Discussing Growth and Development with Dr. Joe Eisenmann

Former Director of High Performance and Education at USA Football, Joe Eisenmann, PhD, a diverse scholar-practitioner with 25 years of experience as a professor, researcher, sport scientist, coach education expert, strength & conditioning coach, and youth sports coach joins the podcast to discuss Long Term Athlete Development. They touch on a range of topics from growth and development, the youth sports market, and player identification, to how a multi-disciplinary approach on the road to elite sports performance can benefit not just the athlete, but the person mentally, emotionally and socially. Joe also gives advice to coaches, parents, and players on what we could do during and after COVID-19.


J: Welcome to Compete Like a Champion. You're here with Dr. Larry Lauer, Mental Skills Specialist and coach Johnny Parkes with USTA Player Development. Today we've got a special guest on the line, Joe Eisenmann. Thank you for joining us.

JE: Thanks for having me on guys, it's a pleasure to be on the show.

J: Alrighty, so this episode we're going to talk about long term athlete development, or long term athletic development, which is an area you are heavily invested in. So I'll just give a maybe a short bio on you, Joe, for the listeners at home, where a lot of our listeners are coaches, parents, and players tune in. And then maybe you can expound upon your sort of research and experiences. So you're a diverse scholar practitioner with 25 years of experience as a professor, researcher, sports scientist, coach education, strength and conditioning coach, and youth sports coach. I'll take a breath now. You've published 180 peer-reviewed scientific papers, lectured nationally and internationally, served on several national level committees and projects involving pediatric sports medicine, youth fitness, youth sports and strength and conditioning, and coached and developed thousands of youth athletes and coaches. You are a lecturer or have held faculty positions at University of Wyoming, York University, Iowa State, and Michigan State, where you founded and directed the Spartan Performance Program, which is a youth sports performance training and research center that serves nearly 2000 athletes and coaches on a daily basis. Joe that's a pretty impressive bio right there.

JE: Yeah, thanks, Johnny. Yeah, at the end of the day, it's just a matter of waking up and serving all of the young athletes and coaches in our country. And even beyond young athletes, just young people in general, which kind of gets into the topic already of long term athlete development doesn't it? And that is who is a young athlete? And really by definition is everybody's a young athlete. And everybody should possess athleticism, because all athleticism really is is a combination of health-related physical fitness and skill-related physical fitness.

JP: Yeah, absolutely and absolutely agree. And Larry, there's hope for you then for what's Joe saying there then.

L: So easy now, big guy, because there's no chance that you can catch up to me when I'm on skates first of all, and I would just shoot pucks at you and you would run squealing. But to my brother Spartan, welcome. It's great to have you on here. You know, I think that one of the things that I think about is, you know this long term athlete development what really kind of drove your interest into this area? You've been doing it a long time, and we certainly talk about the time at Michigan State as well. But what really kind of piqued your interest into youth athletes and the development of young athletes?

JE: It actually goes back to my childhood, and how I experienced my days growing up. Unstructured free play, a little bit of organized sports, quality experience in physical education. And it just kind of carried forward with me as a young athlete and then getting into my academic studies. And if people take the time and kind of go back and look through those publications that you know, Johnny was mentioning in the intro, they're going to find that I've done a lot of work in more general youth physical activity, physical fitness, childhood obesity, cardiovascular health aspects. You know, one reason was I was at major universities during that time and there was a lot of pressures for, you know, getting external funding from major grant sources and stuff, and I was always coaching on the side - baseball - and then conducting, you know, speed and agility clinics, strength and conditioning camps for kids, before I kind of made the switch over. But the point I want to make here is there's this overlap as well, that kind of gets back to my point that I made early on in terms of who is a young athlete - I really think we all are in some degree. I didn't, we didn't say competitive elite, did we? But to be able to have the confidence and competency in a wide range of motor abilities, so that we can partake in hockey, or tennis, or baseball or a game of tag in the backyard. And that obviously carries over into health-related aspects as well, whether they be physical or mental.

L: Positively. And you think back to that time in Michigan State, the Spartan Performance Program, how did that come about? And what would you say is like sort of the, the outcome of something like that? Like I'm really interested in when, sort of where you think that, how that helped the community and what difference that made.

JE: It came about as I was making this change in my career, as I mentioned, kind of having spent a lot of time in more of the general youth activity fitness sphere, and then always coaching on the side. And always having a strong interest in youth sports and athletic development, and just making a switch in my career. And then knowing how good models work, and that is through interdisciplinary or multi disciplinary spheres. So I proposed to the Department of Sports Medicine at Michigan State that we develop this multi-disciplinary group on campus and serve our community. And department chair looked at me and just said, "yeah, this makes too much sense." You know, it was a continuity of care as well. Because, you know, there was sports medicine, obviously, someone has surgery, you know, has a diagnosis and goes through the treatment, they obviously go across the hall in this case, this is the physical therapy, and then they finish physical therapy. Now we need to get them back to the field of play. So there was a missing piece there, as well, of a return to play but also a, you know, performance-like program that young athletes in our community could benefit from. It was more than just coming onto campus to our facility, it was reaching out into the local schools and clubs as well, where we would place sport performance specialists who would serve those schools or clubs with a very holistic approach to athletic development. So every training session, not only get the kids go through, you know, their physical training, which would encompass you know, all of the physical qualities: speed, agility, balance, coordination, strength, power movements; but there'd also be a nutrition piece to it. And there'd be other aspects of recovery, such as sleep. And then we had a mental skills curriculum, which Dr. Gould and others from the Youth Sports Institute, and I know Dr. Gould's been a guest on the show before and obviously Larry knows him very well. But he helped us develop a mental skills curriculum as well, so giving, you know, young athletes and coaches and parents in our community, this view of holistic athletic development. And again, it was with long term athletic development in mind, which that's a process.

J: That's that's really good Joe, because I think sometimes - I know when I first started out and started to understand the concepts of long term athletic development that when you start reading up on it a lot is, a lot of material initially found in a sense on the physical side of athlete development and not really the holistic approach unless you take an intentional effort to seek out the cognitive, the mental, emotional, social side of it as well. And so maybe speak about some of the challenges, like why that's the case or maybe some of the challenges that face putting in a holistic type programming in, in clubs or in programs.

JE: Yeah, that's a great question. Before I get into that, you make a really good point Johnny about when you start reading the literature on long term athlete development, a lot of it is focused upon the physical domain. So the only position statement right now is from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Obviously, I shouldn't say obviously, but the IOC [International Olympic Committee], they also have a consensus statement on, they don't call it long term athlete development, they just called youth athletic development. Obviously, when we talk about long term, and I think about long term, it's really cradle to grave. Like oftentimes, we do pigeonhole into the youth athletic development focus, which is, you know, my focus, I think, you know, all of us on this call and anybody listening, we're still in our long term athletic development pathway. But now to answer your question about some of the challenges about the implementation, and that word is a great word, the implementation because again, there's a lot of education going on. A lot of the governing bodies, including the USTA, you know, you have your educational materials for coaches to implement long term athletic development. But implementation is where rubber meets the road, right? Like you can be educated on it, but are you actually putting it into practice on Monday morning, and then continuing as you go through? Challenges, I think, number one, relate to the early stages of it. What we oftentimes don't understand again that this is a long term, it's a process. And we like to microwave our young athletes, right? We want to have these quick fixes. We want to get them to high level very early on, tapped out these competitions at early ages, rather than allowing them to slow cook. It's just like me, I made chili last week, right? So I cut my vegetables up. I have a sequence that I put in different vegetables at different times. It takes me all day to make this chili. I could easily grab the can of Hormel out of the cupboard, and put it in a bowl and microwave that, right. So, like thinking about that analogy, as well. The other challenge besides you know, pushing those early phases, and this is really important, and it also gets to this point of the focus on the physical because when we develop these athletes, and I talk to strength and conditioning coaches a lot who are very, you know, physical-centric, right? But getting them to think, hey, not only is there the nutrition and the recovery, and the mental side, but there's also these two other domains: technical and tactical. And so we need to get our strength and conditioning folks, our sports medicine folks, our folks who live in that physical domain to communicate and collaborate with the sport coaches and other members on that, on that multidisciplinary team. Now obviously not every club, school, or situation that you go into, you know, has the resources. And sometimes it's one person, and that's the sport coach. But that sport coach needs to understand that we have these four domains of athletic development as well: technical, tactical, physical, mental. And how are we going to develop them along the ages and stages? That becomes just like school. So instead of math, science, English, and social studies, we have different subjects: technical, tactical, physical and mental. And within each of those domains, there's different lessons and units, and how do those lessons and units fold out over time. It's no different than school - long term athletic development is no different than school. In fact, we actually have a subject in school that long term athletic development fits into very nicely and it's called physical education. You know, like, if you think about it, if you set up a quality long term athletic development program, it's a quality Physical Education program. Now you all focus on tennis, but just think of a tennis/physical education program, K-12. And how do you want that to fold out, technically, tactically, physically, and mentally. So the challenge is getting everybody to think about that model the same way. Everybody's got to be on the same page to start. That coach has to understand that they need to address the four spheres, the four domains of athlete development, again, across the ages and stages in a developmentally appropriate manner.

JE: A big challenge that I always see is a lack of continuity across the ages and stages, where you have a coach at one age group who does a great job, and then that kid gets passed on to the next age group, and that coach isn't on the same page as everybody else in the model. So that kid can be going with just a up and down in terms of achieving each of the domains and the objectives of the domains as they go through the system. So we don't have good system alignment. I mean, sometimes we don't have good system alignment in one sport. And now we have to talk about early sport sampling, right? Multi-sport athletes, and what happens when that kid goes from, you know, tennis to basketball, or whatever other sports that are playing, and how does it and how's that working out, so they're getting good - and I'll just stay on the physical domain here - so they're getting good provision for strength and conditioning in tennis, and then they go to basketball and the ball's dropped, right? So we have to have that continuity and this kind of link up and it's gotta just carry forward all the way through the model. Easier said than done. But again, at the start of the day, all the major stakeholders have to be in the room and agree upon what the model, what the framework, what the blueprint looks like. So that we can all envision it and see it, and then it's a matter of just carrying it out and ticking the right boxes and being a quality coach, and having quality coaches all the way through. And then my last point about challenges here relates to leadership, because you can implement, but we have to have accountability as well, right. Most sport leaders, whether it be an athletic director, a club director, whoever it is, has to hold the coaches and the other stakeholders within that organization to the standards of this long term athlete development blueprint.

J: That's a really great answer that Joe, and you actually just touched on quite a few things that we actually talked about in another podcast where we talked about building a culture and a philosophy and maybe, you know, obviously, we'd all rather be coaching right now or maybe doing whatever we're used to with our regular routines. But also, when you deal with a little bit of adversity could also present opportunity and maybe the opportunity right now is to take stock and inventory of what our, what culture we're trying to bring in or develop in our programs and what the philosophy is and everything that underpins that as a value system. It almost sounded like then, what you're talking about there is incorporating a framework within your philosophy based off maybe, you know, some personal values or some experiential values that you've developed along the way. But embedded in that philosophy needs to be this holistic approach that takes into account those four major segments - so you're saying technical, tactical, physical, mental, cognitive, etc., and then obviously the age and stage that go into that philosophy. And then as a leader, it's how you distribute that to the coaches that you're in charge of and because ultimately then it layers down, and then that's going to be then delivered out through the coaches into the players or into the athletes, and then that cycle keeps turning around. But obviously, if you're, if as a leader, if you're not good at relaying out that, that vision and that philosophy, then your coaches are not going to be able to be very clear on it, in which case, then the player is not going to get it. And so in which case there, you might be missing a lot of elements that you were just talking about there. And, but Larry, what what's your thought? Because I know again, like we talk a lot about the physical sense, you know, obviously, the mental aspect is something that we try and incorporate a lot here but, you know, something that may be missing out there in this holistic approach. I mean, what's your take?

L: Well, I think from a broad perspective, that is we talk about this, you know, the devil's in the details. There's so many details that, as a coach or athletic director, you have to be dedicated to creating, as Joe talks about this, this curriculum, this plan over time, and not everybody takes the time or has the the desire to do that. Then I think more specifically about, you know, the psychological side where, especially in sport, we have not done a good job as it relates to the psychology of laying out what the developmental process looks like. We have some things that we borrow from, from general psychology about the development of children and different capacities that come on at different times, but for the most part, a lot of things that we need to teach in sport as it relates to psychology or the mental; it's best practices or figuring it out and we're trying things. And so we certainly are trying things for the USTA and we're looking at different things that we can do and then we're going to evaluate that - does it work, can kids at a young age, can they be be resilient? And what does that progression look like, right? You know, if you're working with young kids, one of the things that they have to develop is the ability to continue to learn and stay motivated, even though they're making mistakes. And they're getting constructive criticism. So, players have to be able to, at a young age, or children, be able to take that teaching and take feedback and have goals and push themselves. So what does that look like? And what does it take to be resilient? How do you think about your mistakes? So there needs to be a progression that's developed and you know, we've never had that, I think at a very consistent level or rigorous level, a progression of what it looks like for a young person psychologically to grow within the game. I think we have a lot of best practices. We don't necessarily know. And a final thought I had was, as I listened to Joe talk, is that in The Search of Greatness, remember that movie we watched JP, and we talked about Wayne Gretzky and as Wayne Gretzky was coming up, he had a coach in the system, because Joe mentioned about the connection between the levels and does it carry forward, and Gretzky was moving up and had always allowed to be creative. And then he had a coach who wanted to put them in a box. And so you play this way. I can't remember if it was like a dump and chase style or whatever it was, but you're going to play this way and it didn't really work well for Wayne because that wasn't his style. So, you know, I think you know, as I summarize that, I think long term athlete development, this is not just throw something together and hope it sticks. It really is there's a science to it. You need to put your energies into it. You need to think it out. You need to talk to other experts and get a plan together. Secondly, on the psychological side at the USTA, we've developed our long term athlete development program, our curriculum, and on the mental, psychological, emotional side, we've actually put in competencies that we think that we see in children at different ages and stages. And now we're going to test that out. That's a long term play. And then third, to Joe's point, I think it's massive. And the best programs I've seen have coaches - for example, I worked with Coach Rob Smith at East Lansing high school basketball coach and the girls program, the varsity coach, and he went all the way down to like the younger coaches and talked about his philosophy and how he was teaching defense and how he was teaching offense and trying to align the whole system so that when those girls came to him, they were working off the same language and they had a great skill set and he's had a ton of success because of it.

J: Yeah, and yeah. Go on Joe. 

JE: That's an interesting point that you make about, you know, sometimes coaches, they'll have a feeder program, and what is a feeder program but a long term athletic development approach. Too often what happens in the feeder programs, the coaches, they'll focus just on the technical and tactical aspects, right. This is my offense. This is my defense, you know, if it's a team sport, I want the kids to be, to understand, you know, our schemes, offensively and defensively. Obviously, you know, the technical work is usually in there, but what gets lost a lot of times are the, you know, general physical preparation, you know, fundamental movement skills, some strength and conditioning activities, and then obviously, the mental aspect really gets lost as well.

L: Yeah, and while I was there, we were working towards that and he was definitely starting to build that out on the mental side, but I left. So that's my bad, but came to the USTA. But indeed, and you're right, Joe. And I think we as the sports scientists have to do a better job of communicating what we're seeing, doing research. We evaluated our mental training program that we did with children and tennis at our Tennis Center East in New York, to see what children could do. And we got a lot of great data Earlynn  Lauer led that evaluation, who's now one of our mental performance coaches. So but I think we need the help of researchers and scholars to start studying this and starting to give us more than just best practices based on what I've observed.

JE: Yeah, I like that point right there because that's really where I am in my career. Um, I want to do more work with practitioners. Basically, you know, I call it a living laboratory, coaches and practitioners, they have this living laboratory every day that they go to practice or into the gym or wherever it is. And oftentimes, they're already collecting data as well. And now we have real world, ecologically valid outputs don't we. It's not, you know, a randomized controlled trial. It's not this highly controlled, experimental study, and don't get me wrong, those still have a place as well. But I think in our landscape in the youth sport, in sport science landscape, going to this living loud kind of a model and having more practitioner - science, partnerships is incredibly valuable.

L: I think it's the way forward because as we get more evidence based, certainly psychology has become more evidence based. Sports scientists are going to be asked to be evidence based. What I mean is to be able to back up what you're doing and with some data or something that presents that there is a plan, and this plan leads to certain outcomes, and all these different domains that you're mentioning. So I find it interesting in the tennis world and JP, I want you to jump in here with this, but how does this change when it relates to tennis? Because often, you know, we're talking about so far in this podcast, probably more like team sport. When you start talking about individual sports, there's far less of this handing off of coaches, a lot of times the parent is the coach, to be honest, or they're in a system, but it's still on an individual basis to coaching. So, you know, JP, we've looked a lot at long term athlete development as it relates to tennis. What are your thoughts in an individual sport as you try to incorporate even just from an athletic development standpoint?

J: It's a great question. Because, yeah, as you mentioned, I mean, there's so many different dynamics within our individual sport. You've got coaches, parent coaches, parent managers, I like to call them as a distinction. And you're an agent now. Yeah, I mean, when they get a little older 13/14 the agents come in, yeah, and then that's another world itself. But  we'll stay clear that. But as Joe mentioned, I think, no matter what your role is, in that, with the athlete, I think we tend to focus a lot on technical/tactical, especially the young ages, and we really harp on that. And then all of a sudden, the kid starts going through puberty and going through the, you know, pre puberty to post puberty phase and things change and they some of them that hopefully do their research and understand what's going on, what that means for the implications of their training. And, you know, as we've mentioned before on previous podcasts is what sometimes in, a lot of the time in tennis, the blinders come on, because especially between that 12 to 14 year old age, the skill level goes really high or can go really high. But as the skill levels go really high what what our automatic default is, is like, 'Oh, you know, we need to keep going when you need to do more,' because the skill level's high and they're on their sort of path or the supposed performance elite path. So we have to keep going and doing more. But what they don't realize is actually, there's a lot of changes going on physically, emotionally, cognitively that actually means 'Hey, we need to dial back a little bit.' And so if we took more of that holistic approach from a younger age, yes, the physical is about developing the all-around fundamental athletic skills and then on the tennis, where it meets tennis, technical/tactical, yes. But how do we also provide the emotional and mental skills that a child needs so that when they start dealing with this adversity through growth, because the child knows that maybe sometimes they can't understand why they're doing certain things one minute, they're moving really well on a court and the next minute they feel stiff and tight and feel like Bambi on ice and the coordination's shot and, and all that, how do we prepare them before they get to that from the, from the mental/emotional cognitive. And then the social side changes a little bit too as skill level increases. So there's a lot of things that happen there. But it all needs to be done on the front end, in order to build up that resilience to prepare for all these changes. But often we just do the technical tactical, so that stays with you even through the changes and you have that knowledge but you know, what about the rest?

L: Yeah, and I want to throw this back at Joe then: don't you think we sell the athletes a false bill of goods because we say 'your technical, as long as it's awesome, you'll be fine.' This is what we do. And we especially do this in tennis because we we we try to create this unbelievable technique, which I'm all for developing technique, but at the cost of the other things. And so then the athletes think, 'Wow, why am I not performing? Why am I not beating these other players? Why? Why can't I win? Why am I not? You know, why does this not hold up?' Have you seen that, Joe? And do you see that as an issue? Well...

JE: Larry, I think you picked my pocket here early. And by that I mean, about the team sport, like, a, you know, I'll admit a bit I'm not as familiar with your sport as I am with the team sports. But, you know, to answer your question about, you know, the focus on the technical. And when Johnny was talking, something else came to my mind, you know, he mentioned this 12 to 14 year old age bracket. And I'm curious to know, in your sport, what kind of awareness is there about biological maturity status, specifically, early mateurs who are probably dominating your sport at those ages of, you know, puberty - 12 to 14. And then, you know, the other thing I'm thinking about here with, you know, the focus on the technical aspect is, what about the injury prevention piece of it? You know, like we can get so caught up in the technical and spending a lot of our time on a technical, and I'm not saying that we shouldn't, because obviously if you don't have skill, you're not going to be able to play. On the other hand, if you're not taking care of your body and, you know, preparing it to meet the physical demands to execute those technical skills, we can get that wear and tear and injury. So, you know, two things to think about there. One is the importance of, you know, physical preparation, S&C activities, strength and conditioning activities on injury prevention, so that we can continue to engage in technical acquisition, but also this is a question to both of you: what's going on in your sport with regards to understanding growth and maturation and specifically, you know, a these are early mateuring boys in particular who are dominating the sport in that age bracket.

J: You want to take it first Larry.

L: I guess, if you won't answer it. That's an interesting question. I wish Dr. Lubbers was on here, who has led our coaching education efforts over the last two decades and more, but I would say that probably that understanding, that knowledge varies widely. I think coaches who go through our high performance coaching program are confronted with that information. But to get to that point, you probably already work with a ton of children, because that's usually an invite and you've developed some very good players. So you've probably had a time to make a lot of mistakes. You know, so that I don't know for sure, Joe, I honestly, I wish I could answer it, but I think it probably varies wildly depending on who you're talking about.

JE: Are you, are coaches retaining late bloomers who have great technical skill? Are, you know, are other coaches who see, hey, this kid has a great technical skill, and they're clearly a late maturing kid, and we need to keep this individual in the system, because when they grow in to their body, they're going to be one of the better players.

L: Yeah, I think so. In some cases, I don't think by any means that we're perfect, but I know there's conversations, and I can only speak to national, I don't know in clubs and in different, around the local. Johnny probably has a better feel for this than I do. But I think a national level we talk about this, you know, this idea that growth and maturation and how you know these things happen at different times for different people and you know, so maybe the kid that's small and not very strong, but wow this person can think the game unbelievably or they have unbelievable emotional control at this age and time. And those are things I think we try, by using the multi disciplinary staff and giving everybody a voice in what's happening, I think we get closer to that. I wouldn't say we're perfect at that, but we do try to be aware of it. But JP, what are your thoughts on that? Because you spend more time in the sections and talking with the staff, the player, with all the staff in the sections and whatnot.

J: Yeah, it's a very interesting conversation that come up with it because as you mentioned, I mean we more look at it through the lens of performance with you know, players that are, say, on that track, on a track to a performance elite level, collegiate, or, you know or beyond professional. So, I mean, we try and we try and keep the net as wide as possible, right? So we try and encourage through our camp, we do Team USA camps for basically 15 and under, and that's my role is overseeing that. We try and keep that net as wide as possible, and how we do that is putting mechanisms in place that make sure that we don't neglect the the kids born later on in the year, which you know, through studies that kids born earlier on in the year, whether it's team sports or individual sports, you know, because of growth and development, the early maturers, if they have the technical/tactical foundation laid in before that early growth spurt, that they have, the physical benefit of being able to develop a lot of their physical characteristics earlier. However, a lot of the messaging we try to give to all our stakeholders or private sector coaches in the sections is well, that may be a benefit for an early maturer if the skills are in place early enough; however, the late maturers have the benefit of being able to work on that fundamental skill set and strengthen that for a longer period of time. So the message here is we are not, it is not a game of keeping up with the Joneses. It's keeping up with yourself according to where you are in your own development. So, and that's very tough messaging in the tennis world because of the individual nature. There's an automatic comparison analysis that every child, every kid, and every parent, and potentially coach is going through every time they develop a player that is showing a high skill set. So our messaging when we try and speak to them is that is, growth is individual, everyone is on their own path. Yes, we're in a sport that provides this automatic comparison analysis, however, you've got to trust in your process and what you're doing and believe that it will catch up on the back end. So therefore keep doing what you love doing. And that's all that really matters right now, you know through that stage, it's a stage where a lot of kids can get disheartened because 12 and under, they could be performing at a very high level and then all of a sudden, 14/15 years old, they've according to their standards, they've dropped off that podium, so to speak, and they start to struggle with that emotionally and mentally. So we try it, we try to do everything we can with that messaging in the camps but you know, it is tough.

JE: Yeah, in that last example that you gave me, we see that and again, I'm going to go back to my team sport experience. You know, I just keep thinking of all these little league baseball pitchers, right, who dominate when they're 11 and 12. And that they've nearly reached full maturity and then everybody else catches up with them. And they do, they struggle a lot emotionally. I mean, there's some real horror stories about some of these kids when they reach the high school level. You know, and obviously, adults can be ruthless as well, right? They were on TV when they were 12 years old. Now they're on a high school baseball team, and everybody else was catching them, and they're not performing so well. So some of the other parents can be just ruthless in terms of what they're saying that some of these kids as well. Yeah. And, you know, I think that goes all the way back to how this question started, because we were talking more about the, you know, emotional aspect and the mental aspect of some of these kids who have great technical skill at those early ages and, you know, keeping them engaged and being able to cope as they go through adolescence. That's gotta get thrown off to Larry, right, that question.

L: Yeah, that's a great point because I deal with that and you try to anticipate that and you try to not to scare people, but to be forewarning that, you know, you have some physical capabilities right now that people will also gain them as they train and grow over time. And so how are you continuing to better yourself and all the areas, so that while the other kids, you know, they hit puberty and they speed up their development and they start catching up - that you've developed yourself in other ways. If we use like baseball, for example, you know, the pitchers that dominated at a young age, just because they're bigger, they could throw harder, they're intimidating to young hitters, are they learning, you know, an efficient motion? Are they able to hit their spots? And, you know, I think everybody gets wowed by, you know, the three strikeout innings and throwing a shut out, you know, and obviously, there's pitch counts now in Little League which is tremendous. But, you know, what we forget is that you always have to have this vision, you know, and this is something that I I think Player Development coaches are outstanding at, and that is having this vision of where you see this person in five years, 10 years? And what am I doing right now to take the steps to get there, to cross that bridge, that gap. And that's how I think coaches of young athletes need to be thinking, not of the present and of winning and if you're thinking about winning, you are in that present immediate gratification, that's all that you're focused on, is how do I use this kid's skills to get me a win? And that's not what it's about. It's can you teach this kid things that will allow them to pitch for the next 15 years, 20 years, if they choose to do so, and they're good enough and to be able to hit their spots and to be able to throw you know, different pitches at different times and understand the game and then emotionally and mentally, you know, deal with, you know, mistakes that they make, So you have to find challenges too for the early developer, you need to create challenges and really show them the vision of the future. And for the late developer, you have to give them hope. And you have to keep, well, letting them know about their strengths and keep developing their game. Something that never goes away is the hard work.

JE: So if we can stay on this topic, I'm curious to know what you all are doing related to perhaps bio banding. So if you're not familiar, you know, it's basically grouping the athletes by biological age rather than chronological age. So instead of, you know, 12 year old boys playing other 12 year old boys, you're playing, you know, somebody who's the same biological age as you. We're doing some work in the Premier League Academy system, and my colleague, Dr. Sean Cumming, he's come over to the US now and he's working with US soccer and they've conducted a few bio banded festivals. And again, I think this is one of the misnomers about bio banding, people, they hear it and they think, oh, I don't want my, you know, kid to be playing in the bio banding stuff all the time. Well, no, it's not meant to be all the time, you know, on certain occasions. So, as this example that we're talking about right now, you know, we can present them with these challenges, right? So instead of dominating physically, now you have to rely upon more of those other domains of performance than just getting away with physical. So my question to you all, is there talk about, is there consideration about doing some bio banded events? And then obviously, that can bleed into the strength and conditioning activities as well. I'm certainly curious to hear where you guys are with with that approach.

J: Do you want me to give that a crack, Larry. 

L: Yes, please take a swing at it and you notice how Joe has turned this podcast around. I love it. We're going the other direction.

J: No, this is great. I mean, to be fair, Joe, the reason I brought you on is just so I could learn from you to be honest.

JE: But we learn from each other as well, you know, I mean, I can understand the concepts of growth and maturation, but sometimes I don't always know what's going on boots on the ground. Again, getting back to, you know, the living lab stuff, like that's where we need more of this dialogue between the boots on the ground practitioners and the scholars, so that we know where we're at and what else can be done and we can share examples with others who either need to be educated on it or are having issues with problems like this. So

J: Yeah, so yeah, no, I absolutely agree. And it's funny you bring up the bio banding because it's actually something I think I started exploring about two years ago when it started the research that was coming out or started to come out more frequently. And that's actually where I think I started, where I discovered you, Joe, was through trying to research all of this and seeing your name pop up, and I actually had, we myself and Dr. Paul Lubbers and a couple others in Player Development, we actually got on a call with Dr. Sean Cummings just to understand that a bit more. I'd heard inklings that the LTA were using it in some form or capacity. So I got a better understanding of how they're using it, and as I started exploring it more, I thought, well, you know, you just brought up the strength and conditioning piece there is we actually have started, we actually at that time had started this process of when we brought players in, we started to look at where they were at in their growth and maturation and where their level of exposure was to off court training, so with the strength and conditioning, and rather than giving them all the same program, we've started now looking at how to adapt that program according to where they're at in that training. Now often it's the case we bring them in to kids or players, we bring them in because they're at a certain levels so they're all in the ballpark with same level but they're all complete, you know, they're like the stock exchange - if you draw a point from the tip of their heads to each other, you know, they're all up and down and with girls and boys. I mean, you know, girls obviously slightly more early maturing, and so we've started to do that and we've actually really kind of, I think, put a good program in place with their off court strength and conditioning programs that accommodate that. Now when it comes to the competitive side, again, almost their skill level is almost self selection of where they play. You have some higher skilled players 12 and under and they all play up in the 14's division, so their skill level is playing up, but then a reverse can happen at the higher end. Your skill level can get so high but physically you're not ready for the speed and the forces of the ball that's coming back your way, so, you know, there's one player I particularly remember watching playing a high level event that fell over actually quite a lot on really fast forced balls into the corners because physically, maybe the strength and stability wasn't quite there to meet those force and demands. So then you're thinking, oh, should they be playing at this level a lot, because it might lead to an injury because of not being quite there physically yet because of obviously, where they're at in their growth and maturation. So we ultimately came to this, not conclusion, because we're still ongoing looking at it, is how can we use the concept of bio banding to better, more well-inform parents and coaches as to the type of programming they should be doing along that peak-high velocity curve or that journey from childhood to adolescence. And I think that's what we're, how we're using the bio banding principles currently.

L: I think another way just to add to that is, in spending time with our coaches, is that it evolves naturally where they look at players and they're talking about trips, and who are the ones that are capable of performing at this level of tournament that we're going to? Who is prepared for that opportunity? And so some of that occurs naturally, based on resources and sort of who you distribute that to. And then I think we've also had this discussion as it relates to juniors and pros where, you know, sometimes we want the juniors practicing with the pros, so they can kind of see, you know, what it's like, but that junior has to be able to keep up with that pro. So they have to have the ball striking skills and be able to do that so the pro still gets a good practice and that's something that the coaches are far more knowledgeable than I am about that. But so you see some of these practices I don't think anybody has used the term bio banding, but they've been talking about the tennis age, I guess, and where they're at with their tennis and then developmentally, are they prepared for this as well? And that's that sometimes this read and react, or this trial and error that occurs. And then there's this old formula of you gotta play some tournaments that you're supposed to win, you got to play some that you don't know, and you got to play some that you're pretty sure you're not gonna win, that you're gonna be super, super challenged. And there's that sort of philosophy that happens as well in terms of managing schedules and in making sure that you're not just dominating at one level.

J: Yeah, that's a good point, Larry. And I think that's where a lot of our education comes in is around the scheduling, because a player can, an 11-year-old can sign up for a 14 and under tournament if they get into it. And uh, you know, a 14-year-old can sign up for an 18 and under tournament if they get into it. So in terms of like, competitively, yeah, I mean, they could do it but it's almost free choice around it as opposed to like in the, you know, in the football system, in the Premier League, it's what do you do for those kids in a 14 and under team that are already fully matured and could be playing at a skill level, physically could be playing at a higher speed of the game. And for those that are later maturers, you know that are not quite there for the speed of the game but showing a high skill level, how do you then keep them too in order to keep developing and honing those higher skills in a speed that is probably more appropriate for where they're at? So in tennis, there's free choice around it; maybe in the team sports, there's not necessarily a free choice from the parents or the kids, so maybe that's a reason why that's showing a lot of success in supplementing leagues with bio banding leagues. But yeah, tennis is more around the education of what is the right schedule to have, as Larry just mentioned there, and getting that balance, we call it the balance of pressures. Like Larry just said a third, a third, a third: a third around your own level, a third higher, a third lower, on paper anyway. Perceived level. So yeah, but that brings up maybe one question I wanted to ask you is this sort of the role that I'm sitting in sorry, Larry, to kind of steal this part here, but I wanted your thoughts on when there, my role is player identification and development, and I like to say that the identification is pretty much self selecting, you know, based off what the kids' motivation and what they want to do. And the development is though what we're heavily focused on. But what's your thoughts on where identification and development meet?

JE: Where they meet? Well, they're obviously you know, they're two distinct areas, but there's an overlap, right? It's like a Venn diagram. You know, you have identification, selection, and the development that's creating this Venn diagram. I'm not really sure where they meet. I haven't really thought about it in terms of where they meet. You know, the one thing you know, I've given talks on talent ID before and it's really understanding the research in that area. And really the research results and you're probably very familiar with this, you know, very inconsistent and unreliable predictors. I like to think of it as making sure that they possess the tools in the toolbox, or the capabilities, you know, to hone those skills or those tools that are in the toolbox, those attributes, but they're all interrelated as well. All of those attributes are interrelated to a certain degree, and they develop along these complex patterns. So, when that athlete makes it, they have this unique story and this unique journey. There's very few, you know, longitudinal research studies, or investigations that really take this multi-disciplinary approach, where they use a multi-disciplinary test battery and they use, you know, more complicated multivariate statistical methods to really tease out talent identification and futures sporting success. I mean, most review papers, you know, they all conclude that, yeah, this is a difficult area, like, you know, it's difficult to identify and predict future success. You know, I think we all can agree that, you know, we can, for the most part, capture a large majority of those individuals who have that toolbox at an early age, but again, I think this goes back to, I think you use the term widen the net, right, we need to keep widening that net so that we're not losing anything. We've talked a lot on the show about those early maturers and we've all seen the fool's gold, and we've all missed a lot of diamonds in the rough, you know, so if we can continue to widen that net, to try to capture more, keep more in the system longer and expose them to quality coaching and quality athlete development programs, you know, that's really where the magic is gonna happen. You know, it's just gonna be a wait and see process. So, you know, in terms of where ID meets development, you know, I think the meeting place is with quality coaching and quality athletic development programs, and just making sure that we're exposing enough of our talents to programs such as that.

L: If I can chime in too Joe, I think part of this is, you know, programs and coaches and coaching directors, and whatnot, taking responsibility for looking at an athlete and saying, okay, if we're casting this larger, wider net, then we have a responsibility to try and develop this person and maybe they're smaller or not as strong or not as fast right now, or maybe they're not skill wise, but we see something in them and, you know, taking those chances. But the responsibility too is not just looking at players and saying why are they not performing? But saying what are we doing as coaches to make sure that they improve? And I think that's something that we all have to do in the national governing bodies and all these programs is that, remember that if they're not performing, how am I coaching? And if they're not improving, how am I coaching? Because that goes back to Wooden, right? That if they're not performing, look in the mirror. 

JE: Yeah. What you see is what you coach.

L: Exactly. It's about the coach. Yeah. So be careful who you identify, but once you make your choice you commit, and you have to find a way to develop that person.

J: Yeah, no, for sure. I think we often talk about that, because we obviously get a lot of questions a lot of the time, like, how are players selected for camps? How do they get invited? How do we get involved? And quite a simple answer is it's actually all the things that we discussed on this episode here, where we talk about, yes, technical tactical are important, but there's also two other very, very important factors which is athletically, the physical side, and as well, the cognitive, mental, emotional side. I mean, that's a big piece too, and it's not so much, oh, you have to show a really high proficiency and all those at a younger age, it's more that you need to show a willingness to want to develop in all those areas. And if you're able to do that, then you show a chance of meeting the demands of, you know, a sport, our sport. And again, and then it's putting a structure in place that allow these inroads anytime along that pathway. So that, as I mentioned, I almost feel like ID to a certain degree is is self selecting. And that self selecting process if the net is cast wide enough has to happen at all levels up the chain so that there's always inroads to opportunities and access to coaches, and that can help you get to where you want to go. So I just find that quite fascinating because, again, I think we harp a lot on the development side, but and there's a lot of literature out there on talent identification, and the more I come to it it's not one versus the other, it's more talent development. And I think we've mentioned it before, Larry, it's not a nature or nurture thing, it's where you've got to nurture the nature and everyone's nature is completely different, because we're all individuals. So how you nurture that individual is really, is that not part of the identification process for us as coaches across you know, in any in any setting across the country, right?

JE: Can I play podcast host again? 

L: Well, we've already lost control, so it's okay. We liked it. Just throw it out there.

JE: I mean, it relates to this conversation. What's the conversation at USTA around donor sports? And the reason I'm asking, you know, in our country, we have some sports that are highly cultural, for boys baseball, basketball, football. Largely, right? Largely I mean, it's a bit of a generalization, but I think most of us can agree those are at the forefront of sports for youth high school boys. I'm just thinking of, you know, baseball, and partly because I grew up playing baseball, you know, the overhead motion. And what can be done, you know, to get maybe some baseball players or lacrosse, interested in tennis, and playing tennis as maybe a quote unquote second sport and see what happens with them, you know, as they continue to go through the path. Because I think the other thing, you know, and again, I don't know your sport as well, but, you know, in terms of, you know, sports that we think about in American culture I think again, boys are going to gravitate towards those team sports. And we can have some really good athletes who have great general athleticism and if we can get a racquet in their hand, what can happen there?

L: That was gonna be my question for you, Joe.

JE: Well, I know it was on the queue here, and I was trying to wrap it in here and you guys were gonna ask me how do we get some of our best athletes into tennis. And I mean quite frankly, it goes back to that cultural piece, right? Like, where is tennis in our sport vocabulary as a nation? And again, I'm saying this just as a team sport guy, you know, I typically have baseball, basketball, football on my mind and you know, deal with soccer and hockey, and team sports like that, but I just keep thinking like, if we can get a racquet into these kids hands, and it might be through physical education as well, but I just keep thinking of some of the donor sport things and being able to, you know, make it more appealing to them or see that they have the capability to, you know, be a good tennis player as well. And I think it obviously has to start from the top with you all in marketing, you know, it's always helpful when there's success, and there's a charismatic superstar. You know, I keep, Larry brought up hockey a little bit, I keep going back to the first time I was introduced to hockey was during the 1980 Winter Olympics. I was 10 years old, and I went out and got a pair of skates and a stick, right? So when we can have those moments and capture some kids. But I want to keep going back to this donor sport thing because I'm really interested to know what you guys are doing with regards to maybe, you know, leeching on to some of these other overhead athletes.

J: Larry, do you want me to have a crack. 

L: I would love for you to take a crack at that.

J: Yeah, no, that's a great question. I think most recently, I mean before COVID-19 was here, we were going down the path as an organization as a whole within the whole framework USTA of encouraging multi sport participation for the promotion of staying physically active throughout the lifetime and it's okay to play other sports and play tennis, and completely agree with that messaging around the mental, emotional, physical benefits of all of that as it pertains to just being healthy and well in general, but then also as it pertains to the potential of tennis level down the road too, which you know, there's a lot of examples out there that show you can play multiple sports early on and still reach elite levels of a chosen sport, like in our case tennis. There's also cases out there of players that only play tennis and had a controlled, well delivered environment and made it you know, according to their definition top 100 in the world, or whatever that may be, so we have multiple examples. Our whole parameters or our spectrum ranges but so I think our messaging goes to both. Our messaging goes to, hey, it's okay to go play baseball, go play soccer. Soccer is great for movement skills as it pertains to tennis. Baseball's great for the overhead motion, javelin, track and field, you know. It's good, these can be, if you like to call them this, complimentary sports, and that's okay. But then also, what can you do as a tennis coach to provide what I would call athletic development programming within our tennis programs? So instead of spending three to four hours on the court a day, how do we break that up so that we incorporate athletic development, which would incorporate multi sport, a multi sport approach? And then how'd you also chop into some of the tennis time to also incorporate the mental skills to be able to cope with some of the things we've already talked about. And I think that's something that we're doing in Player Development. So we've got USTA as a whole with our marketing through net generation that's talking about 'multi sports is great, go do it, general health and well being, you know, sport for life' type messaging. And then you've got Player Development where we're really looking into the quality of the holistic approach, not just saying we offer mental skills, and we offer athletic development, we offer tennis, and they're all segmented and defined by a schedule, but how do you actually all integrate them all together within our programming? And that is something that especially in the 14-15 and under bucket that I look at, is how we actually provide that type of programming for those players, athletes? And more importantly, showing the coaches how potentially, out there that want to do it, showing the coaches how to do that in the context of how we structure a camp.

L: Well from the other way, you know, it's just getting tennis in the schools and I know there's initiative to put tennis in schools. And I think that's been a very beneficial program. So that it's part of the physical education, there's blocks on tennis. I think encouraging, you know, multi sport or maybe individual sport camps and programs that are being run to include tennis. Now there's probably a lot of barriers to that and I'm not, by no means an expert or spend my time on this, but in terms of facilities and the interest of, you know, I've been in the youth sport world as a hockey director and, you know, wasn't probably at the time too fond of running tennis programming, you know, in between hockey practices. So you kind of have to, the professionalism of youth sport starts to creep in here in terms of people trying to keep athletes and recruit them and hold on to them. But if we can take, you know, long term athlete development for the benefit of the person across a lifespan, and their athletic development, you know, then we got to start making some of these decisions together, like you said, and having the conversations about why, you know, in my local Little League program let's make sure we play on Friday nights so that the kids can play Saturday morning soccer, right? I mean like stuff like that coming together so that kids can stay in different sports. As it relates to tennis, you know, making tennis available at times when, you know, the other sports aren't playing and being available, and so there's a lot of things to consider, but and how do you get the hands of racquets in the best athletes? There you go again in the sections, thinking more broadly than who has come to us, but who is out there? Who are the great athletes at the young ages who are out there? Let's invite them to something, let's encourage them in getting involved in these multi sport camps. So I'm thinking about it from a little different approach but not easy.

J: Yeah. The the PE approach is an interesting one because I think a lot of PE teachers stay a little bit clearer of tennis for the aspect that a mini racquet can become a weapon. And what's interesting is actually I mean, when I did this when I was in the private sector, I tried so hard it can be this barriers, whatever to get into school sometimes. But when you get into the schools and you actually spend time with the PE teachers and show them you know how to structure 30 kids in a small gymnasium with racquets and balls, so that it's not just carnage and, you know, kid over there end up whacking his friend because he didn't feed him the ball right, whatever. So it's finding, you know, and then being able to spend time with the PE teachers, so they feel confident and comfortable that they can deliver some programming within PE. You know, I've been very fortunate since an early age, 14-15, I'd come back from school and my dad was a tennis coach and part of his contract he had was to go into schools and manage that. So thinking back to my times doing that, it was always on my mind was health and safety was like number one. It was how to manage a crowd and actually some coaches would be able to get a lot of education from PE teachers about that - how to manage large groups and things like that. So I think that's a first big piece of that side of it. And I think the second is, for tennis coaches, it's okay to partner up with other community, you know, sport partners that are offering other sports and to share ideas and share thoughts of how to incorporate what they do in a soccer practice or a volleyball practice. And, you know, why not make those connections? And, you know, you brought up the business of youth sports and the big animal that is now and yes, it can be challenging because everyone's gone down this sort of, you know, come practice four days throughout the week in order to play the game on the weekend, so that makes makes it tough to collaborate sometimes, but there are programs out there that are willing to share ideas and share time with each other for the whole benefit of the kids that come through their doors. And so I think that's another thing that we can explore, you know, more. I mean, do you see that Joe in, you know, in the team based sports? I mean it's got the club model, the school models, so the sports you mentioned, a lot of the, I guess the pathway to the pros is through the school programming but with the emergence of, you know, the sort of professionalized club programs, do you see some of those challenges but then some of those opportunities to connect with other sports?

JE: So, the school pathway is definitely there for American football. But when we talk about the other team-based sports, it's going, you know, to club sport now. And that's where we can have issues as well. You know, we talk about, you know, the pathway and the model as it goes through, now, all of a sudden you have a high school basketball coach and an AAU basketball coach pulling for the same kid. So we can really get into trouble when it comes to total training volume, you know, and risk for injury and risk for burnout. So when I asked that question about donor sport, I mean, I was thinking about more than sports that I'm involved with, and getting a racquet into some of those kids' hands as they go through, you know, offseason, you know, if we have an offseason in some of those sports, right?

L: This is true. 

JE: Yeah, but just as a different means of, you know, training and conditioning. You know, I've spent some good time in some of the Premier League academies, and I think, you know, those kids specialize. But they do a really good job of exposing those kids to a variety of other sports and games, just as part of their general training and conditioning. And I think, you know, again, baseball, basketball, football, soccer, ice hockey, like, I think we can learn from that as well. And I think tennis is one of those sports that can have great value in terms of, you know, generating some good physical qualities related to general athleticism. But again, some of those kids are gonna be like, 'Hey, I'm pretty good at this.'

L: And what we've heard from interviews with professional athletes is that they switch sports, because they had, there's something about tennis or the individual sport, being totally responsible for the outcome is something that I've heard like, I didn't have to rely on other people. And I think of it from a young athlete's development, I would want them to have that experience and the team experience, not a "or" situation. Give them both so that they're more well rounded in their development and their competitiveness. And then they can decide later, you know, which route they want to go. But you know, that's certainly, you know, again, I think changing the view from Johnny said about the ones that come to us versus, hey, let's look out and try to, and I think there are people within the USTA doing that, so I want to recognize that, I don't know much about that. I'm not gonna act like I know those initiatives well, but certainly that's a big team effort. But yeah, we're getting close to the finish here though, Johnny. So we're gonna have to wrap it up and I think Johnny's on mute.

J: Sorry. 

L: After all these podcasts you still don't know how to unmute.

J: Sorry, this is new to us. Come on. We're in COVID-19 world now, we have to make some mistakes here and there. No, I mean, again, we don't have to harp on this but aren't you talking about it's not an either or situation, it can be both? Team sports and individual sports complement each other, if anything by the, again, the mental, emotional, social side, because each aspect of playing a team sport or an individual sport carries some different unique opportunities to develop in those areas. And so then they could complement each other well. You know, ultimately, as an individual, you need to have leadership skills for yourself to have ownership and responsibility and accountability which can be developed in a team sport. And in a team sport, you have to take that individualistic sort of nature in that, look, I need to step it up for myself so that I can improve the team. So you have those similar principles, but delivered in a different way that can really help complement each other, I think anyway. As someone who played a lot of team sports growing up, I think if I hadn't done that, I potentially wouldn't have been able to do what I did in tennis as an individual. But anyway, we could talk another 30 minutes on this piece.

L: 30 minutes? Another 30 days. Another 30 days on this topic. 

J: Yeah. So can I can I ask Joe one more thing here talking kind of in relation to COVID-19 and the situation we're all at, Larry? 

L: Yes, briefly. I have athletes who are waiting on me. 

J: Okay, we've got a couple minutes here. So, maybe some advice, Joe, that you could give to coaches, players, parents in this current situation we're at in COVID-19. Obviously, there's a lot of things flying around social media, but what what are maybe some of your top tips that you would give to that population?

JE: In terms of coaches, I think, number one, it's, you know, simply just be there for the athletes and the parents. You know, we're obviously, physically distancing ourselves, but we need to stay socially connected. And I think for young athletes, you know, the coaches, they often have such a key voice and they're a key mentor in their overall development and in their life that they need to have that as part of their normal routine in this time of uncertainty. So yeah, the coaches just need to stay connected with their athletes. You know, I mentioned routine and I think that's important for the parents and the young athletes during this time is that they keep some type of a routine. Obviously, a lot of things have changed. You know, we've, I think we all have had enough time now to have transitioned into what we call the new normal. And so just making sure that we have this routine, whether it be you know what time you get up, making sure that you have your breakfast and, you know, going for your morning walk, doing your schoolwork. But when it comes to training, we're seeing a lot of creativity and unique things that come with training, and quite frankly, I like it a lot. Because we're getting back to basics. You know, we're in our backyard doing bodyweight squats and lunges, we're doing push ups, we're doing pull ups, we're grabbing a rock, and we're using it as a med ball and doing rotational throws. You know, we're seeing people in the driveway shooting baskets. You know, when I get off this podcast, I'm going to go over to a local field, I'm gonna get my sprint workout in, and then walk across the street, there's a basketball hoop, I'm going to shoot some hoops. But I think today I'm going to take my racquet and a ball, I'm going to hit the ball up against the wall and just work on my stroke a little bit. Every evening, Larry, I'm in the driveway, with my roller hockey ball and my stick, doing a little bit of stick handling and shooting, honing my hockey skills. But that's the unstructured part that I really like and I hope we can keep it as well. I think there's another piece in here that's important, and that's the intrinsic motivation. You know? Are those, are the kids that we see in the driveway and doing the unstructured stuff, is that intrinsic? Is it boredom? And even if it is boredom, is it still intrinsic, they get out and do it? Or is it a coach or a parent pushing them? I think the other thing and kind of related to that is some of these kids have been on the go for years, you know, 24/7/365 highly structured training sessions, practices. For some of them this can just be a 2-3-1 month transition period in our annual plan, where they just need a little bit of downtime. You know, I'm not advocating that they be sedentary and sit on the couch and, you know, binge on social media, Netflix or whatever. But just engage in some active play and do some of the things that they want to do. So having those conversations whether it be a coach or a parent with the young athlete, you know, how are you feeling? You know, do you feel like training? Do you think you need to be training? You know, do you need to take a little break? I think just being open and transparent a little bit can be an important thing as well. But again, I think we're seeing some good things out of this as well. And you know, the advice is, you know, ask the kids what they want to do. Obviously it depends on what age they are at, depends on their motivation, they might need to take a little bit of time off. But we can get a lot of good work done technically, tactically, physically, and mentally. And as people say, if there's a will, there's a way, and we're kind of seeing that again, especially with those who do want to be high achievers.

L: Alright, we're getting old school, brother Spartan. Medieval. Moving rocks and pushing rocks and throwing things. I love it. 

JE: There have been some really creative things, you know, pushing the wheel barrels, getting a lawnmower. I saw a brother on top, I saw a brother riding a lawnmower, like a push lawnmower, and like they were doing sled pushes for acceleration, right?

L: We can't condone or suggest that's a good idea, but that's great.

JE: You know, people building their own squat racks out of wood. I mean, you name it like, again, if there's a will, there's a way, people are getting it done pretty creatively. Everybody has access to different resources. But again, some people are being pretty creative with some of the resources that they have. You know, it's just got to be a load, right? Whoever said it had to be a dumbbell. 

L: Yeah, that's true.

J: I'm just picturing Rocky 4 in his shed in the mountains in Russia.

L: I think Joe's probably like punching, you know, blocks of meat in the slaughterhouse.

J: That's awesome. Well, listen, we've kind of run out of time here. I wish we could do a lot longer. And maybe we'll have to get you back on and have these discussions. And it's been very enjoyable, and thank you for taking the time to join us. It's been great to learn from you. 

JE: Thanks for the conversation and thanks for allowing me to be the co host today.

L: It felt like we didn't have choice but we were good with it.

JE: I threw the table on the mic, but you guys have a lot to offer on some of these questions as well. So yeah, thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

L: Thank you, Joe.

J: Awesome. Thanks, Joe. So, well that wraps it up for this week's episode of Compete Like A Champion. For more information or to follow Joe, Joe is very active on Twitter and puts out great resources every day. You can follow him @Joe_Eisenmann. That's EISENMANN to follow that Twitter handle. He also does LTAD Twitter chats. He actually has one tonight on plyometrics at 9pm. I've attended or participated in a couple of them and they're very good. Some great practitioners and sports scientists that chime in so it's a great learning all around. And then there is a Zoom on Thursday at 10am Eastern about how to operationalize LTAD so be sure to tune in to that. Joe's also instrumental in getting going the Child To Champion conferences so you can check that out, you can google Child To Champion through Proformance. Check out more information on our resources and information from sport scientists, researchers, practitioners, a place where everyone comes together. So thanks very much everyone, appreciate the time and Larry, until next week, we are checking out.