11 Mistakes I’ve Made (So You Don’t Have To)

Excellent article by Craig Pickering. Here is a snippet:

3. Testing Everything!

One rep max. Five rep max. Reaction time. 10m from blocks. 30m from blocks. Flying 30m. 60m from standing. 100m from standing. 200m from standing. 300m from standing. Peak bar velocity for power clean / snatch / squat. Peak power for power clean / snatch / squat / bench. Peak isometric power. Body weight. Skin folds. Girths. Medball throw. Standing long jump. Five bound distance. These are all the things that I can remember testing and measuring during my career. Now, there isn’t anything wrong per se with testing, so long as you put the test in its rightful place. The only real test that matters is how little time elapses between the gun going off and you crossing the finish line in an official competition. Hopefully, the time that elapses will be less than the other people in the race. Ideally, this elapsed time will be the shortest amount of time it has ever taken you to both react and cover the race distance. Your performance in every other test is largely irrelevant to this; if you improve in all your tests but get slower in a race, then monitoring those tests hasn’t been worthwhile (or at least hasn’t given the correct signal).


A thorough warmup serves many purposes. Because of this, every session begins with a warmup that lasts anywhere from 10-30 minutes. A properly designed warmup should progress from low to high intensity, and from less to more specific. While all programs at UAD are individualized, the warmup for land-based athletes remains largely the same for all. It is constituted of movements and ideas derived from Charlie Francis, Dan Pfaff, Cal Dietz, Loren Landow, Gerard Mach, Buddy Morris and others. The athletes move in all directions and planes, while emphasizing posture & stability through motion and mobility in the appropriate structures. Some exercises also act as a form of practice for the work to follow.

The mechanisms through which a properly designed, thorough warmup improves performance are many.

“A proper dynamic warm-up acts as a mobilizing stimulus for the systems involved in oxygen transport, allowing a high level of aerobic activity to be reached more quickly, reducing initial oxygen deficit, and allowing the aerobic system to provide energy for a longer period of time, as well as increasing muscle temperature and improving blood flow to the muscles, allowing for more oxygen delivery and faster removal of metabolic byproducts.” (Stewart & Sleivert)

A warm muscle results in warm motor neurons. “This heating lowers the electrical resistance in the neural pathways within muscle, thus improving the muscle’s contraction speed” (Francis). This results in greater speed, power, and strength output.

Dynamic flexibility is a must for joint health especially in aging athletes. Movement about a joint creates changes in pressure in the joint capsule that drives nutrients from the synovial fluid (the fluid a joint is encased in) toward the cartilage of the joint. Since cartilage lacks its own blood supply, the chrondrocytes (the cells that produce cartilage), must depend on diffusion of oxygen and nutrients directly from synovial fluid for survival. Appropriately, joint mobility correlates highly with joint health.” (Morris)

Additionally, if the heart rate is kept in the appropriate range, the warmup may also be used as a form of cardiac output training, contributing to cardiac efficiency and increases in stroke volume. At the moment, I do not have the athletes wearing heart rate monitors, though it is a goal in the future.

Research has repeatedly shown that excessive static stretching decreases performance, and does nothing to decrease injury risk. As such, we do no static stretching in the warmup, save for some athletes whose mobility is very poor and need the extra range of motion to achieve positions during training they otherwise likely would not be able to. Research has shown that following static stretching with dynamic work negates the negative effects of static stretching, so any stretching takes place after the heart rate elevation and before the rest of the warmup.

Of course, simply having access to a list of exercises is meaningless without the ability to appropriately introduce, teach, progress and regress them (if necessary). The hope is that this article and list prompt coaches to think critically about the inclusion of all aspects of their program.

UAD Warmup Sample

Francis., C. (1997). The Charlie Francis Training System. Available from http://www.charliefrancis.com/collections/ebooks

Morris, B., & Myslinski, T.(2005). Coach X GPP Manual. Retrieved from http://www.elitefts.net/default.asp

Stewart, I.B., & Sleivert, G.G. (1998). The effect of warm-up intensity on range of motion and anaerobic performance. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 27(2), 154-161.

How a Soccer Star is Made

Excellent article I came across today from a few years back on the development of soccer clubs in Europe. Take note of the fact that competition is NOT stressed at an early age – skill and fitness development are paramount.

How a Soccer Star is Made

Dr. James Andrews on Youth Pitching Injuries

When it comes to sports injuries, there is one name that pretty much always comes up – Dr. James Andrews. Dr. Andrews is a well-known orthopedic surgeon who has performed probably as many Tommy John surgeries as anyone in the world. As such, his expertise in this area is not to be disregarded. I would also add that one aspect that he doesn’t specifically address or note is that of practice. So often we only consider what is taking place during games – the pitch counts – and disregard what is happening during practice and training, which is where much of the wear, tear, and fatigue usually comes from. Hence the importance of an intelligent coach who can prescribe loads that are in line with the athlete’s needs.

The Shameful Fraud of Sorting for Youth Meritocracy

Seth Godin wrote a great blog post this morning about the folly of utilizing “success” at an early age as a way of delineating how the youth are trained going forward. As he mentions, this is not limited to sports, but goes for all avenues – school, music, etc. Build the foundation, reward effort, and worry about “success” (using whatever metrics you deem appropriate) later.