Phil Lundin Interview


Phil Lundin is the Head Men’s Track & Filed coach at the University of Minnesota. Phil has consistently produced great 400 meter runners and outstanding jumpers. He has his PhD in Biomechanics. He is a great friend, someone who I turn to when I have questions about training. We are both Garrison Keillor fans, I always kid Phil that the difference is that he actually lives in Lake Wobegon and grew up among Norwegian bachelor farmers and I grew up in California with Italian gardeners.

What are most essential requirements for a successful conditioning program?
A clear idea of your constituency in regards to training age and competitive demands so your training reflects appropriate training progressions and exercise selection.

What are the most common mistakes in conditioning?
Lack of proper work/rest ratio or the basic belief that if 10 reps is good, 20 reps is twice as good….The generous application of general work in the general prep or off-season year after year in the career of an individual athlete.

What is “functional training” from your point of view?
I am not sure what is meant by the term.

How important is specificity?
At certain times of the year, it is paramount….it plays a greater role in contemporary training than in the past….

What aspect of conditioning athletes is most difficult and how haveyou tried to address it? Getting up to speed with incoming freshmen and how they respond to training loads so we can better design training to reflect what works for them individually…this is basically trial and error & requires a lot of communication and educating….

With the plethora of information available how can you determine what is best?
I stick with tried and true methods & am basically conservative (not politically, however!). In reading basic research, it is fun to take the findings and put theory into practice based on my interpretation of the data…this is dangerous, but what the hell?

Where do you stand on nature versus nurture? How much difference can training make?
I am not sure….training can obviously make a difference, but natural ability can make any coach look good, including me.

What is the sure sign that a self proclaimed conditioning guru is not a good source of advice?
When they start to market themselves….just kidding, but there is some truth to that.

What do you differently with the female athlete in terms of conditioning?
I do not work with females, so I am not in a position to answer….

What has been the biggest innovation in training that you have seenduring the course of your career and where is the biggest room forinnovation in training athletes?
Technology…..timing devices, force mats, video analysis…..these technologies all give feedback that is invaluable in the training process…..

What’s the biggest issue in training athletes today?
I have a mental health resources file on my computer…..I spend more time dealing with such issues than in the past. Ken Doherty hit it on the head years ago in his “wholistic” approach to coaching athletes…his philosophy is even more relevant in today’s culture….

Who has been a role model in your career and why?
My Mom and Dad were both Physical Education teachers and coaches, so I grew up with sport and movement… my early years of high school teaching and coaching in Burnsville, MN, I was lucky to work with Dave Griffith who was one of the most successful high school coaches in Minnesota. At the University of Minnesota I got to hang with Roy Griak who has been a great mentor and colleague, and my participation in the Allerton Group….

What are the biggest professional challenges have you had to face?
Given my limited abilities, I have multiple challenges daily too numerous to list…

What do you enjoy most about what you do? Dislike?
I like being out on the field working with kids….problem solving with the athletes…I dislike all the paperwork and administrative tasks that have crept into the profession…..

Did there come a time in your career where you were faced with a “forkin the road?” If so, do you ever revisit the decision you made ordidn’t make?
I have a time when I had to make a choice between pursuing a Ph.d in philosophy and sport vs. that of a sport science….I went the sport science route because I thought it was more pragmatic….I should have stuck with philosophy.

What inspired you to get into the field you are in?
I grew up in a culture of movement given that my parents were physical educators and coaches….I never thought outside the box….Is failure ever valuable? Only if you learn from your failures….

Which changes now taking place in your field that should beencouraged, and which resisted? We need more women in the coaching ranks….given all the opportunities to compete and the greater numbers of females competing, why are there not more female coaches?
I have my own answers, but it still puzzles me….

Discuss entry

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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