Training Talk with Derek Evely (Part 1)
One of the most overlooked names in coaching circles is that of Derek Evely. His coaching career has been going strong for more than fifteen years. After successful stops in Kamloops and Edmonton, he is now the director of the Loughborough (UK) University High Performance Centre, one of the country’s two national training centers as the UK prepares to host the 2012 Olympics.
Evely has been in the U.K. since 2009. While his new role is as an administrator, he has also found time to start coaching the throws again and apply the concepts he learned from Bondarchuk and others. In his first season working with Sophie Hitchon, Evely guided her to a World Junior Championship. Now in their second season together, Hitchon has already broken the U.K. senior record with a throw of 69.43 meters and she is still a teenager.
Since my experience with Bondarchuk has been almost exclusively from an athlete’s point of view, it was great to talk with Derek on Sunday about how he applies the methods as a coach. Below is an abridged version of our conversation.
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Do you think that it is possible (or even likely) that the reason correlation between various exercises and distance thrown goes down as the athlete progresses is simply due to the fact that skill acquisition is almost completely eliminated at a certain point?
For example, lets say a young hammer thrower does nothing but rope skipping as an exercise. He will see a correlation (and likely a high one) at first – or a reaction if you like. This correlation would indicate a great cycle as the young hammer thrower develops. But the exercise could be anything begun at the same time. Watercolors, for example would be highly correlative if introduced at the right time. This correlation is likely merely coincidental, but can we rule it out all together?
You make a good point Dan, but I think that type of problem would be more likely to show up in statistics for individuals, not correlations for large sample sizes like Bondarchuk has collected. The correlations look at the throwers’ results in each exercise versus (e.g. the number of jumps per minute) the hammer throw, not just the frequency they performed the exercise (e.g. jumping rope every day). So, if you measured the correlation between jumping rope and hammer throwing there is likely a very low correlation even for beginners since the best young thrower may be the strong slow kid that cannot jump rope very fast. The fact that they can jump fast probably is not determinative or an indicator of success. It is all about looking at a large sample and seeing what people at different levels have in common.
With elite throwers, their lifting marks are all over the place, showing it plays a more minimal role in determining the distance thrown at that level. But the better novice throwers tend to fall in the stronger category. The jump rope or watercolors examples, by comparison, would likely have results all over the place at both elite and novice levels.
On a side note, it is very important to remember that measuring daily results of an individual athlete to measure their reactions and gains will not give you as much data if the athlete’s technique is not fairly stable. Obviously in that case gains and losses in distance from day-to-day can be due to good and bad technical days.
As a college coach, I mostly deal with “unstable” throwers for the first two years. This makes the scientific process of recognizing positive reactions to different exercise/implement cycles rather less scientific and much more artistic or “gut” oriented.
If what affects a 55m thrower is different than what affects a 60m thrower, it seems to me that a coach can never feel confident in the cycles/exercises he selects because if they work, they won’t work again due to the athlete “jumping a class” and if they don’t work it was a waste of time.
I’m sorry to use your blog comments as a place to wax frustrated, but this was a great interview and I’m very interested in hearing the rest.
I understand your concern but I don’t think it is as futile an effort as you may think. When I am talking about choosing exercises, I am mainly referring to choosing between front squat the 6kg hammer and the 5.5.kg hammer or other slight variations. The numbers Dr. B has compiled show a general picture of what group of exercises help the most at each level. Many of these conclusions are obvious such as: the bench press will not help much. However, if you conclude that the snatch will help you, you still have several options: close grip snatch, normal snatch, hang snatch, snatch pulls, etc. Each individual might have a better reaction to a certain exercise or combination of exercise, but the overall difference will be minimal. At the beginning stage, noticing the differences is not as important since the reaction to all the exercises should be good. You should be able to feel comfortable with their program even if you don’t know that they slightly better to front squats and back squats. But, when you reach a higher level, it is nice to know what helps the best so that you can rotate in those exercises. Does that make more sense?
This is the one the most interesting things I’ve read online in months. I’m dying to read the rest. I’m probably going to print this up and take notes to. If you can do more detailed stuff like this I’d love you.
Great article Martin!
A question i have is that when you look through the transfer of training book, you see things like in women’s shot for example where snatch goes from a .556 correlation to -.387 and then back to a .394 as you go from 14-16 meters and so on. as a coach do you just leave snatches in the workouts as the athlete progresses just not emphasizing it as much while she is in that meter classification or do you take it out and work more on something else that is more highly correlated? is this train of thought too nit picky or is there merit in eliminating a lift completely while the athlete is progressing through a meter sport result?
I hadn’t noticed that before. I think the big thing to take away from that table is throwing, bench press, and squat have the highest transfer of training at that level. When the correlation gets down near .350 or below, then it isn’t as statistically significant. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, but just that maybe it plays a more minor role and takes up less training time. Here, even when the snatch is positive, it isn’t much above that level. Nevertheless I would still keep the snatch it, but alternate it with cleans so that it is not the only Olympic lift or even a variation of snatch (like a snatch with a clean grip). I still do snatch even though I’m at a level where the correlation has dropped of. Remember, these statistics show general transfer among a large sample of athletes. Each individual may have a different reaction, so I would not just throw out a normally useful exercise like the snatch. Just move it to a more minor role. But if it gave a negative correlation to running, then I would be more ignore the exercise.