What does it take to develop athletes?

In researching for my new book and several other projects I am working on I keep coming back to what it takes to develop athletes? There is certainly not one formula or one clearly defined model. If anything it is an involved and complex process. What keeps jumping out at me is that it is not facilities and equipment. It is not sport science. It is human resources in terms of the raw material of athletes with some degree of talent/ability and the spark to ignite the fire – coaching. That coaching may not be particularly sophisticated, but it must be effective in terms of building the foundations of basics – basic movements, basic technique and basic conditioning. Once the fire is burning then it is a matter of providing varying degrees of support and direction to keep fanning the flames. To keep fanning the flames of excellence the coach must continue to grow their competencies along with the athlete. Read more

Reflections & Expectations

These are a few reflections, lessons, random thoughts and some expectations for the New Year. 2013 was a great year of learning and sharing for me; I am looking forward to an even better year in 2014. This next year marks 50 years since graduating from high school, hardly seems like that long, it certainly has been an adventurous journey. It just reminds how fortunate I have been to have a loving supportive family, great mentors to learn from and special friends. Some of them are no longer with us but they are in my thoughts everyday. Read more

Getting It and Getting There

Why do some athletes get it and make it and others with equal talent and ability fall by the wayside. This is a lifelong fascination of mine. Talent and ability are a given to make it to elite status, but it is so much more than that. Some athletes navigate the path easily and directly and other struggle, but both still make it. Why? Certainly athlete development and passage through to elite status is a process. There is no one model or framework. Nor is there a set time like ten years or a time period like 10,000 hours. No doubt it is related to practice depth and quality. It is related to coaching guidance to first ignite the spark of interest, then inspire and guide the athlete. Read more

Pay The Piper

There are no shortcuts, crash programs or quick fixes that will get you there faster. You will always have to pay the piper whether it is sooner or later. It is better to pay up front by being very thorough in the development process with a balanced program that builds a solid foundation. All components of fitness must be trained at all times of the training year and the career, just the proportion and emphasis changes with advancing training age and proficiency. Read more

Developing Athletes

athletic_developmentI have signed a contract with Human Kinetics to write a new book tentatively titled “Developing Athletes.” In many ways it is a follow-up and update on Athletic Development – The Art & Science of Functional Sports Conditioning. The goal is to take a long hard hard look at the theory and practice of long term athlete development. I intend to seperate fact from fiction and look closely at model programs that have successfully developed athletes with an emphasis on why. It is going to be a big job; I plan on starting writing in earnest as soon as I return from GAIN. It should be published in late 2014. Any ideas or input you might have would be appreciated. The following is the introduction book that I wrote in my book proposal. Read more

Functional Training – Method or Madness? Part Three

All movement is functional; it is just to what degree is it functional. Function is integrated multi-directional movement. Functional movement is meaningful movement that is part of a chain reaction, not an isolated event. Movement occurs on a continuum of function. Some movements are more functional than other based on the end object of the training. Read more

Performance Paradigm

Movement is quite simple and from that wonderful simplicity comes the complexity of sports skill and performance. Twenty-five years ago in an attempt to better explain movement and how we should effectively train movement I came up with this simple diagram I call the Performance Paradigm. It was somewhat like what Albert Szent-Gyorgi, once said, “Discovery consists in seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else has thought.” Essentially it is the stretch shortening cycle of muscle with a more global interpretation and proprioception brought into consideration. It is the basis for what some people call the Gambetta Method; to me it is common sense. I use this to evaluate movement efficiency or deficiency and then to guide training and if necessary rehab. Read more

Growing the Athlete

Growing the athlete is an organic not a mechanistic process. For years I have used the metaphor of building the athlete but over the past few years I have become increasingly uncomfortable with that metaphor. Certainly building is part of the process, but I find that building evokes a mechanistic image of constructing, of replacing parts as opposed to the cultivation of synergistic relationships between training means and methods and the systems of the body. Certainly the whole is much more that the sum of the parts as the athlete is nurtured and develops throughout their career. It takes time and timing of the appropriate stimuli for the level of the athlete’s stage of development. Read more