Elite sports training...
The long and winding road to elite performances - a maverick approach Food for thought Henk Kraaijenhof
Set up • Introduction (short video training-1996) • Content • Questions
Main road to performance
Cooman faced a different pressure as defending champion the following year and on the face of it her preparations had not been ideal for Madrid. Her old rival Göhr had defeated her two weeks before during the championships in Lievin and she had also finished an unthinkable second in the Dutch Championships. However, Cooman was playing a canny game and was unperturbed by the defeats. "I had trained very well in Los Angeles that winter and even my coach said ‘you are in form let it go' of my defeats in minor competitions," explained Cooman. "I was confident and always liked to save myself for the big events." But her maverick coach Henk Kraaijenhof thought of a novel approach to her preparation before the competition by making her frustratingly sit out her warm up to watch the opposition. "I hated my coach at that point but what he was doing was making me greedy to run," she said of the unusual pre-race routine. The plan worked to perfection and Cooman defended her title in style in a stunning new world record of 7.00 from Göhr (7.08).
Did you do sports yourself ? (you don’t look like you did ….) 100 meter 10.5 400 meter 47.4 3 times national champion 400 m indoors
Introduction • sprint coach 1976-2004: Nelli Cooman, Merlene Ottey, Sandra FarmerPatrick, Mary Onyali, Letitia Vriesde, Troy Douglas, Patrick Stevens, Mohammed Al Malki, PierFranceco Pavoni, …… • accredited coach at 5 Olympic Games (1988-2004) Other sports: • Soccer: Juventus-Turin and Edgar Davids • Cycling: Cervelo Test Team –Thor Huskovd - TdF 2010 • Sailing: Oman Sail • National Olympic teams: volleyball, handball, field hockey • Speed skating: Erben Wennemars • Golf: Padraig Harrington • Skiing: Herman “the Herminator” Maier • Tennis: Mary Pierce • Ice hockey: Vancouver Canucks • Rugby: Ireland, Wales, UK • Special Forces: BBE KM
How did I get to this subject? Our quest as coaches to decrease our classical uncertainties: - is my athlete “the right stuff”? - selection, how do I know, what to look for - what are the building blocks of performance? - my concept of training - what can we improve and what can’t we - effort and time - what is the price of improvement in time and risk? - how to mix and combine the building blocks over time? - how to arrange the building blocks over time? – planning, periodization and peaking - what is useful in combination with training? nutrition, recovery, tools, preparation in general etc. - how to apply general scientific findings to my individual athlete? - what is my role as a coach? Important: ability to shift from focus to big picture and back (from tree to forest)
Inspiration and information
Good read: Viru, A: Early contribution of Russian stress and exercise physiologists; J.Applied Physiol, 92, 2002, pg.1378-1382.
My giants • • • • • •
Carmelo Bosco † Atko Viru † Per Tesch Jozsef Tihanyi Mehis Viru Marco Pozzo
The difference between gold and silver, between being a world champion or not, between succes and failure: 0.003 secs or 0.05%!
all these girls were talented all these girls had smart coaches (e.g. Charlie Francis) and trained hard so what causes this small difference ???
Van Coppenolle, H; Delecluse, C; Goris, M; Diels, R; Seagrave, L; Kraaijenhof, H: An evaluation of the starting action of world class female sprinters; Track Technique, Vol.12, Summer 1990, pg. 3581- 3582.
• starting and running technique is very individual, no averages here! • there are no “new” running techniques, just a different view on the same subjects
muscle fibre composition
also Merlene Ottey (coaching her from 1989-1997)
80% fast twitch fibers?
• although muscle fiber composition is the best singular overall predictor of physical qualities and conditioning, it does not explain the differences in performance in athletes with the same composition … • If we agree that muscle fiber composition can be modified by training than the question is: how to do this?
Next step…. the brain but how to measure the brain in real life ….. EEG
• • • •
PubMed-articles / Amazon-books: exercise training AND muscle: 15307 hits/19890 exercise training AND heart: 10683 hits/13607 exercise training AND bone: 2429 hits/3152 exercise training AND brain: 1432 hits/7008
• Exercise means movement and the main tissue involved is muscle tissue • Human body consists of ≈ 40% muscle tissue Some changes in skeletal muscle/heart muscle by training: - morphology and mass (hypertrophy/athlete’s heart) - primary function FT vs ST - biochemistry (biopsies)
Skeletal muscular changes
Monozygotic twins after endurance training and after strength training
the brain is the predominant performance organ • sensori-motor cortex: where all the conscious movements start • cerebellum coordinates coordination • source of hormonal system: hypothalamus – pituitary • start of the autonomic nervous system • and where can we find our biological clocks, fatigue, motivation, willpower, sensory-motor integration, anticipation, reaction time, decisionmaking, resilience, etc.
But what about the brain? • we can’t see it from the outside • we can’t take biopsies • hard to measure: EEG, PET or MRI (expensive, not practical or methodological problems) • hard to change (hypertrophy?) • and how about “brain plasticity”?
studying the relationship between brain activity and performance
• the brain is (of course) the predominant performance organ • the rapid evolution of neurosciences is going to help us to understand the brain and thus human functioning and performance
Parallel developments • development of MRI • interest in psycho-physiology and biofeedback (MilanLab/Mindroom Vancouver Canucks) • slow cortical potential (Omegawave) • reaction time tests
If coaching is a science, where are you? Can coaches be replaced by artificial intelligence? Thought experiment: 1. establish a control and experimental group of your athletes 2. make a copy of your training program and give it to your novice assistant 3. make sure the workload is exactly the same Question: will the result (training effect) be the same for both groups?
• if YES: quit your job and let your assistant take over • if NO: we established a new issue: THE PLACEBO EFFECT OF TRAINING (which is the additional effect of YOU compared to your assistant)
84 subjects, women, 15-55 years, control and experimental group
Control group: Experimental group:
pre-test - no comment - post-test pre-test - “work is training!”- post-test
The total workload stayed the same in both groups!
So what is the relevance for us? • Part of the training effect is due to the BELIEF of the athlete in his/her coach, making the training more meaningful. • The placebo effect might even contribute a small percentage to the overall training effect in elite sports but it might make a huge difference! • The difference between “I do not believe in my coach” or “my coach is unbelievable”
Who cracks? (under pressure)
• stress is the “great equalizer” at the top • we can distinguish athletes: -“benders”- they perform as we might expect (the majority) -“breakers” - they crack under pressure -“blossomers” - they rise to the occasion • we can modify this, but it’s not easy, mainly a matter of perception • learning from other fields: SF operators
My lessons learned • Keep the big picture in mind and know where you’re going • Each athlete is unique and needs a custom-made approach to be successful • Train as much as necessary, not as much as possible • Staying healthy physically and mentally is half of the job • Training to win is different from training to compete or training to train • Never be the limiting factor for your athletes, if they want to be world class, you have to be that too
Thanks for your attention Any questions so far??? Blog: www.helpingthebesttogetbetter.com