Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Developing Young Throwers

Here is another post from Sean Waxman's web site. http://www.waxmansgym.com/ Though it deals with developing weight lifters, I don't think anyone in the throwing community would not see overlapping concerns and methodology. As usual, I'll add some comments in BLUE.
"We live in a world of instant gratification. Where patience and progressive development are thought of as archaic concepts. We want it, and we want it now. The world of sports is not immune to this ugly reality. Coaches are constantly being fired for not producing championships right away. Teams mortgage their future and trade away their prospects for more seasoned players so they can win right now. There is one thing we can learn from the results of this attitude towards development; it doesn’t work. There are no short cuts to sustained success.
Our young people today live in the world of inernet, fast food, and texting. It is tough to sell a sport that takes years to master, but that is the truth when it comes to lifting and throwing.
A Journey of a thousand miles starts with one step”
Lao-tzu, the first philosopher of Chinese Taoism

The world of Weightlifting have had this instant gratification attitude creep into the depths of its psyche. Weightlifting Coaches have become fixed on the outcome and have forgotten about the process.

I see all kinds of weird variations of throwing techniques at the high school level which develop as coaches allow and even encourage because they offer immediate results. The problem is that it stifles long term progress.

A coach is a teacher. We are not teaching our athletes how to find the coefficient of restitution for balls dropped from a height of 72 inches however, much like the aforementioned biomechanics problem, we are teaching them how to properly and effectively reach the correct solutions for their physical problems. The most effective method for solving any complex problem, is to identify the desired end result, then determine what steps are needed in order to reach said result. This goes for any problem, whether you are trying to figure out how high a ball is going to bounce after you drop it or how to get an athlete stronger and more powerful.
 Putting a bar in an athlete’s hand and telling them to lift it with out proper instruction is not teaching; it’s butchery. Check out the BYU weight room sometime.
Sorry, I have to say it. Can you say round back pulls and no concept of overhead stability?
Proper athletic development is a process that not only takes time to occur but also takes a skilled coach to implement. The questions then become, what is the correct process and what is a skilled coach.

The Correct Process

Some definitions first:

Process- A series of actions or steps taken to achieve a particular end.

Series- A number of events of a similar kind or related nature
coming one after another.

If we combine these two terms we get: A process is a number of events of a similar kind or related nature coming one after another to achieve a particular end.
This is in essence what the process of proper athletic development should be. An athlete comes to you with a particular goal or “end.” It is then up to you to guide them through the proper steps so that they achieve the desired goal.

Of course this implies a two way communication between coach and athlete.

Volumes have been written on the different types of systems that can be used for developing athletes. Unfortunately, this information has gone largely unread or ignored by many coaches involved in Olympic Weightlifting even at the highest levels. And most high school throws coaches too. However, the scope of this discussion is not what system works best, but what part of the system is often overlooked.

Development in Olympic Weightlifting

I have been involved in Olympic Weightlifting as an athlete and coach for over eighteen years. I can say unequivocally that the VAST MAJORITY of the athletes I have seen have correctable technical flaws in their lifting technique that go uncorrected. More disturbing, many of these athletes have been taught incorrectly by so called qualified coaches. It doesn’t matter if you have comprised your training program using the NASA supercomputer, or had you’re equipment forged by the same craftsman that made Thor’s Hammer, if your athletes are not efficient with their lifting movements, you are depriving them of the full benefit weight training provides as well as increasing their chances of injury.
I concur, both in weight rooms and in throwing circles.

Just Because You Can, It Doesnt Mean You Should

The ultimate goal of a Weightlifting coach is to elicit the best possible performance from their athletes. In Weightlifting it seems easy to determine if what a coach is doing is working. If your athlete lifts more than the next guy/gal, what ever you are doing is working. Lets examine this rational. According to this approach, whoever is on the medal stand at the National Championship or qualifies for an international team must have the best coach. This is not necessarily so if you take into consideration the genetic potential of the athlete. I will make the assumption that the genetics of the population of this continent are not dramatically different than those of other continents. Therefore the genetic potential of the US population is at least as great as other populations. However, as a country we do not perform anywhere near the level of other countries, and haven’t for quite some time. Than why is it our best athletes, who possess the same genetic potential as their international cohorts, cant compete at the international level? The first thing people look to is drugs. There is no doubt that drugs play a role in the landscape of Weightlifting. Would a systemized drug program propel us to the top of the Weightlifting world? The answer is absolutely no! Drugs will not solve the three most important and overlooked variables as it relates to Weightlifting success

1. The program design used to develop juniors

2. The loading parameters used on juniors.

3. Technical efficiency of the lifters.
These variables are being missed used due to lack of understanding of the process of proper athletic development. Many coaches in this country lack the physical science background that is required to understand the physiological effects training stress has on the biological and mechanical systems of the body. Couple that with inability to discern between proper and improper technique, and it is no surprise we perform as we do.
Something to think about. It's hard to argue against this point. While the following refers to lifting development. I would argue that developing throwers is basically in line with this....
Program design and loading parameters

It first takes years of training with progressively higher volumes with sub maximal loads, using not only the classical Olympic lifts but basic weight training movements as well, to effect the necessary changes in the connective/muscle tissue and endocrine system needed to withstand the training loads required to excel at the highest levels of sport. It can takes up to four years to elicit the changes needed in order to move on to more specialized training. This crucial phase of development is called the Process of Achieving Sports Mastery or PASM. It is in this phase, the athlete “trains to get into shape to be able to train.” A wide variety of exercises should be implemented at low to moderate intensities. During this time the classical lifts and their variations are taught and perfected as well. The exercise distribution over the PASM period should start with a predominance of strength exercises (roughly 75%) such as squatting variations, pressing variations, pulling/posterior chain variations, as well as specific wrist, elbow, rotator cuff, and ankle exercises. During this time the athlete should be taught how to perform the Olympic lifts. The distribution of Olympic lifts in the beginning of the PASM period should be roughly 25% of the overall volume. This 75%-25% ratio should gradually begin to flip flop thru out the four year PASM period culminating with an athlete that is prepared to handle a much higher training load (intensity x volume).
Two things should occur during this PASM period if the training is implemented properly. First, as mentioned earlier, the athletes physiology will change. Their muscles will be strong and balanced. Their bones will have thickened. Their actual connective tissue will have strengthened along with where it attaches on the bone. Their work capacity would have improved to the point where they would to be able to handle and recover from more intense training load.
Who could argue that such an approach is not essential in developing high level throwers?

Technical efficiency of the lifter

Second, the athlete will have created a “habit” According to motor control research; it takes approximately ten thousand repetitions of a movement to create a consistent, unconscious movement pattern. Over the four years the athlete will have completed approximately ten-thousand reps in the Olympic lifts and three or more times that in the strength movements. Their technique in all movements should be biomechanical efficient and consistent. At this point there should be little or no technical deviation on lifts in the upper intensity ranges.
 However, if you examine the developmental method used by many Weightlifting coaches, it expresses none of the characteristics of PASM. Instead coaches rush their unprepared, under trained athletes to the competition platform. These athletes are often weak, unbalanced, underweight, and technically inefficient. Because of this poor implementation of PASM, athletes are not developing past their first 4-6 years of training. This is often due to the accumulation of chronic injuries, or they become limited by the biomechanical flaws in their lifting technique. "
Well said.
To be continued...

Fight until your very last breath!


Sean Waxman is the owner of Waxman’s Gym. It’s an Olympic Weightliftingand Sports Performance gym located in Southern California near the LosAngeles airport. Its the only gym in Southern California dedicated toall things Olympic Weightlifting!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Finnish Shot Putters : Where have they gone?

Everyone knows that Finland is the best javelin throwing country in the world. But they used to be really good in the shot put as well. For a while Finland was pumping out world class shot putters like it was nothing. Finland has a population of just over 5 million people and an average of 17 people per square kilometer. Next to Norway and Iceland it is the 3rd least populated country in Europe. Finland has had 20 men throw over 20m in shot put in Its athletics history. A couple of years ago they had 6 throwers over 20m in the same year. I don't know of any country in the world with a small population like Finland to have such success in the shot put. Shot putters like Reijo Stahlberg, Mika Halvari, and Arsi Harju are just a few of the great Finnish shot putters in their history. There has been a steady decline in the last couple of years in shot putting in Finland and the season best is only around 18.90 this year. This weekend is the 80th meeting of the Sweden-Finland dual meet in track and field. For the first time in over ten years I believe, a Finn didn't win shot put. (my bro actually won for the first time after being second twice :)) I did some research and even found a website for the official 20 meter club in Finland. With the popularity of athletics in Finland and the rich history of shot putting you would hope the success would continue every year.

Posted below is a video on Finnish shot putters that I saw a couple of days ago which sparked my interest to post this. The second video is just for fun and is from today's shot put competition in the swe-fin meet which my bro won. Also is info on the 20m club.

20m club in Finland- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/20_meter_club

Mechanics vs. Technique

Following are some excerpts of an article by Sean Waxman that he posted on his website. http://www.waxmansgym.com/ Sean is a U. S. weightlifting coach who has been outspoken in some of his opinions on optimal lifting technique. I like his breakdown here of some coaching variables and explanation of mechanics vs. technique. I believe this applies to throwing as well as lifting. I will include some comments of my own in BLUE.
Weightlifting Mechanics vs. Weightlifting Technique: The Science and Art of Coaching and the State of US Weightlifting
Weightlifting is one of the few endeavors
Along with throwing... both the scientist and artist can fall in love with because its beauty lies in both realms. The scientist is drawn to its order. It has a distinct beginning and desired end, and everything in the middle can be measured with precision. The tape rules. Based on these measurements, the scientist can describe with great accuracy the best way to achieve this end. The artist is drawn to its beauty. What could be more beautiful than an effortless throw?There is a process of deliberately altering variables, which will create a desired outcome. How skillful the artist is with recognizing which variables need manipulating and how to manipulate them will determine how beautiful the end result will be. A great coach is both scientist and artist. Well said. We've always said that too.

The artistic aspects of coaching Weightlifting and throwing such as training design and the manipulation of training variables are subjective. How a coach handles these aspects will depend heavily upon the specific discerning interpretations of his/her own experiences. These interpretations will be unique to a particular coach. The acute and chronic responses/adaptations to training will vary from athlete to athlete making it impossible to develop a consistent and precise “best” method for success. Again, training for optimal results requires individualization.

In contrast, the mechanics for lifting a barbell properly are 100% objective. It’s important to note, mechanics are not the same as one’s technique. Interesting statement. I believe this is true of throwing as well. Mechanics of Weightlifting are the forces involved with lifting a barbell and the causes behind them. Technique is the visual manifestation of these forces. Causes behind force production such as gravity, mass, and distance can be measured with precision. Using the aforementioned constants, variables involved with the mechanics of force production such as joint angles, bar trajectories, and balance can be manipulated in order to establish the most efficient pulling mechanics. In the late 70’s after decades of measuring and analyzing hundreds of thousands of their own athletes, the Soviets were able to quantify the optimal pulling mechanics. Have optimal throwing mechanics also been quantified? I'm not sure. Obviously each implement would have it's own mechanical absolutes. I would guess that speed and height of release would be constant.

The Soviets used the scientific method for establishing their conclusions. The results were tested with carefully documented, controlled experiments, which could be repeated by any other researcher. They did not rely solely on observation, hearsay or conjecture. Since the late 70’s, sport scientists from around the world have performed a multitude of research on pulling mechanics. Because humans haven’t evolved since the 70’s, and the effects of gravity haven’t changed, researchers have not found a more effective way of pulling a bar than was found by the Soviets. Cold war child that I am, I don't believe the Soviets or anyone else had the patent on performance in lifting or any other sport. However their methods are certainly worthy of study.

Although some top lifters may have observable differences in “technique”, this is not an indication of new lifting mechanics. As I have shown the mechanics of pulling haven’t changed. This much is fact. The observable differences in “technique” have to do with an individual’s peculiarities such as anthropometry or leg/torso strength distribution. These peculiarities will dictate actions, which will suit an individual lifter’s needs. The fact is, regardless of what we can observe, the mechanical action of the lifter/barbell complex for the top lifters around the world remains unchanged.
I have to agree with this. Individual characteristics are manifested as variations in technique. But in the end, each thrower has to obey the laws of physics.

Until genetic engineering yields athletes with identical DNA, technique will continue to vary among lifters. And throwers And, until the laws of physics change, observable technique may be called “catapulting”, “Triple Extending”, or “Triple Lindy” - the fact remains, the forces involved in lifting a barbell (and throwing) and the causes behind them are the same now as they were 30 or more years ago.

The fall of communism allowed for the professionally trained Eastern Block coaches to emigrate. Armed with the tools of both scientist and artist, they teach the very mechanics some US coaches arrogantly disregard or don't understand and continue to transform mediocre Weightlifting nations into powerhouses while… this absurd debate lingers on.
Sean has an ongoing "discussion" with some other lifting coaches about certain aspects of lifting technique. While I don't think the throwing community has an equivalent basic difference of opinion, I think his explanation of the difference between mechanics and technique is relevant to coaching the throws.

Perhaps that has more to do with the current state of US Weightlifting than the triple extension.

Fight until your very last breath!


Sean Waxman is the owner of Waxman’s Gym. It’s an Olympic Weightlifting
and Sports Performance gym located in Southern California near the Los
Angeles airport. Its the only gym in Southern California dedicated to
all things Olympic Weightlifting!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Crossover In Sports

Recently I had a conversation with one of the strength and conditioning coaches here at BYU about football players competing in track. He was telling me that at other colleges where he had worked and gone to school in, they had allowed football players to compete in other sports including track and field. Here at BYU the football coaches don't allow any of the football players to play other sports. I think it is a shame because there are many great athletes that could excel in track and field events. BYU may not have the talent that teams like Florida, LSU, and Texas have, but we do have a number of very athletic kids that would do well in our conference and a couple I know that would do well on a national level for track and field. Jeff Demps and Trindon Holladay are two great examples of amazing football players who have done very well in track as well. Brian Robison who now plays with the Minnesota Vikings was a Big 12 champion in shot put and had a pr of 68'8". Yesterday I read an article in the Jump Start Athletics catalog written by Ian Maplethrope about crossover in sports and the benefits for athletes who compete in two sports. The article is posted below-

Recently I was having a conversation with a professional football player. the conversation was about how he regretted not having more involvement in track and field while he was in university. One of the things that he has discover5ed is that a lot of his American team mates have a much broader background in competing and training in some of the track and field events. Much of this experience came while they were in high school and in college.
Many of you may ask: what would b e the advantage to competing and training in a different sport other than the one that you are pursuing for you main goal? the big advantage in training for track and field is it emphasizes the development of speed, power, and endurance. All sports have these elements in them. The difference between track and field and other sports is the focus purely on speed, power, and endurance.
Because of the nature of the sport, where it has a stopwatches and a tape measure as judge and jury, it has forced events to develop to a very high degree.
For example, the fastest athletes in the world are sprinters, the athletes with the greatest endurance are distance runners. the athletes who can jump the highest and throw the farthest come from field events.
If a football player of hockey player wishes to be faster, does it not make sense for them to t rain with coaches who have the knowledge of how to make somebody the fastest person in the world?
If you are a baseball player and you want to throw farther or faster, does it not make sense to train with a coach that has developed athletes who can throw farther than anybody else in the world? This is the same with basketball of volleyball players who wish to jump higher to train with athletes that jump the highest.
It is surprising how many athletes, who I have personally known, have a track and field background and are very successful in other sports. Just to give a few examples, Michael Carter is the only athlete ever to win an Olympic medal and Super Bowl ring in the same year. Michael's background was as a shot putter and most of his training was to be one. The crossover allowed him to be a great football player. In our country, there are many examples of athletes who have been very successful in our winter sports, such as Pierre Lueders, and Olympic gold medalist in bobsled. He started his athletic career as a decathlete. Speed skater Catriona Le May Doan, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, started her athletic careers as a heptathlete. These are only a few examples, and I could go on.
I think if you are a young athlete or a parent of an athlete, you should seriously consider getting involved in some form of track and field. For more information on how to get involved, contact your local club or governing body.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

One Rep Max?

Yesterday I had a conversation with one of my sons-in-law, Jake. He is a former wrestler (several times New Mexico state champion) with limited weight training backround. He is now taking some classes in weight training as part of his program as a physical education major. My daughter, whom he is married to, is a certified athletic trainer (ATC) and an accomplished lifter who held state records in both Utah and Arizona as well as medaling at the national junior championships. Sometimes they get into deep and even heated discussions about what he is being taught in his classes concerning weight training, so she calls on dad to back her up. They were visiting Kayenta yesterday and were in the weight room while I was training a group of kids. My son-in-law Jake asked, "Do you have your students do a 1 rep max?" "You bet", I replied. He stated that in his program they were taught that a 1 rep max could be dangerous and that there are tables and formulas available that allow one to project a one rep max from repetition. Summoning my patience, I tried to diplomatically explain that all such charts are bogus at best. Anyone who has trained hard for any length of time finds that the only way to determine what a given individual can do for a single rep is to perform a single rep with maximum weight. Some individuals are better at reps than others. There is variation between upper and lower body lifts...etc. There is no chart or computer program that can accurately predict a one rep max for each individual.In the March 2009 Milo magazine author Bill Starr tells a humorous story about a 72 year old man he trains who performed 150 reps on the bench with an empty bar (45 lb.). According to one formula he has a 745 lb. bench press.lol "Ok", Jake said, "so the formulas are bogus, still, is there a legitimate reason for doing a one rep max?" I replied that I believe a one rep max is essential in teaching an athlete to develop and produce a maximum summation of force. Working with young athletes, I find that most do not know how to "go all out". A one rep max teaches this quality. It also is very motivating to know exactly what one is capable of doing and a one rep max is the only truly accurate measure of
maximum strength. Especially in some sports, such as throwing, (our favorite)it is basically a one rep max event. Each competitive throw is a one rep maximum and this is a skill that needs to be practiced. His next question, "Aren't one rep maxes dangerous?" "Is the risk worth it?" I have found that logic to be faulty. How is a one rep max more dangerous than the 5th rep of a 5 rep max for example? It is my experience (and Bill Starr's as referenced in the above mentioned Milo article)that injuries are more likely to happen doing higher reps for max than singles. When dong singles the athlete is focused and prepared. Trying to grind out the last few reps of a 8 rep max for example, the athlete is fatigued and more likely to be sloppy in their technique. His last question, "Then why do football players do the max reps with 225 lb. test in the NFL combines?" Sorry Jake. I really don't have an answer for that.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Assisted Jump Squat: An Alternative Method for Developing Power in Adolescent Athletes?? Sorry, I can't buy it.

The NSCA outdid themselves this time. In this months issue of their journal I think they published what must be a leading candidate for the dumbest article of all time. A few years ago when band assisted "overspeed" training was the rage, I joked about marketing an "overheight" jumping device. I was going to put a harness on the poor vertical jump challenged athlete, run a rope through an over head pulley and attach it to a motorcycle. As the athlete would jump, the motorcycle would gun it and propel the eager athlete high into the air. I could sell harnesses, ropes, pulleys, even motorcycles and safety helmets if I could get some trend seeking coaches to buy the whole idea. With the right marketing, I'm sure I could have sold a few units.We had a lot of laughs joking about it. Well this month, somebody actually published an article based on this ill-fated concept. Does anybody really believe that using an outside force to propel an athlete higher then he/she could jump on their own will cause a training effect and improve performance? Sorry, I can't buy that one. I will stick to snatches and pulls with my athletes as illustrated above in the photo from IronMind.Below is the article as it appeared. Shame on the NSCA for publishing this.In fairness there are a couple of articles that are interesting and relevant in this issue if you want to check it out.

Strength & Conditioning Journal:
August 2010 - Volume 32 - Issue 4 - pp 26-29
doi: 10.1519/SSC.0b013e3181e92d37
Column: High School Corner
The Assisted Jump Squat: An Alternative Method for Developing Power in Adolescent Athletes
Kilgallon, Mark MSc; Beard, Adam MSc
Mike Nitka, MS, CSCS*D, FNSCA

Mark Kilgallon
is a senior strength and conditioning coach at the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland.

Adam Beard
the head of strength and conditioning for the Welsh senior rugby team.


Power has traditionally been developed in the weight room setting using weightlifting and plyometrics (10). Although these are proven methods for developing lower limb power production, they do have a number of limitations (10). Weightlifting can be difficult to learn and require expert coaching to achieve high levels of proficiency. Until the athlete has mastered the lifts, the power production benefits of these exercises are limited because of the light loads that must be handled during initial drilling and until the athlete has learned how to explosively recruit the muscles of the hip, knee, and ankle in a coordinated fashion. Although the weightlifting lifts are among the most explosive movements in sport, the velocity of movement is relatively slow. Garhammer (5) has reported barbell velocities of 1.6-2.0 m/s for maximum effort cleans and snatches in elite lifters. If we consider that elite high jumpers can achieve center of mass vertical velocities of up to 4.8 m/s at takeoff (8), it would seem obvious that other training methods may also be required to target the velocity-specific needs of certain sports.
Plyometrics are an effective training method used to bridge the gap between strength and speed (1) and have been found to increase power outputs and improve jump performance and running velocity in athletic populations (12). However, although plyometrics are an excellent method for developing power for athletes, they require very good force production and force reduction capabilities. Without a solid strength base, medium- or high-intensity plyometric exercises may be unsafe for adolescent athletes (4). The large ground reaction forces inherent in plyometrics mean that unless they are used judiciously within a program, they can lead to acute overload injuries and chronic overuse problems, particularly in growing athletes (4).

Another effective special exercise for developing explosive power in the lower limbs that is sometimes underused is the jump squat (Figure 2). Jump squats do not require the same high level of coordination as weightlifting or plyometrics. Once the back squat has been mastered and a base level of strength is developed, most athletes have no problem performing this movement effectively. A common error with execution in weightlifting is failure to fully extend and finish the pull, but this is not an issue with the jump squat. Because it is a jumping movement, complete triple extension is ensured. With the jump squat, coaches must be very mindful of the bar loads used. Although elite athletes in contact sports have been reported to routinely use loads greater than 60% of 1 repetition maximum on this movement (2), programming similar relative loads in high school athletes may greatly increase the risk of injury. Heavy loads on the jump squat can easily lead to a breakdown in technique, which may have negative consequences for the knees or spine of an athlete. Furthermore, research has found that power output is inversely related to barbell load in this exercise-the lighter the load, the greater the power production because of increased movement velocity (3). Therefore, it would appear unnecessary to have athletes perform heavily weighted jump squats if power production is the primary reason for selecting this exercise (3). This is supported by previous research that has demonstrated that training at light loads on jumps squats leads to adaptations at low-load high-velocity movements, whereas training at heavy loads impacts force development qualities (6).

Variable resistance training is another method sometimes used to stimulate strength and power adaptations (11). Using this method, athletes will typically add resistance to the movement being trained using bands. Bands are useful because they alter resistance patterns through the range of motion, ensuring that athletes must produce as much effort at mechanically strong positions as they do in mechanically weak ones. This phenomenon has been termed “accommodating resistance” (13). However, by switching the band's direction of pull upwards (Figure 1), we have found a new novel way of combining bands and the jump squat exercise to produce an interesting new training stimulus, which may have particular relevance for young athletes.
Instead of following the traditional approach of resisting the movement performed, we have found that using bands to assist in the performance of a jump squat can be a very effective method of developing lower limb power in elite junior track and field athletes. During the squat descent, the band serves to unload the bar, so the athlete has less force to overcome at the weakest point along the jumping range of motion. This unloading also takes a lot of the stress off the knees and back for athletes, making it a safer exercise for young athletes to perform. However, one of the most interesting aspects of this exercise is the altered velocity profile that results from using bands to assist the movement. The greater the assistance used, the greater the movement velocity and resultant jump height. In essence, this method forces the athlete to produce force at faster velocities than they normally would in the weight room setting. It is an adaptation of the commonly used assisted sprint training method. The Table highlights the movement velocity alterations that can be achieved by manipulating barbell assistance and how it compares with some traditional training methods and loads. Programming specific band types to manipulate jump velocity can assist the strength and conditioning coach to try and match the specificity of the training stimulus to the demands of the sport. High-velocity exercises may have an appropriate place in a periodized strength training program designed for athletes who require speed and quickness (9). Furthermore, a physiological window of trainability for developing speed strength has been identified to occur between the ages of 14 and 18 years for adolescent athletes (7). The assisted jump squat may provide a useful method to take advantage of this sensitive training window.
Although this method may have a role to play in the preparation of elite senior athletes also, to date, we have found it to be a very effective and novel training method for high school athletes. Training with stronger bands results in very fast movement speeds and exaggerated jump heights, which young athletes find both challenging and fun (Figure 3). With enough band assistance, athletes can actually perform jumps with a resistance below that of their body weight! By providing specific feedback, such as jump height or movement velocity, through means of a linear position transducer, a great sense of competition can be added, which young athletes enjoy, ensuring maximal efforts during training sets. A total of 3-5 sets of 1-5 repetitions are recommended.

When performing assisted jump squats, safety is a very important concern for the strength and conditioning coach. Assisted jumps can be performed in either a Smith machine or a power cage. The advantage of the Smith machine is that it controls for any horizontal displacement ensuring consistent landings and jump trajectories. However, if bands are aligned correctly and a spotter is employed behind the athlete to monitor and control horizontal displacement, it can be executed safely in a power cage. A lot of headroom is required above the athlete to jump into to ensure no injuries occur-we use and recommend 3-m-high cages to ensure adequate head clearance. If ample headroom is not available in the Smith machine or power cage, then this exercise is contraindicated. Due care must also be taken when selecting band types. Too much band assistance can of course lead to excessive jump heights being achieved, which in turn can increase the chances of a potentially injurious landing. To date, we have used up to 3 mini bands at one time and have not had a single case of injury.
Assisted jump squats provide a safe and novel method of developing power in adolescent athletes. They should be used in conjunction with traditional training methods and may be of particular relevance during specific phases of preparation for sports requiring fast explosive lower limb movements.

1. Adams K, O'Shea JP, O'Shea KL, and Climstein M. The effect of six weeks of squat, plyometric and squat-plyometric training on power production. J Strength Cond Res 6: 36-41, 1992.
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2. Baker D, Nance S, and Moore M. The load that maximizes the average mechanical power output during jump squats in power-trained athletes. J Strength Cond Res 15: 92-97, 2001.
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3. Cormie P, McCaulley GO, Triplett NT, and McBride JM. Optimal loading for maximal power output during lower-body resistance exercises. Med Sci Sports Exerc 39: 340-349, 2007.
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4. Faigenbaum A and Yap C. Are plyometrics safe for children? Strength Cond J 22: 45, 2000.
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5. Garhammer J. A review of power output studies of Olympic and powerlifting: methodology, performance prediction, and evaluation tests. J Strength Cond Res 7: 76-89, 1993.
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6. McBride JM, Triplett-McBride T, Davie A, and Newton RU. The effect of heavy- vs. light-load jump squats on the development of strength, power, and speed. J Strength Cond Res 16: 75-82, 2002.
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7. Mero A. Power and speed training during childhood. In: Pediatric Anaerobic Performance. Praagh EV, ed. Champiagn, IL: Human Kinetics, 1998. pp. 241-263.
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8. Muller H and Hommel H. Biomechanical research project at the V1 World Championships in Athletics, Athens 1997; Preliminary Report. New Stud Athletics 12: 43-73, 1997.
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9. Murray DP and Brown LE. Variable velocity training in the periodized model. Strength Cond J. 28: 88-92, 2006.
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10. Newton RU and Kraemer WJ. Developing explosive muscular power: Implications for a mixed methods training strategy. Strength Cond J 16: 20-31, 1994.
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11. Wallace BJ, Winchester JB, and McGuigan MR. Effects of elastic bands on force and power characteristics during the back squat exercise. J Strength Cond Res 20: 268-272, 2006.
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12. Wilson J and Flanagan E. The role of elastic energy in activities with high force and power requirements: A brief review. J Strength Cond Res 22: 1705-1715, 2008.
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13. Zatsiorsky VM and Kraemer KJ. Science and Practice of Strength Training (2nd ed). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2006. pp. 120-122.
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Monday, August 16, 2010

Misha Koklyaev !!!

Amazing performance. Each of these lifts was performed in a single workout before a small crowd in a Glasgow, Scotland gym.

-270kg jerk from behind the neck (a new pr)
- 400kg deadlift x 3reps with a clean style overhand grip (and straps).
- 290kg no-hands squat (world record)
- 190kg snatch (25kg more than ever been snatched on Scottish soil before).
Who else could deadlift 400 kg. X3 and Snatch 190 kg. in the same workout?

Also a clip of Koklyaev throwing the weight for height over 19 ft. (You have to watch a bagpipe parade for a few minutes first)
This guy has competed in Weightlifting, Strongman, and some Highland Games events without particularly focusing on any of them.
He was quoted as saying "God must have kissed my head and said 'You will be a weightlifter." You think? Wow.

A little AB work!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Enjoy the Journey

"Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family. One day each of us will run out of tomorrows".-Thomas S. Monson

This is a great quote that compels me to stop and evaluate my life from time to time. Below are some clips that show a couple of my favorite athletes enjoying the journey. Pyrros Dimas of Greece is one of the greatest lifters of all time. Winning 3 Olympic gold medals and finishing his career with a bronze in his home country in Athens in 2004, after his final lift (in which he went for the gold and nearly got it) he left his shoes on platform; a sign of retirement. At the medal ceremony he recieved a standing ovation from his countrymen that lasted over 5 minutes. When a reporter asked the gold medalist how it felt to defeat Dimas, the bronze medalist, he replied, "Pyrros is not a bronze medalist, he is a 3 time gold medalist." The first clip below features his gold medal total performance in Atlanta in 1996 when he was probably at his physical peak. His raw explosiveness is unequalled. The 2nd clip is his chief rival in that competition, Marc Huster of Germany. After Dimas had locked up the gold, Huster came back after a poor snatch performance and nailed a world record Clean and Jerk. His pure exuberance is contagious. These men enjoyed the journey. The final clip is a montage of Dimas over the span of his amazing career. Watch and be inspired. No matter what your sport or passion, enjoy the journey.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Who Says We Have to Choose?

There has been alot of discussion lately on "The Ring" about the relationship of strength and technique in throwing. Of course this is an ongoing point of discussion and is kind of like the chicken and the egg argument. Which comes first? No eggs without chickens and no chickens without eggs. It's obvious that while the proportions of each quality differ from individual to individual, every top thrower has both strength and technique in sufficient quantities. On one end of the spectrum we may find a really strong thrower with barely sufficient technical skills while on the opposite end we may find a thrower with less strength, but who possesses great technique. We never find a really weak thrower or a "motor moron" at the top levels. The current discussion seems to center around the question of which quality should be developed first. Some argue that young throwers should focus on technique, or learning to throw, then get strong. Others say get strong then learn to throw. In my Reservation brain it's never been an argument. Who says we can't do both? In fact, I can't imagine any coach who would not want to do both. Yes, young athletes need technical skills and the sooner they develop them the better. That doesn't mean that strength training is on hold while they learn to throw. Young athletes can get started on a sound strength training program at the same time. In fact, I believe the results are synergistic and complimentary. In other words, improving both qualities simultaneuosly brings better results than trying to address them seperately. Young athletes who are passing through puberty are carrying truck loads of growth hormones and can handle a large volume fo work. Teach them throwing technique and teach them lifting technique.
One of my pet peeves are coaches who say "I want to develop throwers, not lifters." and use that as an excuse to allow sloppy lifting technique. I agree that throwers do not need to copy competitive lifters in volume and intensity, but there is no reason why they shouldn't strive for the same level of technical excellence. It doesn't take any less time to lift improperly than it does to do it right. It may take a little more time to teach and reinforce good lifting technique up front, but once it's taught and mastered it will allow the young athlete to train hard with less joint stress and injury potential.
Here in the United States our educational "leaders" seem to think that scholastic academic achievement and athletic achivement are mutually exclusive.That if we emphasize physical qualities, that this will somehow inhibit mental development. The reality is our best students usually excell in both. Success is not a finite quantity that needs to rationed out. There is enough to go around and it is contagious. It spreads. We don't have make a choice. We should promote both. I see this throwing development "argument" in same light. Let's have it all.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Be Like Water My Friend

Bruce Lee has always been one of my hero's growing up. I have seen all of his films multiple times and even made a pilgrimage to his grave this year. I just wanted to share one of my favorite quotes of his and also post this video of an interview of his. I believe that his words not only apply to martial arts but can be used in all forms of life including athletics. Be like water my friends...


A few years ago, I made a blog for the byu throwers and kept it going for a while but then because of school and other things I just didn't have time to keep it up. Recently I decided to start it back up and plan on posting regularly about the byu throwers specifically. Take a look and check back from time to time.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Edge, Not a Secret

The "edge" is in understanding and applying basic principles. There are no real secrets.

I found this awhile ago. Can't remember where it came from, but I liked it and saved it.
"I know many of you are seeking the edge in training. For many years I was doing the same. I was searching for secrets, the latest and the greatest, something special, that one or two percent that would make the difference. The more I searched the more elusive it became. Finally I realized I had the answer right in front of me, I could not see the forest for the trees. I had seen it time and again and missed it, in fact I had done it and rejected it several times as unsophisticated, too simple. So what is the edge, it is mindful deliberate practice that never strays from the foundations of physical literacy and the fundamentals of the sport. The problem is that to constantly stress fundamentals seems mundane. It is the fundamentals that make the difference between staying injury free and getting injured, it is the fundamentals that are the foundation, the fundamentals must be constantly reinforced. I find that as a coach I must coach the fundamentals daily, the outstanding coaches that I have seen do the same. I now feel with a high degree of certainty that the search for the 2% is almost an exercise in futility and that final 2% will come if I take care of the first 98%. This is not to imply that you should stop learning and experimenting, by all means keep learning and refining in order to keep the edge razor sharp. It takes time and correct timing of the application of all elements of training. Take another look at your training, stop looking for an edge, coach the basics and keep learning. You will be surprised at the results."I couldn't agree more. The "secret" is in understanding and staying with the basics.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Jillian Camarena-Williams, Overcoming Obstacles

This article appeared in the Deseret News, a Utah newspaper. Nice article about a great person.

"They told her she wouldn't make the team.

Obviously, they didn't know Jillian Camarena-Williams very well.

"She's a hard worker, and I think whatever she does or whatever she puts her mind to, I think she's going to accomplish it because she's not someone that's going to give up," Craig Carter, Camarena-Williams' coach of six years, said.

As the 2010 U.S. champion in both indoor and outdoor shot put and assistant shot put coach at BYU, there is no doubt that Camarena-Williams is persistent, not only in her sport but also in her personal relationships and LDS faith.

Born in Woodland, Calif., Camarena-Williams began throwing shot put in the seventh grade at the encouragement of her brother, who was the high school record holder. Although she had played other sports as well, Camarena-Williams became dedicated exclusively to shot put when college offers began to appear.

Since graduating from Stanford University in 2004, Camarena-Williams has made shot put into a career. She has earned multiple titles, including two U.S. outdoor championships and six indoor championships in the last six years.

The road to her national titles has not been without its bumps.

Camarena-Williams endured back pain most of her life, but it finally caught up with her after the 2008 world indoor track championships in Spain — right before the U.S. trials for the Beijing Olympics. "I got back and that next week I herniated a disc, so I was not doing well at all," Camarena-Williams said. "As soon as that happened, basically everyone I talked to said, 'You won't be making the Olympics. There's no way.'"

Instead of succumbing to discouragement, Camarena-Williams researched her options, prayed and made a decision. "You wouldn't think that a month before the Olympic trial that you would want to have back surgery, but I had a strong comfort that was the way to go," Camarena-Williams said. "I ended up having back surgery and made the team."

Not only did she make the team but she also gained valuable experience. "Through hard work, blessings and the things she believes in, with faith, that she was able to come back even stronger and better and more focused because of the injury," Carter said.

Although her faith in the gospel was invaluable in her time of need, relying on the Lord is a common practice for Camarena-Williams.

"She keeps her priorities in check. It's easy to see that the church and her faith in Jesus Christ is her number one priority, and then training and those things," Dustin Williams, Camarena-Williams' husband and athletic trainer, said.

Carter believes that Camarena-Williams has the four aspects that make a solid athlete: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, which many athletes may not have.

The Word of Wisdom is one facet of her spirituality. Although Carter said it might give her an advantage during competition, Camarena-Williams does not partake of any illegal or harming substances.

Camarena-Williams also recognizes the value of having a husband who is able to assist her in and out of competition.

"(With my) surgery and knee problems, just to have someone that can not only fix me because of what (Dustin) does as an athletic trainer, but he can also give me blessings and things like that. Just to have that is a pretty powerful combination," Camarena-Williams said.

That combination is one of the things Camarena-Williams hopes will help her reach her goal of participating in the 2012 Olympics in London.

"I think she wants to medal, and I believe that is a very good possibility if she can stay healthy and stay focused and I can help her and her husband can help her," Carter said. "I think that we've got a good team and that hopefully we can bring home a medal from the 2012 Olympics."

Sunday, August 1, 2010


The European Championships in athletics were held in Barcelona Spain this past weekend and the competitions just barely got done. I wish I could have been there to watch especially because my brother Niklas was there competing in both the shot put and the discus. I had fun though following the results online and searching everyday for a live feed on the internet so I could watch. There were some great results and far throws by the competitors. I want to say congrats to Miknevich,Thorkildsen,Charfreitag,and Malachowski on winning gold and representing their countries well.