Your collegiate athletic career has come to an end.
- Do you only associate exercise with sport?
- Did your strength and conditioning coach teach you anything you can maintain?
- Did they provide you with education about lifetime fitness or only short term gain strategies?
- Did you LEARN how to train and take care of yourself?
- Did you learn how to appreciate the process and the virtues of character that come with exercise?
- Can you apply what you learned to establishing responsibility for your own health and fitness?
There is no absolute way to execute an exercise, there are only strategies.
– What is the intention of the exercise?
– What strategies are you choosing to teach the client in how they perform the exercise to match the intention?
– Do you execute those strategies appropriately?
– What strategies do you value and why?
– Are those strategies in the best interest of your client or are they the only ones that you know?
– Are those strategies sustainable?
– Do they provide long term learning opportunities or short term gains?
– How many strategies are you providing for a specific task?
The choice of strategy and execution of that strategy for a desired outcome is what separates coaches in exercise selection.
April 27th & 28th 2019
The Trio: Lucy Hendricks, Dr. Michelle Boland, & Michael Mullin
Day 1: Saturday with Lucy Hendricks & Dr. Michelle Boland, Fundamentally Sound: Coaching & Technical Mastery, $250
Hours: Five Total, 8am-1pm
Day 2: Sunday with Michael Mullin, Circuiting the Rehab Training Model, $250
Hours: Five Total, 8am-2pm, lunch 11:30-12:30pm
Pricing: 1 day is $250, 2 day is $450
Both Days: $450 DISCOUNT
Saturday April 27th, Day 1: Fundamentally Sound: Coaching & Technical Mastery with Lucy Hendricks & Michelle Boland, PhD, CSCS
Have you ever attended a seminar where they
picked you as an exercise demo?
Are those not the best?! You get to feel what it’s like to be coached by the instructor. You get to respond to their verbal and manual cues, which allows you to feel what you eventually want your clients to feel. Out of all the exercises you learned about that weekend, the ones you were coached through will probably be the ones you’re most successful with.
Lucy Hendricks and Michelle Boland are providing you that experience for all the keystone exercises that will push clients towards their goals. Get ready to embark on a 5 hour 100% hands on movement journey, where you’ll experience the most fundamental weight room movements, built from the ground up. You will also creatively increase your movement repertoire by altering load placement and performance variables to drive adaptations in each plane of motion.
You will also receive comprehensive exercise sheets filled pictures, instructions, cues, and mistakes. We encourage you to take these home and use liberally with yourself, your staff, and your clients. After the seminar, you will get access to a 2 hour video of how to make detailed training and breath work meaningful for each client which will guarantee client buy-in.
Sunday April 28th, Day 2: Circuiting the Rehab Training Model with Michael J. Mullin, ATC, PTA, PRC
The lines have become increasingly blurred between what rehabilitation and training look like—from performance coaches working more with the rehab staff within integrated performance teams, fitness professional’s increasing roles in helping manage or supplement the recovery process of the clients they train, to rehabilitation professionals transitioning their clients further into fitness programs.
This program will review some of the more important factors to take into consideration, from some base assessments and intervention techniques to program design and professional strategies. Specifics related to breathwork integration, utilizing activities mid-program to manage what is seen during the session, program development focusing on different types of circuits and supersets as well as considerations on building a referral-base and developing your brand.
About the Presenters:
Lucy Hendricks is the owner and founder of the Holistic Fitness Connector and co-owner of Enhancing Life (Lexington, KY). She also is a teacher at The Lexington Healing Arts Academy Personal Training Program. She is a personal trainer that takes a holistic approach to health and fitness.
Michelle Boland, PhD, CSCS is an exercise physiologist, strength and conditioning coach, author, and presenter. She previously worked as a strength and conditioning coach at Northeastern University and is currently the Director of Education at Pure Performance Training (Boston, MA).
Michael Mullin, ATC, PTA, PRC, is a clinically-based athletic trainer with over 25 years of experience in training and rehabilitation. He is the Owner/Clinician of Integrative Rehab Training LLC and sees clients out of Back Cove Personal Fitness in Portland and Beyond Strength in Falmouth.
“I think the course was great, and for me, was a perfect addition to stuff I was already doing. A lot of your cueing, positions and coaching really helped me to refine how I teach exercises and movement and it really helped to tie up a lot of loose ends for me. I’ve definitely seen much quicker/more lasting results with my clients since the workshop! I’m finding it easier to adjust positions and exercises for clients based on their complaints, and I’m seeing much quicker improvements in movement variability! Some of those challenging cases that I was struggling with have started making progress, which is super exciting to see! Overall was a great experience and has helped me deliver a better service and quicker results to my clients, which is super important for me as a cash based PT! ” – Dr. Matt Longfellow, PT, DPT, SCS, Cert DN, USAW-1
“Coming into this workshop, I was confident I had a fairly good grasp on the basics of breathing and was primarily hoping to learn different ways to cue clients, especially ones who have a hard time with it. I was previously coaching many of the exercises we learned in this workshop, but I was missing a lot of subtle things. Lucy and Michelle exceeded my already high expectations and dove deep into those details that are the key to your clients’ success. I spent an entire week coaching these exercises after I got back, and my clients barely got off the ground. From what looks like a boring week of lying on the floor and breathing, I heard feedback like, “That was the best ab workout I’ve ever had,” “When I’m laying down, my left ribs don’t do that weird flare anymore and they’ve done that forever,” “I feel like I’m truly getting to understand my body,” and, my favorite, “WHY IS THIS SO HARD?!?” These strategies will be a cornerstone of my programming from now on and I’m so grateful to Lucy and Michelle for sharing them.” – Alexis Helmrath, Fierce Mama Fitness
The term “Strength and Conditioning” has long been associated with the idea of heavy barbells and running until one’s legs collapse. The strength coaches who exploit our social media pages are often shown yelling until their veins pop at an athlete performing a 700-pound squat. Unfortunately, this has skewed the public’s eye on what a strength coach should represent. Negative reinforcement, yelling, exercise punishment, and representing the villain who runs the team into the ground after the loss predominates the strength coach persona. However, as psychology and motor learning research enters the weight room, it becomes increasingly obvious that these traditional strength coach’s tendencies may hinder an athlete’s performance and psychological well-being. Therefore, it’s time we reexamine the words a strength coach uses and understand how much power one’s word choice can carry beyond barbells.
First, let’s cover some of the basics on feedback. In sport and the weight room, there are two types of feedback: Task-intrinsic feedback (sensory based) and Augment feedback, which is not inherent to the task. Augmented verbal feedback is going to be our focus today. The initial questions becomes, does all this talking we do as a coach even matter? Rest assured, research shows you still matter. A study in 2009 showed that video and verbal feedback combined improved performance more than a no-augmented feedback group in university athletes learning the Power Snatch.
My biggest pet peeve in the weight room is hearing coaches who use words with their clients that they can’t connect to and thus their augmented feedback is meaningless. It’s safe to assume that for words to change someone’s behavior those phrases must mean something to that person. Cues that don’t connect to any of the athlete’s previous knowledge, or schemas, won’t change much. One of my favorite ways to create meaning is to use analogies that innately relate to the athlete’s sport. We often deal with individuals who are attempting to become experts in their respective sport, so why not connect the weight room to movement they certainly understand? A classic study using youth athletes showed the power of analogies. The research found that moving with a position in space, a clock-face verbal label resulted in better remembering than a meaningless spatial direction.
Next, we need consider how and when we should deliver information to a client to reduce their reliance on our augmented verbal feedback. In other words, it should be the goal of any good coach for your client to eventually not be reliant on your words. We want to create self-sufficient athletes who can recognize and fix errors and perform movement without our help. We aren’t on the field yelling at them to not let their knees cave in as they cut, so we better create some independent athletes in the weight room. Remember that task-intrinsic feedback we talked about? That source of information is always there and it has been proven that experts exploit it more than novices. So our duty as coaches is to point our clients to task-intrinsic feedback vs. our often meaningless augmented feedback.
“Augmented feedback can become an essential part of the task and prevent learners from processing critical sources of task-intrinsic of from the essential planning process” – Skill Acquisition in Sport (2012)
So when does our feedback create an over reliance on our words? When our verbal statements are provided too quickly after a practice attempt, when they are given during the task performance and when that information is provided too frequently. Furthermore there are a number of ways coaches can reduce their athlete’s reliance on supplemented feedback. We can spread our feedback over trials, delay our verbal guidance until all sets are complete, allow the learners to self-select sets to receive coaching, and lastly by encouraging our athletes to estimate errors before we give our own advice.
|How we should deliver Feedback||How we should AVOID giving Feedback|
|Spread coaching over trails||Allow time to pass after a set to give feedback|
|Don’t give corrections until athlete completes all sets||Don’t provide guidance while athlete is actually performing set or rep|
|Ask your athletes which sets or reps they want your thoughts on||Don’t give coaching too frequently|
|Allow clients to discuss or guess their errors before we give our input|
Let’s summarize what all this research means for us practical world coaches. I like to put it into one phrase: “we need to create problem solvers, not robots”. So how do we create movement detectives? We give our clients sometime to think for themselves. After a set, ask an athlete: what did they feel? What was good about that, what was bad? What reps were the best, why? Let the individual figure out for themselves what they should be feeling when, what is good and what is bad. We can do this by spreading our feedback out, not giving too much feedback and allowing learners to select feedback only when they are stuck.
Psychological Needs Framework
What about the sensations our words create? Research on motor learning is emerging that shows that the emotions that words instill in our clients can have an affect on retention rates and transfer of movement patterns. The academia behind this effort mostly stems from Ryan and Deci’s Fundamental Psychological needs framework. To summarize Ryan and Deci claim: “psychological well-being and optimal functioning and learning in a broad range of domains appear to depend on support for the basic needs of competence, autonomy, and social relatedness.” Let’s explore how our words have the power to create competence and autonomy.
We will start with competence. One can’t look into the idea of competence and motor learning without searching through Gabriel Wulf’s work. In one study, Wulf found that feedback after “good” trials, compared with “poor” trials resulted in more effective retention and transfer in tasks. Additionally Wulf and colleagues found that participants show enhanced intrinsic motivation with feedback after good trials. Specifically, verbal language that displays errors may heighten concerns about self, which hamper learning. The classic technique of telling your athlete how poorly they performed to “motivate” them may not be the most effective tool to create learning. It appears that complementing our athletes “good” reps and reshaping how we point out errors probably will do a lot more for athlete’s motor learning in the long run.
Additionally, associating the strength and conditioning environment with positive compliments over negative punishments will impact an athlete’s psychological well-being in the facility. An individual who associates the gym with negative punishments, being negatively compared to their peers, and a constant exploitation of mistakes will develop destructive feelings towards fitness in general. I have seen athletes who head drops as soon as they walk through the weight room door. They have damaging thoughts surrounding what happens here. Not only will this hurt motivation, but it could leave a person with repercussions about fitness for the rest of their lives. It is constantly overlooked that an individual also develops a personal relationship with the gym. Choosing to point out progress and gains could cultivate this bond, while punishment could help ruin it.
A key idea behind competence is that individuals are always comparing themselves to their peers. We live a in society that is founded on competition. Athletes and clients determine whether or not they are “successful” at their sport based upon how they compare to others. Therefore, it is crucial that as coaches we are mindful about how our words encourage or discourage self-comparison. A study showed that “False – Positive normative feedback against peers causes better outcomes and automaticity in movement control.
To summarize, when a person believes they are better at a certain movement task than their colleagues, they tend to perform better in that specific skill. Recently being involved in a team setting I can recall countless experiences where I noticed an athlete was “embarrassed” by how they were performing against their peers in the weight room. It was obvious to me that these specific individuals had a poor relationship with strength training and did not enjoy their time in the gym. Consequently, I think this research does a really good job of revealing a situation a coach should ALWAYS avoid. We should NEVER use feedback that causes a client to feel as if they are “worse” than others at a specific movement. This negative comparison will undoubtedly cause feelings of irritation around the weight facility. Again, we clearly see how a coaches word could entice an athlete to have a negative relationship with fitness in general. This poor connotation around the facility will undoubtedly affect an individual’s motivation when working out with the team.
The cliché “Growth Mindset” has flooded our culture in pretty much all areas of human development. Countless literature from business and economics to psychological well-being praise its importance. But, could creating a growth mindset with our words actually help our athletes learn skills in the gym? Yes, a study showed that participants that were told a task represented a learnable (dynamic) skill showed greater self-efficacy, more positive affective self-reactions, expressed greater interest in the task, and greater improvement across trials vs. an inherent aptitude group. Additionally it was found that “instructions portraying the task as an acquirable skill resulted in more effective learning (retention) and automaticity of control vs. inherent capacity instructions.”
So how does this transfer to the weight room? People who believe abilities are fixed view negative feedback as a threat because it reveals less than optimal ability. On the flip side, athletes who believe skills are dynamic are more motivated, show greater performance and automaticity in movement, and learn more effectively. So yes, framing task success as changeable helps your athletes learn skills faster!
Athlete’s autonomy has become a very hot topic recently, and for good reason. It appears that SOME-level of autonomy can be affective tool to enhance motivation. Research shows that giving the learner some control over the situation enhances motor control retention and transfer. Additionally, a self-controlled feedback group outperformed a control group when asked to transfer a task to a new situation. That being said, not everyone wants autonomy. We all know those clients who want to be told exactly what to do the whole hour they are in your facility. In other words, they come to lift, not to think. However, I would argue that for our type A high level athlete’s autonomy could prove useful. Allowing those high achieving and knowledgeable athletes some input could do wonders to enhance incentive.
Lastly, let’s talk about how essential our word choice is when an athlete is returning from injury. In my opinion, sending the proper verbal cues with an injured athlete is the most underappreciated aspect of feedback. Rob Gray, a motor control researcher at Arizona State conducted a fascinating study on baseball players and post injury focus. Gray found that injured baseball players demonstrated an increase ability to make judgments about their injured body part. Furthermore, this internal focus correlated with 27% less hits and %15 less strikes. To summarize, that natural tendency to think about your injured knee makes you a lot worse at your sport. So what do we do? To return that athlete to a high level of performance it’s critical that we break from the typical rehab model. In rehab we are constantly asking our athletes or clients how that injured area feels. This practice feeds into this negative cascade by shining extra attention on that injured body-part.
So what happens when we finally return to sport? All one can think about is that area since that’s all they have been asked about for the past 6 months. Therefore, as coaches it is crucial that in the ladder stages of rehab we are very careful with our words. Research consistently shows that experts of sport have an innate external focus when compared to novices who portray an internal focus. Therefore, it’s important that we are being safe but we must also encourage an external focus of attention to return to high performance. For example, ask the baseball pitcher where the location of their pitch was vs. how their elbow feels. Next time you have an injured athlete emphasize the external consequences of their movement rather than asking how their knee feels!
|Words to Use||Words to Avoid|
|What was good about that? (specifics)||Those last two reps needs work.|
|What did you feel during those reps? (specifics)||You felt your legs right?|
|What reps were good and why?||Number 1 and 2 were good, 3 not so much.|
|Do you want feedback on that set?||Let me tell you everything I just saw.|
|Let’s work on one thing that we can do a little better.||There’s a lot we need to fix.|
|Do you see the difference when we do that?||How’s your knee, how’s your knee, how’s your knee?|
|What was the difference between that and the last set?||Yea that was better.|
|That last set was really good, do you notice the progress you have made?||Not bad, still needs a bit of work though.|
|Don’t worry about it, you will get better at it, everybody improves!||Yikes, not sure if that’s going to get better.|
|The … and … were really good! Let’s just work on one thing.||Let’s just work on the mistakes.|
|What did you like about today, didn’t like. Maybe we can add more of the stuff you liked.||This, this and this is what we are going to do next time.|
|Wow you’re a natural at that; most people don’t get it too quickly.||Most people learn that a lot faster.|
It’s time that the strength coach moves past his/her obsession with barbells. Weights are an essential part of the gym, but still just a component in a complex environment. Past the sets and reps there is an underlying relationship that an athlete cultivates with the weight room. A multifaceted relationship that we as coaches have a large affect on. I would argue this bond matters for more for performance than how in depth your periodization model is. There is no more potent way to enhance or destroy this connection than with your word choice. What you say matters, how you say it matters, when you say it matters. They may not be measured in kilograms, but they still have huge affects on performance.
About the Author
Jonah Rosner is the owner and founder of JAR Performance Science, located in Fairfield, Connecticut. Jonah graduated form Boston University in 2018 with coursework in physiology and finance. He plans to pursue a PhD is sports science. He has completed internships with Ranfone Training Systems (CT), Cressey Sports Performance (MA), and Northeastern University (MA). Jonah’s personal interest lay in all aspects of performance but specifically data science and statistics of sport, motor control and decision-making in sport and physics of exercise.
His website is JARperformancescience.com. He can contacted at email@example.com and found on Instagram at @JARperformancescience
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Are you improving or staying the same? …fear staying the same.
- 3-10 RM testing
- Perform sets to own volition (example: perform sets of 3 until client chooses to stop or can’t maintain)
- Density blocks: Number of reps within a timed set or number of sets within a specific duration
- Open set: client performs reps to own volition
- Set duration of time and record distance completed on mode of fitness equipment (example- distance in miles completed in 6 minutes on airdyne)
- Set specific distance and record time to completion (example- time to climb 300 feet on versaclimber)
- Record vertical jumps in warm-up routine
- Timed circuit: record total volume or time to complete
A model allows you to have a structure and framework for decisions within various contexts. Drawing out your model can guide program design, assessments, exercise selection rationale, and outcome goals for the client/athlete.
Models are adaptable with new information and will be refined overtime. Models can also provide commonality in language between staff members and incorporation of core values.
MBT Model Explanation.
It starts with the client. The client will have both session experiences with the coach and a physical goal. The intent and strategies chosen will be in relation to the desired outcome of an experience and goal.
Client experience includes coaching style, types of hard work, and learning. The client’s personality and temperament will be related to the adaptive personality of the coach as a strategy in achieving the outcome. The coach will utilize values and concepts that are important to them within communication (language used) and exercise selection in order to achieve the desired experience. Exposure and learning various types of hard work including both physical challenge and awareness should be experienced.
Session experience should include enjoyment in relation to the client’s wants, weight room perception, and adherence to the program. The inclusion of these variables will allow for empowerment, meaningfulness, and acknowledgement of progress. The coach will review and reflect upon client experience and adjust according to the results.
The physical goal of the client should relate to desired structural and/or functional adaptations. Assessment should be related to the goal and valued to track progress of the goal. The assessment should direct coach to the starting point for programming in relation the client needs within health and performance based variables.
The goal of the client should provide purpose to both the client and coach. The assessment should also assist in maximizing strengths and addressing constraints. The variables and goal should be reassessed and adjusted accordingly based upon the results.
Whatever concepts that are important to you, have a plan to teach them. I use and build my program design based on concepts I value in performance such as loading a hip, rotating a thorax over a pelvis, centering, and loading & propelling. I can build on these concepts during the year through coaching tactics and being creative with exercises.
- Designate a concept as a focus of a microcycle.
- Sequence/pair exercises using the same cues and that build upon the previous.
- Add cues or details progressing from weeks 1 to week 4 in your coaching.
- Be creative with exercises. Does an exercise fulfill the concepts that you value in performance and health?
“Not being understood may be taken as a sign that there is much in one to understand” -Alain de Botton, 2004
I’ve been thinking a lot about not what I want to be (position, title) but who I want to be (value system). Your value system may be conditional on your immediate environment, the people you interact with, and what you read and listen to. Confidence in who you want to be can be challenging in environments and cultures that condition us to value the pursuit of status (may be judged as success) or to desire the emotion of happiness. I desire the ability to responsibly use a position and establish meaning in self exploration.
We are susceptible to the influence of external voices about what we require to be satisfied and what to aim for so as to flourish as human beings (Alain de Botton, 2004). Do you know yourself enough to know what you want to become? Learning from others can be your greatest asset in understanding yourself.
Be observant of other people’s behaviors, the qualities they display, their choice of words, their view of the world, their conquest of status over others (how do they use that?), and their genuine expression of care for others. The intent isn’t to understand others but to discern interactions, elements of anxieties, and virtues of character so you can use them in molding who you want to be and who you don’t want to be. You can’t do this without experiences and interactions followed by reflection.
Putting these thoughts into building my personal training/coaching model would be making training and interactions with others meaningful, being responsible for a position of influence over others, considering the impact of word choice, questioning ideological statements within our professional field, questioning the environment you place yourself in, and maintaining an awareness of your ambitions in what or who you are trying to be.