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Programming

Content specific to exercise protocol and design.

I never thought I’d use the words billiards and strength training in the same article, but the fact is that there is some correlation.  Cuing is a tool used in both professions.  Using the proper cue in pool allows the ball to travel in its destined path with efficiency and ease.  Strength and Conditioning is no different!  Cuing is an art/tool that allows ease, understanding and efficiency in the weight room.  There are two types of cues that reinforce proper motor programming, verbal and physical.  Combined, these cues build technical proficiency without “over coaching” and confusing athletes by speaking a different language.  The key to cuing is SIMPLICITY.  Below are several of my favorite verbal and physical cues.  Some are original; many are “borrowed” from well-respected coaches in the industry.

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As coaches we demand a lot from our athletes.  Attention to detail, technical proficiency and a solid effort each and every session.  We also expect our athletes/clients to represent themselves positively away from the weight room; making good choices like wearing their seat belts, drinking plenty of water, flossing, and performing well in the classroom (Thanks Coach John!).  We are more than just coaches; we are educators, teachers and role models.  How would you feel if any of your athletes broke the law?  I know plenty of Coaches would take it personal!  If we expect this from our athletes, why do so many strength coaches break the law(s)?  No, I don’t mean stealing or wearing seatbelts; I’m referring to the Laws of basic biomechanics, Newton’s laws.  

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Over the years I have had the opportunity to view many different “take-home” strength and conditioning programs written for my college/junior hockey players.  I have also had the experience of being a former collegiate athlete expected to adhere to a rigorous summer program without the aid of a coach.  Through these experiences, I have come up with the following conclusion:  A program is only as good as it’s coached.  PERIOD!  A poor program done well is better than a good program performed poorly.  Hands-on coaching is the key to building athletes.  Let me give you another analogy: I can write you up a detailed manual on how to fly a plane.  You may understand each and every sentence, but do you think this would make you a confident, well-rounded pilot?  The answer to this question is obviously no.  Why than are we expecting our athletes to become competent “pilots” with such vague, non-coached instruction?  Below are several problems with strength and conditioning “take home” programs.

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“It’s so easy a caveman can do it!” That’s what Gieko says about car insurance.  I wish I could say the same for strength and conditioning.  The fact is in this day and age there is too much sizzle and not enough pop, too many machines not enough free weights; too many exercises not enough logical progression, and too much gimmick without the RESULTS.  It’s scary to walk into a gym and see where we currently are in the fitness industry.  Leg curl machines are being maintenanced while rust and cobwebs are being collected on the free weights and barbells.  Records of progress and exercise prescription are not being kept, technical proficiency is non-existent, and exercise selection is just plain scary. We now have “The Kettle bell Man”, “The TRX Man”, “The Resistance Band Man”, one tool wonders expected to solve all the problems.  As Coach Boyle said “Would you hire the chain saw man, to trim the shrubs in your front yard?”  The following is a list of solutions to many exercises that are currently plaguing mainstream gyms. 

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There is an evolutionary process involved in most professions called learning that can change the way we view things.  Alwyn Cosgrove or Michael Boyle might call these “Ah ha” moments.  Moments that make you scratch your head and think aloud, moments that challenge the way we have done things in the past, moments that allow us to grow (many of us are reluctant to grow for fear or just plain stubbornness).  It is in these moments that good coaches become great, or good coaches remain stagnant because they are stuck with “the way things used to be.”  Alwyn Cosgrove said “If you put a group of the most successful strength coaches in one room and their students in another, the students wouldn’t agree on any training philosophy or principal, whereas the coaches would agree on almost everything.” Indeed it is my personal experience that there are far more similarities than differences between good strength coaches.  Our job is to make athletes bigger, stronger and faster while reducing the chance of sport related injury. 

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