You Have Two Ears…

This past weekend I had the privilege to travel to the United States Olympic Training Centre (USOTC) f or the Dartfish Users Conference.  For those of you that do not know, Dartfish is the software that was extensively used at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.  The mission was to head down to Colorado Springs, Colorado and learn how others are using it in their business models.  However for me, conferences like that are a great place to network.

Now, do not get me wrong, the conference was great, and yes there was a lot of self back patting by the presenters, and yes, Dartfish was made to look like the be all and end all of testing and analysis, but the highlights came outside the walls of the conference room.  On day one as the room filled we began to see quite an array or individuals, from teachers, to coaches to physiotherapists and biomechanists.  But as one gentleman walked in I thought I recognized him, but could not place where.  It was not until I was back at the hotel room and reading my current book “Athletic Development” by Vern Gambetta ( that I realized it was him at the conference.  Well, on day two I introduced myself and mentioned that I was reading the book and would very much appreciate an autograph. To which he responded, “I would much rather sit down and discuss training.”

So on to lunch at the USOTC cafeteria, that I might say is really the only thing I thing the USOTC has over the Canadians.  That cafeteria was amazing.  Anything you want could potentially be there. Anyways, I was invited by Mr. Gambetta and Dr. Bob Ward ( to sit with them during lunch. Now once again for those that do not know, Dr. Bob Ward is one of the pioneers in Strength and Conditioning.  He was one of the first full time strength and conditioning coaches in the NFL, helping the Dallas Cowboys from 1976 to 1989 to become the dynasty they continue to be.  Not to mention, in the middle of lunch, Dr. Ward receives a call from Bill Kramer, as in Dr. William Kraemer who is the author of almost every major text book on exercise physiology I own.  That I would have to say is a bit bad ass from a phys geek perspective.  I was truly honored to be sitting with two men who helped shape the profession I am in today.

For the full time that I ate with two legends of strength and conditioning, I kept one thing in mind.  You have two ears and one mouth, you need to listen twice as much as you talk.  In an hour and a half I was fortunate enough to receive some of the greatest lesions on this profession that I could.  As a strength consultant, I work with people all the time and I realize that people love to talk about themselves.  And yes I am guilty of that as well.  But since that meeting, I have aimed to keep that quote in mine.  Because of that simple thought, I learnt valuable lessons that I am not going to learn in any classroom.  And I don’t have the 30 years to wait for the experience.  But some of the key highlights of the lunch we as followed…

  1. This is not an industry I work in.  It is a profession.  If it was an industry I would have a union card.  I do this as my career.  I am a professional at what I do.
  2. You cool down, not shut down when working out.   Therefore the use of ice but athletes is sometimes over prescribed and un-necessary.  Properly coached cool downs could reduce the amount of ice that is needed.
  3. There is no, “let’s get them ready for the season and hope they hang on.”  It is what you do in the season and the balance of it all that is what makes the difference between a good coach and a great one.
  4. We as a profession working with team sports waste time trying to compare one athlete with another.  We want to know who is better.  The key in our profession is comparing the athlete against themselves, over time one, time two… etc.  That is the real measure of your worth as a strength coach in the ability to stimulate change and improvement.

I would have to say it was an honor to sit with these two gentlemen, and share in their experiences.  I just wish I would have turned on the recorder on my Blackberry, because this opportunity does not come around often.

Until next time,

Yours in health and performance

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