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Sports Science: Servant or Master?
July 13, 2018
Sport Science: Servant or Master? Last month I attended Vern Gambetta’s GAIN conference in Houston, Texas.  A great mix of practical sessions, seminars and informal idea sharing, it is my annual chance to take time out and immerse myself in learning. I shall be sharing some of the ideas and insights learnt this year. The […]

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68 Lessons from the garage of pain

“Challenge Assumptions”

garage of painI have been reviewing things I have learnt working with athletes and coaches over the last 12 months. In no particular order and with some brevity:

  1. You can learn to be more creative.
  2. Challenging assumptions helps you look at things differently.
  3. Framing and reframing problems is a useful tool.
  4. Connecting and combining ideas leads to different avenues of thought.
  5. Thoracic spine (T-spine) mobilisers are useful for most athletes.
  6. The 3 common postures: upright, flexion, supine (Do less of these).
  7. The 3 uncommon postures; inverted, extended, brachiated (Do more of these).
  8. Psychopaths exist in the workplace.
  9. My chimp gets riled unless I feed him a biscuit.
  10. Chimp to chimp talks rarely work.
  11. A knee injury is a brain injury (get the brain working too).
  12. Work capacity can be developed with aerobic activities that are non specific.
  13. Work production is best developed through specific, quality work.
  14. If you stick someone in a cubicle and say “get creative from 9-5” expect mediocrity.
  15. I doubt if I can do too many pull ups in a week.
  16. 4 cornerstonesPreparation, adaptation, application and regeneration are the 4 cornerstones of training.
  17. Dynamic correspondence is just specificity of transfer.
  18. Thomas Cureton is the Godfather of P.E. read more of his books.
  19. My box splits will improve through more goblet squats.
  20. Walking 10,000 steps a day is an essential health goal but I only walk about 6-7000 a day.
  21. Vitamin D supplementation is essential for children in the UK.
  22. A patella fracture is not an excuse to stop training: you can be running 10 weeks afterwards.
  23. Paleo books are based on dodgy research and anecdotes.
  24. Podium results are achieved in the heats.
  25. The people who want to sit on committees are exactly the type of people who should be prevented from sitting on them.
  26. Props can learn to run fast if coached well.
  27. Cricket coaches like gimmicks and fads, but struggle to recognise a good body weight squat, let alone coach it!
  28. Movement efficiency = Hip projection.
  29. “Transform” players rather than “Change” players.
  30. Get better at warm ups, they set the tone for the rest of the session.
  31. danjamesProgression, Variety, Precision: that leads to good things happening.
  32. Calisthenics is dereived from the Greek Words “Calos” and “Stenos” meaning beautiful strength.
  33. Female athletes: every day is leg day.
  34. Exercise is something you do, movement is something you feel.
  35. Moving more makes you want to move more.
  36. Moving less makes you want to move less.
  37. Teach people to move well and they will want to move more.
  38. Front squats followed by behind the head pressing helps the T-spine.
  39. No one is an expert in every field: find help.
  40. Life is not fair: move on and deal with it.
  41. If you can’t slow it down, don’t speed it up.
  42. Increasing bandwidth helps players develop long term.
  43. Players have to earn the right to bench press.
  44. 3 ways to measure physical fitness: Structure, function and motion.
  45. gorillaThe Gorilla can’t eat all of the food: sport is not the answer to everything, physical activity must be promoted.
  46. “What are you getting ready for?”: pe classes can lead to demonstrations.
  47. Running is a skill, it needs to be taught as such.
  48. Running is a co-ordination activity; teaching subsets of running helps the overall skill.
  49. See 1, Do 1, Teach 1: a good mantra for working with children.
  50. Never jump off something that you can’t actually jump onto.
  51. Sprinting could be about movement stability.
  52. Posture, balance, stability and mobility= foundations of excellent movement.
  53. Fighting nature is futile. Eat more food in the winter, train outside in the sunshine, train inside in the dark.
  54. strength coach devonQuality of food and sleep should be treated like medicine.
  55. The better the athlete trains at the end of my session, the less they have learnt.
  56. Good movement is not repeating the same movement over and over again.
  57. Exercises that have no intention will result in limited adaptation in co- ordination.
  58. You can change the environment, the task or the organism to create success.
  59. Reaction to light stimuli has zero transfer to 3 dimensional objects.
  60. There are lots of good coaches doing great work out there in difficult circumstances.
  61. Stimulate, adapt, stabilise, actualise: allow time for stabilisation before you build on that fitness component.
  62. Stress is cumulative, periodise your training around stressful life events.
  63. blind footballTraining 2 blind players together is like herding bees.
  64. If you are going into battle, it’s a good idea to take an ex Regimental Sergeant Major with you.
  65. There are many solutions to the same problem, but integrity should never, ever be compromised.
  66. Using images and diagrams in coaching has helped me communicate more widely.
  67. Working with blind players has helped me focus on the quality and specificity of verbal messages.
  68. Regeneration of mind, body and soul is essential for coaches and athletes alike.

Life’s tough; it’s a hell of a lot tougher if you’re stupid. Keep learning.              

If you want to gain the benefit of these lessons, then I am recruiting people to the Excelsior Athletic Development Club now. All levels welcome, you just have to want to improve.

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