Slow it Down, Back it Down

Slow down and back it down After returning from the NSCA coaches conference I realize that I still have a lot to learn. Even though I am not coaching athletes on a daily basis, I feel it is my duty to try and relay pertinent information from the expertise that I was able to interact with at the conference. The week started with Derek Fry and I are driving down to Louisville. Derek is the head athletic trainer at Denison University, one of my former players, strength interns, and best friends. Derek is one of the individuals that reinforcd my desire to be a coach in the first place. He is gone through a lot and it's really exciting seeing him grow as a person, a professional, a husband, and a dad. Talking for three straight hours, Derek was able to give me a lot of perspective on some of the things going on in my life. Those times are always invaluable. The common theme was developing systems, clarity & open communication, and making sure that you are realistic with expectations while being totally honest with your values.

We got down to Louisville for a little bit late and missed the first part of the YSCC round table put on by Adam Feit, Bryan Mann, Megan Young, and Scott Caulfield, One of the highlights of the round table was to hear Boyd Epley speak some truth to roomful of over 200 young strength coaches. Boyd literally invented strength & conditioning and had made the statement that over the last 10 years over 21 athletes have passed away while being trained by their sport coach. "No athlete has ever died training themselves". Powerful statement and in now way am i trying to put blame on coaches for athletes deaths. We have learned a lot when it comes to sickle cell and other factors. I have friends who had to go through the terrible tragedy and they would rather spend time making sure it never happens again as opposed to pointing fingers. now there is a lot of gray area in those stats, but the point is we as strength coaches have a long way to go in terms of communicating with the sport coach about the scientific methods needed to protect our athletes.

As Adam Feit concluded the roundtable, one thing he said made a lot of sense. "Anyone can write programs." We as strength coaches realize this may offend the Internet guru who call themselves online coaches. But Adam is right. "Anyone can write 3 x 10 or 5 x 5 and deload week every 2 to 6 weeks." The gap is within the art of coaching. He had said the same for nutrition and athletes."It's never about the food. there's always something deeper." If you have experience with working with college athletes you can vouch for this.

Scott Caulfield at the NSA has done a tremendous job with the coaches conference. The entire organization has rallied around this event and made it one of the top informational gatherings every year. After the kick-off party Derek and I went to the RSCC reception. Listening to Tom Myzlynski and Bryan Mann talk training can literally make your head hurt. Crazy smart. It's always great seeing Mylo at these events.

I gave a presentation on Thursday morning at 7 AM. I almost shit myself when I noticed how many people were actually there. Now, I am disappointed in how the presentation went. I broke the cardinal rule of trying to explain to much into little time. I should have narrowed my presentation to talk about just one element of power training in a team setting. Instead I nearly brushed across most of the subjects. But, if one coach got one thing they could implement to help their athletes then it's not a total loss. I got to see Matt Peitsmeyer who is the assistant staking addition and coach at Denison University and Granville high school. Matt did an excellent job for me when I was at Denison and he is going to be an outstanding coach. I hope someone gives them the opportunity because he is one of the few coaches I would allow to coach my daughters. Lon Record and Rich Gray put on a get-together that night after the exhibitors reception. Both are a class act and it was great catching up with so many coaches. I am so incredibly humbled with the amount of coaches that have given positive opinions about The podcast, my training log, and especially the equipment they purchased. The night was topped off by Petismeyer continually talking about pizza to the point that we jogged, (yes I said jogged), through downtown Louisville to get one. Watching Derek Fry sprinting with a large pizza through downtown made me happy. His speed allowed us to eat a warm pizza as he carried it through the frigid cold. And running with his lower body independent of his upper body allowed for no shifting of toppings. Well done, sir.

The next morning we got an opportunity to see a lot of good speakers including Cal Dietz and my friend Brent Rogers who spoke on the importance of neck training for the reduction of concussions. Listen, if you are not training neck specifically for your combat/ collision/ contact as a coach then you literally suck as a human being.

I felt bad I missed Christina Specos speak and she even gave me some props during her presentation.

One thing is certain there are a lot of good young strength coaches willing to share information. This group may be the most humble and inquisitive group of professionals. But I've been around. Got to see Dave present which is the first time he's presented at it to see a conference in a long time. Really something special to have so many of the team EliteFTS there representing. Got a chance to hang out with Dave, JL Holdsworth, Matt Wenning, Bryan Mann, and Jon Mike. Having four of us as presenters is also pretty big honor for our group. Derek and Matt had to leave that Friday I stuck around for committee meeting which was pretty cool. The NSCA doing some great things with really enhancing CSCS certification in the near future. Can't really go into details but its really exciting stuff. It's an honor to be a part of it. Really pretty cool to interact with some great people in the profession. Our group within the group was awesome to hang out with Doug Berninger, Bo Sandoval, and Micah Kurtz. Also, great catching up with my man, the man, Bryan Mann at Smashburgers.

So one of the recurring themes that I got from the conference was about slowing down and backing down when it comes to training specifically in terms of technique. I got this from three coaches I truly respect when it comes to three different training ideas.

Slow Down by breaking it down
Many skills in the weight room are improvable. Speed, agilty, power, all skills that can be enhanced. I have alwasy been a huge proponent on breaking down the motor skills of complex patterns for the benefit of coaching and for the athlete. I got reminded of 3 different examples I will summarize.

Loren Landow went through a hands on demo of linear speed development. He used a sled to break down the biomechanical movements of the sprint. Now I am not a fan of A skips and A marches and I am luke warm with Wal drills. I do, however feel that Prowler marches and band resisted A skips and marches are valuable. Breaking the movement and foot contact down is crucial to motor learning. Can't wait to see Joe DeFranco speak on this topic at the end of February. here are some take-a ways from Loren's

1. Forward lean without breaking at the hip
2. Dorsi-flexion is critical. Toe down strike means quad activation and no stretch-reflex. (also learned this from Craig Sowers)
3. Top heel need to be just over the opposite knee, that's it. Any higher or farther forward means it will tak too long to strike the ground again.


Adam Feit with some great info on Jump Training Program and Progressions at the #nsca #coaches15 @igotrypt

A photo posted by Mark Watts (@mjdubs_elitefts) on

Adam Feit broke down his Change of Directionand Jump training program and provided a ton of drills. His theme was consistent with what I have learned from Jim Radcliffe at Oregon.
Stick the landing, then multiple jumps. Basically, and jumping, hopping, or bounding drill should have a progression.

1. Stick the landing. Most athletes look smooth with multiple jumps, but a lot of the proprioceptive issues, knee valgus, etc will go unnoticed if they arent forced to stabilize the landing.

2. Double hop. First got this from Rick Court at Mississippi State. basically, the athlete will something need to take an extra hop to stabilize. Feit and others actually incorporate this into the progression.

3. Multiple Jumps, Hops, Bounds. This is where the drill becomes more specific to their sport. Sometimes we want to skip to this step before the athlete is ready and a lot of times we get away with it.

Working with Bo Sandavol (who was just awarded the NSCA Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach of the year award) on a project, he reinforced something I got from Cam Davidson. Pauses on Olympic Lifts are crucial for beginners and coaches. I am a huge beleiver and wrote an article about this:

Basically, this is a great way for athletes to feel the position and for coaches to better see them. Some of the pause sequences are

1. From floor, pause below knee
2. From floor, pause above knee
3. From floor, pause at pocket
4. From hang, pause at pocket
5. From hang, pause above knee
6. Pause at catch
7. Pause after dip of push press or jerk

These can be incorporated in a warm-up or the first few session of a cycle. Even a deload week.

Snatch + Hang Snatch Combo

5 doubles w/ 40kg

Fat Bar Military Press

Supersetted with

Neutral Grip Pull-Up
3x5 (Grip 1, 0, 2)

Conventional Deadlift (hook grip)
308 for 5 singles
Hip is still bothering me bigtime, so I am taking it slow.

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