Monday, November 24, 2008

PB&J Pierson: A Big Man Learns to Move

High school basketball season is upon us. With that, I bring you a peek inside one of Ryan "PB&J" Pierson's last pre-season workouts. This workout included, but was not limited to, the following:

Lunge & Reach
Med Ball Wall Drills
BN Push Press (work up to 135#/3 x 3)
Step Ups (work up to 80#/8 x 3)
DB Rows
Curl & Press
Modified Gambetta Squat Series x 5 sets w/90 sec rest intervals:
20 bw squats/10 lunges/10 ice skaters/10 sq jumps w/arms = 1 set

Ryan has been working with me since late February. He averaged 2 sessions per week only, with several weeks off during the summer for AAU basketball and wisdom teeth. Primary goals for this time period have been to develop basic mobility, body awareness, confidence and strength (force production and force attenuation), with particular attention to the LE's (he had a R tibial avulsion fx with a pulmonary embolism in early 2007).

We have not measured body fat, but he is down 7-10 lbs and much leaner than in February. Ryan does not do any Olympic lifts right now, but I will teach him the basics before he leaves for college. He now has the mobility to lift from the floor or the block/hang position. We still have a great deal of work to do on hip mobility, basic running mechanics and first step speed, but now the foundations are there. He can squat, lunge, push, pull, rotate, crawl, skip and throw with the best of them. And remember, he's almost 7 feet tall. My goal is to have him move better than the 5' 10" kids on the court.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Children of the Corn

Before I get to the corn thing, I have to brag a bit. Got the Epson Powerlite Home Cinema 720 installed this week. This is our lone television in the house, in the basement. There are many days we never have it on. But when we fire up the Fober budget home theatre, it is sweet. Some women have the shopping gene for shoes, knick-knacks or clothes. Mine mutated into a technology gene. With 2.35:1 ratio wide screen movies, I have an 8 ft. diagonal screen. Now, we only have 5.1 surround sound, but we did it for a song. The rumble and vibrations of a star destroyer or shells flying over your head at Normandy are pretty damn impressive. And Russell Crowe looks fabulous as Maximus in Gladiator. Catherine, you'll have to come over and watch it for the 51st time.

Anyway, on to the real topic of this post. I rented a few DVDs to check out the new projector's abilities and picked up the movie King Corn. This a great documentary if you have an interest in food and how agriculture has changed over the last 100 years. It is the story of two city dudes and their quest to crow an acre of corn in Iowa. The movie features interviews with Michael Pollan, Walter Willet, Loren Cordain and Nixon's Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz (who recently passed away at 98).

If you are a child of the 70s and 80s, this movie is about you and your diet. We are children of the corn. Thjs movie will make you think about the food choices you made back then and the choices you make now.

I'm thinking of having a King Corn screening for my STL peeps. Let me know if you are interested (Orie, Cinister?) in a good movie and conversation some evening. You know, kinda like Oprah's book club, but more fun. Just please do not look under your chair; the only thing you will find are lost cat toys.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Nice article in the P-D this morning about the DeSmet Spartans returning to the Class 3 soccer semi-finals for the first time in 6 years. Coach Greg Vitello has been coaching the Spartans for 41 years. Yes, 41 years. He has almost 700 wins in soccer and is also the varsity baseball coach. He is old school and runs a tight ship. This part of the article (read the entire article here) really caught my eye:
"It's not about records or stats; it's about doing what you have to do to survive and move on to the next round,'' Vitello said.

By design, the Spartans play fewer regular-season games to gain more quality training time. And now the extra practice is paying dividends.

"We pride ourselves on the work we do in practice, and this group, as much as any I've coached, seems to get that,'' the coach said. "Rather than playing games for the sake of playing games, hopefully our guys are a little fresher and more mentally prepared at this point of the season.''
Imagine, in this day and age high-flying club/select programs and leagues, a high school coach who knows the value of team development and quality training time vs garbage games! Mental preparation? Quality training time? Fundamentals? This is what it is all about.

And in the "Sign the Apocalypse is Upon Us" column this week: The Thin Man tells me his twin sister's high school basketball team is one of 30 high school teams being "sponsored" by Nike this year.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hip to the Shoulder

The Thin Man (volleyball, 6' 7", 170 lbs) is making progress. Yesterday, he finally felt what it is to have the hip lead the shoulder with an overhand throwing/hitting motion. Our normal warm up hit a bit of a snag when his R knee decided it didn't care for lateral lunges. So we stopped the "get low" lower body stuff for a few minutes and went to some football/med ball throws.

TTM is super-duper tight in his anterior hip musculature. He has also always been a middle hitter, so his approach has always been shortened, with his shoulders/hips more square to the net, rather than open to the setter/court, like a R-handed strong-side hitter typically takes. Thus, he has developed a very arm-dominant swing (with little combined torso/hip extension and rotation). Now the asymmetry between his R and L shoulders is beginning to become prominent--something that has to be rectified.

I had him take a stride stance, with the L foot in front of the R, rotate the his hips to the R, flexing the hip/knee/ankle, and shift his weight back to the rear R foot. I then demonstrated pushing through the ground with my R foot to generate rotation to the left with simultaneous triple extension (ankle, knee, hip) of the R LE. He attempted to mimic my movement, but had trouble getting the hip to rotate and extend. At that point, I put my hands on his hips and manually cued the combined rotation/extension (after asking his permission, of course).

Eureka! He said it felt totally different than anything he'd ever done before--"so there's this diagonal connection going on between the R and L sides." Yes! Big stretch through his R side. I told him he had to practice the motion, R and L, over and over with throwing and hitting; and that it would probably take a little while before he consistently integrated it into his on-court hitting mechanics. The key was getting him to understand the weight-shift from back to front and feel the triple extension of the leg (particularly the hip) as part of the rotation that proceeds the arm motion.

Sometimes you just have to go back to square one and go step by step.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Yes, let's just put everybody on a statin for his or her entire life! Another drug company-sponsored study (AstraZeneca) to make you think you need drugs to be "healthy." It's all so fugazi.

If you haven't noticed, my posts relating to training/strength have been few and far-between lately. No more gas in the rig. Needing a little downtime after over 3 years and 400+ posts. So I'll still be posting, but it'll be a little less frequently and might discuss things other than weightlifting, resistance training, or athletic development for the rest of 2008. Also looking to revamp the whole system with a new laptop and a few more toys for video analysis.

2009 looks like it could be a whirlwind of a year, so it is important for me to regroup and get back my enthusiasm for this stuff. And for my own training. Will turn 40 soon and can only hope to have the same energy and ebullience that my friends Vern Gambetta, Mike Burgener, John T. Thrush, Jerry Mayhew and Mark Rippetoe bring to their work. And there's the AD--he turned 48 yesterday. He's my guy and there's no one who works harder.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Voter #11

Optical scan ballot #12. In line at 5:30 am and out by 6:20 am. When we left, the line was out the door, around the building.