Thursday, October 24, 2013

Creating a NewBreed of MMA athletes

Fast Friday Five

Since we evolved to bipedal-ism, man has been grappling, punching, kicking, and choking in an effort to preserve ones self, to conquer, and to establish dominance  in competitive environments. As man evolved, combat evolved. As combat evolved and nations were formed, cultures needed entertainment. Culture without physical competition is.... BORING... and so evolved the need for sport. As sport evolved, man's want and will to win changed the way we prepared. This meant practicing harder and pushing ourselves to become stronger. Superheroes were born and along came Milo, the Kroton, who progressively got stronger by supporting a bull overhead. Milo shed light on two specific variables: Progressive overload will lead to adaptation...and...and...being big and strong can be boring. Seriously, what good is strength when one cant accurately transfer or showcase it quickly, efficiently and do so over a considerable period of time, day in and day out. Today's athletes keep evolving, natural selection will always hold true. We now find ourselves  in a Golden Age of Strength and Conditioning in which forward thinkers, awesome ( readily available) research, and powerful motivators can literally change an athlete or a fighters identity for the better.

Coach Giff's 5 Principles of NX Level Fight Crew Training

1. Physical strength (absolute, general, maximal, relative) is the biggest confidence builder known to man. As rock star strength coach Mark Rippetoe once said, "Strong people are harder to kill than weak people. And more useful in general." Truer words may have never been spoken when it comes to the MMA athlete. Why couldn't an MMA woman with superior skills stand a chance with an NFL linebacker in the octagon--slabs of muscle and strength. Strength plays such a crucial roll in grappling (grip/opponent command), in striking (punching and kicking speed/power comes from strength) and in the ability to resist fatigue (relative body strength = improved work capacity and neuro-muscular efficiency). My fight crew performs at least three max effort exercises a week to improve their strength reserves. We Push/ Pull for the upper-body (Horizontal presses-DB Floor Press, Log Press, Board Benching Fat/ Horizontal Rowing or Vertical Pulling- Fat Bar Pendlays/ T Bars & Heavy Chins) and we also squat or perform dead-lifts for our lower half (goblet squats, zercher's, front squats, safety bar squats, trap bar dead's, sumo's, conventional, etc). As far as programming strength- think low reps (5/3/1), demand the intent of bar speed is always present, and understand these guys are being put through the ringer elsewhere and limit volume and intensity---save the athlete for singles week!
Pan Am's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Champ Scott Huston and RFA Champ Mike Rhodes Pulling Big Weight

2. Movement efficiency is the name of the game at NX Level. Athletes need to have optimal structural alignment, soft tissue quality, mobility, and core stability to diminish energy leaks, ensure force production/absorption is maximized, and also increase work capacity and recovery. Our assessment is based off of postural alignment and the Functional Movement Screen and allows us to blueprint our athletes for asymmetries and deficiencies. Our "athletic machines" keep healthy and mobile by starting each workout with PVC pipe or LaX ball self myofascial release, manual ART, mobility, flexibility, and core stability. Fighters specifically need to pay attention to foot pro-nation (nasty posterior tib tightness), hip external rotation, anterior pelvic tilt, scapular protraction and shoulder internal rotation. Mobility and soft tissue quality is crucial here to restore alignment and regain optimal ranges of motion in ankles, hips, and shoulders.
UFC star Erik "NewBreed" Koch opening up his hips with NX Level's spider man stretch

3. Periodization- Training and coaching is both an art and a science. I tend to favor block periodization of some sort in a linearly conjugated fashion...that was a contraindicating philosophy I just threw out. Truth be told, the MMA athlete is the garbage disposal of athleticism. These guys are expected to be strong, fast, explosive, aerobic dynamos, whom also need to be resilient and yet malleable like water. When I look at these guys with a grand scheme approach, first thing is first, as previously discussed I have to get them stronger and more efficient. Once these principles are achieved it is easier to convert those qualities into speed/power and than continue to bring up their aerobic/ anaerobic capacities after those above pieces are set. Again, punching it home: build strength, convert to power, train them to be able to sustain these qualities for 5 to 25 minutes. One concept I do live by is "Vertical integration." To dummy it down, I allude to the "training soup bucket." The untrained athlete starts out with a near empty bucket- you start to do some strength work (meat), some hypertrophy and general strength work, than you try to add some speed and power training (potatoes), and than you need to finish with some strength endurance and energy systems development (ESD) (broth/spices/veggies etc)... and oh my gosh we need to drop some weight so lets run some more (now we are just watering it down)---pretty soon that bucket is over flowing and you lost a brunt of the meat and potatoes you first started out with.The soup is now flat...The healthiest recipe needs to take on a generalist approach. Know that a little bit can go a long way and understand the vigor's of training camp will take a toll on every performance quality.
4. Athletes- The Transformers of UFC/MMA - Movement qualities of the MMA athlete draw many comparisons in various sports. The MMA athlete moves much like a basketball player, needs a Rugby players strength and resiliency but also should be treated like a fastball pitcher when dealing with shoulder wear and tear..MMA athletes also need short area quickness and explosive power while also being strong and resilient to injury. I treat these guys with many of the same philosophies I apply to the field sport athletes I train-- they need to bend the knees, extend the hips, push/pull, create tension, keep tension, apply force and absorb force all while resisting fatigue. That is sport. The MMA fighter is an athlete....                                                                          

NX Level Fight Crew: Rocky & Pat Magladeno, Sergio Pettis, Mike Rhodes & Elias Garcia workin' it

5. Fun Factor - The NX Level Fight Crew is a team of ten plus athletes largely funneled in by the nations premier MMA gym, Rofous Sport. Many of these athletes are the "grinder athletes" who actually do "grind." Working until 3 am and arriving for an 8 or 10 am workout. The sport and its disciplines require an obscene amount of practice time and many of my athletes spend 1/2 their lives with an overly active sympathetic nervous system. While training needs to be focused, monotony requires us to create a  fun and exciting environment. With this said, coaches need to create discipline while never stifling the athletes personality completely. I never forget they are lovers and fighters. I will leave this edition with a special shout out to my man Mike "Biggie" Rhodes - keep running with your heart! Good luck, great training and thanks for reading!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Champion Children- Building Your "Kids" Up

Fast Friday Five

I hear the phrase "kids these days" thrown around loosely. Often it used in an effort to glorify one's own youth experience and also condemn the goobers of our current culture. The facts are "kids these" days are a product of YOU, US, and ME. Kids these days are "pudging" out a little more, are spending more time slouched in front of a flat screen and have more experience pushing buttons on a cell phone than they do climbing on monkey bars. Conversely, adults these days are--are----doing the exact same. Adults these days don't consume vegetables and or fruits, adults these days don't find the 20-40 minutes a day out of their "insanley" busy lives to get up and move, adults these days know more about Mel Kiper's 1st Round projections than they do about who their child's favorite teacher is or what their biggest fear is. Adults these days say "my kid doesn't want to ___(fill in the blank with: eat good, exercise, stop to help someone, sacrifice a bit)---truth is its not the kids that don't want to "You probably don't want to." I condition the body with the Law of the Farm- what you reap you sow. We should condition our kids in the exact same manner and light. Lead by example.

God hasn't blessed me with kids yet- However, my coaching style reflects that of a parent. Here is my top five ways to build a champion child:

1. Show UP , Step Up,  Lead Don't Manage - My dad was my first coach. It started in the yard running button hooks when I was five or six. When I was seven, no parent raised their hands during our first flag football parent/athlete meeting-so my dad stepped up. He did the best he could with no formal education or experience. I didn't get to play more than the other kids, I shared my time playing every position. I learned how to be a teammate. I will never forget that. As I've progressed into my coaching career I've realized the coaches I looked up to the most were the ones that lived the sport, that offered the hearts to me and my teammates. Some of my coaches didn't know much, but they showed up--the best ones knew how to motivate. Kids and adults alike don't want to be managed, they want to be lead and they want to be inspired.

2. You Did Good  - I believe talent and potential is only truly met and released when you can get the beholder to appreciate themselves. How they see themselves and feel is a product of how their mentors, parents, coaches, and teachers see them and treat them. Tell a person what you see in them, push them accordingly to get them their. Early on with kids its a 2/3 vs 1/3 policy--spend more time building them up, but you need to also let them know they can improve in other areas as well. Remember what encourage means--To add to someones heart.

3. Reward the Effort  - Future Hall of Fame Linebacker Ray Lewis once said, "Effort, its you vs you." We all have also heard the line that competition breeds success. Get kids to buy into the idea that its about competing within first and they will be on track to put forth better effort with every opportunity. Through effort where they will find out the most about themselves. Start rewarding things like enthusiasm, body language, focus, attention to detail, persistence, timeliness and you will be amazed where it takes kids.

4. Embrace Failure - I have seen a few of my kids wear a Nike t-shirt with the slogan "Fear Failure." Failure is the learning tool for success--its what sparks the flame for progress and resilience. Teach kids to take risks, to learn from failure through feedback and analysis. Push kids in a manner where they do fail. Most importantly teach kids to accept the responsibility of failure. One of my favorite lines from my high school coach Steve Rux was, "Own it, learn from it, trash it."

5. Empower - Define. Educate. Do. Make kids part of the mission. Teach them, show them the way, and than let them do. Help them involve others. Create a following. Get out of their way!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Influencing Your Team

Fast Friday Five
"Using Principle Centered Leadership philosophies to improve your team"

1. "So Can I" - Modeling by example is the most powerful avenue to leave an imprint on others. When you choose to be ALL-IN towards your pursuit of what you want; positive things will start to happen for you. I guarantee you the world will take notice. Light is always attracted to light. And you, my friends, are the light. When you love, it is easier to be loved and when you give great effort you will reap a reward be it physical, mental, or emotional. If you're a coach and you want your athletes or team to work hard, you must first put in the work. If you want them to be intense and aggressive, than be a spark that ignites their fire. If you want them to buy in and commit to their program--You must earn their trust and be their for them. If you want to gain a promotion or move up the ladder than learn, help the team, and don't hesitate to self promote. If you have never checked out Erik The Hip Hop Motivator --do so. I met him last January at Rofous Sport Academy. He talked about the idea that your "ethos" should bleed out of you. Erik gave me the chills, but he inspired me to leave their saying, "If he can do it, than so can I." I want my athletes to be enthusiastic, healthy, committed and consistent leaders - I must be that first!

Every time you are around another you have the ability to bleed into them your best qualities-
get them to say "SO CAN I !!!!!!"  

2. Be a friend - If you are reading this you value education. Coaches, teachers, leaders, business men/women, and many others who work their tails off know that a base of knowledge is needed to perform  successfully. Often times, we miss the boat on influence because we never take the time to genuinely build TRUST. I can attest to this line with my athletes, "I don't care how much you know until I know how much you care." If you're a friend first and foremost, influencing will be all the easier. If our goal is to lead, communication is a must. The number one way to create a lapse in communication is to not have a foundation of trust. Use these principles offered by renowned author Stephen Covey to earn friendships: assume the best- seek to understand - reward and facilitate honesty - take the initiative on dealing with offenses -apologize/admit mistakes/forgive - don't take things to personally - find one on one time- accept others, have fun and let them influence you too!!!

One of the best parts of coaching is building friendships!

3. What and HOW you tell me - Delivery is a key component in leadership, story telling, and comedy alike. Comedian Jim Gaffigan kills it with his punch lines and shows control in use of mannerisms, tone, and timing. As an "influence-r" it may be a good idea to use more tact than him. All laughing aside, how you deliver a message has a certain cementing affect. You can win or lose some in this regard. My mother always taught me in times of frustration or anger to wait a day. Often, people act in terms of how they feel disregarding what they know. Sometimes it is best to detach yourself. Motivation and inspiration is a much greater function of the heart than it is the head. If you need to get a message across in times of frustration-  take yourself out of the equation. I want my young athletes to know that they need to give great effort so they can get better. Often times many coaches let their athletes leave a practice thinking, "I need to give better effort other wise coach will get mad and punish me." You want to establish the will to and want to in your athletes out of love and desire not out of fear. Fear can be a good motivator, but I know love and positive passion for something will have an abundant, timeless quality.    Lastly, what you say has to have truth. You need to believe and hopefully have some evidence in your personal theories. Do your research!

4. Practice and live according to the principles of ABUNDANCE - Never operate from a scarcity mentality. Believe that no one can ever take from you when you operate at your highest calling--there is always enough to go around. Realize that your life as you know it is a mere matter of your perceptions. Find sources of internal security by identifying your strengths, by cultivating great meaningful relations, by recognizing you're not perfect, by loving unconditio ALL Winnally, by trusting yourself, and by  involving others.  Don't be a victim of the "win-lose" lifestyle.  Live by the "WOW WAW" principle-- "When One Wins We ALL WIN ."

5. Serving your mission - "For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves." (Luke 22:27) This passage speaks of the idea that the leader must really be the servant to others. How would you serve someone greater than you? You would likely be attentive, positive, willing to sacrifice for them, resourceful, proactive, and willing to take a back seat for their "greater" cause. How phenomenal would the people you want to influence be if you served each and every one of them as if your message and mission depended on it. Leaders know when to lead, they know when to follow, and they more importantly know how to  serve

Thank you for reading, please re-post if you enjoyed, more importantly, apply what you liked today and