September 9, 2012
NENSA Symposium | Day One
Summary: Know your athletes and coach them to know themselves
Know your athletes and coach them to know themselves
Knowing your athlete is not a new concept to Nordic coaches, but today’s presenters brought that concept to another level of specificity and offered some great tools through the first day of the NENSA Coaching Symposium.In the opening presentation, “Effective Core Training & Strength Training Assessment,” Physical Therapist Kurt Jebson laid the foundation for day one in speaking on our physical core and the functional foundation that comes from effective and safe core training. Kicking off with Spinal Anatomy 101, Jebson talked through a thorough education on the importance of proper positioning and support when focusing on core strength. We then moved into how to identify that positioning and maintain an awareness of the core strength training approach to protect the spine and maximize results. Coaches then broke a sweat in Jebson’s “Core Strength Assessment” demo, and a few volunteers earned their lunch demonstrating Jebson’s big five core strengthening exercises. A key take away was Jebson’s mantra, “train the motion, not the muscle.”
Sport Psychologist Ira Martin walked us through an inspired conversation on the mental game, knowing your athletes psychologically and their mental development. On confidence, Martin spoke of nurturing success, modeling ideal behaviors, providing feedback and fostering good feelings and psychological well-being. As important as knowing the athletes, is coaching them to know themselves. One easy step: ask an athlete a question that will force them to answer by telling of a recent success. In recounting a triumph, whether a minor improvement or a major victory, requires them to know their own success.
In a presentation of “Mindful Preparation,” Brian Fish of the US Ski Team shared real athlete stories in telling how the USST identifies the physical capacity of their athletes and what motivates them. In keeping with Jepson’s earlier message, Fish reiterated that, “it is not how much you do, but how well you do it.” Knowing the athlete and their capacity is a critical element to the USST’s strategic training schedule of super compensation cycles. Universally, coaches must assist an athlete in knowing themselves; to be mindful, not just in preparation but also in execution in training and competition.
Dartmouth Women’ s Head Coach, Cami Thompson spoke on the place of Collegiate racing in the domestic Nordic scene. With an educational survey of the current state of NCAA skiing, Thompson addressed the importance of helping your athletes to know their intentions around skiing and the college decision. From academic and athletic goals to the admission process, a high school or club coach can be an important ally and resource in clarifying for that athlete their best track to the collegiate level.
Jason Cork of the US Ski Team spoke on the USST physiology approach. Using the USST platform, Cork illustrated how to determine your athlete’s performance markers. He also shared testing tools and ideas for Strength, Agility, Mobility, and Body Composition testing.
Symposium participants then enjoyed a wonderful buffet dinner at the Inn at Stratton Mountain while taking advantage of some "down time" and networking with fellow coaches. It was a full day but not over yet!
An evening roundtable provided a platform for coaches to ask questions of the panel- consisting of Jason Cork, Bryan Fish, Sverre Caldwell, Morgan Smyth, (newly appointed assistant coach of Team Soldier Hollow) and Jennie Bender, native Vermonter back visiting from the Midwest.
Questions posed ranged from advice on training, stretching routines pre and post race, motivating J1 boys to train, building relationships between high schools and clubs and "describing the most usefull thing a coach has ever told you". The roundtable generated much discussion and interaction among the participants and the panel and was a perfect way to end a productive day.
Kurt Jebson demonstrating how to find the 'neutral spine' body position
Squat assessment tool with Fred Griffin
And Sue Wemyss
Ira Martin, Sports Physcologist
Jason Cork, USST
Bryan Fish, USST, demonstrating an aspect of skiing body position