Keep the Goal the Goal

National Strength and Conditioning Association held their provincial clinic last weekend at the inspirational Richmond Oval site of the 2010 Olympic Speedskating events. The packed house was eager to absorb the wisdom of top level professionals without having to travel to somewhere else such as the United States. It looks like NSCA Northwest Regional clinic will be held in Vancouver 2014.

During and after each continuing education session my mind is bursting with ideas of how to help our clients achieve their goals more effectively. It is just after that I find it important to distill and summarize what I learned from each presenter.

How to Get Faster

Dr. Mike Young, CSCS who is in charge of the Vancouver Whitecaps conditioning lead off the day with a discussion on how to develop the biomotor abilities of speed-power athletes. He made a lot of important points but also emphasized a couple of things including:

“The goal is to keep the goal the goal”

What Dr. Young means this is that no matter what the training is it is important to always keep the main objective in mind and if the training is not contributing to achieving the goal, than alter the training.

To get faster (just a part of what I picked up on)

  • train 5 biomtor abilities – Speed, endurance, flexibility and neuromuscular co-ordiation
  • complete a needs analysis – understand what the sport or activity needs and where the client is at
  • constrain mass – additional mass does not contribute to increases in performance “fat don’t fly”
  • train in appropriate ranges of motion and develop large forces in increasing shorter amounts of time
  • we primarily operate with one leg on the ground and need the ability to counter rotation
  • to become hard wired for success train the nervous system, the body’s wiring system
  • training to exhaustion doesn’t contribute to speed-power.
  • train for quick changes in direction
  • train to make the nervous system more reflexive
  • develop elasticity and stiffness through eccentric movements that have low-amplitude and low-volume
  • the goal is to become more efficient
  • the load is does not determine the effort
  • speed-power training needs appropriate rest and has lower volume than endurance or strength training because taxes the central nervous system

Recovering from a Shoulder Injury
Guido Van Ryssgam an very exprienced Athletic Therapist, who has worked with several major league baseball players spoke about some keys to recovering from a shoulder injury. He also demonstrated how to screen for a potential shoulder injury with a seated straight arm press-up test.

Although it good to see that we are on the right track about assiting clients with their shoulder injury recovery I still picked up a some good tips.

  • always make sure that neck is a netural position during shoulder activities
  • strengthen serratus anterior as well as lower trapezius
  • hiker’s thumb activates lower more lower trapezius
  • get clients to complete full scapular movements in diagonal patterns; doing hours of rotator cuff exercises isn’t going to cut it.
  • train proproiception (body positioning awareness) using a mirror and tape (ask me about it)
  • use a 2-1-4-1 lifting tempo. Eccentric and isometric strength training are important. A 1s rest in between repetitions is needed and beneficial for the rehab client
  • there is a relationship between grip strength or lack thereof and shoulder stability. Develop a good grip strength to strength the shoulder.

Observations of an Iron Warrior
Dr. Mike Hartle, a Doctor of Chiropractic, Kettlebell guru, and semi-professional football player is a strong, amicable and smart guy. His observations were primarily around how the spine develops and changes from when we are a fetus to becoming adults.

Spinal curves become altered with age, injury and movement dysfunctions. One examples is that many people lose the ability the to extend or rotate through the thoracic spine, which impacts our breathing and lower-backs.

Another one of his observations is that everyone has a different width for a squat. It is possible to find the foot position unloaded by kneeling on the ground in a quadraped (hands and feet) and pushing the hips back to the to heels while keeping the spine in neutral position. Play around with the how for the legs are apart. This is similar to a frog stretch.

Experts and Novices Acquire and Learn Motor Skills Differently

One of the most influential university courses I took was motor skills learning and acquisition. Keith Loshe is at UBC completing most doctoral work on the neuropsychology of learning new skills.

Novices need more internal cues, such as where to place their body whereas experts need more external cues as to where to aim the darts. While investigating novice and expert dart players Loshe noticed that expert dart players were able to get the darts in almost the same place, however their body positions during each through would be slightly different. For example in the concept of movement variability the arm and elbow angles for each throw would vary, while still placing the hand in the correct position; basically the body would figure it out.

To acquire new skills we also need sleep. Try learning a skill, sleeping and then going back to trying it again. Performance will at the start will be slightly lower than at the end of the last practice session, however but better than at the start of the last session.

In high performance training days are often comprised of skills and technique sessions and physiological conditioning sessions. It is better to have the technical skills session before conditioning, especially if the new skill is more complex.

Alfred Ball

CEO | Practicing Kinesiologist | Certified Fascial Stretch Therapist. He founded Lifemoves in 2007. He has been a Practicing Kinesiologist and Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach with the NSCA for over 15 years. When he isn't helping people regain their strength and confidence to move with ease he is hanging out with his wife and young son, writing, or training for his next endurance running race. His big audacious goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

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