I am in coaching heaven right now. Totally immersed in coaching, interacting with a group of coaches who are interested in getting better and innovating. This has been very motivating for me. This morning I spent two hours talking with Luc van Agt who is an exercise physiologist, former track & field coach and the conditioning for PSV Eindhoven soccer team. He is also the conditioning coach for the Dutch National Soccer team; he has served in that capacity since 1998. In addition he does the dryland training programs for PSV Eindhoven swim team, including the great Pieter van den Hoogenband. It was quite interesting to discover that we use a similar Periodization scheme for our dryland training. It is very different than traditional models, so it was good to compare notes. We agreed to continue to exchange ideas on this to cross check each other. I am really looking forward to that exchange. We certainly share many common experiences and a common background with our foundation in track & field. Last night he did a presentation on the physical preparation of the Dutch National Soccer team for the World Cup, the presentation was in Dutch, but the messages were quite clear. We are having our players play more games, expecting top performances more often and not allowing adequate time for training preparation.
Yesterday I presented the keynote talk for the conference entitled “Fit for Gold.” The talk was well received, as they share many of the some problems in preparing their athletes as we do. Today I will follow up with an afternoon form with the team sport coaches to address the specific conditioning demands of team sports in an extended competitive season. Based on the questions and comments I have already received it should be a spirited and stimulating session.
Last night I met with Jim McCarthy, who is in charge of strength & conditioning for the Netherlands Olympic Committee and his staff. It was fun discussing training and the practical issues we all must address daily. Their program is new so they have many exciting opportunities ahead. I tried to emphasize to them to learn form others mistakes and not repeat them because they have the opportunity to really innovate in the design and delivery of their training programs.
One of the biggest issues of concern to the coaches here is the trend toward early specialization. I have had many coaches ask me if this was also a problem in the United States. I guess it is reassuring to know that we share common problems.
One last thought – “Sometimes the new is the long forgotten old” this seems to be a recurring theme for me over the past several months and certainly has been the case here at he conference