I went to my first MMA fight night on Friday. A number of the lads that I train with were fighting so I had a personal interest in the event. My mind was racing the whole night thinking about training and fighting…I can never watch any sport or competition without mentally masturbating with regard to training…that is regarding how I would make an athlete better, how I would optimise their individual strengths and minimise their weaknesses. I do this regardless of how much I know or don’t know about the sport in question just like every other armchair critic and spectator does…and like everyone else…I do it from my own particular perspective.
As an aside…a lot of people make comments and or form opinions on coaches and trainers based on either how they look…as in do the look like they know about training and or how they performed in the past…as in were they successful…and like everything else…I’ve an opinion on this as well…it is true…you can’t necessarily judge a book by its cover…but sometimes the cover does give you a pretty good idea. I know a lot of good coaches that I would have a lot of time for that look like crap…I also know a lot of coaches who look the business that don’t know their aerobic from their anaerobic systems. I think I can say that I’ve been both of those…both looks wise and knowledge wise…when I first moved into coaching having been an athlete I did really well as a personal trainer based on the fact that I still ‘looked’ like I knew what I was doing…many years and many tonnes of food later…I certainly didn’t ‘look’ like I knew what I was doing…unless you count looking like a international hot dog eating competitor but I certainly knew a lot more and had been a lot more successful as a coach than I was when I was starting out….but that is just an aside.
So back to MMA training and preparation. Like I said every coach views the sport in which they work through their own perspective…usually this comes down to viewing the sport through their own experience of training for it. I know there are coaches that haven’t competed in the sports in which they work but on the whole these are still few and far between and definitely the exception to the rule. The problem with this is that anyone that has been coaching for any significant period of time or worked with a big enough number of athletes will be able to tell you that different athletes no matter how similar they appear can and will have very different responses to training. I have athletes that appear very similar who respond best to high volumes of training and others that respond best to lower volume higher intensity training…if I trained them the same way…obviously I wouldn’t be getting the best results for both of them.
OK…so rule number 1…you have to have a plan…but you have to be ready to change it…and you need to know how, when and why you may need to change it.
So I want to look at the approach I’m taking to my own training and preparation and how I would and will approach the training of others…I’m talking purely about ‘off mat’ training here.
1. Assessment…if you don’t know where you are starting from it makes it very difficult to plan where you need to be in the future. For me assessment usually consists of a few different aspects:
a) Functional Screening…this is a head to toe examination and documentation. I’m going to ask Barry if he minds me posting all his report here so you can see all the findings of his particular screening. I will go into more detail about it when I hear back from him.
b) Fitness Testing…I think I’ve gone into this in enough detail in the past as to the tests I do and why I do them.
While people are testing you are also making a visual examination of not only what they are doing but how they are doing it and what compensations if any they display to achieve their results.
2. Balance and Symmetry…the first thing I focus on is trying to ‘tidy’ athletes up as quickly as I can as effectively as I can without sacrificing too much training effect. This isn’t always easy but it is certainly doable. Being able to do 50 push ups and 7 inverted rows…is not balanced…benching more than your body weight and not being able to do a pull up…is not balanced.
3. Strengths and Weaknesses…what sort of athlete are you or what kind of athlete are you working with…are you or they more ‘power’ or ‘endurance’ biased for instance.
4. What are the Performance Determining Factors (PDF) for the sport in which you are involved. Identifying the PDF’s for MMA is difficult because of the blend of fighting styles and techniques involved…this is one of the great things about the sport as far as I am concerned…the path of a fight can go any number of ways and this presents challenges with regard training that are different than say training boxers or wrestlers or kickboxers for instance. A good MMA needs to be prepared for anything and everything. My personal view has always been to try to maximise an athletes strengths and minimise their weaknesses.
Note: I am actually heading off to training now but this is a post that I am going to come back to and expand on and flesh out in more detail as time passes. I just thought I would throw it up here now to see if anyone had any comments or observations.