Hammer Strength Clinic Recap: Through an engineer’s eyes
This weekend kicked off the first session of Hammer Strength’s annual coaches’ clinics in Noblesville, Ind. As a member of the Life Fitness biomechanical engineering team and an NASM certified Performance Enhancement Specialist, having the opportunity to come face to face with some of the most successful voices in the collegiate strength and conditioning world was worth the quick trip from Chicago.
The impressive Noblesville High School facility, complete with Hammer Strength power racks, rivals some of the pro team’s training centers. Inside, the room is packed with industry influencers and strength coaches from Midwest athletics programs, as well as fitness vendors, like Elite Form which showcased its new product Powertracker. This revolutionary device caught my eye for its biomechanics appeals; it can record an athlete’s power wirelessly, without cords, bars or machines to get in the way. The system uses technology similar to what you would find in an XBOX Kinect. Coaches have the ability to pull up videos of their athlete’s lifting and can run reports to track improvements. That means the tool lets strength coaches track the athlete’s exertion and effort without constantly standing over their shoulder. Having swam and coached football at Division-I Valparaiso University, I can tell you this is key.
The first strength coach, Jeff Conners from East Carolina University, immediately captured the room’s attention with his session speed development and form, a subject I wasn’t previously familiar with. Coach Conners talked about the emphasis he places on training pelvic posture during his speed form sessions. He also pointed out that he believes that power development is deeply routed in strength as opposed to the more dated belief that speed is more important.
As a Chicago-suburbanite who grew up with Northwestern University sports, I was really excited to hear from a member of the NU staff, Al Johnson. Along with Conners, Johnson is also an industry veteran. We had a chance hear Coach Johnson speak passionately about making connections with athletes and see behind-the-scenes clips of the NU Wildcats mental toughness training regimen. What I found unique about his technique was that even though he presented athletes with near impossible tasks (such as heavily weighted wall sits) they were aimed at building the confidence and resolve of the players. He recognizes the athlete’s breaking points and follows up by saying “See you didn’t think you could do that; and you did it. I knew you could do it.”
Two speakers I connected with on a career level were Princeton’s Coach Jason Galluccii and Purdue’s Duane Carlisle. Both coaches are working to apply research-based principles of exercise science to their profession. Galluccii received his formal education from some of the most influential minds in Biomechanics at Penn State. I had the chance to speak with him about his research there. Coach Carlisle, while he claims he is not a sport scientist, seeks to use some of the most cutting edge technology to track his athlete’s performance. Carlisle stated that while he can not control all aspects of the individual sports, he seeks to control the strength and conditioning aspect from as many angles as possible.
As many Big10 fans are familiar, there have been a lot of coaching changes this offseason for football. Aside from learning invaluable tips for strength and conditioning any athlete, the football fan inside of many of us at the event was intrigued to pick up on the improvements being made to the philosophies of these training programs. The Universities of Illinois and Wisconsin have what seems to be great potential ahead with the new additions to their staff.
I highly recommend seeking out the Hammer Strength Clinic in your area. All of the coaches came in with in “open book” approach and were willing to answer any questions the attendees had. Many even shared there email and invited us to visit them any time. You will be hard pressed to find another opportunity with as much knowledge offered in such a contained, approachable setting. There are also opportunities to win some nice prizes from the Life Fitness and Hammer Strength sponsors as well. And did I mention you can walk away with National Strength and Conditioning Association and Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association CEU’s?
I could never cover everything we learned at the clinic in one blog post, but I do want to send a special thanks to all of the speakers:
East Carolina University
"Specific Strength Training and Speed Training to Optimize Football Specific Movement"
"A Sports Science Approach to Improving Performance"
Utah State University
University of Illinois
"Comprehensive Preparation & Fundamental Training"
"Winning The Six Inch War" - Mental Conditioning for Today's Athlete & Tomorrow's Champion