Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Big(ger) Picture and Insights of Athletes

Carl Valle has a couple excellent posts over at Elitetrack to check out:

Posture Palmatum

More on Posture

Alan DeGennero made some excellent points in his talk at the BSMPG in Boston, and Carl reiterated those and furthered in his post "More on Posture":

"Alan brought up the fact that personality has a correlation between injuries with athletes, perhaps hinting that corrective exercise is not the panacea many think. He saw the relationship between the art of coaching and sports science (namely sports medicine). When I read about posture in a 1940s PE book they mentioned how important creating confidence in young boys to encourage good posture. The book included a picture of a sapling growing, it was very similar to the bonsai tree example I wrote about earlier about addressing posture early in the career and the training season. Athletes need to start off feeling confident in your program and about their abilities to be good, and cocky athletes seem to have great posture in general. So doing 3x12 of a corrective exercise may help, but athletes are 24 hour creatures and need a coach, not just a trainer. I care more about the pelvis but upper back work starts with a complete program that encourages those positions under real load. Back squats, power cleans from the floor, snatches, and restoration work on developing this. It takes years and is hard work, but it's worth it." -Carl Valle

I completely agree and it echoes similar thoughts from my post Emotional Movement Intelligence.

There is so much more to athletic development than what just goes on in a workout. Being a coach requires developing a relationship where open communication can occur, because often times it's the athletes who hold the answer. It's easy to soley evaluate the structure of an athlete and view things from a purely mechanistic perspective which we should as it's part of it, but not all of it, and we aren't dealing with machines...

One thing I added this year to our soccer s&c program was classroom sessions; actually more of a discussion session. We would meet as a team once per week to discuss relevant topics such as nutrition, daily activities and their effects, recovery, physiology concepts to create clearer understanding of what we are trying to accomplish, and/or any current affairs issues that may be affecting us. My thinking was that if I came across information in which I would think 'man, I wish I would have known that when I was competing' then why not give that opportunity for the athletes I work with to have that knowledge and understanding? The athletes asked questions and I provided answers or direction as best I could. I found these opportunities opened more doors to better communication but also increased motivation and intelligence with regards to their personal efforts. What occured though was beyond just education for the athletes, it was education for me; the questions (and even arguments) brought greater depth to what I needed to do or change with my approach. The athletes also provided tremendous feedback to me as to what they liked, disliked, and potentional ideas to improve things. It's something I will continue to use...



jleeger said...

Great post Aaron...

In fact, there's research that shows that "affective states" are physiologically reproduced in the body simply by mimicking the posture (or facial expressions) associated with that state.

Knowing what we know about mirror neurons, this becomes really important with regard to peer group, or community behavior.

Good thoughts!

Paul Meldrum said...


Really good thought progress. This is similar to how old Russian athletes had to learn about physiology, biomechanics etc to fully understand the whys of their training.

This is something I do with my treatment and training clients, educating them about the ramifications of their decisions and how what they do outside the gym has much more of a significant effect than what we do inside the gym. In fact I will probably be more diligent about adding specific coaching sessions now after reading this post!

thanks again

Aaron Schwenzfeier said...

For sure, great points Josh. It goes both ways on this, top down, bottom up... and everything in between.

Thanks for the comments Paul, I've definitely found it beneficial. I've found that the athletes can now often times answer some of their own questions and make sense of their training.