Sunday, 18 March 2018

Super Stable Genius Week 11: March 12-18 2018


“Think about your preparation, not theirs; your execution, not theirs; your effort and desire, not theirs. Don't worry about them. Let them worry about you.” - Kyle Snyder, 2016 Olympic Champion, wrestling 


Perception-Action with Rob Gray

I’m not even going to give an overview of this one, because you need to go listen to it.  

Just know this - if you are not putting as much energy into understating the acquisition of skill as you are into your programming, then how do you expect what you program to manifest into improved performance? 

Understanding the power of variability is something that has fascinated me over the last 8 years or so.  This pod is a great introduction for the curious, a solid primer for those already familiar, and a great reminder for those already deep into it. 

“Creativity can never emerge if movement variability is suppressed … it emerges through exploration of many solutions - not the repetition of one ‘ideal solution’” - Rob Gray


“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” - Sun Tzu, The Art of War

I don’t see enough sprinters treating a competition as a competition - i.e. a competitive battle against other athletes.  Understanding the weaknesses, the strengths, the race models, the biases, and the tendencies of your competitors will better prepare you for the competition.  This is obvious.  

Without this understanding, you are unaware not only of the opportunities that may present themselves, but also the opportunities that you may present to your competitors.  

Coaches - understand that you play a significant role win this also.  You are the General.  Sending an athlete out to a competition without the necessary information is akin to sending your soldiers into battle with no plan.  Every competition is an opportunity to get better, or get worse.  With no strategy, and no objective, you are tipping the scales toward the latter.  

I’m just finishing up Ryan Holiday’s new book, Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue.  The following passage seemed relevant to the above, describing the instructions Gawker (involved in a lawsuit with Hulk Hogan - which is the narrative of the book) editor A. J. Daulerio received from Gawker lawyers prior to giving testimony in this 100m lawsuit:

“A.J. (Gawker editor) describes the instructions he got going in, which did not begin until he arrived in Florida for the trial. He had shown up where and when asked, then he was given a stack of his own articles and told to prepare to be raked for them. “Get off the stand as quickly as possible” is what he claims he was told. One can imagine a buck private in the trenches of World War I looking back to his commanding officer for words of wisdom just before making his charge across the no-man’s-land and being told, “Don’t get killed.” A.J.’ s lawyers might as well have said, “You’re on your own, buddy. May God be with you.”

Don’t be the coach that sends an athlete into battle without specific preparation. 

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. —Sun Tzu

The best coaches, the best teachers, the best communicators - ALL have the ability to distill complex information into relatively simple language.  

There was some smack-talking about Performance Therapy on-line this week.  Here was my response:

Understand this further about Performance Therapy:

The objective is simply to get athletes moving more efficiently.  The means in which we do this differ across therapists, coaches, sports, specific scenarios, and objectives.  

One way is the ‘F1 model’ - where there is a high responsibility on the support team (‘passive’)

Another is the ‘autonomous’ model (active), where the responsibility is solely on the athlete (so well communicated and applied by Mobility WOD).  

Most high-performance populations will exist somewhere on the continuum between the two.  
And the best understand how to most-appropriately organize the oscillation across the continuum

Understand this:

Generally, the athlete who is moving fastest at 50m will beat the athlete who gets to 50m first.  Too many coaches and athletes chasing front-end speed, when it is back-end speed that is the primary determinant of sprint success.  They don’t stop any races at 30m to give our medals.  Athletes have a finite amount of ‘energy’ available to them for the task that is presented.  Determine what is the most efficient and effective manner ion which to ‘use’ this energy for each individual athlete.  Just because Coleman jumps out, and spins like crazy, doesn’t mean that you can - or that the athlete you are coaching can.  To paraphrase Coach Vince Anderson - “you need to earn the right to soon.  Learn to push first.”  

‘Don’t rob Peter to pay Paul.’

Tolstoy had a motto for Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov in War and Peace“Patience and Time.” 

“There is nothing stronger than those two,” he said, “ . . . they will do it all.”


“People who arbitrage time will almost always outperform. The first order thought of instant gratification is a crowded path, ensuring mediocre results at best. Delayed gratification, which requires second order thinking, is less crowded and more likely to get results.” - Shane Parrish 


I will try to support good work when I see it. 
We all should.
That’s the whole point of this series, in fact.
I share what I feel is interesting from books, articles, tweets, and podcasts
And I will share my thoughts on whatever has been rumbling around inside my brainpan during the past week.

What I generally will try not do - on this platform, or otherwise - is make judgements and speak out publicly about things I don’t have sufficient understanding of. 

I respect that words matter - and in this little corner of the world, my words matter.  

So when I see the above tweet from Vern - a respected industry leader, if disappoints me.

From two perspectives:

  1. Its clearly inflammatory.  Vern has a beef with Performance Therapy, or me, or Dan, or ALTIS
  2. Its wrong.  Vern lacks the perspective from which to speak intelligently here.

Performance Therapy is not:
Created to make the athlete ‘dependent’ on the treatment.  Often, therapists and coaches can use such an opportunity to ‘validate’ their reasons for being at the track; not comfortable with the sometime necessity of passivity, they allow their egos to inform their process. Instead, performance therapy is used to hold the athlete more accountable.  With daily intervention, the coach-therapist has constant information about the athlete’s tissue, and can better recommend ‘homework’ (such as stretching, foam and ball rolling, hydro-therapy, etc.) so the athlete can begin to take more responsibility in their preparedness.  The goal of performance therapy is to reduce the amount of time needed on the treatment table - not to increase it.
 A replacement for other - more traditional - forms of therapy.   It is not simply moving the treatment room to the ‘track-side’. 

Like I said, I wrote this over five years ago, and while my thoughts have matured somewhat since, the above remains true.  

But there is a corner of the internet that somehow thinks differently. 

Somehow - even though they have never seen it implemented within our system, they know exactly what it is, and that it is dangerous.  And that it makes an athlete ‘dependent’.  

Vern has never been to ALTIS.  
He never came to London when we were there.
That covers the last 8 years.

As far as I know, prior to that, he never spent any time with Dr Gerry Ramogida at his practice, nor Dan Pfaff at his (or if he did, it is long ago), and definitely not at mine.  So not sure how exactly he knows that our use of performance therapy leads to athletes becoming dependent upon therapy.

We develop biases - I understand that. 
Your bias may be anti-performance therapy.
Cool - you are entitled to this bias.  

But as previously discussed in this series, ask yourself:
  • Do you have the required information to offer a reasoned opinion?
  • Do you have the required information to offer it publicly?

And then, if you you still feel this way:
  • Will what you offer add to the public conversation?  i.e. will it be useful?
  • Is it offered in a respectful manner?

I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago, so I’m not going to rehash over old material (even though I just have), but I’ll just close this with one more thought:

If your words do not improve upon silence, then just keep them to yourself. Otherwise, it is about you.

And you can have a beef with the nomenclature.  
We use it as it speaks to the objective of the ‘therapy’.

From the previously-mentioned post:

How I outline it, sport therapy can take one of three forms: 
  • performance-based
  • regeneration-based 
  • rehab-based
All are necessary components in the health-optimization of the athlete.   Ignoring any of these is fool-hardy for the high-performance coach-athlete, but I feel that ignoring the performance-form is the worst mistake, as a lack of performance therapy leads to an increase in the importance in the other forms (i.e. better performance therapy leads to more efficient movement, better optimization of training session, less systemic load, less movement dysfunction, etc. - all having a positive knock-on effect for regeneration and rehab).

So - to sum: therapy can have a performance objective, a rehabilitation objective, and a regeneration objective.  

That’s it.

By performing therapy at the sporting venue (side of a tack, or otherwise), and periodically intervening in the practice, we are trying to positively affect the performance.  Not sure there is any controversy in that.  

But still - I’m sure some will find some. 

“...some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.” Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) 

When well-meaning people can't see it the same way - Seth Godin

"Yes, there are a few people who are mendacious, who are not seeking what you're seeking. And yet, most of the time, there are plenty of good people who disagree with you--they want a good outcome, but the narrative they bring insists on getting there in a very different way. They have different glasses on and are using a different map as well."

More on Performance Therapy

Everything is an N=1, because everyone does it differently. 
So I can only speak to my experience 

In the UK, for instance, injuries were reduced from over 30% of National team athletes being injured to less than 10% over three years.  Multiple factors, obviously, but the change in the model is probably one - as many can attest to.  

The being said, there are no guarantees that a Performance Therapy model will be superior to a more traditional model; it assumes a minimum standard of both coach and therapist.  A bad therapist on the side of a track is still a bad therapist.  

It has been my experience that a good coach and a good therapist - integrated within the performance environment - can aid the athlete(s) in improving movement efficiency, optimizing practice, reduce injuries, and ultimately improve performance.  


“Because the people who are the most adamant about manual therapy robbing patients/athletes of their self-efficacy tend to say generally polarizing things as that's what social media rewards.  Persona>reality on social media.” - Doug Kechijian

(Sent from Dan Pfaff)

I really like this description of the benefits of taking a history degree at the University of Cambridge:

This course is designed to develop a number of important skills in undergraduates. Among these are:

  • acquiring a broad range of historical knowledge and understanding, including a sense of development over time, and an appreciation of the culture and attitudes of societies other than our own;
  • evaluating critically the significance and utility of a large body of material, including evidence from contemporary sources and the opinions of more recent historians;
  • engaging directly with questions and presenting independent opinions about them in arguments that are well-written, clearly expressed, coherently organised and effectively supported by relevant evidence;
  • gaining the confidence to undertake self-directed learning, making the most effective use of time and resources, and increasingly defining one's own questions and goals.

These are valuable skills in themselves. They are also highly sought after by employers. Well-qualified History graduates from Cambridge have no difficulty in getting good jobs in a very wide range of occupations - in business and finance, in public administration, in journalism and broadcasting, in teaching at a number of levels, or in research-based careers of various kinds. History is not as obviously vocational as some courses, but it combines an excellent training in vital skills with a high degree of interest and enjoyment.


My fifth huge mistake was that I—as I saw it—tried to speak plainly about the stupidity of what appeared to me to be stupid ideas. I did try to avoid the fallacy known as Bulverism, which is where you open your discussion by talking about how stupid people are for believing something; I would always discuss the issue first, and only afterwards say, “And so this is stupid.” But in 2009 it was an open question in my mind whether it might be important to have some people around who expressed contempt for homeopathy. I thought, and still do think, that there is an unfortunate problem wherein treating ideas courteously is processed by many people on some level as “Nothing bad will happen to me if I say I believe this; I won’t lose status if I say I believe in homeopathy,” and that derisive laughter by comedians can help people wake up from the dream. Today I would write more courteously, I think. The discourtesy did serve a function, and I think there were people who were helped by reading it; but I now take more seriously the risk of building communities where the normal and expected reaction to low-status outsider views is open mockery and contempt. - Elizier Yudkowsky


(Much of my musings over the next few weeks will be inspired by the words from the following)

Strategy - Sir Lawrence Freedman
Certain to Win - Chet Richards
Rationality - Elizier Yudkowsky
Inadequate Equilibria - Elizier Yudkowsky
Enlightenment Now - Steven Pinker
The Infidel and the Professor: David Hume, Adam Smith, and the Friendship That Shaped Modern Thought - Dennis Rasmussen
The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World: From Marathan to Waterloo - Sir Edward Shepherd Creasy

The IOC faces new criticism over its handling of the systematic doping program Russia orchestrated for its top athletes during the last few years. 

The new wave of accusations comes from the filmmakers of "Icarus," the feature documentary movie that won an Oscar in its category on Sunday. 

"Icarus" has played an important role in uncovering the Russian state-sponsored doping program. Its director, Bryan Fogel, had intended to make a film about the impact of self-administered doping on his amateur cycling efforts, but during the research he came across Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia’s anti-doping program. 

"What he has shown to planet earth and any athlete that believes in the Olympic ideal is to not trust it, to not trust those words.” - Bryan Fogel

"Because if you can corroborate, prove and substantiate a fraud on this level that spans for decades, and then essentially give the country that committed that fraud a slap on the wrist, allow[ing] 160 of their athletes to compete at the Games – two of which were found doping.” - Fogel

"What a fraud, what a corrupt organization,” - Fogel

Couldn’t agree more

Vince Anderson - Presentation at the ALTIS Apprentice Coach Program March 14 2018

Understand common language: - teach 100m pattern first; from which you can then deviate (you have to know the rules before you can break the rules)

Purpose of the start - aggressively push yourself into a tall running posture 

Don’t teach in phases - that is how athletes already run it 

100m should be one seamless thing. ‘Holistic’ 
  • Seamless aggression
  • Smooth violence
  • Big ROMs

The idea that there is a ‘drive phase’ is a limiting idea 

Q: did you push as hard as you can?  versus ‘as hard as you needed to’

Faster the run, the longer the push (increase the duration of high intensity)

Acceleration = pushing
Try to accelerate the entire way

Simplify cues - one only!  PUSH to vertical 

Push for 103m!

Develop consistency in:
  1. Max v - run tall
  2. Accel - push entire distance 
  3. Completion runs - combining the above 
  4. Apply to every run - pattern development 

  • Push down through the shin
  • Step down from above / up through post

All things equal - best posture wins

“Running / sprinting is a series of precisely intentional ground strikes”

*Line up the post-line with the strike-line 

*Pushing is self-limiting 

*Almost vertical is not vertical

The stumblers - a failure to post out of the start. 
“That’s 100% on you!”

(When talking about necessity of pushing maxially - jumping out of the blocks - Q: how do you reconcile that - VA thoughts on the 'shuffle start - against the current reality - i.e.   Christian Coleman, Justin Gatlin, and Ralph Mann research, etc.)

“Teach them how to push first, THEN potentially address frequency. If you go after frequency first, they never learn how to push, and they will never progress”

“acceleration is NOT frequency based. You cannot even discuss it until you learn how to push.”


Cart then horse.