More Than an Exercise


The focus in the Athletic Development approach is not on the exercise. The selection of the actual exercise is the last step in a multi-step process. In the strength coaching approach it is all about the exercise. Apparently the latest go to exercise is the RFESS (rear foot elevated split squat), an exercise introduced twenty years by Angel Spasov in his tour of the US. I call it the Bulgarian single leg squat.

I need to go back to step one: What are demands of the sport I am working with? Step two: What are the demands of the position in the sport? Step three: What are the qualities of the individual athlete? Last but not least: What is the pattern of injuries in the sport? Once I have thoroughly researched all of these, then I will begin to lay out the plan. What is the time period available, both daily and long term? I will then determine themes for each block and then specific measurable goals for each microcycle in the block. Then and only then will I start to focus on the exercise. I start with my menu, analogous to a toolbox. I will then begin to eliminate exercises until I settle on my absolute need to do exercises that will give me the most bang for my buck, that will not add stress to stress and are manageable in terms of personnel, facilities and time available. I have learned over the years that less is more. Fewer exercises, that are very focused are better that more exercises trying to cover all bases. I can tell you right now that this RFESS exercise would not on my list for hockey (Field or Ice), soccer, rugby or football. All those sports are plagued by sports hernia. The position this exercise puts you in under load adds stress to stress. I am not sure why this is now the leg exercise of choice, but I do know it is low on my hierarchical menu. My advice to those of you interested in defining the field of Athletic Development, is beware of false prophets bearing gifts. It is more than an exercise.
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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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