Archive for November, 2011

The table I am sat is wobbly and to say the least annoying.  I look around for an obvious solution to the problem presented.  I find an old magazine, newspaper or bear mat and I fold the object to a suitable size and place it under the affecting leg.  The table ceases to wobble (for now) and my issue is solved.  Until of course the object deteriorates or the dog chews it or it is removed for some reason and the table reverts back to its old self of wobbliness.  the table has no way of adapting to this situation as it has no mind but it does rock to its so called or perceived centre.  It is just when the table is called upon to be functional the problem presents itself.  The degree of the problem is also a question in that the problem has to become suitably bad before anything is done about it.

The human body can be likened to this situation where there is a compensation or an inhibition but the body can adapt to function (or perceive to function) until one day it decides no.  The body adapts to what the requirements are but the degree at which it can perform the requirements are dependant on how the body currently functions.  If it functions optimally (or as close to as possible) the outcome is arguably good in the required function.  At least it gives the person the best possible chance. 

We could simply replace the table with a new one that doesn’t wobble but in the case of the body this isn’t a solution (apart from in obvious situations and I am not referring to enhanced aesthetics).  

In my work as a tennis coach I have been presented with a child who is struggling to serve due to techniques I have instructed previously.  Not that these techniques are wrong but since I have been with Anatomy In Motion ( I have recognised that there is no wonder the serve is struggling. I have looked at segments of the chain where there are problems and low and behold a foot issue presented itself where the player struggled to absorb weight into the foot when performing the serve and had to constantly reposition the foot to accommodate the action.  This led to mishaps up the chain and hence affected the outcome of the serve.  Attention to improving the foot function allowed a smoother transition of weight into and up through the serve. 

In this case there was no wedge to place under the wobbly table but to educate the body to function optimally (or closer to optimum) to improve the serve.  

There are other situations where I have seen children essentially being prescribed wedges to stop their table wobbling.  What happens when the wedge is moved?  the table wobbles again.  This is the same for the child with a wobble stopping wedge.  Once it is removed the body reverts back.

As a sports coach I am starting believe in a relationship between body and requirement and that the body is our primary tool.  We need allow time to focus on allowing the body to function optimally if it is not and this will help players in their development.  

The question is do we as coaches need to skill up our knowledge in body function, posture, gait etc or do we outsource this to another professional?  I have chosen to delve into this subject as it fascinates me. For me this is a definite requirement of the modern day athlete but who is responsible for it?  


Vertical Jump

Posted: November 18, 2011 in Coaching Concepts, Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Vertical Jump Comparisons

Hotspot Training offers a Vertical Jump Measurement system that operates using the time of flight to calculate the vertical raising of a person’s centre of mass.  The system runs of a 16bit processor allowing a certain degree of accuracy in timing and displays cm:mm.

The system works by using a dot that is configured to be sensitive enough to trigger when the athlete jumps up leaving the dot.  It is then triggered again when the athlete lands back on the dot.


There are some interesting debates about testing and testing equipment and what can be used and compared.

Firstly one must consider the “fair” test criteria probably first studied in school.  This is where testing environments, equipment and methods are repeatable each time a sample is collected.  If they are not the same or the conditions considered acceptable then data cannot be compared.

In the case of the vertical jump there are a few methods and testing units that are available for use.  Each operates in different ways and more interesting are that of the athlete and the method of data acquisition.  For example using the “chalk and wall” method or something like the “Vertec” the athlete looks up aiming for the target and there is no consideration to the landing or where they land.   This method could be considered a pure vertical jump as everything is in the correct plane.  Any shifts in landings will result in lower scores.  When a system involves a landing the athlete will potentially alter the mechanics. In addition the athlete has a host of variables also such as fatigue level, warm up etc that can hinder the tests (example of this later).

The main requirement for a vertical jump system is that it shows progression and improvement that somewhat correlates with current accepted methods.


The Hotspot vertical jump system was tested against two methods (chalk and wall and Vertec) and proven to correlate with progression and give indications within a few cm.  In reality the Hotspot is likely to be the more accurate of the methods due to resolution of measurement in the others.  Also the plane in which the athlete must execute is also likely to be more accurate using the small dot.

In initial tests the athlete was asked to jump using each method separately and the results read within 2cm of each other.

In another test two athletes were asked to use Hotspot and Vertec at the same time.  In both cases the results from Vertec and Hotspot were within approximately 2cm.  These heights were 52cm and 61.2cm

The Hotspot, when tested incrementally with Vertec showed correlation with the progression in height.  Vertec was set at known heights and incremented 10cm each jump and Hotspot results followed this pattern.

In a final test Hotspot was used as a training tool for an athlete to complete 5 jumps at 90% of maximum. This meant the athlete attempted to replicate effort level and jump approximately 52cm.  Hotspot readings for these 5 jumps were with 3cm of this number.

Other findings

In recent data comparison, a tennis player was tested using an electronic jump mat system and the score recorded was 32cm. According to an S&C coach who had worked with the player previously this value was considered low.  In using the Hotspot a week later the player recorded a 42cm jump.  This is a big difference and there is no way of confirming which reading is correct but feeling was that the 42cm jump is more appropriate.


The conclusion to be drawn from all this is that Hotspot is a valid training and testing option for vertical jump.  It can demonstrate improvement and correlates with that of other non-electronic systems.   There can really be no comparison between systems and modalities and whatever testing environment and equipment is chosen must remain consistent.  Hotspot, therefore offers an affordable and useable option for testing vertical jump.

Due to a few conversations this week the theme of “exploring the game” has been bought up quite a lot in regards to players on court performance and development.

When a player is learning a new skill should the player be exploring this skill’s usage within the game?  In my opinion yes they should otherwise the skill is not worth having.  For example in learning to contact the ball on the forehand the overriding theme is contact.  There are many ways to contact the ball that will result in the ball being sent in different directions, with different flight paths and with different spins.  For a player to fully master the skill they have to experience all of the possibilities (3D).

Exploring will teach the player what currently works, what did work and surprised the player, what didn’t work but might in the future, what I am confident with and so on giving the player a full view of the game that is at their disposal.  In doing this and experimenting will in the end be priceless to the player as they will understand what they do best and when and how.  They will have stamped their personality on the game and be able to deal with situations that occur however demanding.

This isn’t as rosy as it first appears.  What an ideal development approach this is and wouldn’t it be fantastic if all players did this.  Well they can, it’s just that there will be obstacles in the way that we as coaches will have to deal with as they present themselves.

As an example there is a boy at the club who is a magnet for the net and he loves to get there.  He is sometimes successful and sometimes not but he is learning when it is appropriate for him and what shot’s he needs in order to be successful approaching and playing at the net.  He is happy to try this in matches too and is sometimes the reason for losing perhaps when other options are better suited.  Is this really a problem?  I think that is up for debate really as I quite like to see the exploring but where the result is important it’s not great.

In other scenarios players who can explore the game a lot due to high skill levels may end up trying things that again cost them matches or points.  Is this really a problem?  Depends on age, experience and goals maybe?

I think my approach is to constantly encourage players to explore the game in a variety of situations and pressures.  Something I have not really done is guide them to understand what works when and allow the player to construct an individual game plan.  I have tried to be as open and encouraging of individual style and personality as possible but I think there is still a need to define tactics and decisions in terms of educating the player (what works, could work, why that didn’t work).

Thoughts are much appreciated.  I know this post is a bit flaky but could be interesting…

Speak soon,


Hi everyone. So this post is a regurgitation of a conversation I had with my friend and coach Yves Latreille. The hope is to provide some thoughts on the requirements and the training of the mental side of sport and in this case tennis.

For me this is a mind field (haha) that is extremely difficult to implement. I have asked questions etc about their performance and what they are thinking and feeling and have just received the answers I want to hear.

So the conversation started in regards to a player I work with that is experiencing difficulties in performing in competitions. the player is very talented and in my harsh opinion underachieves in competition. I can you all already that this could be influencing his state of mind. It might but I very rarely let him know that (or at least I think I do).

A link to another article on Yves’ site Mental Training

So I chatted with Yves and here are some thoughts.

Sometimes the player is over confident or in some cases under confident. This is something you can find out by discussing with him. Ask him/her questions about what he thinks of competition and how he/she approaches it. Try to find out how he/she feels before the match, the day before, just before he/she steps on court, during the match and after the match. Does the player feel confident, energised, up for it, willing to fight? Does the player feel afraid of losing or playing poorly? Is there player worried about what the coach will think or what his parents think?

As I thought more about this it became clear that it was imperative that I knew this stuff and the people around the player also knew this stuff!

Sometimes players can focus more on the result and winning the match that they forget about the process of actually playing. Yves referred to this as Competition Paralysed!

this is very hard work and Yves suggests being positive all the time with explanations of what is needed to improve the outcomes. As an example focus on the level of intensity in training. A simple scoring system of intensity and setting this as a match requirement or goal. The result is secondary or completely lost now.

When a player focus’ on the result this can paralyse the player not only mentally but physically. This explains the perception of not trying or being lazy.

We can tackle this by focusing on the intensity in points or drills and the relaxing between points or drill sets. Use the patterns of play and the focus of sessions to distract from the result and focus on the process. This can also be the focus of a match or competition. Next time the player plays set him to targets 1. focus on game plan and 2. focus on intensity (no matter what!).

Following this discussion came this…

players can interpret anxiety as a negative instead of using it as a challenge. Can the player identify all the things that make them feel this way? Can you find away to control them or avoid them?

Does the player know what level of arousal they perform best at?

So in conclusion

We need to allow players to learn how to avoid stress factors before competition, and during competition to learn to relax between points, (breathing techniques).

Set performance goals not results based goals. If you don’t set any goals be sure the player is setting results goals and this is where the problems occur.

focus on Intensity, relaxation between points and game plan!

Well there is some food for thought,

A link to another article on Yves site Mental Training

good luck and make it count x

Emergencies and Opportunities

3 Movement Concepts

Association Training

Enjoy x

Welcome to the second contribution to 3D Training Concept.  This time it is with great pleasure that I can present Kelvin Giles, a world class and well renowned trainer/coach/author/presenter.  Kelvin is the top of his field and works with some serious customers in the sporting and training world.  You can access Kelvin’s work at Movement Dynamics.

Here is what Kelvin had to say…

Re: Hotspot – I have done a fair amount of brainstorming with my friend Vern Gambetta (Vern’s Site) about Hotspot and there can be no doubt that it offers a means to measure the outcome of that foundation of training – Movement Efficiency .

I have been concentrating on Movement Efficiency over the last few years and in the case of the Field & Court athlete the translation of that primary commodity to agility is a key issue. Hotspot allows you to monitor progress and challenge the complexity of movement. Getting improved movement efficiency is worthless unless you can apply it and for the Field & Court athlete multi-directional movement patters are a cornerstone.

Hotspot is certainly a very worthwhile component of this journey.

I am working hard to get coaches to ensure that the athletes have adequate movement efficiency (multi-joint, mult-plane. multi-directional) so that this can be more effectively driven into agility work. We often by-pass the foundation movement efficiency in the quest for agility. For example if an athlete cannot triple-flex / extend efficiently they cannot land efficienctly and therefore will not be able to execute or survive agility loads. You want to change direction? You have to ‘stop’ first. Can’t squat – can’t stop.


I am sure you agree that this is straight to the point and makes logical sense.  In our approach to Hotspot Training we consider the building blocks of the “agility” drill/exercise or in fact the pattern of movement (In pattern I mean the A-B nature of the drill)  of the game and we use the measurement of the drill as guidance.  In an attempt to be more clear we will consider where gains can be made in terms of the drills measurement’s from a “movement efficiency” perspective.   For example is there a lack of ability to absorb force, control Centre of mass in a change and can we utilise exercises to facilitate development.  Ultimately does this intervention impact the agility drill in a positive manner and therefore making improvements in the field/court.

I would like to thank Kelvin for his contribution and lets go and make our athletes better..and know it!

Make It Count

Charlie Crisp is the Head Coach at Carlford Tennis Club in Gloucestershire (weblink -> Charlford Tennis Club)

Charlie has competed to a high level in tennis but his talents spray out of tennis into the real world so to speak. He spends his time on court, up trees and playing some serious music with popular band Last Nights Victory

Charlie offers his thoughts on the Hotspot Training System

As a player and coach of tennis who has always been very competitive in what ever field i find myself in, it has always been very difficult to find motivation within my self and to encourage others to do the necessary physical conditioning to support high level tennis.

Where Hotspot is really effective, is giving like competitive spirited sports men and women the extra edge they need, to want to turn out for fitness training and try to either better themselves or those around them, depending on where they re motivations lie.

Rather than just going through the motions and it being “incredibly dull,” as I have heard top conditioning trainers say, hardly motivational, with hotspot you are constantly pushing your boundaries and there fore increasing range of movement, stamina, coordination and stimulating myolin’s production to be even more rapid.

Not only does Hotspot give you a representation of your improvement in an area normally very difficult to measure but also shows up decrease in performance educating competitors in the importance of work rest ratios, fatigue through lack of sleep or a recent tournament, diet and fluid intake and all manor of other reasons that may not have realized had such a detrimental effect on our bodies as the Hotspot results are so acurate and over a period of time will show the expected improvement curve and if the results are not met, we have only our selves to look at rather than blaming someone else or the conditions etc.

At the moment i can t see a more inspiring tool to make physical conditioning a motivating and maximum effective part of sports training programs than through Hotspot and its ability to enhance the methods we all individually use and believe in as it can be used in almost any exercise you can think of.

Well there you have it.  Charlie Crisp has spoken!  A big thank you to Charlie for taking the time to write in and please if you want to contribute, anything at all from your experiences to opinions and success stories I want to hear from you

Make it Count