When attendees are asked whom they’d like to see return to The Seminar, my good friend Dr. Bryan Mann is always at the top of the list. Dr. Mann has been on the docket multiple times at CVASPS and has contributed several fantastic chapters to The Manual as well.
A highly driven professional who is always pushing on the research side to help practitioners better understand how to be more productive with the time we get to work with our athletes, Doc is also as humble as they come. He has been a sounding board for me throughout my continued development as a coach, impacting me in ways I can’t even describe. As great of a coach, teacher, and researcher as he is, he’s a first-team “All Good Guy” in my book as well, and I couldn’t be more excited to sit down and listen to his latest thoughts.
CVASPS: What are a handful of the mistakes you routinely see made by strength and conditioning coaches in the United States and worldwide, and what specifically do you feel should be done differently to correct these issues?
Bryan Mann: I think probably the biggest mistake is that people aren’t looking at their own athletes and their own data. They are listening to what others are saying and sharing, but I think there is often a lack of examination of what they are doing. I think there could be a lot said for simply categorizing your athletes into things like age, strength level, performance level, injured or not, and performing really basic statistics like correlations or t-tests and seeing what happens for your groups.The biggest mistake S&C coaches are making is not looking at their own athletes and data. Instead, they are listening to what others are saying and sharing, says @jbryanmann. Click To Tweet
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at the research and then gone and performed my own tests and found that my athletes and the researcher’s subjects did not match at all. Why did they not match? It could be a plethora of things. It could be that your style of play is different.
I often remark about the transition between Quinn Snyder and Mike Anderson at the University of Missouri basketball program back in the mid-2000s. Quinn Snyder had his style of offense, and Coach Anderson brought in “the fastest 40 minutes” style, like his mentor Nolan Richardson. The athletes who were used to Coach Snyder’s style of play did not do well with Coach Anderson’s style of play. Those not used to full court pressing and flying around the entire time wore down quickly and were often injured. Likewise, I’d wager that those who did well in Coach Anderson’s style of play may not have been as successful with Coach Snyder.
What I’m saying is that it’s not just the sport but the style of play within the sport that dictates what type of athletes you will need and who will be successful. It could also be that the level of athlete is different. Remember, there’s a reason that not every athlete in high school is a college athlete, and college athletes often vary across divisions. If you’re looking at NCAA Division III athlete research—where the rules are very different for how they can train—and trying to apply it to the NCAA Division I athlete who has every opportunity to enhance their performance, the outcomes may be very different. This could be due to genetics, training age, and other factors.I’m saying that it’s not just the sport but the style of play within the sport that dictates what type of athletes you will need and who will be successful, says @jbryanmann. Click To Tweet
At the end of the day, you have a responsibility to examine your data and see what happens. While you should have expectations based on the research out there, you should also be open to examining what happened in your data. See what happens for your people—does everyone respond in the same manner? If you’re running a single program: Did you do a force-velocity profile pre and post? How did that look? Did the people whose data was similar respond in a similar manner or different? Did everyone who was at a force or velocity deficit respond in the same manner? Did everybody of all of the training ages respond in the same manner?
Most often, the answers to these questions are no, and then it’s fun to figure out why. Once you figure out why, stratify your athletes accordingly and (re)apply the scientific method.
Most people will probably say, “I need SPSS and a bunch of additional skills. I don’t have time to do that.” Well, not so much. Most statistics you can do in Excel with some formulas. If you’ve got some coding background, R should be easy to pick up, and it is a free and powerful statistical tool. The statistics can also be done anytime, anywhere.
CVASPS: What advice would you give a coach to improve their knowledge as a process of continuing education? By which I mean, can you point our readers in a few concrete directions to find the scientific and practical information to improve the methods used to improve performance?
Bryan Mann: Go to the people who innovated the method, not those who imitated it. There are so many people out there who will call themselves an expert but have never done anything. Don’t follow or look at them. Look at the trailblazers. The Al Millers and Al Vermeils, the Yuri Verkhoshanskys, the Issurins, Boscos, Bondarchuks, and Kraaijenhofs of the world. These are the people who have been there, done that, have the t-shirt, and also probably gave it to someone else since they’ve got 10,000,000 of them.
I’d recommend using Google Scholar and Research Gate. Google Scholar is a Google search engine that only searches research articles as opposed to general articles. Research Gate is like Facebook for researchers (or it’s supposed to be). I don’t get on it much, but many people put their work on there for free. It’s a great place to get articles.
If you work in higher education, combine Google Scholar with your university’s library website. Find the article on Google Scholar, as its search engine seems to be better than the library one (at least for me). If the article isn’t available for free, search for it on your library site. It will then find it through its subscriptions and can also do interlibrary loans, where someone scans the article and sends it to you.
Also, I recommend looking at some of the resources people have already put out on specific topics. Find out who the top people are in the area you wish to examine and go find the resources that those people have already put out. Passionate people will put forth clues that everyone else can use to not have to reinvent the wheel. That’s why we started with cave art and then went on to books.Discover the top people in the area you wish to examine and find the resources those people have already put out. If you really like someone’s info, buy their books and courses, says @jbryanmann. Click To Tweet
If you have someone whose info you really like, buy their books and courses. I can speak for myself in saying that I go into much greater detail/depth with the books and courses I’ve done than what I’ve put out in a tweet or an IG post.
After you’ve done all of that, see where the overlap lies. There is your truth. This is the concrete direction—where everyone in different areas agrees.
CVASPS: For readers unfamiliar with your history, can you provide some background on your niche in the world of athletics, the educational/career path you took en route to your current role, and any notable publications, courses, or products you have available that you’d like to direct readers toward to dive deeper?
Bryan Mann: I’ve been in college S&C since 1998. I started as a student assistant under Rick Perry at Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State), and within a couple of weeks, I had my own teams. Realize S&C in 1998 wasn’t like today. There was one guy and 500 athletes, so if someone could competently turn the lights on, you had a good role. I happened to know how to do the exercises and spot the exercises, and I had read enough about how to write programs that I hit the ground running pretty quickly.
From there, I interned under Joe Kenn at Arizona State and Pat Ivey when he was at Tulsa, and then back to Rick and SMS. The following spring, in 2004, Pat got the job at Missouri, and I went and worked with him for 15 years there before coming to Miami as a professor—and now, director of sports science and an associate professor. I’m not someone who likes tooting my own horn, but I’ve got a couple of books out there on VBT, a course on it through Stronger Experts, and some content on Strength Coach Network. I’m currently working on getting a plyometrics course and a “deep diving with your data” course, where we will examine relationships between tests and how to use equations to get more out of what you’re already doing.
CVASPS: Can you provide a sneak peek at the topic you will be covering at The Seminar as well as a few useful takeaways on the presentation for those who may not be able to attend?
Bryan Mann: I’ll be talking about force-velocity profiling and how to do it in a meaningful way that won’t kill your time budget.
CVASPS: What’s one question or topic that no one ever thinks to ask you about (or that tends to be under-discussed across the board), and what would you like to add on that subject?
Bryan Mann: I’d like to get up on a soapbox and say that your first priority should be to be a good person and help others be a good person first—winning in sport should be secondary to this. If we would all work together for the common good rather than for our own gain—in real life, on social media, in the metaverse, or wherever—that’s how we all win and push ourselves forward.If we’d all work together for the common good rather than for our own gain—in real life, on social media, in the metaverse, wherever—that’s how we’d all win and push ourselves, says @jbryanmann. Click To Tweet
It’s basically Game Theory, and the guy who created it won a Nobel prize for it. If we’d quit the infighting of who’s most right and work toward what’s best for everyone, we’d have a lot more questions answered. I believe it was Harry Truman who said, “It’s amazing what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.”
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