Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of attending the second annual Power Athlete Block One Coach Collective. Like the name suggests, once a year Block One coaches from all over the world (literally) descend on Power Athlete HQ in Austin, Texas for a weekend of laughs, barbecue, and of course, face melting knowledge bombs delivered by some of the best in the industry. For two full days we had the opportunity to eat, drink, and learn from coaches like Derek Woodske, Kelly Starrett, and Raph Ruiz.
It’s hard to distill the weekend into a blog article, but I did my best based on pages and pages of notes I took over the weekend. To give a title to my takeaway notes from the 2022 Power Athlete Coaches Collective, I’m going with the acronym M.O.V.E: Movement Options, Vulnerability, and Exploration.
Each morning, afternoon, and evening social session carried these themes, and as I reflected on my notes and experiences I discovered more and more ways they were interwoven down to the very foundations of the weekend.
Morning Session, Day 1: Movement Options
First up on the docket, like the title suggests, we were exposed to the idea of “movement options”. Led by fellow Block One Coaches Dr. Matt Zanis and Dr. Nick Kyle, we learned about self-awareness of our own limitations and movement options through assessment of our feet, and the consequences for those of us who might only have a limited number of options. As we explored, we began to see how the self-discovery practice turned into conversations about how to apply these assessments with the athletes and the community they serve.
Next up, the man the myth the legend himself, Coach Ruiz. His lunge and trunk prep for speed left everyone soaked – who knew isometrics could be so damn hard! And again, we explored our movement options – or the lack thereof – empowering ourselves to create options with movement practice and how to use these drills with our athletes and the community we serve.
We closed out the morning with Dr. Starrett, enlightening us on some hip extension work (#kneesbehindbutt), and demonstrating a movement option we were (all) missing in our programming including different ways on how to challenge this new shape in a variety of ways.
Afternoon Session Day 1: Knowledge Bombs
Whether planned or not, each speaker helped to build on the morning’s themes in emphasizing the importance of having a wide range of options available to us.
Block One Coach Alex Gibson gave us insight into how the physical and cognitive differences of a female athlete should be addressed when assessing movement options, designing programs with female athletes in mind, and how to effectively use vulnerability when communicating with our female athletes. The biggest takeaway for me was her challenge – be smarter with your female athletes, not softer.
Next, Derek Woodske introduced us to the different shapes rotational athletes can use to create opportunities to both produce and reduce force. As a rotational athlete for most of my life (playing baseball, golf, football, and racquet sports), this was the first time learning concepts, theories, and mechanics of throwing and rotation. After scribbling down as many notes and taking pictures of his PowerPoint I found myself having YEARS worth of training tools for youth athletes collected in less than 30 mins. This information couldn’t have been more timely for my situation, as I was set to begin work with a college baseball program the following week. As I reflected on the implementation plan I could foresee that a discussion on how being vulnerable (judging the execution of the movement pattern not the distance of the ball) would pay off in the long run for these athletes.
“What is the best shape available to deal with the most variability?” Coach Raph
“Here is a fundamental shape – what can we do to control it, alter it and challenge it?” Dr. Starrett
“Your athletes are there for YOU to sharpen YOUR iron” – Coach Tex Coach
Tex’s quote triggered an epiphany moment for me. I ended up making a connection between this new coaching perspective and Amor Fati (Love of Fate) – a mindset philosophy practiced by the Stoics that teaches one to not only endure difficulty, problems, or obstacles, but to also love them for their opportunity to strengthen ourselves. Think of it like this instead: ask yourself “What problems can my athletes throw at me to help me become a better coach?” Love the problems you get the opportunity to solve as a strength coach, because it will make you a better coach and human. Calm seas never made a skilled sailor.
Morning Session Day 2: Push it to the Limit
On the morning of day 2 we uncovered a lot more about limitations, with movement options and explored how to get in a better fundamental shape to unlock athletic potential for ourselves, our athletes, and those we serve in our communities.
Coach Ruiz ran us through another pre-sprint warm up session, covering sprinting position and mechanics and providing a perfect breakdown of the shapes required to yield maximum force production (and reduction) in the right direction. We focused on assessing the shape and position an athlete has available to them that day, what prep drills and cues will get them to maximize performance, as well as learned a road map of drills and cues to improve those shapes and positions. Spoiler alert – no speed ladders were used.
Dr. Starrett introduced us to his 27 squat exploration workout, and taught us how these movement options can help an athlete be prepared to handle a variety of shapes and positions they may find themselves in when they are in the arena. He followed up this exploration with a quick and easy on-field knee, hip, and ankle assessment, and the corresponding corrective movements that can be utilized to improve limitations. Once again, in about 30 mins of work, we gained years of programming material for our athletes.
Derek Woodske’s throwing session was exactly as I had anticipated from Day 1: hard on the ego, but couldn’t be more timely. He emphasized how light medicine balls thrown at high velocities is the missing link between the force production adaptations made in the weight room, and their application to on-field use. The medicine ball gives athletes the opportunity to apply maximum force in various planes, helping the athlete practice producing, reducing, and resisting force from an interminable number of positions and directions. Coaching us as if we were his own throwing athletes, he gave us all the tools we need to implement this work with our own athletes.
Afternoon Session Day 2: More Knowledge, More Power
It wasn’t until Andrew Romeo’s leadership talk on day 2 that we first heard the word vulnerable out loud, and began to take a deep dive into the characteristics that can hold us back from excelling and becoming effective communicators and leaders. Once mentioned, it was hard not to notice how often vulnerability (or rather the lack thereof) kept poking its head up throughout the entire weekend.
Block One Coach and Big Daddy Carl Case’s talk on the application of programming medicine ball progressions was a perfect compliment to Derek Woodske’s practical, showing us the opportunities we have as coaches to explore movement options and unlock athleticism with the medicine ball. For the coach or athlete who can get a little barbell or dumbbell happy in their programming, this lecture had solid points to help deliver the WHY behind medicine ball work in their programming.
Block One Coach Brian Dunn discussed his passion for breath work, introducing us to options for various types of breathing strategies for stress management and performance, and then echoed the vulnerability theme when giving coaches a call to action: “Don’t be quick to assume athletes know how to breathe, have a breathing routine, or even understand how breath practice can improve performance in the weight room and arena”. He highlights from his experience that, when a coach understands how breathing can help improve performance, and then integrates a breathing routine or practice into an athlete’s program, the benefits extend beyond only the physical, but have positive impacts on emotional and cognitive functioning.
Freddie Kimmel – Founder and Host of ‘The Beautifully Broken’ Podcast – talked all about the benefits of Red Light Therapy, starting his talk with, “I guess it’s my turn to be vulnerable now” and told the collective his story of overcoming cancer and the tools he used to empower his performance, with a special focus on Red Light Therapy.
Block One Coach Bryce Walcott’s Battle the Bullshit talk gave us options we have when we meet new information. We can quickly accept the information as truth, or just as quickly deny the information as false. Or, we can question and research using a thorough and rigorous filter. This is what author Daniel Kahneman wrote about in his book Thinking Fast and Slow. We can take the fast way to simply accept or deny new information, or take the slower more informed approach. He proposed the elements that make up a good bullshit filter comprised of principles, questions, awareness of personal bias, and the scientific method. He noted there are instances when a quick acceptance or denial is the ideal approach, likewise with the slow filtered one however it’s important to take any information we plan on passing down to our athletes through this filter. The first step is being vulnerable enough to say, “I don’t know if that’s correct or bullshit”, and then taking that information through a filter.
Finally, John’s talk on Antiquity brought it all together, probably by design. I’ve noticed how the Power Athlete email content has been pointing out the standards, mission, and vision more recently, and that’s not a coincidence after hearing his talk. As the Block One Coach network continues to grow, it will be paramount to continue to reinforce and connect what separates Block One Coaches and the Power Athlete Methodology from everything else out there in the market. This connection happens via three channels: Ethos, Pathos and Logos. In order to know where the ship is headed and climb aboard, you want to know who your captain is and where the ship has been.
He gave us a challenge – a mission really – to develop our own Ethos, Pathos, and Logos, with permission to lean on him, the Power Athlete Methodology, and the Block One network for help. Pathos – the ability to make our audience FEEL emotions; to be vulnerable enough to be emotional about our work was my biggest takeaway here. Be emotionally invested and make your athletes know how you feel about how passionate you are to help them succeed. Logos – the logical – no-bullshit principles of the Power Athlete Methodology will support our programming and approach to empowering performance.
To improve Movement Options in our athletes, we must first assess to create awareness then create opportunities to expose limitations in a movement pattern or sport skill through guided practice and self-discovery, and finally, use the principles and methodology to provide a program. (ASAP as Coach Raph put it) Vulnerability in many cases is the catalyst for growth and should be viewed as an opportunity to sharpen your iron. Exploration – stay curious, ask questions and explore new ideas, training programs, movements, and lessons but proceed with a fortified bullshit detector.
Whether you’re looking to grow as a leader in the strength and conditioning industry or as an athlete, Power Athlete has the methodology, the network, and the programming to be the hammer, move the dirt and empower your or your athlete’s performance.
BLOG: Medball Training 101 by Carl Case
BLOG: A Course Correction For Youth Athletes by Alex Gibson
PODCAST: PA Radio Episode 498 – Presence Intelligence Professionalism Emotion with Raph Ruiz
PODCAST: PA Radio Episode 527- Recovery and Readiness with Kelly Starrett
Tyler has been an athlete and competitor his whole life, playing both team and individual sports in all 4 seasons.
After playing baseball and earning his teaching degree from Graceland University he moved back to Sault Ste. Marie to begin a career in fitness and education.
Recognizing he can make a greater impact on student's social, emotional, cognitive, and physical health outside of the education system than within, he developed a program combining cognitive enrichment with physical exercise and spent time presenting and implementing this program in gyms and schools across Canada and the U.S.
He opened his own gym in January 2019, Rebel Gym, which operates in two sections, Ninja and Obstacle training for ages 2 and up and Strength Training for ages 9 and up.
As Block One Power Athlete Coach, he is using this methodology to empower the performance and unlock the athletic potential of youth, teens, collegiate, and Pro athletes in all sporting arenas, as well as help hard-working adults, compete at the highest level of Age-Group Amateur Sport and keeping the ‘Rec League Rebel’ stay injury-free in life and sport.
In the field of education, he continues to work with local school boards implementing programs designed to help students improve emotional regulation and problem-solving skills, and has satellite programs with First Nations Communities.
Ontario College of Teachers 2007
Power Athlete Block 1 Coach
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