Coaching Vertical Jump with a Valgus Collapse

Ahhh, the knee cave, my old friend. This, by far, is the most common strength and movement pattern deficit I see in developing athletes. More officially known as a valgus position of the knee, it signifies not only a severe lack of specific and general strength, but also may be an indicator of poor body control overall (due to other common muscular strength deficits that generally come as part of the "package").

Linear Periodization (Yawn...?)

Grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable. I'm about to talk programming and, more specifically, my personal experiences with linear periodization: My go-to programming style is, and always will be, the conjugate sequence system. The reasons are many, but to simplify, I just plain consider it the most effective and safest way to improve strength, power, and athletic performance in most advanced athletes while ensuring that serious CNS fatigue stays at bay.

Plus, because the BULK of my programming experience has been for sports where the goal, from a S&C perspective, is to allow the athlete to perform close to their best for upwards of 2-months in many competitions that are all equally important. The constant cycling of compound lift variations and set/rep schemes lends itself quite well to these types of sport.

So, when I began working with track and field, who are only interested in peaking twice a year, the seeming simplicity was almost too much to bear. I found myself working with coaches who implemented their own linear periodization on the track and wanted the weight room sessions to mirror in terms of both volume and intensity.

This meant *gasp* that I would have to resort to programming bench pressing and squatting at repetitions that sometimes exceeded sets of 10. I know that sounds kind of silly, but for women who squat in the 300's and men who hover around 450, a 4x8 back squat session can get pretty out of control.

My first year with track and field I spent many painful hours trying to unravel the mysteries of linear periodization (mountain out of a mole-hill? I'd say so). I even went so far as to get a USATF Level 1 coaching certification in an effort to find some solid footing.

Well, fast forward a couple years, and we've won our conference the last three years and had numerous successes on the road to nationals each season.

Despite this success, I still had a problem. I couldn't accurately identify with the athletes as they trudged through what I believed to be an extremely intense training program.

I've always prided myself on personally experiencing virtually components of every program I've ever implemented. This is critically important because it helps me communicate and relate to the athletes better than if I have no experience with what they're going through.

Why had I never done this with the track program? I've actually got a couple good reasons: Baby #1 followed by Baby #2. But, no longer being in the pregnancy cycle, I figured I could probably manage my way through the sprinters and jumpers weight training program. That or I'd hurt myself trying.

In my next post I will dive into the details of this training plan and how I've been progressing.

Here are a couple teasers: 1. I haven't experienced this much muscle soreness in at least 5 years. 2. I'm amazed the team hasn't attempted a full blown mutiny given what they do on the track is followed immediately by my program. Remember, the programs mirror each other in volume and intensity. 3. My lift today really almost made me throw up. Happily, my iron stomach once again proved to have the upper hand. 4. I'm getting much stronger very quickly.

Until next time...