Provided below is a Forum Members’ account of his time spent learning under Charlie Francis. This forum member passed on this document for me to post anonymously - as he felt that his sincere sentiments would be best conveyed in this manner. I think all of us who have spent time working with Charlie would wholeheartedly agree with this message.
In the world of sport almost every decisive moment is decided by speed, and in the search for speed and speed-training experts, one name will always continue to crop up and conversations will eventually lead to one person – Charlie Francis.
After searching more websites, reading more books, documents and research articles than I care to remember I decided eventually to arrange a visit to this weird wizard of speed, Charlie Francis.
Now, I had read Charlie’s work, I was proud owner of hard copies of his rare books and I had also read the works of many of the worlds other top coaches and been to many of their seminars. I felt I had an excellent grasp on both Charlie’s work and that of other coaches. However, none of this prepared me for my time with Charlie. As I told him leaving – I came to him with a list of 100 ideas for comment and advice on, but left with 10 key concepts to apply and use in my own work.
I learned about everything, from regeneration, to rehabilitation, strength training to periodisation, and in a real practical environment – not a theoretical discussion on paper, but from a mind with decades of real life experience and knowledge to draw on and question.
One thing that was very worthwhile from my perspective was getting the exact interpretation of Charlie’s theories. Reading his work in a book or manual is one thing, but understanding the reasons and basis for the theory is invaluable. The chance to debate and question Charlie on his concepts is a wonderful opportunity for those coaches who wish to take his concepts and expand them to their own sport or demands.
Another great benefit of visiting Charlie is that you have to be ‘crystal clear’ in your own mind as to what you believe in before you can debate it or defend it. Being away from work and coaching means you have no distractions and can get a crystal clear image of what you need and what you are really doing. Being face to face with Charlie also gives you the benefit of Charlie raising issues he thinks you need to address, not alone what you think you need to learn.
The opportunity to spend time with Charlie is unique in many ways – not only do you get the chance to pick the mind of a truly great coach for almost 18 hours a day, but you get to enjoy many stories and anecdotes from over 40 years of involvement in athletics and other sports. Some very funny and some very serious stories!
One amazing thing, that is not apparent to most people until they spend time with Charlie is the depth and breadth of influence he has had on modern sports performance and coaching outside of Track and Field. Some are aware of his influence on the Chicago Bulls training, but his involvement with some of the top NFL, NHL and Soccer coaches all across the globe are not as well known - and its only in conversation that he hints at this.
Charlie’s humility is also astonishing as over the whole week never once did I hear a name ‘dropped’ or a boast made. Yet with many other coaches I have spent time with I have found them to be far less comfortable in their own knowledge, resorting to name-dropping and self praise for authority.
If you are lucky enough to spend a week with Charlie and perhaps stay with him - you may be lucky enough to get the benefit of Ange’s cooking which I still miss! A wonderful cook, a great person and excellent coach in her own right – I would highly recommend that any female athlete or mother should contact Charlie and make sure Ange is there for the week they visit. Even as a guy the small things I picked up from Ange on cooking and preparing food were invaluable. Like I said I’ve read all the food books and DVD’s from nutrition Guru’s - but I never realised that such quality food could be cooked AND taste so good at the same time. The advantage of spending time with Ange and Charlie was I got see how to prepare, cook and store in real time and how best to do it
Not only did I learn so much from Charlie and Ange, but I also had so many myths dismissed. There is so much nonsense out there in the world of sports performance most of it ‘sold’ by coaches who have won little or nothing. Charlie can give a great insight into the business of sport and help you isolate the quality from the nonsense.
I can’t recommend highly enough, to anyone with any intention of learning about speed or general sports performance, a week with Charlie in Toronto. Not only will you be made extremely welcome, you will leave with the best weeks personal tuition you could ever get. If anyone wishes to improve themselves in the preparation of athletes an honest learning environment they must do an internship with Charlie Francis.