The Coached Coach- Part 1: Technique Analysis
Coach- /kōCH/, noun, An all-knowing pillar of wisdom prepared to guide athletes flawlessly through technique, training, nutrition, energy management, race strategy, credit card fraud, smart home loan investing, car buying, and more. Brimming with good sense, the coach is inherently prepared to follow the tenants of smart training to their inevitable glorious podium finish.
…or maybe not.
For me, and for many other coaches, coaching is very much a “do as I say, not as I do” situation. Sure, your coach may know all the smart reasons why he or she ought to be training in Zone 2 on a specific workout or why post-training fueling is a must, but that doesn’t mean your coach doesn’t have the same compulsion to attempt to cheat science and sound logic.
Knowing my foolish desire to constantly cheat the system and thereby slow the progress I could be making as an athlete, I decided for the 2017 season I would enlist the help of a coach to do what coaches do best. No, not to help me navigate mortgage payments, but to keep my honest and hold me accountable to my training plan.
The first step I took in the off-season was to seek out help from technique-experts to help me clean up my form.
Through my local triathlon club, I connected with physical therapist David Butler at Utah Physical Therapy for a running form analysis. I spent several minutes on the treadmill being filmed, and then we reviewed the footage and a few stills where we measured various angles and discussed some of my more pronounced problems. A few strength training homework assignments and drills to incorporate into my running left me excited to go out on my next run. I hadn’t known what to expect when I went in for the session, but I left pleased with my approachable plan and the confident that tweaking my running form would not only make me faster but help me prevent any oncoming injuries.
The next experience was a bit more humbling. After watching my swimmers on the Judge Memorial High School swim team make some fantastic headway during an outing to SwimLabs, I decided I needed to give it a try myself. The facility is equipped with several Endless Pools where swimmers can swim in place and watch themselves move in mirrors placed on the bottom. I was paired up with a technique expert who shot some video and watched my stroke. After a brief swim, we stopped to review the footage. My coach clearly knew his stuff, and like in the running analysis, marked up the video with angles and lines to show me how I could increase my power. As a coach myself, I was horrified to see that all those things I don’t do while swimming, well, I do them! I left with the videos and some drills to practice, and I went straight to sharing the videos with my everyday swim coaches.
Our conversation went something like this:
“Coach! You won’t believe it, but I’m dropping my elbow in my pull!”
“And you’ve told me that before, huh?”
Funny, I’ve had the same conversation with the swimmers I coach who have gone in for video analysis. It just shows, seeing is believing! After doing running and swimming form analyses, I cannot urge athletes strongly enough to take advantage of opportunities to improve their technique by supplementing their regular coaching with focused workshops. Not only will improved form help keep your body running injury-free, but it can help you learn to move more efficiently and best of all, FASTER!
So, the analysis portion of Operation Crush 2017 was done. Next step, get a coach.