Friday, February 22, 2013

“Assessing the Speed Athlete and Your Life”

“Assessing the Speed Athlete and Your Life”
At NX Level, the training process of the athlete starts with an assessment. I’ve come to find that “physical training” and life are direct reflections. Not a day goes by where analogies and parallels can’t be made with something as simple as teaching a snatch or taking kids through a dynamic warm up. Often I find that the lessons I am teaching the athletes, are in fact, lessons God probably wants me to learn or reflect upon. This week’s “Fast Friday Five” is part one of a two part series dedicated to some of these parallels I make when dealing with our standard assessment process.  
1.       “Vision and Goals” Paul Arden, author of my last read It’s not how good you are its how good you want to be, reached out and slapped me in the head when he said “your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have.” Without having a goal it’s difficult to score. Athletes usually want to get faster, stronger, more mobile or are driven by accolades or accomplishments such as “varsity letters” or “Division 1 scholarships.” My vision is simple- I want to inspire and be inspired.  I want to help people find their greatness within, and I want to coach athletes to fast performances. I want to do this to my best ability, where that takes me is yet to be determined. What is your vision? Chances are your vision involves your “day dreams” or has a link to what you do in your free time. 

2.       “Past Injuries” When planning ones training, we have to be aware of past injuries that may give us clues on structural, soft tissue, or muscular imbalances. We see the gamut of problems.  Topping the list of aches and pains would be: ankle instability, knee ligament stress, hip soft tissue or muscular strain, low back pain and anterior/posterior shoulder overuse. Identification here helps the coach gain insight and allows us to game plan for areas that need to be restored to proper sufficiency. My issues as an athlete were mobility and structural alignment. As a person, I can be one to assume too quickly and to be competitive to a fault.  Past injuries in life usually deal with relationships, fears, anxieties and personal experiences. If you can’t identify those issues, than you can’t properly overcome adversity that will undoubtedly be ahead. If you don’t fully recover, that “injury” will keep biting you in the butt. Understand that often times even the petty issues or what appears to be the problem isn’t the real culprit. Why did I pull my hamstring so much? Turns out it wasn’t really my hamstring’s that was problematic, it was the position of my pelvis.  In the non training world, one may be losing employment quickly or unable to keep harmonious relationships. Chances are their problems are deeply rooted in their past and their true sense of self. Here in their—freak things happen, you take a wrong step or the market collapses and you happen to be last on the totem pole. You can’t plan for it, but if you’re trained properly we will reduce the likelihood of injury. Notice I didn’t say prevent, the world and athletics are chaotic, damage is part of the game.  
3.       “Diet, Body Fat, what you chew on”- If you want to be a fast athlete, you can’t be carrying around excess body fat. You have to put the right things in your system to recover and fuel your body. You have to stick to the essentials and consistently consume nutrients at the proper time. Ideally, you need less than 10% body fat to sprint optimally. We are talking lean proteins, healthy fats, greens, berries, and the proper pre/post workout protocol.  As a person, if you carry the extra weight of burdens, anxieties, fears, and stressors, you won’t get to where you want quickly. You may never get there at all. Are you chewing on a hardy piece of resentment? You can move on in two different ways-- swallow it and let it come to pass or aspire, climb to a higher place-- then spit that shit out while watching from a scenic spot .  Remember that 10% number, well here’s the drill- “life is 10 % what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”-Charles Swindoll.
4.       “Structural Alignment and Posture”- Your alignment and posture can tell a knowledgeable eye everything there is to know about your body, your past, present and the possibilities of your future. It’s a great predictor, but not an end all be all. When you look at issues here you’ll understand that if pieces aren’t in the right places or positions, sooner or later you’ll bend extensively. Bend enough and you just may break. We are looking at anatomical structures such as bones, muscles and we are often poking and prodding (palpating if you will) towards soft tissue trigger points. If you want to be fast you have to hold great positions. If you want to succeed in life, you have to have a strong and resilient back bone. You have to believe and stick to your principles and values.  Who and what takes center stage in your life? Is it putting you in the right position to be successful, to be happy or to reach that goal or vision? Remember what we talked about earlier, local issues become global issues. You’re a sum total of all your parts- body and mind. If you want to be great, take away the negative features or attributes and make sure to build positives. Once you’ve identified you’re a “positive,” surround yourself with other positives. When you multiply a bunch of positives together you get a greater sum!   
5.       “Genshai” – Type this word into the Google search bar and do your research. It may change your outlook, perspective, and your life. It may help you change others for the better.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Coach Giff's First Fast Friday Five

Coach Giff's Fast Friday Five

"My bliss is all things sprint speed- watching an athlete scorch the track, accelerate for a long touchdown, or out sprint an opponent to the ball, base or hoop is one of the most mesmerizing athletic feats! These postings are one man's pursuit to coach, educate, enlighten, teach, motivate and inspire the world to 4.2 40's, 6.3 60's, and 9.4 100m sprints. "

1. My coaching philosophy made simple - "Better position's, better results." As a coach, whether you are a Performance Enhancement Specialist, Speed Guru, Strength and Conditioning coach, Personal Trainer, Impersonal Trainer, Bodyworks Practioner, 3rd Grade Parks and Rec guy who is getting his community service hours in for underage drinking...well whomever you a coach your job is to put your athletes in the most advantageous positions for success. It's as vanilla as Mike Boyle's body (Mike, assuming you are reading this, I am just kidding, I look up to you and I loved your Book Modern Advances in Strength Edition 74.) But seriously, help your athletes find the best positions and you will be successful. Get them really strong in all the appropriate places and at the appropriate times and you will be even more successful. Motivate and inspire these athletes and you will be a life changer. Coaching Takeaway: get really good at coaching the simple things, try to surround yourself with or learn from people who are "smarter" than you and don't forget that its just not about putting kids bodies in the right positions, you have to help them understand what they have within. Inspire!

2."Simple Equation for Fast Sprinting Speed = Long Stride Length + Fast Stride Frequency" You're probably saying "no shit Sherlock!" By now I find it charming when this is the first bullet point highlighted by our "underground warehouse speed experts." Yes, SF + SL = Speed--but are you the type of coach looking to build "B+" athletes? Are you the guy resting on the laurels of the simplicity that is "pushing hard" and "moving fast?” If it’s just that easy, than squat big with no regards to body position, move your limbs and arms fast, and push that prowler as if to the viewing eye it’s actually a push sled pulling an epileptic body. In a field where we have to steal every precious inch, pound or hundredth of a second, understand there are no short cuts to success. Understand that maybe the fastest way to building a fast athlete is to slow things down, relax and be patient. Whoa- that's a lesson in sprinting and programming in and of itself. Yes, sprinting fast means we need to produce large amounts of force in minimal time (1000 plus pounds of ground reaction force with a touchdown to touch off amplitude of .1 to .14 seconds.) --yes strength is so very, very important. Understand, one needs to be relatively and maximally strong and more importantly needs to have great explosive power in someway shape or form, but strength training isn’t the end all be all...don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

3. "Pal- Posture, Arm Action, Leg Action" My greatest friend growing up was sometimes my parents family room television. No, I didn’t spend time watching "Dawson's Creek" or "Family Guy"; I spent a lot of that time obsessing over a couple VHS tapes of just about every sprint ever run from 1999 to 2005. If you know the sprinting world, that’s when Maurice Greene, Ato Boldon, Jon Drummond, Inger Miller and team HSI reigned supreme. John Smith, who still runs the show out their in California, has a pretty sub par strength training approach. However, he is a master and a true artist when it comes to teaching body position. In fact, if you've ever heard the term "drive phase," whelp John's the coach that coined that acceleration term. Torso position (statue from head to hip)--arm action (clear the shoulders) and leg action (extend the hip, pull the foot through) are my three easy reference points. To practice that perfect drive phase position, all you need is a sled, a tire or a friend with a heavy monster band. Here's a better look:

4. "Alignment, Mobility, Stability" Can’t say enough about those three training principles. At NX Level, these three areas make us successful. My idol, master motivator Martin Rooney, always gives light to an Old Russian statement when talking of our sporting culture here in America, "You always want to put your tie on before you put your shirt on." We always battle between the need for instant gratification and being patient to yield lasting, progressive results. If you are not properly aligned your soft tissue quality and mobility will suffer. With out mobility you will never use proper position to get strong. If you can’t hold position (stability) what good is superhuman strength or speed? Coaching Takeaway - always refer back to your foundational principles. These are quite often the true limiting factors we come across.

5. "Thank you" - I've been taught so many lessons of gratuity in my life. If there is one thing you should know about me it is that I am a grateful soul. Thank you for reading my first entry. This is just the start. Your feed back would be much appreciated- I will take the good, bad, and the ugly if it can improve me in someway. Today I encourage you to do just that, encourage others and remember as I did with my first entry into the cyber world "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Lao-tzu