Book Review – UNPLUGGEED, Mackenzie, Galpin, White
Coach House’s 10 Golden Nuggets
Website note: when writing a book or product review, we pondered the best way to display the information in a straightforward manner with decisive points of emphasis. We wanted to get you the reader interested in what material the author has produced without doing all the homework for you. Meaning? We want you to make the choice based on Coach House’s nuggets is there enough interest for you to invest in the product and put in the work to make your own interpretations of the material. In effect, “Absorbing, Modifying, and Applying” this information into your own program. As we have found out sticking to the goal of 10 Golden Nuggets is extremely tough. With that said, these are Coach House’s nuggets, the ones he felt were important to express to the masses. Coach House will tell you he reserves the right to be wrong.
Unplugged is a game changer for those who are analytically driven and those who have not yet entered the world of “app” based training. This book brings the perspective from both sides and shows the positive and negative impact of relying on technology to serve the greater good.
This book resonated with me on numerous critical points when it comes to utilizing technology in the training setting both for my athletes and for me personally. It definitely reaffirmed a lot of my personal beliefs of how technology should be implemented in a training environment and has really helped me bring a sense of balance to my own daily lifestyle.
Technology has a tremendous amount of merit in helping us develop the most successful plans we can for higher achievement. We must understand that it is a tool to help assist us as coaches to make the proper decisions moving forward. It should not be the only factor in addressing the needs of a team, athlete, or yourself. The human element can never be ignored.
As you can imagine, selecting ten nuggets from this book was extremely tough. I did my best to pick the ones that truly stood out to my personal philosophy as well as ones that would provoke enough thought in you to pick up this book and begin the unplugging process yourself.
10 Golden Nuggets
From recreational sports leagues to the pros to youth sports, we’ve abandoned spontaneous, chaotic, and unbound exploration for a predictable, controllable, regimented grind that does little to satisfy beyond the narrow, self-limiting goals we set for ourselves.
So why is our over dependence on fitness technology a problem? First, we’ve distanced ourselves from nature to the point that we barely even notice the world around us, let alone allow ourselves the physical, mental, and emotional benefits that regular, unfiltered immersion in it can provide. Second, we’re sacrificing genuine, deep interactions with real humans for the artificial community that online apps provide. And third, we’ve stopped listening to the innate instincts that our body provides, preferring to be semiconscious and outsource decision-making to technology that is often wildly inaccurate.
The lesson is that you should use technology to see what your eyes can’t, but recognize that it’s only a tool to find data a coach must then use to inform your programming. Just because we are measuring more doesn’t mean we have a greater understanding. Data is knowledge that requires interpretation to applicable. We need to get back in touch with our natural awareness and instincts.
Never Grow Up
A child doesn’t need a rigidly organized workout to have fun and stay healthy while being active. They just need to get outside and go for it. Far too many kids are missing out on the simple joys of creative, unstructured, and minimally supervised play.
“Relying on technology is dangerous because it can limit a person from going from the cognitive stage to the autonomous stage. An athlete needs to be able to feel to make adjustments.”
Think for Yourself
One quick way to reclaim intuition is to reassert our right to make decisions about our own well-being. You’re tired – sleep. You’re hungry – eat. Your restless – move. You don’t need to wait for your devices to make these choices for you.
In fact, the eyes of an expert coach who has amassed years of experience can spot flaws in our technique far more readily and instinctually than any piece of clothing with a chip embedded in it or four-dimensional video analysis, and can find problems in our programming that no algorithm would ever detect. Our wearables and smart devices will always have limitations and leave gaps that only human beings, with their combination of experience, instincts, and judgement, can truly fill.
FITNESS TECHNOLOGY CAN MEASURE MANY OF OUR PHYSICAL QUALITIES, BUT WHAT IT CAN’T DO IS QUANTIFY OUR EVER-CHANGING MINDSET AND EMOTIONAL STATE.
To me it’s the job of every coach to empower their athletes with the know how to learn and grow on their own. If coaches want the best for their athletes, they have to encourage their independence, like a parent teaching a child to drive. Coaching can’t be present for every moment of the day. This means that you, the athlete, are going to have to learn how to do things on your own.
You need to forgo technology algorithms for self-discovery, experimentation, and learning. Unplug more often, use technology as a learning aid instead of a taskmaster and reengage with yourself, other people, and the natural world around you.
As you can see from my choices, I am very much a proponent of free play and exploration with all athletes, but especially children through pre-teens. The self-exploration and discovery that is necessary in the learning process is critical at the age of overall psycho/social and physical development.
I believe in coaching! This occurs with interaction between athlete and coach, not athlete and IPad or coach and a dashboard. There is merit in utilizing devices to aid in the development process, but should not and cannot be used as the be all for your athletes’ development. They are not robots and most devices cannot determine adjustment based on mood and environmental factors.
As I mentioned earlier, this book really helped bring perspective and balance to my own training. Not worrying or concerning myself with programming my watch, utilizing my velocity equipment daily has made my training more enjoyable and focused. But, nothing has made me more focused and dialed in to my training than this quote from Josh Everett, “If you need music to motivate you to do something, you should find something else to do.” This has really been a game changer for me. And NO! I am not going to go cold turkey, but I very rarely bring my own music and headsets to training hall any longer. If there is music on at the facility, I do not concern myself what it is. My concern is on the specific movement I am training and the training session as a whole. My motivation is having a quality session and improving my overall strength.
If you have become addicted to the plugged-in life and are operating like you are robot, I highly recommend UNPLUGGED to you.
Best Success and Words Win,
Product Review – Matt Wenning’s Conjugate Training Secrets Volume #1
Coach House’s 10 Golden Nuggets
Website note: when writing a book or product review, we pondered the best way to display the information in a straightforward manner with decisive points of emphasis. We wanted to get you, the reader, interested in the material the author has produced without doing all the homework for you. Meaning? We want you to make the choice based on Coach House’s nuggets if there is enough interest for you to invest in the product and put in the work to make your own interpretations of the material. In effect, “Absorbing, Modifying, and Applying” this information into your own program. As we have found out, sticking to the goal of 10 Golden Nuggets is extremely tough. With that said, these nuggets, are the most important to express to the masses. Coach House will tell you he reserves the right to be wrong.
Brain and Brawn, Matt Wenning exemplifies both, being one of the strongest men in world and one of the smartest (M.S. Biomechanics) powerlifters and strength coaches I have come across. Matt’s interpretations of the Conjugate Method are by far the most user-friendly description I have come across and I have been studying the conjugate method for well over 15 years.
In this DVD package Matt maps out his programming, showing the structure and evaluation process of designing a plan based on Max Effort movements combined with accessory choices to enhance your specific weak points/improvement areas. Matt has a tremendous eye for enhancing technique and is spot on in his delivery to his athletes and clients.
Matt lives his system to the tee. His ability to stay healthy throughout his long career only enhances his statement of the “one who trains the longest is the strongest”. Matt has been an asset to my personal goal of deadlifting 500 pounds at the age of 50 (completed the feat at 51) and freely gives back to the iron game. I look forward to reviewing several other of his products and sharing them with all of you.
Best Success and Words Win,
10 Golden Nuggets
Definition of Conjugate Training
Variable Methods and Means
Rotate Bars, %’s, Foot – Hand Positions
Speed Day = not HOW MUCH >>>>>>> HOW FAST!
Law of Accommodation
If you do something to long you will become status quo
Anything used to long (volume, intensity, mode, duration etc.) will no longer create a positive training effect
Law of 72 Hours
The body cannot do an extreme workload in the same muscle groups per every 72 hours
This doesn’t mean you can’t do moderate to light work (note – this fits into the basic fundamentals of the tier system’s unique movement rotation on 3-day strength training work week)
Goal – you need to be in good enough condition to withstand the rigor and demands of the training session
“It’s not what you can do, it’s what you can recover from”
Warm Up – Preparation
Potentiation of weak or hard to activate muscle groups
No more that 4-6 movements
Rank in order from biggest weaknesses to less important things
Longevity comes from TRACTION exercises – It is a game of compression and traction
Trick your body into growing muscle
“Confusion causes Growth”
Surviving a Layoff
Joe Kenn MA CSCS*D RSCC*E
You’re fired! Two words you would prefer not to hear during your professional career. In full time coaching, it is sometimes inevitable. Some have even said you aren’t a “real” coach until you have been fired. I beg to differ on that statement, as I don’t think anyone really wants to get fired. They are not giving out merit badges for losing your job.
Having been on both ends of the table, I can tell you as hard as it is to lose your job, it may be harder telling someone else they have lost theirs. Rarely does anyone just straight tell you “you’re fired” anymore. In this politically correct world, you will get the “we are moving in another direction” or “your contract will not be renewed”. Usually followed by, thanks for a job well done! Since the majority of my 28 years as a strength and conditioning professional has come at the major college and professional levels, I have seen many good people lose their jobs. In some cases, coaches may get an interview with the new head coach. I have also heard “we will not be retaining your services”.
The day and age of strength and conditioning coaches hiding behind the support staff moniker, student service department, or athletic department administrator are over in high level settings. Most of us are now tied to a head coach and if you know this going in, you accept the good and the bad. The evolution of sport specific strength coaches will continue to increase as Head Coach’s salaries continue to rise. Head coaches are gaining more power in the entire decision making process and everything that encompasses their programs success.
Let’s face it, you want to be a big timer, then you must accept all that comes with it. In “big time” college and professional sports, you better be associated with a winning program if you want to keep your job. That’s right, you want the bowl bonuses, NCAA championship bonuses, and everything else that you are entitled to when the team is winning, then you better be prepared to pack your office when the team doesn’t succeed.
Oh, guess what? No one cares how great the improvements in the strength and conditioning program are if you do not win on the field or court. So don’t tell me how much faster the team is or how much their leg strength improved. If your team loses too many years in a row, you’ll be out because the new coach has his own guy.
I hope I have make myself very clear to those of you who are driven to be a major college or professional strength coach. That is, coaching is not all rah, rah, run out of the tunnel to a cheering crowd. You could do everything right and still lose your job. This is a very strong reality, regardless of your skill set. Yes, you could very well be retained. When I worked at the collegiate level, I was retained seven out of eight times there was a head coaching change. Most of scenarios where I was retained were in the 90’s before the explosion of strength coaches became a true extension of the sports staff.
If you are coaching at the Division II or III level, you may consider positions where you have a teaching option. You possibly could earn tenure. So if you lose your coaching position, you still have your teaching spot to fall back on.
So where does this leave you? How do you survive a layoff? I survived because of the following three points which are crucial in a successful survival.
It starts with family. It is extremely important early on in this career choice that your loved ones understand you are not entering the typical 9-5 job. You will move, settle in, move, settle in, and move again, and again, and possibly again. If you are married or have a serious long term relationship your significant other will need to understand what is at stake and what the consequences are if the team you are associated with is not successful?
Your children are an important part of the equation and should understand the possibilities of moving away from friends and family, regardless of a good or bad season. It is only fair to them that they understand your career is not like that of their friends parents. Your children’s friends will think its real cool to go to games but will want to know, “Why Johnny has to move?”
Your number one ability to survive the layoff is an understanding, supportive, and positive family. It stems from support you give them before the layoff happens and the support they give you after. You will have that moment of “did that just happen”, but to survive it you have to be prepared for it and your family does also. That means investing time in your family before any layoff occurs.
I survived the initial shock because my wife has given me unwavering support through this journey. There was never a time where I saw a look of concern on her face. She always knew the best was yet to come. This allowed me to stay the course and be true to who I am and what I believe in.
As much as you have to prepare your family for the possibility of losing your job, you also have to be preparing yourself for that possibility. It’s not hard to figure out that if things don’t look right or don’t feel right they probably aren’t.
There is no question in my mind and heart that you will survive any layoff if you remain confident. My definition of confidence is “with faith”. Depending on you personally, this can be religious, spiritual, and/or a belief in your professional abilities. Always fight for a bright horizon. Take an accurate assessment of the season, perhaps reach out to a peer, noting what improvements can be made and move confidently in to the future.
Confidence is the key. If you have continually mastered your craft your confidence should be extremely high. If not, how do you expect to succeed in any life issue especially losing your job? I never doubted that my skills were superior because I always continued my professional development and I knew I could confidently walk through any open door. I also am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I believe that at that time in my career, I was supposed to get fired. Why you ask? Because my family and I proved we could survive and continue to flourish!
Living in a depressed state of emotional being will not take you far. You have to stay strong! You have to keep fighting the good fight. You have to remain positive and sharp. You never know who you are going to meet. They may give you your next great opportunity.
You have lost you job. Now what? You need to take action! You have to decide what direction you are going to move into and go all in to achieve success. Develop an action plan. A better term may be “ATTACK” plan. By going into attack mode, you are not going to dwell on past occurrences, you are going to be driven to success in your future endeavors.
Your action/attack plan can consist of almost anything that is relative to what you want next in your personal and profession life. If you are fortunate, and you had a solid contract, you may have more time in developing your action plan than others. I hope this is the case.
Do not be afraid to venture into a new avenue of your profession. For my wife and me, we made a very quick decision when we realized that “our” guys were not in a position to hire us. There was limited coaching movement during this cycle and my contacts did not have a position available on their respective staffs. We decided we would bet on ourselves. We made a very conscience decision to move into the private sector with the least financial investment. That’s right, coaching in the private sector. (I have the upmost respect for any individual or family who has the confidence in themselves to invest in putting their name on a store front. Running a business is a whole different ball game. I commend all of you who are succeeding as private sector coaches.)
We decided that we would control our own destinies and futures by creating a program that would supersede any other similar model. Instead of buying or leasing a building, we sublet space in a training facility of a former college teammate and started right away. This plan allowed us to survive financially and keep me in the profession. It also allowed me to be ready for any opportunities that came our way. As fate would have it, just as the business was ready to explode, we were approached with the opportunity of a lifetime, a chance to coach professional ball.
Without FAMILY, CONFIDENCE, or an ACTION/ATTACK plan, I would not be in the position I am today, a NFL Strength and Conditioning Coach. My family never wavered. My confidence never surrendered. And because of my action/attack plan I made myself a better coach. My improved coaching skills made me a better candidate when the search committee evaluated me, netting me my dream job. Five years later, I stood on the sideline as a NFL strength and conditioning coach of a Super Bowl team.
No one wants to be laid off. We love what we do and want to continue to work. We don’t count hours in this professional because we have a true enjoyment watching others succeed and knowing we may have had a small part in that success.
I have spoken about what I believe will help you survive a layoff. Now, I will add in some things that can help before that day occurs. Which I hope never does.
First, it is imperative that you and your legal team understand and negotiate the terms of your contract. I hope you are on a contract. Contracts can be very deceiving, I promise you. A single word can be the difference between you receiving what you believed you were owed and getting nothing at all. TRUST ME, I KNOW.
Secondly, you must maintain your network. You have to keep in contact with all the coaches you have created a positive relationship with. Early in my career, I corresponded with various coaches at the start of their seasons. It doesn’t have to be long note, just a friendly reminder to keep you in their thoughts. Even in this time of email and texting, I still recommend a hand written note. I routinely wrote up to 50 notes a season. I also encourage you to attend the major conferences in which you may have an opportunity to shake their hands, engage eye contact and have a brief conversation with them. For many years as an NSCA member, I attended the January Coaches Conference and always stayed additional nights so I could attend the AFCA Conference and visit with coaches.
Third, stay on top of your trade. I hate to tell you but, just because you have a good job, a certification or two, a master’s or PHD, doesn’t mean you know everything. Our profession is changing exponentially. Find that one thing that will separate you from the pack. Identify something within our profession you have a strong desire to learn and go all in. You will need a niche. Everyone knows lifting weights. What is going to set you apart? In this era of strength and conditioning there are several areas that are now leading to full time positions; nutritionists, data analytics, GPS, readiness applications, and psychology to name a few. Don’t sell yourself short. Give yourself every opportunity to succeed in this profession.
I only know one way to give you this type of information, and that is from the heart. Absolutely, my goal in the beginning of this article was not to sugar coat this topic. You can’t be afraid of being fired if you want to be a member of big time athletics. You have to be prepared for the possibility every single day. If needed, use this as your motivation to give your best every day. If you are able to do this, you will survive anything in life. WORDS WIN!
This Article as published in the NSCA Career Development Guide and led to my presentation at the 2016 NSCA National Conference in New Orleans
Tier System Strength Training for Pre-season Basketball
SCCC, CSCS, NASM-PES, CFSC, USAW, FMS
Head Sports Performance Coach
As the Head Coach and sole staff member of the Sports Performance Department, I create, write, implement and supervise training programs for twenty-two varsity sports encompassing over four hundred student-athletes. Our facilities include an eight hundred square foot weight room, an auxiliary turf room and one basketball court utilized by three teams for conditioning, individual instruction, team practices and by other organizations when no athletic events are scheduled.
There are several major conditions to consider when developing a pre-season sports performance program for the Men’s Basketball Team at Bellarmine University, a private, parochial, Division II school located in Louisville, Kentucky. Specifically, facility space, equipment, staffing, schedules and a system of planning and organization are of paramount importance.
Our biggest challenge on a daily basis is to find a way to meet the needs of our athletes and coaches. The answer for us is to apply the “Tier System” developed and written by Coach Joe Kenn to achieve our program goals. We begin by listing our training objectives and to develop a “needs” analysis based on player positions whether they are a guard or forward.
We incorporate our “Pre Season Intents”, which are:
– Prepare the team for the volume of practice
– Produce and protect at all times
– Improve speed and conditioning (energy system specific)
– Improve core strength, flexibility, total body strength and power
The factors for consideration in establishing this successful pre-season program include:
– Accounting for team practices, individual practices, double sessions, and structured pick-up games
– Availability for court time conditioning with 3 different teams occupying the floor due to practices and university events
– Look to enhance recovery, reduce soreness and keep the athlete engaged
– Limited to 20 hours per week based on NCAA Division II rules
– Out of those hours I’m given an hour a day for 5 days over a span of 6 weeks.
– Given my 30 total hours over 6 weeks, how to attain the goals of the pre-season objectives under these constrictions
For each training session we utilize Coach Mike Robertson and Coach Joe Kenn’s “R8” method, which includes:
R1 – Release: soft tissue work using foam rolls, lacrosse balls, golf balls, car buffer or tiger tail.
R2 – Reset: help restore alignment and improve function of movement patterns.
R3 – Readiness: The pre-activity prep, or warm-up, aiming increase body temperature and kinesthetic awareness. This is the strength circuit for the movement categories involving neck, core, posterior chain & posterior shoulder.
R4 – Root: Power zone or core work.
R5 – Reactive: Improve power and explosive development with plyometrics or med ball throws.
R6 – Resistance: Training session for that day.
R7 – Regeneration: Energy System Development.
R8 – Recovery: Traditional cool down, stretching, relaxation drills, cold tub.
Next step is to look at the demands required for each position. The following lists some of the points of emphasis to create their training program.
Guards: Movement and fitness based program. We want our guards to be “bullets not bowling balls.” Our head coach wants them to be able to play low and play fast. We will emphasize unilateral lower body movements that will increase strength, mobility, and work capacity. Our mascot is a Knight so we came up with the term “body armor” to implement circuits that will help protect our ankles, knees, and hips. All movements will be technique based and emphasize control on the eccentric phase and an explosive concentric phase while always paying close attention to posture. Total body movements will be predominantly medicine ball throws or plyometrics. Upper body strength will involve Max Effort bench press with Repeated Effort horizontal and vertical presses, while playing close attention to our push/pull ration, trying to keep it close to two pulls for every one push.
Forwards/Centers: Strength and movement based program. It is more important for our big guys to be able to handle themselves in the low post, while still being fit enough to play a fast style of basketball. We will put more emphasis on bilateral lower body movements, as well as total body Olympic based movements. Lower body strength and explosive power will help our low post athletes box-out and be in a proper position to out-rebound their opponents. In addition, their low post work will be enhanced by training their backs, so we will focus on developing a strong core and upper back by making sure that we have at least two pulls for every one of our pushes. We will also train our Max Effort bench press very hard with our big guys. There will be an emphasis on Lower body injury reduction by utilizing the “body armor” circuits and eccentric hamstring exercises.
Our head coach will demand a fit and fast team. Because of this emphasis, conditioning will take place on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On these days, we will spend the beginning of the session (no longer than a few minutes) working on sprint mechanics and running technique. On non-lift days (Tuesday & Thursday) the Speed School will be followed by agility/footwork sessions that will incorporate both short agilities (under :07 seconds) and long agilities (in between :07 seconds and :14 seconds), and will culminate with agility based conditioning (agilities that range over :15 seconds that will involve change of direction). On lift days (Monday & Wednesday), the Speed School will be drawn out longer and involve elements of lateral speed as well as linear speed. The conditioning on Lift Day #1 will be our slide board session for lateral quickness, while Lift Day #2’s conditioning session will consist of bike sprints in a Tabata fashion, 20 seconds hard, 10 seconds rest. Lastly, the Lift Day #3 is designed to train the men for their 22’s test with tempo runs.
Click link below for example layout of the 6-Week Pre-Season Training overview.
Click link below fro example Forward/Guard Daily Training Template using the R8 method and Tier System.
We have sixteen basketball athletes training out of 800 square feet and there are a lot of moving pieces to their sports performance program. By incorporating the R8 method and Tier System, it has allowed us to accomplish all of our objectives for each position. Starting the session off with the readiness circuit creates space and tempo. Pairing movements with the priority lifts in our turf room also frees up space and keeps our athletes moving. As you can see from the templates above, we do a lot with a little. It does not matter if you have 800 square feet, or 8,000 square feet, following the R8 and Tier System method works! We are absolutely committed to this method and the benefits it produces for our program, and our athletes. As coaches, we all know that success is predicated on winning! Since the 2011-12 season, our men’s basketball program at Bellarmine University has achieved the following:
– 2011 NCAA National Champions, NCAA Midwest Regional Champion, Regular Season Conference Champions, Conference Tournament Champions
– 2012 NCAA Midwest Regional Champions, Regular Season Conference Champions, Final Four
– 2015 NCCA Midwest Regional Champions, Regular Season Conference Champions, Final Four
– 2017 NCAA Midwest Regional Champions, Regular Season Conference Champions, Conference Tournament Champions, Final Four
Our team won the NCAA Division II National Championship in March 2011 and in 2017, we earned our fourth trip to the Final Four in the last seven years. We firmly believe that we are in this position because each athlete over the years has been available to contribute to the game and stay on the court longer. There is a deep commitment to every member of our team to make this possible and with the utilization of Coach Kenn’s Tier System, it aids in the process of creating a competitive edge over the competition. Please consult Coach Kenn’s website (www.bighousepower.com) for further information. I am happy to respond to any questions you might have. Please forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Squat Bible
Big House Power
The Squat Bible, written by lead author Dr. Aaron Horschig is a must read for any coach, athlete, or fitness professional utilizing a squat variation in their programming. Regardless of years under a bar or coaching experience, the information in this book will give you both the reassurances that you are on the correct path and simple “nuggets” to help improve the technical efficiency of this popular movement.
As some of you may know, I have been utilizing the 3 C’s concept to evaluate one’s exercise technique. These are Corrosive, Competent, and Competitive. Dr. Horschig speaks about movement competency early in his book and how we have allowed athletes to sacrifice efficient movement in order to perform. Let’s remember inefficient or corrosive technique increases risk of injury and decreases potential transfer to athletic traits.
The book is simply written, very will organized, and a simple read. These are critical keys to me in my ability to comprehend the information presented and apply the information to my athletes. I really liked how each basic squat movement was broken down technically (Back, Front, Overhead), in particular, the slight differences between a bodyweight squat compared to a loaded squat.
The key to this book in my opinion is the individual chapters of squatting based on a joint by joint approach. I was impressed by Dr. Horschig’s detailed analysis of each joint from foot to shoulder, its importance to an efficient squat and the corresponding correctives movements to help areas of inadequacies. This is something I must commit to doing a better job of being educated on.
It’s funny that the number one point that has resonated with me as a coach and lifter from the book was very early on when Dr. Horschig wrote about the “Tripod Foot”. Most of us have discussed the importance of the foot being grounded into the floor while squatting, but the three points of contact emphasis was a genius point to me. Maybe this is a term I just missed out on and I am behind the times, but I don’t care, I love that one.
To wrap it up this book is well worth the investment. I promise you will learn something too help improve this giant of strength exercises.
Rating = 2 Thumbs Up 👍 👍 and Double Words Win
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