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Closing Out the Season: A Conversation

This blog is a transcript of a conversation between Garage Strength Head Coach Dane Miller, and three of his post-collegiate throwers: Sam Mattis, Ryan Njegovan, and Noah Kennedy White.

Dane Miller: Ideally, at the end of a championship season, there would be a one to two week layoff period where you don’t do anything except for lay around and don’t really do anything. Preferably fully recover. Then we’d have a meeting where we’d sit there and go over what things felt good, where you felt like you could have been feeling better at a certain period. I’d go over what was good in your technique and where your technique needs to continue to progress over the next 6 months once training starts back up. We’d lay out where the strength levels are at in the weight room and the distances in the circle and say, “OK, moving forward, we need to get bench press to this weight, snatches to this weight, mobility to these positions, and the technique to a specific position,” so we communicate clear cut ideas. I think even then we’d want to set out a schedule where we say, “This is the week we want to come back and train, this is the bodyweight we want to be at in the fall, this is the bodyweight we want to be at during the season.”

Sam Mattis: After the season, would you say to immediately start back into it and go slow from a throwing standpoint, or is that more of an individual basis?

DM: I think it could be more of an individual basis. Like, where your technique is, Sam, compared to last year we’re in a much more consistent position, and I think we each have a better understanding of how we work together. I think you could probably take like 2-3 weeks of slow throws where you take 8-10 throws at moderate intensity, whereas with Ryan I might have him do a little more positional work for 2-3 weeks. Even with you, Sam, there are a few more technical things I think we could key on, so we could sit there and say, “Ok, on these 2-3 days each week, we’ll slow it down.” I would say, with Noah, I’d want him to do more slow throws, but then Sunday and Monday he decided now all of a sudden he wants to throw hard out of the same positions and that’s what I want to see out of him. So, I think it is more of an individual basis on how you approach that technical breakdown. For example, if I had an athlete whose technique was super sloppy, they would need slow throws just to feel something in the circle, so I’d absolutely have them slow it down after the season.

Noah Kennedy White: Another question, going back to the nutrition and weight fluctuation stuff, how important is it for you if we as athletes kind of keep track of what we’re eating and how it impacts our bodyweight? Just so if we want to weigh this much in the offseason or that much in the regular season, we can look back and have and idea of what to do.

DM: I think that’s good. I think, looking at it from a business perspective, at Earth Fed Muscle we have developed a dashboard. With this, we can look at things like gross revenue, site visits, likes on instagram, expenditures, etc. So we have several variables that we can go and look at how the business is performing, and understand how all of those variables play a role in our success. So I think that’s something that we need to do more of, is say, “Ok, in the off season, I might be eating 250 grams of protein each day and weighing 290, but I feel really freakin’ strong and I my distances are good and my technique is good,” then we can take a look at all of those things and figure that weight works pretty well for you. If we created something like that and each week you all provided input, then it makes it easier during the actual peaking time, we can look back and see in the fall, you were 290 and absolutely smashing everything, and maybe we should try to stick as close to that number as we can. So those are things that we don’t really know, and they could impact us positively or negatively and impact us for the future.

Ryan Njegovan: With taking time off at the end of the season, a lot of throwers don’t lift, don’t throw, just kind of give their bodies time to recover. Is there anything that you’d recommend, like a light plyo day or active recovery, so you’re not just sitting around doing nothing for 2 weeks.

DM: I think one thing that I don’t really like people doing regularly during the season is swimming, but I think it’s ideal for post-season down time. It doesn’t destroy your body, and even if you’re just slowly swimming around a pool for an hour, you’re going to feel some physical activity from being in the pool and it’s not going to kill you.

SM: Why don’t you like swimming?

DM: It can have a negative impact on your coordination, since you’re moving around in almost decreased gravity. It does take a while for that to happen, so if you’re swimming once a week or something like that it wouldn’t be too bad, probably. But there is potential that it could mess with your coordination. There are studies showing that swimmers have lower levels of intramuscular coordination compared to a strength athlete.

SM: When you come back into training after that two-week period, do you like to just go crazy with it, throwing and lifting wise? And just beat us into submission? Or do you prefer coming back a little slower?

DM: I would say that the first two weeks we should come back slow, and just focus on technique in the weight room and in the circle. So, moderate volume but low intensity. But after that two week adaptation, start to get back a little higher intensity and a little higher volume then. Actually, probably more volume after that two week period.

NKW: So far, this conversation has primarily focused on post-collegiate athletes because this car is primarily filled with post-collegiate athletes. How much of this is different for collegiate or high school athletes? Doesn’t have to be extensive detail, but just a quick summary.

DM: I think for collegiate athletes, it’s always disappointing that when they’re done over the summer, they just don’t do anything. And they’re always instructed to, “just get in shape!” And it creates this issue where they don’t really know what that means. So they end up doing bodybuilding programs all summer, which is ok, but they’re still not throwing. They’re not trying to focus on their weaknesses. I never got a document that said, “Hey, Dane, this is what you sucked at this year, so over the summer you’re going to just work on X, Y, and Z. I want you to send video every other day, and I want you to see how your snatches improve or your throwing improves.” So I think it would be productive for collegiate coaches to more accurately communicate what they want from their athletes.

I think it’s different for high school athletes because there are a lot of people who will play football or field hockey, or whatever the extra sport, and so they might not have as much time off--nor do they need as much time off because they’re so young and they can develop so quickly. But, they might be getting ready for soccer or football, so you have to factor in that maybe they can only really throw twice a week while they prepare for their fall sports season. When I played football, my whole goal was to have two to three days per week where you throw. So I’d try to throw on a Monday because Mondays are the easiest days during the football season, and then either take 15-20 throws on Wednesday or Saturday morning after a game. Ideally that would be the case. Obviously that will be different for the collegiate and post-collegiate athletes because we can focus on the one sport or even one event.

I think with all of the offseason stuff, there just has to be a clear plan laid out. What’s the technical goal? What’s the physical goal? How can we improve recovery? You’re just taking what you did the previous year and building off of that, and trying to find how to make the system better on a year to year basis, and understand that the body is something that needs that year to year adjustment and focus.

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