Penetrating the data smog through better visualization

As anyone who witnessed the UK government’s recent presentation on COVID-19 data will know, data is only useful if it can be read and understood clearly. For those who missed the broadcast, the presentation consisted of many slides of data with the BBC banner on the screen blocking out the titles! The audience of millions was left looking at lines and bar charts that had no context or explanation. Unfortunately such examples can easily be found in the world of sport too. Read more

A planning framework for weightlifting

The people who come to our club to learn weight lifting are normally in their mid to late twenties and have had experience of lifting a barbell before. Unfortunately, a lot of them use the C-word in their enquiry, but I don’t hold that against them. They have found that they like the lifting part of Crossfit and want to just do weight lifting or they want to improve their technique to go back to their box. A few of these novices want to compete and whilst they won’t break records they have managed to win medals in their age/weight categories since training at our club. Read more

4 lessons learned on planning and periodization

On the first day of my masters program in sports coaching we were told to study supercompensation theory for homework. All the students dove into Tudor Bompa’s treatise Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training. The book made the whole concept seem so easy, including nice graphics on how supercompensation worked. I thought I had hit pay-dirt with the organization and structure laid out in the book, and got Bompa himself to sign my copy a few years later. Read more

Are you a teacher or a trainer? Lessons for S&C coaches from the PE classroom

Are you a teacher or are you a trainer? The difference might seem trivial, but it is fundamental in how you approach your athletes and sporting environment. Read more

Learning from lockdown PE

When the lockdown began 15 weeks ago I started filming physical education videos for the local Willand Primary School. What initially started out as a short, 3-week project to help the teachers provide content for pupils to do at home eventually turned into a large archive of lesson plans. As our local schools just closed for summer break, it is a good time to reflect on the project. Read more

Physically and socially reintegrating a team after lockdown

As sport starts to return to training coaches will need to monitor social distancing, sterilization of equipment and the wearing of protective clothing. This is in addition to all their usual planning, booking, managing, communicating, reflecting and, somewhere along the line, coaching. Whereas team building and social identity could previously be built through normal sports training and extra-curricular activities, the new rules of social distancing means that players may well feel emotionally as well as physically detached from their team mates. Read more

Three-dimensional agility

Agility training is often perceived to be conducted in two dimensions. Whether programmed, random, game or task orientated, it usually consists of change of directions on a left –right and forward –backward continuum. Yet movement rarely takes place in just two dimensions: subtle and not so subtle changes of height and depth also take place. A boxer bobbing and weaving or a gymnast doing a double front somersault both have to move their centre of gravity up and down as well as sideways and forwards respectively. Read more

Training the legs through movement

Never sacrifice movement for load. That mantra forms the foundation of my approach to training. This is a ‘hot topic’ in some coaching circles. Coaches, especially those in gyms, like big numbers. Lifting heavier weights each week shows progress and is easily measured. But at what cost? Read more

Bodyweight exercises: precision, variety, and progression

In modern coaching, all kinds of modes of exercises are paraded around, often to the exclusion of others. Bodyweight exercise is one mode of training that is making a comeback, even before the onset of the recent pandemic. Read more

Learning movement: a framework for coaches

If young people coming into your environment are inefficient or incompetent movers, how can you help them? Movement has become a catch-all esoteric phrase. Because it is a vast topic, it can be intimidating. It can also be the refuge of the rogue or charlatan peddling myths. Where do you start? Read more