Jun 22

A CLOSER LOOK AT SPEED AND AGILITY DRILLS.

Everyone loves a good agility ladder.

 

 

But take the ladder away, block out what the feet are doing, just look at the torso and hips; what is the person doing?

Almost without exception, they’re looking down at their feet and their actual body is going almost no where: No where fast.

What exactly is being trained? ‘Footwork’?, ‘Fast feet’?, ‘Quickness’?

Let us be clear, the way in which many agility drills are trained is essentially only training one facet of what is necessary to move quickly in a field sport. Stride Frequency.

 

You’re basically getting a lot of foot contacts, all the while at a low actual speed across the ground.

In and of itself this is not particularly useful. Moving your feet up and down on the spot quickly is clearly not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to move the whole body (centre of mass) quickly, chasing and evading. In sports, this is the only thing that matters, as we’re not talking about a sport where form is scored: diving, aerial skiing, gymnastics…… we’re talking largely about invasion games; football codes, hockey etc (** ask me some time about why gymnasts often make terrible runners**)

 

Now take another look at someone performing ladder drills and the like. Does their foot contact look like this?

Ruh-Roh

You’re about to have a bad day. Think about the difference in forces on the interface between the ground and the foot on a ladder drill and compare it to what is happening in a game situation at high speed. They are nothing like each other. If you’re up on your toes like this on the field, you are not moving quickly and you’re now possessing the same problem as you do when you run like this in a linear fashion at speed; you’re over-stressing the plantar fascia and soleus. Shin splints and plantar fasciitis are about to visit you.

Landing high on the toe and compressing down to the heel gives us the same inefficient effect as training for speed on the sand….. you’re creating a longer contact time. You’re also throwing in un-due stress, and inefficient use, of the lower leg for free.

 

You could have a few more millimeters under the heel here. Don’t ask me how I got this pic done. Rest assured I almost fell over.

 

You neither want to be landing primarily on your heel OR on your toe. It should be forefoot first and then *maybe* heel depending on other factors. Hard deceleration we will come to another day.

 

Now, back to the ladders: what are they good for? Not that much really. Particularly if you are a very good athlete. Indeed there are people who are preparing for their sport who are not blessed with very good anything. They’re not fast, strong, agile, flexible, well conditioned or very adaptive. Yes: they will be better at their sport by using agility ladders. Coordinating themselves, starting to get an idea of tempo and cadence, starting to condition themselves and the lower leg structures, most of all build stride frequency.

 

A good athlete though can basically use them as a warm up and that’s about it. In fact, teaching a good athlete a bunch of drills and techniques that encourage them to take more steps in a smaller space, get up on their toes frequently, look down, and have no regard to the vertical displacement of their body is a terrible way to train them.

 

Watch this sequence of pics. A massively valuable ability is that of being able to make high speed cuts and explosive movements in opposing directions. Here a 90 degree cut is being trained. The athlete needs to learn how to effectively reduce their vertical displacement (drop their centre of mass), take a significant horizontal displacement step, push off and take a smaller step that creates a shin angle that can be pushed off.

 

 

The right leg has stepped out to the side, we can now ‘fall’ into the cut and push off at speed.

Note the angle of the left shin here. The more severe we can make this angle, the more we can push off at speed.

Run straight, drop center of mass and step horizontally, fall into the cut, take a small step that you can push off and accelerate out of the cut. DO NOT take a bunch of quick choppy steps. DO NOT try to stay upright.

 

Footwork that reaches, footwork that stutters, footwork that keeps our foot on the ground a long time: the Devil’s work!

May 25

SPEEDINESS, JUMPINESS AND EXPLAINING YOUR ANECDOTES.

I’m inventing words now, ‘Jumpiness’ pfft. If Speedy Gonzalez was a cartoon character, what cartoon animal can we have to take up the role of Jumpy…… let’s call him ‘Morris’, or how about ‘Walter’? Shall we make him one of those Jumping Spiders? That could be too terrifying.

YEEEE-HA!!!! I think we can assume that Speed Gonzalez had good genetics.

 

Strength, Speed and Jumping; it is important for you to understand the ability of these traits to be trained. It will increase your understanding and limit your frustration.

Strength is one of the most trainable capacities of fitness. The pluralism of strategies is testament to the fact that it is a very easy capacity to improve for the majority of people; almost to the point that it is not worth arguing about if ‘you just want to get stronger‘. Pick up rocks: get stronger. Push a car: get stronger. Change from drinking middies to schooners: get stronger. It usually becomes MY business when they say the want to get stronger efficiently and competently.

Speed and Jumping ability are a different creature. Whilst a strength expression is not overly concerned with time; asking only ‘How much weight and how far does it move?’ Speed and Jumping definitely are time dependent.

 

Nobody is timing your 1RM, but its pretty hard to clean and jerk slowly. A bit of ‘coaching lean’ helps.

 

It is the neuromuscular efficiency, how long it takes to utilize and recruit the musculature, which comes into play with speed and jumps. How your motor neurons are innervated into the muscle fibers and what type they are is key in every rapid pulse of exertion that you attempt to make. This is the reason that jump testing is a standard common measure for talent identification; it is largely untrainable and essentially a test of genetic deliverance.

Shorten the number of pulses and less trainable is the quality; hence the anecdotes of shot put throwers being capable of excellent short sprint abilities. As the expression lengthens, the importance of biomechanics and conditioning comes into play. Now strength has an influence on both sprinting speed and jumping ability, but not nearly as much of an influence as genetics; that neuromuscular ability that you are born with really is the biggest indicator of output.

You will see athletes training extremely hard over quite some time who will have much poorer jumping and short sprint abilities than someone who has hardly trained at all. This reality though is no reason to avoid training the qualities applicable to your overall goals; you train and improve the things that you can and your genetic cards fall where they may. Just because you only improved your vertical jump from 60cm to 66cm in 6 months and your friend who doesn’t train at all jumps 72cm without warming up shouldn’t distract you from all the other improvements you have made with your training: Strength, Running Skills, Jump and Landing efficiency, Conditioning, Muscular hypertrophy, Body fat reduction.

Consider these observations on how someone can improve their Speed and Jumping ability to figure out why you get the results that you get.

 

* You have gained 7 kg of bodyweight since your last testing 2 months ago and your speed has either stayed the same or declined slightly. Don’t worry, you’re moving more weight the same distance in the same time, your power has increased even if speed hasn’t.

* You have been training very hard, with a lot of volume, and your nervous system is very depressed; you feel over trained. Your jumps and sprints are pretty ordinary and there are team mates and peers who are doing better than you but they hardly train at all. Those same team mates do not have your work capacity and strength.

* You had a huge training block at the start of the year, you gained a lot of mass and a lot of body fat. You transitioned into your field sport and slowly gained some work capacity with an increase of conditioning work whilst keeping a low volume maintenance of strength work. After a bye week, deep into the season, you’re 5 kg lighter than at the beginning, still pretty strong and very fresh because the coach gave you some time off over the bye week. You set a PR in your vertical jump because you felt really good and wanted to test where it was,

* Someone on your team puts up monster testing numbers, but during a game, they do not stand out, they are inconsistent with their play and other players of less spectacular output perform better. The technical-tactical skills are the more vitally important components of field sports. Never forget this, but also realize that you can’t use your ‘craftiness‘ to win the high jump.

* You are morbidly obese, your vertical leap is 14cm, you lose 37kg, you jump 53cm. This result does not mean that the observation that jumping ability is ‘largely untrainable‘ has been invalidated, it means you used to be fat and now you’re not and obviously you’re an outlier.

Apr 27

Retro-Homunculus Linear Progression

The thought experiment goes something like this:

Imagine being put on a barge 200 nautical miles out past the ‘Exclusive Economic Zone’ with a humane amount of water. You’re out there for 4 days. On the 5th day a rescue boat comes and saves you, how much body fat do you think you will have lost?

 

You didn’t think you’d learn about maritime borders on a gym’s website did you.

 

There is no equivalent to this in strength training. You could marinate someone in steroids and they’re not going to get that much stronger after 4 days. It is for this reason that strength, as a capacity of fitness should be emphasized over body fat percentage for essentially everyone except for the morbidly obese.

The concern over body fat and ‘getting too big’ manifests in the creation of the Homunculus mindset. A very small person. That very small person is sabotaging themselves with an irrational concern over getting bigger, in turn halting potential progress in getting stronger; which is fine except if they are combining this concern over bodyweight with the attempt to get stronger, then it has been irrational.

 

Every now and then we host a new lifter who was manufactured by an alchemist.

 

Linear progression is a sensible methodology for new lifters: this is both people who haven’t been to anything calling itself a gym in a long time or indeed, forever; as well as those who have never been lifters before and instead been stuck in a rut of exercise over training. Anyone who has not gone through something like a linear strength progression CAN and SHOULD do so to find the upper reaches of where their genetic strength potential could be.

The top end of linear progression is where things can get tricky. Mr and Mrs Homunculus will sometimes create a false plateau because of their lack of calorie consumption but the authentic linear stall can be dealt with in the same way…. A reset and more eating.

It looks something like this. You’re overhead pressing and you take the following work sets…

3×5@45kg

3×5@46kg

3×5@47.5kg but you only get 5, 4, 4.

You re-try and you get 4, 4, 3. Okay now its time to reset the weight.

3×6@ 43.5kg

3×6@ 45kg

3×6@ 46kg

3×6@ 47.5kg (you get 6, 5, 5 but that’s okay you keep going)

3×5@ 48.5kg

It took you 5 sessions to move up 2.5kg but that’s ok. You got it. This is still the fastest way to move between the 2 sessions.

The image of the sure and steady tortoise is one of the emblematic flag bearers of how sensible work gets done. Bodyweight up, bar weight up work methodically and reset where necessary. You can always spend a few days out in international waters in the future.

 

Look how happy that tortoise is!! LOOK AT HIM!!!!
That could be you with your lifting if you just ate a little more and training consistently.

 

What you might well miss is some simple math: 2.5kg per week x 52 weeks is 130kg. 130kg is a lot of weight to add to ANY lift and that jackpotting of weight on the bar is possible in one form or another as long as you employ the effort towards the things that take a long time instead of haring off in the direction of ‘gettin lean and jacked’ when you’re weak and unskilled.

Mar 16

PEDAGOGICAL REASONING AND A FUTURE OF BETTER MATURE-AGED ATHLETES.

So it’s time to swim against the tide again.

Today we attack the well-worn maxim below.

 

 

Its not important to know who JJ Watt is, he’s a very good professional NFL player in the USA. That HE is saying is not the issue, that this is a salient theme of opinion amongst the stakeholders of organized sport for children is the reason why I have chosen it as the flagship statement to critique.

 

Let’s take a look at this bit-by-bit and unpack it because I have contrary opinion of what the actual problem is.

 

My interpretation of this statement, and the general theme, is that there are two main concerns; one about physical development, the other psychological/social development. There is a fear and perception that children are being ‘pushed’ into taking a single sport seriously too early in life.

 

There is a repeating concern at the higher levels of organized sport that kids arrive at the top levels lacking certain skills, ‘peak-too-early’ and then fail at the sport; in particular accumulating injuries. Additionally, they will have a humorless sporting experience and mimic some of the landmark ‘child-prodigy’ kids who later fell from grace. (Think Tiger Woods post-sexcapade revelations, Nick D’Arcy, Jelena Dokic, Todd Marinovich)

 

On reflection, those careers on paper would be more than acceptable, its the behavior linked to the person that is concerning. But since Watt mentioned both physical and psychological aspects of concern, so shall we.

 

SOME EVIDENCE BEYOND ME JUST GAS-BAGGING.

 

From this article, Is it Wise to Specialize?, ‘here are five research excerpts’.

Of the 5, 3 are related to injury and the other 2 are psychological/behavioral based (continuing on with physical activity in adult life and burnout/stress). These are loosely referred to.

 

The article throws up several objections to sporting specialization and sites a study that can be found here.

It makes these observation:-

- The study found that 60.4 percent of the injured athletes specialized in sports, while only 31.3 percent of the uninjured athletes specialized.

- Uninjured athletes spent a total of 8.8 hours a week playing organized sports, while injured athletes spent 11 hours.

Importantly, However, this finding had a P value of 0.07, meaning that it fell just short of being considered statistically significant. Jayanthi said results of the current study are preliminary.’

 

Ultimately, it should be no mystery that athletes who take a sport more seriously will more likely consult a specialist for a physical malady. Sporting excellence does not, and should not, suggest optimal health; it merely suggests specialized adaptation.

The extra 2.2 hours per week spent participating in sport alone could account for the injury rate in the study.

 

 

CUTTING TO THE CHASE.

 

A single sport does not axiomatically preclude variations in the dreaded ‘ingrained motor patterns’ and inevitably create ‘over-use injuries’. Neither does participation in a single sport preclude social and personal development in youth. From the same related article by the Aspen Institute….

 ‘Models that include the multiplicative, complex, and multifactorial nature of talent development may prove to be the most valuable to children.’

‘Need to better recognize that talent development in youth is multifactorial and complex, and includes the interaction of numerous biological, social and psychological factors (Bailey et al., 2010)’

 

Anecdotally, the experience of Shire Speed and Strength gym has been that youth athletes arrive at the gym having spent their career to that point endlessly sampling various sports, often showing talent in some of them, but never actually developing the multitude of factors necessary for sporting excellence and mastery. They participate in sporting with a large running component but are terrible runners. They have poor mobility. They’re weak.

 

Of course there is a bias towards athletes consulting us here for help who have problems to solve, if they didn’t need help they wouldn’t come to us, but even beyond the consultancy, the dialogue with other coaches, competitors and parents is actually one of multiple sports and multiple unaddressed inefficiencies.

 

Overall I perceive a prejudice against kids. That they can’t be conscientious about sport. That they only ever want to have fun. That they can’t be taught complex skills.

 

I disagree.

 

The desire to want to learn, to start at a conservative point, to progress soberly and thoughtfully and to value and acknowledge that process transcends age; occurring across the spectrum of age-groups.

 

Maybe its the preference as a business model to want to teach kids in groups and the difficulty and time-consuming nature of laying skills out diligently precludes it. But the answer to this perceived problem of youth sport isn’t going to be solved by just ‘having a go’ at more sports. The same people who make this haphazard recommendation are the same ones who will get angry at ‘everyone gets a trophy day’ then rage, RAGE I TELL YA! At some league they heard of that doesn’t even keep score!

“Do-gooders, they’re everywhere!” “Yeah! Lousy no good do-gooders!”

 

Can’t we agree after the final score check, that there is common ground on this?

Playing sport: GOOD

Keeping score: GOOD

Trophies: GOOD but not for everyone.

 

We agree its good to play sport, and do it well, we want to keep score and kids need to learn to lose. But surely developing a child at a sport if they really like it means that they need to develop all the components of that sport and it is this which is missing in youth development. Things wont actually get better by playing more sports in an even less organized and planned way.

 

Mar 09

“Okay, here we go.” Coaching tips from Actors, Directors and Musicians.

Just follow with me here for a moment.

 

Early on with an athlete, a lifter; someone I’m coaching. The beginning is mobility and skills; the intensity and the volume comes later.

 

They’re here because they have already identified in themselves that they need help, so a coaching disposition that I find helpful causes me to think back to a few people who share the same approach as I do.

 

 

Clint Eastwood requires no introduction, Actor, Director and Producer, you only need to look up his history in television and movies to see how experienced and respected he is. This clip from his appearance of ‘Inside the Actors Studio’, shows him explaining his technique as a director: it is sage advice. There is no point putting a new lifter on edge. A coach needs to find out exactly what they are starting with, so putting someone at ease in a new environment is essential. There is plenty of time in the future to push some buttons and get a motivated training effect from them.

 

 

Dweezil Zappa, the son of the more famous Frank Zappa, has a similar technique when starting his sets. The complexity of music that Dweezil re-creates when performing his father’s music, through dozens of concerts every year, he does so with a calm readying for performance like Eastwood.

 

 

“Okay, here we go.” Just start, we don’t need to startle people when we first start working with them.

 

Feb 23

THE HOMEOPATHIC REMEDY FOR PROBLEMS WITH BARBELL TRAINING.

New lifters come to the gym and explain how they feel that they are having trouble with their lifting technique and skills.

My usual reply is, “you’ve come to right place.”

Quackery is everywhere however, and I have recently considered how things might work if I used homeopathic remedies to fix problems in barbell training.

 

 

Basically, what I would do if you were having problems with your squatting would be to file off some metal from an old barbell, mix it in some distilled water, slosh it around to dilute it, and then have the person drink it.

 

 

The exposure to a small sample of what is supposed to be giving you trouble is a like cures like concept that seems to want to borrow off of immunology theory in some bizzare way.

 

It might work if barbells were growing out of you perhaps. In short, people, don’t go drinking water that has metal filings in it okay? You need to train instead.

Feb 05

THE CANARY IN THE GYM COAL MINE.

*** This is a re-write of an old post from the old gym website from several years ago.***

 

 

There are warning signs all around us; not of impending doom from the perceived sheer danger of a weight room, but rather of individuals and how they may do themselves a disservice from the poor habits they have developed and the way they look at gym environments. In another article we warned you all of ‘The Battler’.


A good place to start for everyone coming to SSS is to take a look and see what sort of habits they have developed already and what sort of baggage they are bringing from other gyms. There may be some excellent ingrained skills that are not worth tampering with but usually there are a multitude of problems, and tell-tale signs abound of what those problems may be; both mechanical and philosophical.

 

Remember, there is always a bias against new lifters to any gym in that in many cases the reason they are looking for coaching and a new gym is because they detect a problem that they can’t fix themselves.

 

This is pretty much how happy they look too.

 

* The lifter stretching out their anterior shoulder, before during and after some sort of pressing variation. The unfailing indicator of residual pain and inflammation from a mechanical issue with his pressing mechanics.

 

* The lifter who almost hits their head on the bar when they lay back on the bench. If left to continue on their normal progression, it will only be a few moments before you’re pulling the bar off of their body as their legs flail like a squashed insect because they have too much on the bar.

 

* The person who when asked to go through their normal warm up routine, launches into a 25min body-weight calisthenic program that ‘gets their heart-rate up‘ and ‘activates the ________ muscles‘, but leaves them still unable to achieve basic terminal mobility positions.

 

* The skinny guy who throws a plate on each end of the bar before even warming up at the squat rack. A squat intervention is about to happen.

 

* The ‘Mixer’; the guy mixing up supplements before, during and directly after his workout and has it all laid out everywhere. Usually we can do something with ‘The Mixer’; at least they’re committed.

 

 

These warning signs don’t just occur immediately in front of you; the dead canary can be found any time you read an article, watch an interview or listen to a podcast or presentation.

 

This is what they mean when they say, “we don’t what do be like weightlifters here.”

 

* The statement when talking about the use of barbell lifting in the preparation of other sports, “we’re not training to be weightlifters here”, as if there were some sort of non-weightlifting way to lift a barbell efficiently.

 

* They double down when talking about running, “we’re not trying to be Olympic sprinters here”, as if there were some non-sprinter way to run faster. These same people then proceed to start executing a series of running drills just as a competition sprinter would except with no attention to detail.

 

 

* The ‘Tyre Kicker’. They usually come in to check out the gym and ask a question like “So are you guys a gym?” As if the view of the gym from the front door could suggest anything else.

The ‘Tyre Kicker’ may also announce themselves via the request for some sort of discount, “is there any movement on that price?” They haven’t lifted at the gym yet, their number #1 consideration on choosing a gym is price. They over look the fact that SSS hosts countless Exercise Science graduates and undergraduates looking for skills as well as Personal trainers and Coaches. They are oblivious that the going rate for a Personal Training session at a commercial gym is $60 for 45minutes and at Shire Speed and Strength, members pay nothing extra than the fortnightly rate to learn new skills daily in a one on one setting.

The ‘Tyre Kicker’ will be impressed with a gym keyring, a free towel and ‘atmosphere’. Those things will be good accessories to the lifting problems that they may never learn to solve.

 

Are you guys a gym? What else could this place be? Seriously, I have nothing.

 

 

Jan 23

WANT TO LEARN? OBTAIN SOME PROBLEMS TO SOLVE.

Periodically, someone will ask me where I have learnt most of my knowledge, what publications do I read, seminars that I go to, youtube channels do I watch, places I have studied and coaches I have been mentored under?

 

 

The truth is always very underwhelming I think; not just to me, but to the person asking as well. Its flattering if someone thinks you’ve added value to their training that they care at all to know what your background is, but in particular, its when the question comes in the form of advice that the REAL answer needs to be unpacked a bit.

 

“How can I become a coach?”

 

You don’t need to know what these books are yet; you need to go out and start experimenting with people for free by trying to solve their training problems.
That’s what sport is doing constantly, and no one is paying the U/13B Betoota girls netball team coach.

My observations on becoming a coach….

 

* The simple act of repetition will improve you as a coach. Like everything, so do a lot of it.

* If you’re worried that coaching takes too long to get good at, but you care about it, see this as a positive thing. It will make it harder for all the terrible people from following through with it and giving coaching a bad name: Or in some cases a worse name.

* You are valuable to people to the extent that you can provide things for them. Assessing yourself as a coach shouldn’t just be a case of listing bad things that you don’t do. “Not too expensive” and “At least I’m not as crap as that other guy and into P90X“, should be off the table as descriptions of yourself.

* Time within every sport you’ve played, in fact pretty much most of your life, is spent consuming things that other people have produced. A good coach produces something for someone. It doesn’t matter if the coach is ‘really nice’ (it helps) but they have to produce improvements.

* The only thing that matters to the athlete is what you can get them to do. Education, accreditation, personality: none of it means anything until it is validated by an improvement in the person who is acquiring your service.

 

Your training knowledge is not found inside this folder of accreditation certificates. Your knowledge is taken with you everywhere you go and you accumulated it in real time by solving problems.
Your athletes are your validation.

 

So there are a few cold harsh realities there. And notice I am differentiating between financial success and actual coaching success. If the question is, ‘How can I become a financially successful coach/trainer?’, then you’re asking the wrong guy. The question I am responding to is, ‘How can i become a better coach?’

 

You need to uncover problems. If you uncover problems you now have a great motivation for solutions; those solutions will germinate into experiments, innovation and knowledge. We are surrounded with under-skilled people who want to gain some physical skills. What ever image you create in your mind of what a great coach looks like, surrounded by uber-awesome physical specimens; if it truly isn’t just a case that they have just recruited better talent, then they have gone through a long process of solving problems for people.

 

How do we actually know if a coach is any good?

 

 

It may sound counter-intuitive to say, ‘go out and find some problems to solve’, because it would appear at first glance that our goal in life is bliss and efficiency and fulfillment. But frankly, humans don’t really enjoy bliss that long. They love to pick at consensus, cause conflict, disagree and stand out: They like to have some power and control.

 

Those athletes you start with, they’re valuable to the new coach. They provide great experience, it might be for free but its invaluable. Yes, yes yes; publications on coaching and training people are extremely valuable. But there is way too many people asking questions on what to read and listen to, and not nearly enough people asking questions on actual real problems they are trying to solve.

 

Acquire problems THEN read about solutions.

 

Dec 22

SOLSTICE LIFTING HOURS.

 

TUESDAY DEC 23RD.         LIFTING COMP AND SOLSTICE PARTY FROM 5PM.

 

WEDNESDAY DEC 24TH.    6AM TO 4PM.

 

THURSDAY DEC 25TH.       CLOSED

 

FRIDAY DEC 26TH.             CLOSED

 

SATURDAY DEC 27TH.       6.30AM-2PM

 

SUNDAY DEC 28TH.           CLOSED

 

MONDAY DEC 29TH          6AM-9PM

 

TUESDAY DEC 30TH        6AM-9PM

 

WEDNESDAY DEC 31ST   6AM TO 5PM

 

THURSDAY JAN 1ST        CLOSED

 

FRIDAY JAN 2ND               8.30AM-9PM

Nov 20

‘HEAPS KEEN’: THE DISTANCE BETWEEN DREAMS AND REALITY.

X is a composite of the best athletes that I have coached. When I say ‘athletes’, I mean sportspeople who are training for their sport. They play their sport, they train for their sport and they train generally; that makes them an athlete. Someone who plays sport and just goes to the practices and games is a ‘sportsperson’, not an athlete.

 

It comes as a surprise to most people that being an athlete is an extremely rare phenomenon. Being an athlete is not restricted to people who are professionals or high-level amateurs, it is a mark of commitment, not just talent. Indeed, there are many high level sportspeople who aren’t really athletes. Most sports do not actually provide a structure so that their participants CAN be athletes. Most are participatory focused, their idea of ‘development’ usually consists of special ‘camps’ or representative teams, where the most naturally gifted players (or ones with the money to attend) are herded together a few days at a nice facility. By the time that I meet X, usually they have already attended several ‘camps’, sometimes in multiple sports.

 

They get to wear new shirts when they attended these camps. That indicates that they are elite, and new shorts too; and they get a water bottle that has a cool logo on it. Yes, going to a camp is a big deal, and evidence of attendance is collected like merit badges.

 

 

X no longer attends development camps. X has many trophies and an entire wardrobe consisting of shirts and shorts from development camps and squads that they have previously attended and been ‘selected’ for. Those clothes now just work their way through the regular clothing rotation while real work is done; far from anything calling itself a camp or development squad.

 

In the past, X’s parents were told that X has talent and might have a big future. They were told there’s a coach coming to a camp soon who’s really good and worked with all the best players. X should definitely attend. X also needs to work on _______ and ______ and ______. The coach is vague on both the problems, and how these could be improved or solved; over-used maxims about how, ‘they’ve got to wanna do it’ are plenty. Importantly, these vague deficiencies that X has, will be relied upon in the future to reason why X did not succeed and ‘take the next step’.

 

Its important to lay the groundwork for both success and failure.

 

X has visited the sports chiro. He was told that apparently he’s got this thing, can’t remember the name of it, anyway he has to wear these orthotics. X is also allergic to _______.  The initial early picture of X is that he is naturally good at his sport, identified as such (as if being dominant is difficult to identify) but there hasn’t been anything done to make any improvements. With the knowledge that X is good at their sport the next move has been to continue to do the sport over and over, any problems are treated with the consultancy of a specialist who can put a label on a problem. Solving any problem that couldn’t be over come with just going around it is not on the table.

 

It takes a period of time and some great detail of explanation to X and X’s parents what training for their sport actually is. Eventually it makes sense that doing the sport over and over was not helping X get better and that they need to adapt to a much higher level of general athleticism and efficiency in the skills that make up their sporting task: along the way addressing any fundamental inefficiencies and pathologies in the process.

 

When X is in the off-season of his sport, X spends around 12 hours per week training. This is a mixture inside and outside the gym.

 

Quickly it ceases to occur to X that spending less than 12 or so hours per week on preparation for the sport that they are dedicated to would be consistent with being ‘heaps keen’. X has 168 hours in the week just like everyone else. X spends around 55-60 hours sleeping, works or studies around 55 hours per week, then there’s a bit of travel time here and there, that can be 8-14 hours per week. Actual training time is in effect quite small by comparison. When X is questioned why their peers cannot come up with even 6-8 hours per week to train in the off season, X is incredulous. “I don’t know; its not actually that much time is it?

 

Because X trains, X quickly gets better. Their peers do not make a link better training and competitiveness so they do not mimic the behavior. X’s peers think X is lucky. They use the same language they would use to describe a lottery winner. They also usually think that X is superior as a player and so mistakenly think that their continued progress is a result of the original competitive advantage.

 

X’s peers also disregard that serious athletes, ones much more dedicated than X, train much longer and harder than X. X only seems superior by comparison to their immediate competition; a competition also not made up by athletes. They disregard that there are people out there in the world who combine high level sports with serious high-level academics and professions. There are Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, Architects and Scientists who seem to be able to combine 8+ hours a week of training with all of their academic requirements.

 

 

X sometimes succeeds, sometimes fails. X has both gone far, and also failed to meet goals. But X has given themselves a better chance by at first allowing themselves to be a part of a plan, and then making that plan their own. Stressing to X that both the planning and the skills within that planning need to be efficient, has given X the best chance to take care of themselves as they participate in whatever organizational sporting model awaits in the future.

 

Fundamental though, is that X makes time for the sport that they say that they are ‘heaps keen’ on. Funnily enough though, those words never pass X’s lips, they’re already doing it. The only ones that ever say ‘heaps keen‘ are the ones who in fact in reality are not: ‘heaps keen‘ is the mating call of Coach Pete rolling his eyes.

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