Co-Founder, The Perfect Method

About Kerry Sprick

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So far Kerry Sprick has created 47 blog entries.

Carl Lewis: The Consequences of Changing the Relay Exchange Zone

The NCAA recently announced that they are following the IAAF’s lead in changing where exchanges can be made in the zone.   There are several implications, including slower race times and risk of athlete injury.  We recently led a lively discussion between Carl Lewis and special guest, Andy Ferrara.  Andy is a retired coach who has analyzed the relays for years.  Recently, he developed a visual tool that coaches can use to analyze the details of the exchanges so athletes can understand how to do their part correctly, no matter what leg they run in the race.

Relays are all about the speed of the baton.  There’s a system all relay teams can follow.  Keep the focus on precision and consistent execution.

For those of you who couldn’t join the call, here’s the recording.

 

“I Want More than the Podium for You, I Want the Anthem, People!”

Carl Lewis returned to his alma mater in Willingboro, NJ to lead a running clinic for local athletes.   The weather was chilly, but we had a great turnout of kids who got to learn from the King of Speed himself!  “Track and field is hard.  It deals with a 2% margin of success” .  That’s why we’re doing The Perfect Method.   To make sure you get it right.

Carl also talked with the parents in the stands that day to make sure they knew how to reinforce the details of the skills their kids learned.  After the clinic, he led a private session for the coaches so they could learn cues and drills to help their athletes maximize their power and speed.

Get the details and see the photos here!  Thanks to Jeff Benjamin for joining us!!!!!

 

“Carl Lewis Teaches The Perfect Method” – by Jeff Benjamin for RunBlogRun.com

Carl Lewis has always possessed a strong mind and a strong body. The Greatest Olympic competitor of them all used qualities such as goal-setting, drive and desire to amass nine Olympic gold medals, one Olympic silver medal, and 10 World Championships medals, including eight golds throughout an illustrious career.

Even now Lewis, who was in NYC last month to be honored by USA Track & Field with the “Legend Award” still possesses those championship qualities.

And let’s not forget the focus either!

“I really want to get Americans back on the top podiums again,” said Lewis, who nowadays, is the assistant track and field coach at the University of Houston, and also works at his alma mater under his old friend and teammate Head Coach Leroy Burrell, himself a former world record holder at 100 meters. These days Lewis hopes to see his Houston Cougars continue to rise to the top. “But we are developing over the long term,” Lewis emphasized. “We’re not in the business of time chasing, that will take care of itself.” Just last year Cameron Burrell ran a 9.93 100 meters, besting his father/coach’s best career time. “We also have Elijah Hall and John Lewis, who we feel is developing as well…We’re really building a solid post-Collegiate team.”

Lewis also values the importance of an education for his athletes. “My biggest regret was not staying at Houston for 4 years,” said Lewis, who went into the Word-Class Track and Field world and then on to athletic immortality. “I wish Coach Tellez and my parents had said “Finish!”

“But that’s the catch-22.”

Lewis is now a proponent of the full college experience. “When we recruit, we emphasize that the primary goal is to get a degree,” said Lewis. “Look at Elijah Hall and Cameron Burrell–Elijah has 3 kids and is getting his degree in May and he could’ve left.”

Hall, who made last years’ world championship team at 200 meters got that taste of the World-Class environment, replete with race promoters, agents and cash. “But he said, “I’m going to get my degree for my children,” said Lewis, who also noted the same temptation felt by Cameron Burrell. “They’re great role models,” said Lewis. “They show, especially to the freshman, that they’ve learned how to manage their life and that college builds a brand for themselves.” Lewis also heaped praise on one of Oregon’s greatest Runners. “Just look at (Ed) Cheserek!”, said Lewis of the multi-NCAA Championship Medal Winner.

“He gets the importance of commitment.”

While very content with his collegiate coaching (“I’m very fortunate”), Lewis still felt he could offer more. “As I began to coach, I saw many kids come to me with a lack of fundamentals,” said Lewis, lamenting how Phys Ed/Gym classes from the elementary right through high school is not emphasized throughout the country as it once was. “There’s no PE in school where the old track coach would be the teacher of the class.”

That has led Lewis sometimes to play a little catch-up with recruits. “Modifying techniques is what I call it,” said Lewis, emphasizing how the step counting for jumpers, rhythm drills and leg lifting are all part of his parcel for greatness.

And let’s not forget the focus. “No earphones, no distractions and a full warm-up with no distractions,” said Lewis, who noted these habits at times are forced upon his freshmen. “It is a challenge to get the kids to it, otherwise the focus is lost,” said Lewis.

Still not satisfied, Lewis has now looked to offer his ideas and training concepts outside of the College scene. “I remember driving one day and seeing this woman jogging,” said Lewis, who noted her form. “Her arms were railing all over and she had no form of any good biomechanics whatsoever.”

This observation led Lewis to an idea. “With the internet’s ability to literally reach more people than ever before, why not offer Sprinters, Runners and Field athletes a place where I can get involved with their training and use the new medium to teach fundamentals?”

“That’s how “The Perfect Method” was born!”

 The intro part of the program is free, according to Lewis. “Everyone can join and learn how to have less injury and better performance. I also think this site is vital to young coaches.”
Since January of 2017, “The Perfect Method” has grown. “We have a relationship with the AAU and we have people signing up from all over the world, especially China and Australia,” said Lewis.
And why not? It’s not everyday one of the most iconic athletes ever offers training methods and advice, and fields questions as well. “The site is designed as a 2-way street,” said Lewis. “It’s a site for all athletes including 5K runners and I want athletes and coaches to be a part of it too and ask questions. I emphasize to them to please ask the dumbest questions!”
With this combination of advice from others as well, Lewis wants the participants to, “make their own gumbo, to make “The Perfect Method” to be their perfect self.”
“My Goal is to teach everyone on earth success.”
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Bell Lap– I am very grateful for all the help in writing this piece to Coach Leroy Burrell, Kerry Sprick, and especially to Carl Lewis, who I’ve had the great pleasure to know for over 30 years, when Coach Joe Douglas introduced me.
There is one more great anecdote Carl shared with me that I couldn’t fit in the story but would like to share. When talking about all the great 100 meter sprinters, Carl spoke with me about 1972 100 and 200 Meters Gold Medalist Valeriy Borzov. The Soviet athlete didn’t fit the physique many of the traditionalists would look for in one of the world’s fastest men. “You know how he joined Track?” asked Lewis. “When he was a youth in a class the kids were told to run with a soft piece of paper in their mouths, and Borzov’s paper in his mouth was the least crushed!”
That kind of facial relaxation technique was what those coaches were looking for. “It’s all about relaxation,” Said Lewis. “The more relaxed the faster you run.”
“You’re like a rock skipping on water.”

The Coach’s Guide to Common Problems with Running Mechanics and How to Solve Them

Hall of Fame Coach, Tom Tellez, developed this matrix as a reference guide for coaches.  The left column lists what you might be seeing in your athletes, the middle column tells you why it’s happening, and the right column offers the coaching cues to fix the problem.  Once your athlete gets it right technically, continue to […]
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How Do I Get Started with The Perfect Method?

There’s only one way to run your fastest, or to reach your full athletic potential.  All successful athletes have a common set of characteristics and guidelines they follow to develop the physical ability, the technical skills and the mindset to become the best in their sport. The Perfect Method is your Success Template and our […]
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Carl Lewis: The Vegan Diet and Athletic Performance

In a recent interview at the 2017 USATF Black Tie and Sneakers Gala,  Carl discussed the changes he made to his diet at the age of 30.  He wasn’t done competing  but more importantly,  he hadn’t reached his performance goals yet.

Converting to a vegan diet wasn’t easy…he learned he needed to eat more than he was used to to get the calories in. But once he figured out the right balance and timing, the rest, as we say, is history.

Today, Carl still eats a clean, balanced diet, still mostly vegan.

His objective now?  To stay fit   forever.

Get all the details here!

http://www.stack.com/a/how-carl-lewis-shattered-world-records-on-a-vegan-diet

10 Sprint Facts I Wish Everyone Understood

Originally posted by Coats Performance
By Tony Holler, Track Coach, Plainfield North High School

I consider myself a coach, a veteran of 36 years of coaching football, basketball, and track. Stuart McMillan recently tweeted, “A good coach knows a lot about a little and a little about a lot.” I know a lot about sprinting.

I was tempted to title this article “Shining Light into the Darkness”. My goal is to share ten facts with three groups of people: athletes, parents, and coaches. Despite the fact that speed (moving fast) is central to athleticism, too many people live in the dark.

  1. Running is not sprinting. If you stop reading here, you’ve learned something most people don’t understand. Sprinting is something you can do for a short period of time and requires full recovery to repeat. Anything lasting for more than five seconds is working on something other than speed.

I took this picture at the NCAA Track & Field Championships. Deajah Stevens is sprinting, not running.

  1. Running does not improve speed. When football coaches encourage their players to run at full-speed over a three-hour practice, they are confused. No one can run at full speed for three hours. Yes you can try to do your best over a three-hour period but it won’t be “full speed”. Running is sub-max, 3rd gear at best. When you sprint, you try to find your 5th gear! Too much running will slow down a fast athlete. Only sprinting improves speed.

 

  1. Weight lifting does not improve speed. Lifting weights will improve strength. That strength may transfer to athleticism but won’t directly improve speed. The strongest kids on the team are seldom the fastest. The typical weight room celebrates indiscriminant hypertrophy (bodybuilding). In my opinion, kids who lift weights get better at lifting weights. Beware of muscle-bound poster boys who live in a weight room. Strength coaches will tell you that great teams are made in the weight room, but remember, when you ask a barber if you need a haircut, he will always say yes.

Bodybuilding will make you slower.

This guy looks good in the mirror but his strength is non-functional.

  1. Racehorses are not workhorses. This will offend most coaches but it’s a fact. Horses that can plow a field all day can’t win a race. Too many coaches take thoroughbreds and force them to plow fields. If you want a fast team (and who doesn’t?), treat all your horses like race horses. Train them for speed, not work.

 

  1. Sprinting is the most explosive exercise in the world. Nothing in the weight room moves at 10 meters per second. The most explosive lifts may approach 2 m/sec. I’m not telling people not to lift, but sprinting, in and of itself, builds functional strength that directly transfers to athleticism.

Last season I coached the fastest 14 year-old in the nation, Marcellus Moore, #1 IL indoors in the 60m (6.86) and 200m (21.95). #2 IL 100m (10.41), #1 IL 200m (21.28). Marcellus did not get fast by lifting weights or surviving high volume workouts.

 

  1. Any fool can get another fool tired. Know-nothing coaches often work their kids the hardest. Toughness wins! I believe toughness is just as genetic as speed. Coaches don’t create toughness by designing crushing workouts. Even if hard work created toughness, I would still opt for fast, energetic athletes. Slow and tired athletes lose no matter how tough they are. If you want fast kids, work smarter, not harder. To get faster, you must sprint intensely for five or six seconds and then rest long enough to do it again.

 

  1. We are not the result of what we did yesterday. We are the sum of what we did for the last six weeks, the last six months, and the last six years (my “6-6-6 Theory”). Speed grows like a tree. Stay patient. Every year I time over 10,000 40-yard dashes. I time thousands of 10m flys with a Freelap timing system. I “record, rank, and publish” all measurements. Since speed grows like a tree, I measure often. Growth inspires.

 

  1. Speed is a barometer of athleticism. What metric is the #1 indicator of future success at the NFL Combine? Like it or not, the 40 is the Holy Grail. The 40-yard dash is a measure of both acceleration (strength and explosion) and max-speed. Surprising to some, speed is not only important for running backs and receivers. The fastest offensive linemen are always drafted highest. The highest drafted 300-pounder will usually be the fastest 300-pounder. The best athletes are the best players.

Slow people complain about the use of the 40 as a metric of football athleticism but the data is strong. Among the best football players entering the NFL, the fastest in the 40-yard dash usually have the best careers.

 

If no one reaches max speed on a basketball court, is sprinting irrelevant for basketball players? Josh Bonhotal, Director of Sports Performance for the Purdue men’s basketball team, believes max-speed sprinting to be the key to basketball athleticism:

“Too often, I see coaches overemphasizing conditioning during the offseason and never developing absolute capacities of strength, power, and speed. In particular, a common mistake is to attach repeat sprint ability when you have never truly developed speed and thus sprint ability itself”.

If most baseball players don’t steal bases, is sprinting irrelevant in baseball? Major league baseball has found itself with a shortage of athleticism. Specialization has created players who are good at hitting and throwing but weak at explosive sprinting. Several major league teams are looking for ways to reverse this trend by making speed a priority in their farm system.

Even endurance sports like cross country, soccer, rugby, and lacrosse are beginning to explore speed training.

How about a non-running non-speed sport like volleyball? Sprinting and jumping use the same fast-twitch muscle fibers. Sprinting and jumping have a reciprocal relationship. Volleyball players jump high and move quicker as their 10m fly times improve.

  1. Beware of “The Grind”. Any coach who embraces “The Grind” is not a speed-based coach. You don’t train a racehorse by grinding unless you want to improve its ability to plow fields. Grinding improves grinding, not speed. Hard work seldom translates to undefeated seasons, but coaches are addicted to slogans and paramilitary thinking. Coaches live in constant fear of getting out-worked. Great athletes and great teams are a combination of smart training, enthusiasm, talent, and luck.

Hard work does not improve speed.

  1. Sprinting improves sprinting. No one gets fast by running slow. I never train tired athletes. I never train beaten and battered athletes. Rest, recovery, and enthusiasm are more important than any workout. If I want to train kids two days in a row, I make sure today’s workout does not ruin tomorrow’s workout. My racehorses usually perform well.

 

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you that speed is critical to athletic performance and that speed must be trained wisely.

Where can you find training?

This is tricky.

Distance coaches who don’t understand sprinting lead some track programs. Distance training (running), by nature, is high-volume and process-driven. Some track coaches coach like they were coached in high school. Old school track and field was typically high volume. Distance runners ran ten 400s, sprinters ran ten 200s. For some perspective, Plainfield North’s hardest sprint workout this year was 3 x 200 with two minutes rest (sprinting at max-speed).

Tough, hard-working, masculine men who train their teams like armies lead too many football programs. These wannabe generals truly believe that putting kids through crushing workouts will make them tougher. They also believe that toughness wins games.

Maybe this makes a Marine tougher, but it doesn’t make him faster.

Too many baseball programs encourage specialization. Kids never learn to sprint. The same can be said about basketball, volleyball, softball, lacrosse, soccer, and rugby.

Too many private trainers value weight lifting in the absence sprinting. Kids fall in love with the way they look in the mirror. Indiscriminate hypertrophy is a dumb idea and reduces athleticism.

I get emails from parents from all over the country. Where can I find a sprint coach?

Joining the track team is always the best option. In addition, some football teams are embracing shorter practices done at high speed and high intensity. With the exception of track and football, kids will seldom, if ever, be exposed to sprint training.

The only other place to find sprint work will be private training, but be careful. Don’t fall prey to muscle-bound Neanderthals and ex-college football players selling hard work and bodybuilding in the absence of speed. Sprinting must be the priority. You don’t plant beans and grow corn.

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Tony Holler has taught Chemistry and coached track for 36 years at three different high schools, Harrisburg (IL), Franklin (TN), and Plainfield North (IL). Inducted into the ITCCCA Hall of Fame in 2015, Holler’s teams have continued to feature great sprinters. Along with Chris Korfist, Holler co-directs the Track Football Consortium held twice a year (June and December). Holler has written over 100 articles promoting the sport of track and field and sharing everything he knows. His articles can be found at ITCCCA.com, FreelapUSA.com, and SimpliFaster.com. You can follow Coach Holler on Twitter @pntrack and email him at tony.holler@yahoo.com.

Why is Repetition So Important?

The old joke, “ Ya mean I gotta do that more than once?” about holds true throughout the Perfect Method.  To make progress in any area of your training, you need to repeat your effort using the appropriate movements or resistances, your technical skills using the correct mechanics or your behaviors using the correct choices. […]
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How Do I Improve My Running Cadence?

No matter what the distance, human biomechanics dictate that short, quick steps are the most efficient way to run. Over-striding, or reaching, means you’re trying to cover too much ground with each step. Running “tall”, with your steps landing under your hips, is the right way to run.

Your running cadence is the number of steps you take over a period of time. Understanding and working on your cadence will help you run more efficiently. This will allow you to expend less effort to go the same distance, OR, expend the same effort and run farther.

Whether you’re a casual or competitive runner, changing your cadence will take some effort. Like other habits in your life, you’ve probably run with the same cadence for thousands (millions?) of steps and minutes. To change this habit, you have to re-train your brain and neuromuscular pathways to utilize a different pattern.

HABIT CHANGE = DIFFERENT CHOICE x PRACTICE x TIME

Here’s a simple drill that will help.  Before you get started, walk first, then warm up for 5 minutes doing some easy-effort jogging.

Jog in place focusing on taking light, quick steps and landing under your hips and on the middle part of the foot.

The goal is to run at a cadence of 180 steps per minute for both feet, or 90-ish per foot.

Next, assess your cadence while you’re running in place. You can do this by counting how many times your foot touches the ground in 30 seconds, then double it. OR, use a smart device like a step counter. Another option would be to run to the beat of a song that’s 180 beats per minute.

Once you’re at 90-ish, maintain that cadence, and start moving.  Just lean slightly forward and stay tall, because it’s impossible to run your fastest if you’re bent over.

Run at that cadence for about 20 seconds, then walk and recover.  Repeat the drill 3-4 times.

 

Add this to your weekly training routine and continue to reassess your natural cadence over time.

Exercise 2: How Do I Become the Person That I (Really) Am?

For the next week, practice doing one of the action items on your list from Exercise 1.   Add another one the following week. Continue to notice how you’re feeling inside, and whether you’re happier and perhaps a little more confident. Keep up the effort. And be proud of it! Give yourself a gold star […]
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