Posts

GAIN 2014

gainnewlogo300[1]I first met Coach Vern Gambetta in 2003 at a USATF Level III National Throws Summit in Las Vegas. I was only 23 but when Coach Gambetta spoke I immediately knew how passionate he was about coaching. Not just track and field, but every team, athlete, and sport he had the opportunity to work with. Coach Gambetta’s systematic approach to training is practical and produces great results regardless of the event or sport. He has taken my knowledge and skills to the next level. Whoever has the opportunity to work with him should consider it an extreme privilege.
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IFAC 2013: What I Learned (Part 1)

International-Festival-of-Athletics-Coaching1

Over the weekend I had the chance to both present at and attend the International Festival of Athletics Coaching in Glasgow. While it was a pleasure to teach other coaches, I always enjoy the student role the most.

The IFAC conference is unique since, unlike most other conferences or seminars I have attended, it brings together coaches from every event. Therefore I took advantage of this and actually skipped the other throws presentations by Vésteinn Hafsteinsson. Hafsteinsson is indeed one of the world’s best throwing coaches, but I can send him an email anytime and ask questions. This was a one time chance to learn from some of these other coaches. Below are two topics that I found very interesting over the weekend: long term athlete development and integrated training systems. Check back later this weekend when I move on to one final topic: the brain and learning technique.
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Finding a New Periodization Paradigm

Earlier this week I discussed one recent article Vern Gambetta pointed out on his blog recently. Today I would like to discuss another that focuses on a topic of great interest to me: periodization.

Coaches have been using periodization for more than a century to create training plans. Over the years the concept of periodization has become broader to include a wide variety of training plans all seemingly based on the premise that biological adaptation to a given training follows a predictable course and future training can therefore be adequately forecasted to meet the goals of the athlete. Matveyev was one of the early researchers involved in developing modern concepts, but many other since have built on his work.
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What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

A topic that has interested me a lot this year is how to identify and develop talent. Recently Vern Gambetta shared a good article on his blog about a counterintuitive article recently published in journal Sports Medicine. The abstract describes the article best:

[T]he vast majority of [talent development] systems expend a great deal of effort maximizing support to the young athletes and trying to counter the impact of naturally occurring life stressors. In this article, we suggest that much of this effort is misdirected; that, in fact, talented potential can often benefit from, or even need, a variety of challenges to facilitate eventual adult performance.

“The Rocky Road to the Top: Why Talent Needs Trauma” by Dave Collins and Áine MacNamara of Institute of Coaching and Performance, University of Central Lancashire, Lancashire, UK.
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Vern Gambetta

Training Talk With Vern Gambetta (Part 2)

Earlier this week I posted part one of my interview with athletic development expert Vern Gambetta. Among other topics, we discussed how throws training stacks up to other events and sports. As we all start up our training for the 2012 season, this last installment discusses a timely topic: what are coach Gambetta’s views on rest periods and Fall training. We both also provide our opinion on what scientific advances we see on the horizon.

If you are interested in learning more about Vern’s ideas, pick up one of his books, read his blog, or follow him on Twitter.


Fall training

Martin: I was talking with Jean-Pierre Egger a few months ago and asked him what he would have done differently with Günthör. He’s had a similar career path as you have, working with various sports after Günthör retired. With all his experience he said we wouldn’t have changed much for the technique, but he would have spent less time building a base in fall training. I’ve heard that from quite a few athletes now.

Vern: We are operating in the wrong paradigm. When I look at an athlete’s program and it says “preparation period” or “general preparation” I see an antiquated model and the USATF and IAAF coaching programs still teach this. You should never get very far away from the competitive implement.

I heard a young American throws coach at a convention a few years ago and he said “We don’t touch an implement for the first 6-8 weeks of training, we just lift really heavy to build a better strength base.” And I’m thinking then it will take you another 6-8 weeks to get back to your technical model. You need to train all elements all the time in different proportions. That is contemporary thought and what the best coaches do in all sports. Dedicated periods of general preparation don’t work; you thread them into the rest of training.

It was interesting to hear Egger say that because it is the same conclusion I came to. Every year with my athletes we would go back in the fall to these periods and I call it dulling the knife. They started razor sharp and we just dulled it for three months. We took away the fine coordination they had.
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Training Talk With Vern Gambetta (Part 1)

Training expert Vern Gambetta

Several months ago I came across an audio interview with coach Vern Gambetta. Vern is not a throwing coach; instead is a training expert that has been called a jack of all trades. He started as a decathlete and multi-event coach, but has since coached athletes in every event group. He was a cofounder of the USATF coaching education program, has written several books, and serves on the editorial board for the IAAF technical journal. But a large chunk of his career was spent outside of track and field as a pioneer in the field of strength and conditioning with several professional teams in baseball, basketball, and other sports.

When I heard Vern talk, nearly everything he was saying rung true to what I have learned from Bondarchuk and others. But, as always, I had some additional questions and finally had the time to speak to him about training last weekend. Part one below discusses where throwers tend to be ahead of or behind other sports in terms of training. Part two will discuss the timely topic of off-season training and what scientific advances he sees on the horizon.

If you are interested in learning more about Vern’s ideas, pick up one of his books, read his blog, or follow him on Twitter.


How do throwers stack up in the training department

Martin: Throughout your career you’ve worked with essentially every major sport and every track and field event. When you look at throwers as a whole, what things do you see that we do well? Where is our training lag behind others?

Vern: The way to get maximal power in training is to release the implement and throwers do well is incorporating releases of various forms into training. Some people have taken to calling this the multi-throw, but it is just ballistic training. If you take a heavy implement like the bench press, you are only accelerating that weight for a short period of time and then you have to decelerate it to stop it even if you are moving it fast. If you don’t release the implement, you won’t achieve maximum power production.
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