This weekend I presented at Art Horne’s Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group’s seminar @ Northeastern. My talk’s title was Lower Extremity Performance and WBV Training Strategies. The seminar had a hockey and basketball track, and I think my vertical tibia stuff and WBV motor learning stuff fit right in with basketball.
Great weekend on many fronts. Met many new folks, names with faces.  Tremendous hospitality and organization from Art Horne,  Daniel Boothby, and his Northeastern staff.  Here’s the recap.

I took the first flight out of Chicago where I was for Predraft. I wanted to get there early because I wanted to do the Freedom Trail walking tour. Coach Boyle said to do the Duck, but 1) I wanted to walk, and it was a Ferris Bueller day, and 2) the Duck hit Keith’s wife’s car, and the people quacked @ Jaime. I can not support this level of mockery from poultry.
Sam Leahey picked me up @ the airport, and we had lunch @ his lame choice of QDoba. Very lame and much worse than Chipotle and Baja and no comparison to Wahoo’s or Surf.
We did the walking tour together, spending about 5-6 hours together. Sam is a walking and talking question mark, and it is my honor to be provide if possible when someone asks. I hope I have been consistent with others in this way. I can’t even begin to recount every topic we talked about, but highlights were my route for personal success (even though I don’t consider myself successful), true neuromuscular training and its role in a full performance program (will do another post on this), and the differences between an impairment-based approach, a kinesiological approach, and a true movement-based approach.

Friday evening finished with a social with the presenters and folks from Northeastern putting everything together. Walked over with Keith and Matty Nichol, the former strength coach with the Maple Leafs. Matty is a smart dude, very pleasant to be around.
First thing Art tells me is that he told everybody about the Marines job. I had to tell him a few weeks ago in case I would have had to back out, but obviously that process is still in progress. I would have preferred he not say anything, but we made it a joke the rest of the weekend. He got a kick out of saying I (and Brad) are going to be training the guys that kill the people that kill other people. I’d like to say we’ll be training the baddest BAMFs on the planet, but at least from my end, it is far from a done deal.
Talked a lot of shop with the folks there. It was flattering that the Northeastern students knew who I was and wanted to talk to me. I didn’t appreciate that one dude told me he found out about me from reading some dickhead on the Net called me controversial, but whatever.

Here is a rundown of the talks I attended Saturday…
Matty Nichol – Off-Season Energy Systems Development (for hockey)
–Like I said, this guy is the real deal. Hockey coaches seem to usually be on target or ahead of the curve in ESD training. I liked a lot of the things I heard, and the attention to detail that his Dartfish analysis has yielded shows tremendous attention to detail and specificity.

Amanda Kimball (UConn Women’s S&C) – Building a National Champion
–Didn’t get much here.
–Videos @ end are probably good for team building and motivation, but it’s hard to watch tire flips with rounded backs and running up a hill with knees buckling.

Dr. Bill Sands – Recovery-Adaptation
–This was one of 3 keynote speakers. Wow! This is an individual I think you should read more from if you haven’t already. He is widely published with legit data on recovery. He starts with defining recovery but also establishing science to measure if these convention or non-conventional methods actually do affect performance.
–Take home #1 is simply that in many sports, particularly youth sports, there is entirely too many competitions.
–#2, we take great lengths to plan programming and doing but not so much in recovering and not doing. Train hard, recover hard.
–#3, placebo is real if there is performance.

Keith D’Amelio – Assessing the Basketball Athlete
–Obviously Keith is one of my best friends. We came up through the Celtics together, we both did the NBDL, and I think he got back to the NBA 1 year after me. He is now S&C for Stanford Basketball.
–Keith is now one of Nike’s head horseman for their Basketball Sparq program. Their slides and data are fantastic like correlating vertical jump and basketball scholarships or getting drafted. Brilliant stuff.
–A lot of discussion on the most predictive basketball tests. I think this is an incessant topic not because the tests are more or less predictive. I think it’s because they don’t matter. If a guy can play, he is going to get picked. An MVP-caliber player benched 185 zero times a few years ago. A guaranteed top 3 guy didn’t even try this year. His agent told him he didn’t have to. Shawn Windle of the Pacers posed some questions on Strengthcoach last week for his own tests (teams do their own stuff when players come in for private workouts), and Shawn basically makes a great point that any test can be improved unless it’s anatomical. He’s right. I still favor testing, and I’m not saying Shawn doesn’t. I’m just saying I do think there is value to a current snapshot if for no other reason than a tie-breaker.
–Certainly power should hold more water than strength for basketball testing. I also think power can be expressed with less risk in a ballistic or speed-strength move than bigger loads. They also typically require no learning curve. How about vertical jump (lower emphasis), clap push-up off the Just Jump (upper emphasis), standing med ball throw (full body). Vary it with counter movements or approaches how you choose. Can they be improved? Yes. Do you know valuable current expressions? Yes.
–The 4 Jump test is a lot of fun. Keith showed a video of the 3rd jump going higher than the first for a 94% elasticity rating. Being able to repeadly go back out for tips and boards is crucial in basketball, but I think it can tell you if an athlete of any sport has that intangible “it” factor that many tests seem to miss. If so few people can demonstrate elasticity, and it is hard to train for, I think the test holds a lot of water.
–To satisfy a need for a basketball-centric agility test, the NBA may adopt a shorter version of the Pro Agility, a 2.5/5/2.5. It fits right in the Pro lane, and it makes good sense to me.
–Certainly the FMS was in the discussion, but again, if a guy can play……………………….

–I would just like thank everyone for coming. Many know I take these speaking gigs very seriously, and I try to make what you see and hear the best you have ever seen. My jumping bean style is not always received well by some folks. I had a hell of a time rerouting some things out in LA a few weeks ago. But the feedback so far is just flattering, especially from the veterans in the crowd, and I am glad I can make your time worth spending listening to me jump around and scream like a banshee.
–I told this to Bill Hartman @ dinner. I actually got this from Shawn Michaels’ retirement speech. I don’t know if it’s such a good thing, but I really like myself when I’m up in front of the room, and the non-verbal feedback is positive. Special thanks to Ray Eady, indeed.

Bill Hartman – Corrective Exercise Strategies for High Level Athletes
–Another keynote presentation. Bill and I are fairly synonymous in foundation, so a lot of his talk duplicates the topics I often speak about (or against). Some keys for me……….
–I’m not sure toe extension is a good idea in establishing the short foot in a full pattern. I can live with it as a corrective tool to feel the arch via a posterior weight shift, but I think it’s an error if it is a part of a functional or sensorimotor pattern. For a squat or DL, I think the brain is expecting that level change to result in propulsion in some direction. Part of the proprioception of a level change is the full input from the amazingly sensitive foot and toes. Without that full foot position, I would consider the accurate kinesiology contributing to the short foot as a high threshold strategy. Also in Janda style sensorimotor training on wobbles and sandals, it would be basically impossible to maintain integrity without the toes in contact to the ground. If the point of the wobble sandals is to facilitate the short foot, and you need toe contact for technical proficiency, I think the toes up could be a mistake.
–I think I am going to try some end range EQI. Now I understand why Bill has asked to liken WBV to EQI. I think the mechanisms are similar, just on pathways of different signal latency.

–Spent time with NBA guys that were there presenting and attending. Fun to catch up with a group of us that all came up together like me, Keith, Mike Curtis, Mike Irr, and Daniel Shapiro. Without saying, Dwight Daub and Darryl Eto are patriarchs to all of us.

Sunday morning
Mike Curtis – A Systematic Approach to Movement Training for Basketball
–I met Mike call it 5 years ago when he was with Memphis. On the road, you usually take the guys not playing or guys that like to warmup off the court to the other team’s weight room. I think it was Michael Bradley that said it, but when we walked into Mike’s weight room, MB goes, “You like it in here, don’t you?” He had the best weightroom in the league. Throwing wall, 2 platforms with Tendos, hurdles, a Woodway Force, and no leg extension machine. You knew right off the bat that this dude knew what he was doing.
–The talk outlined his 4 pronged evaluation and influence: posture-Egoscue, fundamental movement skills – FMS Big 3, matrix series – Gary Gray, basketball testing – NBA Predraft.
–Even though it is a mistake to not use all the FMS screens, Mike made it clear he understood that, and he uses this process as his screening process the same way the FMS would be used, screening for pain and asymmetries. I suspect his Gary Gray influence won out over acknowledging the floor-based patterns.
–Mike took you through how he qualifies each phase of his movement training and retraining based on the execution of his screens/assessments. Huge key from his message is basing your training on your movement skills and continuing to correct movement in parallel.
–He mapped out his 5-day a week program where puts it all together. This is where I’m envious of Mike as I’ve never felt I have been able to piece all the movement qualities together in a flowing long term program. Mike should run a mentorship on how to take this hour long talk into a practical reality.
–I am similarly jazzed to formally learn Gary Gray’s matrix program as I was when I spent time with Todd Wright. It is again refreshing that I think I match up to about 83.742% of their program.  More similar than different.  @ dinner, I showed Mike how I would do a forward lunge with downward reach, and he was like, yes, that’s how I would do it.  There was no rounding of the back to reach down as we have seen from many others.
–The research supports agility is best trained by actual game play, not multi-directional drills as commonly seen. This is something Sam Leahey has often asked me about. When he saw Phase 4 of Mike’s program, he saw agility training. I think it was movement training with a complexity and dynamic to it that continued to support joint by joint and functional movement specific to basketball. I think there’s a difference. You can’t train agility. You can train movement, strength, and RFD.

Skipped next talk and stayed upstairs talking with who was left in there.
Dr. Sands commented that Mike’s “assessments” were very simple and was wondering how far he could get with them.  Mike responded that if his first attack doesn’t correct the postures or stereotypes, he would refer them out to Peter Egoscue or Gary Gray.
Dr. Sands and I spoke more on this where I suggested that if he saw my full “rehab” evaluation, he may have the same perception of simplicity.  I think that is by design.  Remember, Dr. Sands is a bona fide scientist.  True science and literature is about crunching numbers, and you can not crunch numbers unless you have interval or ratio data.  Ordinal data has numbers, but they are more names for descriptors, similar to nominal data.  I appreciated his acknowledgement that the movement-based approach is a very qualitative evaluation, and it does not lend to true research.  Certainly we can do outcome studies, but you can not crunch nominal data (all you have is the Mode) nearly as well as the types of measures he uses in his studies.
Dr. Sands and Dwight Daub were talking about something that was a total Ah-Ha moment.  The simplicity of that was brilliant.  They were just talking about using a Thermal Imager like they use in Ghost Hunters to monitor joint irritation.  If you see the gun light up, you have a screen for density of training or practice.  A brilliant example of screening at it’s best, and it can be done through clothing.  Dr. Sands suggested that every time the gun lit up on gymnasts, and it wasn’t acted on, it turned into an injury that caused lost time.  Something I say to folks often is I know what your body is telling you.  But I want to know what your body isn’t telling you.  $3-5000 for a thermal imager in a team setting is probably something that would be more than enough justification to get in the heads of coaches that kick athletes’ ass with long practice and stupid conditioning.

Final Keynote
Mike Boyle – Death of the Squat
Coach’s stance on the squat has been hashed time and time again.
My stance is simple.  I agree with 100% of everything Mike Boyle says on the topic.  And that is why I think you SHOULD squat.  Bottom line is that I think people just squat too heavy.
That being said, he clearly has adequate evidence that you don’t need the squat to be strong.
And I simply don’t care if you don’t squat, or you squat like me.   High Bar, Low Bar.  Front, Back.  DL, Split Squat.  Just get strong and use good form.  And if you do squat, don’t use excuses like low bar or bent over or heels off to justify putting big weight on the bar.
More important to me in this talk than the clinical aspect was the true voice of Mike Boyle’s message.
Here is the Status I put up on Facebook shortly after the talk and some of the comments I put in response to others………..
–I wish people would listen to all of Mike Boyle’s message and not just hear bits and pieces.
–I think his message is a relentless seek and find for best practice for his training environments. Best practice as how anyone would define it is indeed absolute at that moment. My best practice is not the same as Coach Boyle’s, but I think green folks can do a lot worse than copying him. As we know, I do many things differently than and even contrary to Coach, however, at the core of it all, we are in the same camp.
–Coach [Gambetta], your statement’s brilliance is on the figurative nature of magnetism. My magnetism is to be the greatest at what I do that has ever lived. If I happen to see an unexpected new tool on the way to my true north, my compass draws me to pick up this tool. If I have to remove a tool I am already carrying, then at least I know where I left it if I need to go back and get it.
–……………..I may detour and simply suggest we all have different definitions for expert, confusion, or true north. I do not mind others profitting if I profit as well. Mike Boyle can not profit enough for what he has done for my career and life.
I hope to earn a profit from my DVD this summer, and I hope no one reads creating confusion. But indeed I make claims, assertions, and call people out. I will allow others to decide if it is in the name of “expert.”
@ PreDraft, Coach Boyle and I had breakfast.  And the fact that he and I spent however long it was and did not talk about clinical training once the whole time was a moment for me that this individual became a true mentor to me.

Big weekend.  Lots of stuff.
Thank you for reading.


  • May 24, 2010

Leave a Reply 12 comments

Steven Bubel Reply

Enjoy it as always Charlie. Keep it up.

Charlie Reply

TQ Reply

Well said.

Brijesh Patel Reply

Good Stuff Charlie…sorry I missed you and all the other folks this past weekend…I’m sure it was a great event and would have loved to see you speak. Reply

Great stuff. Some fantastic folks you are rubbing elbows with.


Pete Brown Reply

WOW. Truly a pleasure reading your thought Charlie. Thank you.

Sean Skahan Reply

Charlie- Great write up on the conference. I wish I got to see you speak! Look forward to meeting with you in Providence. Thanks.

Charlie Reply

I think they are making a video out of the seminar. It will be excellent.

Ryan Reply

The jumps tests for basketball and the modified pro agility for basketball all sounds exactly what Al Vermeil did with the Bulls in the early 90’s, in fact a have videos of it all. Essentially it is the Bosco tests and the modified pro agility that Al talks about at about ever conference he speaks. Excellent stuff.

Charlie Reply

Ryan – Can you post these videos?

Ryan Reply

They are VHS tapes. I watched as an intern around 8-9 years ago..

Yeah can read articles in NSCA journal in the late 80’s i believe about Vermeils “Time Machine” where he used all this testing as well as a reactive index etc. He was way ahead of his time.

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