Friday, May 30, 2014

a coach's battlefield

I recently posted this photo on Instagram and began to discuss some of the great things about hill sprinting and using hills for training purposes.

cute, huh?!
But as I tend to do while coach thinking, I added cautions to all the great possibilities that sprinting and training on hills presents, knowing full well the athletic development profession is full of hooligans inbreeding in an absolute universe - it's all good, or it's all bad. Whatever 'it' may be.

Here are the hill sprinting/training thoughts I posted:

Hill sprints - not the 'end all, be all', but hey, Walter Payton did them! 

NOTICE - Sprints (or walking/hiking). Not run. Not jog. Sprints (or walking/hiking). That middle ground purgatory isn't good for much. 

Good for some acceleration abilities but be wary of excessive inclines causing extensive ground contact times. 

Good for hip flexor (quad and hip/glute) work but be wary of chronic, hill sprinting-induced, shortened stride lengths... which then again may be ok for someone progressing back to function from a muscular strain (specifically hamstring) occurred during flat overground sprinting. 

Potential pedagogical enhancement of arm and leg drive and foot contacts for acceleration but be wary that it could be a detriment if the connection/bridge is not made to flat land acceleration. 

Good for the achilles/gastroc complex but be wary of the potential tendonitis(es) and subsequent tendinopathies from ill-timed progressive overloads. ... but also the potential to help with tendinopathies; eccentric loading from backwards walking down the hill or backwards double-leg hops down for the achilles and forward walking downhill for the patella tendon. 

Soccer shoes for maximal traction and minimal foot and ankle restrictions. 

And sometimes it's just a fun change-up from the horizontal earth. 

To name a few things about hill sprints... 

To say that my mind is a constant battlefield of arguments being shot back and forth regarding exercise prescription, sequencing, volume and such, is a massive understatement. MASSIVE.

Although, as a coach I think it is my major responsibility - to know about as many of the potential outcomes possible in order to make sound decisions with what I am asking other's physiologies to do; which then subsequently mold and adapt to. Sometimes (relatively) permanently.

As other great coaches have said before, "At what cost?". Every individual training stimulus has it's outcomes, but for every sport and individual, those outcomes can be anywhere on a spectrum from negative to positive. So many possibilities. So many decisions to be made. What are the consequences? What will be the end result? The anti-pattern of analysis paralysis...

But then, a good friend posted this statement (on Instagram):

"I like sprinting, but I hate being wary."


Especially when sprinting.



James Marshall said...

Polarisation of training philosophy is killing me! I keep getting asked "good or bad" "yes or no"? Hill sprints, like most things, have their place.
Nice to see you outline pros/cons,

Aaron Schwenzfeier said...

Thanks for the comments, James!!

I hear you... polarization helps people make justifications or oppositions, but in reality, it almost always depends and usually falls somewhere in the 'middle'.