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LEARNING FROM THE BEST COACHES

Published by Ali Hitch -
on 2nd July 2016
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Since entering the fitness industry in 2011, I’ve always felt overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge there is in the world, and I’ve always felt pressured to know more in order to become one of the best coaches around (I’ve got quite a way to go). The number of ‘professionals’ out there who are supposed to be qualified yet are so far from being competent at their job is, quite frankly, scary. Those that spring to mind are personal trainers, physios and sports coaches.

When contemplating my own level of competency, each year that passes by I look back and think ‘my god, I know so much more than I did a year ago …and I still know nothing’. Fortunately I was able to apply to and be accepted for the Strength and Conditioning (S&C) Masters programme at St Mary’s University. This academic year (2015/16) I took two modules:

  1. Practical techniques in strength & conditioning
  2. Research methods and evidence-based practice

We’ve had a few on-site sessions (primarily a distance learning degree) and our most recent was at the end of June where we had a number of lectures and assessments. We were extremely lucky to have three, highly prestigious guest lecturers from the S&C community and below you can learn a little bit more about them.

All I can say is, my god, these guys know what they are talking about!

Irrespective of knowledge, status and experience, this is a person who just wants to help people. Dan John seems an incredibly down-to-earth, friendly and straight up guy who is happy to have a conversation with anybody that wants to learn from him. Although he is one of the worlds top strength coaches, Dan is easily approachable and doesn’t give off any uncomfortable vibes – if you want to know something, just go and ask him …simple as that.

Dan contributes to T-Nation, a website that houses tonnes of articles that will definitely teach you a thing or two and expand your knowledge. But, as always, never take anything as gospel and approach new information with a critical mindset and healthy amount of scepticism. Although there is a lot of great information out there from many respected and well-educated coaches, there is at least double the amount of information which is utter garbage.

If you want to know more about Dan and the world of strength raining, check out his books. A complete list of his general writing can be found on here www.otpbooks.com.

I would definitely recommend two books: Easy Strength and Can You Go?

If you want a no nonsense, straight talking perfectionist then Dan Baker is your man. National President of the Australian Strength & Conditioning Association (ASCA) and Strength and Power Training Coach of the Brisbane Broncos, this is one man who epitomises the phrase ‘experienced coach’.

Dan demands the best from his athletes and I will always remember one of the stories he told. Brisbane is a hot place and whenever possible, the guys will train without a shirt on. But, when the Broncos players do their fitness tests, body fat percentage (BF%) scores are also taken – if a player’s BF% is over the required level, that player isn’t allowed to take their shirt off when training AND has to take part in a special one-to-one beasting session on an early Saturday morning. Dan doesn’t like having to come in on a day off because somebody ate too many ‘maccas’. There are also a number of levels to Dan’s beasting sessions …you’d have to be an idiot to fail your BF% test four times but it happens! The lesson to take away from this is don’t turn up to pre-season training as a ‘fatty’.

When it comes to coaching, Dan is a huge fan of velocity training and he took us through a few demonstrations of how it works. In essence, you attach an electronic device to a bar (or sometimes the athlete themselves) and measure how quickly that bar moves. From this information, we can tell if an athlete is working at the correct level and if they can squeeze out some more reps. This extremely short description doesn’t do Dan’s velocity based training any justice, so if you want to learn more take a look at one of his articles.

Last but certainly not least, we have a running expert. Steve Magness is largely known for his battle with athlete doping and was part of a BBC Panorama documentary called Catch Me If You Can. When Steve was part of the Nike Oregon Project he made allegations against Alberto Salazar, who he claimed was promoting doping within his athlete group. Take a look at this article which is a good guide to the ongoing story. The documentary, headed by Mark Daly, investigates serious allegations of doping in athletics, spanning more than 30 years and involving some of the biggest stars in the sport [1].

Steve runs the website www.scienceofrunning.com which has a huge amount of running information, along with free podcasts made by Steve and Jon Marcus, which are regularly uploaded to iTunes.

A short list of some of Steve contributions to the Strength & Conditioning community can be found here.


REFERENCES

BBC One – Panorama, Catch Me If You Can. (2016, July 02). Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05zhqvk.

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