The pre-conference workshop was 5:15 on Thursday and I made sure I left about an hour ahead to beat Boston traffic into Northeastern. Art has hosted the BSMPG for years and is having pre conference workshops to stimulate learning and allow great people to network. The main interest I have is seeing the cross-fertilization of ideas from different people. If we have the same cult year after year we inbreed. We need fresh ideas, even if we don’t agree with the speaker. I find the best speakers share areas that I don’t have experience with and while they may have different conclusions or methods, it makes me think about what areas can be explored.
Three speakers spoke last night, they were Dr. Marchese, who has his own clinic up in Woburn. Fergus Connolly, a high performance advisor out of Ireland, and Val Nasedkin from Omegawave. Each session was under a half hour or so and this was not easy to do.
Dr. Marchese- The dirty secret is that when an athlete isn’t getting better in the Boston area and are desperate, you may go up to Woburn. I have witness several athletes fly in after seeing some very public super therapists and come back with tales of reality. Emotionally it hurts to hear after spending good money that the quality of care is so poor. The reason I think this happens is placebo. Think about it (no pun intended), if you fly to a super therapist and believe you will get better, a shotgun of massage and light exercises and of course time, people get better. Rest does help everyone get better, so we need to appreciate that nature is helping us on the backend. Dr. Marchese was interesting because he was following the WCT model of presenting, meaning bring citations and share what you do. I like the idea of handouts as I am always going to be a paper guy. His presentation ran longer than the allotted time and that is a classic error. Remember that the time we have affects the presenters behind us. Aside from that it was very similar to a typical neurological exam based on classic neuroscience and testing. The challenge here is the huge array of possible interpretations. This is why I suggest checklists and flow charts. The brain is a big area and while it’s impressive, we are human and can’t juggle everything in one’s head. One EPL team bought an algorithm for post concussion testing to ensure athletes are lowering their risk to ACL tears and it’s a glorified checklist that calculates risk into a 10% chunks. I liked the presentation but felt that the tests should have been cut in half and shown some sort of transfer to game specific results via motion capture or similar otherwise it is patient feedback and that is very subjective.
Fergus Connolly- I have known Fergus for a long time and it’s great to see him climb the ladder to high performance advising. If you go to his website it’s a bit of a mystery but perhaps that’s part of the adoption cycle of a private consultant. His presentation was sort of a inspirational powerpoint full of Ken Burn effects and great visuals. He basically gave wisdom nuggets for 25 minutes and was clearly prepared. He was polished and prepared, but my concern is the people in the audience would copy the style. I think a Garr Reynolds presentation done too much is annoying because the visuals are just pretty stock photos. With any visual it must display a lot of information if we are doing an educational presentation. Inspiration or wisdom is a different beast so you can bust out the keynote software on your mac and be stylish when telling stories or giving tidbits of help, but sharing what people should do to get athletes better should follow the Edward Tufte model. Show the data. I felt that Fergus was appropriate for last night because he was trying to get the point of getting athletes to buy in, and I hope he shares what he does Saturday in detail and not show slides with a few quotes. If one is a top consultant one has to show why, with details and data to support it. Fergus is very experienced and I am eagerly awaiting what he shares. The take home is right, get it done and results matter.
Val Nasedkin-My favore slides of the night was from Omegawave as they are great models and illustrate very important concepts, such as readiness and preparedness. I hate those terms but they are good points to see when someone is ready to go training wise overall but not feeling hot that day. Unfortunately Val was using parallels on his mac and the presentation was impaired by mirroring on display mode and screen size. He used gestures to change the widow zoom but after Fergus and he was back on track. The rest of the time became a teaser for Friday’s presentation and he went into training loads and general preparation.
Side Note– Perhaps the most interesting discussion was between Val and Dr. Marchese when Val commented that a world class soccer player was ruined by people helping him balance on one foot. This was my favorite part of the workshop because we finally had debate. Nobody wants to loose popularity and it was a valid argument that sometimes the surgery was a success but the patient died. We need to do this in the future or it will be a big circle. Like I mentioned before, 30 years ago the ASCA conference had the Auburn researcher talk about free weights while everyone was going nuts about Nautilus and isokinetic swim benches. No stranger to controversy was Paul Bergan, one of my favorite speakers, who decided to have all three speak back to back to back to get some juices flowing. It was an epic war, with impressive 35 mm slides showing the secret research and olympic medalist data. To show that single leg squats are ruining athletes is a leap of faith. Perhaps he could have signed a huge contract and loss interest? To say cause and effect of single leg training doing magic or harm is not reality.