Everyone works hard. How is your hard work different than someone else’s? Are you doing anything different that will separate you from the pack? Are you doing it better? It is more than time on your feet accruing more miles or chasing a black line at the bottom of the pool. You could train a monkey to do that. Read more
Foundational Beliefs #7 Embrace The Difference – Nobody Is The Same
Recognize that no two athletes are the same. They may be in the same sport, in the same event or play the same position, no matter – they are different. Read more
Foundational Beliefs #2 – It Is Always About The Athlete
It is so easy to get caught up in the intricacies of technique and training and lose focus on the athlete. It is the athlete we are guiding to be better. A wise old American football coach put it quite succinctly – “It is not the X’s and O’s it is the Jimmies and the Joes.” Read more
I have been getting many requests to evaluate certain popular training programs. Rather than specifically evaluate any program I think it is better to describe the characteristics of a sound program and you can use this to evaluate and draw your own conclusions. Read more
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. Read more
In part one of my interview with throwing coach Don Babbitt, he discussed how he indizidualizes the training plans of his athletes like Adam Nelson and Reese Hoffa. Coach Babbitt continued the discussion by talking about what factors he looks at when tailoring a plan to an athlete how he came about this approach after learning under a quite different system as a thrower at UCLA.
Martin: When you mention what factors you look at before individualizing something and what you adjust, it sounds like most of the adjustments are made to fit an athletes schedule and prevent overtraining. Is that the focus of the individualization, or is it also adjusted to address shortcomings or other aspects of training?
Don: The answer is yes to both. When setting up a training plan, I try to look at the overall situation, and then prescribe a plan. The base of the plan will be to address the basic needs of the event from both a physical standpoint and a technical standpoint. There is not a preset plan that I could say is “my system.” If the athlete is new to the program, or a new athlete that I am working with the has been training for some years, I take a look at what they have done in the past as the “base” and then modify it to the situation at hand. Koji had expressed this to me in the past as if you have a training footprint or path is one direction. You have to continue to work down that path or deviate it slightly if this is the case, you cannot just pickup and go a completely different direction. This is the foundation of my training philosophy. Each athlete will also have a plan based upon addressing certain weaknesses and body balance issues, and with regard to technique, the technical model will be based around their strength and weaknesses too. It takes a lot of thought and time preparing, but it seems to be the only way to get the most out of someone in each case. A one size fits all system just does not meet the specific needs of every individual.
One of the most successful throwing coaches in the world over the past decade without a doubt is Don Babbitt. Coach Babbitt has been at the University of Georgia for sixteen years in which his athletes captured 11 NCAA titles, and 55 All-American certificates. Chris Hill (javelin) and Jenny Dahlgren (hammer) also set NCAA records under his guidance. In addition, he has worked with athletes like Adam Nelson (shot put), Reese Hoffa (shot put), Breaux Greer (javelin), Jason Tunks (discus), Brad Snyder (shot put), Andras Haklits (hammer) and many other international champions.
In addition to his success across all the throwing events, what sets Coach Babbitt apart from other elite coaches is the way he individualizes training. Many successful programs have a system which they apply to all their athletes. Coach Babbitt, on the other hand, adapts his system to the individual athletes’ needs. Just listen to Reese Hoffa and Adam Nelson describe their training and you’ll immediately notice major differences even though they are training partners and produce similar results. Despite his recent trip to Japan for a seminar, Coach Babbitt found time to exchange some thoughts on how he fits individualization into the training of his athletes.
Martin: For starters, could you give us a quick overview of what are the major differences in the training of Reese Hoffa and Adam Nelson and why that is the case?
Don: Adam and Reese are quite different in a number of ways, and this may actually be a reason why they can train together so well. In terms of mentality, Adam is a gambler by nature, and sets very high goals for himself. In a way it is manifested in his technique, high risk, high reward. It is challenge for him to stay on a certain course for more than about 3-4 months without a change. He needs and likes change. The key for him in this regard is to change things up to make it fresh without changing too much and getting of task. His training varies from year to year, and it may cycle back around to the same thing over a 2-3 year cycle.
Reese is much more steady and methodical, which again is manifested in his performance and results (very steady). Reese does not like change, he likes to keep homeostasis, so to speak, and do the same schedule and train the same way each year. Sure, there will me minor variations because of schedule, injury, etc., but he tries to replicate the same high level results each year. When things go a little off for Reese, he does not respond too well, and likes to keep things in a controlled situation. He does not like experiments.