READ THIS BOOK! In the past three years I have read over 300 books, the Sports Gene is one of the best books I have read in that time. David Epstein not only nails the science but he tells compelling stores that bring the science to life. He takes the complexities of genetics and makes it comprehensible and applicable to the development of athletic performance. To me the clear message is that it is not about nature or nature but it is how we can best nurture nature. Read more
Tag Archive for: Book Reviews
So rarely does the hammer throw appear in popular culture that I feel it is one of my duties to give credit to the artists who give a little extra publicity to our sport. Therefore let me introduce you to Rulon Hurt, an ex-spy at the center of a series of thrillers written by Jim Haberkorn: Einstein’s Trunk and A Thousand Suns. Spies are tough, smart, and strong. So naturally Rulon was an All-American hammer thrower at Boise State before he started his career.
After graduating from Fresno State I went to University of California Santa Barbara for my teaching certification. While there I was fortunate to take a class from Sherman Button on Fundamental of Conditioning. He was way ahead of his time with the material and concepts that he presented.( I appreciate that even more as look back at what he taught us) It was a great class because of his comprehensive approach to conditioning built around weight training. The two textbooks for the class were especially helpful. Pat O’Shea’s book “Scientific Principles and Methods of Strength Training.” and “Foundations of Conditioning” by Falls, Walls and Logan. As a class assignment we had to design a yearlong comprehensive training program for our chosen sports. I put together a program for track and field that incorporated all components of training. It was an initial attempt at periodization, but most importantly it forced me to look at strength training in a new light. I was now a coach as well as an athlete. I was responsible for other people’s performance. I had to teach them skill and have them ready for competition, so I had to pay attention to the big picture. Strength was only one part of the equation, although a most important part. Read more
This is a page-turner; I could not put it down. I absolutely devoured this book in one sitting. This is a trip down the memory lane of the true glory days of track and field. The stores, anecdotes and recollections that Larry Knuth has complied represents a look back at the golden years of Track & Field though the eyes of athletes’ coaches and fans. If you are a serous student of coaching this is a must read, If you are a track & field coach fan or coach this will be one your definitive historical texts. Read more
Just finished reading Thomas Ricks latest book “The Generals” – American Military Command from WW II to Today. I found it very interesting reading in that it explained much of our military success and failure over the past eighty years. But as a coach interested in leadership, organizational behavior and excellence I found it rich in ideas and thoughts. Here are a few thoughts that I found particularly relevant: Read more
I just finished a book that is a must for every coach’s library, Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better by Doug Lemov, Erica, Woolway and Katie Yezi. I have added this book to the reading list for my GAIN Apprentorship program. It is a very good blend of the science behind practice and the author’s practical experience. Obviously the cornerstone for effective athlete development is practice, but too often it is just about putting in the time. Now with the 10,000 hour figure looming out there everyone is even more concerned with putting in the time. It is not the time in practice, it what you put into the time. Practice must be deliberate, focused and connected to the desired end result – performance in competition. Read more
Part of what I enjoy about the offseason is reading about different training ideas. This year I have, as always, a long list of books that I likely will not finish. But I already have finished the first one, Athletic Development: The Art and Science of Functional Sport Conditioning by Vern Gambetta.
Like baseball, track and field is a sport for history and statistic buffs. Before the internet, the best way to follow the sport was simply by looking at the numbers and results. While the internet allows us to watch more events live, it also gives us access to results from a plethora of smaller competitions we would have never heard of otherwise. Show me a six-round series of throws and I can see the story of the meet come alive. Following these statistics is half the fun of the sport for me.
Italian statistician Roberto Quercetani is the grandfather of athletics statisticians. He helped found the Association of Track and Field Statisticians and served as its president from 1950 to 1968. Now, having just turned 90 years old, he has released his latest book: “A World History of the Throwing Events (1860-2011 Men and Women).” Read more
The worlds of Olympic weightlifting and the throwing events have much in common. I’m not just talking about the fact that we all use cleans and snatches as an important part of our training plan. I mean that at their core, the worlds are built with similar principles and similar people. Both sports require excruciating attention to detail. Both sports require thousands of repetitions to master the rhythm and balance of each attempt. And Olympic weightlifter Matt Foreman could have just as easily been describing the hammer throw in his new book Bones of Iron: Collected Articles on the Life of the Strength Athlete when he said “Our sport offers almost no money and promises pain, so only fanatics will survive for the long haul.” For these reasons, and the fact that Foreman runs a throwing club with more than 60 athletes, I picked up his recent book of musings on weightlifting and all things related.
Before Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk moved to North America six years ago, not much was written about his research in English. But since then, many of his ideas have finally been translated. His first two major works in English discussed the concept “transfer of training” (you can find reviews of those books here and here). In this respect, they focused on the finest details of training: the exercises performed each day. Some exercises transfer over to the competition exercise better than others, and he laid out data showing how different exercises correlate to different track and field events. Bondarchuk’s new book takes a step back and looks at the bigger concept of periodization across all sports.
Periodization, in short, is how you organize training throughout the season to help reach the athlete’s goals. In contrast to the first books, this volume does not mention one exercise and does not discuss how to build a training day or a training week. Instead it presents the methods in which training programs can be combined throughout the season for every sport.