Dark holes

Throughout my career I have observed athletes disappear into dark holes never to reappear or if they did they were a shadow of their former selves. What is an athletic dark hole? It is biased one sided training that emphasizes development of one physical quality to the exclusion of all others. Read more

Strength training

Strength training is coordination training with appropriate resistance to handle your bodyweight, project an implement, move or resist movement of another body, resist gravity and optimize ground reaction forces. Let’s look at the elements of the definition in detail: Read more

Functional training

Functional training is a label for a concept. As with any label it is subject to various interpretations. I originally conceived it as multi lateral training integrating various training modalities (medicine ball, stretch cord, weight training, dumbbells, body weight etc.) to produce significant adaptation in specific performance parameters. Read more

Coaching classics

Every year I post this because there are many new readers to the blog and followers on Twitter (@coachgambetta) and friends on Facebook who have not seen it. These are classic works that I think every coach should read. They span a range of areas from scientific and technical to sport sociology. Just as with any classic they are timeless. They are rich with knowledge. There are many works in this list that I go back and review each year, they never get old. Challenge yourself and see how many of these you can read in the year if you do you be a more knowledgeable coach for doing it. Read more

Beyond the numbers

In today’s world of high performance sport we have the potential to bury ourselves in numbers. There is not much we can’t analyze, measure or monitor. In many ways this is a positive step forward and it some ways it can be negative. The key is keeping the numbers in context. If you are letting the numbers dictate everything you do and don’t do then it is time to reconsider. This is where I weigh in on the human element in coaching. Read more

What’s behind the medals

The bottom line is that for a long time the American “non-system” has served us quite well. What has happened? The first thing that changed was the erosion of mandatory physical education to the point where today there is only one state that has mandatory physical education K – 12. The most obvious impact is that youngsters are no longer exposed to systematic physical activity. They are no longer taught basic movement or sport skills as part of an organized curriculum. What we failed to notice is that because physical education was no longer mandatory and that less physical education teachers were being hired. The physical education teacher made up the pool of trained coaches. Then there came an increased emphasis on academic achievement to the exclusion of physical education. Read more

Some more on drills

It is important to be clear on one thing regarding drills. If you use a drill or drills know why you are using the drill. In my experience drills are most effective in closed skill activities where they can be used to correct a part of the movement or reinforce a concept. But always go back to the whole movement, remember Whole – Part – Whole. Read more

The seduction of drills

Ask yourself we do we spend so much time teaching and perfecting drills? Wouldn’t the time be better spent coaching skills? No doubt drills are seductive, some even look like the skill, we can repeat them until they are flawless and then what? 95% of drills have no transfer to skill so what is the attraction. Read more

Meaningful practice

I know the term deliberate practice is the current buzzword but I don’t think it is getting the job done. Words create images and images create action, so I use the term meaningful. Meaningful clearly communicates what I want from practice, it leaves little room for nuance. Practice must have a clear plan and purpose that the athlete understands. It must relate to the competitive demands of the sport the athlete is preparing for. It must be relevant to physical and developmental age of the athlete (Adult drills and training methods imposed on children are counterproductive). Read more

Growing the athlete

Growing the athlete is an organic not a mechanistic process. For years I used the metaphor of building the athlete but over the past few years I have become uncomfortable with that characterization. Read more