If you want pressure to perform, try working in professional soccer in England. To make matters more complicated, try working with young players and balancing the need for short-term results and setting up long-term potential. That is the challenge Des Ryan confronts every day as Head of Sports Medicine & Athletic Development at the Arsenal Academy. On this episode of the GAINcast he explains the Arsenal approach to athletic development and high performance. Read more
I was musing recently on concepts like “long-term athletic development,” “periodization,” and “adaptation” and I had a thought which I hope carries the idea of “athlete-appropriate” a bit further into the light. Adaptation is the tool we use to get better, but we have to know where we are adapting from and where we are adapting to first. What is are generally missing in our hopeful attempts to accelerate athletic progress with young people is not about the methods or tools, but about the awareness and full appreciation of the deciding factors that permit a coach to know what kinds of training are appropriate with individual athletes and what kind are not. Read more
On last week’s GAINcast we looked at best practices in talent identification. But as we said, talent identification means nothing without talent development. On this week’s episode we dive deeper into talent development and look at how to best put a system in place that gets the most out of the talent you have identified. After all, talent only equals potential, not success. Read more
There are many paths to performance. Note that it is plural, paths not path. There is no one way, in fact it is highly individual. This is perhaps the biggest conundrum in coaching: how to fit/tailor the training to the individual athlete to achieve each athlete’s optimum performance level. There are fast responders, slow responders and a few non-responders. Each athlete brings their individual qualities to their sport or event. We must recognize and account for this. You can have the wired explosive athletes and you can have a slower less explosive athlete – they can achieve very similar results in competition but must take different paths. Read more
At North Shore Country Day School students range from age 4 to 18. As athletic director, Patrick McHugh has had a chance to put in place a truly long-term athletic development process. The key word there is process: long-term development is not a model, but a process that is never linear. On this episode he talked about his philosophy and more. Read more
HMMR Media has been rolling out some new content at our recent seminars. Last weekend John Kiely and I presented an innovative seminar on periodization which is perhaps the first periodization seminar ever not to go into detailed discussion of periods. Instead we focused on how coaches can improve their process and approach to periodization in order to make it more effective. We had great feedback and I will have a more detailed report later in the week.
And next month Nick Garcia will be joining me in the West of England to put on a new workshop on athletic development. Read more
The concept of accountability should be right at home in sports. Accountability requires two things: knowing the results of a performance, and acting upon those results. We have no issue knowing an athlete’s results. Sport gives us those answers in black and white: an athlete wins or loses, they run faster or slower. And in sports there is no hesitation in acting upon the results. If you don’t perform, the next kid is waiting in line to take your place. Even if the underperformance is explainable, as in the case of an injury, you might still be kicked out on your butt. Read more
If you have a good hour to burn, you need to head on over to Stuart McMillan’s blog to catch the latest edition in his coaches guide to strength development. For the last part of his series I contributed a case study in data collection. This time Stuart and his friend Matt Jordan sat down 17,000 word chat that dives into several topics that Stuart discussed with strength coach Matt Jordan and throws coach Derek Evely. They discuss training theory, periodization, parallel-complex programming, Bondarchuk, sample training programs, youth specialization, and many more topics. Below are some highlights. Read more
LTAD has almost become a cliché. Everyone has an LTAD program and they all look the same. How can that be? We need to seriously rethink the whole concept of LTAD. It is not a model, a framework or a pathway. Everyone is not the same as is implied by the Balyi model and all the derivatives of that model. Read more
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This month I will be posting about three new books from Bondarchuk. Even though he just turned 75, he has been as busy writing as ever. The first book I will cover is Champion School: A Year to Year Model for Developing Elite Athletes. With the help of Dr. Michael Yessis, who also translated Bondarchuk’s successful Transfer of Training series, he turns his attention to the big picture of long-term development. Read more