When you watch the Olympics it is easy to see all see the athlete performances on television. But what we don’t see is the logistical work required to help get the most out of the athletes on the biggest day of their careers. Support teams start planning years in advance to make sure that athletes have optimal lodging, food, and training facilities in their final hours before competition. On this week’s episode we are joined by strength coach Tracy Fober and high performance chef Megan Chacosky from US Ski & Snowboqard to talk about the steps required to bring their high performance support system to PyeongChang, and how to get non-traditional sports to buy into the high performance culture. Read more
Earlier this week we posted the first part of our interview with Dean Benton, head of Sports Science for the England Senior Rugby Team. Our interview covers a variety of topics on rest and recovery, and to start with we looked at sleep. Below we continue with part two of the interview where we continue to discuss rehabilitation strategies, recovery methods, and coping with travel demands. Read more
Welcome back to another monthly round up of recent research in the sports science world. This month we finally have some objective evidence on the use of high fat, low carbohydrate diets for elite athletes – perhaps this will lessen the debate, although I expect not. We also have a look at the training of elite endurance athletes, early versus late specialization in Olympic Athletes, sleep (as always), oxidative stress, and the use of hot baths after exercise, amongst others. Enjoy. Read more
When you watch rugby sevens it’s not going to surprise people to hear it’s the most physically demanding sport I have ever witnessed. Just look at a standard tournament: 6 14-minute matches over two days in hot conditions. Look at each match: players average 1.5 kilometers of ground covered at 115 meters/minute, along with many collisions and contacts thrown in. In each match players reach high acceleration speeds of over 8 meters/second several times. In simple terms, it’s a stressful sport with up to 14 minutes of maximal effort 6 times over two days. Most people who know the sport are familiar with this, however one hidden stressor added on top of all of this is the extreme travel involved with the Sevens World Series. Read more
On Sunday July 12 we got to see an amazing athletic event the Munster Hurling final between Cork and Limerick. What a sport – it completely captured me. Curling along with Gaelic Football is part of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). The GAA has pitches all over the country even in the smallest communities. The Grand Final is held at Croke Park in Dublin with 80,000 fans in attendance. This is in a country of only five million people. The GAA is all community based and completely amateur; all the athletes compete for the love of the game. The community pride and spirit is off the charts (think Cal v Stanford or Alabama v Auburn) and you get the idea, but these rivalries sometimes go back a couple of hundred years. Tickets to the matches are only available through the clubs. The pregame ceremony consisted of a march of the two teams around the field led by a marching band. The singing of the Irish national anthem in Gaelic was very special, everyone sang with a real patriotic spirit and pride – a lesson we Americans could learn. Read more
It’s another week and I’m on the road yet again, for my third training camp in the last three months. This time I am in Tenero, Switzerland’s national training center located in the Italian-speaking region south of the alps. Being on the road so much I have learned a few tricks to make sure things go as smoothly as possible. In my latest article for Juggernaut Training Systems, I detail five tips for training while traveling:
- Know What You’ll Need and When You’ll Need It
- Do Your Research
- Find a Routine
- Make Friends
I normally have a plan for each training camp I do; just one or two points upon which I focus an entire week’s energy. But the past two weeks have been different. I just returned from training in Arizona and California, but I was there without any real plan.
Becoming a better coach requires learning new ideas. In Switzerland, that can be a bit more difficult than in other countries. The coaching education program here is quite insular. It is great for beginning coaches, but more advanced coaches are not often exposed to the leaders and new ideas in other countries. Last year I worked to change this by co-organizing a clinic with Harry Marra, the coach of world decathlon record holder Ashton Eaton. We hope to put together another event in the Spring. But in the meantime there are also many coaching conferences in Europe that already bring together to top coaches. This Autumn I have the chance to attend two of them: the International Festival of Athletics Coaching (“IFAC”) and the German Federation’s Throws Conference. I will post about what I learned at each conference.
The first stop is the IFAC, which is currently going on in Glasgow, Scotland. Not only does this conference give me a change to learn, but I also get the honor of presenting alongside some of the top names in athletics coaching like Harry Marra, Vern Gambetta, Frank Dick, Vesteinn Hafsteinsson, Jacques Borlée, Yannick Tregaro, Benke Blomkvist and many others from both within and outside our sport. I actually led two sessions: a theory session on Friday and a hands-on technical workshop on Saturday morning.
The theory presentation covered the topic “Simplifying the Soviets: An Easy Approach to Soviet Throws Training Methods and Periodization.” The presentation is an updated version of the topic I presented at the UK Athletics Hammer Workshop in 2011. It essentially boils down Soviet hammer throw training methods into five basic principles. I would have loved to go into periodization and programming in more detail, but with just one hour all I had time for was this basic overview. Nevertheless it was well received and it led to some informative discussions in the evenings where I had a chance to go into more detail about implementing the five principles. A copy of my slides are below, although much of discussion explored diverse tangents that help provide context or answered some of the great questions asked throughout the presentation.
Question: Do you have any suggestions for getting rid of jet lag? -Greg
It’s the traveling time of the year again. Collegiate athletes in America are starting to make trips across the country for the various rounds of the NCAA Championships. The best throwers will then start their international season, demanding trips to Europe. While travel is fun, it can only hurt your performances. In the best case scenario, the travel takes nothing out of you. In the worst case, it can ruin a competition. And jet lag is just one of the things that can affect you. After more than a decade of international competitions I have a few tips that I can share that should reduce its impact.
As the saying goes: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. After complaining about training in winter conditions a few days ago, I decided to just give in and embrace the winter. I took an extra day off of training to spend a long weekend of enjoying winter sports activities and relaxing with Kate in picturesque St. Mortiz.
Naturally the first thing to try out was the bobsled, which was born in St. Moritz more than a century ago. The historic Olympia Bobrun from St. Moritz to Celerina has hosted two Olympic Games and is the only all natural ice track in the world. The track records are reset yearly as the track is rebuilt from scratch and carved from snow with slight variances each time. The Swiss are also one of the best nations in the history of the sport. Just think of the focus and precision of the Swiss team in the movie Cool Runnings and you know what level of respect they get in the sport. Switzerland has more medals than any other country in the bobsled and the 2010 Vancouver Games actually marked the first time since 1964 that the Swiss team did not win a medal. Throwers also have a close connection to bobsled. In Switzerland the brakewoman for Swiss 1 is also our national champion in the discus. The driver for the men’s Swiss 2 sled last season was a former top junior thrower for my club. Outside of Switzerland numerous throwers have tried the event, perhaps the most succesful of which was Olympic gold medalist Marco Jakob of Germany who had thrown 64.96 meters in the discus at age 22 before focusing more on the bobsled.