Hey great people!
I recently returned back to the US from the Nairobi Performance Clinic. Let me tell you, walking off of a plane into Pittsburgh PA after just being in Kenya and Rwanda is a mild trip for a few hours. Things don’t necessarily look very different, insomuch as it’s a cultural adjustment. It’s been good reflecting throughout the week since I’ve been back. The clinic was a great success overall. We had a turnout of a dozen coaches, plenty more saying they would’ve attended preferred evenings, something to keep in mind. We had coaches from outside of Nairobi come and stay in town just for it! Just as a refresher, the purpose of the clinic was to education football (soccer) coaches on how to improve the athletic ability of their players using strength training and speed training. The three constant mantras: lift heavy weights to get strong, run fast to get fast, and power is in the hips. This recap will be about the actual clinic, not just my time in Kenya.
Let’s look at it day to day and then a recap. There will be a number of videos to take some of reading my words.
Most of our clinic was held at a fitness center in Ngumba Estate, and area about 20 minutes Northeast of downtown Nairobi. The clinic was scheduled from 8:30a-1:30p. We started with me welcoming them, going over the itinerary, and how the clinic would go. Extremely hands on. It was probably 80% doing and 20% me talking. Anyone who knows me personally probably just laughed or rolled their eyes as I’m historically quite the orator. After about 15-20min of that plus introductions, we got started. I was impressed by some of the coaches present: community coaches of youth teams, premier league coaches, and even a coach who trains the diplomats kids at the UN.
In starting, I took them through, and explained, a common preparation phase (warm ups, but mindset people, mindset, which was a major part of this clinic) that I do with clients and athletes who will be doing mostly weight training that session. We then had a major lower body training emphasis….actually the next 3 hours outside of lunch. For a couple reasons:
- To ingrain the mindset of training the most important physical part of football, the lower body and core control.
Non-contact, running based athletes coming into the gym doing an upper body focus: bench press, curls, shoulder shrugs is….RIDICULOUS. They might do leg press and calf raises. Weak. And most of my experience seeing this is in the US.
- Because it is the primary focus of weight training for soccer players.
We did do upper body training as well later on. Strong legs help generate more power in sprinting, moving side to side, and cutting.
*steps off soapbox*
I covered a variety of lunge variations such as 3 way lunges, step ups, and rear foot elevated split squat (it’s exactly what it sounds like). The coaches did small demonstrations on coaching these exercises as well. We then moved on to understand how to perform and coach straight bar squatting exercises and deadlift exercises.
In our core training, we discussed core training with the goals of helping an athlete: generate and transfer rotational power, and have the ability to resist outside force and maintain stability. I literally refuse to make my clients do sit ups. I taught them some cable and dumbbell variations I use to improve posture and core ability.
We then covered some programming X’s and O’s on creating simple quality workouts. Training is way beyond 3 sets of 10! By then it was close to 2pm and that was that.
Today’s session was all about sprinting! Particularly acceleration, takeoff as we called it. We started at the gym then soon went to Baba Dogo field. I covered more information on programming and then went to show some upper body patterns, as soccer/football players need some upper body strength, but should not the priority for their players. Push, pull, and rotate. Some coaches complained of soreness, I told them today would make them feel worse.
Soon after, we went to the field and we executed a preparation phase tailored toward acceleration/takeoff, similar to a track warm up. Having a track background was one of the best advantages I had in learning sport science and coaching. The big focus here was on teaching sprinting and how to coach it. We covered mechanical/postural exercises which I started with. Afterward I showed a number of demos on takeoff mechanics and then had the coaches do some short max sprints. Coaches were then split into groups, having some groups observe/critique and other coaches actually demonstrate sprinting. A few coaches would do short sprints and I had the rest of the group watch their starts and offer critique and coaching advice, as well as I did. This seemed to be an effective means to help them understand what was being looked for versus last year where they watched me demonstrate, do all of the coaching, and then recap.
After the sprinting, I led them through plyometrics (jump training). Lots of plyometrics. I kept the categorization as simple as possible, which was well received. But then I took them through a number of exercises, which they less happily received. I went through a dozen or so types of jumps that increased in intensity from using both or one foot, how they landed, and the direction. We did several repetitions of all of these.
Let’s watch some of the footage.
Wednesday was the great day of them doing coaching demonstrations back at the gym. They paired themselves off and created short training sessions for all of us. They increasingly coached better as the morning went on and as they received feedback about it. I looked for the selection of exercises in the warm up and strength session (and why they were chosen), how well they managed us getting work done in a small space, and their coaching and engagement with us. It was great to see coaches who have little weight lifting experience catching on to the intent of the exercises and having a feel on how to put together sessions. I also saw some very interesting warm ups.
After we took a break and had lunch, we covered our physiology topics of the day. We went over the 3 macro nutrients and the role they play in football/soccer. In this session, we also dabbled into major energy systems in the body and how they are trained and why it matters to know them. The coaches caught on well although I had to take half a dozen physiology classes in college to get it all!
On day 4 we had our ending ceremony. Paul gave certificates from his organization which the coaches use as Continuing Education Units as he is, I believe, approved by the Football Kenya Federation to do so. It was a great time of reflecting on the experiences we all shared throughout the week as well as reflecting on the coaches’ hard work and consistency throughout. We held the event at Hope Raisers, an arts for social change organization housed right in Baba Dogo. Afterwards, we took a bunch of pictures and just enjoyed some fellowship.
Once the ceremony was finished and the “see you later’s” were over, Paul and I went downtown and discussed our future plans, of which there are many!
In following up with the clinic, a new development is underway: the GHP Academy. It will be an online course series for coaches wanting to learn more about sport performance training for their athletes. It will feature lessons on weight training, speed training, anatomy, and more! This should be launching by mid-March. After it was all over, I spent a day in Kigali Rwanda discussing the possibility of hosting a similar program there. We will see what happens!
This is a short recap of what the second Nairobi Performance Clinic entailed. What topics would you like to see written about from this or similar on the blog? Let me know! Comment, comment, comment!!