in conjunction with UK based Proformance
recently hosted the High Performance Athletic Development Clinic.
The clinic brought together some of the top coaches in the world of sports performance and applied sports science. There were over 60 coaches in attendance including staff members from the Carolina Hurricanes, NC State, UNC, Duke, UNC, ECU, Clemson, Wake Forest, Ole Miss and more. The featured speaker was legendary Track & Field coach Boo Schexnayder who lectured attendees for over 7 hours over the 2 day clinic. Athletic Lab’s Dr. Mike Young and John Grace were also featured speakers. The other 7 speakers were also top notch and delivered outstanding presentations. Here’s a team summary from 3 attendees (Jamie Hershfang, Laurel Zimmermann, and Riley Rogers) all members of Athletic Lab’s Coaching & Applied Sport Science Mentorship Program.
See the bottom of the post for information about the authors.
Compatible and Complementary Training Design by Boo Schexnayder reviewed by Riley Rogers
Boo Schexnayder presented on Compatible and Complementary Training Design, focusing specifically on the mesocycle. By shifting the design of the training program every 28 days, the athlete is given the ideal amount of time to adapt neuromuscularly. “The difference between a good athlete and a bad athlete is the nervous system,” he stated. Using this time frame, the athlete trains for three weeks and rests for one. He clarified that his concept of “rest days” are high intensity and low volume. As Schexnayder noted, “I can work hard because I rest hard,” meaning that rest is of value because it gives the athletes a chance to recharge in anticipation of the coming work weeks.
There are a few mesocycle schemes that Schexnayder outlined: block scheme, rotational scheme, and block within a block. For example, a block scheme might consist of a month of work capacity, a month of technique, a month of speed, and a month of strength. A rotational scheme would consist of a week of each type. This is an example of compatible training design, which is an approach where certain activities should be performed in a specific sequence because of the body’s demands.
Next, Schexnayder talked about designing training programs that are complementary, meaning that they are based on the demand of the nervous system. Because of this, it’s important to keep in mind what is going on at the cellular level, not just the physical level. Schexnayder noted, “If you trust your eye, you get misled”. He gave specific suggestions for grouping in a complementary manner, such as putting neuromuscular demands together such as speed, multi jumps, and weight training.
Although Schexnayder shared a wealth of information in his lecture, I will share what I, personally, found most interesting. Schexnayder stated, “Variance in training reduces the likelihood of injury”. This is interesting and important to me because people are always trying to find new methods of “injury prevention”. The fact of the matter is, injuries cannot be completely prevented, but their likelihood can be reduced. Schexnayder revealed his secret in this presentation: variance.
Team Training Modification for the College Setting by Greg Gatz reviewed by Riley Rogers
With 18 years of experience in strength and conditioning for Olympic sports and a published book under his belt, Greg Gatz is no amateur when it comes to training successful teams. As Director of Strength and Conditioning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Gatz has helped several Division 1 teams develop the strength, speed, and power needed to win national championships. Therefore, it is only fitting that he presented on Team Training Modification for the College Setting at the HPAD clinic. Gatz moved seamlessly through his presentation, making the attendees feel as though they were discussing team training modification 1-on-1 with a friend. His use of personal anecdotes had the crowd absorbed as if they were present at the time.
Gatz expressed, “Many athletes today have a high skill level, but low physical competencies”. In training college teams, he noted seven important elements: mobility, ground contact time, loading and unloading mechanics, linking strength from top to bottom, foot plant from above and stiffness, acceleration, and individualized and appropriate fitness. He suggested tossing the old strategies out the window, such as drilling for drill’s sake, slow running, bodybuilding, and long runs for conditioning. Instead, they can be replaced with these more modern and sport-specific elements. Gatz continued on and talked about monitoring, something that all coaches do, but not necessarily in the right way or for the right reasons. For a good coach, Gatz claimed that monitoring is “in the eyes,” meaning that it’s not all about what numbers the athletes record, but also about how they look and feel.
Finally, Gatz ended his presentation with thoughts of the future of training in the college setting. He predicted the continued emergence of year-round competitive athletes, which would result in a change to “summer” training and new obstacles that coaches will need to adjust to. The message he had to coaches was to continue to communicate with their athletes and to educate.
Simple and Practical Training for Olympic Sports by Alex Carnall reviewed by Riley Rogers
As the Assistant Director of Campbell University’s Strength and Conditioning program, Alex Carnall has faced his fair share of challenges. In recent years, their Men’s Soccer team consisted of large numbers of freshmen, a few sophomores, a moderate number of juniors, and zero seniors. Given this youth movement, the challenge for him here was creating a training program that worked for 17 and 18 year olds with little to no experience in strength and conditioning as well as 21 and 22 year olds in their third and fourth years with the same program. With this experience, Carnall presented on Simple and Practical Training for Olympic Sports. Although he presented as part of the Future Leaders Program, Carnall spoke with such confidence and knowledge that would make you think he’s been in the field of Exercise Science since birth. His comfort in front of an audience made the Athletic Lab’s extensive space feel intimate while he spoke about how he has learned from his own experiences.
Carnall stated, “It comes down to how well you do the fundamentals”. In the off-season, he focused on the “flow channel,” exercise selection and periodization, as well as on sound and simple progressions. The flow channel matches challenges to skills in a linear correlation. As skills improve, the challenges must also be increased to avoid anxiety or boredom. Lastly, Carnall spoke about how best to focus on the three points of emphasis in simple training: familiarity with movement tasks, breathing and bracing strategies, and neutral postures. By teaching these basics, Carnall set his team up for success not only in the short run (shown by measuring body composition, power output, and timed agility), but in the long run as well (shown by skill mastery). Overall, Carnall’s simple and practical training strategy allows each athlete to progress, especially in situations when a team is so diverse in age and experience.
Neuromechanics of Speed Development by Mike Young reviewed by Laurel Zimmermann
Over the weekend I had the opportunity to attend the High Performance Athletic Development clinic presented by Proformance and Athletic Lab. One thing Mike said at the beginning of his presentation was “Everyone can run, but that doesn’t mean everyone can run well”. I think this is incredibly important because as coaches and trainers it is our duty to help our athletes get to the next level. One method of doing this is following what Mike calls Sprinting 101: small mass + big force + right direction + minimal time= run faster. If you want to accelerate faster you need to apply a large force to the ground while being as light as possible. Greater force is beneficial because it will not only help increase stride length but it will increase stride frequency as well.
Another key component of speed is posture; an athlete should have their trunk erect, head level, and hips tall. If an athlete has bad posture they won’t have proper stabilization and alignment of the core and are more likely to have inappropriate movements of the limbs. This will in turn slow them down and could result in an increased risk of injury.
In conclusion, the most important thing I learned was that sprinting is a skill that can be improved with proper mechanics and a lot of practice. Specificity is especially important; to sprint faster you need to sprint, there is no better way. The weight room is supportive but shouldn’t be the main focus. Fat doesn’t fly; any body mass that’s not directly contributing to propulsive forces is actually limiting speed.
Simple Strategies for Delivering A Holistic Program in the Collegiate Setting by Chad Workman reviewed by Riley Rogers
Chad Workman, Assistant Coach of UNC’s Strength and Conditioning program, presented to the HPAD clinic’s attendees on Simple Strategies for Delivering A Holistic Program in the Collegiate Setting. Workman’s strong presence and firm tone portrayed that he had a message that needed sharing, and he did just that. His presentation covered the important components of a holistic program, from staff and team culture to student-athlete interaction to the role of coaches. These are all familiar concepts that athletes and athletic staff alike have been taught since the beginning, but elements that are often challenging to master.
In Workman’s discussion about dynamics, he noted there are roles that the staff has and roles that the team has. Amongst staff, trust and cooperation are paramount in addition to unity and organization. As for the team, they must understand why they’re training, what the staff’s expectations and consequences are for them and they must be accountable and have team unity. As he made clear to the audience, strength and conditioning coaches can make or break these roles, for they are the link between coaches and the team in terms of training. As Workman quoted, “How do you increase the effectiveness of your program? Have communication between colleagues and athletes”. Additionally, he said, “Information needs to be shared at every level of an organizational hierarchy to ensure the vision is shared”. A few methods for enforcing his strategy are autonomy, relatedness, and competence. Autonomy allows the athletes to have a say in what they feel they need to improve. Relatedness aligns interest, showcases similarities, and therefore creates trust between the coach and the athlete. Finally, the appropriate training progressions allow athletes to feel a sense of competence and encourages them to work together towards reaching their goals. With Workman’s simple strategies, athletes and athletic staff can maximize their potential, both interpersonally and in competition.
Critical Factors in Speed Training Design by Boo Schexnayder reviewed by Jamie Hershfang
In all sports, why is speed development such an integral part of training? Speed helps strength, strength helps speed, could it really be stated that simply? Speed is a neural quality, therefore we must train the nervous system accordingly. When implemented in program design, coaches should focus their attention to the percentage of neural work, understanding how it improves coordination and movement qualities among their athletes. Advanced neuromuscular integration and better functioning lactate metabolism are just a few benefits from speed training.
The main speed training components are accelerative development, speed development, and speed endurance. In terms of training for long term development, the sequence of these components are important for safety, preparation for training, and improved lactate physiology. Accelerative development involves the lowest lactate levels with the lowest volumes and highest intensities due to complete recovery. Speed development has high lactate levels with variable speed constructs and moderately high intensities. Finally, speed endurance has the highest lactate levels which teaches the muscle and nervous system to function together. When implemented in training, coaches should consider starting the week with power/explosiveness, rather than speed, so athletes are not stale going into their speed workout. There is the misconception that athletes must feel fresh for these types of speed workouts, but often this is not the case, and it is the competition, not the practice, where athletes should seek their greatest performance.
Implementing Technology in Sport by Ryan Horn reviewed by Laurel Zimmermann