My favorite presentation on the weekend was by Coach Tom Myslinski from the University of Memphis. His presentation was Comparing and Contrasting the American Collegiate and Professional Football Player.
Tom admitted afterward that the wrong presentation had been loaded so in essence he had to freestyle for the hour he was up there. I truly thought the best part of the his hour onstage was the passion he displayed.
The entire presentation was on the Process of Achieving Sports Mastery and the factors blend into creating the sporting form: technical, tactical, physical, and psychological preparedness.
A few quick points from the presentation:
All periodization takes essentially two forms, either concurrent or sequential.
With all athletes the goal is to transfer motor abilities into specific motor skills. All training means and methods should be directed towards this end result. Nothing drives me crazier than watching athletes waste energy with training means that have no correlation to the motor skill, or energy system that is part of their sport.
High levels of fatigue in the CNS disrupt the motor learning process. Athletes should stop short of failure as this diminishes the motor learning process for subsequent sets. Tom’s quick example was to utilize more sets and less reps per set.
Towards the end of the presentation he touched on a quote from the famed Eastern Bloc sports scientist Yuri Verkhoshansky, “Movement is the fundamental element governing all sports.”
A major difference in the collegiate athlete is that motor abilities must be developed for increases in sporting form, whereas professional athletes motor abilities are stabilized and must be retained more than developed.
One of Tom’s best points was the point of thirds. When athletes are away from their training environment, as in a holiday break from school, or off-season for the NFL perhaps, 1/3 will do it all, 1/3 will do some of it, and 1/3 will do none of it. All the coaches that have worked with team sports know this is 100% the case. The most frustrating time for me is the 4 week Christmas break. In terms of baseball, we train consistent for 16 weeks to prepare for the upcoming season. Then we get a 4 week vacation and all the kids go home. When they return they get two weeks to train before the spring season starts. Essentially, the best shape our athletes are in is the first week of December. By the rule of 1/3′s, 12 players went home and didn’t do anything for 4 weeks prior to the most important part of their year. Of course I hope that I’ve taught them better than that and our athletes are an exception to the rule but I’m not that naive.
Tom even touched on the topic of block periodization towards the end of his presentation which is a highly misunderstood topic. This sequential periodization format relies on the cumulative and residual training effects to allow for development of the motor abilities in successive fashion. The dominant trait during a block has compatible traits that aid in it’s development. As well each successive block builds on the previous and utilizes the training effects to raise the level of the motor abilities, and eventually the motor skill. Check out Vladimir Issurin’s book Block Periodization for more on that topic.
I could go on and on about the topic of Achieving Sports Mastery and Coach Myslinski’s presentation as it was a wealth of information.