For coaches, the inclusion of the Internet has offered unlimited access to training materials of all sorts. Though I typically encourage the use of online blogs, books and video series to gain better knowledge of the sport, I caution coaches to filter the “good” from the “bad.”
In order to become an expert you must first become a student. In my own career, I have tried to achieve this by learning from as many sources as possible. I buy books, watch DVD’s, subscribe to magazines and follow a number of coaches, athletes and therapists on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media networks.
Though learning is fundamental and testing different ways to skin a cat seems enticing, it is important to discover what fits your individual training program. Often, what sounds good in theory or looks promising in print, may not always work for your athletes. Therefore, it is essential to determine if the newly discovered workouts, testing measures, training regimens and techniques help your athletes.
For instance… I would be thrilled if someone wrote an article on workouts that Usain Bolt does for maximum velocity throughout the year. Heck, I’d pay money for that type of record. However, I do not know if the information would be useful for my athletes or if it would be smart to attempt. Since my athletes may vary from Bolt in areas such as power levels, coordination issues, training age and other technical factors, applying his workouts will not only be foreign but may also prove ineffective.
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One of the simplest yet complex mistakes we can make as coaches, is thinking that if it works for a world record holder, it will also work for a young athlete. Instead, focus on your own philosophy and on what your athletes can handle. Over a period of time your athletes might show progress in significant areas of training and may be able to manage a world class workout. However, new training practices need to be implemented and tailored for each training group and athlete.
So how do I sift through all of the information?
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the many training plans floating around the web, especially those listed in personal blogs. While some coaches are more speed/ power oriented, others may focus on volume. Though the differences may seem obvious, try to locate the similarities among the workouts. If you can’t find a similarity, the workout was probably specific to one person.
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Beginning with common themes when exploring and learning about diverse training techniques is most effective. After you develop your own training concepts, you can start to compare training programs and focus on the individual needs of your athletes. If you are going to use a workout from a world class athlete, it is your job to figure out the purpose of the workout and prescribe it responsibly.
“Extreme and novel training concepts sell books and DVD’s. Doing ordinary things extraordinarily well wins championships.” -Dr. Peter Weyand
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Twitter: @MarcMangiacotti Instagram: mmangiacotti
Marc Mangiacotti is an assistant track coach at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA.