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John M. Cissik by John Cissik - 6d ago
Consider the Source   The sports coaching field is filled with information, especially with the internet, social media, and pdf’s. It can be overwhelming and impossible to keep up with. When I write these blogs, I try to write them for coaches in a team sports situation. This limits who these posts apply to. I do that because coaches in that situation have some challenges that are completely different from personal trainers, Olympic lifting coaches, and people that coach in a private performance facility.   Some of these challenges include very limited time, the need to work with a huge number of athletes at one time with limited staff, games/travel/practices interfering with training, sports coaches interfering with training, limited funds, and limited equipment. When I write posts about training athletes, I try to take all this into account and provide solutions to some of these challenges.   With the internet and social media, you get what I think of as expert critics. Expert critics like to attack anything that gets posted and like to argue things to death. It starts off with “Show me the research to support your opinion” then descends into argument until you admit publically that they […]
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John M. Cissik by John Cissik - 6d ago
As a teacher and coach I’m obsessed with time, it defines my professional life. This week on Thursday and Friday something unusual happened, we got inches of rain. Like it rained nonstop for about 12 hours between the two days. This meant that the baseball games for the entire weekend were cancelled. I went from having a weekend crammed with coaching baseball to a weekend full of found time.   For normal people this is a chance to be bored, surf on social media all day, or binge watch on Netflix. For me, this is a chance to maximize every moment of my time and spend it with family.   We were all up by 7 on Saturday even though there were no sports. My kids and I grabbed the dog and took her out to Towne Lake in McKinney. This is a lake in a suburban setting that has a path that is about a mile-and-a-quarter around the lake. Pleasant and makes people living in the suburbs feel like they are around nature. It’s also the dog’s favorite place to go.   When we got back everyone cooled off. This gave me time to do something on my to […]
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John M. Cissik by John Cissik - 2w ago
I wanted to take this post and talk about something that’s really important for a coach and a teacher, time and energy vampires. For those of you not familiar with these, time and energy vampires drain your time and energy without giving you anything back. In other words, they take away from your available time and energy without improving your life.   I teach and coach. I spend a lot of time with coaching, writing about coaching, and speaking about coaching – but I actually identify myself as a teacher first. In fact, the teaching part is the first deal killer with potential coaching jobs.   I teach special education. That means I work with students that are struggling to master fundamental skills whether those might be in terms of academics, behavior, or their ability to relate to others. With teaching, I spend time teaching my students. I have to plan how I’m going to teach them. I have to take time to read, listen to others, learn, and honestly evaluate my own teaching so that I can do it more effectively. I also have to evaluate where they are and be able to explain what that means. Finally, as […]
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John M. Cissik by John Cissik - 2w ago
I put out a tweet about speed training a while ago, to the effect that using sprints as punishment or sprinting until one is sick is not a good way to develop speed.  As usual the social media responses were interesting.  Everything from “of course” to arguing.  So this blog is to address some of the issues the arguers had.   First, let me say that there’s an interesting thing about social media.  Everyone assumes that they are going to get an instant response to their questions.  I don’t do that and here’s why: I coach and teach.  That plus preparing to do those things takes all of my time.  I don’t understand how people have the time to coach, teach, and spend all day on social media.   The other side to that is that if I chose to respond to someone, I’m going to think about it and give them an intelligent response – as opposed to a fast 280 character tweet.   So, with that disclaimer out of the way, let’s talk about recovery, speed training, and metabolic conditioning.   First, let’s talk about the track and field coaches perspective on this.  Put simply, for sprints that […]
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I got an interesting email a few days ago about an athlete with Down Syndrome, competing at a pretty high level in sport, that wasn’t responding well to the coach’s approach. This was the kind of sport that does a lot of timed workouts; for example, x distance for y time with z recovery. The challenge was that the athlete is having difficulty with the concept of pace as prescribed by the coach.   This email brings up a few challenges with coaching both athletes and special needs athletes: Teaching cues Motivational approaches Training sessions The need to be flexible   Teaching cues: I’m calling this section teaching cues because one of the things that we do as coaches is to teach aspects of the sport; the skills, the strategies, and the situations. As coaches, we want to spend a lot of time sounding smart and talking through everything. Here’s the issue, most of the special needs athletes that I’ve worked with are visual learners and/or kinesthetic learners. That means that they need to see it and do it to learn it. They cannot learn by standing and listening to somebody pontificate about it.   Now, here’s an important thing: […]
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Being able to break down ATP for fuel is important for exercise, but also for living. We touched on its importance and how we access it for short-term, high intensity activities in our last post. In this post, we’re going to cover what happens if you want to exercise for longer than 6-10 seconds.   The ATP that we access for movements that last 6-10 seconds is not available in very large supplies. Estimates are something like 100 grams in the body. Now, we can use phosphocreatine to resynthesize ATP from ADP, but there’s only about 120 grams of that in the body. In other words, there’s a finite amount available.   Now, clearly we are able to exercise or compete in sports for more than 6-10 seconds continuously. This means there has to be other ways to get ATP to fuel things. This is where the next energy system comes into play. This energy system goes by a lot of names; glycolysis, fast glycolysis, glycolytic, anaerobic glycolytic, and lactic acid energy system to name a few.   To keep things simple, right now we’re talking about exercise that is so fast and so intense that this energy system is […]
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Last week I was with a group of students who were learning about the carbon dioxide cycle in class. This is the one where plants produce oxygen, animals consume it and produce carbon dioxide, which the plants then consume. That gets into a discussion on what carbon dioxide is, what oxygen is, what would happen if part of the cycle was missing (i.e. what if all the plants died?), that sort of thing. But I stumped the class when I asked them why we need oxygen. Their answers were things like “to breath,” “to live,” etc.   I challenged them to spend the weekend researching this and we would discuss it on Monday.   When I got home, I shared this with my wife (who is a vet) and we had one of those wonderful biochemistry conversations about the role of oxygen in producing energy for the body and its functions. That made me decide that it’s probably time to revisit this topic for the strength and conditioning coach. So, this blog begins this review.   Let’s start with the 30,000 foot view. Broadly speaking, there are three energy systems: The phosphagen energy system. You also see this referred to as […]
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Speed is an important skill in most sports. We all write volumes about it, go to clinics to pick up new drills and movement cues, and seek out speed training gurus. Our athletes are evaluated on it and it’s a major focus of their training. Here’s the thing, outside of track and field most athletes need to be able to decelerate and stop on a dime to transition into doing something else.   I coach baseball and basketball. In both sports the ability to decelerate is critical. In baseball, my baserunners can’t run through second and third base, there are times they have to run very fast to those bases to avoid the throw but they have to be able to stop on the base. In basketball, we never get to run in a straight line as fast as we want, the court has fixed distances and the game has defenders who want to take the ball from us and stop us from doing what we want.   With that in mind, this blog will talk about decelerating and being able to transition into other movements. I’m going to keep this pretty generic and foundational, you can use this and […]
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There are an almost unlimited number of drills for speed training. If you think about this, it makes sense. At the highest levels, track and field coaching often has to focus on the minutiae of athlete movements and many of these drills help to perfect an aspect of the skill. In addition, with the proliferation of sports performance facilities there is a need to attract paying clients via marketing and these drills help to sell services.   While there isn’t anything wrong with this, it creates the impression that these drills are essential for speed development. This is problematic in a team sport situation where there may be 50-100 athletes performing speed training at one time. This article is going discuss some thoughts on speed training for team sport situations.   The first thing that we need to do is to decide what we want our speed training to achieve. This is not an easy question. For example, the obvious answer is that we want faster athletes. The question is: why aren’t our athletes getting faster? Often this boils down to two things: We aren’t practicing running fast in training: This is huge. If you want to get better at […]
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About a week ago I put out what I thought was a pretty straightforward tweet. The fact that it wasn’t received that way told me that this is something worth talking about in this blog. The tweet was: “As a coach do you create and drive the environment or do you react to it?”   I got some interesting responses to this tweet. Let me start this blog with the hard part. As a coach, I think it is critical that you create and drive the environment rather than simply reacting to it.   So let’s begin with the coach’s job: Teach expectations Hold athletes accountable Model, teach, reinforce character traits Teach the sport Create predictable routines Game plan   Teach expectations: Your athletes don’t come to you knowing what you expect or why, this is something you have to teach them. If you have not done this, then you have no right to get upset that they aren’t meeting your expectations. You cannot blame their parents, President Trump, Hillary Clinton, globalism, or iPhones if you have not bothered to try to teach them yourself.   Sometimes this is a simple redirection. For example, I insist on being answered “Yes […]
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