Monday, November 29, 2010

It Ain't Over Until It's Over!

Here in the United States the collegiate football season is winding down and this is the time of the season when the contests become very important. Watching football over the Thanksgiving holiday is a widespread American tradition. At least for the men, their wives are often out shopping for Christmas while the husbands sit in front of the TV. Crazy world. Anyway, this weekend there were several amazing examples of how maintaining enthusiasm and hope led to success when victory seemed impossible. Auburn was down 27 points at half-time and seemed to have nothing going and came back to beat a really talented Alabama team. Boise State was beaten by Nevada after leading by 24 points, and of course our Cougars gave up a 13 point lead after 3 quarters to fall 17-16 to our rival Utes. I've say, my hat's off to the Utes this season, they didn't quit when we had them beaten. They played to the very end and won it on the last play.
This weekend really reinforced the adage uttered by the great American philosopher, Rocky Balboa,"It ain't over until it's over." (I think he was actually quoting Yogi Berra, another great philosopher. "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded.") At any rate, as long as there is a spark of enthusiasm, there is hope.It seems to me that they go togather. Enthusiasm is the embodiment of hope, while hope sparks enthusiasm, and they feed one another. I recieved an e-mail this morning from an old friend who stated that he has "more enthusiasm than intellect." As I thought about that, it reminded me that enthusiasm is the catalyst for great performance.
What I love about throwing is that it only takes one good throw. As long as the thrower doesn't give up mentally, he has a chance. Bad timing, off balance, foul, all can be corrected on the next attempt if the throwers doesn't allow it to get into their head and dampen their enthusiasm and hope. Last month my son was talking with me about lifting and he said that he much prefered Weightlifting to Powerlifting as Weightlifting required greater technical skill and therefore more options for improvement.
He mentioned that when you get buried by a heavy squat, there is not much hope for success on a repeat attempt. Sure there are times when a technical fault may be corrected, but usually the problem in a lift like that is pure strength. You either have it or you don't. After getting buried, it is hard to muster enthusiasm or hope for another try. In the snatch however, there are many variables and you have much more hope for success after a missed attempt. Little did we know at the time, but his opinion would be tested soon. The next week we were entered in a Weightlifting meet and he missed his 1st attempt in the Snatch. He had never missed an opener before so I wondered how he would react. He told me that it was too light, but I didn't see it that way and had him repeat. It was a weight that should have been easy as he had routinely done it in training and more. He missed the 2nd attempt also. The problem was timing, not strength. Hope and enthusiasm were still alive. We focused on staying over the bar longer and being patient and he made his 3rd attempt easily and used the momentum to PR in the Clean and Jerk. The throws are similar, keeping a clear head, keeping enthusiasm and hope, one can make corrections and pull out a good throw in spite of a bad start.It ain't over until it's over. Enjoy the journey.

One of the great competitors of all time!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving From the U.S.A.

On Thursday , 25 November, we celebrate a holiday we call Thanksgiving here in the United States of America.
We are grateful to live in a country that sets aside a day to express thanks.
There is power in living with an attitude of gratitude.
Of course it is likely there would be no United States if not for the hospitality of the Natives that first harsh winter.
At the very least it would have been delayed for some time.
Native Warriors to the rescue.
Below is a tribute by the late Dan Fogelberg.
About 20 years ago he did a benefit concert for Monument Valley High School in Kayenta, Arizona.
A great guy who appreciated the Native Warrior Spirit.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mario Martinez, An Unsung American Hero

One of my all time favorite lifters is a guy that most have never heard of in spite of a long list of great accomplishments.How about a career spanning 23 years that included 10 national championships, 3 olympics including a silver medal and a 4th place finish,3 Pan Am medals,and the first American to both snatch over 400lb. and clean & jerk over 500 lb. in a meet. Try googling Mario Martinez and you'll have trouble finding much.
Raised on a remote Salinas, California ranch, Mario trained under a tree with a non-revolving exercise bar and an assortment of weights, some that he would tie on with rope. Mario Martinez got so strong that he’d bend his lifting bars, but no problem because Mario would straighten them out with a hammer and keep training. He developed a rough, but workable technique, but was famous for his bent-arm pulling style throughout his career.He racked his cleans with only his finger tips on the bar and had to regrip for the jerk. Sometimes his hands would slip off and he would have to regrasp the bar.
After several years of training this way, he traveled to San Francisco to view a competition. He entered the next one and soon was training under the watchful eye of Jim Schmitz. Even then he kept his independence.Here is how Jim tells it,"A little side story here is there was a time when Mario's training wasn't going as well as he would have liked and he thought he would like to do his own program. He still wanted to train with Ken Clark, John Bergman, Tom Hirtz, and Butch Curry, who were all following my program and coaching, but he wanted to do his own programming. To make a long story short, he would get to the gym before those guys, check out their programs—particularly Ken Clark's—and then train with Ken and John doing the same exercises, but with 10, 15, or 20 kilos more. He just didn't like to see his workouts written down, he thought it limited him." While he was a large and big boned man, with strong ligaments and tendons, he was never a huge superheavy and at times lifted in the 110 kg class. At the end of his career, I had the opportunity to meet him when we hosted the American Open in Flagstaff, Arizona. I assisted with the scoreboard and was honored to meet Mario. This may have been his last national level meet as he was closing in on 40 years old. He still managed something in the range of 160 kg. snatch and 200 clean and jerk if my memory is correct. Very impressive. Rich McClure, NAU strength coach at the time and the meet director, had Mario sign the competition platform as a memorial and inspiration to all who would lift on it in the future.
He was the last American man to medal in the Olympics in weightlifting with his silver in 1984 in L.A. He went 6 for 6 and thought he had the Gold wrapped up when the Australian tuna fisherman, Dean Lukin, pulled the lift of his life and did 240 to take the Gold. A few weeks later Mario had his Volkswagon Rabbit reposessed while he was in the gym training. Ironically, Marylou Rhetton, who won gold in gymnastics in the same olympics was given a brand new corvette by her sponsors. Mario who worked 40 hours a week as a mechanic to support his family had to take time off without pay in order to compete, then had his car reposessed. Such is the life of an American weightlifter. Unsung Mario is among the best. He is now carrying on with his family life and restores old autos as a hobby. All the best Mario and thanks for the memories.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Shout Out To My Buddy Oliver-

Oliver isn't one to brag much so I thought I would do it for him. This week we have been testing in the weight room here at BYU. Oliver has put up some great lifts and I thought I would just share some of them. On Monday Oliver had a pr in front squats doing 240kg. And then today we had a fun competition that was the highlight of the day. Our strength coach kind of challenged Oliver to a jerk competition....or maybe it was the other way around ha ha....anyways today they competed and Oliver won with a lift of 200kg and our strength coach did 190 kg. Oliver also had a great day in the bench press doing a strict 450 lbs. Oliver is a fun person to lift with because he helps push you to your best and is an inspiration. He is always willing to help us other throwers out and I know a lot of what I get accomplished in the weight room is due to him. Here are the lifts-

NTCA: Wrap Up

Hopefully the past few posts have been of some value to those who could not attend the conference. At least maybe gave an idea of what took place. Obviously even those in attendance could not attend all the sessions as there were usually two going on in the same time slot. I wasn't able to attend any Javelin sessions for that reason and javelin is not a scholastic event here in Arizona. (although we have one of the top female Javelin throwers in the U.S., Hannah Carson) I also missed Bill Godina's session on organizing a high school program. I'm sure it would have been valuable. Of the other sessions I did attend, notable were Rob Lasorsa teaching the glide shot. His presentation pretty much is contained on the DVD he has put out previously. I would encourage anyone who teaches entry level throwers to get this. He presents a large number of good drills for teaching the basics. he also presents some great imagery for learning such as this for the release: "Pretend you are punching a giant with your right hand while at the same time you have a midget trying to pick your pocket. So you pop him on the head with your left elbow." As a long time high school coach, I can say these types of images really help beginning level throwers master the basics. Even advanced level throwers can benefit from returning to the basics from time to time. Rob has really broken down the glide and has some excellent teaching points. Get the DVD from the NTCA site if you haven't got it already.The presentations on warmups and training were good. Nothing new or ground breaking here. The nutrition session was also a good summary of current knowlege, nothing new for those who keep abreast of current research.The basic rules that they teach at Athletes Performance are concise and helpful in applying basic knowlege.
Rule #1- Come back to earth.- Fresh natural foods are best. Fiber. Brown and close to the ground.
Rule #2-Eat a rainbow often. 3 colors on your plate.
Rule #3- Less legs the better. Fish, then poultry, then beef, pork for a protein hierachy of choice. Protien with every meal.
Rule #4- Fantastic Fats. Unsaturated oils.
Rule #5- Eat breakfast every day.
Rule #6- 3 plus 3. 6 feedings daily. 3 meals, 3 snacks. Some protein, carbs, fat for each.
Rule #7- Stay hydrated.
Rule #8- Don't waste your workout. Post workout recovery shake or snack. Within 10 minutes is optimal.
Be careful with supplements as some athletes have tested positive for banned substances while only using OTC supplements. Know the source of everything you take.
Rule #10- Sleep.This is the time for recovery and repair. 8 hours is optimal.
I like the simple rules approach. In summary, I felt like the NTCA conference was worth the investment of time and money. If you get the opportunity to attend, I would recommend that you take it.

Enjoy the Journey!

Monday, November 15, 2010

NTCA:Brian Bedard (CSU), Lucais MacKay (CLU)

These presentations were both on Saturday and done as "Field Sessions". In other words they were presentations done outdoors with demonstration and explanation. While the Athletes Performance facility did not have sufficient space for actual throwing, skills and drills were demonstrated and explained. Coach Bedard explained the discus with assistance from one of his former throwers, Missy Faubus I believe, as a demonstrator. Colorado State has had some excellent throwers, most notably Casey Malone in the discus. His profile link is here: http://www.csurams.com/sports/c-otrack/mtt/bedard_brian00.htmlCoach Bedard refered to his experiences coaching him quite a bit, usually in making the point that even the best throwers are not perfect in producing the positions that the coach wants. Even elite throwers are "works in progress" and constantly adjusting.Even elite throwers need to come back to the basics periodically. Some of the main points that were stressed:
-Settng the proper high point of the orbit. This begins with proper stand throw technique.
-Keeping left arm long, not wrapped,
-"Punch" off of left in the back, don't over reach with the right to the center.
-Right foot is dorsi flexed.
-Patience with upper body,keep discus back, wait for left to hit in the front.
-Many non-reverse throws, develop power off of two feet.
-Reverse should be an after effect, left is lifted after release and replaced by right. Keep left leg long and swing back to counter.
Coach Bedard said they do not do alot of drills, but do them consistently. They take a high volume of full throws.

Lucais MacKay gave the only Hammer demonstration of the conference. He began by making the point that KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid)is still the best method.I have to agree. The simpler the better.Coach MacKay had been throwing the Hammer for along time. Here is his profile link: http://www.clusports.com/mens_track_field/staff/109/His father is the legendary Bob MacKay of Moorpark JC so he grew up around throwers and throwing. He is now becoming a very effective coach as well. One hour just isn't enough to cover an event as complex as the Hammer, even if you do try to KISS. Some of his main points were:
-Keep right shoulder back on winds to set proper low point
-Low point should be to the right of center between foot and navel
-Do not lead with the head, keep it neutral
-Don't actually look at the ball, look in direction of the ball
-Establish a right and left lane (like a highway) on turns, don't cross over.
-Right foot is "skateboarding" while left is pivoting heel-toe.
-Push is primary concern, pull is not an option.
Some other points; 3 or 4 turns is an individual decision. There is not one right answer. He said Hammer throwers are often stronger than discus throwers and specific strength is paramount. Bob MacKay was sceduled to present on Friday, on the topic, "Developing 70 m Hammer throwers in 3 years." I really would have liked to have seen that, but he wasn't able to attend. Lukais did give us the handout that his father had prepared however.The main points of the handout seem to be a well deserved tribute to the late Hal Connolly along with examples of how there is no one physique or body type for Hammer success. Great throwers have had many variations in size and shape. Training methods also are very individualistic.

Coach Bedard says he hates the swing before the wind. lol

Friday, November 12, 2010

NTCA: Dave Dumble (ASU) -Discus

I doubt if there is a serious throws coach anywhere in the U.S. who isn't aware of what Dave Dumble has accomplished with the throwers at Arizona State University. He has done an amazing job with both the men's and women's programs across the full spectrum of events from the weight, to the shot, discus,hammer, and javelin. Here is a link to Dave's profile on the ASU website: http://thesundevils.cstv.com/sports/c-track/mtt/dumble_david00.html
Dave also coaches at the John Godina World Throws Center. When Coach Dumble was introduced by John Godina, John mentioned that their philosophies would be very similar as they were teamates and roomates at UCLA. That, in fact proved to be true. Dave focused his presentation on the discus. He used a lot of live action video clips to illustrate his points. He opened by stating that the main objectives are:
-Maximize rotational velocity
-Optimize radius
-Maximize hip/shoulder separation
Like Godina, he emphasized the importance of the double support phase which occurs at entry and delivery. Speaking of rotation he submitted these as basic principles:
-Rotation has an axis
-Thrower must know pivot point
-Center of mass must be over the pivot point
He teaches initiating the entry from the back with a right foot push. When the right foot touches down in the middle a new axis is established as the right foot turns with the body. The left leg lever is shortened as sepration is achieved in the upperbody. Head is neutral as the body finds the axis of rotation. The axis is tilted back, the left arm is not pulled in too early. Technique is the result of reps, strength, speed, body awareness, rhythm, and timing. In making adjustments in technique, only focus on one thing at a time. Rhythm is knowing when to be passive. A smooth acceleration is desired above a jerky, explosive acceleration. Coach Dumble mentioned that his throwers focus on the Olympic lifts and their variations in the weight room and change workouts every 3 weeks or so.
One can't help but to be impressed with Coach Dumble. His presentation was detailed and enthusiastic. His passion for the throws is obvious. Of course there was much more to his presentation, hopefully this quick overview represents the main ideas he emphasized.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Does John Godina Know His Stuff?

Is the Pope Catholic? Is the sky blue? Is BYU the Harvard of the west? OK, I'm getting carried away here. (Actually Harvard is the BYU of the east) John Godina definitely knows his stuff. It's obvious that his career places him among the best of all-time. But if anyone has the opportunity to be taught by him, it is also apparent that his results came from not only some natural ability, but also from extensive study and a deep understanding of what it takes to throw far. I will attempt to convey the essence of his NTCA presentation. His presentation was only an hour and focused on the rotational shot with some discus application. He stated that the material he covered usually takes 3 hours or more to present, so he went fast. I won't attempt to regurgitate his presentation in great detail, just a few of the important points from my perspective. Power from stability was the overiding message. He broke the throw down into the phases of double, single, and non-support as well as recovery. I assume most know how those phases are sequenced. He focused on the double support phases as that is when power is transmitted to the implement. He emphasized the progression of developing balance, then positions, then movement, then speed. John quickly covered the muscles that are stabilizers and movers. He stressed the need for a strong posterior chain. In my notes I quoted him as saying, "Back work is essential. If you can't see the back muscles, (meaning if they are not developed) then they can't be strong. If they aren't strong then you can't throw far."

A great example of posterior chain development.

He noted that here in the U.S. many young athletes are quad dominant with underdeveloped posterior muscles.He said that the backside muscles are used at the back of the ring, while the frontside muscles (quads) are used at the front.He mentioned that the core stabilizers should be tightened during the wind as if you were ready to recieve a punch. He described the 360 degree rotation drill for teaching movement out of the back. I assume many of you are familiar with that. If not, John published an article in Track and Field last spring on this drill and how he uses it. He actually gets his athletes to exceed 360 and even out to 540 and more. He stressed patience in the non-support phase and keeping the right leg rigid upon landing in the middle. Emphasize driving the legs hard into the ground and don't turn in the front until the left is down. Rotate as if there is a rod through the top of your head and turn on an axis. The ball should feel light on release. Recover by landing with the right foot 90 degrees to the throw, not too wide, focus on vertical power. There is much more that was said, but it is not my intention to write everything. It would take too long. Hopefully my summary does some justice to his excellent presentation. John is very personable and was available the entire time to answer questions and converse. He is a very high class individual and a great representative or our sport. He is offering a coaching mentorship program this August at his World Throws Center. Check his website for details.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NTCA Conference

Last weekend I took the opportunity to attend the National Throws Coaches Association Conference held in Phoenix, Az at the John Godina World Throws Center. While I really wanted badly to attend in the past, it was held in the mid-west and I couldn't justify using family funds to attend so I had to be content with purchasing and borrowing DVD and/or written materials from the past conferences to at least get some of the information. This year it was only a 5 hour drive from Kayenta so I was there in person. Over the next week or so, I will report on some of the highlights from my perspective.In this post I will give my impression of the event overall as well as the facility. While the conference was certainly worth the registration fee in my opinion, I have to admit that I was a little disapointed. I counted about 41 coaches in attendance on Friday night and few more who came in for Saturday, but the number didn't exceed 50. It is my impression that past conferences were larger and I guess I was expecting more. However, having said that, the group that was there were from across the U.S. as I spoke with coaches from Minnesota, Virginia, Ohio, Oregon, and other places. I would estimate that about 60% were collegiate coaches with the remainder from the high school ranks and/or clubs. To be honest, the facility couldn't have handled many more comfortably as the lecture room was nearly full and the social/luncheon area was about maxed out also. It was good to be able to network and converse with the other coaches, but I guess I was expecting more.
The presentors included John Godina, Dave Dumble (Arizona State), Brian Bedard (Colorado State), Lucais MacKay (Cal Lutheran), Bill Godina (John's father and a successful high school coach), Rob LaSorsa (Perform Better), and a few training pros from Athlete's Performance, the facility that houses Godina's throwing center. The presentors were great and very accessable in between sessions for questions and conversation. Coach Bob MacKay (Moorpark JC) was listed as a presentor, but was unable to attend. That was dissapointing as I was looking forward to his hammer presentation. As it turned out, there was only one session dealing with hammer, and that was Bob's son Lucais. There really wasn't enough time for him to cover everything as he got cut off due to time constraints.
As I mentioned, John Godina has a deal with Athletes Performance to use their facility to house his throws center. Athletes Performance was founded by Mark Versteegen who trains alot of high level athletes from the NFL, NHL, MLB...etc. While the training center is certainly modern, spacious, and attractive with a variety of services ranging from nutrition (a cafe type food service area), sports medicine (chiropractic and ATC services) as well as testing areas, outdoor turf, a pool...etc. There is no throwing area or drilling rings on the premises, but Paradise Valley JC is only a few miles away with a nice throwing area. I have to say I was somewhat dissapointed in the weight room. Some may think I am crazy as it has just about any piece of equipment ever produced. I guess that is the problem, it was too "trendy" for my tastes. Sure it had a plethora of racks with band and chain attachments, suspended rings, varying grips for pullups,..etc. A whole line of Keiser Air units lined one wall. The room was huge with lots of glass and natural light, very pleasant, but there were only two platform areas and they both were encumbered with racks and benches and equipped with the newer model York weights. There wasn't an Eleiko bar in the building, unless they keep it locked up in a closet somewhere. I could do without the vibration platforms and rows of aerobic toys. Just give me a good sturdy bar, quality bumpers, and some open space. I judge the quality of the weightroom by the quality of the bars and weights. Eleiko is #1 and I'll consider Werksan or Uesaka as also good, or the older original American made York bars, but not the newer imported ones. I guess when you are training millionares you have got to have expensive looking gadgets, even if they are superflous. When I design a weightroom, I start with the barbells, the best I can get, then go from there. Here, it seemed that the barbells were an afterthought. Lot's of condiments, but where's the beef? In the next few days I will give a short synopsis of each of the sessions I attended. Each was well presented and several were particularly outstanding. I took over 10 pages of notes. Don't worry, I'll limit my posts to the highlights.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Many of you have read this article written by Dane Miller of Garage Strength. For those of you that haven't you can find the full article here-http://teamgaragestrength.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/miller-reflections-of-a-master-bondarchuk-interview.pdf
I re-read this article recently and decided to post topics or questions from the interview I thought were most interesting. I also added a few thoughts and random comments...

At what point should a shot/disc/hammer athlete stop training maximum
Bondarchuk: A good measure for shot and discus is around a 160k bench, 200k squat, and 150k clean. The discus throwers could incline a bit more for development of the shoulders. At the average level, every exercise is good. Once the shot putter hits 19, 20 –22, the exercises and transfer need to have a much higher correlation.
I've never really heard or been taught that incline is good for discus throwing? I've always thought that it was more of a shot put lift and flat bench was better suited for discus. Hearing those marks for those lifts makes me feel a little better about my weakness in the weight room....

What is the major problem with US hammer throwing or US throwing in
Bondarchuk: The system of technique and strength has not changed in hammer, discus or shot for 20-30 years. In 1972 my technique was as good or better than some top US hammer throwers today. That was 36 years ago, this should not be the case. The US is always thinking about maximum strength. Until the US realizes the research of special and dynamic strength, there will be minimal hammer throwers over 80 meters. After 1975 in Europe the average athlete no longer used a full squat, only quarter squats, step ups and jump squats. Maybe the US is too influenced by bodybuilding and power lifting which takes their focus away from special strength. The US has not progressed technically in 40-50 years with the hammer. There has been very little progress since Hal Connolly, outside of maybe Deal but even Deal did not have near the technique he could have achieved. Deal's technique was 50/50, he did not push the ball but he also did not pull the ball.
Thought it was interesting how he mentioned the European athletes not using squats and instead using other leg strengthening exercises. I do think power lifting and bodybuilding are big influences on our training. How many of us have wanted to throw in curls or some calf raises into our exercises just to impress some girls or to look more "symmetrical."

How can the US university system fix the underdeveloped high school athletes
in regards to hammer and even shot put and discus?
Bondarchuk: The Soviets started throwing around 13-14 years of age. They did not throw three implements. If you threw discus, you only threw discus and this was the same with every implement. Sometimes the athletes would throw shot and discus if they were rotational. In the US athletes throw shot, disc and hammer and they are also students. This is difficult. It is ok to throw disc and shot if you are a rotational shot putter, otherwise the athletes should attempt to focus on one event. The other problem with the US university system is the weight throw. The best way to throw the weight is by pulling the weight. It is impossible to push the weight because it is too short. The idea behind the weight is different when compared with the technical idea behind the hammer and this creates more technical difficulties with the athlete.
I agree with his statement. I think the university system ruins a lot of great throwers and their potential. Too many of us college athletes try to train and compete in multiple events such as shot, discus and hammer. Some of this is due to the encouragement of coaches to get more points at meets, etc and maybe some throwers like to do all 3 but is it worth it in the long wrong? If you look at the elite throwers today in all of the events how many of them double or triple up in the throwing events? I have only ever talked to one coach who thought the weight throw helped out his hammer throwers...don't know how or why but is the future of hammer throwing in America worth worrying about our weight throw marks?

What will it take for North America to catch and compete with the top athletes
in disc, hammer and javelin?
Bondarchuk: The US needs to change their mind and listen. It is about special strength and technique, they should think less about maximum strength and more about explosive strength and technique. Strength is a simple idea but in practice with throwing, it creates a bigger problem. Take my friend Alexeev for example. He had a 240k press and a massive clean and snatch and a huge full squat but he only had a 16.50 shot put, other top superheavyweights like Taranenko only threw 14 meters in the shot. In the US hammer technique is also terrible with about 80-90% of the throwers in the US having bad technique. The shot may be about 50% good
technique, discus is nearly 70% bad and this is the same with javelin. Athletes need more full throws and special strength. Some of the athletes are ok with special strength and their technique. Improve these things and the average level of throws will improve. Another problem is that university kids watch the top US hammer throwers and then they continue to throw like them. I just watched the 1988 Olympics and other videos from the late '80's on my computer and 20 years ago, the hammer throwers had better technique than they did this past year in Osaka. This is a problem.
I often worry too much about my weight room numbers instead of worrying about my technique and throwing strength. It's hard lifting with team mates and not want to compete and do better than them. Often I push myself harder than I need to and face consequences that negatively affect my throwing practices.

This article sure does give us a lot to think about and maybe some new ideas to help us as throwers get better. If you haven't read or researched much of what Coach Bondarchuk believes in, I would recommend it...it's interesting stuff.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Who Did You Vote For?

William Wallace for President!!

Yesterday was election day here in the United States. When I came into school this morning my students asked who I voted for. I told them that I got skunked this time. Almost everyone I voted for lost! However, teacher that I am, I recognized a "teaching moment". I decided to share with them my wisdom in determining who is worthy of my vote. My formula, like me, is quite simple.
I never vote for anyone who:
Does half squats
Calls jogging a workout
Wears gloves in the weightroom
Does bench press for the first exercise of their workout
Doesn't snatch
Does every lift in front of a mirror
Drinks diet pepsi with their Big Macs and large fries.

That's it. Unfortunately I don't find many highly qualified candidates.I told them that is why they need to train hard and smart so we can have leaders we can trust in the future.

I would never vote for this guy!!

I would vote for Dave Draper on the basis of his squat style. I'm not as sure about the guy next to him though.

Would I vote for Zygmunt Smalcerz? You bet!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Some More Thoughts on Rotational Strength

In past posts on this site we have discussed what we percieve to be the difference between rotational training and twisting. Rotation is turning the hips and shoulder as a unit, even while the hips may lead. Twisting is moving the hips and shoulders in opposite directions. Many trainers and trainees assume they are the same and/or that twisting movements are essential to developing rotational force. I do not believe that. In fact, I believe that twisting exercises are only a shortcut to back problems. Recently Sean Waxman, a California based strength coach who we have featured on this site before, posted a presentation that he made to a group of strength coaches and would-be personal trainers at an NSCA Conference. I am posting a few excerpts here. You can view the full presentation by clicking the link at the finish. Sean doesn't waste words. I agree with his views on torso training and his opinion of the general NSCA populace. While this is directed to the sport of baseball, (personally I think any sport where you spend most of your time standing around and where you can get a hit 3 out every ten trys and be considered good breeeds mediocrity) I think it applies a great deal to the throwing events.
My comments are interjected in blue.
Rotational Training and Weighted Bats
• One of the biggest mechanisms of torso injury occurs while flexing the spine during rotation. So If an athlete’s torso is not strong enough to prevent spinal flexion/extension then wouldn’t introducing rotational movements such as med-ball throws be foolish? Specific rotational exercise is an advanced form of training and should not be introduced into a program until the athlete has developed enough isometric strength in their torso to stabilize the spine. A better choice for training rotation would be barbell exercises. While an athlete rises from a squat or especially an overhead squat they will be strongly resisting the tendency to rotate. This act of stabilization creates significant increases in rotational strength. As an athlete matures and gains control over their torso function, specific rotational exercises can be introduced. However, unlike in other rotational sports such as the shot put, hammer, and discus where the implement thrown will range between 16lbs and 4.4 lbs and specific rotational training may be beneficial, (
not twisting)the heaviest object a baseball player will handle will be the bat, which will generally range between 30-40 oz. So aside from actually practicing hitting the baseball, it would seem unnecessary to spend the time in the weightroom on rotational training.
As far as using weighted bats, you are doing more harm than good. Adding weight to the bat changes the swing mechanics as well as the timing of the swing. And Because of the extra weight the muscles contract more slowly, therefore stimulating less type 2 fibers.

The Chinese lifters have been observed doing some rotational plate walks before and after training.

15. Sports Specific Movements
I thought it necessary to discuss this idea of sports specific torso training in the weightroom. This does not exist in weight room. It is the job of the S&C coach to improve athletic attributes such as strength, power and speed. It is then the job of the baseball (
or Track)coach to teach the athlete the sports specific movements. Doing a side toss with a med ball or rotational movements on a cable column is not the same as swinging a bat or throwing a ball.(or discus, shot, javelin, or hammer) Throwing and hitting are very specific skills, which require very specific motor patterns, which you will not be able to replicate in the weightroom. In fact these rotational exercises create conflicting motor patterns and may very well negatively affect the athletes skill on the diamond. (or circle)
Remember, in an untrained or under trained population nearly any training method will get a positive result for a short period of time. That doesn’t make it proper training.
Sean's final statement was:
And you will never again go to a presentation on torso development because you will understand that the very premise is ridiculous.

Good stuff. I would recommend that you read the entire presentation by clicking the link below.