January 29th : Keep it Simple

Marcus says to approach each task as if it were your last, because it very well could be. And even if it isn’t, botching what’s right in front of you doesn’t help anything. Find clarity in the simplicity of doing your job today. – The Daily Stoic

Though you should have a clear image of where you are headed in the long run, the only thing you can truly direct your efforts on is the immediate present. As an athlete, this is primordial to proper focus during practice, but as a coach this can be a more complicated concept to grasp.

We are all about fancy planning schemes and perfect periodization, but how well can we actually predict adaptations? John Kiely was the first to really get me thinking about this, and Frans Bosch brought this idea up again. Indeed, complex systems (and the human body is most definitely complex) are very difficult to plan for. Instead, we should design our training as a series of small experiments – the probe, from which we gain more information – sense, and design the next step of the program – the response.

Always write your programs in pencil.


Finally going to catch up on Altis notes.

  • All da best, do ya ting.
  • D.O.M. – Alex Atala. Most definitely on the bucket list of places to eat, thanks to a second viewing of Chef’s Table. I just found out that it means Deo Optimo Maximo (optimum in wisdom, maximal in forgiveness). I can definitely see this fitting with my view of Spinoza’s god.
  • There’s a wonderful quote from part 1 of the Frans Bosch interview about how the most technically proficient hammer throwers are the ones who can quickly figure out how to throw pretty much anything. I definitely feel the same way about paddlers, and it definitely can be related back to ideas of LTAD and multi-sport athletes. Having a wide history of different movement skills gives you the best library to refer from when figuring out a new movement puzzle. Variation in skill learning to challenge the connections, and optimize flow. Stu again brings some good thoughts on this.
  • Along those lines, Stu saying that he is willing to share any program a person wants. No fear of revealing some trade secrets. Anyways, paraphrasing here, “without context, a training program means very little.”
  • Jas brought up this article from the New York Times, which definitely relates to Dan Pink’s ideas in Drive, and this picture about Nietzsche. Again, infinity projects. The motivation one can derive from being dedicated to something greater than yourself is beyond measure.
  • Stu likes to control what the athlete knows. They only get to have video/Freelap feedback when he decides it. There are times when he wants the athlete feeling uncomfortable, probably as part of the skill learning process. I like this, and will probably apply it more as I evolve.
  • CM is a very interesting character. I feel you need a loud mouth joker on every team, though I’d also say I can’t imagine having MORE than one. Definitely harder to manage, and can rub others the wrong way. Harness his energy properly, though, and I think there’s much to be gained by his presence.

Some thoughts from a talk with Jas on performance therapy.

  • The philosophy behind the use of “corrective exercises” tends to be too reductionist.
  • The clinical audit process, which I like, needs to be expanded. Sure, you retest and see improvement, but are you sure your test even translates to the activity you’re trying to improve?
  • When learning new skills, make sure to include a period for skill stabilization. Same idea could be applied to therapeutic input.
  • From a Bernstein motor learning POV, we should think of therapy as a way to manipulate DFs.
  • Theory : “Fascial” athletes are impressive because of their amazing communication system.
    • At a macro level, their body connects very efficiently to direct any/all force exactly where they want.
    • At a micro level, their ECM structure also communicates well, so you get more ROI for a given input of mechanotransduction.
  • What exactly is “dysfunction”? From Stu : “‘dysfunction’ is a non-specific term – we all exist somewhere on a continuum of function-dysfunction; therefore, where is the line on the continuum where pathology ends, and ‘function’ begins.”
  • Never drink the Kool-Aid!

Finally, from an in-service on how to develop your coaching eye.

  • Be intentionally attentive
  • At first, you’ll be overwhelmed. Make this easier by breaking things down. Have goals, pick chunks of technique to hone your eye on per practice.
  • Asymmetry is usually high likelihood of mechanical (something that needs some kind of physical intervention) instead of technical (picking the right cue for the athlete).
  • Learn to zoom your lens in and out as needed. See micro issues, and also understand what they mean in the greater picture of the movement.
  • Have non-negotiable technical landmarks, and then look for how they get from one to another.
  • Everybody can be picked apart in slomo, watch at normal speed to also see flow and rhythm and see how it all fits together.
  • For Andreas, hurdle drills are purposely undercoached. Let athlete figure out themselves what that drill brings to them. A concept I want to try out.
  • Understand context of cues (technical history, and limb as part of the whole) In track, that could be toe drag, stay low in acc, elbow angles. In paddling, reaching out, straight top arms…I think all of these cues are good at first, but can easily be taken too far. You don’t want to teach nuance to a beginner because he has nothing to base himself on, but you don’t want to leave these cues without nuance lest they create new issues.
  • re: new coach’s fear of being “called out” : Competence breeds confidence. Focus on things you know, and slowly expand it. Time, repetition, feedback. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes.
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