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International Festival of Athletics Coaching Presentation

International-Festival-of-Athletics-Coaching1Becoming a better coach requires learning new ideas. In Switzerland, that can be a bit more difficult than in other countries. The coaching education program here is quite insular. It is great for beginning coaches, but more advanced coaches are not often exposed to the leaders and new ideas in other countries. Last year I worked to change this by co-organizing a clinic with Harry Marra, the coach of world decathlon record holder Ashton Eaton. We hope to put together another event in the Spring. But in the meantime there are also many coaching conferences in Europe that already bring together to top coaches. This Autumn I have the chance to attend two of them: the International Festival of Athletics Coaching (“IFAC”) and the German Federation’s Throws Conference. I will post about what I learned at each conference.

The first stop is the IFAC, which is currently going on in Glasgow, Scotland. Not only does this conference give me a change to learn, but I also get the honor of presenting alongside some of the top names in athletics coaching like Harry Marra, Vern Gambetta, Frank Dick, Vesteinn Hafsteinsson, Jacques Borlée, Yannick Tregaro, Benke Blomkvist and many others from both within and outside our sport. I actually led two sessions: a theory session on Friday and a hands-on technical workshop on Saturday morning.

The theory presentation covered the topic “Simplifying the Soviets: An Easy Approach to Soviet Throws Training Methods and Periodization.” The presentation is an updated version of the topic I presented at the UK Athletics Hammer Workshop in 2011. It essentially boils down Soviet hammer throw training methods into five basic principles. I would have loved to go into periodization and programming in more detail, but with just one hour all I had time for was this basic overview. Nevertheless it was well received and it led to some informative discussions in the evenings where I had a chance to go into more detail about implementing the five principles. A copy of my slides are below, although much of discussion explored diverse tangents that help provide context or answered some of the great questions asked throughout the presentation.
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USA Track & Field Coaching Education – An Overview (Part Three)

This is Part Three of the original article that appeared in the IAAF Technical Journal that was published under the title “Coaches Education – a perspective,” New Studies In Athletics, Vol. 6 # 4,1991, pp. 7-11

Can you teach someone to coach? Coaching is definitely an art. It is a feel for saying and doing the right thing at the right time. I question if this can be taught. On the other hand the technical aspects can be taught and coaching skills can be improved in this manner. Communication skills, leadership skills, and psychological skills all can be enhanced through education. All of this is dependent on the desire of the coach to want to be better. Just because a coach attends a course and passes a test is no guarantee of that individual’s ability to coach. This is another reason that the focus should be on education rather certification. Read more

USA Track & Field Coaching Education – An Overview (Part One)

A couple of weeks ago when going through some old computer files I came across an article I wrote on the USA Track & Field (Then known as TAC) Coaching Education program. This weekend I will be going to the USOTC in Chula Vista for some planning meetings on the coaching education program. As I have gotten back involved over the last eighteen months I have become increasingly aware of how few people know the history and origins of the program. The programs started with a meeting at the 1981 TAC Convention in Reno. A group of us felt that we needed to start a coaching education program. Read more

The GAIN Experience – The Faculty

6a00e5521cccd0883401910417ff23970c-320wiCalling it an experience is not meant as marketing hype or hyperbole. It is truly an experience in learning and discovery. It all starts with the faculty. From the inception of GAIN I have worked to have a faculty who are the best at what they do, who not only talk the talk but also walk the walk. They are not self-promoters and all over the Internet but they know their stuff and have produced results. I select faculty who are willing to share and can teach. Read more

GAIN 2013 Teaching Schedule

Many of you have asked what the GAIN program looks like. This is time schedule and the topics for 2013 GAIN. You can see it is a total immersion program and quite comprehensive in it’s approach. Not a moment is wasted, every opportunity for learning is used. In another post I will talk about the faculty. Read more

GAIN 2013 – The Experience

6a00e5521cccd0883401901d8f8573970b-320wiI am in the midst of GAIN withdrawal syndrome. What is that? Well it is actually pretty simple, after you spend five days with highly motivated coaches, therapists and teachers who are hungry to learn and willing to share and you leave there is a very empty feeling. It is so stimulating and uplifting to be in that environment that it is difficult to return to the daily routine. Only 12 more months until GAIN 2014! Read more

GAIN Apprentorship

GAIN is an acronym for Gambetta Athletic Improvement Network. This emphasis is on network to connect professionals in order to facilitate learning and sharing of ideas. In my career I served as an apprentice to learn coaching skills and techniques and have been fortunate to have great mentors to guide and direct me. My goal in starting the GAIN program was to combine the best of a apprentice practice and the guidance of a mentoring experience hence the word Apprentorship. The objective is to provide an educational opportunity that will significantly advance people’s careers by sharing information with other professionals in a setting that encourages an open exchange of ideas. Read more

Building & Rebuilding The Athlete Seminar DVD’s

building_vernIn 1992 I started teaching a seminar called Building and Rebuilding the Athlete. I taught the seminar on a regular basis from 1992 until 2005. It was a seminar/workshop that defined functional training and rehab and challenged conventional wisdom in those areas. The emphasis was on how all the components of training fit together to build a complete athlete who would be fully adaptable to the sport or activity they were training for. During that time virtually everyone who are now leaders in the field attended the seminar. I never videoed the seminar despite continued requests to do so. Fast-forward to Leeds in the UK this past November. I was invited by Brendan Chaplin, S&C coach at Leeds Metropolitan University to present the latest updated version of the Building and Rebuilding the Athlete seminar. It was a great audience and an outstanding venue. Brendan videoed the whole seminar and is offering it for sale. Read more

UK Hammer Workshop

The Loughborough, England national training center.

This last weekend I was invited to present about training methods at the National Coach Development Programme Hammer Workshop in Loughborough, England. With the 2012 Olympics coming up in London, the country has been infused with cash and done a great job of using the resources wisely to develop coaching and facilities. Events like last weekend’s are commonplace, and Loughborough is putting the finishing touches on a beautiful covered throwing facility that will complement the indoor throwing facility they already have.
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Swiss Athletics Hammer Workshop

Whenever I complain about the hammer throwing situation in America, I always need to remind myself that it could be worse. It could be like Switzerland. America has come quite a long ways in the last decade. Switzerland has been going in the other direction.

The Swiss hammer throwing community in Locarno.

In the late nineties, Switzerland had more than five throwers over 65 meters. For comparison’s sake, Canada, a country with nearly five times as many people, had just three throwers over 65 meters last year.

But the fortunes have changed. Last season I was the only thrower over 65 meters in Switzerland and I learned to throw in America. Two more throwers were over fifty meters, but both are over 35 and had either already retired or were nearing retirement. The next best result was under 50 meters and an underwhelming 45.98m was good enough for the bronze medal at the Swiss Championships. With few coaches and competitions, participation is low. We need to do something to turn things around, and thankfully the Swiss federation agrees. They invited the top throwers, coaches, and youth to a hammer throw workshop last weeked at the Tenero national training center near Locarno. This was the first such event here in more than a decade.
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