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5 Takeaways from the 2018 Power Athlete Symposium

This weekend we wrapped up the 2018 Power Athlete Symposium, the premier symposium in strength and conditioning-ing-ing. While there were an almost infinite number of knowledge bombs dropped this weekend, here are just five that we took away, that stuck with us and we wanted to share with you.

Ben Skutnik

Whether you are an intern green to the world of strength and conditioning or a 10-year NFL veteran, there is a small set of fundamental components to training that you build your  strength programs around. And there is one component that reigns supreme when it comes to making gains: eccentric lifts. If an S&C coach wants to have a big impact on an athlete'a strength, this is the go to play. But that's just the science of coach, what about the art? Ben Crookston, CEO of TrainHeroic, kicked off this year’s meeting with one of the most POTENT knowledge bombs I’ve heard in my entire coaching career, while taking us on his journey through life to his current position of leadership. He gave us a lesson on the eccentric portion of connection.

"Listening AND receiving are the eccentric lifts of connection."

Boom! An explosion of brain gains! It’s not your unique combination of German Volume Training and Dr. Bryan Mann’s VBT model. It’s not your sweet customized Intek plates. It’s your ability to press pause from cuing up the toes forward squat and having an actual dialogue with your athletes. Ask them for feedback. But, more importantly, take hold of what they say. Give your athletes a voice and they will give you everything they can. Build that “eccentric strength” early in the training cycle and you’ll drive performance to the next level.

Adam Campbell

On the first day of this year’s symposium, John sat down with fighter/actor/stuntman Tait Fletcher for an impactful Talk to me Johnnie session, during which Tait uttered a phrase that stuck with me the entire weekend, that I will take home and carry forward with me for the rest of my coaching career:

“I’m the fish I have to catch.”

As members of the Power Athlete nation, we are performance whores. We want to be the best; movers, coaches, athletes, it doesn’t matter. We just want to be number one. Being Mercenaries, it’s easy to look at these giants and feel like we’ll never be up to their standard. “If only I had the knowledge and experience of Jim Kielbasa, then I’d be a great coach”. But this sort of thinking is all wrong! A trout doesn’t look at a shark and beat itself up for not having big teeth. Our job is to be the best coach we can be, for the athletes under our purview. Focus on your pond, and how you can make the biggest ripples for those around you, and I guarantee that your athletes will see you for the shark that you are.

Dr. Matt Zanis 

In the hustle and bustle of today’s fast paced society, we are all constantly bombarded and inundated with stimuli from a variety of sources, creating sensory overload. We are forced to make decisions on the fly in an effort to keep moving and stay on track. Our brain will naturally resort to making a decision that costs the least amount of energy; it may be comfortable, or the easy path. This response is usually not the most logical, or one that creates the most growth.

At this years symposium, Lindsey Mathews said it best: “We need to create space between a stimulus and response.” When we bang weights, sprint, practice our sport, or rehab from an injury we have a goal in mind; a desired response to our training. We should create adequate space for recovery, regrowth, and repair in order to create an environment that evokes the desired response. The same thought process applies to mental and emotional stimuli. If we are in tune with our senses and aware of how the stimuli impacts our lives, we should allow for space to contemplate, introspect, and reflect before making a decision. We need to think, prepare, then act.

Carl Case 

Of all the speakers from this weekend, one of the ones I was looking forward to the most was Jim Kielbaso. And I have to say, he did not disappoint. In his practical session, he highlighted the importance of acceleration. He talked about a study done at the University of Nebraska where they took performance markers/testers, and talked with sports coaches to find out who they thought were the most the successful athletes. The crossroad of these two showed the greatest correlation of on field performance was a 10 yard split i.e acceleration.

He went on to talk about a study where the looked at the top Olympic sprinters, and found at that they don’t actually put in that much more force into the ground compared to us normies. The difference o was their mechanics, and the angle in which they applied that force. The reason that I found this particular session so impactful was because we often look at acceleration as a gift from the Gods. You either have it or you don't. But this tells me that's bullshit. By attacking limiting factors, we have can significantly influence our athlete’s on field performance.

LUKE KETelaar 

EMPOWERING is the most suiting word I can think of for this year’s Symposium. To empower is to give the authority to go forth and DO something. This weekend was full of countless pearls of wisdom from the stage, handshakes with true giants, laughs, hugs, and connections with some of the most badass Power Athletes out there.

Tait Fletcher shattered the perception of vulnerability as a weakness and instead shared how he found strength through it; Dr. Tom gave a glimpse into the mistreatment of cancer patients and how he is battling to fix the medical system through educating people; Brad Snyder told his story of coming back from the brink of death to win Paralympic Gold for his country, and he attributes his successes to compassion for those who made it possible for him to get there.

In all of the amazing talks and practical sessions, I saw these are people on the stage first, and experts in their fields second. Each one of them had to start somewhere, had low points, had times not knowing what they were doing and made plenty of mistakes to learn from. But they learned, they improved their craft, and they were up on that stage for a reason.

I believe that reason was to empower everyone who cares to listen to those stories and learn from them. In the words of Robert Eldon Welbourn, “The smart man learns from his mistakes, the wise man learns from the mistakes of others. Do you want to be smart or wise?” Be wise and smart. Learn from what you have heard this weekend, actually use it and live accordingly, and do the same for others. Take risks, make mistakes, then don’t make them again. Finally, share. Share your story so that you can empower others as others have empowered you!

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Related content

Tait Fletcher - Power Athlete Radio Episode 128
Lindsey Mathews - Power Athlete Radio Episode 276
Jim Kielbaso - Power Athlete Radio Episode 220
Dr. Bryan Mann - Power Athlete Radio Episode 249
Dr. Tom Incledon - Power Athlete Radio Episode 145

Ben Skutnik, PhD(c), CSCS, PN1

Block One Coach and Nutrition Coach at Power Athlete HQ
Ben grew up a football player who found his way into a swimming pool. Swimming for four years, culminating in All-American status, at a Division III level, Ben grew to appreciate the effects that various training styles had on performance and decided to pursue the field of Exercise Physiology. After receiving his M.S. from Kansas State University in 2013, Ben moved on to Indiana University - Bloomington to pursue a PhD in Human Performance. While in Bloomington, he spent some time on deck coaching swimming at the club level, successfully coaching several swimmers to the National and Olympic Trials meets. He also served as the primary strength and condition coach for some of the post-graduate Olympians that swam at Indiana University.

Currently, Ben is finishing his PhD while serving a clinical faculty member at the University of Louisville, molding the minds that will be the future of strength and conditioning coaches. He also helps support the Olympic Sports side of the Strength and Conditioning Department there as a sports scientist.
Ben Skutnik, PhD(c), CSCS, PN1

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