Any opportunity to learn and gain experience, I’m in. Whether this is through research, attacking a new training program, or through conversation on Power Athlete Radio, I’m always looking to take something away and see if there’s a place for it in the Power Athlete Methodology course.
On episode 194 of the premiere podcast in strength and conditioning, Ron McKeefery joined the Crew to drop some knowledge and discuss his new opportunity with Plae. Shortly into his introduction to the Plae Summit series, I was sold on attending the Plae Speed Mastermind Clinic which transpired last weekend.
I’m a speed freak and this event did not disappoint. I walked away with a full notebook, a blown mind, and a countless number of rabbit holes to venture down. This is just a taste of the experience and one knowledge bomb on speed from each of the presenters. Enjoy.
“Plan movement progressions, not muscle progressions.”
Radcliffe is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Oregon, a school with a tradition of speed. His presentation walked through planning a speed program beginning annually and working your way down to seasonal, monthly planning, and weekly sessions. Analogized as planning a road trip, Radcliffe dropped this knowledge bomb I’m not sure everyone picked up on: “Plan movement progressions, not muscle progressions.”
Not part of the slide show or a key point, but a line that truly resonated with me and how it applies to Power Athlete’s movement approach.
It all starts with the seven Primal Movement patterns:
- Vertical Push
- Vertical Pull
- Horizontal Push
- Horizontal Pull
- Step Up
Progression to many is getting an athlete great at squatting or getting more from a certain lift. Sport is more than squatting or cleaning, so why is this the primary marker in many programs? Progression is developing proficiency in all Primals! Resistance and stress are added to challenge proficiency and enhance an athlete’s ability to call upon their strength, power, and speed to the exact degree they’ll need it come game time.
To me this quote said plan movement progression but don’t rush to a level if they’re lacking proficiency. Training is the opportunity you provide to master each then combine Primals through all planes of motion with the goal of enhancing their ability to acquire skill in their sport, not just be good at lifting a weight through different muscle actions.
What to Watch: Seeing Motion
I highly respect Dan Pfaff’s knowledge and experience as a track and field coach, and must say, his joke delivery is right up there with his knowledge bombs.
One of the many takeaways from Pfaff’s lecture was HOW to see motion introducing five ways to observe your athlete during their acceleration and sprint:
- In real time:
Coach’s eye needs reps at high speeds to start to not only pick up on positions of joints in motion, but also seeing the athlete as a whole
- Stop action:
This would be utilizing film to freeze frames to check certain angles, axes, and kinetics of the athlete
- Varied speed:
Going back to the film room to watch acceleration or top end speed at an observable and coachable pace
- Reverse action:
Pfaff introduced what he called, “forward bias”. Watching film in reverse allows him to observe motion without bias and see the athlete for what they’re doing, not should be doing
- Change Perspectives: frontal, rear, panning, above
This too me back to my old ball coach days, not watching film from the more favorable side angle, but from the rear or above to gain a different perspective and identify any faults in arm action, rotation, foot action, and anything that doesn’t fly right.
Take this into all movements you’re coaching and see if changing the perspective enhances your coach’s eye.
“Not corrective exercises, efficiency exercises.”
Conscious Coach Bartholomew’s presentation was a back to the basics lecture on plyometrics blending experience, tried and true fundamentals, and one nugget that again, wasn’t in the slides, but jumped out at me. (That’s a plyo pun, @ingob)
Plyometrics are an opportunity enhance what Bartholomew referred to as reactive strength, an athlete’s ability to change direction quickly and call upon maximal forces in minimal time. Reactive strength relies heavily on the stretch shortening cycle (SSC): rapid muscle lengthening into rapid muscle shortening. Plyometric training can target the SSC and enhance the efficiency of this action in all Primal Movements through all planes of motion.
Based off his experience, Brett believes the majority of non-contact injuries are most likely caused by reactive strength issues. If athletes can improve their reactive strength, they potentially decrease the risk of injuries through increased tolerance to stretch loads at various speeds, loads, and directions. If Brett needed a microphone, he would have dropped it.
“The skill of deceleration”
Landow Performance based in Centennial, Colorado hosted the event and Loren combined his coaching experience and fundamental first approach to provide some perspective to the strength coaches in the audience. The two biggest takeaways I had from the presentation were introduction of deceleration as its own skill and a quote from Steven Plisk: “To be a better specialist you need to be a better generalist.”
This quote set the tone for the lecture as Loren guided us through agility from a general perspective of Linear, Frontal Plane, Transition, and the keystone of Deceleration. As Loren took the group out onto the floor to demonstrate his method in action, he followed much of the same approach we use in the Power Athlete Methodology – Level One: introduce both straight ahead speed and lateral speed in the order of posture → position → patterning → practice.
The skill of deceleration practical on the turf began with the Universal Athletic Position focusing on an athlete’s base of support. I enjoyed how he introduced the key points of the position, especially the attention given to the feet and the center of gravity.
A trap many sport coaches make, have athletes do agilities or drills in practice on the balls of their feet. Loren laid out the value of teaching athletes initiation and deceleration with the whole foot on the ground, which in turn allows athletes to better control their center of gravity and enhance their deceleration skills.
“When I look at a program, I ask not how much an athlete lifted, I ask how much they sprinted.”
This is a presentation I’ll revisit and invest some thought to take it all in. To say Coach Hansen’s experience is extensive would be an understatement. He has had the opportunity to work with and learn from many of the pillars of the industry and he never stops finding a better way to Empower his athletes.
The presentation was titled, “Considerations for Non Track Speed Development”, and it was very difficult to select just one knowledge bomb to write about. After connecting with @John and @Luke after the summit, I thought Hansen’s Implications for Training – Transfer Back is what the world needs to hear.
Power Athlete has often said speed training is what bridges the gap from the weight room to the sport arena, but I always found it a challenge to get coaches to value Intensity Sprints. Hansen’s breakdown on where linear speed training transfers to other phases of training showed the value all over training, not just the sporting arena.
For any coach or athlete that skips high intensity sprints for more weight room time or conditioning style runs, you’re constraining your performance. Nothing replaces straight ahead speed training. Nothing.
Empower Your Performance: Invest in Education
There are so many ways to arm yourself with information to the battle the bullshit. A full day learning from the top speed minds in the game was an opportunity I could not pass up, and I am very excited to share what comes from the experience.
The biggest take away, don’t be complacent with your current level of understanding. If something intrigues you or perplexes you, find the leading expert in the topic and have them break it down in a simple way. No simpiler.
Plae Summits are all now available on the Plae Pro app for free. Check out the speaker line up above and make the time investment. Then tweet at @PfaffSC, @Coach_BrettB, @LorenLandow and @DerekMHansen and let them know how much you want to learn from them on the premiere podcast in strength and conditioning, Power Athlete Radio!
EDU: Power Athlete Methodology – Level One Online Course
BLOG: Get Stubborn Athletes Sprinting with Style by Tex McQuilkin
BLOG: Battle The Bullshit: Conditioning Tests by Tex McQuilkin
BLOG: Battle The Bullshit: Resistance Speed Training by Tex McQuilkin
MS, CSCS, SCCC, CHES
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Former collegiate lacrosse defensive midfielder, 4-year letter winner and 3-year team captain. Coached strength and conditioning collegiately with Georgetown University football, Men's and Women's lacrosse and Women's Crew, as well with the University of Texas at Austin's football program. Apprenticed under Raphael Ruiz of 1-FortyFour-1 studying proper implementation of science based, performance driven training systems. Head coached CrossFit Dupont's program for two years in Washington D.C. Received a Master's in Health Promotion Management from Marymount University in 2010, and has been a coach for Power Athlete since October, 2012.
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