Month: November 2011

Developing a Successful Training System – Part II

In Part I, I outlined 6 aspects you “Need to Have” in order to develop a successful training system. Today, I will cover 6 common mistakes that can derail an otherwise sound training program.
Need to Avoid
#1 Need to Avoid: Getting too Fancy – As I’ve detailed before, I think “functional” is thrown around too freely in the industry. Performing overhead squats on a stability ball isn’t a function in any sport I’ve ever seen. Don’t get me wrong, overhead squats are one of my favorite exercises and stability balls are a great training tool, but two good things don’t always equal something great. It’s important to train sport-specific movements, as well as improve balance, mobility, reaction, and other fine motor skills not commonly associated with the weight room, but there is a point where it’s just eyewash. “Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees.”  If you only focus on auxiliary lifts and ignore some of the basics, your athletes will make little, if any, progress. Everything has its place in a training program, but you can’t build a Mercedes by focusing solely on the stitching of the seats.
#2 Need to Avoid: Focusing on the Wrong Goals – Everyone loves moving big weights and having impressive maxes on bench/squat/etc but how much does that transfer to the athlete’s sport? Everything I do with my athletes has a purpose, and that purpose is to improve their performance in their sport. It’s easy to focus on the improvements that happen in the weight room (and it looks better for marketing to say athletes improve their bench by an average of X pounds at your facility), but those gains are meaningless if they are detrimental to the athlete’s performance in their arena. If I’m interested in increasing an athlete’s raw strength and 1RM bench and squat, I am going to focus on exercises that will yield greatest gains on those lifts. This is great if you’re focused on improvements between initial and exit testing, but terrible if your goal is to prepare the athlete to perform at their peak for an entire season. Training is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Always remember, the ultimate goal is to help the athlete improve performance in their arena, not in the weight room.
#3 Need to Avoid: Talking Out Your A** – You don’t know everything, that’s ok, no one does. Just don’t pretend you do. If an athlete comes to you with a question you don’t have the answer for, admit it. Don’t make something up to protect your pride, instead, say “I’ll check on that and get back to you” and FIND the answer. Providing incorrect information to your athletes does nothing but put them at risk (as they are likely to trust in you and act on what you tell them, even to their detriment) and damage your credibility when they learn your full of it. I do everything I can to learn as much as I can, and if an athlete comes to me with a question I can’t answer, I take that as a reason to learn everything I can on the subject. It helps me improve as a coach and the next time it comes up, I’ll be prepared to provide an accurate response.
#4 Need to Avoid: Incomplete Coaching – For most athletes, strength and conditioning professionals will be the only resource they have available. As such, it is imperative that we provide as much guidance as possible and help ensure a more complete development. Most athletes, especially high school or collegiate, won’t realize they have mobility restrictions, or realize their lingering pain may be a significant injury, or recognize the effect of their diet. I am not saying you need to wear the label of therapist/doctor/dietician/etc (in fact, quite the opposite – see #3), but provide what you can and recognize when you should refer them to another professional who can help. As far as applying this to your training system, ensure that every athlete dedicates time to a proper warm up, mobility work, corrective exercises, proper recovery, and soft tissue work to gain the most from their training. The system needs to be as thorough and complete as possible with the available resources, or athletic development may suffer.
#5 Need to Avoid: Monotony – Repetition = good, monotony = bad. It’s that simple, but unfortunately not that easy. If you want to improve at a task, repetition is required, but this can quickly lead to monotony and boredom in training. It’s a fine line to walk, but as coaches it’s our responsibility to find new ways to train the same concepts and provide the repetition necessary to improve, while having enough variety to maintain interest & focus. For sports coaches, this means varying drills to train the same specific skill. For strength & conditioning professionals, this means manipulating exercise selection, volume, rest, speed, or periodization by using a plan such as the Hybrid Model of Periodization. Training is only effective when the athlete is engaged in the activity, and nothing kills interest quicker than monotony and boredom.
#6 Need to Avoid: Accepting Mediocrity – This is one of my biggest pet peeves, not only in training, but life in general. I firmly believe mediocrity is below me and strive to stay above average by working harder than others, so when I see athletes wasting natural abilities with laziness, it sets me off. I wasn’t always this way, I attempted to coast through college, doing as little as necessary to get my degree, but I realized if I want success in this world (and this industry), it’s going to take more than average. This is even more true for professional athletes because there will always be another person with their same skill set just waiting for an opportunity. If your athletes are complacent, do what’s necessary to change that mindset and get them motivated. Never accept mediocrity – not from your athletes and certainly not from yourself. Force yourself to be great, because no one else can and no one else will.
I hope this has provided some insight and useful information to help you improve your training system. Remember, it’s more than exercises and weights – training is made of several integrated pieces, and if there are any weak spots ,the entire system will collapse. Be the best possible coach you can be, and strive to improve on that every single day.
“A single day is enough time to get a little better.”
All the best,
Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW
Posted by Drew Henley, 0 comments

Developing a Successful Training System – Part I

When it comes to developing a training system, most of the effort (and consequently, the research) is aimed towards program design and exercise prescription. Exercise A has the greatest endocrine response in Study X and Exercise B reduces the likelihood of Common Injury Z, so they need to be in our program! Now, I’m not saying either of these are bad ideas, quite the contrary in fact, I think they belong in a training system, but they are merely pieces of the puzzle. With these next two posts, I will show some other pieces that combine to form a successful training system. Today, we will be covering 6 “Need to Have” aspects, and tomorrow I will go over 6 “Need to Avoid” pitfalls.
Need to Have
#1 Need to Have: Positive Energy – People feed off their surroundings, and if your athletes walk into their workout/practice and their COACH is dragging or pissy about being there, why would they bring their best effort? This isn’t something that can be hit or miss, you need to bring it EVERY day, be the one lifting your athletes out of whatever funk they’re in and get the best possible effort they have for that day. They’re going to be tired, sore, hungover, upset about their loved one, worried about school, or have any one of a million distractions, but when they walk through that door, it’s your job to get them in the right mindset. It’s more than just being over-caffeinated optimist (let’s be honest, no one wants a coach who fawns about how glorious the morning frost is), good music, competition between the athletes and against their previous bests are excellent ways to increase the energy.  Keep it light and fun, but don’t cross the line into accepting complacency. Your athletes need to enjoy their training, training partners, coaches, and training environment in order to put forth their best effort.
#2 Need to Have: An Identity – Quick, what is your training philosophy? Describe your principles and how you use them to help your athletes improve. If you can’t answer this, it’s important you figure it out and quick. Athletes have thousands of options for training or competing, and your identity is what will lead them to you and believe in your system. New research, methods, and devices bombard the industry on a near daily basis, but it is important to filter this and suit it to fit your system, not the other way around. There are three principles to my training philosophy –
o   Everything has a purpose – have a reason for everything we do and be able to explain it to the athletes.
o   Injured athletes can’t perform – prehabilitation and maximizing an athlete’s ability to move are a top priority. Don’t prepare them for a day or a season, but for their career and time after it.
o   Training is a means to an end, not an end itself – I’m not interested in my athletes being the best lifters, I want them to be the best players in their sport. How we train reflects that, that’s why I personally prefer the title Sports Performance Coach over Strength & Conditioning Coach (it’s my version of how annoyed an ATC gets when called a trainer). I am preparing athletes to perform in their sport, not just increasing their strength and conditioning levels.
Whatever you do with your athletes, do it to the best of your abilities and stay true to your beliefs. Methods will change over time (mine sure have), but you can stay true to your goal of helping athletes succeed.
#3 Need to Have: A Thorough Assessment – It’s difficult to know what an athlete needs to improve, or how far they’ve progressed, without a proper initial assessment. I am fortunate to be working with a terrific group of physical therapists and ATCs at Fischer Sports, as well as with the Houston Astros organization, who provide a very thorough assessment, addressing any deficits or weaknesses an athlete may have. Without this information, the risk of injury drastically increases and an athlete’s development is going to suffer.
#4 Need to Have: A Proper Warm-Up – This should go without saying, but some people still go about this the wrong way in my mind. The body needs to be warmed up and prepared to train or be effective during activity. Think of a diesel truck – sure you CAN turn the key and go, but if you want a good life out of the engine, you need to let it warm up a bit. Get the body moving, use full range of motions to mobilize joints in a controlled manner, raise the core temperature, and prepare the CNS.
#5 Need to Have: An Occasional “Gut Check” – For athletes, there will come a time when they can’t go on, yet they will NEED to in order to succeed (look no farther than Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals). The body can handle much more than we dare imagine, but the wrong mindset (such as allowing “can’t” to enter your thoughts) can derail all of what an athlete has worked for. Athletes should train harder than they play so when that time comes, they won’t think they can persevere, but rather KNOW they can. The best way of doing this is to simply crush them (safely, of course) mentally and physically for a day or week of training. The goal is to shatter preconceived notions of our limitations and find a deeper strength to attack, attack, and attack again even when the pain and fatigue is unbearable. Give every ounce you have, and then keep going because sometimes, your best won’t be good enough, so you’ll need to exceed it and succeed in doing what’s necessary.
#6 Need to Have: Adequate Recovery – This is a good time to mention that the workouts discussed above should not be a regular occurrence, just a reminder to the athlete that their limits are more mental than physical (and help get through them). Gains are made after the workout, not during, and it’s necessary to recognize the importance of proper recovery. Nutrition, sleep, soft tissue therapy, and rest (from training or between training sessions) all play integral roles in an athlete’s development. Failing to address these in a training system is a quick and easy way to achieve overtraining or injure athletes. Be sure your athletes are aware of the importance of the 20+ hours each day they AREN’T training.
Athletes can achieve gains from a variety of training protocols, some more effective than others, but these are six additional needs to developing a successful training system. Far too many coaches fail to address all six, and their athletes suffer for it. Tomorrow, I will cover 6 things you “Need to Avoid” in order to develop a successful training system.
If you feel I missed something, or if I can ever be of assistance to you or your program, please feel free to contact me.
All the best,
Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW
Posted by Drew Henley, 0 comments

Articles & Videos You Should See 11-7

Here are this week’s articles and videos I think contain valuable information for coaches & their athletes. I hope you find the same value in them as I do.
7 Habits for Highly Effective Training – Simple concepts and habits that every athlete should keep in mind when training. If you’re a coach, I recommend going over these with your players. It might be common sense to you or me, but it may be novel to them.
How to Squat Deeper – If mobility is an issue for you or your athletes, Joe Meglio provides several methods of helping improve joint function in this article.
Simple Thoracic Spine Mobility Exercises – More mobility exercises, only Mike Reinold focuses solely on the thoracic spine and is able to go into greater detail.
Leave Your Mark –  “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” Even for the most determined of us have trouble finding motivation occasionally, Chad Howse does a good job of reiterating what it takes to “Be Legendary.” These are more good points to discuss with your athletes to keep them in the present, but looking to the future.
Single Leg Barbell RDL/Row Combo – Big fan of this exercise, though I would instruct athletes to maintain a proper lower back arch, even if they can’t get all the way down (in the video, he rounds his back slightly to touch the weight to the ground).
Workout Finishers For Basketball Players and Teams – Alan Stein provides another great video for basketball coaches to use with their players. If you work with basketball players, be sure to subscribe to his channel on YouTube or follow him on Twitter because he is an EXCELLENT resource to have. He produces tons of great videos and articles.
Pike Rollback – At about the 2:30 mark, Nick Tumminello actually gets around to demonstrating this exercise. If you’ve ever seen any of Nick’s videos, you know he likes to talk as much as anyone I know, but fortunately it’s usually stuff I want to learn, so it works out quite well. This is no exception and I am excited to work this exercise into my programs.
Later this week, I will be putting up a big post on what you should have, as well as what you should avoid, for a successful training system. If I can ever be of assistance to you or your program, please feel free to contact me.
All the best,
Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW
Posted by Drew Henley, 0 comments

Kinesio Capture Q&A w/ Rob Harris

A lot of people had questions about Kinesio Capture, so I asked Rob Harris, Vice President and Director of Sports Performance for Kinesio Capture, to come and answer a few questions.
First, let me thank you for taking the time to tell my readers more about Kinesio Capture. As I mentioned in a previous post, I was quite impressed when I first saw your product at the NSCA AZ Clinic.
Rob: Thanks Drew!  In the three months since we’ve launched Kinesio Capture the response has been nothing short of amazing. Never in my wildest dreams did any of us expect the level of positive feedback we’ve received from strength coaches, physical therapists, chiropractors, athletic and personal trainers.  It’s funny because when we attend conferences to promote KCap, but the product really sells itself.  It’s the easiest thing I’ve ever tried to promote in my life! 
To those who are truly passionate about analyzing human movement and understanding why their athletes, clients and patients do what they do, it just makes sense to have Kinesio Capture in your toolbox.
I agree, when I saw it I was blown away by what it could do. What advantages are there to using Kinesio Capture instead of the other motion analysis software available?
Rob: The advantages that stand out right away are the portability and ease of use.  Wherever you’re at, you just simply pull out the iPad, tap on the KCap icon, capture movement, mark it up and review.  You can be on the side of a pool, on a track, in an indoor practice facility, on a mountain, you name it.  You can move with your athletes, clients or patients wherever theyre at so you can capture movements in authentic, dynamic and sometimes chaotic environments which is where our athletes function – right? My athletes do not function in a lab, they move up, down and around on a court, on a field, on the track, or in the pool, and for me to really understand how I can help them improve I need to see them move in their environment. 
Once you’ve captured the movements, KCap features are easy to integrate into your analysis techniques. You can easily demonstrate joint angles, level changes, range of motion, distance and ground contact times instantly.
I know from experience that when I can show an athlete as opposed to just telling or demonstrating, the learning curve is cut drastically. I can imagine how the portability and the ability for immediate feedback can benefit coaches, athletic trainers, and physical therapists. Who are some current Kinesio Capture clients and how are they using the software with their athletes and clients?
Rob: Well I’m really excited that the US Women’s Bobsled Team is using it as they prepare for the World Championship Season.  The Women’s Head Coach Todd Hays has been a KCap user from the beginning and he’s been giving us some great feedback on how he’s been able to use KCap during their starts and then reviewing it with them between runs.  Brandon Marcello at Stanford is using KCap with his Olympic Sport Athletes in the weight room. Will Greenberg has been using it with the Women’s Basketball Team at Clemson in the weight room and during practice as has Kyle Tarp at University of Maryland.  Ted Rath with the Detroit Lions has had some good results with his guys in the weight room. Michael Torres at IPI has been using it with his general population clients for the instant feedback.  COR Systems have been using KCap in research to show the ROM gains their clients are getting using the COR bench compared to traditional flat benches. NY Islanders, Toronto Mapleleafs, Gray Institute, Missouri Tigers, Florida Basketball, Core Functional Fitness, New Orleans Saints, Vern Gambetta, Texas Basketball, T2 Motion, I mean the list just goes on and on….
Wow, so maybe I was a little late saying KCap is going to be huge. I know the software is available for both the iPad and the iPhone. Are there any differences between the two versions?
Rob: The iPad obviously has a larger screen, enhanced frame by frame, side by side and video overlay features.  The iPhone screen is just too small to get these features on it but we’ve pretty much maxed out what both the iPhone and iPad operating systems can give us at this point. We’ll continue to improve on both iPhone and iPad versions as the iOS continues to get better and better
There are some sacrifices when gaining that ultimate portability the iPhone offers. I think its difficult to truly appreciate how impressive this product is by just reading about it. Do you have any events coming where coaches can experience Kinesio Capture first hand?
Rob:  Yep, we’ll be at the Chain Reaction 3D seminar in San Diego November 10-12, NSCA Coaches Conference in San Antonio January 6th-7th 2012, University of Tennessee Strength and Conditioning Clinic March 2nd-3rd 2012, CSCCa National Conference May 9th-12th 2012, NSCA National Conference July 11th-14th, and all three Perform Better Summits next summer. 
Also, we hope to visit with as many MLB teams during 2012 spring practice in Flordia and Arizona so if anyone is interested, feel free to give me a call and we’ll set something up.
For my readers who would like to see some of what Kinesio Capture can do, but arent attending any of those events (or dont want to wait until then), do you have any videos they can view online to get a feel for it?
Rob: Well because we live in a virtual world just about everything you need to know is on our website:
And for those who like an interactive opportunity to gain even more information about KCap we can set up a live high def video feed and do a Q and A with you in the comfort or your office or facility. 
Great, here’s the link to those videos, I recommend checking them out. Its some great stuff. If anyone has any other questions, what would be the best way for them to contact you or a member of the Kinesio Capture team?
Rob:, friend us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter:@kinesiocapture 
Well Rob, thanks for taking the time today, I appreciate it and I know my readers are grateful as well.
Rob: Thank you for having me Drew!  Best of luck with Henley Sports Performance and I hope to see you again soon.
If I missed anything you would like to know about KCap, don’t hesitate to email Rob whatever questions you may have. As always, if I can ever be of assistance to you or your program, please feel free to contact me.
All the best,
Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW
Posted by Drew Henley, 0 comments