It’s Not A New Mandate, It An Expansion

I have some explaining to do. First off, I’ve been away from my website for a while. Okay, a long while, however I can explain. With the world we were in for 2 years easing, that means back to meeting with people, back to meetings, back to obligations. And a lot of those obligations lead to the reason I have been MIA for the past while. 

Recently I announced through social medial platforms, as of September I am officially back at the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary. With that return there’re has been the return to programs such as Bowness HPAD, which has grown. It is extremely exciting and I am grateful for the time I get to help support that program. It’s back to Advanced Coaching Diploma and being back to a in person/ virtual hybrid delivery.  And back to lab, to practice my skill once again as a physiology lab tech. I do miss practicing as an applied high performance physiologist, but I digress. 

But one major change has come not just for me but for the institute. I have had trouble defining it but as some of the other institutes have posted the job description, the best way to describe what I do is pseudo Podium Pathway Advisor I guess. I came back with the goal to support the current and next generation of development, club medal-winning athletes, identified coaches, and sport technical leaders. I wanted to support athletes through delivery and accessibility to programs and services; deliver and promote talent identification programs such as RBC Training Ground. I am putting in effort to facilitate and deliver mentorship and professional development opportunities for  coaches and technical leaders.

I guess the biggest question I have pondered is, “is the CSI open for business?”. In a short answer, yes, but in a long answer, it’s complex and dynamic. Yes we are engaging with clubs, teams and coaches.  Most have come to us, as it has been all word of mouth. But I like to think of it as providing a program wide gap analysis and performance planning support to organizations that leads to successful outcomes on the on whatever stage they are performing. It comes down to ensuring identified gaps and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in the areas of coaching, leadership, competition and sport science are enhanced through their investment. I look to provide feedback on the gaps and help to identify the best practices the team should employ to help the performance, leadership or culture of their team. I have said that we need to have better athletes come though the system, but we never did anything about it.  Now we are building relationships deeper into the sport system, to the grassroots level. I feel we are on the verge of doing something about building a better foundation. 

Second big questions that crosses my mind, “are we in competition with others in the sport training community?”  Short answer, kind of.  Long answer, it’s complex and dynamic.  The goal I had coming back to the CSIC to do this, to get this off the ground was very complex.  I wanted to provide some of the services to the clubs that we did with national teams.  I think to the years of the Olympic Oval program.  Those were some of my happiest times.  We were there to support, and educate, and watch athletes move to amazing things, both in and out of sport.  But I looked at two different angles. The first was that I view the people at the CSIC as family. And when I had to leave, it hurt.  I also worried what happened to me could happen to anyone.  I wanted to help to create something that was  little place where we would be able to create a space, where these great coaches could go, when we age out of travel, when family commitment meant we cannot spend months at a time out on the road, and when a team leaves to another location, and their time with us is over.  This is a space where we can take our years of experience and share with the next generation.  It is what the Norwegians do, and it works, so why not start a place where that culture could live. Put some amazing coaches with immense experience where it can benefit the up and coming athletes.

But the second angle touched on my back ground as an educator.  I have heard that “you need the job to get the experience, but you need the experience to get the job.” I was blessed to learn under great people. I want to give back. I wanted to create a place where others in the profession could come, learn, gain experience and collaborate.  Create a space, where young coaches can be mentored, can practice their craft, in a safe environment, where mistakes are okay, where they do not cost careers, medals or funding.  Its a place where athletes are going to still get better, but we can continue to learn, adjust the process, and in the end, its a win/ win. It is not just aimed at students and interns, but other strength coaches, other sport physiologists.  There are no secrets in this profession, so why are we scared to share, to collaborate out of our four walls. We are looking to help other groups where they feel they may have a gap.  So are we open for business, sure, I guess to some degree.  Are we competition, I would say no. We are just here to help, to support, to collaborate, to learn and to grow. 

Extreme Leadership

A post to my site has been long overdue. But the delay did not happen because of just a lack of desire or ideas, but from a decrease in free time. I am happy to say that training has returned to a resemblance of normal. Teams are back to daily environments that means support to athletes and coaches has been on the rise. I am very fortunate to be back with the Neutral Hills Wrangles, helping with a local cycling program and, and Killarney Artistic Swim. I am also excited to begin with the National Sport Academy Baseball program and a few smaller, equally exciting projects. I would like to thank Jason Poole and Jason Sjostrom at the Canadian Sport Institute for asking me to assist with these projects and agree to collaborate on others.  It is really an honour to be back at whatever capacity to assist coaches and athletes of all levels. As the tag line for the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary states, if comes down to “elevating the athlete.”

Despite the hustle of the summer and the fall, there was time to read. This summer I was able to read 4 new books, and 4 rereads; books that I find so influential, technical, or important that I read a second, possibly third time. One of the more interesting books that captured my attention this summer was Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. Very much rooted in the leadership within the Navy Seals, there were several parallels to Integrated Support Teams. They spoke throughout the book of the dichotomy of leadership which resonated on a deep level with me, as I venture to help coaches as well as athletes.

The keys to leadership, and this should come as no surprise, as we all should know by now it is about building relationships through respecting people. Being humble, listening, telling them the truth and having integrity set a solid foundation for that relationship to grow.  But to delve deeper into that concept it is important that a good leader must be confident but not cocky. Now in many cases, I for one would have been labeled on the cocky side. But with age, therefore some life wisdom we learn to put our egos aside, and realise it is not about us, hoe good our programs are, or who we have worked with. It is about those you are supporting, who they are working with, and can you elevate their programs to help support those they are supporting.

Good leaders need to be courageous but not foolhardy. Never has this been more important than now, in the age of social media, the new normal of a global pandemic, and when you are back out in the world climbing the ladder of success again. It is the process of believing in yourself, your skills, and your abilities to act on your passion to move forward; to believe so deeply in your process that you can focus on the goal. But it is also the ability to see, when it is time to change the course slightly, or ask for help. Once, again, that ego is put aside and you reach out to a network that you have hopefully built though strong relationships.

We all need to be competitive but a gracious loser. When I was younger, I took things personally, and at times I still do. If an athlete decided to move on from me to someone else, I was out of sorts for a while. But let’s be honest, there are many people doing great work out there.  Once again, it is not about me, it is about them and what they need to be successful. If this is what they feel they need, then support them in that decision. It may work out, it may not, but you are there to support them, and to even welcome them back if need be. Understand that the wins will come, and they will feel amazing. But with the wins, there will be eventual losses. Sometimes we got a lot of losses. It is how you pick yourself up from those losses that helps to define your leadership.

We all can be attentive to details but not obsessed by them. We talk about this in periodization. Plans are written in pencil and ink. They can be adjusted. Understand that the attention to details matter, to have the most robust plan, account for scenarios but at times, the plan must take a different course. It is not abandoning the plan but guiding the decisions within the bandwidth of our experience. This brings with it new experience and understanding that gives us that greater knowledge.

This career requires good leaders to be strong but have endurance. Not in the physical sense but in character and mental strength. Leadership is not something you walk in and bang out over the course of a few days. It can be months, years that this process develops. So having the mental endurance to take on this marathon is highly relevant to great leadership.

A strong and effective leader must be a leader and a follower. Really this comes down to know when to lead, and when to back off and support. Able to execute extreme ownership, while exercising decentralized command. This is also a trait of a truly great mentor as well. In the words of Higgins from the ever-popular show Ted Lasso, “A good mentor hopes you will move on. A great mentor knows you will.” A good leader knows when to back off as they trust the mentor.  And this requires the leader to once again, be humble not passive.

But when things are not going as planned, it is a skill to be aggressive not overbearing. The overbearing, leader fails to gain the respect of the team. No one wants to feel that they are not trusted, being talked down to, dismissed or yelled at. This also means that the leader needs to be quiet not silent and calm but not robotic, logical but not devoid of emotions.

Leadership is also about being close with others, coaches, and athletes, but not so close that one becomes more important than another or more important than the good of the team.  Not so close that they forget who is in charge. There is a skill at being friendly, but not being friends with those you lead. As time moves, and I can say that I would consider many coaches I have worked with friends. But, having the above skills, helps to differentiate this when it comes to the daily training environment, and when critical decisions need to be made. When it comes to athletes, it is CRITCAL to differentiate the friendly from friends. That is a tough process when young leaders are placed in a position with athletes not much older than them, but that creates no excuse. Sport needs to be a safe place, and our relationship with our athletes cannot come from a place of transactional, abusing our “power”. That has zero place in sport.

And lastly, A GOOD LEADER HAS NOTHING TO PROVE BUT EVERYTHING TO PROVE. We are here to support, we are here to guide, and we will do that with the best of our ability, with the knowledge we have at this time. But we also have to have impact, create results, and not just speak about actions, but enact on the.  That requires us to be humble, listen, telling the truth and having integrity to set a solid foundation for that relationship to grow

May Newsletter V1I5

May turned out to be a busier than usual month which was appreciated from a teaching and training perspective, however, provincial restrictions caused a change of focus. That caused this month’s newsletter to come out a bit later than anticipated. However, here it is. A little overview look at Maximal Aerobic Power. Hope you all find it interesting and informative

Dear Social Media.

I am saddened to see the state our province is in, the culture of society reflected through the online lens. My views are my own, and any debate or negative comments will be deleted. 

For my own mental health I need a break from the negativity of all that is occurring on all social media platforms. 

A Government who’s own members cannot have common ground. 

Government that is concerned with economy over people. People drive the economy, not the other way around. 

I am a religious person, but the challenge of a church here in Alberta at the centre of attention that flouts the health orders as though religion in a specific place is essential. “The Kingdom of God is inside/within you (and all about you), not in buildings/mansions of wood and stone. (When I am gone) Split a piece of wood and I am there, lift the/a stone and you will find me.” I am not making this about religion, but saying we have to stay open because we are essential is a myopic view of how to serve others.  I am sure online option for your people can be tolerated for a short time.

Change that to “Fitness and health is inside/within you (and all about you), not in buildings/mansions of wood and stone.” Do not tell me about hurting, suffering etc. when it comes to fitness and sport.  I have been at 1/8 of my workload for 9 months, so trust me when I tell you what hurt is. I have looked through my scope of practice from both certifying bodies I am registered with, no where have I found that I am able to take clients that are in severe pain or in a place of such poor mental health that I am essential.  But maybe that is why I am a below average trainer/ coach working at 1/8 of my previous load. To defy the orders, shows that  “we are NOT in this together” as many make the sacrifice to stick to such orders.  I fear this will just postpone the inevitable 4th, 5th etc. wave and we are back in this again 3, 6 or more months from now. In this industry there are smart people, we can work together to get through this. One on one is still allowed, as is outdoor training. With creativity, people can still be active, and come out of this with a new perspective. I am hurting, scared and frustrated as is anyone, and frankly sick of all this as well. 

I am saddened to see that a province that has gotten through the flood of 2012 and the Fort Mac fires in solidarity, making only millimetres of progress in a million directions as opposed to making significant progress in the things that matter the most. I consider myself a sport scientist, and as such we apply the scientific process to the realm of sport. That process includes identify solutions, understanding the problems or factors, creating a process for evaluation, analyzing results, making a conclusion, and communicating those results. However, I fear many are caught at the step of creating a new process, after being in this an entire year. Yes, I too suffer from Zoom fatigue, but we are all talented, smart, and educated individuals and such can move the needle on how we can have a true impact on our clients, athletes, and those we are asked to support. We can elevate what it is we do for our clients. I have always strived to have informed athletes; I as many want to coach, guide, teaching all the people I work with how to think, not what to think. Throughout all of this, my hope is that we can collectively come to a happier, safer place, and show that we can endure, we can adapt this profession, not industry, but a profession, can and will have a greater impact on society as a whole.

Until then, see you when I see you Social Media.

Revisiting LTAD Gold.

I have an app called Pocket. If you don’t know it, it’s fantastic. You can grab any article from the net, Twitter, etc., save it to Pocket, and then read it later offline. I have quite a stash of great articles in there to read. Today I came across this one by Rick Howard, M.Ed., CSCS, *D, written a few years back, and it is exactly what I needed to revisit today. So I wanted to share it here.

But what caught my attention was the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and their foundation of the position statement on 10 Pillars of LTAD:

  1. Long-term athletic development pathways should accommodate for the highly individualized and non-linear nature of the growth and development of youth.
  2. The youth of all ages, abilities, and aspirations should engage in long-term athletic development programs that promote both physical fitness and psychosocial wellbeing.
  3. All youth should be encouraged to enhance physical fitness from early childhood, with a primary focus on motor skills and muscular strength development.
  4. Long-term athletic development pathways should encourage an early sampling approach for youth that promotes and enhances a broad range of motor skills.
  5. The health and wellbeing of the child should always be the central tenet of long-term athletic development programs.
  6. Youth should participate in physical conditioning that helps reduce the risk of injury to ensure their on-going participation in long-term athletic development programs.
  7. Long-term athletic development programs should provide all youth with a range of training modes to enhance both health- and skill-related components of fitness.
  8. Practitioners should use relevant monitoring and assessment tools as part of a long-term physical development strategy.
  9. Practitioners working with youth should systematically progress and individualize training programs for successful long-term athletic development.
  10. Qualified professionals and sound pedagogical approaches are fundamental to the success of long-term athletic development programs.

It was highlighted by the author “The central tenet of this model is that the health and wellbeing of the child is the holistic focus. In other words, all youth participation in sports, fitness, and physical activity should be deliberately planned to provide a positive physical and psychosocial experience leading to increased skills and abilities, love for the game, and reduced risk of injury.”

I would highly suggest that you click on the link above and have a read of the article. It is one of those articles that any of us who are in the sport performance realm, and working with youth should revisit from time to time, to ensure that we are following sound principles that take into account the holistic approach to LTAD.

February Newsletter V1. I1.

I have enjoyed the process of sharing knowledge and information through my posts and recently have thought about new ways to interact. I am hopping on the bandwagon as are many others to share information through the medium of a newsletter.

This will allow those of you who wish to not only read the information but save it for another time in the form of a PDF.

The first news letter is helping to explain what in short detail what I have been working on for the last few months in developing Deliberate Performance.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the content.


“Auld Lang Syne” is a Scots-language poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song (Roud # 6294). It is well known in many countries, especially in the English-speaking world, its traditional use being to bid farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. By extension, it is also sung at funerals, graduations, and as a farewell or ending to other occasions. The poem’s Scots title may be translated into standard English as “old long since” or, less literally, “long long ago”, “days gone by”, or “old times”. Consequently, “For auld lang syne”, as it appears in the first line of the chorus, might be loosely translated as “for the sake of old times”. Thank you, Wikipedia.

After the tire fire that was 2020, it is hard not to yearn for the sake of old times; of 2018, or 2019. Anything but 2020, with the passing of a beloved sports icon and his daughter, the passing of a game show celebrity, a man who changed the way guitars were played.  Then there was the BLM movement that was a needed wake-up call that was heard around the world. Of course, the main course was the Pandemic, the support or disdain of elected officials and their handling of the course of nature.  Then there are those divided by “research” on social media. That’s a whole separate story.  Did I forget the murder hornets?  Seriously 2020, what the hell?

Now, I am going to state that I am not much for the New Years’ Eve celebrations.  Maybe it stems from long ago being stood up on NYE (for any millennials reading this, that is the physical manifestation of “ghosting” in your texting world), or staying home in 1999 because I drank a case of beer waiting to see the fallout at midnight of Y2K (millennials, that’s when the world’s computers were to stop functioning and we were to revert back to the dark ages, hahaha).  NYE really has never been my thing. But as I sat on the couch at 8:00 pm, my daughters blew noisemakers and we had a mini countdown before their bedtime, it wasn’t until my wife played Auld Lang Syne by The Barenaked Ladies that the magnitude of 2020 hit me.  I was relieved and sad all at the same time. I realized the events we witness, lived through, will live through, and the sacrifices we made.  It also dawned on me the amount of change that I (we) had to endure this past year. 

There was a profound Twitter post that the author laid out his predictions that will likely emerge before 2030 and it really resonated with me.  Riding the coattails of that brilliant post, here are some of the things that I reflected on…

  1. Higher quality of life – the events of 2020 have forced our entire society to slow down.  I was sent home on March 12, 2020, and for the first week, it was glorious. The second and third were pretty spectacular, but for those that know me, I enjoyed going into work and the social interactions. By week four, the house felt the size of a garden shed, and the walls were closing in.  But today, I have slowed my pace and really do not want that to change as our governments roll out vaccinations with a hopeful return to normal.  I discovered the love of cooking and a nightly meal with my family and realized that food that is warm is much better than eating it cold. I have come accustomed to the once-weekly trip to the grocery store and appreciate the dog-eared cookbooks in my house.  Even the random ramblings of my kids as I drive them to and from school have become precious moments.  I have found myself smiling at the little things more often. Thank you 2020 for slowing me down.
  2. My Hobbies – yep, my workout sure took a different direction this year.  However, I look back on this as a welcome change.  I do regret not stocking my war chest of gym goods more responsibly in the past but I made due.  I had a TRX, various kettlebells, bands, and a 45 lb bar (someday I will have plates for the said bar) but I walked nearly three times a week and was on my bike more this year than in the last 8 years combined.  I cherished every day I was able to stand in the water and toss a fly line this year. And throughout all of this, I still managed 257 active days out of a planned 233 (109%).  This time away from the physical gym has allowed me to be more creative, open my mind, and honestly challenge the way I defined solutions for myself and athletes. Thank you 2020.
  3. Career – As most of you will know, 2020 was the year I was shown the door, I was laid off.  To say it was hard would be an understatement. But thanks to a supportive family, some professional help, and supportive friends, I am coping with it… still. Things happen for a reason, and at first seem unfair, cruel, and embarrassing.  But it has taken some time to reflect on where I have come to at the end of 2020.  I have had the time to reflect on what truly mattered to me.  The rise of remote will lead to people re-prioritizing what is important to them and lead them to organize work around life will be the prioritized. People realizing they are more than their job will lead to a deeper purpose in other areas. A recognition that we no longer have to sacrifice work for a living, but we can organize work around our lives. I have been busy since the middle of August defining this at depth truly reinventing myself as a sports physiologist and educator.
  4. My “legacy”- I miss my coworkers and I miss my athletes, more than anyone could know. I would feel the same pride watching my athletes and coaches succeed that I do watch my children grow and learn.  But it took time away to discover what I want to be known for in my next chapter. I want to be known as a great practitioner who can deliver what I promise consistently. I want to be known as a facilitator and educator who trains others on how to maximize effectiveness and translate knowledge. I want my time to be replaced as the main KPI for judging my performance rather than by productivity and output. That means becoming an essentialist and removing the need to pad an 8 hour day, replaced by clear tasks and responsibilities that I find deep connection and meaning. It means doing what needs to be done rather than wasting time on tasks trying to look busy.

So as we bode farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, and we shook our fist at 2020, I recognized it as bidding farewell or ending to other occasions. Coming out the other end of this “UNPRECEDENTED EVENT”  none of us are the same person, probably more so than any other year, we have endured. I would like to think that as a whole, a majority of us used 2020 positively. As he poem’s Scots title may be translated into standard English as “old long since” or, less literally, “long long ago”, “days have gone by”, or “old times”, I do not wish the old times; well aside from no COVID-19, but I look at 2021 with a little more optimism, wisdom, and hope. Here is to 2020, that relationship that was so toxic that it showed us, we deserve better than 2020 and it’s bull shit. I hope the best for all of you in 2021.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

There are two things I love to do outside of coaching; cooking and building with wood. Now the cooking I can handle my own, the wood working is something of a work in progress.  So over the time at home, I have watched a fair share of cooking shows and have begun to rather enjoy the HGTV show Home Town.  Home Town is an American television series starring husband and wife team, Ben and Erin Napier that premiered on January 24, 2016 on HGTV. The married couple restores Southern homes in Laurel, Mississippi.

They take their talents to renovate old homes and take something that to most, should be torn down and make it into something spectacular, many times not even recognizing the old structure existed. With these older homes, they really see the cosmetics of the house, but it is not until demo day that they see what lies underneath.  As hidden problems arise, there is no panic, but an assessment and plan to address the situation within the budget or constraints that they are faced with. For the most part, Erin works on the design and decorating while Ben works on the structure.  Ben’s role is to set a strong foundation and structure to which Erin adds the final touches and together they create a collaborative approach to renovation project.

This got me thinking about the structure of athlete development based around a recent article review.  The article was investigating the improvement of sport performance in response to a change in physiological lab measures. The reviewer questioned the relevance in the mode of exercise to the sport specific exercise.   I then began to think about the renovation process. Much as in a renovation where you have the general contractor and the designer, you have the sport scientist (general contractor) and the coach (designer).  When we begin with a new athlete we see the outside cosmetics (looks fit, can move okay etc.) but it is not until we have the assessment where we see the underlying issues (restricted movement, fitness etc.).  It is at that time the contractor must begin to create a structurally sound plan so that the designer can complete their job.

And here I get back to the relevance in the mode of exercise to the sport specific exercise.  This is my personal opinion, but as the sport scientist in the daily training environment, we can all benefit from taking a step back, and slow the process down.  The first step in the testing process is not to connect the dots of “my training plan in the weight room or on the bike did X and the performance was Y therefore my program had a direct impact on the performance.”  There are so many factors that can account for an improvement or decline in performance we can be missing the picture.


As the contractor, your job is to have a strong foundation.  If you create X program, the physiological testing is in place to ensure your program had the intended effect.  With a sound foundation, the coach (designer) can then finalize the project (sport specific training).  Yes, therefore there is an indirect effect that the sport science program has on the performance, but as young sport scientists, too often we try to answer the grand question instead of the simple ones that are before of us.  Entry and exist testing first off must determine if the program you wrote had the intended effect.  Then, when you have that confirmed, can you begin to look at the effect it had on performance, but answer the simple questions before tackling the larger.  Make a collaborative and sound assessment, program.  Test said program for its effect.  Create a structurally and physiologically tolerate athlete for the coach.  Help to set a strong foundation and structure to which the coach adds the final touches and together create a collaborative approach to “renovation” project.

And with that I am off to the garage to continue with a new wood project.