2017 US Olympic Strength and Conditioning Symposium
Three days of talks and discussions throughout this symposium which were provoking, challenging and interesting. The great part about this was we all go to know each and every one of the 100 coaches throughout the conference with multiple breakout discussions and interactions both in the conference rooms and around the campus.
The Head US Olympic sports psychologist kicked things off with a fantastic ice breaker to get us all acquainted. After a series of ‘challenges’ we were paired up with a complete stranger and had three minutes to tell them about our role within sport, while they sat there in complete silence.
After we switched roles we then had to introduce our new buddy and tell the group what we learned about each other. I was paired with Ben who is the current England national football (soccer) S&C. He shared some insights into what it’s like to work with a squad of players who collectively earn about 400 million pounds a year! His path to the national team came from his prior role with the UK women’s hockey team where they won gold at the Rio Olympics. What a start to the conference!
Coach Maib from Texas University was the first speaker at the conference. His talk was on Culture as a cornerstone – building and sustaining a championship culture. Firstly we’ve all heard that everything is bigger in Texas – well the University is living proof of that. 52,000 students attend Texas U so when a guy who is the head of the Athletic department has something to say it’s usually pretty inspirational. The Texas Long Horns are one of the big four in US NCAA football and he spoke in depth about not only building culture but further developing it so complacency doesn’t creep in. He actually quoted the All Blacks in his speech and recognised they are the leaders in this field. One particular quote I liked was ‘the greatest threat to tomorrow’s success is todays success’ – giving reference to some of the best teams he’s worked with have slipped up and lost crucial games because they felt they were ‘bigger than the game’.
Tracy Forber was the next speaker, an exceptionally talented lady who works as a top US Olympic S&C, with a sports medicine background so is a fully qualified physio therapist. She showed some amazing videos on how she got aerial skiers back from horrific knee injuries, as well as the work she does with paralympians. I learned that a one legged paralympian can snatch more than I can which was extremely humbling I can tell you.
Following this we had a couple of presentations regarding force plates, and another on reactive strength assessment which created some great discussion around the group.
That night we had the opportunity to socialise over a few cold ones. Keeping them cold wasn’t a problem seeing that it had been snowing all day (even though the day before was 23C!)