A Foundation of Physical Performance for High Performance with Chris Gorres

We're delighted to welcome back Chris Gorres to Soccer Parenting, this time for the first of two Live webinars as part of High Performance Week. Chris has worked with athletes in all different levels and sports, specializing in speed, power, strength, injury prevention, functional training, and rehabilitation, working with some top-level athletes across Football, Soccer, and Baseball. He sits down with Skye to talk about why your physical strengths and training is the gateway to High Performance, along with answering some of your questions in between.


Leave your thoughts in the comments box below, and as always you can find the transcript below too.


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Comments on A Foundation of Physical Performance for High Performance with Chris Gorres

  1. Gary Ritter says:

    Skye,
    Great presentation. This is an area to long overlooked and not addressed. So good to hear these perspectives. More on this topic is greatly needed.
    Thanks
    Gary

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TRANSCRIPT:

Skye :
Hey, everyone. Thanks for joining in. We're excited. If somebody can just maybe pop... like I always ask, just pop into the chat that you can hear us and see us, that would be great? And then we'll get started shortly. Great. Thank you, Mark, Stephanie, Thomas. Perfect. Love it. Love it.

Skye :
Hi, Xavier. Okay. Like I said, we're going to go ahead and get started pretty timely here. We'll give just another minute or so for people to join in. Hope everyone had a nice weekend. Don't usually do these webinars on Mondays. So it's a little bit off my normal schedule, having to rally a little bit. But I appreciate it. We've had a lot of people register today, especially for this. I'm going to turn off all of my phone, go into quiet mode here. Awesome. All right. Well, we're going to go ahead and get started. Welcome. Thank you so much for being here. I'm going to start with just a handful of slides here. And then we will go from there.

Skye :
Awesome. So again, welcome everyone. This is High Performance Week at Soccer Parenting. We are so, so excited about this special week and the response that it's had from parents, from coaches, from leaders in the game. Also, the incredible lineup, kicking it off here with Chris, of experts that are joining us for this week.

Skye :
We have two live events, this being the first. The second, being with Dr. Jerry Lynch on Wednesday. Sport psychologist, phenomenal human being. We'll be sharing thoughts about the mental side of the game for our children, after Chris dives in here on the physical side of the game. And then interspersed into that are 12 interviews that I've done with just some truly phenomenal people: experts, thought leaders, all related to supporting our children with big dreams.

Skye :
So if you have not yet registered for High Performance Week, you can register at soccerparenting.com/high-performance, which you see there on the bottom of the screen. If you have already registered and are trying to find the hub, then one, there's a couple ways to do it. On the homepage of Soccer Parenting, you'll find a direct link into the hub.

Skye :
This is the URL for it: SoccerParentResourceCenter.com/HPW, High Performance Week -the-hub. So that's how you can find us all throughout the week. We're so, so excited about this special week. Again, we know it's way too early to decide if our children will be high-performance, but we want to support our children who have dreams. And that's what this week is all about. So we're really excited to have Chris here specifically with us.

Skye :
Just a little bit about our webinars and our interview guidelines. We absolutely encourage questions today. Listen carefully, but in the Q&A, not the chat. The chat is for you all, as people that are listening to have conversation. We encourage you to do that. I will not really be monitoring the chat, where I will definitely be monitoring is the Q&A area.

Skye :
So we encourage you to pop questions in there. If it makes sense in the flow of the conversation with Chris, I'll go ahead and ask him. If not, we will find some time at the end to ask some extra questions. As much as possible, for us to be distraction-free, by turning off our applications in the background, shutting down, silencing our phones, if at all, possible to make the most of this week or make the most of this hour just to really support our children.

Skye :
I've already mentioned that the chat is open. We are recording this. The recording of this will be available at the hub throughout the week for free. And then it will be put behind the membership wall at Soccer Parent Resource Center starting next week. So the recording is available for free for everyone all week long. And obviously we're live right now.

Skye :
Just a little bit about myself. I know because this is High Performance Week, there are a lot of new people that are joining us this week. So thank you and welcome. My name is Skye. I am the founder of Soccer Parenting. The mission at Soccer Parenting is inspiring players by empowering parents.

Skye :
So relevant to the conversation today. We want to make sure that you understand, as parents, the power that you have to ensure that your child is inspired. And we oftentimes think about that being about the game itself, but putting our children in a space where they're physically able to compete and supporting them and their athlete development is really essential to that as well. I am a former professional player as All-American in college, youth All-American. I'm an active coach, I'm a coach educator and I founded Soccer Parenting with a simple idea that we want to make youth soccer better.

Skye :
And involving parents, collaborative relationships with coaches and parents is foundational to that. So welcome so much to all of you that are here today. And we are joined by one of my great friends, Chris Gorres. Chris is truly a nationally known performance trainer. He works with some of our top athletes in the country, whether that be professional through the NFL, through the NBA.

Skye :
He works with many women's national team players, men's national team players. Really, really excited to have Chris here because he also works so much with the youth athlete and he works with the children that we're trying to support this week, these athletes with dreams. So I am so lucky to have Chris right here in Richmond, Virginia where I am. So my children have benefited from working with him. His company is ONYX Elite, and he will tell us more about that and let us know how we can track him down and connect with him.

Skye :
When I do these webinars, I always like to tie them back to one of our value statements at Soccer Parenting. So one of our key value statements is about active health for our children, that we acknowledge the importance of long-term athlete development and that we truly understand that youth soccer participation supports a healthy lifestyle. And that this lifestyle will go on to support our children in truly being just healthy adults.

Skye :
So just wanted to tie this whole conversation back to one of our Soccer Parenting value statements. So with that, I'm going to stop the share and go from there. Good. Thank you so much, [Gill 00:07:05], for putting that in. Actually, Gill, that's not the hub that I'm referring to. I'm going to put the correct one up in the chat in just a little bit. But for now, let's jump in with Chris. Hey, Chris. How are you? Nice to see you.

Chris:
Hey, doing well, Skye. Thanks for having me.

Skye :
Yeah, absolutely. We're really, really excited to have you back at Soccer Parenting. I think this is your third, maybe fourth parents with us and we always get so much out of our conversation. So today we're going to frame this conversation just around these five areas that parents can learn more about in order to support our children on their path to high-performance from a physical performance standpoint.

Skye :
So welcome. Hey, while we get started, I gave that intro for you, but why don't you spend just a second and tell us about what a week in the life of Chris Gorres looks like? Just in terms of the work that you're doing with athletes here on the ground and some of the other work that you're doing.

Chris:
Yeah. So as an ONYX team, we support quite a few athletes in a lot of different sports in a lot of different levels. So we have the high school level athletes competing on an ECNL weekend, we have the college athletes who are right now playing in their spring soccer sports.

Chris:
We have a lot of basketball athletes going into their AAU stuff. A lot of NFL athletes that are now in their off-season training. Some of the college guys who were getting ready for the NFL Draft. So it really just flows from the calendar and the year, just depending on who's in the off-season, who's getting ready for a Draft, who's getting for their preseason. And we try the best that we can to support all of them, whether it be in here with in-person training or some things that we can send them online through some of the virtual apps that we have.

Skye :
Yeah, love it. I love it. I love the work that you're doing also. I don't know that you've done it a couple times. But the camp you do down in Florida for athletes that are getting ready for trying out or making their way into the professional circle for the men's soccer specifically. Did you do that again this year?

Chris:
Yeah. So we've done three of those camps, and that was something that was a little bit of a project that was a dream of my partner, Oguchi Onyewu, who played for the national team for so many years. Played in two World Cups and represented the United States of America.

Chris:
So he wanted to have something where he saw what I was doing with NBA and NFL athletes, getting them ready for the NFL, getting them ready for the Combine and teaching college kids, "Hey, this is what it means to be professional now." So he wanted to do that on the soccer side. Now, that's a little bit different because of the way that the NFL Draft works and the way that the MLS works and the way that homegrown contracts work and European players and all those other things.

Chris:
So it eventually morphed into just an off-season time where we can go down to Florida in the middle of January, get quality training in, get quality touches in with high-level people and give some of these players who maybe needed a second chance, or maybe were a little bit forgotten or maybe were late bloomers.

Chris:
We're not going to get a Messi or a Ronaldo. They don't need help. But for the second tier player, a third tier player or the fringe person, who is in-between a USL Championship league team and an MLS team, this is a great opportunity for them to come down, train and get seen by some of the connections that we have in the soccer world. So it's been a great thing that we've had so far. We unfortunately couldn't do it last year because of COVID restrictions and some of those other things, but we look forward to being able to do that again soon.

Skye :
Yeah. I wanted to bring that up because I think it's just demonstrative of the important work you're doing with helping athletes at so many different stages get from point... Well, I was about to say A to B. But really, it's point T to Z.

Chris:
Right. Yes, yeah.

Skye :
Those last few stages. And I've seen you do this with so many athletes here in Richmond, my daughter included. Getting them from a point where they're coming into the gym to be like, "All right, I'm here," and they're committed to it. But then all of a sudden, they just take it to the next level and seeing the benefit of it.

Skye :
Everything starts clicking for them. Let's peel back the layer and talk about the youth athletes as far as that is concerned. Any moments of ignition that you see that are common for those kids that come in? Maybe their parents sign them up for ONYX and it's their first experience with training? And so they're showing up, but then all of a sudden, things click with them.

Chris:
Yeah. I think it just comes from the love of the game and the love of competing. And I think that one of the things that we try to do is we try to identify where an athlete is and what's the next step that they need to take. Is the next step that, "Hey, I just want to get more playing time, I want to make a team, I want to go from being somebody who's on the bench, in a reserve to a starter. I want to go from a starter to an All-American"?

Chris:
Whatever that next step is, that's the step that we want them to embrace and take ownership of and help them achieve that next step. And then who knows what goes on after that? And I think we've built an amazing culture here with the people who come in here, as well as the trainers and coaches that we have at helping people compete and understanding that competition is within yourself.

Chris:
You're really just trying to be the best version of yourself. You're competing with who you were yesterday. And if we can beat that person that we were yesterday, and we do that over and over and over again, we're going to be pretty good in a month, in a year, in two years.

Skye :
Yeah, love it. I love it. So you're building in that long-term kind of mentality towards this process. This is a process that we're going through. So along those lines, before we dive into these five key things that we want to talk about, I have another question for you.

Skye :
I've been curious about this in thinking about this interview. Any common traits or things that you see for the top high-level athletes that you've been working with over the years? I'm thinking the top women's national team, men's national team athletes. Anything that you can pull back and say this is a common trait that they all have?

Chris:
Yeah. I would have to say that it would go more on the mental side. So maybe Dr. Lynch can talk a little bit more about this on Wednesday, but for me, especially, we get athletes on all different levels. We'll get the athlete who is super strong, super fast, explosive athlete. And then we'll get one that is maybe not quite as strong and fast, but they're really tactical. And the game is a little bit different for them.

Chris:
And our thing is we need to get them better at the game that they play. So not just the sport that they play, but the way that they play that sport. They might not be a Lukaku type of player, they might be an Iniesta type of player or somebody like that.

Chris:
So we don't want to make them a better version of what we think an athlete should look like; we want to make them the best version of themselves. And I think that when you take a look at the high-performers in any sport, what they do is they embrace, they process. They embrace and they assess the things that they're good at. They know the things that they're not good at, the things that they need to work on.

Chris:
And they love that. They love being able to say, "Hey, this is going to make me... Even if it's just 1% better, I want to do everything I can do to make myself just 1% better than I was before." And that's something that you see across all levels. And then the last thing I would say is as you start to get higher and higher up, whether it be from middle school to high school; high school, college; college into pro, the higher you go up, the more distractions are around you.

Chris:
And I think that the ability to eliminate those distractions and stay focused on the process and stay focused on your goals, that's what really separates the elite from the people who think that they want to do this.

Skye :
Yeah. When you were just talking on a very simple level, I was thinking about my daughter, [Callie 00:15:26], and I was like, "What were some things that I saw with her?" And it was just what you said. She went from just going in and doing the work, to having goals and aspirations for the work.

Skye :
It was this thing that triggered with her, where all of a sudden, it took her to the next level. So that was cool that you're saying that. And just as you were saying that, I was thinking about Callie the same way. Okay. So let's dive into these five things that parents need to understand or gaining a deeper understanding of, will help them in supporting their child in developing the physical side of their game, wherever that may be, wherever they may be on the journey. All right. Why don't you open it up? What's your number one?

Chris:
Yeah. So number one is going to be coordination before progressive overload. I think when you take a look at traditional strength and conditioning programs, and I would be considered a traditional strength and conditioning coach, even though we like to say that we cover much more than just strength and conditioning.

Chris:
If you take a look at traditional strength and conditioning programs, it goes straight into movement, quantity assessments. How much can you do? How fast can you do it? How many times can you do it? How high do you jump? How fast do you run? How far can you make this? So those are all movement quantity things. And then you take a look at programs, that's basically how people started their program and progressed their program. I could do this much, now I want to do this much, now I want to do this much.

Chris:
And people jump straight into this progressive overload, where if I could do 10 pushups, now we're going to 12 pushups or 15, whatever it may be. But really, what you want to do in the beginning, as an athlete, and really, it's cyclical for us because we always bring even our high-level athletes back to these phases where you work on movement quality.

Chris:
You're going to get so much more out of movement quality and coordination versus progressive overload. And that just goes to even the way that you strike a ball. If you think about the way that you strike a ball, there are two ways to strike a ball and get more power on that ball. One, you become actually more powerful. You have a stronger leg, you whip that leg faster.

Chris:
Two, you have better technique. So in the very beginning, athletes are going to progress a lot further by learning how to move well and getting rid of energy leaks and deficiencies in the system, versus progressively overloading the system. And that also helps us identify, again, energy leaks, dysfunctions, imbalances.

Chris:
Because if you pile fitness and conditioning on top of dysfunction, it doesn't fix it. It's still going to be there. Just like if you put a strong engine into a car, but that car's alignment isn't quite right, that alignment still isn't quite right. You just put a faster engine in.

Skye :
Yeah. No, I love this idea. And I think it's so foundational to all athletes. But young athletes that are trying to learn how to move. Can you maybe dive into this coordination, what you're really talking about? What are some of the aspects that you're focusing on with young athletes when it comes to how they move?

Chris:
Yeah. So the first thing is this relationship between mobility and stability, the way that your body moves. If you're not mobile enough, you're going to get hurt. If you're too stiff, you're also going to get hurt. So there's this balance between joints that are supposed to be mobile and joints that are supposed to be stable.

Chris:
For instance, your ankle moves in a lot of different ways. It flexes, it extends it pronates, it supinates, it rotates. It does a lot of different things. That is a joint that we need to train for mobility. Your knee on the other hand, only does two things: your knee only flexes and extends. That is a joint that we need to train for stability.

Chris:
So if you go all the way up and down the body and identify what these joints are supposed to do, and have this understanding of what needs to be mobile and what needs to be stable, that's the first thing that we try to do when we're building good quality movement. We're not identifying we need pecs and lats and biceps and triceps.

Chris:
We're looking at can you hinge? Can you squat? Can you push? Can you pull? Can you rotate? Can you cut? Can you sprint? And do all of those things with good mobility and stability in the joints that need it. So that's the way that we look at movement. And we really have this functional approach of movement over muscles.

Skye :
And you mentioned a lot of the key things there for me that I know what they are just as an athlete, but maybe dive into a little bit. You mentioned push, pull, hinge, squat, rotate, or maybe I used the wrong term. I'm not used to the right terms. But give us a little bit of backstory on that.

Chris:
Yeah. So again, when we're taking a look at the movements that an athlete makes, if you just watch a game and you take a look at the things that an athlete would do, they'll push and create force moving away from their body. They'll pull and create force moving in towards their body. They'll hinge from the hips, they'll bend at the knee and create force going downwards into the ground.

Chris:
So these are all things that we need to be able to do, and we need to be able to do them in three planes of motion. Traditional exercises have been taught or have been shown in the sagittal plane, which is just straight forward and back and up and down. But as athletes, we don't move like vacuum cleaners. We don't move straight forward, straight backwards. We move side to side, we turn, we do all of these things. And all these things have to flow.

Chris:
They have to be smooth and rhythmic and balanced. And they have to be done at the right time. So when we take a look at movements, if we know that we train, for instance, a pushing movement, we know that we're going to get the muscles that are involved in that pushing movement, which is your shoulders, your pecs, your triceps, core engagement.

Chris:
And then if we're doing a full-body push, which connects, this is another concept where we're connecting lower body and upper body. We don't split body parts. We're getting the body to move as one muscle and not separate muscles. But if we were to take a program and say, "Hey, we're going to work on pecs that day," and then just work on chest, we may not build good movement.

Chris:
We might build a good chest that looks good when we flex on stage. But soccer isn't a body-building competition. It's not a bathing suit competition; it's a movement competition. And a lot of our sports are the same way. So we teach the movements and not the muscles.

Skye :
I love it. Soccer is a movement competition. I'm writing that down. I love that. That could be the title of this whole thing. And so for parents, you mentioned this briefly, but I want to highlight this. How fundamental these movement skills are to injury prevention?

Chris:
Yeah, 100%. If you have somebody who doesn't move well, it's really only a matter of time before something's going to happen. Either it's going to be an acute injury, something's going to happen where there's some blunt trauma, whether it's an ankle roll or somebody crashes into your knee or whatever it is. Or just over time, a dysfunction.

Chris:
If you think about right now, if everybody is here on this call. And we have 95 participants, which is great. If everybody here makes a nice strong fist for me right here. Go ahead, Scott. Make a nice strong fist. If you're hitting that fist right here, my wrist is pretty good right here, right?

Skye :
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris:
If I bend that wrist all the way in here, and now I'm making impact, how long before I hurt my wrist? If I bend that wrist all the way back, how long before I start to hurt my wrists? So what we try to do is find, "Hey, what's a neutral spine? What are our most favorable joint angles when we move?" And if we can keep everything aligned and then build that resiliency behind it, then we have a good strong foundation for not just athletic movement, but for reducing the risk of injury.

Skye :
Yeah. No, I love it. It's so important. You just see that over time happening and kids can catch up. Some kids just move better than others, and other kids just haven't had those experiences yet, whether that be... I don't know.

Skye :
You would know better than me. I'm thinking genetics or environmental. Some kids are outside, they have older siblings they're playing with all the time. Some don't. But kids can generally catch... to just build and improve upon this.

Chris:
Yeah, 100%. I think it's a little bit of both. Obviously, genetics is a big part of it, but also the environment that you grow up in. If your kids are out there climbing trees and doing all kinds of different things, they're going to learn how their body moves. And as a young child, or I would say, even as a novice athlete, which has nothing to do with calendar age, by the way.

Chris:
We have novice athletes that come in that are elite NCAA athletes. But guess what? That's on the soccer pitch; that's not in here in a weight room. There is no translation yet, at least. So when we have a novice athlete, what we want them to do is just explore movement. How does their body move? What happens when you turn all the way this way? Does your body start to compensate?

Chris:
And if so, are you jeopardizing your health? Because you have to compensate so far with something else because one thing maybe isn't firing the way that it's supposed to fire. So yeah. Just being able to explore movements as a young kid. I learned a lot just watching my kids move around. I'm a father of four children. And even watching my youngest daughter now, she's five.

Chris:
Even just watching her move around the house and run away from her brothers and sisters, or chase her brothers and sisters, or pick things up. When I watch her pick things up and the way that she moves, that's pure natural movement. That's the way we were probably supposed to move before. As adults, we started to get stiff because we sat too long at the desk or in traffic or whatever.

Skye :
Yeah. No, I love it. I could only imagine you watching all of your children and picking up all these things.

Chris:
Absolutely do. [crosstalk 00:25:35]. Absolutely.

Skye :
Okay. So one, we have coordination before we go into some overload. So focusing on the coordination, the movement, all of that. So that's number one. What's number two?

Chris:
Number two would be intensity over volume. And this is a concept that when you take a look at the way people have traditionally trained, the quality that you really want to train is maximum effort. Can you give maximum effort? And in the past, there's really been only two ways to give maximum effort, especially in exercise.

Chris:
One, was you lift as much weight as you possibly can lift. To be able to do that, that takes months of training, that takes an understanding of technique, an understanding of your body and an understanding of your limits, which a lot of kids don't have, or they need to learn what those things are. And that takes time. The other method, or the other way to really get maximum effort is to go as far as you can until you can't go anymore.

Chris:
And that's through volume. So if you think about the first person that ever ran a marathon, screamed out Nike and died because he couldn't go anymore. So if we take away intensity and we take away volume, the last thing that we can do is we can train through maximum velocity.

Chris:
So if we give, for instance, a vertical jump, that's a maximum effort. Jumping as high as you can is maximum effort. But it's not a heavy load and it's not for forever. It's just one jump. So if we can train through max velocity, we can get the intensity that we want, which is that maximum effort that we're looking for to create the adaptations in the body without having to push volume, and without putting somebody into something that is unsafe that they're not ready for.

Chris:
And that's really the key when it comes to exercise. Once we know somebody moves well and efficiently, now we actually do have to get stronger and faster and more explosive. And the way to do that is to increase the intensity, not the volume.

Chris:
Another good way to think about this is in terms of conditioning. People want to be able to move better throughout the game, or have more fitness at the end of the game. And there's all different sides to that. But one side that always gets forgotten is, "Hey, if we just move faster, this is going to help you at the end of the game." Because if your maximum speed is 18 miles per hour, for you, to run at a speed of 16.2 miles per hour, that's 90% effort for you, which is really hard.

Chris:
To be able to give 90% effort after you've been playing 85 minutes in a game, that's a lot of effort. But if we train you so that your maximum speed is 20 miles per hour, 16 miles per hour is only 80% effort for you. And that's a big drop-off. When you understand the different energy systems that a body uses, when we talk about aerobic versus anaerobic and glycolysis and all these other things, which we don't have to get too far into.

Chris:
I don't want to get too far into those weeds. But just understanding that there's a big difference between 80% effort in your body and 90% effort in your body. So if we can get you just raw, faster speed, you're going to be more fit. It doesn't always have to be, "Hey, let's just run over and over and over again, let me run 10 miles." And by the way, that has all also changed.

Chris:
We were talking to Heather O'Reilly just a few weeks ago. And I can send everybody the link to that interview. We know so much more about the games these days through all the different tracking systems that we have and the technology we have. We know exactly how to prepare our athletes for what the game is going to look like. And it's not going to look like a straight five-mile run in a straight line at five and a half miles per hour with nothing to think about. Right?

Skye :
Yeah. I love it. There's such a correlation there to training the mental side of the game too. As coaches, I have a U10 team, I would rather have this team have three minutes of focused, good quality intense training, where they're all clued in and working well together, versus playing eight minutes average.

Chris:
That's right.

Skye :
And to me, it seems like a similar analogy. It's kind of something I've been curious about as a coach. If I can get them to experience that level of intensity, then they're more likely to adapt to that and have that be their more normalized behavior. And that is where I'm trying to get so they reach their level, to increase their level of normalized behavior.

Chris:
Yeah. Another way of putting that is just getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. When you're in that zone and you know how intense that is and that's how you train. Well, when you're in there in a game and you're in a one-on-one scenario, and you need to score a goal with two minutes left in the game, we've been here before. We're not freaking out and our bodies are not freaking out.

Chris:
And since we've been here mentally before, then physically, I'm also stronger because if I'm mentally stressed out, guess what? That's going to present itself as physical fatigue as well. So if you can push yourself in training with intensity and then learn to recover and then repeat it, that's the way to go versus these long extended bouts of either cardio or strength training, whatever it is.

Skye :
Yeah. No, great. That's really insightful. Especially for parents who might have grown up, even like myself. The work that I did in the weight room as an athlete is so much different than any of the work that athletes are doing now. So in my mind, it's all like, "Heavy weight, low rep or low weight, heavy rep." That's about where I have my constraints of how I look at this. So I think these are really insightful points for parents.

Chris:
Yeah, for sure. And especially that because you think about heavy weight, low rep; low weight, a lot of reps. But now what we can do is low weight, low reps, but at high speeds. So when you can train that way, that gets you the best of both worlds and you're fresh for soccer practice and you're fresh for your games.

Skye :
Yeah, absolutely. We'll talk about training load as we get in. Okay. So this is great. Let's move on. So the first point is coordination before overload. Second point is intensity over volume. Third is? What have you got for us?

Chris:
The third would be focus on the core. Because your core is involved in everything that you do. And it's funny to hear people talk about core exercises and literally, everything that you do is a core exercise. I don't know an exercise that you can perform without engaging your core.

Chris:
So when we talk about core, we identify core as anything but an arm or a leg. So that includes your glutes, that includes your hips and your hip flexors. Of course, your abdominal area, but also your low back and mid back. Those are the things that are going to help you move well. And when you have a good strong core, it's a lot like having a good tight trampoline that transfers power. Your core doesn't create power; it transfers power. You're creating power through pushing into the ground.

Chris:
And then if your core is weak, you're going to lose that power somewhere in the motion and you may not move as efficiently, or you may not be as powerful. The other thing is you're starting to jeopardize the alignment of that movement. And that's when we get into injury risks and things like that.

Chris:
So when we talk about core training, what we're really talking about is creating a nice, strong, neutral spine and being able to hold that spine neutral throughout different ranges of motion. So we're not doing ab crunches or twists and things like that. We actually want to focus on exercises that are anti-extension, anti-flexion and anti-rotation.

Chris:
Because if you can, again, go back to that analogy of making a good strong fist. If this is now your spine, if your spine is good and strong, we can create a lot of force so we can create a lot of good movement and/or we can withstand and absorb a lot of force in the deceleration patterns and injury prevention.

Chris:
But if that core is moving around, if it's flexing all the time, if it's extending all the time, their back is curved or their back is arched, or their shoulders are rounded, that leads to a lot of injuries. We see that, especially when it comes to ACL injuries. ACL injuries have become such a big phenomenon that everybody's dealing with.

Chris:
If you're on a team, even now, at the young age of a U14 or U12 team, you may already have a teammate or several teammates who have gone through this. And a ACL injury happens during deceleration and rotation. So what ends up happening is that person either decelerated and couldn't stop themselves when they needed to.

Chris:
So now that joint angle of the knee is further than where it should have been. And now it's trying to create a force, but it's already jeopardized because it's too far. Or their upper body is moving and rotating and they couldn't stop with their upper body.

Chris:
So now their knee, which remember, is only meant to flex and extend, now their knee is trying to twist it back and it's not meant to do that. So these are the things that we try to focus on, especially when it comes to core training: anti-flexion, anti-extension, anti-rotation.

Skye :
Yeah. So I love that because did you... Tell me a little bit more. So you're not focusing on what we traditionally think... In your gym, you're not doing crunches and you're not... Tell us what this looks like just so that parents can get an understanding. Because again, we bring our history to the table here.

Chris:
Yeah. So planks are a good one. Planks are a good start. You're looking at planks and again, trying to maintain a neutral spine. We look at something called an anti-rotation press or a Pallof press. And that's something if I'm standing here and there's a band that's pulling me this way, I've got to extend my arms and engage my core to prevent this rotation or this lean.

Chris:
And that's a really good one for us because again, our sports, our competitions are played in three dimensions. It's not straight forward and back. So we have to be able to control all those forces, moving laterally and rotational. So that's what we think about when we talk about anti-rotation, anti-flexion, anti-extension.

Chris:
Another one that's probably our most basic one that we get people in is into our dead bug, which is lying straight down on the floor. Can you press your lower back into the floor or is there a huge arch in between your lower back and the ground?

Chris:
And we'll literally walk around and we'll try to slide our hands through there. And if we can, that means they're not engaging that transverse abdominis, which is what's pulling that belly button back down into the earth. And that's something that we want to teach our kids how to do, especially as they get long.

Chris:
Because then in the dead bug, their legs extend and the arms extend, which is exactly the same movement as running. So if you can't do it lying down on the floor and keep your core engaged, then guess what's happening when you're running and sprinting? It's the same thing.

Skye :
Yeah. No. So cool. I love it. Thanks for diving in there a little bit. Now I'm going to go be lying on the ground in my office after this figuring that out. Okay. What have you got for number four?

Chris:
Yeah. So number four. This is something that has really taken off over the last several years, probably since the last time that I did a Soccer Parenting webinar. And that's the game speed decision-making. So if you think about all the steps that we've talked about so far: building good movement technique, building good movement intensity, focusing on core posture and all those other things.

Chris:
Well, those things don't just live by themselves. I think traditional training, you see a lot of cones, you see a lot of stopwatches, you see a lot of predetermined things that we're going to tell you exactly how many reps you're going to do, we're going to tell you exactly how far you're going to run, exactly what you're going to do when we get there. The games are not predetermined. The games are very random.

Chris:
And more than just reaction, you have to teach recognition. Recognition of scenarios, where I'm going to execute. That move that you taught me, I'm going to execute that move in this scenario, whether it be a drop step or a sprint using your arms, or "Hey, I need to drop and load off both legs."

Chris:
We have to teach that in game type scenarios so that when they see it in the game, and hopefully it happens automatically. Hopefully, we've done it enough times in our training that they see it and it just happens. And they don't have to think about, "Okay, is my posture good? Are my abs engaged? Am I dropping from my hips, or am I dorsi-flexing the ankles?"

Chris:
They're not thinking about that in the game, but we're absolutely teaching that in game time, real-time decision-making type of scenarios, where we're preparing them for the field. And that was something that was big for me as I started to dive into this because I was a football player at Cornell University, I was 165 pounds soaking wet as a 19-year-old.

Chris:
And to run out there, I was never going to be the guy in the weight room that was on the boards with the records and slapping myself in the face to win the bench press day or squat or whatever. But I could play football. And what I wanted to do is I didn't mind getting into the weight room, but I just wanted to make sure that things that we're doing here translate to what we're going to be doing on the field.

Chris:
Because there are so many things that we do that just weren't going to transfer. So for me, as I create programs or as we create programs for our athletes, we want to make sure that whatever we're building in here has to go back out onto the field or the court, or whatever it is they play. Otherwise, we're just getting them better at these exercises. We're not getting them better at their sport.

Skye :
Yeah. No, I think that's so relevant. And it kind of goes into this concept of perception and action coupling, being aware of what's happening in the moment and combining it with this action or this movement.

Skye :
So relevant to goalkeeper training too. Also, just so many things that come into play for me as you're talking about that. You're saying that's been a new movement or there's just been a lot of conversation about that as of the last few years?

Chris:
Yeah. I think it's really taken off with different devices and things that they can now connect to your phone and the way we can teach. So this technology just wasn't around when I was growing up. So it wasn't something that we really taught or thought of.

Chris:
And it was one of those things where, as a goalkeeper, people might have said, "Oh, Skye, you have great instincts as a goalkeeper. You just naturally know where to be." Well, that's not true. That's not true. Yes, you knew where to be, but that's because you've had experiences is in your life that you could connect to these scenarios and you knew, "Okay, I've seen this scenario before. I know where I should be."

Chris:
Now, you did that without having to think about it. So it looked instinctual, but that didn't just happen because you decided to walk out there. So now we know better. We know that instincts can be worked on, instincts can be developed. Whereas, before, people will say, "Oh, they're just not a naturally instinctive player. And you just either have it, or you don't." And now we know some people have it, some people don't. But it can be developed.

Skye :
Yeah. No, really, really exciting. And you're right, now that you can break down video, you can see an athlete. You can see it. And in your space, an athlete can bring in game video, and you can see them moving and see deficiencies or ways that things could be better. So I can imagine for you, that the light bulbs are going off. You're probably creating all these new exercises all the time.

Chris:
Yeah. Well, we try to create these exercise... So again, all the things that we talked about: can our athletes still have good movement technique? Can they still have the intensity that we want them to have when it's applicable? Can they keep good core integrity? Can they keep good body alignment while reacting to the game around them?

Chris:
And also eliminating the things that they don't need to be worried about. So much of instincts is being able to focus on the two things that you actually need to focus on and not be worried about all the other elements that's going on.

Chris:
So going back to the very first thing that we talked about with elite athletes, which is eliminating distractions. That's happening in life and all the things that surround you throughout your day. But that also happens in that moment. Can you eliminate everything that you don't need to know right now?

Skye :
Yeah. No, I love it. And that was a good little recap of our four points so far. I want to encourage parents, if you have some questions, definitely pop them into the Q&A. We'll get in there. I see some coming in right now. That's fantastic.

Skye :
Chris, why don't you pop into your fifth and final point, and then we'll get to some questions. So again, parents, coaches listening queue them up here and we'll get to them here at the end. So point number five, Chris, go ahead.

Chris:
The last point, point number five is training in-season. This is something that I think as people start to understand what the strength of the conditioning world really is and what performance training really is, they're starting to understand that training in-season is really important to maintain. That that's not something that you just drop off because you're starting to practice and play again.

Chris:
Because everything that we've worked on, we need to keep that stuff. We don't just work on it and then stop working on it throughout the season. And accumulatively, you start losing strength, start losing power, start losing all those things that we worked so hard to gain. And I understand why a lot of parents and coaches are saying, "Okay, season started, everybody's going to just be here. We're not going to do weightlifting, we're not going to do that."

Chris:
Because what they've seen is the progressive overload training, where they see body-builders coming out here and knocking out hundreds of reps in a session. In an in-season session for us, our athletes are maybe doing 35 to 60 reps total. But we're doing a lot of the mobility and stability work to make sure that everything is moving correctly.

Chris:
A lot of the maintenance work that needs to happen so that everybody, again, is just unaware of what's going on with their bodies more than anything. And I think this is something that you start to see the good players, the strong players, the players that take this seriously, the ones that want to last until the end of the season throughout, they keep their training programs going on even in the middle of a competition schedule.

Skye :
Yeah. No, I love it. Can you talk a little bit, because that's something I wanted to dive into you with today was training load. Because these are things that are growing in concern. I think you make a great point when you were previously talking about the clutter and the extra things.

Skye :
And a lot of times this training load is too much because we're just doing things that we don't need to be doing and maybe aren't as thoughtful. But I'm especially curious for the youth athletes that you're working with, is how you might coordinate with their coaches or just with the greater schedule that these athletes have? Are you aware of everything else that's going on in their athletes' lives?

Chris:
Yeah, we have to be. We have to be. We want to know everything that's going on. And not even just their athletic lives. Well, for instance, a high school senior right now, we know what their competition schedule is like with their club team, with their school team.

Chris:
We know that they have prom coming up. We know that they have SAT prep, whatever. Because all of that is load on the body and the mind that we have to understand. So okay, if you're coming to us twice a week, but you also have practices and games and all this other stuff that you're doing, here's what we're going to work on that's going to help you the most.

Chris:
So what's the thing that I can get that's going to be the most bang for our buck? When I do need to turn the oven on? How much heat am I using and for how long? And probably not a lot. But just like cooking, a lot of cooking time is just the prep work of cutting vegetables and getting all your seasonings right and everything like that.

Chris:
How much time you actually spend on the oven or on the pan, it's not that much heat that you need to be doing. So when we're effective doing all those other things, we don't need to be in there for more than, again, in the middle of a season, 25 to 60 reps at the most in an entire workout. In an entire workout.

Chris:
And those are reps where we're moving at a decent speed, again, just to make sure that everything moves the way it's supposed to move, that the power is there when we want it. But not enough to fatigue the system where now we're starting to take away from everything else that they need to do.

Skye :
Yeah. No, that's really insightful for everyone listening. Thank you so much. There are a few questions here. I'm also curious, everyone's favorite analogy that Chris used throughout this conversation, because you've used some phenomenal ones.

Skye :
I have my favorite. I'll share it at the end. But those of you who have any that have stuck with you, let us know. Oh, gosh. There's quite a number of questions here. Okay. So why don't you start? Marcello is asking a question about video work. With that, why don't you just give a quick little plug for people that are here listening about how they can find you, learn more about you and any online resources that you have for people? And then we'll dive into these questions.

Chris:
Yeah, onyxelite.com is our website for our company. So you can find a little bit more training options there. But if you want to see some more content, you can follow us on Instagram, @onyx_elite on Instagram. My personal Instagram is @trainergorres.

Chris:
I also have a TikTok where I'll post some stuff. So you can follow us there. We did post a video not too long ago using the BlazePods. Now, the BlazePods are probably... This is the highest end of instinctual training, where you have a series of lights that will come on and it will measure your reaction time to those lights. And we'll put them in different scenarios. And again, we can have six lights go off, but only the blue light is the one that you want to look at.

Chris:
So again, teaching them how to eliminate distractions. So you can do that with lights. You can also do it with different color cones. You can do it with voice and audio cues. I like to do a lot of games where I play odd and even. So I'll call out a number and if it's odd, they'll do one thing; if it's even, they'll do another the thing.

Chris:
So it just gets them to listen and to think and to react and to anticipate different things that will get them into more game-like scenarios where there's an actual cue that they have to respond to and then execute a movement.

Skye :
Yeah. No, I love that. And for those of you that are asking about how to follow along as well, all of the links and such are at the High Performance Week hub, all the links to Chris. And we're going to also post there as bonus content, the conversation that Chris had with Heather O'Reilly just talking about how the high-performance environment has evolved so much.

Skye :
So we'll post that as well on our high-performance hub, which is Soccer Parent Resource Center. Well, to register for and find everything, just go to soccerparenting.com, and that'll be really clear. Okay. So let's dive into a couple more of these. Angela's asking about how important is flexibility training? What percentage of your program should be dictated or dedicated to flexibility?

Chris:
I would say 100% because we don't define flexibility as how far you can reach your fingers over your toes or how far you can bend back. Flexibility is about what range of motions can you control? Can I actively bring my leg out to here? Or can I actively rotate my torso over here? Or if I can't do that, now I have to compensate by either arching from the lumbar spine or doing something weird with my neck.

Chris:
So 100% of movement is again, that combination of mobility and stability. And you can't have one without the other. If you try to stretch a band, you can't stretch a band unless you anchor it at one point. So there has to be stability somewhere. So for us, the best form of mobility is full range of motion strength training. Because that's going to force you to explore the movement that you can control and do it with coordination and strength and balance.

Skye :
Yeah. No, I love it. I would think the big picture here is that what we have often thought of as being in these little areas, everything's all combined.

Chris:
Everything's always combined. Yeah. It's not one and then the other, or one or the other. Everything is combined.

Skye :
But it's understandable why we feel that way because we are the ones that grew up with a coach that counted to 10 and we would touch our toes.

Chris:
Right.

Skye :
Then count to 10 again and do that. What we grew up with is just things have just evolved so much.

Chris:
Right. And I think [crosstalk 00:51:17].

Skye :
Okay. So Peter is saying, "So you are tying in fitness in motion." It's kind of what we were just saying, it's all connected.

Chris:
Yeah. Fitness has to be tied in with what I would say, decision-making. Because in the sports that you play, unless you're a swimmer or a track athlete, it's an open sport, skill sport where you have to be able to react to the game.

Chris:
They don't line up in the 85 minute and everybody gets on the end line and we run cone to cone until one team quits. And then that team is the winner. It's who makes the best decisions? Who knows where they're supposed to be?

Chris:
How many times did you see at the end of the game, somebody misses an assignment because they're tired or whatever? Or they don't even recognize what was going on in the game. So fitness, in the terms of fitness and conditioning, that has to be combined with what I would say, decision-making.

Skye :
Love it, love it. It's such a great, thoughtful way to make us think just a little bit deeper. I think this question will make us think too. So Angel's asking, "Would HIIT training," high-interval intensity training, is that what that is?

Chris:
Yeah.

Skye :
"Be a good example of intensity over volume?"

Chris:
Yes, 100%. And that HIIT training, the intervals, we play with the intervals depending on... We use work to rest ratios. So if you work for 10 seconds, rest for 10 seconds. That's one to one. So we know what the power output should look like there.

Chris:
And then if the work to rest ratio is two to one or one to five, whatever it may be, we know how intense those drills can be. And you have to work all the way up and down that scale of all the way from two to one, where you might work for a minute and rest for 30 seconds.

Chris:
And then you also have to work all the way to a super high intense, which is on for 10 seconds, maybe rest for a full minute, minute and a half. So that's the type of effort that you need to [crosstalk 00:53:03].

Skye :
That intense that your body requires that recovery?

Chris:
Yeah. We want to teach our athletes how to empty their tank in 10 seconds. Really six. Because a sprint in a game lasts even less than that. A true sprint in a game lasts maybe three seconds. Because it's not often in the game that you're sprinting all out for 60 yards.

Chris:
It's mostly 15 to 20 yards, maybe 30. And then even then at that point, you're looking up to see where the ball is going, to see where the man is going. And even if you've already won, you're not sprinting anymore. You're using your body to get in front and start to ward off your opponent. So a sprint for us is, can you empty your tank in three seconds?

Skye :
Yeah. Love it. Love it. Fantastic. And that's hard to do in a gym, to facilitate that. So I know you all work hard at that. With that in mind, Dan's asking... He lives in Seattle. "Do you have any contacts that offer your type of holistic training, assessments, after action, coordination?" People can catch up with you yourself. I know you work with athletes all over.

Chris:
Yeah. I have to take a look at some of the contacts that I have that are still out in Seattle. I know for one, she's not going to be available, but Megan Young is a great resource. And she was with the Chicago Red Stars. Yeah, the Red Stars.

Skye :
Yeah.

Chris:
Yeah, the women's side. And now she's with Seattle Sounders. So she's out there. And she was at Baylor University before that. And she's one of these people that is just an excellent resource when it comes to all of the things that we've been talking about today: building mobility, stability, instincts. All those things.

Chris:
So I know she's out there. But I'd have to take a look at what other contacts I have. But like you said, you can reach out to me through the website or @trainergorres on Instagram. I'm usually pretty responsive with the Instagram stuff. And I'll do the best that I can to connect you with somebody who can help you.

Skye :
Yeah. No, fantastic. This, to me, I feel like is a bit of a trick question. But somebody, "anonymous" is asking it. I'm wondering who this is because I'm wondering if it's one of my friends that's been giving me a hard time about the name of High Performance Week.

Skye :
How can we dictate and decide these kids and classify them at such young ages? And I agree it's impossible to do so, but the question coming in is at what age should we be able to tell that our children is high-performing?

Skye :
Do you want to take a stab at that? Just with your perspective for parents on this concept and based on the experience that you have? I don't know that there's really an answer to this question. It's impossible to know, but we can support kids with dreams, which is the way that we've [crosstalk 00:55:46].

Chris:
It's impossible to know. But I think again, you have to kind of redefine what competitiveness is. And I see this a lot, and I'm sure that you talk about this a lot on soccerparenting.com and with all the seminars. I think that if you have a kid that competes with themselves and knows that when they don't give their best effort, and they're not satisfied with anything but their best effort, that's the point that you can tell that they could be a high-performing person.

Chris:
If there's somebody that knows that, "Hey, this is my best effort, but I'm good with whatever's good enough," that's usually a good tell as well. And sometimes they have to be taught that. Again, it's not something that is just you have it or you don't, and there's no chance that you'll ever develop it.

Chris:
You can develop it. It happens at different ages for most people and for different reasons. Sometimes you want to be the best version of yourself to impress somebody else, and then it becomes internal. So it might start out as somebody like, "Hey, I want to gain the attention of my parents or I want to beat my sibling." And then it just snowballs into something, "Well, I just want to be the best version of myself."

Skye :
Yeah, yeah. No, and I think that's a great way for us to wrap up today because that exemplifies what we're trying to pull out of this week. And especially with you here in this live event, kicking off High Performance Week.

Skye :
This is a week about supporting our children and being the best versions of themselves, and truly understanding that that evolves, just like it does for us as adults. We're constantly learning, growing, developing, changing, evolving. That so much happens for our children as well.

Skye :
And what I think of that can support children who are saying they have dreams like, "I want to play in college," or "I want to be on the national team." And we want our kids to have dreams right now, especially in such a chaotic time in our society. Our children having big dreams is something that we can, as parents, just be really grateful for.

Skye :
And so it's finding the way to support them. And I love this idea of these moments of ignition. And I love the idea of finding a trainer or an environment like what you have at ONYX for our children, to support them and find that moment of ignition.

Skye :
Because sometimes that's what the difference-maker will be, just a different voice in our child's head, a different perspective, somebody that believes in their child in a way that they don't feel acknowledged in other environments.

Skye :
And it's not going to necessarily be the difference between them playing in college or not, but it might just be the difference between them having a higher sense of self-belief, which is really what this week is about, is our children aspiring and having these dreams.

Skye :
As we're wrapping up, Chris, any final comments for parents? There's a few questions coming in. I'd encourage you all to reach out to Chris through his various channels and get these little wrap-up questions in. But any final comments for parents?

Chris:
Yeah. Well, one, just a big thanks to you, Skye, for thinking of me for this High Performance Week. I'm always down to do these things and share whatever insight that I can share. I think that it's important for us to be able to share these experiences because at the end of the day, we all want what's best for our kids and we all want them to be the best versions of themselves.

Chris:
And whatever support that we can lend, or whatever support I can lend and give through the insights and experiences that I've had, I'm always happy to do that. And for those who want more or want to see some more stuff again, @trainergorres on Instagram is probably the best way to get in contact with me, whether it's through direct message or commenting on some of the stuff.

Chris:
I do post a lot of drills on there. I have been trying to be a little bit more active in posting some more of the mobility work, the speed work, all those different things. And yeah. Whatever questions that you have, you can just always shoot me a direct message.

Skye :
Awesome, awesome. Well, thanks so much. And thanks for being such a great resource for our community and for so many other parents and athletes and coaches that are just seeking guidance and information on these areas. We so appreciate your voice. I so appreciate you and the impact that you've had, especially in my kids.

Skye :
And just the sense of inspiration that you give me in the work that I'm doing, knowing that there's such good people that are making an impact. Thank you everyone for being here. If you're interested and curious more about High Performance Week, you do have to register for it.

Skye :
It's at soccerparenting.com, right on the homepage. You can register. If you've already registered, you can access the hub. You'll see this recording with Chris. You will also be able to register for the next webinar we do and see 12 other interviews that we've done.

Skye :
We're pushing out one with Greg Simmons, a friend of mine and Chris's this afternoon at 3:00. It was an awesome conversation he and I had about putting the work in with passion and his children. And then this evening, we'll be launching one with Becky Burleigh, who's the former coach down in Florida. A fantastic leader in the game, talking about what drives winning. So thank you all so much for being here. Chris, again, thank you, thank you, thank you for your time. Have a good day, everybody.