I recently had the opportunity to attend the High Performance Symposium in Edmonton Alberta put on by Athletics Canada. The speakers included Dan Pfaff, Assistant Coach, University of Florida; Dr. Anatoly Bondarchuk, Assistant Coach, Kamloops Track & Field Club; and Dr. Michael Leahy, founder of ART.
I have also been to CF’s last seminar in BC, and now am going to compare my experience and understanding of both symposiums.
I remember leaving each day after CF’s sesions with more information than I could possibly comprehend, and with more questions and doubt about a number of ideas I had about training.
I had no such concerns after leaving the 3 hour session with Coach Dan Pfaff. The only thing that kept going through my mind is why did I spend $495.00 on this conference? All he kept refering to was the number of athletes he had blown up over the years, and the importance of difusing training ‘bombs’ before they ‘blow up athletes?’ I guess, I’m not fluid in track terminology!
I think my expectation was to have another system (Coach Pfaff’s) to compare things to(CF’s Training System), to see the validity and vulnerability of some of CF’s concepts of trainig. Which at times can seen to err on the side of causion vs push the envelope. I am now crystal clear on the motto do no harm, and protect your athletes at all costs. I could not believe some of the stories and the way in which the seminar unfolded. I was expecting substance and all we heard was fluff.
I wanted to hear Coach Pfaff describe his technical model of running or discuss his multi-lateral approach to developing training protocols for power speed athletes. Special consideration was to be paid to the integration of various forms of strength work including starting strength, special strength, absolute strength, movements involving three degrees of freedom and the use of power indices. All I kept hearing about was bombs and terminology, no details.
So, I thought when we continued with the second part of the symposium with Dr. Michael Leahy it would get better, more detail to the overview we just recieved. And I was wrong. Much of the detail from gait analysys to breakdown were only discussed with ART practitioners in the second afternoon sessions which were closed to coaches. They did open one session to the coaches on the last day but did not tell us until the day before so many of us coaches could not make arangements in time.
When comparing the two coaches it is easy to see and appretiate how intuitive, confident, and knowlegeble CF is in his ablity to communicate his ideas. Coach Pfaff made me feel uneasy in considering any of his ideas because of his apparent lack of certainty (confidence is probably a better word) with his training methods. Athletes trust us with the limited time they have and their health and well being, and I feel confident and secure using CF’s Training System with my athlete.
I don’t know how many people have ever watched House MD, but I swear if CF was a doctor? The way he forces people to think and challenges us to lean for our selves, to make tough decissions and have confidence in making them, and most importantly to be accoutable and live with the consequences.
Maybe if I had gone to Coach Pfaff’s session first, before attending CF’s, I would have thought it amazing and thought provoking, but I did not. I did howerver, have that feeling you have right before you write a big exam, you now the one were you can not lie to your self any longer and you open the first page and you realize whether you know the material or not? I felt I knew most of the answers, and it made me feel more confident about my coaching and the CF Training System.
The highlight of the hole week for me, was Dr. Anatoly Bondarchuk, Assistant Coach, Kamloops Track & Field Club. His three-hour session coverd the development of “Sporting Form.” This term refers to the top psychological and physical condition of the thrower in preparation for top performance. It included Mr. Bondarchuk’s system of classifying different exercises, and different athletes in the development of sport form as well as his unique periodization concepts.
He was a vibrant speaker, friendly, and fatherly(if that is such a word). He was a meat and potatoes guy (worked right into the details of his system) he was genuinely interested in the audience understanding his ideas, stopping to answer all questions. The only problem was the 3 hour length of the symposium which was not long enough. It was unfortunate that Dr. Anatoly Bondarchuk was not the center of the conference, I would have felt I received value for my money and time.
It is interesting how, in the evaluation of athletes, Dr. Bondarchuk catagorizes athletes in to three catagories as to how they respond to the effects of training. Two are very simular and can use most of the training models, and one group reacts much slower and certain modles do not work for them.
I thought this very simular to CF’s Short to Long / Long to Short identification of athletes. Very simple, effective and crutial to the development of athletes with different CNS abilities (types). intelligent, intuative people have the ability to break the complex down, see a path, and simplify.
Coach Dan Pfaff and Dr. Michael Leahy were friendly and answered questions, but I did not feel they shared much. I also felt that coach Pfaff abdicated too much of the development of the athlete to the supporting staff (ART, etc.). He kept talking about how the athlete needed to fit into a certain model(with little room for individual idiosycases or styles / he felt these flaws would usually lead to injury)Nothing to do with training methods?
Also what if your technical model is incorrect, and the things you are correcting, such as the natural counter rotation of the hips and shoulders, or positive hip displacement, limit performance improvement? You may become relient on other elements for performance improvement.
What happened to, ‘if it is not broke don’t fix it’? It came across, that with intervension(ART) here and there, is were athletes would find their performance improvements, not in the training it self? It also concerned me that the coach and athlete may become dependent on these protocals to produce PB’s.
I did not see a clear picture of cause and effect, just jump right in and fix away all your limiting factors?
Over all I would have to say I was not impressed with the event, however, I do think Dr. Anatoly Bondarchuk would be an excellent speaker and guest (given enough time explain his system), as would Dr. Michael Leahy discussing ways to identify problems.
This experience has has made me more apprecialtive to CF for his time (to organize his system), and his willingness to share it. I can’t wait until the next CF conference, I have a lot of questions!