Then – 1969 and Now – 2009


Happy New Year – 2009 begins my 40th year of coaching. Sometimes it seems like yesterday that I started and sometimes it feels like a century ago. The other day when I was swimming I was reflecting on the way things were in 1969 versus how they are now, it was certainly a different and simpler world in many respects. Please do not take this as an old man reflecting on the good old days. Everything was not better back then, but things were just different. I am very lucky to have a career that has spanned several eras in sport so I have seen many trends and fads come and go. I am also very fortunate to have a foundation in the great sport of track & field, even though over the past 39 years I have worked with many other sports it is the principles that I learned as a track coach that serve as the foundation for everything I do. We did not call it functional training, we just called it training. Good training is based on sound principles and it works in all environments and with all populations.

Then – Coaches were certified teachers
Now – Anyone can coach, some cursory requirements of certification

Then – Mandatory daily physical education K -12, including meaningful fitness testing
Now – No mandatory daily physical education, watered down fitness tests

Then – Sports centered in the schools at the elementary, middle school and high school level
Now – Sport taken over by clubs away from school

Then – Outside competition restricted to summer break
Now – Outside competition year around

Then – Cost to athlete and parent minimal
Now – Cost astronomical

Then – The core was the center of the apple
Now – It is everything

Then – Fundamentals taught and emphasized
Now – Fundamentals an afterthought, it is all about style and show

Then – Competition limited centered around the academic calendar
Now – Competition unlimited

Then – Television coverage limited to special events and a game of the week. No ESPN or regional sports networks
Now – 24 hour sports coverage on multiple channels

Then – No scouting services
Now – Scouting services for elementary school athletes

Then – Very limited opportunities for girls
Now – Unlimited opportunities for girls

God willing I am looking forward to many more productive years of coaching and teaching. The opportunities for excellence are still there. I am blessed to have a supportive family and some great coaches and athletes to work with. Can’t think of anything better.
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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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