Tyler Friedrich, Director of Olympic Sports at Stanford University, joins the show today to share his wealth of knowledge in collegiate strength & conditioning, discuss coach development, culture, training methodologies, and data collection in collegiate sports.
We kick things off discussing Tyler’s background and how he found training. Tyler found the weight room through football in high school and college and always wanted to go into the industry. After a few internships, he decided he wanted to become a Strength & Conditioning coach and found himself working at Dayton as an intern, GA, and full time employee. This led him to Arizona State University and finally Olympic sports at Stanford. “Olympic Sports” in collegiate S&C typically means everything except football, and Tyler currently oversees 35 of Stanford’s 36 sports.
This leads us into a discussion on the unique job security situation for collegiate sports and the reporting structure within. The NCAA is pushing to move the S&C side of staff to a direct report to the Athletic Directors, in order to avoid an S&C and coaching staff package deal in which a coaching change leads to cutting the entire S&C department loose. We also discuss contract lengths and goal setting for the coaching staff.
Next we dive into coaching development and what that looks like at Stanford. Yearly reviews, goal setting throughout the year, monthly staff meetings with educational components, and open office spaces all contribute to this development at Stanford and keep everyone on track. Tyler emphasizes how the informal structure and environment at the facilities make it an extremely unique flow of ideas while allowing coaches to formulate their own ideas on training, not be afraid to experiment, and always keep an open mind. Tyler prefers the staff members to set their own goals, however, he certainly contributes at least one objective in the process.
We then switch gears and get into Tyler’s training methodology after working with so many different sports. Tyler focuses on the demands of the sport, how to improve performance, and preventing injury. We use volleyball as a case study here and dive into the specifics of the offseason and a specific training week structure. Tyler emphasizes the context dependent aspects of this and understanding what the athlete can handle and what they actually need. Additionally, he takes into account the age of the team to determine what they will focus on, as well as the fact that playing the sport itself is a training stimulus. Tyler tries to weave in competitive aspects into his programming in order to drive intent, but through an individually based approach as opposed to simply pitting athletes against one another.
This segways us into the topic of data collection and implementation in sports at Stanford. Various sports are tracking GPS which has been quite valuable week to week, and others use RPEs and duration to track workloads. They also use force plates that can track fatigue, particularly during the season. Where jumping is a skill and in many ways just testing a vertical jump doesn’t demonstrate readiness, the force plate shows how they are producing the force and therefore fatigue can’t be masked.
An important note here is taking everything into consideration and not relying on any one number to judge an entire situation. It’s also vital to keep athletes from looking at these numbers and letting it impact their psychology at practice or in a game.Tyler combats this by educating the athletes on what the metrics mean and how they are useful. This way the athletes have context and can understand the difference between “good” or “bad” days. The most important thing he emphasizes is getting the athletes involved and creating buy-in so that they have ownership over the training process.
We finish with a quick discussion on VBT method and get into why Tyler likes using podcasts as a way to hear different insights and perspectives in order to spur development and creativity while making what he’s learning applicable to his situation.
Enjoy and hit that subscribe button if you learned a thing or two.