Category Archives: Speed

2011 CSCCa Conference Review

The CSCCa National Conference was this past week in Kansas City.  Our staff had a good time and it was a much-needed break from the grind of the semester.

I spoke on the topic of Training Considerations for Rotational Athletes.  I thought it went great and received some great feedback as well.  I enjoyed the opportunity and had a fairly large crowd for the time slot I received.   Those that are interested, the CSCCa is putting all the lectures on DVD.  I don’t know when they will be available or the price, but its a question I’ve been asked several times today.   I posted a link to some of the concepts I spoke about this weekend.  There are obviously a lot more on here than than sprinkling but its just what I came up with in a quick search. 

Rotational Movement Series

The best speaker of the weekend was easily Lee Taft.  His topic was Coaching Linear and Mult-Directional Speed.  I had never heard of Lee but one of our other coaches had and liked a lot of his methods.  I didn’t have that high of expectations but was definitely blown away.  I don’t feel like there are many people who have a strong grasp on speed, change of direction, deceleration training, but Lee definitely does.  He has some great progressions to teaching multi directional movement.   We actually have and use a lot of the same techniques, and methods. 

He extensively broke down the “false step” during his presentation.  The false step is the quick jab step backwards to get the body going forward from an athletic stance.  His take on it was right on. 

The false step is somewhat required to get going quick.  It creates the positive shin angle that creates the platform for acceleration.  So for those of you who try to eliminate that step, you may want to think again. 

Coach Taft went over the crossover step, retreating acceleration, the shuffle vs. the lateral running.  All in all it was a great talk.  One of the better ones I have seen at the CSCCa Conference. 

Another highlight of the conference was the chance to listen and visit with legendary Bulgarian Weightlifting Coach Ivan Abadjiev.  For those that don’t know, Coach Abadjiev basically created the most successful weightlifting program in the history of the sport and did that by essentially creating the true Max Effort Method. 

Coach Abadjiev basically scrapped the Soviets program when he took over the Bulgarian National team.  The Soviets at the time utilized sub-maximal percentages, lots of assistance / special exercises and around 2.5-4 tons loading / day as quoted by I.A.  He eliminated all the assistance exercises and began only performing the competition movements, nothing else.  He also took the loading from 2.5-4 tons / day to 20-60 tons per day.  They did this by spreading out the training over several small blocks throughout the day.  They were professional athletes at the time so all they did was train. 

The best part of the afternoon was actually the chance to meet and talk with Coach Abadjiev after most everyone had left.  Mind you he doesn’t speak English so everything was through a translator.  One of my questions was if they utilized the assistance exercises when teaching younger less advanced athletes.  His reply was they never used anything but the competition exercises, and said it was actually easier to teach the full lifts to youngsters as they hadn’t developed large technical problems yet.  His analogy was animals in the wild teach their young exactly what they need to know to survive, not a bunch of extra stuff.  Then that’s what he will do is teach athletes exactly what they need and not confuse them with extra. 

All in all it was a great week to be away from the office and with “family away from home.”


December 2010 – January 2011

It’s been an interesting few months here at TCU.  I’ve been super busy lately and have to apologize to for not posting recently.  I do appreciate the emails that I’ve received about the blog as well as other things recently. 

This past month or so has been a little bit of a whirlwind.   At the end of Thanksgiving I moved down the road into a new house and as many of you probably noted my posting ceased.   During that time the semester was coming to an end I was occupied with finishing up the Fall internship program, finalizing our Spring semester interns, Baseball’s testing, and Football’s preparation for the Rose Bowl.   All the while I was finshing up an article that you can find below, and also got called to present at this year’s CSCCa Conference. 

I wanted to share with everyone the article that I wrote for the December issue of  Training and Conditioning magazine.  It was a piece on the annual training plan for pitchers at TCU.  If you haven’t seen it yet the link is below.  I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on the article and appreciate those who have taken the time to give it a read. 

Special Delivery

Not only all that in December but I also spent about 10 days back home in Kansas, most of which was cutting firewood and working around the farm.  It was much-needed R & R. 

I spent this past weekend at the 2011 NSCA Sport Specific Conference in Addison, TX.  I’ll have a future post on the conference and some of the interesting things I saw as well as some of the presentations.

Happy Thanksgiving

It’s been another busy busy week and posts have been few and far between so I apologize for that.  I’m in the process of moving, which I hate possibly more than anything else.  Earlier in the week I had a post to get out but my internet was down so it hasn’t come to fruition yet. 

Our baseball off-season is quickly coming to an end.  We have essentially 2 weeks left in our training.  We will take a partial deload coming back from the Thanksgiving holiday and finish the final week with a little bit of testing / training.   I’ll have some thoughts on testing on in the next day or two but until then I wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving.

How to Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach

A friend of mine, Jim Kielbaso, posted a great article at his website www.UltimateStrengthAndConditioning.comThe article touches on being a strength coach at various levels as well as how to get into the field of strength and conditioning.  It’s extremely informative and insightful especially for those younger coaches who are in the process of making career choices, or still trying to break into the field of strength and conditioning. 

How to Become a Strength and Conditioning Coach

Another week of training is behind us for the baseball program.  This was Week 12 of the Fall Off-Season.  We only have 4 weeks left in the semester and really only 3 weeks left to train.  Time goes way too fast.  The players don’t realize how small of an opportunity they have between seasons to really get better. 

This week was our highest volume of speed work to date as well as intensity on our Main Effort movements. 

The video below gives a little of our training for the previous week.  It has a little of everything including some of our speed work, med-ball throws, and one of our team challenges. 


Hope everyone has a good weekend and GO FROGS!!!

Tomorrow will begin a new 3 week training block for baseball.  We are starting into Week 7 of the Fall Off-Season.  During the next two 3 week blocks we will begin implementation of our resisted speed program. 

The effects of resisted sled-pulling sprint training on acceleration and maximum speed performance

Effects of Resisted Sled Towing on Sprint Kinematics

I’m a big fan of resisted speed work.  First understand I’m not talking about loading up a sled with 200 lbs. and towing it at the speed of a garden slug. 

Whenever we utilize resisted sprint training we want to make sure the dynamics of the movement do not change.  We want to maintain the exact same technique throughout our runs rather towing an object or not.  Once technique is compromised the carry over to regular sprinting becomes less and less.  Not only that but doing enough of poor quality towing and you will train an athlete to become slower.  The body adapts to how it is trained always.  When towing too heavy of an object ground contact times become longer, center of mass lowers, torso angle increases, etc.   These deviations in technique can wreak havoc on a speedy athlete. 

For more information on truly being movement specific look at one of my previous posts or check into anything by Yuri Verkhoshansky and the Eastern Bloc. 

Sport Specific

Charlie Francis always recommended a 10% rule.  I should amend that actually.  He began implementing a 20% rule early in his career but revised it to 10% later on.  This meant never deviate an athletes performance by more than 10% in a loaded or unloaded exercise.  This was measured by time in speed training.  If an athlete ran a 4.50 40 yard dash, then when loaded the athlete should still be able to run under 4.95 sec.   If the athlete cannot achieve this then the load is too great causing too much deviation in speed mechanics. 

When I see athletes towing tires and dozens of 45# plates for “speed” work it makes me cringe.  Sure there are places in the training when towing heavy objects may be warranted but I don’t think it’s in a speed program.  We want our guys to run fast all the time so our resistance will always remain light.  Obviously the surface that athletes are running on plays a huge part.  The coefficient of friction will go into how heavy an object athletes should be working with.  Towing on grass vs. artificial turf vs. cement will all result in different loads.  It’s always better to err on the side of too light than the side of too heavy.

Truly Sport Specific

I got an email yesterday from Allen Huffstutter, President of the OmegaWave.  In it he had attached an article that I found interesting.  It comes from Dave Tenney, the Seattle Sounders soccer club’s Athletic Development Coach.  Coach Tenney utilizes the OmegaWave with his athletes and uses one of my old friends in the area, Joel Jamieson, as a consultant.  The article has a lot of great information and goes right along with what I posted a few months back during the World Cup on the training of soccer athletes.  

Dave Tenney – Seattle Sounders Interview

Here is one of Coach Tenney’s excerps from the aritcle. 

We’ll need to come to the agreement that soccer is an alactic-aerobic dominant sport. We could then assume that most intense actions are short enough that the energy required can be fulfilled by the alactic system, and the resting intervals should be enough time that the oxidative system aids the replenishment of ATP for the alactic system. It appears that an over-reliance on lactic energy can be very taxing on the body, and is not efficient.

This goes right along with my opinions in my previous post that soccer players don’t need to train in a lactic environment.  This delays restoration, and recovery and causes more stress on the body.  When you truly look at how soccer is played it is with short bursts of activity with active rest type recoveries. 

Soccer and Energy Systems 

The other piece in the article that is terrific is Coach Tenney’s view on training specifically.  He talks at length of training the energy system by playing the sport, not by circuits or randomized weight room training.  They train for their sport by playing their sport.   Everything in the weight room is general in nature.  Training on the field with a ball, and competitors is the most specific way to train not only skill but proper energy systems as well. 

European Model of Sport Selection – GREAT READ 

In all it’s great interview and gives some insight into modelling energy system development to that of the sport.

More is better???

So today I thought I would share one of my favorite quotes applying to the sports training process.  It comes to us from Thomas Kurz and his book the Science of Sports Training. 

“Training is efficient if the highest sports result is achieved with the least expense of time and energy.”

I think this is one of the most important concepts that any coach, strength and conditioning, or sports coach, can adhere to.  Go look at any football practice that is about to start up at NCAA schools all over the nation and ask yourself if they are following this philosophy.  How many times do we see a coach do something only because that’s how they did it, or that’s how it’s always been done.  I actually think this is one of the dumbest things I see in sports.  If you have no purpose for something being included in a training session or practice, then why are you wasting your kids’ energy doing it.  I’ve been told before by coaches to run athletes during practices so the coaches some more time with another group of athletes. 

When programming an athlete’s training everything in the plan should have reason and a purpose with the end result being an increase in their sport.  The sports training process isn’t about random exercises throughout a week with little thought as to the endpoint.  Saving the body’s energy by eliminating excess training becomes paramount for the adaptation process to occur. 

One reason Charlie Francis, famed sprint coach, loved the olympic lifts was due to the high amounts of motor unit activation.  Instead of spending an hour or more in the weight room after a sprint training session with exercise after exercise, Charlie felt they could hit the majority of the motor units within the body with a few olympic movements and get out quick.  This way the majority of their time was devoted to adapting to their speed sessions, with the weight room serving as an accessory to the ultimate goal of being faster.  He didn’t want to impede results by fatiguing athletes even more in the weight room.  Often times, they might only perform one or two exercises depending on how their track session went.  But in the end it he still utilized minimal volume that could produce the results he was after. 

Hypothetically, if an athlete can achieve the same goal necessary with a 50% reduced workload then it is a far more efficient route to take.  Not doing so takes much more energy.  We don’t want this when that energy could’ve been used for the adaptation process. 

Athletes adapt to a stimulus away from the training arena.  When too much stress is created without enough time for recovery the body cannot compensate and becomes further depressed.  Over time an athlete becomes overtrained and proper adaptation cannot take place, as well as delays future adaptation.  Recovery and restoration is just as important as the training means themselves.  Too often athletes, and coaches forget this important fact.  It is simply the “more is better” attitude.  More isn’t always better, and in fact in sports performance training I would generally say less is better.  I would rather undertrain an athlete than overtrain one. 

Many times coaches, and athletes inability to properly ration training means, sports training, rest, recovery, and nutrition is where breakdowns occur.  I’ve been ridiculed before for my approach to training athletes.  I don’t frequently use a high volume because the weight room is only a supplement to their sport.  I have always believed in having a rhyme and a reason for everything that gets placed in a program.  The energy one spends in the weight room takes away from the actual sport itself.