Lessons From a Coach III

Coach Kenn

Yesterday I took two of my coaches to a clinic held by the one and only Coach Joe Kenn, Head Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Carolina Panthers. As usual it was such great time of learning, networking, and hanging out with other people that love this industry. He had an all-star cast of coaches attending this year including two of my friends Training for Warriors, Martin Rooney and TFW Winston-Salem Owner, Chris “Ox” Mason.

Coach Kenn and his staff dropped knowledge bombs all day long, but there was a lot to be learned during the sideline talks. Conversations with Martin Rooney are always super valuable if you listen. The guy is a fitness warrior. He has been at the forefront of the industry for several years. Martin was the main man at Parisi Sports for the longest time. Martin has coached for first round draft picks than any other coach in America. I always pick his brain about speed training, and he never disappoints.

Martin explained that races are won in the first yard. It’s all about the angle! Most humans are comfortable accelerating with a greater angle (referring to the angle of the body with the ground). The greater angle is comfortable and safe, but the smaller angle equals a faster time. It’s literally a two tenth difference. Two tenths is the difference in making a team and not. The way that this angle is able to be achieved is a two-step process, and each step has its own process.

The first step is to achieve the strength to produce the required force. An athlete needs absolute strength and relative strength. An easy indicator will be back squats. Once an athlete can squat 2.5 times their body weight, then they have the required absolute strength. The other indicator will be pull-ups for relative strength. If an athlete can perform 10-15 strict pull-ups, then their relative strength is fine. This strength needs to be gained early on in their careers. Some other areas to strengthen are hamstrings, glutes, traps, and core.

The second step is technique. The biggest issue is overcoming the angle fear. It takes practice, encouragement, and verbal ques. There are a ton of drills to figure this out like explosions on to a mat, sprints from a lying position, and sprints from a pushup position. You also have to work on top end speed with flying starts, build ups, and treadmill work. Technique with strength is the key!!!

Coach Kenn’s crew dropped major knowledge in their first session. They called it “Root and Reset”. For the laymen to the Tier System, that means core and recovery. They have a cool way of building this into the workout. Let’s be honest most of us neglect these two important elements of training with our athletes and ourselves. These sessions are also used to restore proper movement patterns that are disturbed from repetitive activities that will all engage in. Finding key ways to integrate this work into your programs is imperative to producing top notch results. Remember true players are masters of the mundane!

The next session discussed the innovative way that they organize their speed. The three focuses are Plyometrics, Lateral Speed, and Linear Speed. Each day one of the three has a technique focus, explosiveness focus, and top speed focus. The order rotates each day, so that all three are worked on every training day. I love this concept, and it will be implemented with my Mash Elite Athletic Performance athletes.

Coach Kenn lectured last, and as usual brought the heat. He made a point that stuck in my mind, and I want you all to think about this. Are you training your athletes to be the best that they can be, or are you training them to make “you” look good? I pray that this is never me. Prepare your athletes to do every exercise safely and correctly. Don’t load your athletes in the back squat if they can’t do a body weight squat. Don’t have your athletes snatch if they can’t overhead press and overhead squat. You get the picture!

Also don’t worry about record boards and inner squad competitions if form and safety isn’t the first concern. He talked about athletes coming to him with claims of a 600lb squat. When asked to perform the feat of strength, the movement was nothing resembling a deep knee bend/back squat. Don’t sacrifice integrity to make your record board look cool! Thanks Coach Kenn for inspiring me as usual!

I am in Rhode Island this weekend for another Learn 2 Lift Seminar. To get more information about a seminar near you, go to www.MashElite.com/seminars/. For information on hosting one, message me on www.MashElite.com.

For information on joining the Mash Mafia Weightlifting Team, go to http://www.mashelite.com/join-the-online-team/.

To check out our new Mash Mafia Wrist Wraps, go to http://www.mashelite.com/apparel/!


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