Coach Chris Munford chairs an elite High Athletic Performance Coaches’ round table in San Diego

Last time we caught up with elite athlete performance Coach, Chris Munford, he was excited about being asked to moderate a small roundtable of several other international calibre athletic performance practitioners. Taking place at his new EGO maximized performance training facilities in Carlsbad, CA, Munford and Olympic performance coaches from five different countries gathered together to bandy about all things sports performance related.

In being invited to attend, each participant in this high-profile discussion was asked to pre-submit brief unpublished position papers to Coach Munford on various athletic performance topics of interest. Coach Munford then drove the discussions off the ideas broached within the submissions: “I made sure that all of our primary ideas and areas of interest were the lead-ins for each discussion block”, Munford said. According to coach Munford, however, the true fun was in how, through this dissection and discussion of each topic, numerous thought streams popped up; “the collaborative sports-performance related brainpower from disparate regions across the globe was phenomenal”

Topics, for example, ranged from how an Olympic quadrennial comprehensive performance training plan for a rugby team compared to a one-year American pro football model; to a discussion of in-season conditioning-recovery strategies for bipedal anaerobic team sports; to a spirited debate on the peer-reviewed science pertaining to the usage of plyo-jump training for distance running events.

Given Munford’s consulting activities for NFL performance and medical staffs and that the realm is of strong interest to our readership, we asked Coach Munford to expand upon the quadrennial rugby v. American football performance plans. While he strongly cautioned that in making assumptions one must consider all factors – including the economics – that drive pro football, Munford indicated that from the science-of-sports performance perspective, the panel concluded that American-style football training professionally or collegiately is “sadly not”. When I asked Munford what “sadly not” meant, he responded by saying that in the panel’s opinion, NFL and US college performance training programs in general do not adequately enough follow science-of -sport-performance principles. They have elements, Munford noted, but are not holistically planned with a long-term view to on-field actual playing results. Further, the various aspects of strength expressions are often incompletely developed either in that they do not translate to on-field expressions of ambulance, or, in the unlikely event that they do, they usually only encompass linear sagital-plane expressions. By comparison, the elite international-calibre rugby program presented and discussed at the symposium, was much more sport-science driven through its holistic nature; additionally, its training modalities where much more end-goal, on-field performance related than the football training ones. More often than not the football training modalities were ends unto themselves rather than end-goal driven. Munford chuckled in remembering how each member of the roundtable was in varying degrees aghast at what passed for high-performance training in America’s prime sport. One participant went so far as to put it this way; “do they even care what happens on the field or the injury potentials they are setting up, or is it about the appearance of appearing to be training usefully?”

While discussing and de-mythologizing various training ideas and practices was one theme of the discussions, so too was chatting about futuristic sounding sports-science directions. One of these conversations was of particular interest to Munford; stem cell and genetic biomarker research as related to sports-performance and injuries.

Munford, who recently opened up his California branch of EGO Performance Training plans to have a portion of this initiative be directed towards sports research and medicine. In doing so, Coach Munford hopes that a childhood friend, Dr. Thomas Trojian, a noted sports med doc at UCON will assist in the directioning of the medical/research aspects. “Tom has a real interest in performance/injury related genetic marker research which in turn has sparked in me an interest in that realm “, observed Munford. It was fascinating therefore, for Coach Munford to listen to the German sports-science research professor in attendance at the little gathering, explain how on-going research in genetic markers may lead one day to being able to determine differing athletic profiles and especially potentially allowing for the pre-screening of athletes (and in fact the general population), for potential movement/force related injuries.

The off shoot of this global sports-performance round-table is that Munford now has the task of summarizing the various salient topics of discussion and then issuing a symposium synopsis for other high-sports performance practitioners to further discuss and debate. “It’s a daunting task to encapsulate the words and thoughts of some very smart dudes!” said Munford

And with that, Coach Munford apologized for having to break off our chat as one of his star NBA athletes walked into his office to go over Munford’s filmed analysis of their training session completed earlier in the day. As Coach Munford put it while he politely shooed me out of his office; “Still, all the discussions and research and fancy papers mean very little unless you actually work to put those concepts into action… And it’s work time now!”