There aren't many in-depth learning opportunities these days. I recently spent 6 full days immersed in topics that relate to LTAD (long-term athletic development) at the GAIN 2010 Apprentorship in Ft. Lauderdale. This was my second year to attend and my first to speak.
Some highlights of the event for me:
1. Diversity. As always, the diversity of the faculty and delegates makes this event unique. There are international / Olympic level coaches in dialogue with grass-roots physical educators and coaches. MDs, ATCs and PTs get together in group sessions in the evening to discuss barriers to patient care and how to overcome them. We in the US are exposed to the sport cultures of the UK, Europe and Australia. The threads that tie us together are a quest for physical health and performance for all levels of athlete. We still lack diversity as far as race and gender are concerned, but hopefully that will come around.
2. Professionalism and respect. The GAIN environment promotes intellectual curiosity because all speakers and topics are treated with respect. There is discussion and there may even be disagreement, but minds are open here and people are allowed to make their case.
3. The motor learning approach to performance. Frans Bosch just knocked me out with his approach to elite sprinters and running. For whatever reason, the US is so caught up in a mechanistic - strength approach to sport and the training of sport athletes. I know it has application in elite weightlifters. His talks really made me dig deep into my undergraduate study in philosophy of science and graduate work in kinesiology (motor control and learning). We cannot just reduce performance to strength, power output, rate of force development in the weight room. Yeah, it's easy to measure and it's fairly easy to develop. It's not just programming reps and sets; it's skill acquisition.
4. Athletes must earn the right to progress. And we must be held accountable for giving them a progression appropriate for their particular needs. We cannot progress if the fundamentals and infrastructure are lacking. We must educate parents, administrators and sport coaches to respect the process if we are to succeed in the long run.
5. Keep the beef on. Bill Knowles had some words of wisdom for all rehab peeps. Gotta attack LE strength quickly and aggressively upon injury and after surgery. He presented new research that show things shut down quickly--possibly on both sides. Gotta be creative and use all tools at our disposal.
6. Keep fighting the good fight. Yes, the grass appears greener on the other side, but many of us face the same type of challenges--at every level, from the Olympic stage to the public school gym class. Look to your tribe for support and take it one small victory at a time. We'll get there.
7. Give athletes more opportunities that ask them to self-organize, rather than cue them too much or limit them to one method of solving a motor problem. For example, I'm a big fan of the top-down method of teaching the classical lifts. After listening to Frans and talking to Jimmy Radcliffe and his method of teaching the lifts from the ground, I will now be more open to going from the ground if the right physical competencies are in place. There is no OTW.
8. Jimmy Radcliffe is not of this world when it comes to moving. And he is truly a pioneer in the collegiate S & C setting.
9. Joe P. is the bombdiggety in athlete rehabilitation. He researches, absorbs and applies more information--from all kinds of sources--in one month than I can ever hope to in one decade.
10. John Perry gives me hope for the PT profession. He walks the walk and gets people moving Gravity and ground reaction forces are our friends. Great warm up series during the Sunday am session.
11. Greg Thompson is pure energy in physical education. I know he'll find the cure for perspiration aversion syndrome in our lifetime. Our physical health depends on it. He wins the award for best slide of the week.
12. Ed Ryan and Dave Joyner. Should we all be so lucky to have massive experience and organizational skills of these sports medicine professionals. And they're pretty funny too.
13. Finally, a giant thanks to Vern Gambetta and Kelvin Giles for having the drive and ambition to do better. To provide thought-provoking topics and speakers for nearly a week, and to urge us to be defenders of technique and athlete-centered development. I can't wait until next year. The AD is coming with me.