Today we are pleased to announce another presenter for the 2013 Seminar, Yosef Johnson. Yosef is the owner and operator of Ultimate Athlete Concepts, a publishing company dedicated to providing top quality information for coaches training athletes to the highest level. Yosef has been an integral part of the Seminar since its inception, and we are excited to have him this year on the docket as a presenter. For those who are new to the site, you can check out some of our other interviews with Yosef here:
DR: Yosef, you’re a bit of a “behind the scenes” guy when it comes to training and producing quality information. How did you get where you are today?
YJ: It’s been a long strange trip. I have always been interested in human performance. As an athlete, I was always a little below average. My obsessive competitive nature and optimism that there was an answer for every problem led me to try many things to improve my ability in high school, though with little success. After high school, this nagged at me until I decided to see if I could play basketball at the D3 level. I began buying books on the subject while trying to decipher who knew what they were talking about. That’s when I bought Secrets of Soviet Sports Fitness and Training by Dr. Michael Yessis. I remembered seeing him on television being interviewed about his work with Todd Marinovich, who was about my age.
At that time, Todd was the most touted high school recruit in history. He had broken many national records and was recruited by literally every school that thought they had a chance to get him. What struck me was that he was not born this way; rather, he was trained to perform at a high level. In truth, he was no better than average or below average as an athlete. Being a neophyte, the results spoke to me and I tracked down Dr. Yessis by phone and flew out to see him a few months later. That was 1994 and we are still working together, albeit in a much different way. It is ironic that I am now the publisher of the book that drew me in. The results I got kept me in and despite having no interest in training athletes or the science, both grew on me and I am able to exercise my natural business nature in this field of science.
DR: Ultimate Athlete Concepts provides information from some of the best coaches in the world; any new products you’re currently working on?
YJ: Yes, we have a few. Dr. Bondarchuk has written a “life plan” book for athletes that will show how an athlete should be handled from novice to elite. I believe this is a missing piece in our field and will be a landmark text. We are also about to release Dr. Yessis’ Kinesiology and Bio-Mechanics of Exercise. This will be a comprehensive text that every coach should own as a reference tool. We also intend to release Shock Method from Dr. Verkhoshansky, as well as a training manual that I will write with Dr Yessis.
DR: Sounds like you and Doc have been busy putting together some new material. Tell me, you’ve worked closely with Dr. Yessis for quite a while now; what are some of the most important concepts/principles you’ve gathered during this time?
YJ: As I look back, the list has become very long. I take for granted some of the very important principles he has taught me as I have not been influenced by any faulty concepts. The most important thing that has guided me is to always remember that you are training the athlete to perform his sport better, not put great numbers in the weight room, combine test, or to satisfy some esoteric science principles that lack real world evidence.
DR: Looking towards the future, who do you see at the forefront of research/ training? What topics/issues do you believe need to be addressed?
YJ: In the U.S. I think three things that need to be addressed most urgently are applying the right volumes, intensities, and exercises to the right athlete. I know this sounds very broad but I can tell you without any question that most college and pro athletes are not only over worked, but they are given the wrong work. This speaks to workloads that are far too high with exercises that have poor correlation to the sport in question. We need to apply the right exercises in a dose that barely crosses the threshold of adaptivity. This will allow us to get consistent long term improvement in our athletes. Our “more is better approach” not only doesn’t render a better result, it gives a poorer one.
DR: Recently there has been a big resurgence in “simplifying” the training process. What is your take on this? Are there any dangers in trying to simplify something as complex as the human body and how it adapts to stress?
YJ: This kind of goes back to what I mentioned earlier: remember what you are doing. You are training an athlete to be better at their sport. Sure there are very complex issues in doing this, but we need to stay focused on the goal. People are too easily impressed with certain athletic “feats” that have nothing to do with the sport or pseudo experts who pontificate wonderfully on scientific concepts but have yet to produce any meaningful results. Being a “beginner” myself, I ultimately measure everyone on the results they get. Sadly, there are very few people who are doing this in any significant way. Rarely do you see a kid enter college and leave a much better athlete; nor do you see someone get drafted into the pros and consistently improve their raw physical ability. They normally get bigger, stronger, and learn advanced strategic concepts, but seldom run much faster, jump higher, change direction quicker, throw farther or faster with greater accuracy or kick farther. In the end, this is what matters in our field and it rarely gets done.
DR: When we first met at the Central Virginia Sports Performance Seminar two years ago, Anatoli Bondarchuk presented on bioenergetics. When trying to read material by authors such as Bondarchuk, Verkhoshansky, or Issurin, new coaches find difficulty in understanding the information. What do you recommend coaches/trainers do/read to comprehend these valuable resources?
YJ: First, coming to the seminar is an invaluable way to interact and ask questions of the world’s brightest minds in the field. Authors have an opportunity to simplify concepts and help us to learn their application. Secondly, you should buy every book that Dr. Yessis sells. He takes very complex ideas and puts them in an easy to read and apply format. Notice I said APPLY. This is the critical issue. If you can’t actually use it, it’s worthless
DR: Thanks for your time, Yosef! It’s always a pleasure. Any closing thoughts for our readers?
YJ: I will try to present a very practical and very effective approach to training athletes. I will lay out much of the nuts and bolts of what we do and I will offer the results from several different groups that we have been involved in training. This allows the audience to get some practical ideas and will also leave us open to scrutiny and evaluation. If I demonstrate that we get a better result than you do, take notes. If I don’t, please ignore me and wait for the real experts to speak!