Never truer words have been spoken. This is particularly the case when it comes to athletes. I warn you right from the start…this is going to be one of those posts that won’t make sense unless you are reading it 6 weeks from now when I’ve edited it a dozen times to get what is in my head down in writing here on the interweb.
Let me begin by adding to my ‘Things I know’ list:
6. No athlete is perfect…as in no athlete has nothing wrong with them. If they think they are problem free and you think they are problem free then they haven’t pushed themselves hard enough and or you haven’t looked hard enough.
Now this is not to say that you should be looking to make problems for yourself or your athletes just that you need to be aware that everyone has some restrictions. Athletes all move differently and even athletes that perform similarly are often getting the job done in different ways.
Often it is dependent on how hard you push them or they push themselves as to when you will find the ‘weak link’ in the chain but eventually if they are pushed hard enough and or often enough it will come.
Let me give you some general examples of this. I have athletes come to me and they’ve no problems at all…’apparently’. They test and all seems fine, you screen them and they appear to have no problems…all is good right? Then they start training…doing a simple balanced program…all is still good….so you start increasing the frequency or the volume or the intensity and then little things start popping up…groin pain, lower back pain, shoulder pain…any number of things. I like it when this happens because the sooner it happens almost the better. Because the sooner that it happens the sooner it can be assessed and the sooner we can get to work on fixing it. To give you another very general example…I was involved with team where all the athletes were screened…part of that screening involved a test to examine the strength ratios in the quadriceps and hamstrings. Now it was no real surprise that at the end of the season that nearly all of the players identified in the screening as having an ‘issue’..as in a poor hamstrings to quadriceps ratio who didn’t work to correct this imbalance were the ones that presented with hamstring injury over the course of the season.
Now, I am over simplifying here…this ratio isn’t the sole determining factor…but I definitely think it is a major contributing factor. Just like players push up to inverted row ration ‘tends’ do be a factor in chronic shoulder issues…now it can be argued which comes first….as in…is the ratio a result of the problem or the cause of it….what I can tell you though is that when athletes work to close that ratio a lot of issues resolve themselves. This is usually because to close this ratio and improve their inverted row scores they inevitably end up doing a lot of shoulder mobility and stability work along with all their regular strength work. The same applies to much of the hip and back mobility and stability work I generally integrate into athletes warm ups. By doing these they serve several functions…1. If you don’t have any problems or any issues they are just a good warm up…you do them and move on. 2. If you do have issues but don’t even know it doing them and getting better at them ensures that it never becomes an issue and they are a good warm up…you do them and move on. 3. If you have an issue and know it then it is always apparent when you are doing them…you can hear people moaning, groaning and complaining about their backs, hips, groins or all of the above all the way through them…however over time the restrictions go away…they get better at them…they are a good warm up…you do them and move on.
Every single person in the gym will be able to tell you a story about ‘over’s and under’s’ and athletes that I almost had to stop from doing them for fear that they were going to smash the rack or bend the bar by repeatedly striking them with the heads, feet, backs or other body parts…people who over time and without ever noticing suddenly are fine with the drill. Everyone gets better at it…they get better at it without ever having to be conscious of what or how they are stretching…they just do it and get better…mainly because they get sick of cracking their heads or shins against steel.
Here’s one of the first video’s I ever posted…skip forward to the 50 second or so mark and have a look at the difference in technique between someone who had been doing them for a little while and someone just starting out.
As always…I’ve ran out of time but I will come back to this over the weekend and start giving specific examples. As per usual I haven’t even got to the point of this post yet. What I really want to discuss is identifying issues and resolving them in the midst of an ongoing strength and conditioning program.
So what the hell was I talking about again?
I told you this post was going to be a nightmare…if you are reading this for the first time then you won’t know what I’m talking about…suffice to say this post has been edited and added to on 5 or 6 occasions now. I don’t really care how annoying it is…it’s my blog and I’ll annoy you in whatever way I see fit.
I said I’d give you some specific examples…so here we go.
So…we’ve two athletes…I get asked all the time about flexibility training and mobility drills and more specifically…’How much flexibility do I need?’. Well we can’t cover every joint and every sport but I thought hamstring flexibility would be something easy to discuss. I think being able to get your leg perpendicular to the ground and both legs having the same range is a pretty good start. I might add that those picks of Paul (the bottom two) were taken after we had done some specific flexibility work. The other point that I think needs making is that you need to understand how all the pieces work together before you start messing around too much. Paul has more issues than just a lack of hamstring flexibility.
Have a look at his hips
Have a look at his hips…or more particularly the tilt…this is Paul trying to sit up straight.
Have a look at Denise’s hips by way of comparison when doing the same stretch…or David’s in the following photo.
So? I hear you asking…so Paul is still performing…and doing so at a high level…he’s also from memory depending on the test…the fastest or second fastest player in his squad. The fact is he’s doing so with some major imbalances and major mobility issues and restrictions. He didn’t have any huge issues…well none that he knew of until he started training with me. Like I said previously…I don’t go looking for problems but you have to fix the obvious stuff. With Paul more ‘niggles’ came to the fore once we upped the volume of his training. So what we are doing now is continuing on with his training, minimising its effects on his ‘issues’ and simulaneously working our arses off fixing them. The way we are doing that is by continuing with his mobility work….and doing a bit more that others do who don’t share his problems and I do a lot more partner assisted stretching with him. I’ll make sure I post more details of his progress as time passes.
Just quickly on other matters
Denise took me for half my net worth last night…I’m sorry to say the new gym opening will be delayed a month due to Denise fleecing me like the sucker I am.
I’m sorry I didn’t keep recording it’s just that I really was totally sick with grief and disgust at being taken in. The worst bit is that at about half way she was behind schedule and was looking like she was going to redecorate the place with the insides of her stomach and if I had just said ‘Oh well don’t worry about it’ or ‘stop you are going to be sick’ she probably would have stopped…the problem is that the fat whale of a cow doesn’t know when she’s beaten and just dug deep and made probably the greatest comeback since Lasse Viren fell in the Olympic 10,000m final only to get up and win gold in a world record time in Munich, on the 31st August 1972. From now on people will forever talk about 23rd of April when Denise Fox was at 10 minutes and 53 second at the 5km mark and came home to take the €50 in 19 minutes and 59 seconds.
Later the same evening…
I am on the laptop tonight away from my mother ship computer so I don’t have all the stuff that I wanted to post regarding the topic above but I did check my email and have a few good ones…one of which was bemoaning the fact that there are so few good strength and conditioning coaches in Ireland…I don’t know if people realise this but we also have a good few less people as well…maybe it would be better to compare the number of good coaches in Kentucky…a state of about the same population as Ireland…or maybe Brisbane…a city in Australia of around the same population…all those people pissing and moaning about the lack of great strength and conditioning coaches in Ireland can perhaps name all the world famous coaches from Kentucky and Brisbane that trip off the top of peoples tongues….now I suppose that it’s true to a certain extent in that people think we are lacking in ‘internet famous’ strength and conditioning coaches but with regard to a lack of good strength and conditioning coaches at all? I think that is a bit harsh. It seems to me to be getting less and less true all the time anyway. I know a good few strength and conditioning coaches doing what in my opinion is great work…a lot of it with youngsters which unfortunately doesn’t get you a lot of column inches or internet airtime. I also know a good few coaches who I don’t think are lighting the world up coaching wise that still get huge praise and a lot of column inches. I can think of a recent example of a strength and conditioning coach who got an incredible amount of praise and huge amount of column inches which when you know the facts…was absolutely ridiculous. Now I happen to think this guy is an excellent coach and athletes that I know that have worked with him rate him very highly…the thing is…I know a lot more of the story than what appeared in the papers and on the intertoobs. Don’t believe everything you read…especially on the interweb.
Another of these mails was along similar lines…pointing out that according to the internet ‘that I’m crap compared to Joe DeFranco or Eric Cressey’…as an aside…I think it’s hysterical that these are the only two guys that ever get mentioned in this type of conversation…so any way they sent me a link. I had a look at the link and it didn’t actually say I was crap compared to Joe DeFranco and Eric Cressey…but it was sort of along those lines. Now, in all fairness it may be true…maybe I am crap compared to Joe and Eric but we won’t actually know because I’m working with my guys and they are working with theirs so we won’t ever really be able to compare. I happen to know Joe and Eric and I don’t think either of them would think that I was crap in comparison to them. I’ll tell you want really cracks me up about this whole discussion/argument…I need some help from my US based readers here….just as an example….how many players get drafted into the NFL every year? How many get drafted into MLB? Now I know that Joe works mainly in Football and I think Eric is mainly involved in Baseball…so I want to know how many players are signed in both sports and maybe the Joe and Eric aficionados can tell me exactly how many of these guys were coached by Joe and Eric respectively? Can you see where I am going with this? I’ll wait till someone posts all the respective numbers and I will come back to this…I just hope to the heavens it is not 100 in each and that Joe and Eric coached 80+ of them!
Thank God For Americans
Well maybe not for all Americans but the American that sent me this article and let me know that 220-240 players are drafted every year. Now Joe’s obviously not producing all of them so that leads me to suspect that there must be some other coaches out there doing a reasonable job? I have a feeling that it might be the fact that they don’t have websites and aren’t writing articles might be holding them back? Now, I’ve read it twice and I didn’t see Joe DeFranco or Eric Cressey’s name in it anywhere. Like I said before…I am not trying to run Joe or Eric down but people in Ireland really need to pull their heads out of the holes. Joe and Eric are not the be all and end all of strength and conditioning. I for one if I was going to be a cheerleader for anyone would want to know more about what’s going on at Long Beach Poly where 16 NFL draft picks since 1988 have gone to school.
In my own defence when athletes actually do what I tell them…I mean really do what I tell them…they generally get the results that we wanted. I would actually be happy for any of the athletes that I coach who didn’t get the results that we agreed when I was coaching them to post here and remind me because I can’t think of any. A lot of my athletes are still at the stage in their careers or of the age where they actually think they know more than me…and I’m fine with that…if athletes want to do their own thing and I don’t think they are doing any damage to themselves I am happy to let them do that…I have more than enough athletes who do want to be coached to look after.
Jonny has done what he’s told…and he’s done it when he was told it. This is his training bench tonight…training bench as in grip inside the rings…he didn’t know what he was doing this evening…he just walked into the gym and I had him do a max training bench…no peaking for it, no cycle of training leading up to it…just walk in and do what you can do tonight. According to the internet and some message boards here in Ireland kids are doing this in gyms all over the country…I just don’t see that in my experience…maybe I need to get out more. I don’t know what Joe and Eric have their young lads doing but I’m more than happy to muddle along as ineptly as I apparently am with mine.