Category Archives: American Swimming Coaches Association

The Purpose and Measurement of a Swim Meet

The Swim Meet Coach – Part II.

“Purpose and Measurement of a Swim Meet

by John Leonard

In the first part of this series, we identified that there are specific skills to develop in coaching at a swim meet as opposed to “practice coaching”. In this article, we’ll begin to explore those skills. We’ll begin with thinking about the swim meet experience conceptually.

Lets first answer the question, “What Do You Think The Purpose Of A Swim Meet Is?”

 To begin, lets make an assumption, and that is, that we are purpose driven human beings attempting to teach purpose to young people. If that is the case, then there are several possible purposes of packing up the family and going to a swim meet.

It is an opportunity to test the quality and durability of what you have learned in practice. Why practice if not to compete and test it? This is a universal, regardless of summer league meet, USA Swimming meet, or high school/collegiate competition.

It is an opportunity to enjoy racing with other swimmers. In most meets, athletes are grouped according to relative abilities, so you’ll be competing with people relatively similar to yourself in ability. While this is likely true in highly organized competition like YMCA, USA-S age group meets, the grouping of athletes is likely to be less homogeneous in high school or summer league competition. You may be in over your head, or you may not have sufficient competitive challenge in your event.

It is a quality opportunity to see if you are a better swimmer today than you were the last time you competed. Universally true. Test yourself. Don’t depend on the competition. Test Yourself.

It is an opportunity to grow to a new level in our sport. If you are an age grouper, a chance to get a new B time, new A time, new AAA time. If a senior swimmer, a chance for a new Sectional cut, Junior or Senior National cut, or, if a high school swimmer, advance to your district or state meet.

It is FUN! Go enjoy it. Make the experience exciting, positive and fun. Learn and appreciate.

The point here is, every swim meet, every swim at every swim meet, should have one or more of the above purposes in mind. The athlete needs coach leadership to understand and put in context, the purpose of the meet and the swim. Don’t let athletes get into the “same old, same old” rut. Set appropriate purposes for each swim in front of each swimmer.

Sometimes its as simple as scoring points for your team in a dual meet. Sometimes it can be pretty complicated. But Purpose is everything!

And the backside of purpose of course, is evaluation. Once the purpose is set, then the coach and athlete need to work together to analyze the result and prepare for the next race, next meet, next season. The good coach becomes skilled at evaluation.

Evaluation may come in various time frames. First, is when the athlete walks back from the blocks. There is an art to good communication with the athlete immediately following the swim, and in this series of articles, we’ll explore the nature and content of those communications.

Second, is more in-depth post meet evaluation to look carefully at the entire meet and performances in context. Third, is the sort of end of season analysis that looking back at each meet in the season can provide.

Good evaluation comes from data. Facts. “Feelings” and “opinions’ are certainly to be respected, and considered. But over time, most coaches have come to the conclusion that facts help form solid opinions and therefore, facts are important to assemble in as much depth as possible.

So, how do you measure results at a swim meet? Here are some ways.

  • Did you have a lifetime best time?
  • Did  you have a seasonal best time?
  • Did you swim the race with the effort pattern that  you had planned?
  • Did you swim the race with the technical elements that you had planned? (Stroke, turn, start, etc.)
  • Did you get the competitive result you sought? (Placing)

And of course, you can add others!

While certainly it is important to select ONE of the above as a primary objective of each swim, the fact is that sometimes swimmers, regardless of experience level, play “mix and match” (“I want to swim a best time and win the race.”) This makes it significantly more difficult to evaluate the race competently.

Now, as the coach, what do you measure?

Here are some ideas:

Measure percent of best times. (lifetime or seasonal)  “We swam 100 races this weekend. We had 42 best times. Our best time percentage for the weekend is 42%.”

Measure the number of new B, A, AA, etc. times on the team. “We had 14 new B times, 3 new A times and 2 new AAAA times, great job!”

Measure the  number of new  Sectional, JR, Sr. National qualifying times. Celebrate those!

Measure the percentage of best times in prelims. In finals. Track these. Compare over time.

Measure the total number of seconds improved by the entire team added together. This is a great “team incentive” that everyone can contribute to.

Measure the percent of best times by stroke. (“We had 22% best season times in backstroke.”)

Measure the percent of best times by distance. (“We had 46% best times in events 400 and longer, and 58% best times in teh 100’s”)

Measure best times by age group. (“the 10 and under girls swam 75% best ever times this past weekend! Congratulations!”)

Measure best times by gender. Then Gender and age group.

The more you measure, the more you have to think about. And you are thinking about FACTS. (Having facts also help in discussion with parents, who typically begin a conversation with “I think…” or “I feel…”  You have the facts.)

Having the facts allows  you to have intelligent post meet conversations with athletes.

“How do you think you did?”

“What was good? What was not so good? What can you improve on?”

“Why?”

“What can we do about it? What do you think we should work on in practice with you?” What can you do to get better?”

Facts also allow you to have intelligent conversations with the team as a whole. “Here is how we did. These are the facts. What do you think? What common traits do you see? What do we need to concentrate on? What simple things can we do as a group in practice to improve?”

Facts allow you to discuss performances with your coaches from a common ground. (if you have a staff.)

Facts allow you to give real information on athlete performance and improvement to your Athletic Director and Principal (whether he wants them or not!) and to your Board of Directors.

Having facts, means that you can be evaluated with facts. Most of us prefer this. (Though, sadly, not all….some want to get by on their charm and good looks…if you are not so blessed, facts can help.)

Summary: think about and have a PURPOSE. Develop and have FACTS!

 

 

Five Strategies to Help Elevate Your Positive Mindset as a Professional Coach

Monday

Focus on “Get to” instead of “Have to” - While driving to the office focus on what you “get to” do instead of what you “have to” do. With gratitude realize that you don’t have to do anything. You get to go to coach while so many are unemployed. Coaching is a job you love.  A job you are passionate about.  Gratitude floods your body and brain with emotions that uplift you and energize you rather than stress hormones that drain you.

Tuesday

Don’t Expect your Board, Coaching Staff and Swim Parents to Make you Happy – Realize that happiness is an inside job. Our happiness has less to do with forces outside of us and more to do with what’s inside of us. The way we think about work, feel about work and approach our work influences our happiness at work. For instance, just by making yourself smile you produce more serotonin in the brain-which makes you feel happier. You’ll also be happier when you focus on what you are giving instead of what you are getting.  Again, remember to smile…it releases happy enzymes to the brain.

Wednesday

Don’t Seek Happiness – Ironically if you want to be happier don’t seek happiness. Instead share your strengths and decide to work with passion and purpose and happiness will find you. The research shows that people are most energized when they are using their strengths for a bigger purpose beyond themselves. Whatever your job, decide to bring passion to it and find purpose in it. I’ve met bus drivers, administrative assistants, janitors and fast-food employees who are more passionate about their jobs and happier than some professional athletes making millions of dollars. Every job will get mundane and “old” if you let it but purpose and passion keep it fresh and make you happier.

Thursday

Focus on Excellence instead of Success – When you focus on success you can easily fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others, looking over your shoulder, feeling envious, playing office politics, and competing against your fellow staff members instead of collaborating. However, when you focus on excellence you measure yourself against your own growth and potential. You strive to be the best you can be. You simply focus on getting better every day and this makes work more meaningful and rewarding.

Friday

Celebrate Together – While we shouldn’t depend on others to make us happy, by building a positive team or support group at work we will be happier. So instead of expecting others to make you happy, you proactively create the positive relationships that enhance your engagement, productivity and happiness. One great way to do this to huddle with your staff at the end of the week and have each person share their accomplishments, victories, and great moments of the week. This will produce great feelings on each week that inspire you and your team to come back to each day, keep up the great work, and make a difference daily.

Strength Training for Swimmers: An Integrated and Advanced Approach

The purpose of this article is to discuss the benefits of strength training and the factors that need to be considered when designing a program for a competitive swimmer.  We will also discuss a functional approach to strength training and show you how it can be incorporated with a more traditional approach. IHPSWIM’s philosophy is that each style of training has its benefits and therefore should be integrated together.  This article will conclude with an example of one our daily strength programs.

Strength training provides far too many benefits to simply just throw together a program full of random exercises with no rhyme or reason.  Just as swim coaches plan, periodize, and vary intensity and volume, the same should be done for their strength program.  With a well designed strength program athletes will see great improvements in strength, power, an increase in muscle mass (if desired), core strength, and most importantly you will see less overuse injuries.  Overuse injuries tend to happen because of muscle imbalances.  A good strength program will include exercises that address these imbalances as well.

For the purpose of this article, let’s first start by defining what traditional lifts are.  These are your standard barbell squats, bench press, lat pull down and machine exercises (ie. Nautilus) that are more oriented towards muscle isolation, a fixed range of motion and single plane movement.  These types of exercises are great for developing growth in lean muscle tissue and increasing strength and power.  What they lack is the ability to increase core strength and are restrictive when it comes to performing exercises that include multi-limb and multi-directional movement.  Exercises that are multi-limb and multi directional in nature and movement oriented have been labeled “functional training” by some of the leaders in the fitness industry.  This type of training is based on the idea of training movements (multiple muscle groups working together as a unit) and not isolated muscle groups.  Integrating traditional and functional exercises into a strength program provides the benefits from each approach.  The obstacle that coaches may face is getting all of this in with only a limited amount of time set aside for training done out of the water.  The sample workout in this article will demonstrate a very easy way to make this work.

Shown below is an example of an upper body power phase workout when training in the weight room 2 days a week.  Day # 1 focuses on upper body power and Day #2 focuses on the lower body power (not shown).  Every workout contains a traditional, functional, core and rotational exercises.

The power phase typically lasts 4 weeks but can vary depending on other variables.  Please note that the power phase is only done after a general conditioning/hypertrophy phase (high volume, low to moderate intensity) and a strength phase (low volume, high intensity) are performed at some point in almost all cases.

The first circuit on Tuesday starts off with the Lat pulldown. Perform 5 reps and then take a 45 second rest period followed by 5 medicine ball slams.  This combination is a version of complex training, a type of strength training that is used to develop power.  Every circuit will start with a variation of this combination which is a traditional lift  followed by an explosive movement (after a 45 second rest) that is similar to the  movements and muscle groups performed in the traditional lift.  The 3rd exercise is the diagonal cable chop (Figure 1) which is a great exercise for the strengthening rotation in the core. The 3rd exercise represents a functional or core exercise. This circuit will be repeated 3 times.


The 2nd circuit of the day starts with a traditional machine row followed by an explosive recline rope pull (Figure 2).  We use a very thick rope that is looped over monkey bars.  This movement needs to be fast and should result in there being slack in the rope at the top of the exercise.  This is followed by a 1 legged squat which is great for developing leg strength, hip stability and requires no equipment.  Progress this exercise by increasing the range of motion, as long as control and proper technique can be maintained throughout.  Never perform exercises that are out of control and sloppy.

 

The 3rd and final circuit of the day begins with a 1 arm Dumbbell Row.  After the 45 second rest period an explosive pull – up is performed.  The objective here is to perform a fast pull – up and slightly catch air.  The regular pull up MUST be mastered before doing this. This is a very advanced exercise and should only be performed by athletes that have above average pulling strength and no shoulder problems.  The 3rd exercise is the T – stabilization push – up which can be performed on an incline if to difficult to perform properly on the ground.  This exercise is a great core and shoulder stabilization exercise.


At the end of all 3 circuits we usually do 3 fast rope climbs for time.  Depending on the level of strength, we can perform this with the assistance of the legs, no legs, and finally the hardest version, which is starting from the seated position off of the floor.

There is no one style of training that is the end all be all.  Limiting yourself to only doing traditional exercises or only doing functional exercises is limiting the potential of you and your athletes. These circuits make it easy to integrate everything together and get the best of the different training methods out there.  Our goal at IHPSWIM is to help swimmers and coaches organize and implement a solid strength and dryland program.

For more information on our training philosophy check out our DVD titled LAPS:Functional Dryland Training for Swimmers or email Grif at Grif@ihpfit.com. I hope this article will help you meet your goals and get you the results you want!

Thought for the day

Swim Parent Newsletter – Subscribe Today for Less than $0.50 Per Week!

Every week over 40,000 families receive the Swim Parents Newsletter through their head coach.

It is such an easy and inexpensive method for parent education.  For less than $.50 a week, every week we will send you an article you can actually use “as is” to help your parents understand more about our sport and ease your role in parent education.  Receive it, Open it, Review it, and with a couple of clicks forward it to your whole team.  Easy.

One of our most praised articles, “The Awesome 8 Year Old,” was recently published and I would like to present it as an example of the type of article we send out.  You can view it here for free.

If you would more articles like “The Awesome 8 Year Old” you can subscribe by calling us at 800-356-2722 between 8 AM and 5 PM Eastern Time or you can subscribe on line at https://www.swimmingcoach.org/ecom/store/comersus_listItems.asp?idCategory=83

The cost is only $25 per year.

 

For More Info, Please Contact:

Guy Edson

American Swimming Coaches Association

5101 NW 21st Ave., Suite 200

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309

800-356-2722, 8 AM-5PM Eastern Time

SWIMNEWS ONLINE – Time for a Coaches Revolution

 

 

 

SWIMNEWS ONLINE – The Future of FINA:  Part 2 – Coaches.

Change is coming to our sport…yet whether via inclusion or revolution, only time will tell.

Thought for the day

Mapping A Young Coach’s Education by John Leonard

Yesterday, an ASCA Life Member, John Dussliere of Santa Barbara Swim Club, told us that we should have a “roadmap” for young coaches education.  Great Idea! Thank you, John. So, while nothing is “mandatory” about doing it this way, and members are free to take what they want when they want, here is the ASCA Recommended Road Map to basic coaching education and competence.

First, take the ASCA/USA Swimming Level One Course.  It is the general philosophy and coaching of our sport – hence the title “Foundations of Coaching.” Included are starter materials on teaching strokes, training athletes, working with parents, etc.   Quite simply, it is Coaching 101. It makes you competent to step on deck and assist swimmers and other coaches.  It’s minimal, but it’s the START. Test is taken on-line and reported to USA-Swimming for your coaching membership there, and to ASCA, to start your certification process. You do need to also complete a Certification Application with ASCA to activate this. You can find one on our Website…www.swimmingcoach.org

Second, take the ASCA Level 2 – The Stroke School.  This course is designed to make you aware of world class strokes today, and more importantly, teach you to Construct Strokes in practice. That’s the primary thing that parents bring their children to you to learn…how to swim better.  This is the BEGINNING of your education about strokes. ASCA provides Advanced Courses in each stroke, both live and in manuals.

Third, comes the ASCA Level 3 – Physiology School. This is all about the planning and execution of training for athletes of all ages from 8 and unders to the elite. Along the way, you are “reminded” of some basic science.  Once you can teach strokes and understand the philosophy of our sport, it’s time to have a coherent training plan for your athletes of every age. Long term development of athletes is key to good coaching.

 Fourth, the ASCA Level 4 – Administration School.  We recommend that you take the Administration School, which teaches you ways to conduct and run your program, even if you don’t have the performance standards to meet Level 4 Certification  Use this info as timeless wisdom….Don’t reinvent the wheel…..swim teams have been in operation for many years…Lots of good ways to do things have already been found and documented.  Rather than trial and error, learn from past good ideas to operate your program…whether you are an assistant coach or a head coach, this is important information.  Special sections on high school and college teams.

Fifth, Level 5, the Leadership School. We’re thinking of “flip-flopping” this course with our current Level 4 since every coach needs to be a leader.  This teaches you how you become a leader and what to do with it once you have that remarkable ability. You lead your group, you may lead your team, you may lead your parents, you may contribute leadership to y our LSC or High School association.  It’s swimming specific and a great way to focus on your daily tasks.

Next, once you’ve done the basic 5 Required Courses, ASCA has 23 “Enrichment Courses” that cover many facets of coaching in an advanced and specific manner. Take them in any order you wish, as your interests dictate…much like when you were in college. We add an average of 1.5 courses a year.

SOMEWHERE IN THERE…..along the way, GET A MENTOR. Nothing is a better coaching education. All it takes is the simple question “Can I ask you some questions?” to a coach you admire and respect.

That takes some courage. But take heart. I’ve never heard of anyone rejecting anyone in our profession.  Suck it up…ask someone for help. And when they help you, ask the next question…”Can I stay in contact with you so I can learn some more?”

Do you have to take the courses in that order? No. Do we “encourage it?” Yes. They are specifically ordered to provide an orderly progression of basic information for the framework of your coaching career.

One FINAL NOTE……HOW you take the course, matters. LIVE CLINICS (typically one day for required courses, and ½ day for some Enrichment Courses) are FAR BETTER learning experiences. You benefit from asking questions, listening to questions and answers from others, and the general interaction of live education.  Yes, it costs money to travel and takes time. Not everyone can do it. If you can, try to do it. It’s much better. You get the “two for one” of presenter and manual.

On-line Seminars – ASCA/USA Swimming Collaboration – more than 30 a year. See USA-Swimming website for schedule. One hour in length, mid-day. Saved for later, non-live presentation.  Avail yourself of these…worth ten ASCA Certification units per seminar. Experienced coaches sharing their information.  Free.

Home Study is convenient and easy.  Manuals are “loose leaf” to encourage you to ADD materials over time, as you find more articles you want to save  on the same topic. Young coaches often don’t get “respect” from parents….and they ask me how to sell “their” ideas.  You can’t. You’re too young for a parent ten years older than you to listen to you…but you CAN sell “expert power”.  Expert power is what an experienced coach who is not you, says. You can pull out an article from David Salo on Breaststroke, or Jon Urbanchek on middle distance training, or Ira Klein on age group progressions and they have “instant credibility” with your parents…if you educate your parents on who those coaches are.  You use “expert power” rather than, “in my opinion”. Parents aren’t interested in the opinions of young coaches very much, are they? With Expert Power in your corner, you’re ready to meet those challenges. And very coach in history before you, who succeeded, used Expert Power before you. We all do. Help yourself.

Coming soon….ASCA Level 2 School will be available “on line” with lots of video.

All the Best, John Leonard

Unique Level 2 Stroke School Presentation for 2011 ASCA World Clinic

One of ASCA’s goals is to provide unusual “looks” at the concepts involved in teaching the ASCA Level 2 Stroke School.  On Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011 in San Diego, we’ll have such an unusual opportunity.

We’ll have co-instructors for the course. Coach Ira Klein will join Coach Terry Laughlin to teach the course.  These lifelong friends have two completely diverse views of teaching swimming to different populations.

Terry is the founder of  TOTAL IMMERSION SWIMMING, the leading methodology in the world to teach new swimmers, masters swimmers and triathletes to become better swimmers.  Terry focuses on balance in the water, reducing resistance and creating great swimming shapes, to move easer in the water and turn “strugglers” into beautiful aquatic athletes.  Before he started Total Immersion Swimming, Terry was an age group swimming coach of renown, and still continues to coach local swimmers near his home base in New York.  Terry will provide a very unique perspective on both the teaching process and the sequence of teaching skills in the water.

Ira Klein has coached in every USA-Swimming Zone.  He’s produced national level swimming in all of them, as well as serving several stints with National YMCA winning teams.  Ira coaches all ages of young swimmers and in addition to a short stint at USA-Swimming offices, he’s coached at Auburn University as well as club teams such as Las Vegas Gold, Santa Barbara Swim Club,  Joliet Y Jets, and  Sarasota Y.

Currently, Ira owns his own team in Sarasota, Florida and is one of the leading club coaches in the USA, with daily coaching/teaching experience in his own SwimAmerica Learn to Swim Program.

The chemistry between these two friends is magical and their teaching of the ASCA Level 2 Stroke School should be a special experience for attending coaches.

Join us for the 2011 World Clinic in San Diego, CA

Click on the link below for more information

https://www.swimmingcoach.org/worldclinic/asca2011/default.asp

Flexibility: The What, Why, and How

IHPSWIM – Flexibility Article

Many coaches and athletes perform static stretching because they believe it necessary. Many do not take the time to ask questions about how relevant it is to athletic performance. I believe that after this article you will be asking a lot of questions about how static flexibility should be used. – Grif Fig

Flexibility: The What, Why, and How

by

JC Santana, MEd, CSCS

One of the most controversial topics in fitness is flexibility.   Many personal trainers consider flexibility and stretching to be synonymous, and thus include some for of stretching exercises in their workout programs because they have always heard it is the right thing to do.   One of the most popular forms of stretching is static stretching.  Whether it is performed pre or post workout, static stretching is the most common form of flexibility training.   If one performs a Medline search for “flexibility” related research, the search will provide a plethora of conflicting studies on stretching and flexibility.  Field observations may also be equally diverse in their findings.  In spite of this diversity in theory, many educational organizations and trainers still espouse to static stretching when it comes to enhancing flexibility.

Flexibility is generally defined as “the range of motion about a joint” (1).  There is no doubt that healthy movement and proper range of motion (ROM) are necessary for normal function and optimum performance.  However, the question still remains, what is healthy and proper?  If one references any anatomy or rehabilitation textbook, one will find anatomical ROMs assigned to all joints of the body.  These ROMs are labeled “normal” and serve as references.   Traditional fitness and rehabilitation programs have been guided by these ROMs in order to provide “optimum” function.   However, applying this traditional approach allows a few very important concepts to be overlooked.

In order to provide some clarity to this discussion, we have to ask some important questions.

1)  Why are we stretching?

2)   Is flexibility related to injury prevention?

3)  Is the passive ROM (developed through static stretching) related to active ROM? OR – just because a can get 140 degrees of static (passive) ROM out of a joint, will the body provide that same range at high speeds and loads (i.e. during a functional task)?

4)  Is it healthy to statically develop a ROM that can’t be controlled at functional speeds and loads?   Is there a difference between anatomical ROM and functional ROM?

5)   Can we get flexibility through other methods of training outside of conventional stretching techniques?

6)  Which flexibility do I really need the most of in functional daily activities (FDAs) and sports, static or dynamic, anatomical or functional?

All of these questions are valid and deserve some attention.  However, getting to the absolute truth behind each question may be a different story.  Since any position on flexibility can be supported by some research, we would like to keep the discussion based on our observations, coaching experience and common sense.   I believe a simplified discussion will allow one to see flexibility from a more holistic perspective.

Most trainers stretch to gain flexibility.  There is no doubt that flexibility is important, we just don’t know how important it is.  The research from the armed-forces illustrates that the most and least flexible recruits are the most injured during boot-camp.(5)  Furthermore, all of the research reviews that have looked at stretching and injury prevention show no correlation between the two.  According to this body of work, more flexibility and stretching before an event does NOT protect one from injury.

Another aspect of flexibility one has to look at is the difference between passive flexibility (i.e. stretching) and active flexibility (i.e. functional ROM).  Working with many athletes, we have had the ability to see many different ways to develop and express flexibility.  Not all are tied into static stretching.  Based on our observations, static flexibility is not related to active ROM.   That is – the body will give you more ROM when it does not need to control speed, tension and stabilization in the ROM.  As an example, all of our fighers can exhibit more ROM through a controlled passive stretch than they can through a live kick, even when instructed to kick as high as possible.  What does it mean to us?   We interpret this as, “if you can’t stabilize and control ROM the body won’t allow you to use it.”   Therefore, our clients warm-up dynamically and incorporate full ROM training into their strength programs.  We feel our strength exercises move our clients through the ROMs they will encounter in their chosen activity.  Some research even indicates that it is the total amount of time at a given ROM is the predominant factor in providing ROM, and not the time of each stretch.   In practical terms, this could mean that 15 reps of a reaching lunge may provide the same hamstring ROM benefits as15 seconds of a sit and reach stretch.  However, the reaching lunge would provide additional stability, balance, strength, caloric burn and coordination not derived from the sit a reach stretch.    This approach to training develops all of the functional flexibility we need for health and elite performance.  All of our warm-up and training protocols inherently develop active ROM and if extreme static ROM is needed (i.e. as with our wrestlers), we make it part of our warm-up; holding the extreme position for 5-10 seconds.

To illustrate exactly how we integrate flexibility into our strength training programs, we would like to share two of our favorite exercises:  the reaching lunge (RL) and the T-Stabilization (T-Stab) push-up.  Both exercises include a unique blend of strength and flexibility.  Each can also be modified to match any application.  The bottom position of the RL resembles a static hamstring stretch.  It can be performed in all three planes of motion to address the multi-planar nature of functional ROM.  The stance, speed and range of movement can be tailored to meet the specific capabilities and training goals of any individual.   The RL can also emphasize any muscle group within the kinetic chain.  For example, reducing knee and spinal flexion can increase the ROM demands of the hamstring.  This concept of “isolated integration” was first coined by Gary Gray, the father of modern functional training.(2)   Using dumbbells with the RL can provide an excellent combination of ROM and strength.  The RL progression is a staple movement in our training model and, along with other exercise, is credited with our near-perfect record against hamstring injuries.

The T-Stab push-up is also one of our staple exercises that incorporate functional strength and flexibility training.  It too looks like a chest stretch, accept with more versatility.  Like the RL it can also be modified specific to the capabilities and goal of any individual.  For example, the upper body support can be elevated (e.g. using a fixed barbell at about waist high) and the rotation reduced to attenuate the intensity of the movement.  Conversely, a lower support position (i.e. floor), the use of a weighted vest and increased rotation can provide a more advance training stimulus.

It should be made clear we do not feel that static stretching is not effective or does not have a place in fitness and performance training.  However, we have not been able to identify to what degree it is effective, if it is the most effective road to functional flexibility and performance, and where its exact place is in the training scheme.  We certainly acknowledge it as a tool in the rehab setting.  We can also accept it as a “feel good” modality and have no objections to it being used everyday for that purpose.  We often roll on medicine balls and biofoam rollers for a few minutes prior to workouts for that reason; it loosens us up and makes us feel good.  However, we do find it alarming when coaches and organization insist on static stretching as the “best” or “necessary” method of preparation, improving functional ROM and reducing injuries.   We believe the best flexibility method is still an ideological figment.

In summary, our field observations clearly indicate that static muscle compliance and active muscle compliance are not related (i.e. muscle compliance is a big component of ROM).  Our observations also indicate that active muscle compliance is more important to our fitness performance goals.   Over the last decade we have combined dynamic flexibility into our strength movements and have basically removed all static flexibility from our day-to-day training.  The results are without question; over 500 case studies show a better then 95% success rate against non-contact and overuse injuries in the absence of static stretching.   This is not to be taken as the best way to train.   It just illustrates that there may be many ways to do things right.

1) Baechle, T.R., Earle, R.W.(ed). Essentials of Strength and Conditioning.  Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2000.

2) Gray, G.W. Chain Reaction Festival Seminar.  San Diego, Cal., Sept 1996.

7) Jones, S, B. H., and J. J. KNAPIK. Physical training and exercise-related injuries. Surveillance, research and injury prevention in military populations. Sports Med. 27:111-125, 1999.

8) Knudson, D. V., P. Magnusson, and M. Mchugh. Current issues in flexibility fitness. Pres. Council Phys. Fitness Sports 3:1-6, 2000.

9) Kokkonen, J., A. G. Nelson, and A. Cornwell. Acute muscle stretching inhibits maximal strength performance. Res Q. Exerc. Sport 69:411-415, 1998.

6) Pope, R. P., R. D. Herbert, J. D. Kirwan, and B. J. Graham. A randomized trial of preexercise stretching for prevention of lower-limb injury. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 32, No. 2, pp. 271-277, 2000.

3) Santana, J.C. Flexibility: More is not necessarily better. NSCA Journal: 26(1). 2004.

4) Schiilling, B., Stone, M. Stretching: Acute Efects on Strength and Power Performance.  NSCA Journal: 21(1). 44-47. 2004.

10) Shrier, I. Stretching Before Exercise Does Not Reduce the Risk of Local Muscle Injury: A Critical Review of the Clinical and Basic Science Literature. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 9:221-227. 1999.

5) Thacker, S. B., J. Gilchrist D. F. Stroup, and C. D. Kimsey, JR. The Impact of Stretching on Sports Injury Risk: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 36, No. 3, pp. 371-378, 2004.

EXERCISE VIDEO

Here is one of our favorite exercises for developing functional strength and flexibility. This reaching lunge protocol was designed by Gary Gray. Click below to see the video.

CLICK HERE!


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