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The Speed Paradox

With World Championships here we getour annual taste of ‘World’s Fastest Humans’. As an athletic development coach Track and Field provides the best views of optimizing sprinting jumping, throwing, and endurance running. This is what we strive for in the gym everyday with athletes of different sports: How do we take bits of each of these qualities to create dominant athletes in other sports?

With that in mind, I wanted to touch on what I call ‘The Speed Paradox’.
Whether we are talking about deliberate practice and the 10,000 hour rule or just anecdotal evidence, we know that the best athletes are typically the hardest working, with only a few rare exceptions. This is such a great quality to have when trying to improve, but tends to conflict DIRECTLY with improving speed. Let me elaborate.
There are two important aspects to getting faster that involve ‘doing less’, one is the ability to RELAX while running (and jumping!) in order to allow your body to move fastest.  The  other aspect of improving speed is the rest and recovery component. Knowing when to stop in a training session because fatigue has set in, or knowing how to schedule off days or at least mix loading for optimal recovery are two things the hardest working athletes are bad at!

First let’s talk about relaxation. If we are too relaxed we will never go fast or jump high because we won’t be able to create any force. Conversely, if we are too tense, we are likely contracting a lot of muscles that needn’t be and thus resisting our own movement, and being downright inefficient. So what is the secret? Trust. Once an athlete has started to learn key aspects of […]

Where Do We Need To Be: How Does Athletic Development Really Effect Sports Performance?

This is a post by coach Glen Owen…

I am blessed to work with a team of athletic development coaches and clinical practioners who understand that movement is the answer. Functionally Innovative and Therapeutics, lead by Dr. Thomas Lam, implements a movement based approach to sport performance and rehabilitation that is backed by sport science and numerous success stories. This post is heavily influenced by our athletic development rounds, held bi-weekly.

Think about this for a minute. Really, take a minute to think about it.

How are some elites dominant in sport despite doing next to nothing in the weight room? 

How is it that martial artists are so powerful and so strong, with never touching a barbell? How are players, like Wayne Gretsky, dominant despite weighing 40 pounds less then the mean average player and never strength training?

These questions haunt athletic development coaches because, for the most part, we just don’t know. Many athlete’s hit the weight room in their early teens, develop tremendous strength, and still don’t become more reactive, or explosive, or agile.

Sure, we could chalk it up to poor genetics, or the athlete not practicing enough, or being born late in the year. However, I believe that if we are given an athlete at a young enough age, we can coach them into being an elite athlete. What a bold statement.

Dig this perspective: We, as athletic development and strength and conditioning professionals, have the knowledge necessary to create elite athletes. If you are a great coach, you understand the fundamentals of human movement, you understand the complexities of reactivity, of how to coach an athlete to use their momentum efficiently, of how to develop strength an athlete can USE versus the strength that they just HAVE.

How then does […]

As a FITS Athlete, This is My Promise

When it comes to athletic development and the dream of achieving success at the highest levels of sport, there are many people who become invested in the journey.
There are parents that introduce you to sport, help you practice, maybe even coach the team for a while. There are friends that compete with you and share the journey. There are coaches that teach you everything you know and push you to be better everyday. There are teammates that lead by example and show you the type of athlete you want to become. Finally there are competitors that ignite the fire inside you to never lose.

At FITS, we love to see athletes build themselves to new heights, both in their sport and as people. In order for everything to work symbiotically though, there are certain commitments that need to be made. These are the commitments/promises/vows/commandments that every athlete agrees to…
– I will take care of any homework so that I can attend regular training sessions
– I will watch experienced athletes train to learn how to be better
– I will be vocal to inexperienced athletes to help them on their journey
– I will tell my coaches when I am in pain, which is a sign of injury

– I will embrace the concept of GRIT, and the idea that I can push through periods of soreness and fatigue to reach new physical performances
– I will keep a training log to help me reflect on the interaction between stimulus and adaptation
– I will pack a post-workout snack or shake, to ensure maximal adaptation from the training stimulus
– I will try to get 8-9 hours of sleep each night, for this is when I learn, grow, and recover
– I will learn […]

MARVIN CHUN – Vision Training and Athletic Performance BSMPG Review


“The brain controls all aspects of performance”

The brain “constructs” your visual experience

You see less than you think you do

Youtube: (dancing bear)
We miss a lot of what is going on. “If there bear was white you would see it”

VIDEO: Professor giving directions …Changing behind the door (hilarious how attentive people are)

Good acuity in areas that you are fixated, other areas will be blurry..the rich view is a construct of your mind
Occluding information / mask (seeing a team mate behind a defender) – what allows us to see behind defenders



Set your mind (Free Throw, putting…at the moment of execution)

Golf hole example with the visual illustion projected. Larger hole will perform better


Train your mind (NIKE STROBE – by training with visual occulsion it…surgeons that play video games perform better)

Norman Doidge – the brain that changes itself


Focus your mind (attention, attention load, practice)

Skill Learning

Multitasking – your 4x more like to have a road accident

Multi-tasking is BAD
Blue add 7, Red Subtract 7 – 30% slower and 30% less accurate
Anytime you need to think harder you make more mistakes and are slower

Relax your mind

Graph of quality of performance compared to degree of arousal across different degrees of challenge

Value of sleep is tremendous in performance

Dreams…helping to cement learning

What do RATS dream of…they are running in mazes …replay daily activities (Study at MIT)

It Enhances Performance (Stanford performance – MAH et al, 2011) healthy, smarter, and it will enhance performance in basketball players

Shooting accuracy improved by 9%

There is a reason why we require 1/3 of our day for sleep

Sarah Hughes…Power of Sleep

Cut your morning practice

Meditation falls into this realm

Marco Cardinale “Strength and Conditioning in the Real World: From Science to Application” – BSMPG Notes


Marco Cardinale was a huge reason to attend BSMPG conference. His presentation was an amazing journey that highlights his amazing experiences and knowledge as the led Sport Scientist from Team GB at Beijing 2008, Vancouver 2010 and at the London 2012 Olympic Games. He is widely published and cited author in the scientific literature on various aspects of human performance, he has also patented an innovative exercise device consisting of a vibratory biofeedback system.



The following notes were taken at BSMPG 2013 Conference.

Disclaimer: These notes where taken during the conference to the best of my abilities and are grossly subject to my interpretation. Items in italics represent my thoughts.


Need to have a structure and philosophy

Science Vs. Real World Approaches – Share vs. Secrets (Sport is very secretive because it’s all abut competition whereas science it’s about sharing)

There is knowledge everywhere – go out and find it. Don’t just look for the conventional places.


Performance Trends / Demands
Becoming more difficult to win at the Olympic stage (politics, migration of knowledge, increased # of countries winning – 2000 (80 countries) vs. 1900 (20), increased investment in sport) – “1,000 silver does not equal 1 GOLD”
Team GB 10th -> 4th -> 3rd Olympic Progression
Increased funding FT athletes, improved coaches, increase competition exposure, improved science and medicine
Need to know your competition and look far ahead (LTAD) –
Aim to break the rules. Don’t do the status quo. It won’t be that way in the future. Where are things going not where they are today.
What are the trends (we can’t do the same things and expect them to last – need to be on the edge)
Many events have plateaued
Greg Rutherford – won […]