WBA Speed Workshop

I would like to firstly start with WBA’s part they played in the evening. There is a balance to be found between – length of talks, amount of information, cost of the evening etc and the guys at WBA got all of them bang on. Was a great layout of room, sound was crystal clear, good selection of refreshments but most importantly the content of the evening vs. the cost of the evening was incredible value. Brilliant work by all involved!

First up was JB Morin, I think the overriding message is who needs what? As practitioners in the field we are always trying to gain more time with our players even sometimes at the risk of annoying the coaching staff or players, we can list all the benefits to them but getting an extra 15-20 minutes out of them is always a challenge, even within the most supportive environments. So instead of making people do more should we aim to have a more lazer like focus on exactly what we want. As we know every player is different and covering distances not only are anatomical factors height/limb length etc that will play parts in how differently players cover a sprint, with differing front and back side mechanics. However how both athletes can hit the same time over the same distances can also be achieved differently, this is where we can really utilize some of the preseason testing and link it into prescribed gym work throughout the course of the season.

Some players will be able to accelerate well but have less effectiveness so will lose speed over the distance and another player being able to not start as quickly but also loses effectiveness at a slower rate….

Meaning at this stage they are all slowing down just Usain Bolt isn’t slowing down as quickly as the rest of them.

So we have to look at how to look at players and to program for them individually. With some players being more force dominant and another being more velocity dominant.

So ask yourself the question how have you used your sprint testing data from players, just look at time? I think someone with JB’s experiences should show us there is so much more that we can investigate into these times than just a number at the end of it. How did your player get to that time and how does that then drive your programming. This will really maximise your time spent with each athlete and ensure there are no wasted reps. So constantly ask yourself what is my player or athlete’s profile?

He also talks about the importance of improving horizontal force as this relates to effectiveness of power output and is key in great acceleration. Currently with some early research showing the transfer to performance of some heavy sled based work performed at 80% BW. I’m sure well be looking forward to reading more on this area.

JB then provided further evidence of elite level athletes in return to play whose velocity markers had returned during rehab but his study showed that force and maximum power took far longer (around 2 months) to return, this backed up some speakers from the UKSCA conference Dan Cohen and Matt Jordan who had both identified factors in return to play taking longer to recover than suspected….

When 3 top brains in the industry tell us something we should probably listen, and maybe we need to review the process of not just return to play but as David Joyce and the GW GIANTS term it return to performance, just because the player has returned we may need to increase education to the player and coaching staff that the process is not done.

Jonas Dodoo – Speedworks followed a short break…. Jonas’s opening statement reminded me of something I heard a long time ago called beach ball theory.

Just because he was looking at things from a slightly different perspective than JB doesn’t mean that he doesn’t agree with JBs work or anyone else’s work. You can both be looking at the same beach ball from different angles say it’s a different colour, and both be right, but what we have to do as an industry is try and appreciate every coaches and practitioners point of view as oppose to maybe just unleashing some big statements tearing apart a fellow practitioner on social media! (No names mentioned)

A good sprint is a measurement of a successful program. Was one of Jonas’s first statements, I couldn’t agree more with him. This reflects a similar statement in one of Mark Verstegens performance book ‘train to run, don’t run to train’.

His expertise was excellent in talking about breaking down technique and some great information for coaches to see, he referred to the importance of getting the set up right from the start as certain problems will only increase once you get into high speed work. He referred to key positions at which he likes to evaluate during max velocity for example looking at ‘toe off’ and ‘figure 4’ positions and breaking things down into ‘projection, switching and reactivity’ through acceleration and absolute speed phases.

A few questions were raised regarding the decision-making that may lead to it complicating teaching how players run, with players have to change patterns quickly depending on events in the game,

‘You have to get good at your 123’s before you start on algebra’ I 100% agree, if the player can not perform a movement skill like a cross over step effectively in a closed environment without a reaction to open play, I’d think the ability to perform it at high speed post decision making would less effective.

Jonas gave a great overview into how he broke down his programming into 4 key areas (excuse my accuracy on the exact names) I’m sure if you contact him he’d be happy to share…

  • Competitive exercises
  • Special Strength
  • Special Prep
  • Gym Prep

I think to go into detail of these 4 areas in a blog would firstly not do them justice, secondly without having spoken to him I wouldn’t want to share some of his work out of respect. However it was great to see how he’d compartmentalized his work into different key areas and programmed each athlete individually and at different points across the spectrum but he was also sticking to the framework of these 4 areas.

Its something if you have never done as a coach it may take you a good few hours to set up but long term is worth it. Which reminds me of this quote…

Some top people delivered some really great information and in that is where my word of warning comes in. Be smart enough to know what you don’t know, just because you attended a lecture or read some of the blogs about this excellent evening put on by WBA doesn’t mean tomorrow all these things should be implemented, this is merely the starting point of gaining further knowledge into a very specialist area. So get out and learn or before starting it with the star striker maybe expose yourself to a lower profile case study to put things into action.

Maybe more football clubs can learn from some of the Rugby clubs and at certain points get specialists in at certain times when require. To be a head of sports science is like a tough job and you need to know a lot about everything, however I think we, as practitioners also need to be brave enough to say I know a good amount but a specialist will know more in this one area. Thus meaning the department performance increases.

The only negative on the evening was the three 50mph average speed zones on the way home, so would kindly appreciate the boys at WBA taking care of it before the next masterclass which if you haven’t booked on yet make it a priority on your to do list….

Wednesday November 30th at the Hawthorns….

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