Doug Gle has been a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) for the last 23 years. During his career as a strength coach, he worked at Eastern Michigan University, Western Michigan University, and Northern Iowa. Gle transitioned to the high school setting in 2001, when he began teaching science and became the strength and conditioning coach mainly by default. He added two hours of strength and conditioning classes to the schedule in 2008 and now has seven classes throughout the day plus 1.5 hours after school.
Freelap USA: One of the impressive areas of your program is jump testing. You have opted to use a contact grid versus a Just Jump mat—can you share the benefits you see that are indispensable?
Doug Gle: When our Just Jump mat broke, I was looking to replace it. After researching options, I decided on the contact grid because I was able to test vertical jump with athlete landing naturally on the ground instead of focusing on the mat. In addition, I am able to test the reactive strength index and ground contact of various plyometric exercises and give athletes feedback on how they are contacting the ground.In the short time we’ve had the contact grid, our athletes have become more disciplined in the way they do their plyometrics, says @TrojanStrength. Click To Tweet
Everything that I have measured and given athletes feedback on has improved. In the short time we have had the contact grid, I have witnessed our athletes become more disciplined on how they do their plyometrics.
Freelap USA: A lot of coaches at the high school level think it’s a luxury or unnecessary to use VBT, but your athletes are doing more than just measuring bar speed. Can you explain how GymAware has helped you?
Doug Gle: The biggest thing that GymAware has done for my athletes is improve intent to move the bar as fast as possible. I have experimented with athletes moving the same weight with and without feedback, and they consistently move the bar with greater velocity with feedback. It has made me a better coach because I now have a better eye for what the lift should look like velocity-wise. I realize that my eye was not as good as I thought it was after seeing bar speed in real time.GymAware made me a better coach because I now have a better eye for what the lift should look like velocity-wise, says @TrojanStrength. Click To Tweet
The first week I used GymAware, I had a female athlete who was reluctant to increase weight on basic Olympic derivatives even though it was obviously too light. She had been using 95 lbs. for a long time and I couldn’t get her to go heavier. With the feedback, I was able to let her see she was significantly over 2.4 m/s peak velocity. At the end of the session, she was using 195 lbs. at 1.8 m/s peak velocity. It has been a good tool to nudge my reluctant lifters to increase weight and still maintain power. Conversely, my male athletes often want to go too heavy and this helps me to teach them proper load for developing power.
In addition to measuring peak and mean velocity, we use our GymAware for tracking athlete progress in relative power output. We test concentric squat jump, countermovement squat jump, and continuous squat jump. With minimal coaching, the athletes discover their power angle and how to use a countermovement to maximize their power output. We look at the ratio of concentric to countermovement squat jump (eccentric utilization ratio).
Our best jumpers all have a countermovement squat jump that’s 20% or more than their concentric-only squat jump. I have started to increase eccentric work for those who have a countermovement squat jump less than 20% over concentric squat jump.
For upper body power, we use the NHL Bench Test Protocol. We track throughout the year to see if the training we do is actually improving power.
Freelap USA: You have seen a lot of improvement with flywheel training over the last few years. Could you share what you see with size, strength, and injury resilience with your athletes?
Doug Gle: We have a kBox, a Pro Inertial Pro Squat, and a Versapulley. Three years ago, we added the kBox after reading “How Peak Eccentric Forces Reduce and Rehabilitate ACL Injuries” and talking to coaches about hamstring injury prevention. In the first year, we noticed a greater improvement in free weight squat and VJ with our athletes using the flywheel and free weights as compared to those only using free weights. Those who used the flywheel all noticed a greater improvement in their eccentric utilization ratio. One of our high jumpers who used it the most went from 6’0” in 2016 to 6’9” in 2018.
My initial interest in the flywheel began when I had two very good athletes come to me with a history of injuries: one with two ACL tears (sophomore) and the other with chronic hamstring issues (frosh). We mostly did squats, RDLs, and split squats. Both managed to avoid any future injuries to these areas and both received scholarships to play their sports in college.
Because of the success I witnessed with the kBox, I purchased a VersaPulley to try to improve our rotational power after reading “Body by… Inertia?” Our rotational athletes love it and have given me feedback that they have noticed an increase in their exit velocity, but that could be due to many other factors.
Freelap USA: The summer is a rich opportunity to get better as kids can get sleep because of school being out. With summer vacations being a logistical nightmare, how do you handle this so kids can make strides without losing momentum?
Doug Gle: Last summer, we offered training sessions Monday-Friday from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. for grades 6-12. I hired our athletic trainer, Amy Ream, to be a part of it so she could assist in training and diagnose and rehab injuries. This summer, we are adding our middle school strength and conditioning coach, John Girton, who previously worked as a strength coach in the Seattle Mariners’ system.I think our multisport athletes are overscheduled in the summer and could probably benefit from a few more breaks, says @TrojanStrength. Click To Tweet
Most of the athletes I work with train year-round. Because of this, a week off for vacation is not a big deal. I think our multisport athletes are overscheduled in the summer and could probably benefit from a few more breaks. I think my athletes are busier in the summer than they are during the school year because all their coaches are competing for their time.
Freelap USA: Medicine ball testing has benefits that are different than jump evaluation. Can you get into more detail about testing the throws with the Ballistic Ball?
Doug Gle: For us, the Ballistic Ball is more of a tool to see if the training we do is transferring into power. As with everything we have tested, if we measure it, the intent from the athlete improves. We use it to test rotational throws, chest passes (countermovement and concentric only), and overhead backwards throws.
If I am honest, I need to use the ball more because it is a great tool. So far, we have used it to test athletes infrequently, as we don’t train with it. Down the road, we will look more into medicine ball testing and training, as we expect the technology to evolve.As with everything we have tested, if we measure it, the intent from the athlete improves, says @TrojanStrength. Click To Tweet
With all of the technology out there, coaches will be asking how high schools can find funding. I am trying to get out a grant writing article as soon as I can catch my breath. Also, I want to share more about what a high school coach needs to do to combine the art of coaching and sport science application in a practical manner.
Since you’re here…
…we have a small favor to ask. More people are reading SimpliFaster than ever, and each week we bring you compelling content from coaches, sport scientists, and physiotherapists who are devoted to building better athletes. Please take a moment to share the articles on social media, engage the authors with questions and comments below, and link to articles when appropriate if you have a blog or participate on forums of related topics. — SF