Archive | June, 2012

MBSC Intern Q & A: Week #1

28 Jun

At MBSC we require our interns to submit weekly questions and ideas for Brendon Rearick and myself to review and answer. This is an exercise Brendon and I picked up (from somewhere that I can’t remember) to help encourage creative thinking. Requiring our interns to come up with questions for us to review during our Monday meetings has encouraged valuable group discussion among our staff and internship group. After going back and looking at our e-mails Brendon and I decided that the  the Q and A was so good we should just post it as a blog for others to enjoy. So with out further ado enjoy the questions from week 1

Questions = Creative Thinking

Let’s pretend that you have a team training, and you had planned an hour long session for the athletes including all of the typical components of an MBSC workout. However, unexpectedly the session is cut from one hour to 30 minutes due to conflicts with the team’s practice. In what order would you cut things out and why? What if the session went to only 15-20 minutes? What would you do with a team? Would this change if they are in season or out of season?

I wouldn’t interrupt the pre-planned sequence. I would still make them foam roll and stretch, do their movement prep and then do my best to get in some basic strength. I may abbreviate a couple things in order to speed things up but I would not cut out the movement prep just for the sake of getting in a lift. The point of “movement prep” is to “prepare the athlete to lift”, so without it I do not see the lift being as safe or effective. So long as it is not a regular occurrence I do not think it would be a problem if they miss a piece of the lift. I don’t think this would change very much from in-season to off-season. In season, I would care much less about getting in all my strength work and focus on getting in all of the recovery work. Out of season I may speed things up a bit more in order to get in a short lift. In the grand scheme of things though we are thinking about long term development  of an athlete not a lifter and with that in mind we should be prioritizing mobility and movement prep work.

What is the main purpose of doing sleds after each workout?

We use the sled as a means to train acceleration in the athletes. The heavy marching pattern in the sled push is a great way to enforce acceleration mechanics. The idea being that we want to train the athletes to put more force into the ground and accelerate mass in their sprinting pattern. It serves well as alactic power development and we have found at MBSC we can put it in pre-lift or post depending on logistics and it does not make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things.

In what situations do you use the FMS at MBSC and how does the screen results effect programming for clients?

I use the FMS for all of my clients in conjunction with related joint and movement assessments. I use the FMS as a tool to let me know what patterns I can or cannot safely train with a client. This allows me to create a training road map and avoid potholes on the way. The results of the screen help me to choose correctives and progressions more accurately.

In school we’ve learned how important stretching after a workout is, so why is there no designated time to stretch post-workout for the athletes?

I think the idea that we need to stretch post-workout is outdated. We static stretch after our soft tissue preparation and prior to training with long-term injury prevention in mind. The idea of the static stretch is to create “plastic” long term change to the issue. We dynamic stretch during the mobility and active warm-up portions to increase temperature and improve resting tissue length for a more optimal and  safer training environment. I do not think stretching post-workout is necessarily bad but I do not believe it to be as effective as our current approach.

What do you look for when progressing a client in the in line chop/lift variations

Can the athlete keep the down side hip stable and keep it from winging out? Can the keep their torso erect and the shoulders square? Do they move the rope in a smooth 2 part motion across the body? Can they stay in-line? Check the video for possible progressions and an examples good form. 


How do you make up one lifting program for the whole summer for every athlete to follow?

 When we are designing the program for the athletes in any session at MBSC it is a matter of finding what methods are “good, better and best” relative to our logistical situation. The volume of athletes and their skill level must be taken into account. The complexity of the exercises being taught as well as the number of coaches and the layout of the facility must also be taken into account. In a perfect world every athlete would have an assessment and an individualized program for them to train off of. The reality of our situation with 400+ athletes/day is that, that is impossible. We operate off of the assumption that most young athletes need to train many of the same qualities and suffer from many of the same dysfunctions. We prescribe FMS based correctives to the entire population to fix a wide number of dysfunctions, this way if the correction is needed that athlete will receive it and if it is not then we simply provided a corrective that was not necessary. All athletes will train the basic qualities of strength, power, endurance etc.. We depend on our excellent coaching staff to make individual adjustments for dysfunction and injury as they are needed.

What is the most important thing you would recommend we make sure we learn in the first week that we should take with us through our entire career?

The most important thing for you all to pick up quickly and carry with you is that what is “best practice” is relative to your group of athletes and your instant logistical situation. You may not always be able to employ your pre-planned program and you might have to go off of the script from time to time. Become great at calling audibles. Learn to coach on your feet and adjust to the demands of your athletes and your environment. As Bruce Lee said “Be Like Water.”

As mentioned before, the focus of the overhead medball throw is for deceleration of the shoulder rotators. Is the medball slam used for the same thing?

The OH medicine ball throw is meant to train the eccentric strength of the rotator cuff in throwing. As we progress the OH throw the eccentric decelleration demand becomes greater. The OH slam is not employed as a rotator cuff exercise as much as it is for overall upper body and and core power development and as a CNS “ramping” drill. I like the drill to teach athletes how to apply force rapidly and “wake up the CNS.” Basically, we use it as a drill to help get them warmed up to lift.

Under what circumstances would you suggest to a client that he/she should do extra foam rolling or correctives at home or after the workout?

I tell all of my athletes to employ home soft tissue and stretching routines. Even if they do not suffer from dysfunction or pain I believe that more soft tissue maintenance work is beneficial. Most of these athletes are practicing multiple times a week in addition to training with us so continued recovery work is what will keep them healthy. I ask them all to go through a basic stretch and roll daily at home. In addition, if they have any further dysfunction I will assign homework like mobility, stability or postural drills to offset whatever compensations they have.

If we are coaching the hang clean, and an athlete is struggling, how much time should we dedicate to improving the pattern if we don’t see any improvement over the course of a few weeks?

The bottom line is don’t settle for OK. We should be looking to make every pattern perfect. How you get there depends on where they are struggling. If they are simply uncoordinated and struggling to smoothly couple the pieces of the exercise then keep plugging away and coaching. I have seen some kids take a whole year to get it right. If it is a matter of lacking stability and mobility that needs outside intervention then provide that intervention while also providing an appropriate alternative power exercise like the shuttle, jump squat or swing until they have the requisite mobility or stability to perform the hang clean.

If the flow gets backed up to the point of another group interfering with your group, what should you and the other coaches do to fix the jam?

The coaches on the floor must have open communication. The coaches who have groups before and after one another should establish a working relationship with each other so that the system can run smoothly. Check your workout sheet and the clock for timing issues. If everyone runs on schedule then we should have no floor traffic jams. Determine who is ahead/behind and adjust accordingly. If necessary add extra sets or terminate some set early to keep the groups moving smoothly. We cannot sacrifice the integrity of the whole system for one group.

In “Advances In Functional Training” Coach Boyle mentions that the hang snatch is easier to teach and train than hang cleans. What is the rationale for using hang cleans as the weighted power exercise two days in the program as opposed to using either solely the snatch, or doing one day of hang cleans and one day of snatches?  

We chooses to teach the clean instead of the snatch because of the reduced risk of injury with the hang clean. With the younger kids especially we do not feel comfortable with them snatching the weight overhead. The chance of shoulder injury, dropping the bar or tipping backwards outweighs the reward. The hang clean is slightly more complex but carries a better risk/reward ratio. We hang clean two days as opposed to one because we wants greater frequency of repetition so that the kids get more practice.


Life of an MBSC Intern- Part#1: Move In and Training Week

25 Jun

Life of an MBSC Intern- Part #1: Move In and Training Week

The MBSC Intern House In Billerica, MA

The Environment is Everything

    So it begins. After applying, anxiously waiting, receiving the good news, and making the 12 hour drive from Columbus, OH, I finally arrived at the beautiful intern house in Billerica, MA. As my fellow interns and I settled into the house, I began to fully realize how great of an experience this summer was going to be. Prior to arriving, as I planned and weighed all the learning opportunities that were to come, I was continuously forgetting a huge piece of the puzzle: The environment. As I quickly learned, living in a house of like-minded people who are as passionate about strength and conditioning as I am is an incredible experience on its own.

With interns arriving in Boston from California, Canada, Chicago, Alaska, Ohio and New York the coaching and education backgrounds in the house are almost as diverse as the accents. After settling in and realizing the fact the letter “R” is in fact nonexistent with these wicked accents, I began to take some time to get to know the other interns I would be living with. Because of our different backgrounds, mentors, and personal athletic history, the conversations that immediately began floored me. Not only was there an incredible amount of knowledge being shared, but for the first time I was able to talk about heart rate variability or the myofascial system for more than 15 seconds without a college roommate throwing a shoe at my head.

Who Wants To See My Foam Roller?

 Friendly debates lead to a better understanding of concepts and deepen our own current beliefs. Having the opportunity to grow through conversation over a few beers protein shakes is invaluable.

       Not only are we all improving through shared knowledge, but the environment cultivates good habits. Coming from my campus apartment filled with leftover pizza crust and beer case wallpaper, my dietary habits had slipped a bit. However, watching my housemates eat healthy encourages me to strive for better nutrition. Training with others who love to train pushes me to work harder. Seeing others work to become better coaches inspires me to be better. Passion and work ethic are contagious, but so are apathy and laziness. The passion, intelligence, and experience of my fellow interns are why the environment here has had the biggest, and perhaps most surprising, effect on my experience thus far. 

 Don’t Think, Don’t be an A-Hole, and Trust the System

Monday morning our class of 23 interns met a young, passionate staff of coaches who took us on a tour of the facility before we were addressed by Coach Boyle. His message was simple: Respect the system and be a good person. It is clear that there are no tricks or gimmicks to this internship. They are setting us up for success. We simply need to work hard, follow the system, smile, and care about what we are doing and the people we are coaching.  Coach Boyle encouraged us not to think outside the box and to trust the system. We are to throw out the phrase “I thought” and simply follow the set model. We are not here to reinvent the wheel. We are to understand that every minor detail of this system, from the order of regressions to the placement of TRX, has already been discussed, picked apart, and analyzed under a microscope. The MBSC system has been developed and improved for over 15 years to be ideal for the exact setting, business model, and athletic population MBSC targets. The learning and experience gained by us interns comes in the art of coaching. The system has been set; it is our job to initially assist the senior coaches in running groups. We will eventually be responsible for our own groups as the summer progresses.


         The rest of the week we went over the entire program, going through the workouts ourselves, paying close attention to the coaching cues and guidance of our intern coordinators Kevin Carr and Brendan Rearick. During this time, we learned proper technique and the coaching points that may become relevant. We were also instructed on the logistical demands of coaching at MBSC. With groups starting every 15 minutes, timing is crucial. We were instructed to be conscious of time but not to rush through anything, or as Coach John Wooden would say, “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”

MBSC runs like a factory with groups flowing through the gym one after another.  Any missing piece or backup affects the entire line. Despite this model, I have been impressed that MBSC does not in any way, shape, or form sacrifice quality for quantity. We look to match the logistical demands of training over 400 athletes a day while giving them each the highest quality of coaching tailored to their own abilities and needs. I have heard Coach Boyle explain this philosophy by saying that we strive to be like McDonalds, but serve prime rib.  This is where the art of coaching comes into play. We are taught to be clear and concise with our words, proficient in our demos, place an emphasis on big movements, and be able to quickly regress and progress athletes when needed. 

Perhaps more important than logistics, however, is the opportunity MBSC provides to place us in an environment where personal relationships, leadership, and caring for athletes are paramount.  Our intern class was required to read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carenegie prior to beginning the internship, and it is clear that the principles in this book will be vital to our success this summer.  I have been told that the next 10 weeks will without a doubt be as valuable as two to three years of coaching, personal development, and relationship-building experience. As we get thrown into the gauntlet of an MBSC summer, I need to remember to embrace the atmosphere, learn from mistakes, stop thinking, smile, and trust the system.  

1/2 Kneeling Band Lat Stretch

24 Jun

Here is a stretch I use frequently with my athletes and clients to help improve overhead positioning. If lat tightness is a problem I’ve found this stretch to be effective when combined with soft tissue work and some overhead patterning. I really enjoy how the 1/2 kneeling position can create fascial stretch from the hand  all the way through the ipsilateral hip. I prefer using a 1  3/4″ band from Perform Better.



Rear Foot Elevated Split Jumps

21 Jun

I have really been enjoying rear-foot elevated split jumps lately. There are not many true single leg power exercises and when done correctly I think these are a great way to train power unilaterally. In addition, these can serve as another option for those clients in which olympic lifting or kettlebell swings are contraindictations.

Thanks for stopping by,