuels their drive to learn;
  • coaching the athlete, not the sport or event;
  • achievement at the highest levels;
  • continued learning; and
  • strength in getting better at getting better.

Reflect on the ideas expressed here and each of these approaches. Think critically about the responses. Do not take any of the answers as gospel. Use the collective wisdom of these coaches to learn and grow. It may change your ideas, or it may confirm them. Regardless, the benefit will be improved coaching. Keep learning!

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. Read more

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. Read more