Last Week in Oregon – Observations & Lessons

Oregon City Swim Team – Matt Crum head coach of Oregon City swim team spoke the phrase of the week to his team: “Embrace Chaos” when he was introducing a new training set in the water to his swimmers. This really resonated with me. Essentially training is preparing to race and no race goes perfectly according to plan. OCST does not have perfect facilities and unlimited pool time, in fact their facilities are limited which leads to some chaos but Matt has turned that into a positive. Learn from the chaos by embracing it. This is a good lesson for us all.

Breakfast Meeting with Jon Marcus – Jon is a young coach who gets it. It was great to visit with him and share ideas and talk coaching. Jon coaches a group of elite middle distance runners in Portland but he is far from being a specialist. He coaches all aspects of their training, not just the running. One factor that gives him this skill set is that he has coached other sports and other events in track & field, definitely old school in this day of uber specialization.

Training Session with Ashton & Brianne Eaton – Their coach Harry Marra, has done a masterful job preparing and progressing them. I met with Harry before the workout and he showed me a training summary that Ashton gives him at the conclusion of each month. It was well beyond a training diary, it was his feedback and reflections on what they worked on each day. It was full of terrific insights in to the whole process. It was obvious watching the session that this is a real coaching partnership. I love watching great coaching/teaching sessions like this. Mind you these are the best of the best and they are still learning and growing. Harry started the session with a two-minute lesson on the concepts he wanted to reinforce in the high jump and the shot put. The amount of time Harry puts into preparation is amazing. He gets there and sets up for the session no less than one hour before. In planning the session he reviews video and is constantly looking for cues and things to fine tune. His key is communication; he knows his athletes and coaches them as people. Watching Ashton and Brianne was special, they approach training with a laser like focus. They are on task and know what they need to do. No training session is excessively long nor do they do double sessions everyday. They live by the mantra that less is more. Just putting in time is not training.

Related Content: Read about Harry Marra’s approach to training and the art of coaching in our exclusive interview with him.


Oregon football morning training session – I have been privileged to watch several Oregon football practices over the past few years This morning training session conducted by good friend and colleague Jimmy Radcliffe was amazing! It started in the dark and cold with Jimmy leading an extensive warm-up that reinforced the movement concepts that would be the focus of the session. They then broke into position groups for various athletic development activities, linemen where throwing logs, skill positions were doing plyo’s etc. What followed was one of the most impressive team speed sessions I have seen in all my years of coaching. Speed is the Oregon game and this was FAST! They broke into position groups and did what Jimmy calls position sprints (nothing unique here) which consist of various patterns and angle runs imitating the movements that occur at their positions in the game. The speed and precision of execution was what was impressive – faster than game speed with perfect effort all led by a player in each group. You play the way you train – train fast to play fast!

Sierra/Cascade Symposium – This is a biannual event organized and hosted by Jimmy Radcliffe. It is open by invitation only. It was a great experience to exchange ideas about coaching with this group even though I do not work with football. Coaching is about people so it was easy to connect. What impressed me is that all the coaches coached another sport, mainly track and field, definitely not the norm today.

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  1. […] so often Vern Gambetta, a mentor, colleague, as well as contributor here on HMMR Media, comes to Oregon on business. We always find time to grab a cup of coffee and chat – for hours and hours. What […]

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