Iâll be honest with you, theÂ previous blogÂ post with Scott Umberger fromÂ Umberger PerformanceÂ was just a teaser. If you really want to know what Scott thinks about youth injuries and the world of strength & conditioning â and believe me, you do- then keep reading. Heâll also tell us why Michael Jordan was such a legend and why heâs Â so pumped to get his very own PUSH device. Oh, and one other thing, heâs not shy; if you donât know how to run or jump, heâll tell youâ¦
What direction do you see the field of strength & conditioning heading? Do you think we still have a lot to learn?
The problem is that the field is so youngâ Â having officially started in the early 80âs. Â The colleges and universities arenât teaching what needs to be taught because our taxpayers donât think thereâs a problem. Â The government wonât invest in research for a problem that doesnât exist. Â There are some serious stats coming out in the amount and percent of injuries in youth sports. Â Orthopedic surgeons are speaking out about the amount of kids that they are operating on and are outraged by it. Â I think that this will start the conversation. Â The problem is that the sport coaches and the majority of âperformance coachesâ donât know how to run, jump, and throw. Â At no point, in an exercise science/kinesiology degree, is a student taught how to run, jump, throw, and change direction. Â This obviously effects the knowledge of S&C coaches but what about Physical Therapists (PT) and Athletic Trainers(AT)? Â Iâm not saying that a PT needs to be an athlete but they should know how to perform a body weight lunge properly. Â Iâve trained a few in my adult boot camps that donât know how.
Thatâs very interesting. How do we fix this issue?Â
Maybe they should get into masters programs? Â Maybe a S&C coaching degree should be like a PT and AT program where they are in it for 6-7 years. Why not learn the physiology of human performance? Â Â Maybe we would at least get some respect from the AT and PT community.
Take a look at a random high school or elite college team sport practice. Â The athletes donât run correctly. Â Â How or why would they? Â The sport coaches that theyâve had their entire lives may know their sport from playing (maybe through college), Â but they know nothing about physical fitness or human performance. Â The gym teachers donât know anything because the universities arenât teaching it. Â The statistic is that something like 80% of recreational runners get hurt training for 5kâs and other races. Â There are many reasons for the injuries. Â How many are due to not knowing how to run? Â Excessive running volume and heel pounding donât lead to a healthy lower bodies, especially in those that are overweight. Â Â Every athlete should know what an âA skipâ is and how to perform it.
I think that it will get worse before it gets better, Â but I have hope that since itâs about the kids, that weâll pull our heads out of the sand and start doing things the right way. Â It has to start with less games which is attacking our âinstant gratificationâ society. Â Iâm hoping the intelligent parents will rebel against the system and find coaches and organizations who value long term development. Â Itâs going to be a fight between youth injuries and the culture being a blend of âlittle Johnnyâ being an All-American and fitting in as he grows ups.
Do you think there is a gap between researchers/sport scientists and coaches that actually work with athletes? If so, what can we do to bridge this gap?
Obviously there is in regards to the general research available. Â I do think that we are moving in the right direction. Â As the saying goes, âresearch confirms what most of us have been doing for yearsâ. Â Nutrition is the biggest gap that exists. How the hell are researchers going to find a group of people who are going to eat a certain way for 7 days let alone 90 days+ to see actual changes both physically and in their blood data? Â I really like the concept of blood testing to customize diets to each individual.
Is there anything that frustrates you as an S&C coach?
That title! Hahaha! Â I prefer physical preparation coach. Â Part of the industry sits in a weight room and waits for the athletes to walk in. Â âWork âem hard coachâ. We are looked at as weight coaches. Â In football and wrestling we are the âbeat the athletes assesâ coach after practice and in the off-season. Â Sure some guys do dynamic warm ups and screen their athletes but how many legitimately focus on real speed work where they are doing power speed drills and legit sprint work not lactic conditioning. Â The testing and evaluation that the athletes endure is a joke. Â 300 yd shuttle tests? Â I used to have athletes do them because I didnât know any better. I sought and found practical solutions. Â Â Why not test them on criteria that are relevant to their sport and position? Â We simply donât know in the US because we arenât taught it at the University level, nor are we taught this in the CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) course, which is the industry benchmark. Â 300+ NFL lineman running 300 yard shuttles evaluates what? Â How about the 100 yard âsprintsâ that many college American Football Teams are using that last 15-20 seconds? What is the purpose?
With the exception of the sports of Olympic Weightlifting, weights are only a piece of the puzzle. Â People want to argue about what type of squat is best for XYZ athlete? Â Ha! Â How about teaching the kid how to sprint or move correctly and efficiently? Doesnât their sport require that?
I have a personal unicorn. Â What is it? Â Not knowing with utmost certainty if what Iâm doing is really working. Â Â With the very small exception of individual sports like track, are we really improving athletes? Â How and why? Â There are at least 15 âsports performanceâ facilities in Pittsburgh that think that they are creating miracles. Â Adding 20 lbs to a skinny ass high school kid is going to help him out a ton, no kidding.
Slow eccentric bodybuilding only helps so long. Â The problem is that the trainers that are doing this kind of training with elite athletes are getting away with it because the athletes that they are training are freaks. Â Itâs cyclical maintenance and post-season recovery mass so they are getting away with it. David Boston of the NFL may be the best example of that. He looked like a Greek god after gaining a bunch of lean mass and was a few tenths faster in the 40, but he was out of the league after a Pro Bowl season. Â Maybe some of the cause of that was off the field issues, but it doesnât appear that getting âjackedâ helped his career. Â Train like Tarzan and play like Jane?
I love the honesty Scott! Ok, letâs have a bit of fun to finish off. In your opinion, who are the top 5 athletes in the world today?
Wow! Thatâs a HEAVY question! Â To be honest, I donât watch enough sports to give you an educated answer. Â Iâm not dancing hereâ¦ I train three NHL guys so Iâm watching hockey most of the year. (My wife hates me.) I work 80 hours a week so I donât get much TV time. Â Iâm at the point in my life where I donât know what I donât know and thereâs a lot of it. Â So Iâm âfear learningâ trying to get caught up.
That being said, Iâd have to without a doubt say that the decathletes are the best overall athlete in the world. Â They prove that with performance numbers each track meet. Â Michael Jordan is my personal favorite of all time. Â He had it all physically (especially impressive being 6â6ââ) as well as the drive and intellect to be the best. Â Â I havenât personally worked with Lebron and Kobe. Â Nor have I worked with St. Pierre and Anderson Silva. Â Their greatness regularly has me in awe. Â Not to mention the huge freaks in the NFL, NBA, and Rugby. Itâs hard to argue their âathletic abilityâ against one another. Â Is speed the greatest determinant of athletic ability? Â Bolt would be the #1 athlete thatâs ever lived based on that. Â I donât agree with it, but I donât strongly disagree because itâs hard to say. Â Iâm just not really sure. Â Joe Montana, whom I donât think that was best ever, wasnât a freak as much as a master practitioner at what he does.
Thanks again for your time Scott. Any last words?
Iâm looking forward to using PUSH to help justify or confirm if my methods are working. Â I just read two articles, one by Bryan Mann throughÂ EliteFTSÂ and another byÂ Carl Valle. These world-class coaches are talking about performing cleans âwrongâ which resulted in great testing numbers but zero carry over to performance. Â Why? #1 Athletes were going too heavy which prevented them from properly driving through their legs and #2, they were making the lift a âtotal body liftâ. Â Iâm referring to the rocking movement used to gain momentum to âget the weight upâ instead of focusing on crushing weights between 40-70%. Â Â Itâs strength speed verse speed strength. Â Real OLâs donât convulse before an attempt. Why should the rest of the athletes?
Iâm looking forward to utilizing the PUSH device to help me coach the athletes in the appropriate velocity ranges given the desired goal. Â I simply canât afford 5 Tendo Units or 5 Gymawares. Â PUSH should also help me handle the complaints from my driven/hard working guys who want to smash heavy weight. Â Most of them are very intelligent kids and seeing the velocity of their bar movement will very easily make my case.
Thanks for taking the time to pick my brain and see what Iâm doing here in Pittsburgh. Â Given your background Matt, Iâm really interested in learning how I can validate my training via PUSH and your personal knowledge.
Here’s a link to the interview..