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The Sports Gene

sportsgene

Nature versus nurture topic has been a hot topic lately, and was frequently discussed at the International Festival of Athletics Coaching. That is due to David Epstein’s new book The Sports Gene: What Makes The Perfect Athlete, which I just finished last week. Epstein, a former collegiate runner and writer for Sports Illustrated, has put together a must read book on the topic. Since the book’s release in August it has been covered by almost everyone who can write. Mass media outlets like the New York Times, New Yorker, Wall Street Journal have all covered it extensively. The book has also been written about by those within the track and field community since the book spends much of its time looking at track and field topics like Kenyan distance dominance, Jamaican sprint success, the high jump, and other events (I recommend Epstein’s extensive interview with the House of Run). Therefore, other than a whole-hearted recommendation to read the book immediately, there is not a whole lot I can do to add to the conversation. But that won’t stop me from trying.
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Getting Better at Making Your Athletes Better

6a00e5521cccd08834019b00cfbc5a970d-320wiThese are five books that every coach must read if you want to get better at making your athletes better. Ultimately how you you teach determines how effective you will be as a coach. Read more

The Sports Gene

sportsgeneREAD THIS BOOK! In the past three years I have read over 300 books, the Sports Gene is one of the best books I have read in that time. David Epstein not only nails the science but he tells compelling stores that bring the science to life. He takes the complexities of genetics and makes it comprehensible and applicable to the development of athletic performance. To me the clear message is that it is not about nature or nature but it is how we can best nurture nature. Read more

Rulon Hurt: The Hammer Throwing Ex-Spy

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Einstein’s Trunk features a hammer thrower as the main character.

So rarely does the hammer throw appear in popular culture that I feel it is one of my duties to give credit to the artists who give a little extra publicity to our sport. Therefore let me introduce you to Rulon Hurt, an ex-spy at the center of a series of thrillers written by Jim Haberkorn: Einstein’s Trunk and A Thousand Suns. Spies are tough, smart, and strong. So naturally Rulon was an All-American hammer thrower at Boise State before he started his career.
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Evolution of Strength Training – A Personal Perspective Over Fifty Years (Part Two)

After graduating from Fresno State I went to University of California Santa Barbara for my teaching certification. While there I was fortunate to take a class from Sherman Button on Fundamental of Conditioning. He was way ahead of his time with the material and concepts that he presented.( I appreciate that even more as look back at what he taught us) It was a great class because of his comprehensive approach to conditioning built around weight training. The two textbooks for the class were especially helpful. Pat O’Shea’s book “Scientific Principles and Methods of Strength Training.” and “Foundations of Conditioning” by Falls, Walls and Logan. As a class assignment we had to design a yearlong comprehensive training program for our chosen sports. I put together a program for track and field that incorporated all components of training. It was an initial attempt at periodization, but most importantly it forced me to look at strength training in a new light. I was now a coach as well as an athlete. I was responsible for other people’s performance. I had to teach them skill and have them ready for competition, so I had to pay attention to the big picture. Strength was only one part of the equation, although a most important part. Read more

Classic Track & Field Tales

trackclassicsThis is a page-turner; I could not put it down. I absolutely devoured this book in one sitting. This is a trip down the memory lane of the true glory days of track and field. The stores, anecdotes and recollections that Larry Knuth has complied represents a look back at the golden years of Track & Field though the eyes of athletes’ coaches and fans. If you are a serous student of coaching this is a must read, If you are a track & field coach fan or coach this will be one your definitive historical texts. Read more

Some Notes/Thoughts from “The Generals”

GeneralsJust finished reading Thomas Ricks latest book “The Generals” – American Military Command from WW II to Today. I found it very interesting reading in that it explained much of our military success and failure  over the past eighty years. But as a coach interested in leadership, organizational behavior and excellence I found it rich in ideas and thoughts. Here are a few thoughts that I found particularly relevant: Read more

Practice – Getting Better at Getting Better

9781118216583_cover.inddI just finished a book that is a must for every coach’s library, Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better by Doug Lemov, Erica, Woolway and Katie Yezi. I have added this book to the reading list for my GAIN Apprentorship program. It is a very good blend of the science behind practice and the author’s practical experience. Obviously the cornerstone for effective athlete development is practice, but too often it is just about putting in the time. Now with the 10,000 hour figure looming out there everyone is even more concerned with putting in the time. It is not the time in practice, it what you put into the time. Practice must be deliberate, focused and connected to the desired end result – performance in competition. Read more

Book Review: Athletic Development by Vern Gambetta

Part of what I enjoy about the offseason is reading about different training ideas. This year I have, as always, a long list of books that I likely will not finish. But I already have finished the first one, Athletic Development: The Art and Science of Functional Sport Conditioning by Vern Gambetta.
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Book Review: A World History of the Throwing Events

Like baseball, track and field is a sport for history and statistic buffs. Before the internet, the best way to follow the sport was simply by looking at the numbers and results. While the internet allows us to watch more events live, it also gives us access to results from a plethora of smaller competitions we would have never heard of otherwise. Show me a six-round series of throws and I can see the story of the meet come alive. Following these statistics is half the fun of the sport for me.

Italian statistician Roberto Quercetani is the grandfather of athletics statisticians. He helped found the Association of Track and Field Statisticians and served as its president from 1950 to 1968. Now, having just turned 90 years old, he has released his latest book: “A World History of the Throwing Events (1860-2011 Men and Women).” Read more