Learning from the Pros

Yesterday I sat in the office of Philadelphia Flyer’s strength and conditioning coach for over two hours and talked about their program.  Talk about an eye opening experience.

I know many strength coaches and personal trainers that will swear on their lives that squats should ALWAYS be performed to a full depth (below parallel).

Do they know that patellofemoral (think knee cap on knee joint) joint reaction forces exceed 7x the person’s body weight when you pass a 90° knee angle?

Maybe that’s not something you want to do with someone that’s experiencing or predisposed to knee injuries.

The Flyer’s won’t run or squat their guys that have a femoral neck angle of inclination over 145° because it increases the compressive forces on the anterosuperior hip joint/labrum.

I realize that it’s not always practical to make these types of decisions.  I don’t know anyone outside of the professional strength and conditioning realm that will be able to monitor their athletes femoral neck angle of inclination.  The thing that is most important to remember is that no form of training is ideal for everyone.  Some people aren’t built to squat.  Some people that are okay to squat, might not be okay to squat because of a current injury.  It’s frustrating to see strength coaches and trainers make sweeping umbrella statements about certain exercises or ways to train athletes.  It’s even more frustrating when these people judge other coach’s programs without talking to the coach about them directly.

One of the things I thought was most interesting was the weight room they worked out of.  It was filled with machines.  Anyone walking in would be lead to the conclusion that most of their training is machine based.  There were no Olympic lifting platforms.  No Olympic lifting?  Not really.  In fact, the Flyer’s use almost all the Olympic lifts and their dumbbell and barbell variations.  They RARELY use the machines at all, except for rehabilitation purposes.

The take home: More than likely you don’t know as much as you think you do.  Continue to educate yourself.  Speak with other strength coaches about what they do and WHY they do it.  The best strength coaches I’ve been fortunate to meet are always looking for better ways to train their athletes and are learning constantly.  These aren’t 25 year old newbies.  Jim McCrossin has been in professional hockey for over 20 years.  Mike Boyle has been in the industry for 25 years.  Jeff Oliver and Brijesh Patel at Holy Cross and Chris Boyko at UMass have all been doing this for 10+ years, yet they all continue to seek out more knowledge and better ways to train.

It’s likely that whatever training program you’ve followed to get yourself or your athletes to here, won’t get them anywhere else.  Quite simply, if you do what you always did, you’ll get where you always got.

Continue to be a student of the industry.  Continue to get great results.

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