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E48 | Chidi Enyia: Applying the Track and Field Model to Team Sports

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Chidi Enyia, Founder/Owner, Enyia Performance 

Private Coach/Consultant, ALTIS- Assistant Coach 

Chidi Enyia is in his 23rd year coaching and currently the Founder/Owner of Enyia Performance, LLC providing coaching and consulting services for athletes and organizations of all levels across a wide variety of sports. Before arriving in Phoenix, he spent 5 years (one as volunteer and 4 as Men’s & Women’s sprints, hurdles and relays coach) at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. Prior to that he was the Boy’s & Girl’s sprints, relays and jumps coach at Lincoln-Way East High School in Frankfort, IL and the Founder/Head Coach for USATF/AAU-affiliated Flight Track Club coaching all sprints, hurdles, relays, horizontal jumps and mid distance events. Enyia obtained a BSc in General Art from Illinois State University and a MSEd in Kinesiology/Exercise Science with a research focus on Post-Activation Potentiation from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. 

Topics Covered:

  1. Chidi’s background in team sports and track and field as an athlete and coach
  2. Components of the track and field technical model, acceleration and max velocity
  3. Pattern recognition across sports, unifying factors/qualities/positions
  4. The continuum between acceleration and max velocity
  5. Does acceleration need to be coached differently for team sports athletes
  6. Max velocity work for team sports athletes, speed reserve, speed specificity
  7. The utility of running-based drills
  8. Accounting for change of direction work 
  9. “Conditioning” with a speed bias

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Episode Transcription:

Greg: [00:00:00] Chidi, thanks so much for coming on. So would you mind beginning by, I know that you’ve got a background as an athlete and a coach in track and field and in team sport, we kind of talked offline about that a little bit. So can you just elaborate a little bit more on your history in both track and field as an athlete and coach and in a team sports?

 

Chidi: [00:00:20] Yeah, so, I ran track and played football in high school. Prior to high school, the sport that I was mostly engaged in was with football or soccer. But then when I got to high school that was the first time that I ever played, like organized American football and then I ran track just because I really enjoyed it. So that was my experience there. I ended up going to college, Illinois State University and walking on and playing football there. Had a lot of injuries and stuff like that, so that it didn’t really materialize well and then after Illinois State, I started taking track and field back on. There was a period of time at Illinois State where the coaches, the football coaches and track coaches, but the track coaches wanted the football players to run track, but I was always like just too exhausted to do that after the season was done and spring ball and all that kind of stuff. So I wanted to; I’ve always appreciated track and field as a sport. I’ve always appreciated the fact that it’s just the, I would say the purest form of athletics in a sense. That could be debated, but that’s just how I feel.

 

So I got into track and field after undergrad and then I just started studying a lot, Charlie Francis, Dan Path, Gary Winckler, a lot of things that as I was going through the process, because I couldn’t find a coach that I was satisfied with and so I was essentially coaching myself. So because of that, I was like, let me find out what resources I need to attack to be able to do this effectively and that’s when I started kind of getting into just studying these prominent guys and figuring out how to apply their concepts to my training. That didn’t pan out either because in the midst of training, I ended up being diagnosed with stage three non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, so that stopped everything. Then once I was done with that, I took on coaching more aggressively once I was done with that. I was doing some training, some personal training prior to that. I started experimented on my siblings, backing into my younger siblings. But after my battle with cancer, I was like, you know what, I’m going I’m going to do this coaching thing full time. then I was like, well, also want to dig more into the science and whatnot and that’s what motivated me to go to SIU, Southern Illinois Universe, to pursue a master’s in kinesiology exercise science and I did my research on post activation potentiation.

 

When I was at SIU, doing my master’s work. I ended up volunteering with coaching with the track team there and then when I was done with coursework, the sprint coach left and I was the closest person to the program, went through the interview process and all that kind of stuff, and ended up being hired as the men’s and women’s sprints hurdles and relays coach. After I was there for four years; I was a volunteer for one season and then I was there for four seasons as a full time coach. Left there, Andreas called me, asked me if I wanted to come down to  [04:21inaudible] to coach, I said hell yeah and a shipped my butt down to Phoenix and I’ve been down there since, and that was 2014. So I’ve been out here since 2014 and it’s been good. My experiences with teams sports, with football and with having played soccer as a youth, I wasn’t so hardcore into soccer, but I played it.

I played around with wrestling a little bit, I would go to wrestling; I wasn’t on the team, but I’ll go to wrestling practice and there are times where I would spar with the guys just because it was fun. But I think it all gave me a lot of insight on like; it gave me some perspective.

 

Track and field, football, soccer, all these different sports, what are all of their common attributes, what things are different, but what’s common. What are the universal the principles that you can apply to all of those sports? Being down [05:32inaudible] there was like about 13, 14 years where I was heavy into just track and field. But since I came down here, I started getting back into more of the multi-sport coaching. So football, working with a lot of baseball guys, I helped out the Cleveland Indians a lot, some really good people there, helped out buddy Morris a lot. I’ve done combined prep with the Charles Bentley for the last four years, with his offensive linemen. I mean, I go track athletes, soccer, all of that that kind of stuff. It’s been good because it’s kept me. It’s actually, I dug more into looking at what principles can be universally applied as I got more into the multi-sport world. I was just like man, acceleration is acceleration. This person coming out of a lateral stance is doing this, that looks very similar to a linear start too, but that’s a nuance, it’s coming from a lateral stance or whatever. That’s kinda my journey, it’s been 23 years of training. I jacked a lot of people up along the way.

 

Greg: [00:06:08] I think we all have.

 

Chidi: [00:06:08] Yup. And I’d like to think that I make less mistakes now but I’ve also been very happy with my own personal growth and my own professional growth. I’m always excited about the opportunity to keep learning and to keep evolving as a person and as a coach, because at the end of the day, my goal is to do the best I can, to help improve somebody else’s life and that’s it.

 

Greg: [00:06:41] Yeah, I appreciate your perspective because you coached at a high level in competitive track and field and in team sports like American football and just from having met you previously and talking offline prior to the recording, I know that you kind of use the track and field model as least a starting point for your speed development with team sport athletes. Can you talk a little bit about, obviously, individualistic and idiosyncratic differences aside because every athlete is somewhat unique. We talked about seeing commonalities, as far as the track and field technical model in terms of positions and concepts. What are those fundamental pillars for you as they pertain to speed development running and acceleration and top speed?

 

Chidi: [00:07:27] Yeah. Yeah. So always like we talked about principals all the time and certain, the things that I look for in any athlete is; so I look at the stance. The stance has to be one that’s appropriate enough to allow to allow the athlete to come out of that position efficiently. So, let’s for example, a three point stance and a 40 for someone running a 40, that three point stance, if it’s too bunched up, it means that that kid is going to take three days to uncoil. So I look at the stance. I look at putting the athletes in the proper stance. Then from there everybody has to launch, everybody has to launch out of that position or even if it’s a rolling start, there is a point where they have to really put effort into launching or projecting. Then I look for foot placement on the ground, relative to the hitch. So when an athlete, when I’m looking at it a sprinter, when they launch out of their position, that first initial contact with the ground I’m going to look for that to be either right under the hip or slightly behind. What’s going to influence that is a skill, ability, strength, power, coordination and whatnot.

 

But I’m looking for the foot to be right under the hip or slightly behind because that’s going to give that acceleration, at least at that point, more of a horizontal propulsion profile. If that foot, regardless of the sport, if that foot is casted out and it’s in front of the hip and that means that athlete has just slammed on the brakes and the hip has to then take time to pass back over the foot before they can do anything positive. That issue is universal, if I see that, that’s what I’m going to address. I am going to say look whether you’re coming out of a lateral stance or a linear stance or you’re coming out of a rolling start or whatever, I need to see those ground contacts with more positive; beach striking back behind them or under them and then progressing all the way up with the change of the angle of the body. I’m also looking at the uniform and harmonious change in stride length, stride frequency, airtime, the rise of the body relative to the ground.

 

These things, regardless of the sport have to happen, they’re just going to happen in different ways and different rates because of the sports demand. So even though, let’s say for example, a baseball player is trying to take second, they’re going to come from a lateral stance. They’re going to push hard off that outside leg. That inside leg is going to pick up and it’s going to strike back. So they’ll either strike under or behind the hip and they’re going to orient themselves into a linear sprint. They might only be accelerating hard for let’s say seven to nine steps, and then they have to start navigating the base. They might have a more aggressive rise of the torso that’s okay but as long as it’s like uniform, like a smooth process, whether it’s like a five degree change or a 10 degree change or 15 degree change, as long as it looks like a competent process.

 

So nine steps, seven to nine steps that they’re going through the acceleration process as anybody would, then he started navigating a base and then that’s like, from there that’s different things are happening. They have to head on a swivel. They have to read what’s happening on the field and things like that. The process of getting to second base is an acceleration, it’s a sprinting process where the rules that are applied for track and field are also applied to baseball. It’s just because different sports have different demands you’ll see some differences in how they may execute, you know what I mean? You may see differences in range of motion, you may see differences in hip position where football players tend to be more anteriorly dumped whereas in track and field, we’re looking for more neutral pelvic position. We’re looking for more upright torso and in track and field, a football player, a soccer player might be a little bit more inclined.

 

More front side in track and field, football, soccer player might be a little bit more backside. But the goal would be to get them to whatever is ideal for them with the intent of checking those principal boxes and so that’s where I think like a lot of people would say like, oh, we’re football players, I’m not a track star but it’s not about that. It’s about giving you, teaching you the principles or the foundation and allowing you to be able to play your sport more efficiently, period. When you talk about like, I used to hear a lot of guys would say with the 40, track guys somehow are gradually accelerating or something like that. It’s just like weird, in track and field these folks are hitting that acceleration in the 100 meter dash as violently as possible.

 

Greg: [00:13:24] Like Christian Coleman is a slow accelerator.

 

Chidi: [00:13:27] No one’s holding back but they’re going through these necessary ranges of motion, you’ll see very deep pushes. You’ll see lots of extension of ankle, knee, and hip and things like that. It’ll vary to some degree, but you will see lots of extensions. You’ll see the patience in how long they take for them to rise. But that rate of acceleration is insane. So if you want to learn how; football guy in the 40’s may have a quick celebration, but track and field guys are people that do this thing for a living. They’re the fastest people in the world and so I’ll say you should generally value learning that model or learning the principles of sprinting that can help anyone be more efficient, and a higher quality mover for their sport. So I’m looking at posture, I’ll look at foot strike. I’ll look at the ride with the body relative to the ground. I’ll look at changes in stride length, stride frequency, both of those should increase over time. I look at the path of the lower legs, like the heels, that should change typically from acyclic to cyclic, there’s variation there. Limb path changes, subtle limb path changes, limb velocities and things like that and that’s it. So people understand that then I think that then I think they can go far their own way.

 

Greg: [00:14:56] Yeah, that makes sense and I think that for simplicity sake, at least in the track and field model, things tend to be broken down into acceleration mechanics and top speed mechanics and I even kind of bias my question to you when I said, how do you explain acceleration and top speed. But in reality, and I’m not talking about like at the elite level, I mean, coaches like you and your colleagues at Altis, you’re looking at things at such a granular level that at the elite level, we could say that somebody like maybe Bolt doesn’t accelerate as well as Coleman, but Both still accelerates in terms of your conceptual pillars, way better than all the team sport athletes. So, I guess what I wanted to ask is, is it really possible to have like a crummy acceleration and then end up in a good position at top speed? I would think that it’s really, like you said, one continuum because like a lot of team sport athletes have been coached or just intuitively like they’ll accelerate and fold with their hips egregiously, because then it’s going to make them more backside when they get to top speed. So it’s like, how do you go from being folded at the hips to magically at 10, 20, 30, the meters now all of a sudden you’re in this great upright position. So do you see acceleration and top speed as more like a continuum versus like acceleration and then we have top speed because when does which one become the other?

 

Chidi: [00:16:13] Yeah, absolutely. It is just; when I’m coaching it, I’m coaching. So I may break it down into certain parts, but what I’m going to coach the activity as like a process from like the acceleration is just, you’re going to accelerate and you’re going to end up gradually transitioning into max velocity. So when I’m coaching acceleration, I’m looking at like, yes, I’m looking at foot strike, but I’m also looking at that gradual rise and then seeing that gradual rise happen until they’re completely upright. Now in team sports, I would say that it’s possible to have crappy acceleration and get into a good position but it is incredibly hard. It’s incredibly hard; it takes a lot more work. If the hips is behind you, you’re piped over and you’re spinning out behind you. It’s going to take a lot of work for you to actually get that hip to then, because we’ll say it under it and then you get more. Like it’s just incredible. So part the acceleration is kind posturely sets the tone for max velocity.

 

So when I’m looking at an athlete from the side and regardless of their sport, I’m going to be able to draw a straight line from the ankle through the years. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to be fully extended at the ankle, knee and hip, but they’re going to be extended enough for me to be able to draw that straight line, from a side view and that straight line is representative of their posture. That straight line is the same straight line that I should be able to draw when they’re upright. If I was a freeze frame guy accelerating first couple of steps, right before toe off, I should be able to take that athlete turn them up and here we got max velocity posture. So acceleration sets the postural tone for the sprint, which also sets the energy efficient tone. When we do it right, we limit the possibility of energy leaks. We limit the possibility of having to snatch resources from places that snatch resources away from places that need it and putting them in areas that they have to go now because we get to take care of the issue, from the beginning.

 

 

So now if an athlete has a crappy start, then they may be able to get to a good position upright but how much work that it takes to get there? And what’s the cost, what’s the price you’re going to pay later on in line? Track and field you get the max velocity, you’re going to hold that thing for 10 to 20 meters, and then you start to decelerate, what’s that deceleration going to look like if we have wasted a lot of energy in the early part of the run? So I think it’s possible for team sport athletes but I think that it’s more possible when they know what the hell they’re doing. When it’s taught correctly and I’ve seen that over and over again with all the athletes that I work with. I’ve got a soccer player that she was soccer and track athlete and I’ve gone to some of her games, 16 year old girl, gone to some hard games and she runs really well, but I’ve been working with this girl for over a year and a half. So a lot of the stuff that we do in track and field, you’ll start seeing the transfer in when she’s going after the ball. She’s like, everything is, there’s this uniformity, there’s this coordination, there is this rhythm and flow and I think that if you’re taught well, then we do a better job of helping you make that run more efficient, more competent.

 

Greg: [00:20:20] So then when you’re working with team sports, from a specificity standpoint. I think people can take specificity too far. We’ll often hear things well, there’s no benefit to a team sport athlete doing a block start or a three point start. Obviously day one you’re not going to take a team sport athlete or even probably a track athlete and put them in the blocks but do you see a place for nonspecific, so to speak acceleration positions to include? Because I kind of look at it like if you can accelerate from a three point start or the blocks, you can easily accelerate from a standing position and now you’re going to own the position more, even though it’s not specific. Do you play with those different positions even with team sport athletes?

 

Chidi: [00:20:58] Absolutely. Absolutely. We’ll come out of a three point stance, two point stance, half kneeling, half kneeling lateral, lateral two point, I mean, we’ll do all kinds of different variations and those variations add to the problem solving ability for the athlete in my opinion and especially sometimes if I have an athlete that’s really good coming out of a two point stance then I got to figure out a way to challenge the system a little bit. So let’s  take him out of a half kneeling start; half kneeling start means that they’re going to have to uncoil some very much steeper joint angles but the rules still apply. The rules to sprinting still apply, so when that person pushes off, whether they’re at half kneeling or lateral stance or whatever, when they push off I’m going to look for that relative straight line. I’m going to look for where that foot contacts the ground and make sure that that shin is in a good position. I’m going to look for everything to change as it should change with changes in velocity.

 

So I think that it’s beneficial, but the quality of the teaching has to be high at all times. So it was like kind of, I’ll always be kind of go where you can go. I’ve coached all these positions pretty well. So I kind of know the value of them and for certain athletes, I’ll get a feel for whether or not they need to be in certain positions to enhance their start and then just kind of go with that. But I do add that those types of variations. My guys, my NFL guys they did rolling starts, static starts, two point lateral starts. They did half  kneeling starts, I’ve done, starts off of like a one leg. I did a broad jump accelerations once they got pretty advanced things like that and I think once you get to like the basic acceleration, I mean, that thing is glued up pretty nice. There’s definitely value there.

 

 

 

 

Greg: [00:23:05] And then, you often hear high level track coaches talk about, they teach acceleration in the context of say like the hundred or the 200, because the goal is not to be the fastest person at 20, 30 meters, but to win the race at a hundred or 200 meters, And then in team sports you don’t really know that distance is going to be because you’re not, oh, I’ve got to accelerate 10 meters and stuff. You don’t know how long that’s going to last. Does that difference; in theory, maybe we can nick pick that it does, but in practice is that distinction really, is that meaningful in terms of how you coach team sport athletes as from an acceleration on that point?

 

Chidi: [00:23:42] I think, to work with team sports means that like I’m going to have to coach them different components. So I’m going to coach some deceleration. I’m going to coach some a change of direction. What that leads to is having an athlete who maybe accelerating for 10 meters and then decelerating, but making sure that deceleration looks like it’s supposed to look too. So how far a team sport athlete is going to have to accelerate it’s going to vary based on what’s going on in the game but that acceleration, I’m still looking for those principal boxes to be checked and then when they have to go into a different one, they have to decelerate and when they have to change direction, there are still certain principles that have to be checked within those actions. So I think a lot of us have to just kind of modify our expectations for what we expect to see, because the sport presents different problems.

 

The track and field athlete is going to say they want to push, push and gradually rise and they’re going to get up and then they’re just going to hit it through the line. That football player he’s gonna push and he’ll rise and then he’s going to have to maybe make a cut. Well, when he’s making that cut have to see the hips, he’s going to have to decelerate and so the hips are going to have to drop and then when he reaccelerates I’m still looking for those principles to come through. So I think it’s about modifying or having a good understanding of changing your perspective based on the challenges that the sport provides but understanding that the challenges of the sport don’t mean that principles are violated, it just means that they’re modified and you just kind of go from there.

 

Greg: [00:26:01] Okay. And then another specificity argument in the context of team sport is that athletes and team sports seldom hit max velocity so that the running preparations just focus more on acceleration. What do you think is the role of max velocity training for team sport? How important do you think that it is? And what’s the role that it plays if it’s not quote unquote specific?

 

Chidi: [00:26:25] Yeah. Yeah. Max velocity is, for me, number one, is the ability to develop a high speed reserve. So I’m looking at athletes, when I look at football players and soccer players, I’m looking at if you have a high top speed then that should mean that your average velocity per play per game should be higher. You going to play faster. You just got more weapons, if you’re faster and you don’t even have to be, you don’t have to be world class fast, you just have to be as fast as you can be for whatever you’re capable of doing. But the speed reserve and the ability to grade someone’s average velocity per game per play is so critical to me. Now, the exposure, the max velocity exposed by max velocity is high load, high velocity, limbs in all, with a huge timing, rhythm and coordination component. So the neuromuscular adaptations are just ridiculous. So then there’s this potential opportunity to address, to expose an athlete to an activity that could maybe minimize the risk of injury.

 

 

So I think that you’re looking at exposing athletes to max velocity raises their threshold, a guy that can run 10.5 meters per second, compared to a guy that can run 9.5, well their 90% is going to be different. The 10.5 guy’s 90% effort run is going to be factored in a 9.5 guy. It’s just what it is but then there’s the injury component just because of how extremely violent, but like coordinated and rhythmical max velocity work is but with everything, it has to be coached well. You have to be mindful of fatigue. You have to be mindful of their readiness on the day of training within the context of their training setup, things like that. Elastic qualities big to me, rate of force development rate coding, huge to me. Ken Clark, has done some research and it doesn’t presentations that showed how max velocity work affects acceleration. If you have high and he looked at like a NFL combine participants, those dudes with the highest max velocity also had like the highest rates of acceleration.

 

Greg: Yeah, you have to get there somehow.

 

Chidi: Exactly, exactly. So it’s like their accelerations, max velocity they just feed each other but they have to be coached well, they just have to be coached well. You have to understand the technical components. You have to understand the dosage components. So we’ve tried to figure that stuff out because sometimes we get the dosages wrong and stuff like that. That’s a constantly evolving process, but it has to be coached well, you can’t just dump somebody in and say let’s do some extra lots of work, but you have no knowledge on what positions they need to be hitting, especially for that person, because that person might show up with certain restrictions that may mean that for them, their ideal is going to look something like this. So we want to be able to coach them well so that we can sort of, we’re not taking something that is very useful and making it something that’s contra-indicated.

 

Greg: [00:30:24] Well, it’s interesting is, I mean, because people are very selective about how they use specificity. So you seldom hear coaches say, well, like max strength work isn’t that specific. But somehow like max velocity work, we don’t want to do that because it’s not specific. I’m one of these guys, I think that max strength work is important. I mean, maybe it can be like anything else, but if we’re going to say that max strength work is important because it kind of provides a buffer or a reserve, you’re basically building kind of a bigger engine and bigger bank account so to speak from a stress standpoint, adaptation standpoint, for the athlete to me, max velocity work is doing the same thing in a more specific way than the weight room would do. So I just don’t know why we hold track and field to a different specificity standard than we do the gym or the weight room. I am yet to see that stuff more consistently applied because there’s a lot of great, isn’t a lot of ambiguity and a lot of it’s coach’s discretion. There’s a lot of ways to coach an athlete well, but I’m just curious, because a lot of the same people who are critical of max velocity worker, they’re maxing out every week in the weight room.

 

Chidi: [00:31:26] Yeah. I’ve had talks with certain people where at least in the SNC world, a lot of coaches for a long time, when they looked at sprinting, they looked at it as this robotic activity. So you’ll see dudes that are strong as 10 bulls but when they get out there and try to sprint, they look like Robocop. It’s stiff, their hips dumped, all kinds of things, lots of unnecessary tension. The timing, rhythm coordination component, the flow of max velocity work is what you’re like, if you’re not doing that kind of work, you’re not doing that max velocity work then you’re missing opportunities to groove the timing rhythm and coordination component. You’re missing opportunities for your body to sort out what it means to contract relax in this high intensity environment. I think just like with match strength, like you said, you get really strong, you can overdo it, but you can get really strong then you’ve got some weapons, you got some toys to play with. We have a reserve that’s really high and so there’s value in that. Anyone can go overkill on anything, so we don’t want overkill or anything, but I think sometimes we go off the deep end with like saying, oh, this is bad and so I don’t do this or  only do this and whatnot and I just don’t think that’s the right approach,

 

Greg: [00:33:21] Another topic that’s been, in my opinion, unnecessarily controversial is drills. Drills with anything but speed people talk about how drills are too detached from the actual skill. Therefore when it comes to speed the only way to get faster is to run tens, run twenties or run flying forties and stuff like that and I think a lot of times depending on how you define a drill, you can make it such that the definition makes the drill worthless and it becomes about semantics. But to me, no matter what coaches say on social media about whether they use drills or not, I’ve yet to see a coach in any sport, just purely play the sport, just scrimmage, or just purely go out and run. They’re doing like part and whole training. So to me it’s like a drill is something that’s not like the complete skill or not the game in its totality. You’re trying to create a regression or minimize the degrees of freedom and the complexity to have maybe the athlete hit a position, or just do something that’s going to ultimately resemble the whole skill. So when it comes to drills or things that aren’t pure acceleration work, pure speed work, what are some like regressions or kind of like part task things that you do, that you like for acceleration and top speed to develop those possessions?

 

Chidi: [00:34:41] Yeah. So I look at drill dead as a way to build context, whatever it is we’re training for. Even those drills that are had done in the warm-up they’re not just  prepping tissue and stuff like that and whatnot. It’s also building context, it’s building, in my opinion, postural concept. You have opportunities to coach up certain positions, hip position, foot position, head position using drills that also have a coordination component to them. I think that that’s valuable and it’s obvious that certain drills don’t look like sprinting on this and other, but that’s not the point. The point is to find ways to build context and better teacher athletes. I’ll do the wall drill for people that I believe need a wall drill and I’m not going to have any problems with that because I’ve done the wall drill with athletes. I’ve had athletes that didn’t necessarily understand how to push because maybe I wasn’t teaching it well enough for them to get it and so that was probably my handicap. So I said, let’s go to the wall, let’s go to the wall, you go to the wall and I’ll put them in their position and then I coach them up and say, alright, in the acceleration that early acceleration, I want you to push, push, push. I want the shin angle to be here. I want the foot contact to be here and I’ll say you go through this motion. I’ll say go through the marching motion, just march in place, but then I’ll chill out and just to have them do it just so they get a feel for it.

 

Then I’ll say, push the wall over, that’s the intent, push the wall over, push the gate over, whatever it is. I’ve had athletes come of that wall drill, get back to the cones and accelerate like crazy because they understood. Just because of the exposure to that drill what they then needed to do, that clicked for them. I’m not going to bash any drill because the whole purpose for me is to build context and find ways to enhance your applicability to execute certain skills and that’s going to look any number of different ways. In my warm-up, one of my, when I have an acceleration dominant day it’s something that I picked up from Altis and I think it was originally something that USC coach Carroll was doing [40:00inaudible] three to five step acceleration bursts. I’ll do that in between sprint drills and those three to five step acceleration bursts are just more opportunities to groove those first three to five steps. So the launch and the first three steps, I’m thinking you better strike the ground behind you with yesterday’s urgency without sacrificing the necessary range of motion you need to have.

 

So we’re going through sprint drill acceleration burst. You might do six drills, six acceleration bursts, six more opportunities to groove a motor pattern. Then we finished a warm-up with three accelerations and when let’s say, if it’s early in the season where there’s a lot of introductory stuff going on, I would say, now we’re going to do these acceleration, your first three steps better look like the steps that you didn’t know bursts and then just grow it up, just grow it as you go and so I think that I’m not going to crap on any drills. Some people would consider drills to be inherently bad maybe but I just don’t think they are. I just think that sometimes it’s just misused or they’re used by people that don’t really understand them. Like wickets, the vast majority of wicket runs, mini hurdle runs I’ve seen online are complete trash because people don’t understand how the spacing should progress. They don’t understand how the spacing should progress for the athletes that they’re actually dealing with given their own abilities. They don’t know what to look for, like what is upright running max velocity is going to look, it should look like a March basically. So the spacing would be all over the place and there might be too many mini hurdles and then it just run it over those things and then if somebody falls and smacks their face in the ground.

 

The mini hurdle runs aren’t inherently bad they can just be misused or misapplied or poorly coach. So then the situation is bad, the drill isn’t it and so, I think if it’s context, if you find different ways, you sift through your arsenal and see what works best for the athletes you’re coaching and if that means I got to do a wall drill, if that means I have to run over wickets, if that means I have to do some launches from the three point stance and that’s it just to get them, just to teach them to how to launch, launch into a mat or something like that, I’ll do what I need to do and I’ve seen good results, thousands of coaches have seen good results with that. So when I hear that kind of criticism, I just blow it off. I’m like, man, look, it’s okay. I’m going to use my wallet drill.

 

Greg: [00:40:34] I know, it’s like a dirty confession, and it’s anonymous, we’ll have to edit this part out. It’s funny because you talk about context and the coach provides the context. I think a lot of people aren’t comfortable with subjectivity and decentralization and discretion. It’s like you can do a drill, but if you don’t explain why the drill is important to the whole task and you don’t use the coach, don’t provide or create that context then of course the drill is not going to transfer. Transfer being very hard to prove it, I’ve even seen tons of athletes where classic, most people at top speed they overstride and even something as simple as a mock drill can get people to not overstride. If you do a mock drill and you’re like, the reason why we’re doing this is to get you to have a more vertical foot strike and I’ve worked with so many athletes where they’re like, oh, well, I’ve done these drills for years in warm-ups. But no one ever told me why they’re important. So of course if you just do a drill mindlessly and there’s no appreciation for why the drill matters to the actual thing that you care about then the drill won’t be that useful beyond just getting your heart rate elevated for when you’re doing one. I hate to break it to coaches, but you have to think and it’s incumbent upon coaches to make the drill meaningful, but to say that drills suck and we’re just going to go do the whole task. I mean, that to me is kind of like evading your responsibility as a coach because now you’re kind of just supervising things.

You’re not coaching, you’re just saying, okay we don’t want to do it this much.

 

Chidi: [00:42:03] Yeah, and that’s it like if we provide the context, we set the environment. We help like manipulate the environment. So that what we’re doing out there can transfer and if you just going to be doing for the sake of doing drills and it’s like how do you; there was a time where someone said to me that a drill sucked or something like that and I said, well, how does that, it doesn’t work a drill, some drill doesn’t work and I was like, it doesn’t work for what? What did they use in the drill for? What goals are they going to accomplish? That’s a better question to ask, because if they’re using it for something that it wasn’t going to help in the first place, then the whole situation is going to suck but don’t blame it on the drill. If it sucks, okay, if you don’t want to use it, then don’t use it. That’s you being responsible. Don’t do this drill or don’t use that because you’d be putting your athletes at risk but know why you’re doing it and be able to teach your athletes the value of the activity. Help them understand the context of it so that they can then better buy in and it can be more meaningful towards the end product. So I just don’t, I think a lot of people there’s a lot of my peers and stuff like that, and they do a damn good job of coaching, damn good job of like applying drills to whatever activities they’re doing.

But there’s still a lot of like mindless drilling, mindless this and that and that’s the issue, not the actual drill.

 

Greg: [00:43:55] I don’t think anyone’s really anti drill in real life. I think it’s more they’re anti bad drills and bad coaching, which is like, but then that’s like what is good coaching? That could be very subjective, but that’s kind of a fun part too, you and I aren’t the arbiters of good coaching, but at least you’re very transparent about what you do and you’re like, I’m not saying this is the best thing, but here’s what I do and now we have a conversation and we just keep trying things and we see what happens. It’s very hard to say, like standardize it. This is the best way to do it or these drills will lead to this because none of us are saying that.

 

Chidi: [00:44:26] I know, that’s true, anything that I do, I’m just like I do it because it fits in my programming. It fits for the athletes. It doesn’t mean everybody’s going to be doing it, but I’m not going to sit there and say you’ve got to do this because this is what I do and this is why I do it. I can give you the rationale for everything and I think that most of the coaches need to be able to give good rationale for at least most of the things that they do, because some things it gets worse and there’s that certain percentage of experimentation that we’re doing. But I think from most things, we have to be able to provide the rationale for what we’re exposing our athletes to and it can’t just be generic nonsense. It’s to get them faster. It’s like, okay, how is this going to help? What is this addressing for that end goal? And I think if we do more of that then that can help push things along and put a lot more meaning and get a lot more buy in and then change the process.

 

Greg: [00:45:41] Yeah. So, I mean we’ve been like pretty philosophical up to this point. I want to get a little bit more practical because as a coach you get to actually work with team sport athletes and if I’m not mistaken, for a lot of them, you’re doing their entire program and their strength work, change of direction work, their speed work. So for the athletes that you work with in the off season, where you’re not worried about balancing the volume of stuff you do with like sport practice and you obviously have a track and field kind of background, how are you incorporating if at all that change of direction work into your of season programs, because I mean, you can make a case that these athletes get enough of that in their sport and you could purely focus on linear, but you could also make a case that even if you’re going to try to develop linear speed, you should be doing some change in direction work. So how are you incorporating that if at all, with the team sport athletes you work with?

Chidi: [00:46:29] Yeah, so it really depends. So I’ll do the lifting and field work, running work with a lot of athletes and there are a lot of other athletes that it will just be sprinting field work and stuff like that. But it really depends on, I look at like their history; I worked with a group of NFL guys and put them through a nine week program and the first cycle was four weeks. The first block was four weeks there was a lot of linear work because some of the guys were just starting their training. So we just went basic work and things like that and then eventually I started adding in some multi-position starts and things like that. Then I started to add elements in the weight room that would overload or address the eccentric deceleration portion that would be specific to change the direction. It would be something like an assisted lunge, band assisted lunge, both linear or lateral. It could be something like stepping off of a 12 inch box, landing on one leg, obviously I have progress it but land on one leg, hop to the other leg with a med ball and with that med ball to the side and balance yourself.

 

When I get out into the field, like early on, it’s just really basic work and I can do that stuff on more of a temple type day, really basic stuff. They’re going to shuffle, they’re going to do deceleration work. They’re going to sprint and then change direction and I’m looking at the quality of that work. Now in a situation where some guys that I work with were also doing wide receiver, [51:43inaudible] they’re also doing a wide receiver stuff outside of the training that I was doing and if they’re doing wide receiver work outside of the training that I was doing, then I had to cut back on what I was doing and if they’re running, if a guy is out there running 30 routes you’re going to get a whole lot of change of direction work, running those routes. Then my job is to make sure that from on my end, I expose you to the amount of high quality change of direction work that allows you to go out and do your receiver work really well. The volume of change of direction work that I would do would depend other factors, athletes are doing a lot of positions specific stuff outside of me then I’ll cut it back and the programming will look different.

 

I had a guy that was doing a lot of specific stuff and another guy that wasn’t. So the guy that wasn’t their volume of change of direction work was a little bit higher because I believe we still have to groove those patterns. We still have to teach like proper, there’s a way that those things have to happen. When you decelerate and then you push off to the left, there’s a way that those things should happen and so I try to make sure that I teach those things as well, so that they can transfer, hopefully transfer it to their score. I don’t believe in going overkill on it but I believe that has to be addressed and it just has to be methodical in that process.

 

Greg: [00:50:20] I appreciate that answer and then for as far as like conditioning, that’s another thing that it gets people in debates about right now. It’s more like American football, you can make a case people don’t need a ton of conditioning and running at submaximal velocities. But I think where it gets more interesting as a sport like regular football or soccer and I’m going to get other people on here, more distance oriented coaches, because I want to, like I said, a lot of things can work and the sprint oriented people tend to have the bias that all you’ve got to do a sprint and the game will pull you into shape. Then the distance folks are like, no, you need to be running miles and miles. So I’m just curious to hear your thoughts on that. I’m going to try to make it simple so that we cannot have too many variables to influence your answer, but say you’re working with a soccer player, it’s the off season. They’re not doing any specific work but they’re going to be, it’s like a high school athlete, they’re going to be going to practice say in September how are you programming? How much quote unquote conditioning based running are you doing? Because we know that you’re going to do some speed work, that’s something that’s a part of your identity as a coach. How much conditioning and what does that look like for a soccer player, lacrosse player, somebody who’s got a run around a lot, isn’t going for like three or three to five seconds and doing like 30 plays in a game?

 

Chidi: [00:51:42] Yeah. So I think that it largely depends on how often we’re training.

 

Greg: [00:51:53] You have seven days a week or you could program stuff for them to do on their own.

 

Chidi: [00:51:58] Yeah. So I would say we’ll do conditioning work let’s say two to three days a week. I’ve seen soccer programs where the emphasis is on they’re running lots of miles. They’re running like a boatload of miles. They’re running like lots of 800 meter repetitions and stuff like that for a long time and then like the sprint work would consist of like 120 to 150 and whatnot and I’m not opposed to athletes running mileage. I just won’t touch that as frequently as is commonly seen in soccer. I don’t think; I use an 800 meter runner that I was training just for some context, one year I took the 800 meters runner and she made some progress at the high school level but my bias for her was like for her, it was her and another guy, my bias was so heavy on the speed side. My bias was so heavy on the speed and technical side that I neglected the aerobic capacity, the aerobic power that they needed to have for the 800. I saw that clear as day. They would go through 600 meters and then just hit a wall. So I said, okay, the issue that I had at the time was, I would think in like, oh, you don’t need to be doing all this long distance running, you need to be fast but the distance running served it’s purpose, there is a purpose for it.

 

What I did was, I said two days a week, you can go for your runs, go for your run in the neighborhood but go at this pace and stuff like that. Then there was one day that the athlete will be with me and I’ll have her do a timed mile, but like each 400 has had to be a certain pace. So it was like temporal work continuous work and that was a drastic difference in just how the race evolved. Go through 600 meters and then they have a kick. So with soccer, I would say they run, well, I think in a soccer match, what is it like seven miles total or something like that, that they would end up competing. So a lot of that is that’s not just all running, that’s walking, jogging, some sprinting and stuff like that because I value sprinting we’re going to do a lot of sprinting, but the volume of conditioning, I don’t think has to be as high as commonly seen. So I might do let’s say ten one hundreds, mid-season and then some small side game afterwards where it’s continuous, but it’s like continuous and skill-based. It gives me an opportunity to, we’ll do that’s a thousand yards or a thousand meters of running with a short recovery, let’s say 30 seconds recoveries and then they come off and they do their games and they add another however many meters or whatever to their training. It’s still work capacity, it’s directing the demand of the sport and things like that.

 

I would kind of mix it up too. I like temple run, I like intensive temple runs. So two days might be extensive tempo. One day might be a more intensive tempo and then I’ll have my couple of speed days. They’re going to be accelerations done every because that’s just a part of the warm-up, but I think that’s how you get someone conditioned for soccer is by addressing all those components of factor athlete, but better mechanics is also going to be more efficient and waste less energy. But you also have to address the aerobic component of the sport. So although I’m kind of opposed to doing a lot of business runs. I would allow that to be in the program from time to time.

 

 

Greg: [00:56:40] Then you mentioned like as a speed based coach that your bias is speed, but what I appreciate what you said where you’re trying to keep the speed work speed work. Like do you doing speed work is not doing repeat 120. So if you’re working with one of these more like mixed quality field sport athletes, you’re saying like the speed work is going to be really fast. You can do the aerobic work but when we do the speed work we’re going to make it look speed work. Because most people call speed work, they’re really doing tempo work.

 

Chidi: [00:57:08] Doing some 120s, 150s that’s speed endurance. That’s not pure speed work.

 

Greg: [00:57:23] And with the rest periods a lot of them are using, it’s not even speed endurance.

 

Chidi: [00:57:26]  Yeah. It’s like survival work and so if we’re doing speed work, we’re talking about 20 to say 50 yards of sprinting. We’re talking about build-ups, 60 yard build-ups, to a pretty good clip. I’m looking at posture, I’m looking at rhythm and I’m looking at all those things, all the elements that should change with changes in velocity. That is kind of how I would approach it. I think some people define speed differently and to the point where they don’t ever really address it and I think like too soccer is, they’ve got lots of hamstring issues and it’s very quad dominant looking sport. So they’ve got a lot of issues. So I think that exposing them to more speed work and bringing the aerobic work down to where that work can be more higher quality, because I think that you can get so far up there and doing the distance runs and doing the repeat three hundreds and all that crazy stuff and you get folks that are out, they’re just trying to survive.

 

They get into these horrible postures that are just trying to survive it, I don’t want that. I want you to thrive in your sport environment and that’s going to mean that we have to take things more to a higher quality bias regardless of what we’re doing, whether it be speed, whether it be tempo or work with capacity, strength endurance, whatever it is, I want more high quality work than not. I think that when we go over kill on the 800 meter runs and the miles and three mile runs and this, that and the other, I think we don’t do a good job with promoting a higher quality movement and exposing them to let’s say the velocities they need to be exposed to be a little bit more quote, unquote bulletproof.

 

Greg: [00:59:29] Yeah and I think it’s an interesting question because with these fields sport athletes, and even you brought it up in your previous answer, you mentioned the 800 meter runner you were training. I like analogies. I kind of look at a soccer player, not like a goalie, but somebody who’s running around is like, I would probably want to train them like an intermediate runner. But as you know, there are some excellent coaches who they’ll train multiple 800 meter runners, the same coach and some of them are going to run 20 miles a week and some are going to run 80. In a field sport, not American football, but you want someone who’s really fast and can extend that and the 800 there’s just, that to me is the event where there’s not a ton of consensus on how to do it because was the 400, you can make a case they’re long, hundred meter people. You can train them like a sprinter the mile; there aren’t many people who are trained for the mile running, you still need a lot of volume for that. The 800 is where it’s like, it could go either way and that’s kind of why I  like asking that question to multiple coaches because team sport athletes and sports like soccer, lacrosse, if we’re going to use kind of the 800 is sort of like that’s our track and field analogy for those athletes there’s a lot of controversy as to how to do that.

 

Chidi: [01:00:37] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Totally, totally

 

Greg: [01:00:41] Now you’ve been really generous with your time. I know that you just started like your own company and now you’re doing a lot more training on your own. Can you talk about your website, your social media, and just kind of what you’re doing on your own now?

 

Chidi: [01:00:53] Yeah. So in the last month or so, I registered an LLC, it’s called Enyi Performance and it was just something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Especially since I’ve been doing a lot of private coaching and consulting for a minute now. So I was just wanted to expand on that and make it an actual business and just have my own stuff. So I have that, it’s still like in the developmental process, eventually I’ll have a website and all this other kind of stuff, but I’m on Twitter. My Twitter handle is @coachenyi. I’m on Instagram and my Instagram name is @thee_chiefchidi and then I’m on Facebook, Chidi Enyi, there are a bunch of  Facebook but you’ll know it’s me when you see it and that’s about it. So I posted a lot of stuff on my Instagram. At times I go ham on posts and stuff on like Twitter and things like that. People can get in contact with me through Instagram, through Twitter. My email is chidi.enyi@gmail.com. People can get in contact with me there for now, until I really get this other Enyi Performance emails settled and things like that. That’s about it, I’m growing something here and it’s fun going through the process.

 

Greg: [01:02:40] Yeah. Well, good luck with that and as this evolves, definitely would love to have you on again, hear what you’re up to and we’ll definitely share all those links in our notes. So, yeah thanks for your time and enjoy the weekend.

 

Chidi: [01:02:51] Yeah, thanks for having me. It was a really good time and I appreciate everything that you do. I enjoy your perspective on things and I enjoy checking out your videos and just what your contributions are to the profession. So I appreciate all of it.

 

Greg: [01:03:07] The 40-year-old old man training brigade man, me and you. Alright cool man, I’ll talk to you soon.

 

Chidi: [01:03:14] Okay, cool. Alright. Yeah.