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Welcome back! This week we wanted to share a second guest blog post from ECU Coach Brandon Golden, as he breaks down how he uses VBT phases to build the team’s strength. Brandon wrote an initial post for us a few months ago (if you haven’t read it yet, take a read through now!)

Before we get into this, we also wanted to take a minute and acknowledge the trying times the world currently is in. With so much of the next few weeks and months unknown due to the worldwide COVID19 outbreak, we know the uncertainty is unsettling. In an effort to do our part, we are doubling our educational content efforts in order to bring quality information straight to you so you can stay home, stay educated, and we can all help each other get through this together.

Brandon wrote this article about a month ago before the cancellation of the NCAA spring seasons. As a result, the language will be indicative of his intended season plans. Unfortunately, while those will not come to fruition for ECU or any NCAA team this spring season, the content is still relevant and applicable in a collegiate setting. We want to thank Brandon for his words and time and all of you for reading. Stay safe!

BRANDON GOLDEN PART II

In this article I am going to shed some light on how I have constructed our in-season training program utilizing Velocity Based Training for our Baseball Team. First off I want it to be known that this was a compilation of information from various sources that I took and manipulated to meet the needs of our Baseball players here at East Carolina. My information came from works by Dr. Bryan Mann and Eric McMahon. Both of these individuals have had an impact on the way I utilize VBT for my athletes and they deserve the credit for its origination.

As I previously stated in my first post about VBT, we play 56 regular season games not including the postseason. This past weekend we played a double header on Sunday and are now on our way to play Elon as I am writing this. On Friday, we have the Keith LeClair Classic to celebrate the life of Coach Keith LeClair and raise awareness about ALS. To say the least, these guys have a lot going on in addition to being college students who place a high standard on academic success.

SPECIFIC QUALITIES

Our shortstop and third basemen are two-way guys who have shown the ability to both play a position and pitch at a high level. We are a “next man up” type team that has talent across the board. It is my job to make sure everyone is ready to go every day. VBT allows me to train the specific qualities I am interested in developing while also ensuring that if their name is called, they will be ready to answer the bell.

Prior to the season starting, almost as a deload, I used F-V testing to see where they were at in the beginning of the year. We will do this a total of three times throughout the season. The second time at the midway point of season, and the final one right before we head to Clearwater for the AAC Conference Tournament. I took the rep max in squat and bench for position players (safety bar squat for pitchers) and started them at 30% of their max, worked them up to 90% and in some cases we were able to go above 90%. The cutoff point for that specific testing session was .5m/s since we had opening weekend coming up, and they hadn’t been exposed to super high intensities.

VBT PHASES FOR ECU

Our system is broken up into three VBT phases. Strength, Power, and Speed. Each phase has specific velocity ranges based on the movements being executed. Right before the season started, we finished Strength Phase 1, which is why it is not included on the graphic seen below. I wanted to provide something that could easily show what our in-season training looked like. We go from Strength to Power, and then move into the Speed phase and then repeat. Every VBT phase is a three-week phase, and as the phases repeat, you will see the volume decrease as the intensity increases.

My hypothesis for this system is that by the end of May, when we test F-V for the last time, we will see an increase in power output by 5% (in watts) for everyone on the team.

CONCLUSION

Currently, our guys are really getting after it and are fully bought into the program utilizing VBT. It is truly enjoyable to watch guys hit weights at speeds they never thought possible. We have one more week in our Power phase and then we will transition into the first Speed phase. I’m excited to see how this program unfolds. I want to give a huge shout out to the entire ECU Strength Staff for allowing me to bounce my ideas off of them, and not just accepting them, but challenging me and making me better every day!

Brandon Golden #2wayU

OTHER RELEVANT POSTS!

Don’t forget to check out Brandon Golden’s first guest blog post!

Wanna hear more from coaches? Check out our Coach’s Corner series!

FOLLOW US!

Keep checking back for more velocity based training content, tips, tricks, and tools. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter , Instagram and Linkedin and like us on Facebook .

Brandon Golden has been coaching full time for nearly a decade. After completing his undergraduate degree at East Carolina University, he spent several years in various programs as a volunteer assistant, absorbing as much information as possible as he carved out a specialty for himself. He then served as a Graduate Assistant at St. John’s University where he was introduced to Velocity Based Training, and subsequently landed his first full time job at Charleston Southern University.

Brandon Golden returned to his alma mater in 2017 to coach strength & conditioning where he works with baseball, women’s soccer, and men’s tennis. He is primarily responsible for heading up the sports science efforts within the department, including velocity based training. We want to thank Brandon Golden for agreeing to write a guest blog post for Perch, and encourage you to follow him on both Instagram @coachbgolden and Twitter @coachbgolden, and take a peek at his website: www.coachbgolden.com Without further ado, Brandon take it away!

INTRODUCTION

This article is going to be the first of several with Velocity Based Training (VBT) as the subject. As with most initial posts, I am going to talk about why I use VBT and set the stage for future articles to come. Thank you to Perch for asking me to be a part of this, I’m passionate about VBT and am fired up for this opportunity to share my thoughts.

I first started using VBT as a Graduate Assistant at St. John’s University back in 2015. It has always been intriguing to me that it is not more commonplace in training. Since then, when available VBT has been something that I have leaned on as a resource. It was not until last season I started using VBT year-round, and this was the first Fall I have used it with baseball here at East Carolina. It has been a huge benefit to our program.

AUTOREGULATION IS KING

Every day, in facilities all over the country, on twitter, and just about anywhere else you turn, someone is giving an opinion on the best methods to train athletes. Let’s define what our jobs are as performance coaches, strength and conditioning coaches, or whatever sounds good that day (our title as coaches could be a whole separate article, however, I will spare you for now). Regardless, our job is to assess. Make a plan and then execute that plan. Sounds simple in theory, but when you add college classes, practice, games, travel, friends, family, and stressors of daily life, that plan can get derailed at times.

We as coaches talk to our athletes constantly about how they have to do the right things the other twenty-two or three hours of the day when they aren’t with us. My question is then, why aren’t we doing the same thing? How can we take all of those things mentioned above into account when planning a training session? My answer is VBT. It allows for autoregulation based off of a desired velocity that correlates with a desired quality being trained for that session.

If you were to come into the weight room today after practice, you would see a variety of plans being executed, based on what each guy needs. Individualization is key in college sports especially because of how important development is at this level. I can have four guys at a rack all squatting and all training different qualities based on the need of the individual, because, velocity dictates the load. If you haven’t read Bryan Mann’s book, do yourself a favor and read it, he does a great job at taking the research and making it digestible for coaches to implement.

BASEBALL AND VBT

This year we have a roster of thirty-five guys. Eighteen of them are returners to the program and the remaining are either freshmen or Junior College transfers. We have a mix of pitchers, position players, and several two-way guys. All of them have various qualities that need to be developed in order for them to help us win games. On top of that, they also have vastly different body types, strength levels, power outputs, and lever lengths.

Availability is the best quality for any athlete and for us, it is no different. Utilizing VBT allows me to ensure a guy will have the proper load for core lifts. Again, because velocity dictates the load, if the movement falls below the desired threshold, weight is taken off the bar. Just like if the velocity is above the threshold, weight is added to the bar, which is always motivating and exciting for everyone in the room.

BASEBALL AND STATISTICS

Baseball players today, more than ever, have numbers thrown in their faces on a daily basis. It’s a game heavily driven by stats. This technology allows me to tap into that. Having them know the desired range and quality that is associated with that range, they take ownership of their development. All I had to do was throw out the word velocity and they were hooked. It becomes fun for them as well as something they can truly see how it helps them become better baseball players.

Whether that is increasing the ability to produce and accept force in a pitcher’s lead leg to transfer that force into the arm and eventually the ball for a fast ball up in the zone, or increase velocity so the ball in the gap is a ball in the stands. VBT has helped me in showing our players how their training in the weightroom transfers to their performance on the field and is based on them as individuals.

VBT has helped me in showing our players how their training in the weightroom transfers to their performance on the field and is based on them as individuals.

Brandon Golden

STORY TIME

Just recently we had a pitcher who was home for Christmas break who had been training in the strength-speed range for the last few weeks of the semester. He goes home and trains with some buddies from high school, who obviously slap three plates on the bar and invite him to join. He’s a strong guy who would have no problem squatting that weight, however, he hadn’t squatted with a straight bar in a few years (our pitchers use safety bars). So, he gets in the rack and rattles off the 315 for fifteen reps. A massive PR and all the while not training anywhere near maximal effort. He gets back from break and is even more fired up and can’t wait to train to work towards his goal of increased velocity off the mound.

Before we go any further, I am not against lifting heavy weights. Lifting heavy is great for developing qualities that are needed as an athlete, and is something I believe in. At times, coaches have expressed their concern with VBT because it is viewed as only lifting light weights. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I am an advocate for enhancing performance on the field, regardless of what stimulus I have to expose them to. Throwing a 90+ mph pitch is the goal for most guys. Just like with any skill, there are many variables that go into that recipe and it is our job to decide how much of which quality is to be developed.

Stay tuned for more articles on how I use VBT with our baseball players at East Carolina and how it can help you better train your athletes too!

CONCLUSION

Perch wants to extend a huge thank you to Brandon Golden for his words of wisdom and applicable storytelling here, and the entire ECU Staff. Please feel free to follow him on Instagram and Twitter to see how he continues to innovate with technology in the weight room, and be sure to check out his website as well. Thanks Brandon Golden!

OTHER RELEVANT POSTS!

Check out part two of Brandon Golden’s guest blog!

Curious about how different populations can utilize VBT? Check out our VBT for specific populations series!

Check out our Return To Play from Covid-19 series!

FOLLOW US!

Keep checking back for more velocity based training content, tips, tricks, and tools. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter , Instagram and Linkedin and like us on Facebook .

Daniel Hicker has been a strength and conditioning coach for the San Jose Earthquakes in the MLS (Major League Soccer) for the last two seasons. Prior to his current role, he had worked as a strength and conditioning coach for US Soccer and the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. Daniel Hicker also served at Santa Clara University as both a strength and conditioning coach and the director of performance analysis.

Originally from Seattle, Washington, Daniel Hicker received his undergraduate degree from Colorado State University-Pueblo. He then went on to receive a Masters of Exercise Science and Rehabilitation from California University of Pennsylvania (PA). He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, with Distinction (CSCS *D) and a Registered Strength and Conditioning Specialist (RSCC) both through the NSCA Hicker is also a certified Performance Enhancement Specialist and Corrective Exercise Specialist through the NASM. Perch was thrilled he agreed to write a guest blog post for us this week and we are excited to share it with you below!

WORDS OF WISDOM

Life is often compared to a marathon, but I think it is more like being a sprinter; long stretches of hard work punctuated by brief moments in which we are given the opportunity to perform at our best.

– Michael Johnson

AN INTRODUCTION

If you believe you can change the world as a strength and conditioning or performance science professional, you are heading in the right direction. Our job is not easy. It’s time consuming, and often times extraordinarily challenging. It’s a grind, and the longer you’re “in the game” the more you realize opportunities to make a true impact in our athletes and coach’s journey, even lives.

For the athlete, time is the biggest limitation. The more individualized and specific our direction of training, the better. If not, we are spinning our wheels and operating blindly. That’s just reality. Delivery of programming should be simple, useful, and engaging. Information in its proper context provides education, elicits questions, and encourages motivation. Ultimately, we want to develop a competitive and nurturing training environment for all.

With the many, many, methodologies, and generalities in our definition of sports performance, it’s no secret that training culture in the weight room for soccer can be difficult to define. We get, lack of a better way to organize it, confused on our approach. This confusion, and even conformity in some cases, is a limitation to successful interventions. I can tell you change is coming, and technology is assisting us with this culture shift, or, in some cases initiating the development of a culture, period.

TECHNOLOGY IN THE WEIGHT ROOM

Originally, the method to the madness has been working off of GPS load monitoring, RPE, Force Plate and 1RM percentages of primary movements. All very useful information when applied correctly. Unfortunately, we either undershot or overshot loads in the weight room. We could get close, but simply not prescribing optimally for a given day, week, or training block. We were missing our targets for power management. A short-term problem, however good process equates to long term progress. We needed a link to our training effectiveness and efficiency. Time management. After all, programming and periodization only goes so far without constant, measurable, and reliable feedback.

The introduction of Velocity Based Training technologies as a holistic approach to our weight room training allows for immediate feedback to the athlete and performance professional. It’s an enhanced opportunity to manage doses of load and optimize training effect throughout the season. We hope it will also serve an assist as a bridge between the training grounds and the gym, bringing additional support to the commonly asked question, why? Why do we need the gym, and why do we want to apply a specific training stimulus to our already exciting training loads?

Reality is, whatever system is used for tracking our athlete’s development, the performance professional is really never in control. Whether it be throughout a training block, season cycle, or even career, it’s extremely important to consider the human physiology, its daily deviation and adaptability. This encourages the implementation of athlete-specific programs and dialog between key stakeholders intertwined to a long-term athlete development model. Exciting enough to know a professional in their 30’s can now add life to a career if we are patient and learn to approach the training case appropriately.

INTO THE FUTURE

Effective utilization of sports performance technologies for ongoing assessment and analysis of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are an important objective to any training platform. Programming is just a blank map without direction unless we start creating the path. As a performance professional, the more we can provide answers to our sought-out objectives, the better. Therefore, it’s important to keep our training principles close, while objectives remain in clear view. What lies ahead with VBT will be quite interesting.

Until next time…

CONCLUSION

We want to extend a huge thank you to Daniel Hicker and the entire staff at the San Jose Earthquakes. They have invested in Perch and have begun implementing the technology in their daily training, as Dan mentioned above. Please also feel free to follow him on Instagram and Twitter to see how he continues to innovate with technology in the weight room. Thanks Dan!

OTHER RELEVANT POSTS!

Want to learn more about the basics of VBT? Check out Perch’s VBT Dictionary!

Want more guest blog posts? Check out Brandon Golden’s post!

FOLLOW US!

Keep checking back for more velocity based training content, tips, tricks, and tools. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter , Instagram and Linkedin and like us on Facebook .

Molly Binetti is the sports performance coach for the South Carolina Gamecocks Women’s Basketball Team. after earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Physiology from Marquette in 2012, Binetti completed her master’s in Kinesiology and Exercise Science at Minnesota in 2013.

Binetti began her career at purdue where she served as the Sports Performance Coach for Women’s Tennis, Men’s and Women’s Diving and Cheerleading. She then spent four seasons at Louisville working with Volleyball, Softball and Women’s Tennis and as the Secondary Sports Performance Coach for Women’s Basketball. At Louisville, she developed an expertise in power development and applied sport technologies, a trend she continues at South Carolina.

Binetti has a Strength and Conditioning Coach Certification (SCCC) from the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCA) and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) Certification and a Registered Strength and Conditioning Coach (RSCA) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

She has contributed to two articles published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, both focused on Women’s Basketball Athletes and has attended the USOC High Performance Symposium in Colorado Springs, CO. she has also spoken on numerous podcasts on topics in the field.

We are thrilled to have her write a guest blog post on the usage of velocity based training and technology in the collegiate setting. Coach, take it away!

MOLLY BINETTI

I’ll start off by saying this: when it comes to my coaching style, I am about as simple as it gets. Even having the privilege of training some really talented and high-level athletes, 99% of them need the same thing – to be savagely good at the basics, applied in a consistent manner over time, with prescribed variation to continue adaptation. I’ve been in environments where I’ve had zero technology and still managed to do my job well. I’ve also been in environments where the amount of technology I’ve had available at my fingertips made me feel like I should be launching a rocket into outer space, rather than coaching athletes how to properly perform a squat. Existing on both ends of the spectrum has allowed me to sift through the weeds and determine what is smoke and mirrors and what technologies/methodologies actually have an immense impact on athletic performance.

Enter velocity-based training. Our job as performance coaches is to prescribe specific stressors, at specific times, in specific amounts to elicit specific adaptations with the ultimate goal of maximizing physical qualities, allowing athletes to play their sport at the highest level while minimizing the risk of injury. It also includes optimizing the training environment to promote competition, build connection, and influence the psychology of our athletes. That was a mouthful. So, to summarize…our job is to:

  1. MAXIMIZE development
  2. MINIMIZE risk
  3. OPTIMIZE environment

I love checklists, which makes me love VBT because it checks off all three boxes. Below are experiences in which I have used VBT in training and how it fits into each of those three target areas.

“Our job as performance coaches is to prescribe specific stressors, at specific times, in specific amounts to elicit specific adaptations with the ultimate goal of maximizing physical qualities, allowing athletes to play their sport at the highest level while minimizing the risk of injury.”

1. MAXIMIZING ATHLETIC DEVELOPMENT

I often speak with my athletes throughout the training process about “leaving nothing to chance.” When we hit the court we want the feeling of knowing we did everything we could to prepare for that moment. We know we did the right things inside and outside of training to prepare us for the demands of competition. With the influx of training information readily available and the omnipresent Twitter debates over methodologies, periodization, exercises, and single-leg versus double-leg squats, it can cause us to overthink.

Am I incorporating the right exercises, or prescribing the right volume and intensities of those exercises to elicit the proper response? Experience teaches us that what matters is not the exercises we include in our program, but the intent and execution of them. Instead of feeling like a blind-folded Robin Hood, shooting off arrows in hope that they stick to the target (or if we’re lucky, the bullseye), VBT gives the immediate feedback that correct load, speed and volume is being used to achieve the purpose of the exercise and the session as a whole.

As much as we want things to go perfectly and according to plan, let’s face it, it rarely happens. Life is essentially one giant ball of stress and as coaches we are stress managers – we prescribe it in addition to helping our athletes mitigate the effects of stress they experience from training, academics, social life, etc. Some days our athletes have a nearly full bucket but often times they don’t.

Case Study: Athlete A only slept 5 hours last night because she was up late studying and is supposed to squat 60kg at .8 m/s but is only hitting .5 m/s. We lower the load and the next set she hits .81 m/s. Athlete B comes in feeling great and is supposed to squat 60kg at .8 m/s and is hitting 1.0 m/s. We add load until she hits the target. The feedback confirms our arrows are hitting the target we desire, and developing the right quality, rather than just guessing. In addition to ensuring the correct qualities are being developed on a given day, I can also track athlete development over several days/weeks/months/years. In most sports, strength, speed and power (strength x speed) are key performance indicators. With VBT I can track load lifted, speed of that load lifted, and therefore power over time. Example A, an athlete’s prior bench press 1RM was 70kg at .3 m/s and can now lift 70kg at .5 m/s, with a new max of 77kg at .3 m/s. I can use that information to show that athlete she has improved her max strength, is moving the same load faster than she used to, and has improved her power in that movement. At the end of the day, our athletes want to see results and know we can help them get where they want to be. Seeing improvement further builds trust and improves effort in the weight room.

2. MINIMIZING RISK OF INJURY

“THE BEST ABILITY A PLAYER CAN HAVE IS AVAILABILITY.”

We’ve heard this phrase a lot lately, but it is undoubtedly true. The best teams have their best players ready and available on game day (say what you want but I have a hard time believing the Raptors would have won if Kevin Durant was healthy in the Finals this year). My favorite time of year to use VBT is in-season, when managing stress and readiness is essential. My philosophy is to microdose, ensuring that the work we do is based on quality vs. quantity, knowing that volume crushes the body and is a readiness killer.

The competitive season is the longest phase of uninterrupted training in the calendar year, and basketball has one of the longest seasons of any sport. Games are played every 3-4 days and sometimes up to 4 games are played in a week, which makes any sort of planning or periodization difficult to do. This is also the time of year athletes should be their strongest and most powerful, which makes balancing the training with the demands of the season a tall task.

My number one goal is to have our players healthy and as recovered as possible on game day. I use subjective data such as wellness scores and RPE and the objective data from VBT to inform training decisions for each individual on a given day. Each week we do a CMJ and track speed of movement and power output to look at fatigue measures. I will also use VBT on our major movements such as clean pulls, squats and trap bar deadlifts. As outlined in the above section, I’ll use the velocity feedback to adjust loads and set targets for the desired number of reps per set, with the set ending when speed drops off. This helps ensure quality reps are being performed and keeps the volume to the minimal effective dose. It also allows individual adjustments to be made when I need to cut back what I’m doing with athletes who are playing a lot of minutes or ramp up with athletes who are in a developmental phase.

3. OPTIMIZING THE TRAINING ENVIRONMENT

As humans, we are built to connect. We also want to feel important, like we matter, and like our needs our being heard and met. Athletes are human first, and want to know we care. Using technology is cool, but when my athletes know WHY we are using it, and see first-hand the adjustments being made to what they are doing individually, it makes them feel important and builds trust. Not every athlete loves the weight room, but when one of my athletes played 40 minutes in a game two days ago and has to do it again tomorrow, they truly appreciate the feedback and adjustments made to their program. They see that their best interests are actually cared for. Additionally, athletes innately love to compete against themselves and against others. I’ve found VBT to be an incredibly useful tool to increase intent and purpose with each rep and create a competitive environment. Understanding what their personal target is makes them want to not only hit it, but surpass it. Seeing the immediate feedback whether they hit it or not either creates a feeling of satisfaction or a desire to try again if unsuccessful.

While some athletes are driven to compete against themselves, more often than not athletes love to compete against others. The leaderboard tool has been awesome in creating a fun, competitive team atmosphere. An example of this is from when I worked with the softball team at Louisville. Every week we would do 20kg CMJ as part of our in-season monitoring to look at lower body power and fatigue measures. To give more context, we also performed these jumps weekly in the offseason which provided the ability to track progress and understand what is “normal” for each individual. Each time we jumped we threw the leaderboard feature on our TVs to give the team real-time feedback on their outputs. The energy, effort and trash-talking immediately increased because who doesn’t love to be #1 and let all their teammates know about it? Ultimately, I need our players to compete on game day, so we use competition as a regular aspect of our training year-round.

WRAP UP

While the pros of using VBT are bountiful, technology never comes without frustrations. As is the case for almost anything, the use of this technology is very context-dependent. First, with a large group of athletes it can be time-consuming to set up and navigate throughout a session. It takes time on the front end to explain, demo and let your athletes play with it so proceed with caution and understand you will have to show and tell approximately 74 more times before it clicks. Be patient. Some teams and athletes can handle the responsibility and some cannot, that’s okay. Second, the thing about technology is sometimes it just doesn’t work. For no apparent reason other than to test our patience and throw off our plans. It’s really a love/hate relationship but that’s okay because great coaches always have a plan B (and C, D, E). Last but not least, some devices have platforms that aren’t super user-friendly which goes back to the first point of it potentially being time-consuming. If it’s not easy to navigate (for myself or my athletes) or to export the data, the chances of me using it are about as good as it snowing in South Carolina. All in all, I’ve found VBT to be a worthwhile investment and a powerful tool in my coaching toolbox.

A huge thank you to Molly for writing our very first guest blog post and for her infinite wisdom! And don’t forget to follow her on Twitter.

OTHER RELEVANT POSTS!

Check out our other Guest Blog Posts with coaches Brandon Golden and Daniel Hicker!

Curious about the Coach’s perspective on VBT? Check out our Coach’s Corner series!

FOLLOW US!

Do you want to write a post for the perch community? Reach out here! Please let us know what you thought! Leave a Comment Below. Follow us on Twitter , Instagram and Linkedin and like us on Facebook .