Lessons for Lower Extremity Power


Pragmatic Power? After Bret Contreras and even Nick Tumminello’s group therapy session at the summit, I decided to post some of my hardest lessons learned with regards to developing lower extremity power. I have made a lot of small mistakes in my coaching career and much of it was hard to decipher later, as small mistakes don’t show up quickly if people are not getting hurt or not improving. Here are some tips I have learned. Much of this is obvious at first glance, but are we actually changing what we are doing? Here is what I have learned from my travels and enormous phone bills.

  1. It takes time- Sorry. Safe development means loading must be just enough and not overdose. The great thing about good training is that you have years to improve. Last minute combine work is another story.
  2. The best olympic lifts coach (for athletes) I have worked with convinced me that my insecurity was actually the right way to teach. He told me he learned from a jumps coach on throwing medballs and inplace jumps to introduce the olympic lifts after years of starting with a bar or broomstick nonsense. He said he got faster rates of skill development, better transfer, and of course training effects were happing from day one instead of at the end. After weeks of training hang snatches become very easy and after front squats the catch in the clean becomes natural.
  3. Individualize Prescriptions- I hate the lazy option of cookie cutter programs for all athletes. The myth that team unity occurs when everyone does the same thing is just a defense to be lazy in writing programs. From a facility perspective, use the same blocks of training unit themes- such as for example a Snatch Option to allow athletes to go from a hang, blocks, or floor is a great solution to keep everyone lifting together. Instead of being mindless drones, athletes will see your efforts and are not dumb or unaware of what is going on. Effort is caring, and caring creates a bond between coaches and athletes. Factory models are good business for some but some coaches are making great money doing it the right way. Any athlete questioning why he or she is doing something different is a sign of trust in the program and coaching leadership, not the fact you are doing something different. You don’t have offensive lineman kick punts after practice or have fat pitchers working on sliding, why shouldn’t training be tailored. It’s still in a template like format but not cloned.
  4. Chill out on sport specific nonsense- Remember when one strength guru said pull-ups hardly worked the anterior core and Bret Contreras EMG showed it was a great way to get core involvement?* Anatomy Train junkies should read about the frontal line and think about how conventional exercises are ok and not old school. A great heavy pull-up done in pike formation can get the abdominal wall stretched out and screen spinal mobility. The same that goes for bilateral lifts and jumps. Remember that the sport is a training stimuli and is specific. Pattern overload or training design without balance is a problem. Good training harnesses the single leg effects from the sport and small doses of single leg exercises are enough. Also, the coveted FMS uses a bilateral exercise to screen, so exercises are always testing. Assessment is year round, not a packaged tool like some shaving kit for Father’s day. Jumps, Jump Squats, and Olympic lifts are great, don’t toss them out because some coaches can’t coach and have to use machines and lesser exercises. Workouts require work and I struggle too.
  5. Vertimax = Waste of Money- Get weight vests and get good ones. The research attached here in the blog discussion shows that the vertimax is not special. Sorry if you bought one but other means can be done without learning curves as well that are at a fraction of the cost. Plus, weight vests can be used in other actives making it a better value. The same can be said for the MVP Shuttle.
  6. My philosophy- Squat heavy with good technique, olympic lift for technique and bar speed, do specific jump training based on the athlete, and sprint smart and you will be fine in the long run. Sometimes things will gel later but he who laughs last…..People forget that athletes have time. If you are trying to rush things in a private setting change the business model with some creative programming strategies but don’t talk to D1 coaches who are in the trenches. Efficient is not always effective.

*Note: The absence of EMG is actually a good thing when working on coordination as relaxing is half the battle when developing fast athletes. Gray Cook talks about reflex stability, a concept that is 50 years old at least. My response was what about 5 years ago? If you are just doing it now you are not an expert you are trying to be innovative. Bleeding edge?

Carl Valle

Carl Valle

Track & Field Coach
Carl is an expert coach who has produced champions in swimming, track and numerous other sports. He is one of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and restoration.
Carl Valle

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