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GAINcast Episode 21: Linear Speed (with Ken Clark)

No matter the sport, speed is the name of the game. Professor Ken Clark is an expert in speed, having researched the topic in detail. In this episode he explains how linear speed is generated and the implications that has on training for speed. Read more

Training Talk with Pat Connolly (Part 1)

Readers of this site should know the name Harold Connolly. He was not just the last American to win gold in the hammer throw, but also a global celebrity in the 1950s as he overcame adversity to reach the top of his sport for more than a decade. After he retired from throwing he continued as a coach, mentor, and strong advocate for the hammer throw until his untimely death in 2010. What hammer throwers might not realize, however, was that despite all of Harold’s accomplishments was not even the most successful coach in his own household. That title belong to his wife: Pat Connolly. Read more

Mach Sprint Drills – A Personal Perspective

The so-called Mach drills were part of a comprehensive system; frankly that is what I see missing today. Just because it looks like the sprint action does not mean there is much transfer. Similar is not the same. As I have seen the use of the Mach drills grow in popularity to the point now where they are universally used. I think the concepts behind the drills are quite simple but I am not sure that many people today understand them and the historical context of the system. My purpose in this article is to lend a historical perspective on the Mach drills. This perspective is intended to clarify the application of the drills. I must emphasize that this is my perspective and opinion based on discussion, observation as well as my coaching experience. Read more

You Can’t Teach Speed

Have you ever heard the phrase “you can’t teach speed”? In my youth, and despite my complete lack of any technical ability, I was reasonably effective at both soccer and rugby. Notice that I said effective, and not good. Playing rugby at school there actually was a pre-planned move which involved giving me the ball, and getting me to run without even considering passing until I either scored or was tackled. Playing soccer, I was moved to the wing, and my team would just punt the ball into space for me to run on to. No talent required. I was successful only because of my speed – I was already a national age group champion at that point. It was here that I would hear my teachers, coaches and team-mates comment “you can’t teach speed.”

But can you? Read more

All Other Things Being Equal

“All other things being equal . . . “

How often have you heard that phrase? Perhaps you’ve used it yourself? (If so, please stop). The most common situation I’ve heard it used is in regards to weight training: “All other things being equal, the strongest athlete will win.” Read more

The Trouble with 40 Yard Dash Times

This article is way off base. It assumes that all 40-yard dash times are comparable. There is no set protocol for timing 40s from level to level. Running surfaces will vary; there is no control for wind if they run outdoors, if the track is level or downhill or if it is actually 40 yards! Read more

Training Talk with Gary Winckler (Part 1)

Gary Winckler is one of the top hurdles coaches in the world and also one of the most thoughtful and intelligent coaches out there. In 2008 Winckler retired after 23 years as a coach at the University of Illinois. During that time he coached over 300 All-Americans and more than a dozen Olympians. His two best known athletes were 2003 World Champion and Canadian 100-meter hurdles record holder Perdita Felicien, and 1996 Olympic 400-meter hurdles bronze medalist Tonja Buford-Bailey. Buford-Bailey’s best mark remains the fifth-fastest of all-time.

Photo from the Daily Illini.

Coach Gary Winckler (Photo from the Daily Illini)

Despite his retirement, Winckler keeps very busy making saddles in the Pacific Northwest. But he still continues to give seminars (he will be presenting at GAIN 2014 along with our Nick Garcia and other top coaches) and it was just announced he will write an occasional blog for the Canadian Athletics Coaching Centre starting soon. He took some time to talk about training last month and give his input on reactivity training, periodization, training technique, and a variety of other topics. Part one of our discussion focuses on implementing principles of reactivity training talked about by Frans Bosch. The remaining parts of our discussion will be posted over the next week, so keeping checking back for further installments.
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Running Mechanics – Part Three

To correct running mechanics it is best to use Fault/Reason/Correction Paradigm. First identify the fault in the mechanics. Then find the reason for the flaw and then correct the flaw. Look at the big things first in the context of the PAL Paradigm. Get a sense of the flow of the action, before looking at specific considerations. Focus in on smaller pieces of the puzzle only after global considerations have been addressed. This is in concert with the whole/part/whole concept of motor learning, start with the whole action in this case running, then look at the parts. Decide what parts need attention. Design task oriented drills or movements that will reinforce the correction of those parts. Rather than focus on the fault you are trying to correct, give the athlete a task to achieve that will correct the fault. Above all coach the correction, don’t coach the flaw. Allow the runner to explore and solve the movement equation, then, as soon as possible relate the drill back to the whole action. Read more

Running Mechanics – Part Two

sprintingThe starting point for running mechanics is a basic technical model. That technical model is what man must do sprint at top speed. Therefore in teaching to improve running mechanics we must start with sound sprint mechanics and extend those concepts out to longer distances. Even in distance running, ultimately the person who runs the fastest is the person who can maintain the greatest percentage of their maximum speed the longest. Running skill is a motor task! Like any motor task it is teachable and trainable. As with any motor task a systematic approach toward improving running mechanics will yield optimum results. The system that I have evolved to improve running mechanics is call the PAL System™. PAL is an acronym that stands for Posture, Arm Action, and Leg Action. Those are the three areas of emphasis in running. The objectives of the system are fourfold. The first objective is to provide a context to analyze movement. Secondly the PAL System™ is a systematic step-by-step teaching progression. The third aspect is that it provides a context to direct training based on the needs established in the past two steps. Lastly it provides a rehab context by establishing a criterion based progressive approach toward getting someone back to normal gait pattern after an injury. Read more

Running Mechanics – Part One

Running is a fundamental locomotor skill. It is a very natural activity. Unfortunately because of our sedentary lifestyle and activity deprived society this natural skill rapidly erodes in accordance with the law of reversibility. As with any skill if is not used it is quickly lost. Generally, young children run naturally with fundamentally sound running mechanics. We need to insure that this natural activity is reinforced through activity and play during childhood, so that in adolescence and latter all that is necessary is to reawaken those childhood movement patterns. If the skill has been lost through disuse it is tough to reacquire. Read more