Overtraining the Youth Athlete

Overtraining the Youth Athlete

During my time at the University of Maryland, our weight room was in close proximity to both the basketball court and player locker rooms. It was a great set up and it allowed us to keep our eyes on the athletes. Like most D1 athletes, their schedules are chaotic due to class, study hall, practice, individual workouts, meetings, and time in the weight room. As S&C coaches, we had front row seats to the organized madness which was the athlete’s everyday norm. Don’t get me wrong, the structure is necessary for the success of the athlete, however, it can sometimes be overwhelming for their development.
 
Let’s think about the freshman athlete as a 12oz cup. All the support staff around them are holding a gallon jug of “work” and are all simultaneously pouring their share into the cup. As we continue to pour, the cup overflows. Yet, we continue to pour each of our gallons into the small cup. Now, are we really going to blame the cup for the overflow?
 
Guess what we do? We blame the cup. The cup is out of shape. The cup doesn’t work hard enough. Why aren’t we seeing the adaptations we anticipated?
 
Unfortunately, the body does not adapt to a stimulus if you continue to stress it beyond its capacity. We overflow these athletes with stress and then blame them for the mess. The goal in training is not what the athlete can endure but what the athlete can express.
 
I am now in the private sector and don’t have a front row seat to watch the daily grind. I only see my athlete 2-3 hours per week.
 
I don’t know what their high school practice looked like.
 
I don’t know what their dad made them do after practice.
 
I don’t know what their skills coach did with them this morning.
 
So now I have to ask more questions. Fortunately, we have the ability to monitor multiple health and performance parameters using the Omegawave Team System to make timely decisions based on the status of the individual. This gives us a view of the psychological and physiological stress the athlete is under. The Omegawave data allows us to see how big the athletes “cup” is and how much work we can pour into it. If an athlete’s heart is already stressed to the point of fatigue from work outside of the gym, then a strenuous program may not be the answer. We must keep in sight what is truly important, which is keeping our athletes healthy with an accompanying increase in performance.
 
John is a 17-year-old baseball pitcher; He plays in a summer league which consists of playing six games every weekend. He also has 6 hours of additional work with his pitching and hitting coaches every week, and when he gets the chance to eat, it’s typically fast food on the road. Not to mention he only gets 5 hours of sleep because of late night fights with his girlfriend. John’s dad sends him in to train with the hopes of adding muscle mass and strength. Here is John’s Omegawave:

Athlete Readiness 1

Think of the Omegawave as John’s dashboard in his car. The check engine light is on from the standpoint of John’s overall readiness to train. John’s foot is on the pedal, so his autonomics are shifted more towards the sympathetic side. Now the air filter light is on as well with a detox score of two – this system is under duress. This is compounded with a low hormonal score. Lastly, he is not putting enough gas in the tank. This is indicated through the Metabolic Reaction Index, which gives us an idea of energy supply/recovery.
 
So what does this tell us about John today?
 
His cup is almost full. So, the gallon of “work” is put to the side and only a few ounces are poured today. Based on his results, a dialogue may need to be started regarding his ability to recover. The fact that his recovery capabilities are low indicates he may not be fueling his body with enough energy to perform at a high level. If the trend continues unchanged, a deeper dive may be needed to investigate what’s going on under the hood, which may entail lab work or a dietary recall. The goal is to create just the right amount of stimulus to allow for adaptation. Depending on the period, we might just do soft tissue work along with some corrective exercises. Maybe you need to hit some low-end aerobic work or some light multi-planar movement. This is truly where the art of coaching comes into play and each individual’s situation is unique.
 
But what happens when we do overflow the athlete’s cup?
 
In comes Billy who is in the middle of his off-season basketball training program. A high-intensity day is planned and so far he has been making great progress. In the private sector, there are multiple individuals trying to give the athlete the best care they possibly can. However, without communication between the multiple coaches, it can sometimes amass to a stressor that was not previously predicted. This is what happens to Billy’s physiology when there is a breakdown in communication.

Billy on Wednesday:
EnMet 1

ECG1

Billy on Friday :
EnMet 2

ECG2

Houston, we have a problem.
 
Billy’s aerobic score dropped from 150 to 22 in less than 48 hours with an S wave taking a huge nose dive. It’s evident from his ECG that his QRS wave has gone through a shift from a positive morphology to a negative one. Since Thursday was a rest day, we need to start asking questions. Sure enough, we discover the athlete has accumulated extra volume outside of the gym working on other aspects of their game. During the workout, for every shot he missed, he had to run sprints. Part of this workout also included low recovery times between efforts. Here is where we find value in an athlete’s Aerobic Index.
 
“You are only as good as your ability to deliver oxygen and utilize oxygen” Val Nasedkin
 
The Aerobic Index gives coaches an idea of how well the athlete can deliver oxygen, as well as how well they can recover from training. If this score pops up low when the athlete walks in, it may not be best to stress the cardiac system intensively. If we did not have the ability to look into the athlete’s physiology and preceded with the prescribed workout, we may have potentially dug a bigger hole, therefore, decreasing the athlete’s ability to adapt without driving further compensations.  We, as coaches, must adapt and have Billy focus on recovery today. We need to understand that optimizing health and performance is a journey with no shortcuts.
 
The body will adapt to what you feed it, so it’s critical we continue in a positive direction. Training hard has its time and place, and when this moment arises we will give the athlete exactly what they need to keep progressing in the weight room and in their sport. However, if the body is not ready to adapt, it’s not time to crush them. All in all, training isn’t a given here at TAE, it is something that needs to be earned.

Acknowledgements:
Logan Schwartz
Aaron Davis
Val Nasedkin
Dr.Syed Najeeb
Patrick Massey

It’s About Time: Bioenergetics, Biophysics, and Quantum Biology.

It’s About Time: Bioenergetics, Biophysics, and Quantum Biology.

It’s been over a year since words have appeared on this blog.

To put it simply, I am stubborn.

I have been poked and prodded to write by friends, colleagues, and my wife.

Don’t get me wrong it’s not because she or everyone enjoys my writing. In fact my wife when finishing the edits just sits there in silence.

“So how was it?”

“Reads like a textbook.”

No wonder I don’t write.

I am writing all of this down because I am done. Done being obsessed about energetics. It has taken up too much time, sleep, and quite frankly has affected my health.

You may think I am crazy. How can one be obsessed about something so remedial? It’s in every exercise physiology book!

There lies the problem. I opened myself up to the idea that those words were wrong – and ever since that moment I haven’t been in the driver’s seat – I have just been along for the ride while my passions have taken the wheel.

As of now I operate in a weird space sandwiched between influences from Ben House (Health) and my passion for sports performance.

Those who read this who work solely in one area or the other would no doubt frown upon what I do on a daily basis.

I get it – I understand, and have made peace with it.

“If one is to really understand nature, the traditional boundaries between scientific disciplines can no longer be upheld.”
– Mae-Wan Ho

Over the last year and a half I have been trying to make sense of the data I have been collecting utilizing sports tech like Omegawave and Moxy. Not only in how it correlates to performance but also to health.

Quite frankly, you don’t need much convincing that our classical ideas about bioenergetics may be wrong when you strap on a Moxy monitor.

All you need is 30 seconds. Get on an airdyne and haul ass.

What do you see?

moxydru

O2 immediately depletes. Not only that, but once it depletes performance stalls out.

“Only when O2 is present can performance increase, when O2 is depleted the best you can do is hold on.”

Now for a period of time I thought O2 was King.

I was sort of wrong.

What I didn’t realize is that O2 and the phosphocreatine (PCr) systems are entangled with one another. They fly together – with exceptions during max strength type activities when they may uncouple and have different recovery times.

I can now use Moxy to get a proxy on PCr (read the “Glycogen Shunt Model” by Shulman and Rothman as well as  “Skeletal Muscle Oxidative Capacity by Ryan, Southern, Reynolds, and Mcully). This model also confirms George Brooks’s work concerning lactate.

energy

So if the oxidative and glycolytic systems all work immediately (2 orders of magnitude faster than we perceive time, 0-100 milli-sec) to replenish PCr – what makes PCr so special? Is Steven Plisk correct when he quoted…

“We are fundamentally non-oxidative organisms, with an oxidative pathway that originally evolved as an O2 detoxification mechanism.”

He may be, but we may need to dig deeper.

I believe we are fundamentally
Electric organisms…
Electromagnetic organisms…
Photoelectric organisms…

Thus, health and performance follow the trinity of life: biophotonic, bioelectric, biochemistry.

“We are still on the threshold of fully understanding the complex relationship between light and life, but we can now say emphatically, that the function of our entire
metabolism is dependent on light.”
– Dr. Fritz-Albert Popp

If you think I am bat shit crazy about all of this it would be wise of me to note that during certain processes of cloning, the embryo is given a mild electric shock to begin multiplying – this is just one example of the Trinity. If that still doesn’t do it for you read Michael Levin’s work on molecular bioelectricity.

“Living things must be able to take advantage of the laws of physics not just chemistry.”
– Michael Levin

In Levin’s “Molecular Bioelectricity” paper he cites specific membrane potentials (Ming Yang and William J. Brackenbury ”Membrane Potential and Cancer Progression”) for both healthy and non-healthy cells.

 

tumor

Depolarization is generally a bad thing – initiating Mitosis, where Hyperpolarization precedes mitosis arrest, which in the form of cancer progression is good – stopping proliferation. (REMEMBER THIS)

This sounds really familiar to Dr. Robert Becher’s and Dr. Harrold Burr’s work in L-Fields and DC Potential. Hyperpolarization precedes regeneration.

sala

So what does membrane potential have to do with sports performance?

In comes a paper “Performance in Sport” by Jens Bangsbo stating:

“In addition K+ and Na+ is accumulating outside and within, respectively, the muscle cells causing changes in the membrane potential and perhaps sarcolemma inexcitablity. Therefore, the Na+,K+ Pump may play a crucial role in preserving membrane excitability and ensuring skeletal muscle function i.e. delaying the time of fatigue during exercise…”

Now before I get into the performance stuff I feel I should state that I am not 100% in on this whole Na+, K+ Pump stuff. Meaning I don’t believe they work in the way we have studied them in physiology.

Let’s review cell dynamics:

1 NA+, K+ Pump will use 8,000 molecules of ATP/min. There are 50+ channels, gates, pumps along this “non permeable” membrane and they are all assigned certain amounts of ATP to function. That is just one cell in one minute. Take that by multiple mins, hours, and the ~70 Trillion cells in the human body, life is expensive! Granted not all pumps, channels, or gates are running full throttle all the time – but it makes you question how ATP is used, the mechanics of the pumps, and just how porous the cell really is.

Dr. Gilbert Ling argued this way back in 1976 and again in 1997. Dr. Gerald Pollack has now taken up the fight in present day. They believe it starts with the cells environment: water. Fundamentally this make sense. If one was to study a lion – his environment in which he lives would be of high importance – wouldn’t you agree?

Even in our own domain of strength and conditioning we know nothing about how water interacts with muscle proteins. Have you read anything in an exercise physiology book regarding water other than hydration?

Probably not.

I recommend everyone start with Pollack’s book “The 4th Phase of Water”. From there follow the work of the late Emilio De Guidice “Coherent Domains”, Mae-Wan – Ho “Life is Water Electric”, and the work of Fritz Albert Popp.

In 2008 Philippa Wiggins published “Life is Two Kinds of Water” which explains how polymorphic water (or what has been commonly called now “Structured Water”) may in itself be the mechanism that keeps certain gradients present in the cell (K+ in and Na+ out). Below is an example of structure water next to a positive surface protein – remember the reverse would happen if the surface charge was negative. This structured water also creates a water battery demonstrated by Pollack’s lab.

water

zinc

In essence, EZ (Exclusion Zone) or structured water is a huge redox pile full of electrons and light energizes water. It’s this structured water that powers many reactions we see in biochemistry.

So to tie this back into sports performance and bioenergetics we first need to understand the role of ATP and why cells go to great lengths to maintain ATP concentrations (hint: cell potential).

According to Ling’s A.I. Hypothesis and Dr. Martin Chaplin it all comes down to ATP’s relationship with proteins (both in muscle and in the cell’s cytoskeleton) and the specific surface area of Na+ and K+ and their interaction within structured water (Na+ has a greater net charge on its surface than K+, and forms hydrogen bonds with water molecules, resulting in a larger hydration shell then K+).

ling

Simply put, ATP unfolds proteins allowing water to structure and K+ to bind – resulting in the Ion gradient, ordering of water, and the negative cell potential. This also correlates with the dense protein packing within the A-band and the high concentration of K+.

c2

This is the mechanism behind the accumulation of K+ and Na+ inside and out of the muscle cell during fatigue that Bangsbo has stated – cell potential slightly depolarizes. It also explains the weird occurrence of O2 not being utilized by an athlete when structural damage to the cell (or cytoskeleton proteins) may be present when monitoring them with Moxy – even though biomarkers are normal. The brain may sense this then subrecruit other muscles to do the job – obviously sacrificing coordination and performance.

moxyo2

When we understand the dynamics of water it opens up pathways to understand disease, performance, tissue trauma/recovery, and how important mitochondria function is along with their DNA.

It has now lead me down the path to understand nutrition, supplementation, and fascia from a biophysical perspective in effort to enhance electron flow and communication (Proticity – Jump conductions of Protons). Pair this with the three functions of PCr (Greenhaff et. al 2001), PCr relationship with O2, add in the Spirotiger with the understanding that oxygen is the terminal acceptor for our respiratory chains within the mitochondria – now we may have a unique paradigm within training and health.

Aaron Davis

Extensive Tempo + Moxy

Extensive Tempo + Moxy

In Track and Field most coaches are familiar with extensive tempo workouts. The coaching of Charlie Francis made this type of prescription very common in the training design of sprinters.
Charlie Francis Ext Tempo

As a student of Track and Field for years it has been interesting to listen to the pro’s and cons; one side citing the benefits of extensive tempo while the other side’s exposing the pitfalls. If you are a coach reading this post you may have already made your decision on which side you stand.

Do this – don’t do that.

Though for me personally – nothing is sacred, and training can be shades of grey rather than black and white. The only truth in training is your understanding of “why” and the positive outcome for the athlete.

Is extensive tempo work for every sprinter?

No.

I would say for most competitive short sprinters or jumpers extensive tempo could be excluded completely and replaced by general strength circuits or extended warm ups/cool downs.

As we venture into 400m distances I would say the inclusion may be more likely.

I think it’s easy to say we need extensive tempo for 400m athletes so we can satisfy our need for “Energy System Development”, but let’s be honest, everything we do is energy system development. In fact, properly programmed circuit training has both cardiovascular and local muscular adaptations (capillarization and MCT – Monocarboxylate transporters – building the ability to use lactate as intermediate energy source); ultimately Satisfying both delivery and utilization.

So the logical question is why not use circuit training exclusively then?

For the 400m athletes I would prescribe extensive tempo over using only circuit training because of the need  for specific adaptation to the prime movers used for running. It allows a more concentrated stimulus (Frequency/Duration) as circuit training will have a completely different stimulus when we look at local muscle metabolism (varying exercises spread across both the upper and lower body).

The inclusion and exclusion of tempo running also depends on the makeup of the athlete. Muscle tissue and fascial health (biophysics) need to be taken into consideration. That is why I believe with short sprinters and jumpers excessive tempo work might do more harm than good. Maybe this is why we see most successful coaches working in short sprints and jumps chose circuit training over extensive tempo. They still can stimulate delivery, utilization, and endocrine profiles but also design circuits to lower tone (less wear and tear on the specific running muscle) and improving movement quality (Tri-planar, large ROM’s), preparing the athlete for the next quality session.

Extensive Tempo + Moxy

During the last few months I’ve started integrating Moxy Monitors into the training of some of my athletes. It’s been instrumental in understanding an athlete’s physiology and is now part of our assessment.

Below is incremental 5 mins on/ 1 min rest assessment for a 400m runner. Yes, way out of specificity, but it was done to see the athletes physiology.

Hurdler Smo2 Thb

Smo2 (Green) – Hemoglobin loaded with O2. It is shown as a % of total Hemoglobin.
tHB (Brown)- Total amount of Hemoglobin seen under the infrared lights.

Now for context I will compare the above graph with another athlete’s assessment.

DR Right Leg

I won’t go into extreme detail about the assessments but will highlight that these two athletes apply force during the assessment differently – which affects their physiology (look at the tHB trend – Brown).

The 400m Sprinter (white graph) shows arterial occlusion trends even at slow speeds (6MPH) (Elevated tHB during the work phase of the assessment). He is creating so much tension during the contraction that it limits blood flow. Whereas the other athlete (DR graph) shows stable tHB or compression.

Each of these athletes will need different strategies to improve. When we look at creating Extensive Tempo workouts we need to keep this in mind – both how we organize the session series/sets/reps and/or the inclusion of circuit training and overall volumes of both.

For the athlete (DR) with compression we might see workouts that sit to the left of the training continuum.

pure400m

For this “specific” 400m athlete with the arterial occlusion trend we might see him sit more in the middle of the continuum (lower tempo volumes & moderate circuit training)

mod400m

Our priorities for the 400m runner is to control extensive tempo workouts and volume via Moxy. We set low and high ranges (SmO2 30-20%- Garmin) and do 30 sec repeats x3 for each set. Recovery between each rep is dictated by the athletes SmO2, when it hits 30% he begins the next rep. Recovery between sets is a combination of SmO2 and tHB reaching resting levels. So instead of coming up with paces (75%, MAS, etc) we let his physiology guide the workout. We know what we want to stimulate via the assessment so we recreate the environment during the workout.

At first the athlete would make it 150m in 30 secs (40 sec 200m pace) and is now consistently reaching the 185m mark (32.5 sec 200m pace).

The total workout might look like the following:
3x3x30secs@20-30% Smo2 w/ 30-40 sec rest b/t reps ~30% Smo2, 3-4 mins rest b/t sets

This total of 1350-1700m in volume is very low compared to the standard recommendations for 400m runners (2000-4000m). Now for some coaches the low volumes of work might make them anxious. For us it’s what’s right – for right now. We don’t stress over supportive type work. In fact volume will fall again as we move out of GPP and into more SPP-COMP phases. We will still use Moxy but move the rep duration to 20 secs@higher speeds but same SmO2 ranges. The main reason for this is that we want to make sure we don’t exhaust utilization. In other words, dropping SmO2 to 0% – which means the anaerobic pathway is more dominant. Now if we also call upon the anaerobic system heavily during both our Speed/Speed Endurance days (Quality) and with our supportive work you might imagine how we could run into problems.

With the addition of Moxy it allows us to do the simple stuff better and lets us know if the microcycle has balance.

An Outside Perspective – MMA

When we first started Train Adapt Evolve we did everything for free. It was a stellar business model. We started by giving out Omegawave mobile monitors to friends or athletes curious about the technology for free. I will admit, this was also for selfish reasons. I wanted to collect data, watch, and learn. This has now evolved into us putting athletes on our mobile platform and consulting with coaches and/or athletes.

Recently we had an opportunity to consult with a UFC fighter and his coach preparing for an upcoming fight. The daily Omegawave results were not uncommon from what we have seen in the past which include former UFC champions.

Chaos.

As both Ben and I learn more from coaches or nutritionists in the MMA scene, one thing is becoming increasingly clear:

It is chaos.

The 1% of the 1%
I often hear S&C coaches talking about making their fighters tougher. This blows my mind!

If you are a MMA Fighter – you are tough.

If you fight for the UFC you are the 1% of the 1% of the toughest dudes on the planet. Congrats. I hope that is nothing knew to you.

So why in the hell do you think battle ropes and MB slams are going to make you tougher? Maybe I should ask the S&C coach that question. Why is making the athlete tougher the objective? If this was the case, we could go down to the local box gym, pick out a few guys who are burpee’n their faces off at the moment and throw them in the cage.

That toughness won’t last long.

An S&C coach with a “toughness” objective can do more harm than good. Messing with psychology via exhaustive work is sending up a Hail Mary and is a crap tool. Get rid of it and try to look into the future. Wholesale changes will not happen overnight and progress made in a short 8-12 weeks stint of training will be dependent on the athlete’s daily readiness during camp and structural adaptations prior.

In a sport where multiple qualities need training, our job may be better suited in managing fatigue (if no one else will) and secondly, filling in the performance gaps when we can.

We need to take a supportive role.

Therefore structuring depleting-type workouts in the morning, then sending the athlete off to their wrestling coach or sparing in the afternoon is a shit job.

Without a doubt there have been fighters not at the top of their game solely because of old school beliefs still held by S&C coaches.

Chalk one up for Toughness!

Lifestyle
“I am always training.”

Is common phrase often heard in MMA and I don’t doubt that the athletes are in fact training, but are they including the necessary lifestyle modifications to support the training – sleep and nutrition?

Both are always emphasised during training camp but if the athlete is “always training” those lifestyle habits need to be a mainstay day to day. Living hard and training hard don’t mix or have a long shelf life.

If the truth be told, we have have seen signs of overreaching even before training camp has begun – a combination of training and poor lifestyle choices. This could explain the inconsistencies, injuries, and question marks that surface about a fighter’s preparation. Entering training camp in this state will only be maintenance job at best.

The mentality of “living the athlete life” for 8 or 12 weeks at a time is not enough.

We believe post fight is just as important. Especially if a fighter has received a mild to severe brain injury. This opens up the body “literally” to both gut and blood-brain barrier permeability. Taking the necessary steps post fight can not only set the athlete up for the next training period but can also contribute to the athletes health which may prolong their career.

Communication
The biggest hurdle in the process is communication between the coaches. In most cases there is not one person managing the stress of the athlete. General the athlete is left on his own to navigate the process with a collection of coaches/voices. That lack of one true voice steering the ship will no doubt lead to insecurities and unorganized preparation.

There are current UFC fighters that have a team of coaches (S&C, boxing, wrestling, Muay thai, Jujitsu, etc) that have no idea what the other coach is doing, or how the athlete is recovering. All they know is how they are going to implement their own specific agenda. This usually ends with an overload of suboptimal training with very low emphasis on quality.

The bright spot is there are a camps structuring their team using an integrated approach. The two that come to mind are the Blackzilians and Team TakeDown. Medical, S&C, and the multi-discipline coaches are all on the same page, sharing notes, collaborating, and adjusting the fighters preparation.

If you are a fighter, start the conversation with your team. If you are a coach, start the conversation with the other coaches. If not there will no doubt be uncomfortable conversations later through defeat or injuries. Avoid the chaos.

 

By: Aaron Davis
*Photo by Diana Kurtzer

Searching for the Truth

I once was asked “Can you really build a Healthy CrossFit Athlete?”

I mention this not because it’s difficult question to answer, but how disheartening it was to hear — the question is an acknowledgement of a problem. Now this is not a shot at CrossFit, these days you can interchange the word CrossFit with any other name in sports. It’s all the same problem stemming from a lack of education and awareness from the coaches – Regardless of the sport.

I can see the frustration from the enlightened few coaches who are really trying to dig deep — searching for the truth. These coaches spend a lot of time and a butt load of money on their education — certs, seminars, and conferences — always looking for answers.

Maybe I have my nose in too many books but what certification is really talking about biological systems and the combination of morphological and physiological adaptation?

As far as I can tell it’s all the same — a little bit of….

energysystem

and we can’t forget about this…

Supercompensation1

Some dress it up by showing off their genetic freaks while others try to build in a perfect assessment protocol. All trying to add value to the same information being sold.

This is why writing about fitness and health on the internet is redundant. The same stories being told by different voices — some witty, some matter of fact, some copy and paste.

“If you can’t say something interesting don’t say anything at all.” — These are words I am trying to live by.

As a mentor of mine once warned me “I don’t want you to sell your soul to the internet” and he is right for saying so, because there is always someone with a cooler website, steeper marketing budget, knows the right people, or just plain talks louder and more often.

I know this because Train Adapt Evolve has been accused of the same but I can honestly say — like the “enlightened few” — we are searching for the truth.

We are 4 weeks away from our seminar Optimizing Athleticism: The Health and Performance Solution and now I am getting questions of another kind, like…

“What material are you presenting?”

Simply, all the stuff I wish I was taught early on: biological systems and the combination of morphological and physiological adaptation.

No more telling the same stories.

I won’t guarantee you will be rolling in your seats but I can guarantee that the information I will discuss you will see in action. We will have a weekend of exploring the use of not only the Omegawave technology but also Moxy Muscle Oxygenation Monitors.

The impromptu tests that can be created having a Woodway Treadmill, Jacobs Ladder, Rowers, Airdynes and all the strength equipment at our disposal combined with the different perspectives from the therapy, nutrition, and strength and conditioning fields will make for a unique learning environment.

One that I am proud to be a part of.

 

By: Aaron Davis

Kind of a Continued Conversation- PRI

Kind of a Continued Conversation- PRI

Coach House asked me to weigh in on the article PRI- A Continued Conversation. To be honest when it comes to giving opinions on acronyms via social media I usually stay away. 9 times out of 10 it ends in petty infighting worthy of the Black & Blue Vs. Gold & White Dress debate.

“Duh guys — it’s Gold & White.”

the-dress

Ridiculousness

On a more serious note I draw parallels to the perennial philosophy when I hear such debates within our industry. I truly believe we all begin from the same universal truth and as time passes our own societal need for uniqueness (research based) balanced with our need for acceptance diverts us into groups, sects, clans, etc. The point being we all start from the same universal truth, we just call it something different.

As a coach who is trying to understand ALL. THINGS. you learn fast not to get overwhelmed and concerned about the fighting between different schools of thought but instead search for universal truths.

As we dissolve the arguments or philosophies down we see the universal truths being breathing, and pattern recognition. All important and all are a part of the process.

Breathing

breathing
For obvious structural reasons there is a need to address breathing with our athletes. As Coach House alluded to previously, we need to get off the training table and have this integrated within our sessions. We are strength and conditioning coaches aren’t we? If an athlete is spending more time on a table than on the weight room floor chances are you are doing something wrong.

For simple integration within the session, breathing exercises in the warm ups or core exercises are great focused reminders. This allows you time (not under load) to really help the athlete feel the dynamics of the rib cage in inhalation and exhalation. This also sets up coaching cues used in the actual lifting session — Win Win.

On the programming side it’s important to limit anaerobic work if an athlete is really in need of changing their breathing dynamics. If not you will be chasing your tail (especially in the CrossFit population) though loaded carries and holds sometimes have their place when bridging the gap between table and specificity.

Pattern Recognition

It’s not the patterns themselves but how we recognize patterns in athletes which seems to be the most debated within our industry.

What system do you use? Are you on the table using an orthopedic assessment, stationary or dynamic movement screen?

Just pick one or two, or none. I mean who is this eval for?

It’s for US.

We cling to certain systems to tease out the lowest hanging fruit but these systems…

“makes us see the world as more tidy, simple, predictable, and coherent than it really is. The illusion that one has understood the past feeds the further illusion that one can predict and control the future. These illusions are comforting. They reduce the anxiety that we would experience if we allowed ourselves to fully acknowledge the uncertainties of existence.”
-Daniel Kahneman

How does the athlete feel when they leave the evaluation? Do they feel good about themselves? Do they now feel dependent on you — got you a new client now? Or have we now left them with a “thing” (dysfunction/asymmetry/insecurity?).

I understand the need for some to have a standardized language when discussing athletes between coaches, athletic trainers, physical therapists, etc. but haven’t we done a shit job using the english language as it comes to communication in general let alone trying to simplify or make it more complex?

That’s why I always enjoy our network in Austin. Ideas and thoughts clearly exchanged but the most important part of this is the willingness to do so.

This always brings me back to the eval process. How can we lose the name (eval/assessment), make it more free flowing, less writing shit down (numbers, letters), make the athlete unaware of what we are doing? Move to the psycho-social model.. yet still tease out the information we need and become more athlete centered?

By: Aaron Davis