A Strength Coach's PD Day

PD aka Personal Development is a HUGE part of the strength and conditioning world. Whether it's reading articles, watching videos, or networking with like-minded individuals, it's all critical to the growth of any coach. The summertime is a perfect opportunity to focus on this because there are a ton of clinics, conferences, and workshops available to learn from the best and the brightest in the industry. Important to note - this is not strictly just for strength and conditioning. There are always tons of networking events for other industries like marketing/ advertising, business, and many more.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Hammer Strength Clinic held at ETS in Whitby, ON. This was actually Hammer Strength's first Canadian-sanctioned event which is pretty cool in itself. I can confidently say I learned something from each and every presenter and was SO refreshed at their unique philosophies, insights, and outlooks and the mutual respect they shared with one another.

I will be completely honest ... a lot of times I leave conferences slightly annoyed. I listen to incredibly intelligent coaches and people share their extensive research on different topics, but find that a lot of them are truthfully not that applicable to the average coach because not everyone has access to fancy force plates and high-tech equipment. So you end up sitting there fantasizing about how great it would be to be able to conduct all this research, but not really know/ understand how to apply any of it ...

Well, the badass line-up of coaches and S&C professionals that presented at the Hammer Strength this past weekend all provided PRACTICAL, USABLE, and RELATABLE information that was easy to digest and immediately applicable to all coaches, regardless of resources and funding available.

My notes were a bit like organized chaos but here's a breakdown of the different things I learned this weekend (please note this merely scratches the surface of the information presented) ...

(1) James LeValle

He straight up blew my mind. Resting heart rate, pH, and cortisol levels show you A LOT about the current state of an athlete and what they may need in their training regime and everyday life. High resting heart rate could mean high cortisol levels which increases the sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight) meaning an athlete (or you) could be overtrained and need to focus on REST and RECOVERY.

(2) Jon Lee (Toronto Raptors)

Ankle mobility and muscle activation are critical components to an athlete's warm-up. Coach Lee showed a variety of different exercises that he uses with his athletes to activate their lower body, as well as work on their ankle mobility and stabilization.

Note: Wish I could've gotten videos, but I was trying to be present in the session - email me (training2xl@gmail.com) if you want the specifics!

(3) John Shackleton (Villanova Basketball)

Culture reflects leadership. It's the coach's job to set the tone for the athletes.

(4) Mark Fitzgerald (Anaheim Ducks/ ETS)

There is definitely a place for technology in strength and conditioning, but it's important to use it strategically and use it in a way to support your athletes (training loads, recovery time, etc.) It can also be a great tool for buy-in with sport coaches and athletes, as it visually depicts things you are trying to explain as a coach.

(5) Brett Bartholomew (Conscious Coaching)

Never neglect the "coach" part of the title 'strength and conditioning coach'. It's one thing to understand the x's and o's of S&C, but it's another thing to be able to coach them and make an impact on athletes. Coaching is a perfect blend of art and science.

(6) Dana Santas (Mobility Maker)

BREATHING IS ESSENTIAL TO LIFE AND MOVEMENT. This is probably pretty obvious, but the WAY you breath is also super important and it all relates to the movement of your ribcage (not your belly). Proper breathing plays a huge role in joint movement and mobility.

(7) Jeff Watson (Western Mustangs)

Neck bracing is an essential component to a thorough training program for athletes, especially those that participate in contact sports. There is in fact a lot of research that supports neck training and the role it plays with concussion prevention.

After everything I learned that day, my favourite part was connecting with other coaches face-to-face. Some I met for the first time, others were old friends I got to reconnect with. Networking and face-to-face connection is probably the single most important thing I've learned over the years to take away from weekend PD days.

Got some favourite networking events you attend? Comment below!