Webinar Series #1 Dr Mike Young – Motor Learning Concepts

Dr Mike Young – Motor Learning Concepts All Coaches Should Know & Understand



Mike will be presenting on 3 areas at the Child to Champion: LTAD Conference on the 9th and 10th April in Gloucester. Where he is joined by other leaders from the field of S&C, including Dr. Rhodri Lloyd, Dr. Ian Jeffreys and Dr. Neill Potts. We are fortunate to have them all coming to present tried and tested systems and training methods that have been successfully applied at all stages of the developmental continuum from primary school right through to the elite international level. Find out more here!


kBox3 Review

kBox3 Review



For the last 6 weeks I’ve been getting to grips with the Exxentric kBox3 and kMeter ahead of the new academic year where we will begin to incorporate it with some of our athletes, who are at a more advanced level of training.

So what is the kBox?

Exxentric kBox 3

Exxentric kBox 3

The kBox is a flywheel training device that really opens up the world of eccentric training, taking many of the logistical challenges of eccentric training using traditional barbell methods and supramaximal loads which in many environments, such as ours with larger groups, you would struggle to perform safely.

When using the kBox3 you are working against the inertia of the heavy flywheels, using a variety of attachments to allow you to perform a wide range of exercises. You can adjust the number of wheels to adjust the level of overload according to what you wish to achieve, for example: strength, power or hypertrophy. The rest then is up to you, as whatever you ‘give’ concentrically to the device it gives you back eccentrically as it pulls you back down towards the ground once the flywheel has reversed at the top of the range of movement you have set.

The more flywheels you have stacked up on the device, the more it feels like it’s going to suck you down in to the ground when you really max out on your efforts, providing you with a strength training stimulus. With the fewer or lighter wheels on the device you can achieve a higher power output as you are able to execute the exercises at a higher speed.

Advantages of the kBox

At the moment are that I feel like I am really only just beginning to scratch the surface of what is possible with this awesome bit of equipment. I’m certain the coming months will allow me to really begin to understand the longer term adaptations to training with it.

From using it in the short term I’m really excited by what it has allowed me to do and some of the initial effects I’ve seen:

#1 The device is incredibly mobile and transportable

I’ve been away from work for 6 weeks so I haven’t had access to the main gym so the kBox has been everywhere with me. It has allowed me to train at home whilst I’ve been on holiday, in the living room, in the garden, wherever I have been. It has a  range of attachments with it so you can get a whole body session done with just this single bit of kit: squats, deadlifts, RDLs, presses, pulls…the options are endless.

For travelling athletes it really is a great option to be able to get a decent strength training stimulus away from the gym.

#2 It appears to have a post-activation potentiation effect

One of the first experiments I did with the kBox3 was to examine the effects of a 5RM effort with across a range of different flywheel loads (0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1.00 and 1.25) on an 18” depth jump using an electronic jump mat. It was interesting to see that following the 5RM at 0.5 inertia there was an increase in jump height of over 2 inches following a recovery period of 2 minutes post jump.

This is definitely an area that needs more investigation as if you consider this with the portability of the device it could be a very useful bit of kit for competing athletes on the road looking to gain a PAP effect pre-competition. I am also very keen to see the effects on other tasks such as sprinting and changes of direction, which we will be exploring over the coming months.

#3 Hypertrophy

For momentum based sports where added mass is an advantage, this device has some serious potential to add lean mass. During my initial chat with Fredrik at Exxentric back in July, he warned me that I’d need new shirts before too long. He wasn’t wrong! Particularly after hitting Fredrik’s recommended overloaded eccentric rows!

#4 Instant Feedback from the kMeter


All the time you can monitor whether you are achieving the desired outcome via the kMeter and associated app to your iPad as it gives you instantaneous information relating to Concentric and Eccentric Peak Power, Average Power, Peak Force, % Overload to name just some of the variables. The data from the app can easily be exported via email for further analysis in Excel/Numbers.

The instant objective feedback allows you to immediately see where you are at, and provides a real added stimulus to work maximally, when that is desirable, much like can be achieved with Velocity Based Training devices such as PUSH bands.  If you know your typical watts or newton’s produced over time you can target those levels again in your next session.

I know the guys out at Athletic Lab have also been using it to monitor readiness to train combined with some other measures such as HRV which I think could be another really useful application. Likewise I think it could be used in Return To Training / Return To Play protocols examining force capabilities pre & post injury using exercises like the Lateral Squat from the data that is coming from the kMeter.

Future developments

I am excited to see the impact regular exposure has on some of our key performance areas such as change of direction and speed. Of particular interest to me at the moment is how it can help improve the athlete’s ability to hold optimal positions in maximal velocity running where some of our guys have previously demonstrated an inability to control the eccentric forces and appear almost ‘seated’ when running. I think with some clever use of specific joint angles and positions when training with the kBox3 we could really begin to see a difference in this area.

The kBox3 has really added a new dimension to our training options and from my initial experiences I can’t wait to see what long term impact is for our athletes.

If you are keen to find out more about the kBox3 the guys at Exxentric are super helpful and always keen to chat about training ideas and how to get the most out of the kBox, they’ve been awesome in helping me understand it. You can follow them on Twitter @fredrikcorrea or @go_exxentric 


Pacey Performance Webinar Series



Pacey Performance Webinar Series

Here at Proformance we are big fans of the Pacey Performance Podcast and the work Rob is doing to share great information from top practitioners around the world.

The great news is he has just started out on a new venture providing even more top quality info in the form of a webinar series using an in-depth case study approach.

In this webinar with Dan Baker, who has had a big influence on our training philosophy, they will be drilling down in to the finer details of the programme Dan had in place at the Brisbane Broncos between 2006 and 2013.

For us as coaches this is an invaluable opportunity to find out how the scientific research has been applied in a specific scenario which will certainly have elements that we will all be able to apply to our own coaching environment.


Stuff You Need to Read!

Stuff You Need to Read!

There are obviously some super busy bloggers right now as I’ve seen some great stuff popping up on Twitter and Facebook. Here’s a few I’ve picked out:

A Coaches’ Guide to Strength Development – www.mcmillanspeed.com

speed training


Stu McMillan’s Blog is an awesome resource to check out for some great information relating to training for strength, power and speed. He recently posted a 5 part series on strength development and it’s something you’ve got to read packed full of quality info, check it out below:

McMillanSpeed.com – A Coaches’ Guide to Strength Development Part 1

McMillanSpeed.com – A Coaches’ Guide to Strength Development Part 2

McMillanSpeed.com – A Coaches’ Guide to Strength Development Part 3

McMillanSpeed.com – A Coaches’ Guide to Strength Development Part 4

McMillanSpeed.com – A Coaches’ Guide to Strength Development Part 5


6 Reasons Why All Athletes Should SPRINT

A nice article by Mike Young summarising the benefits of sprinting for all athletes – check it out: Mike Young’s – 6 Reasons Why All Athletes Should Sprint


CHAOS Training Revisited – www.nickgrantham.com

Nick recently posted up a link to previous blog of his own and a nice journal article looking at agility training for more experienced athletes making use of the CHAOS style of training! Well worth a read – CHAOS Training Revisited


The Impact of S&C In Schools – An Athlete Case Study

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The Impact of S&C In Schools – An Athlete Case Study

There is no doubt in my mind that all schools should be working towards implementing a long term athlete development pathway. In schools, we have the more time than anyone to be able to positively impact up on young athletes.

We are at a point in time where the physical capabilities of young people are much lower than they used to be in a large number of cases.

Whilst many are actively playing in sport and developing sport specific skills, most are not being exposed to high quality movement training that enables them to develop a high level of athleticism to support their technical tactical development.

The Elite Performance Pathway

We have just completed the second academic year where we have delivered an in-curriculum Strength & Conditioning programme at Key Stage 4 (14-16 years old – Year 10 & Year 11).

Athletes on the programme receive 5 hours support across a two week timetable and are exposed to high quality training. We have developed a curriculum / pathway that covers movement preparation, strength training, jump/plyometric training, linear acceleration and top end speed, change of direction speed, agility and energy system development. In addition, they have completed psychological preparation workshops.

What the time in the school timetable provides is an incredible level of consistency, they have to turn up like they do to English & Maths. So what we’ve got is consistency beyond which I’ve ever been able to achieve with young athletes before.

When working as an external coach in schools previously, attendance at after school sessions was always variable due to other commitments in the evening, issues with travel getting to & from the sessions and clashes with sport specific training/fixtures.

The Impact

So people can understand the positive impact this type of programme can have I have included a real athlete profile of one of our 15 year old Rugby Players from this academic year.

Pre-training (Sept 2014)

Weight 64.1kg
10m Sprint – 1.96sec
Squat 10RM – 30kg
Bench 10RM – 30kg

Squat Jump* 35.8cm
Countermovement Jump* 47cm
Depth Jump (12″)* 39.4cm

*March 2015 measured with a Jump Mat

Post-training (July 2015)

Weight 64.5kg
10m Sprint – 1.81sec (-0.14sec)
Squat 10RM – 90kg (+60kg)
Bench 10RM – 65kg (+35kg)

Squat Jump 47cm (+11cm)
Counter Movement Jump 51.3cm (+4.3cm)
Depth Jump (12″) 46.7cm (+7.3cm)

There is still a long way to go with this athlete but what we have managed to put in place over the last 10 months is a foundation of strength to build up on over the next couple of years he is with us on the programme.

Another exciting development is that we are moving towards having a similar amount of time in the timetable at Key Stage 3 from September. We have been worked with an 11-14 year olds already but with much less time and consistency due to it being an extra-curricular session but we are really excited to see what the next academic year brings.

You can check out a more detailed insight to our school based LTAD system here with the full article featured in the UKSCA’s Professional Strength and Conditioning Journal.

Interested in joining other coaches to discuss LTAD? Check out the upcoming conference Child To Champion where a wide range of practitioners are coming together to present from different stages of the developmental continuum.

Mike Young Speed & Power Video

Mike Young Speed & Power Development Video

Back at the end of May we were fortunate enough to have Mike Young join us to deliver a two day workshop – An Integrated Approach to Speed & Power Development at Hartpury College, Gloucestershire.

We were joined by coaches from some of the leading sports organisations across the British Isles including Scottish Rugby Union, England Rugby, Wales Rugby Union, Liverpool FC, Manchester City FC, Exeter Chiefs and the English Cricket Board.

Across the two days Mike shared an incredible amount of information and provided real insight into how he develops speed and power with his athletes both in team sports and for his track athletes.

This included five different lectures and a series of field based sessions on the Saturday looking more specifically at Speed & Agility development followed by the Sunday where the focus shifted to Building A Bigger Engine for Speed & Power in the weight room.

There were lots of take home messages but here are three of my favourite points I took away:

1) Do the basics really well

What came across really clearly from Mike was that great coaches go about doing the basics extremely well, consistently over a long period of time. They also understanding what it takes to make athletes faster, and then specifically what the athletes’ need at a given point in time to help them get there.

When your athletes stop making progress from the basics, that is the time to ‘fire the gun’ and break out the more advanced training stimuli to get the extra speed and power your athletes require.

2) The Importance of Eccentric Strength & Power

Certainly one of the major eye opening areas for me was the importance of eccentric strength and power to creating super fast & agile athletes. I spent a lot of time chatting to Mike about this area over the four days he was with us and he had lots of creative methods of enhancing eccentric strength & power such as stiffness landings & jumps, release RDLs and rhythm squats. But he also introduced us to the Exxentric kBox3 which has made creating an eccentric overload a whole lot simpler and safer than traditional eccentric training methods using a barbell. Along with the kMeter to measure eccentric and concentric peak power, this bit of kit has added a completely new dimension to our training system from both a training and monitoring perspective. A big thanks to Mike for hauling it over from the states and introducing us to it!

3) Change of Direction in 4 Dimensions

When training to improve change of direction and agility for team sports, such as Rugby, Football and Basketball, as well as considering the usual forward, backward and lateral movement requirements we need to think about movement combinations that incorporate jumps.

For example, a defender in football jumps to head the ball away and then lands and has to close down a space/player or a basketball player jumps, blocks a shot, lands and then needs to accelerate to collect the ball down the court.

It seemed so obvious when Mike said it first, but it was an element that was missing from my sessions!

Check out the video for some more great info from Mike, we are working on the full video series being released soon! 




5 lessons learnt from the top!


Having had the pleasure of spending a good chunk of time chatting to and observing 3 coaches of the highest order – Nick Grantham (@coachnickg), Mike Young (@mikeyoung) and Ian Jeffreys – over the last few months I’ve picked out 5 things/characteristics they all shared:

1) They do basics extremely well, consistently over time and don’t over complicate programmes.

2) They have an incredible understanding of human performance & movement but understand the difference between what they need to know and what their athletes need to know to get better. They don’t confuse athletes by communicating too much high level info or over coaching. In the words of Nick Grantham “Don’t be a fridge” – the fridge makes noise constantly but no one hears it.

3) All 3 of these guys showed everyone at the workshops an incredible willingness to share all of their knowledge to help other people grow & learn. But the message was clear – to become a great coach you have to be out there APPLYING what you have learnt in workshops, forums, books and journals not just sat in an office/uni learning centre reading them.

4) “Don’t shoot a bullet until you need to” a bit of coaching gold from Mike Young – you might read about or learn a load of new stuff on a workshop. Particularly on Mike’s Strength & Power workshop he demonstrated some squat variations I’d not seen before – Rhythm Squats, 3 step squats – it’s important to understand when is actually the right time to incorporate different elements and if they are still responding to basic training, save that variation until you really need it!

5) Whatever environment you work in a private facility, professional sport a school it is absolutely critical that you get buy in from the other coaches, athletes and teachers, who ever your boss is. Without their buy in that amazing programme is worthless. To get this it is essential to start looking at this from the other person’s point of view – what benefits do they want to see and put it in terms they understand and appreciate. Chances are they won’t care about you telling them you can increase their 1RM by 20%, but they will care if you tell them you can make them/their athletes jump higher on the pitch increasing their likelihood of success on the pitch.

These were just a few from an absolute ton of coaching gold that these guys brought to share over the course of the time they were with us, and a massive thank you to them for their willingness to help other coaches get better.

We we are currently working on putting together some new workshops  for  later in the year and early 2016. For those of you who want to engage in more coaching discussions we have also launched a new online forum for any coaches to join that want to have the opportunity to discuss and share ideas they’ve learnt either at our workshops or in their everyday practise.

Building Future Champions – Pre-Event Details

Ian Jeffreys

Ian Jeffreys – Building Future Champions

We are hope you are looking forward to this event as much as we are!

It promises to be a phenomenal experience working up close and personal with Ian as he brings a vast amount of experience from years of training junior athletes.

Please arrive for 9.15am with the start scheduled for 9.30am

Schedule for the day:

9.15am – Welcome & Introduction
9.30-10.15am – The Need for LTAD
10.15-10.30am – Break
10.30-12noon – The Future Champions system – a flexible objectives based approach to developing the modern athlete
12.00-12.45pm – Lunch
12.45-1.15pm – Developing Effective Future Champions sessions
1.15-2.15pm – Developing Effective GameForce
2.15-3.30pm – Developing Effective Gamespeed
3.30-3.45pm – Break
3.45-4.30pm – Developing Effective Game-metabolism
4.30-5.00pm – Putting it all together

How to find us

By Car

St. Peter’s High School is on Stroud Road, Gloucester, GL4 0DD

Address: Sports Pavilion, St. Peter’s High School, Stroud Road, Gloucester GL4 0DD.


On Arrival at St. Peter’s:

Upon driving into the main car park, drive towards the main steps and follow the road around to the right. Follow the side road down to the bottom car park and park near the tennis courts. The Sports Pavilion is visible behind the tennis courts, use the glass fronted entrance and we will be registering upstairs in the Pavilion suite.

By Train

The nearest train station is Gloucester – please see www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times.

Should you have any issues on the day then please contact James Baker on 07730608188

Food & Drink

We will provide light refreshments in the form of water & fruit with Tea & Coffee available over lunchtime as well.

Lunch is not provided, so please be prepared and bring your own lunch.

There is an Esso garage & Co-op nearby should you need to go and pick up lunch during the breaks.

Mobile Phones

Please note attendees are not permitted to either film video footage or record audio from any of the sessions with the workshops. Anyone who is found doing so will be asked to leave the event.

If you have any questions between now and the event or any issues on the day please either contact James Baker on 07730608188.

We look forward to seeing you this weekend.


2 Lower Body Strength Exercises for Young Athletes

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2 Lower Body Strength Exercises for Young Athletes

We’ve been working hard with lots of junior athletes on the Elite Performance Pathway this year and I’ve been reflecting on things I’ve done this year that have been particularly effective with the age group when it comes to improving strength.

Enhancing the force producing capabilities of our young athletes is a big priority in the Athletic Foundation (Year 7 & 8) phase of our LTAD system. Below are two exercises that are becoming common place in this phase as the athletes learn to train to get stronger:

The Bottom Up Split Squat

Bottom Up Split Squat

In my experience lots of young athletes struggle to get in to and maintain the correct start position when learning the Split Squat, even under just their own body weight due to various issues including poor stability. I’ve found that starting them in the bottom position of the split squat and making them work up from there a more effective way of teaching them this particular exercise.

Starting in the bottom position allows you to establish a solid, stable base before they lift themselves up to initiate the movement. It’s much easier for them to adjust their foot position whilst in the kneeling lunge position, as they won’t lose their balance.

I’ve also been getting them to execute it with their arms overhead, which fixes the common problem of the torso falling forward. As they get stronger you can provide some additional resistance from a medicine ball in the overhead position or at chest height.

The Kettlebell Deadlift


At the minute this is probably my favourite exercise to introduce to young athletes to lower body strength training after they’ve done some body weight squatting. It strengthens the posterior chain and is great to teach them how to get into and hold an extended spine position, which is particularly useful for those athletes that ‘fold’ over when performing any kind of body weight squat.

They can also start to get stronger in this lift even with a limited ROM in their squat, and means we can start to safely enhance their lower body force producing capabilities at the same time as addressing problem areas in their flexibility and mobility.

For those struggling to learn the movement, or struggling to get into the correct start position. I’ve been raising the Kettlebell on a 15 or 20kg bumper plate to make sure they are starting with the spine in a neutral position. Alternatively, starting from standing at the top of the lift (opposite to the Bottom up Split Squat) and working down to where they are able to maintain the neutral trunk position, gradually increasing depth over reps/sets/sessions as improve ROM becomes available.


Both exercises set us up nicely to introduce more advanced variations of the exercises in subsequent blocks/phases of training as the movement pattern is already in place with the athlete. Example exercise progressions for each exercise are:

Bottom Up Split Squat -> MB Split Squat -> DB Split Squat -> Barbell Split Squat

Kettlbell Deadlift -> Kettlebell Swing -> Trap Bar Deadlift -> Traditional Deadlift

If you are interested in learning more about best practises to develop strength, power, speed and agility for athletes across the developmental continuum, join us for #ChildToChampion in Gloucester in April.


A Guide to Getting a Job In S&C


A Guide to Getting a Job in S&C

If you are a regular reader of the site you’ll remember a few months back we posted a video by Keir Wenham-Flatt (www.rugbystrengthcoach.com) about his seminars on how to get a job in S&C.

I’ve been chatting to Keir on and off over the last few months and he’s been working hard on a new project to provide S&C coaches with opportunities to learn from some of the leading minds from around the S&C industry but probably more crucially in this highly competitive industry he’s putting as much effort into helping people learn how to develop their career and crack that biggest challenge of all to aspiring coaches getting your first job!

You can check out Keir’s video guide here – http://rugbystrengthcoach.com/how-to-get-a-job-in-strength-and-conditioning/