Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Going, Going, Gone!

Is what happened to my legs and trunk last week at P3. I was back in Santa Barbara trying to learn more about their methods and figure out how we’re going to teach them to the general public. After three hours of body assessments, training, and physical therapy I was utterly destroyed. I hadn’t had such a power-oriented workout since I was playing college sports and such a scientific analysis of the way I moved in my life.

My initial days at P3 had been spent observing and studying. Step 1 was to read the science behind Postactivation Potentiation (PAP) training and start to understand how P3 applied it to their athletes, which is quite different to how it’s applied elsewhere. Each athlete gets treated as an individual so it is vital for me to understand where all of their training interconnects because, obviously, we can’t do this. I’ve been looking for common ground that all athletes share or, more precisely, common weaknesses.

Having paid numerous visits to P3 in the last couple of years I can see its effect on their long term athletes. Chicago Bulls sharpshooter Kyle Korver has been at P3 every time I have. Now he’s always the one acing every workout amid a lot of strugglers. So much so that Utah Jazz big man Al Jefferson, on his first visit to P3, jokingly—sort of—didn’t want to be matched next to him in any drill. When Korver got healthy last year he led the NBA in three point shooting. Jefferson is already a star, though an often hobbled one. If he can get healthy he could end up in the Hall of Fame.

The workouts at P3 are very systematic. They don’t necessarily look intense as there isn’t a lot of screaming and grunting that’s often associated with hard training. But because most sets are done until power failure their effect on the body is pronounced. Athletes look at video, study form, and try to make improvements in each subsequent set. Holding form during intense outputs is such a vital component of sports performance that relaxation is one of the key parameters targeted during P3’s training. Staying relaxed and keeping form under duress is often the difference between not only success and failure but injury and health. When Elliott took over the training program for the New England Patriots their rate of non-contact injuries dropped to almost nothing. The adaptation to such training can be rapid in talented athletes, and I noted large improvements in Jefferson’s movements in just two days.

Finally it was my turn in the barrell. Given that I was coming off of a back injury I wasn’t surprised by how pathetic I was. I was surprised, however, that we not only found the cause of a longterm problem in my hip but probably also found the reason for my back injury. It was also interesting to see some of my performance numbers increase even as my muscles grew tired. By focusing on technique through each movement neuromuscular patterns improved. So much so that in one agility drill I outperformed my early workout test and the very end of the session when my legs felt like rubber. I can’t begin to imagine how this training would have changed my athletic career.

The title of this blog, incidentally, is in reference to a little side bet I made with pretty much the entire staff at P3: that I couldn’t hit a home run. This was based on my power readings in a rotational strength test, though physical therapist and endurance athlete Mike Swan said he’d take the bet simply on the fact that I was wearing a t-shirt from an ultra marathon that I’d done, “no one who finsihes a race like that can hit a home run” was his assessment. My numbers were about half of a MLB player and at P3 numbers don’t lie. Actually, they had some precidence as one of their trainers tried taken the same bet and missed by “about 100 feet” according to the players.

This seems strange to me since in batting practice conditions I used to be able to hit home runs at will. But I suppose it’s possible. My vertical jump is barely half of what it used to be, and I’m sure my sprinting is much much slower. Aging power athletes don’t fare near as well as aging endurance athletes. Still don't believe it but I'm probably just hanging onto the past. Certainly, all of those hours in batting cage perfecting my swing will see me through. We'll see next trip 'cause, you know, back in '82, I used to be able to throw a pigskin a quarter mile.

pic: how much you wanna make a bet i can throw a football over them mountains?


hillis said...

Any blog post that can incorporate a Napoleon Dynamite quote with Fitness is Grade A in my book.

Anonymous said...

Very Interesting!
Thank You!