Who Influences You?

TAGS: athlete development, problem solving, motor problems, team setting, movement, functional movement screen, certification, westside barbell, technology, sports performance, training athletes, Buddy Morris, coaching

This article is from Buddy Morris’ presentation at the 2015 elitefts Sports Performance Training Summit.

My first job, I was hired at the University of Pittsburgh by then head coach, Jackie Sherrill. I made twelve thousand dollars a year. I had no assistance, and I had to do everything myself which meant going in and vacuuming the carpet, cleaning machines, cleaning floor on a daily basis, plus being responsible for training over one hundred athletes.

Here's the problem with this country right now: technology. How many people go to the Apple store? You have your Apple phone, and the Apple store, and (please excuse me, because I will drop a few f-bombs) it is fucking crowded. So much for technology. You have athletes with problems, and what has technology done? I could solve all of the functional movement screen problems in this country right now. Do you know how I’d do it? Get rid of the computer, get rid of video games, and let kids go outside and play again.

Let the body solve complex motor problems in the chaotic environment. Let the brain figure things out. The brain learns by getting things wrong. New parents, stop helping your kids. If the kid is in a backseat and he can't clip the seat belt, don't turn around and say, "here, let mommy and daddy help you." Let him figure it out. That's how the brain learns.

You will begin to understand, the primal brain was designed for one thing: problem solving and movement. That's all it was designed for. Get rid of the functional movement screens, get rid of all of these different screens out there that people are charging enormous amounts of money to be certified in and let kids go back to playing. I've always said the worst thing in the world is a computer. It's ruined the work habits of America and the work habits of this country.

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Let me get back to where I was. I'll tell you how screwed up this profession is that we all love so very much. My good friend Kevin Osta and I were involved in the most bizarre interview processes in the world back in early the early 90s. Kevin was in Minnesota and the Miami Dolphins flew me, him, Gary Wayne, and Mike Wolfe to Miami on the same day. They stuck us in the same room. All four of us. All four of us just sat there looked at each other like, “why are we here?” Then, we go in the interview with Don Schola and come out and none of us got the job. They gave it to John Gamble at Virginia, who I’m not sure they ever interviewed. Some things about this profession don’t make sense.


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I'm criticized so much for my desk, but my desk is my life. If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, what then is an empty desk a sign of? There are guys who are real organized and I go in their office and there is nothing on the desk. These people make me very nervous. You’ve got too much time on your hands. I have posted notes all over my desk and all over my bedroom of things I need to do and accomplish for the process of training. At the top of that to-do list is learning.

The best advice I can give young coaches is to learn to coach. I spend an hour of every day reading. Don’t worry about writing programs. Learn. Learn to coach your athletes. If you're in a performance institute, the private sector, know that things change when you have to deal with 40-50 people at one time in a team setting. It’s an entirely different story because you have to be very dynamic and very flexible. This is why my desk looks like it does; because I really don't have enough time to keep it clean because I'm on the floor. Even in my age (I'll be 58 this year) I never leave my floor. At the end of the day, I'm gassed. The reason I'm gassed is I spend all my energy on my athletes every day.

I figured out in 1997 that what we were doing in this country was not right. The problem is, we suffer from academic byopia. They only teach us what they want us to know. It's not a lot. Strength training did not originate at the University of Nebraska. Strength training has been around for years. The development of athletes has been around for years. I took a tour of Rome this past year with the Arizona Cardinals, who I'm very blessed to be with. I saw the very first Olympic stadium. Believe me, it wasn't in 1980s.

The first time Louie came to our facility, for four hours he ripped me a new ass. Oh, boy. At that time I had two choices: I could say he doesn't know what he's talking about because he's a powerlifter and my guys don't powerlift, or I could look at myself and say, “You know what? You don't know anything.” I went home and I looked at myself and told myself I didn’t know anything. Thing are constantly changing. Things are constantly evolving. You have to keep learning.

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The amazing thing, after those four hours, is that after giving me myself a new asshole, Dave Tate says to me, “Don't worry, he likes you.” I still wonder what it would’ve been like if he didn’t like me. For the next couple of years, I went back and forth to Westside Barbell to learn from some of the strongest people in the world.


WATCH: Buddy Morris's Physical Preparation for Football


There are others I learn from. Dan Pfaff is one of the greatest minds I've ever met in development of a power speed athlete. He has taught me more in the past year about the development of power speed in an athlete than anyone else has in my entire life. Dan has allowed me to take him over when we work together. The thing Dan said to me at the time was, “Buddy, stop asking me questions. Go start talking to my athletes.” To me, that means he had opened up his life and his athletes to allow me to interrupt them to ask questions. He's been a valuable source of information.

The other influences are my assistants and interns. One thing I will say is that I always hire people that are smarter than me. I don't want a bunch of mini-me’s running around. I don't want people regurgitating everything I say. I don't want people who look like a 5-foot-8 troll walking around a weight room. I don't want me. I want somebody who can make me better, more intelligent. It's all these guys that have been smarter than me.

I just had a conversation with this guy right back off of Mississippi State, Anthony Parolly, one of my original interns, at the University of Pittsburgh in 2007. Here's how this went: I called Dan Melons just for professional curiosity. I said, “Coach, I'm taking Anthony Parolly off, and offering him a position on physical preparation staff here as a Arizona Cardinal.” He said, “Great choice, great guy, did a great job for me. You'll really love him.” I said, “I know, I had him in 2007. That's why I'm taking him back.”

Here's my favorite part of the story: I called up Rick Court. He's a strength coach for Mississippi State. We exchanged pleasantry. I said, “Rick, here's the bottom line. I'm stealing Anthony Parolly back off you.” There was no delay in response, and here's why I respect him. He said, "You mother fucker."

I'm like Rick. That is the best answer any body could have ever given me in this entire world for what I just told him. That just goes to show me how good Anthony was.

All these people have influenced me. Joe Kenn said it best, "We're in a process. We're in a society where people just regurgitate what every body else says."

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