Copycat Training


This is the time when coaches and athletes watch great athletes achieve astounding performances at the Olympic games. It is certainly inspiring and interesting to see what these athletes did in their journey to achieve that success. It is tempting to try to copy their training methods in an attempt to imitate their success. I know that because as a young coach and athlete I did that. Needless to say the results were less than spectacular and in a couple of cases disastrous. While what Phelps or Bolt do in training may be interesting in 99.9% of the cases it is irrelevant with your athletes.

Sometimes in the case of great athletes they achieve in spite of not because of what they did. What they did worked for them, in essence a case study of one. It is necessary to know why they did what they did and when they did it. Context is king! Also it is important to note that when looking at training programs form the former Eastern Bloc countries it is necessary to factor the influence of drugs. I have seen training session on paper and then seen the actual training live up close and personal. Any resemblance between what was written was purely coincidental. It was how the session was coached, how the athlete felt that day and the weather conditions etc.

I do not recommend copying training programs from others. However I do think you can get ideas if you have a context for evaluating what you see. Personally over the years I have learned a lot by studying and observing great athletes and coaches training. Notice I said learned not copied. I have taken concepts, not specific exercises or workouts and then applied them where they fit into my system. It is important to remember that each athlete is unique, a case study of one, so make the training fit the athlete do not try to fit the athlete to the training.

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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