David speaks with James Smith, founder and Head Sports Preparation coach of The U of Strength.

They talked about:

🔄 Translating skills across different sports

🤹 The importance of play in sports training

🏆 Working with UCONN's championship team

🌟 How players mature at different times in their careers

🏈 How good coaching and conditioning help athletes

🎓 Lessons learned from coaching at different levels

This is just one part of a longer conversation, and it's the second part. You can listen to the earlier episodes here:

Part 1: 🎙️Building World-Class Athletes with Jamie Smith (Episode 82)

🎙 Listen in your favourite podcast player

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🎧 Listen on Spotify:

📹 Watch on Youtube:

👤 Connect with James:

Twitter: @TheUofStrength | https://twitter.com/theuofstrength

Ebooks: Agility 3.0, Gameplay 3.0, Speed Toolbox 2.0 | https://www.theuofstrength.com/store/c6/Digital_Education.html

📄 Show notes:

0:00 | Intro

01:50 | Translating Skills Across Different Sports

06:31 | Importance of play in training methods

11:16 | Journey to Join a Championship Team

17:55 | How players mature at different times in their careers

22:52 | How good coaching and conditioning help athletes

27:08 | Lessons Learned from Coaching at Different Levels

🗣 Mentioned in the show:

The U of Strength | https://www.theuofstrength.com/

The Constraints-Led Approach | https://amzn.to/4aY3CLB

Luka Dončić | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luka_Dončić

Nikola Jokić | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola_Jokić

Jusuf Nurkić | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jusuf_Nurkić

Ben Simmons | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Simmons

Dynamical systems theory | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamical_systems_theory

David Epstein | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Epstein_(journalist)

Range | https://amzn.to/4aY3A6r

Kawhi Leonard | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kawhi_Leonard

Michael Jordan | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Jordan

LeBron James | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LeBron_James

Draymond Green | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draymond_Green

Kevin Durant | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Durant

Zion Williamson | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zion_Williamson

Kemba Walker | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kemba_Walker

Jeremy Lamb | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_Lamb

Shabazz Napier | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shabazz_Napier

Neils Giffey | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niels_Giffey

Malcolm Gladwell | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_Gladwell

Outliers | https://amzn.to/42v2WJK

Brock Purdy | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brock_Purdy

Motor Control and Learning | https://www.physio-pedia.com/Motor_Control_and_Learning

Full episode transcript below

👨🏾‍💻 About David Elikwu:

David Elikwu FRSA is a serial entrepreneur, strategist, and writer. David is the founder of The Knowledge, a platform helping people think deeper and work smarter.

🐣 Twitter: @Delikwu / @itstheknowledge

🌐 Website: https://www.davidelikwu.com

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📜Full transcript:

[00:00:00] Jamie Smith: What I will tell is that never stop moving, but never stop having fun with the movement, right? Explore.

[00:00:06] Jamie Smith: It's part of my training program personally, where I have a day of free play of exploration. I will do things where I wanna get, I want novelty, right? We need variability in our life. If we do not have that variation, our body breaks down.

[00:00:21] Jamie Smith: So I'm a huge advocate for these variable situations where it's just an overload of novelty. It's just really important 'cause that's gonna force you to be adaptable, that's gonna force you to express your creativity.

[00:00:38] David Elikwu: This week, I'm speaking with Jamie Smith, who is the founder and head coach at The U of Strength. Now, Jamie and I had a really awesome conversation.

[00:00:48] David Elikwu: In this part, you're going to hear us talking about skill transfer across different sports. We talk about the importance of play in training, we talk about Jamie's journey being part of the championship team at the University of Connecticut and what it was like being able to work with players like Kemba Walker and Shabazz Napier at such a young age.

[00:01:09] David Elikwu: Then we talk about how players mature at different times in their careers, we talk about how good coaching and conditioning can help athletes.

[00:01:17] David Elikwu: And finally, we unpack some of Jamie's learnings from coaching at different levels.

[00:01:21] David Elikwu: So you can get the full show notes, the transcript, and read my newsletter at theknowledge.io, and you can find Jamie online on Twitter @theUofStrength. And he also has some really interesting coaching eBooks that you can get at theuofstrength.com.

[00:01:37] David Elikwu: So if you love this episode, please do share it with a friend and don't forget to leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts because it helps us tremendously to find other listeners just like you.

[00:01:50] David Elikwu: And I definitely think that, you know, creativity comes from constraints. A lot of performance actually comes from constraints and our ability to navigate within a smaller and and better defined area. You can then translate those skills into, to something much broader.

[00:02:04] David Elikwu: I'm also interested to know, when you think of mechanics in different sports, how well they translate across?

[00:02:11] David Elikwu: So there's one way of thinking about this, which is just purely from a training perspective to what extent do you train people in a way that can be very generalized that actually, hey, you know, this will work equally if you want to go to the NHL or if you want to go to play in the NBA.

[00:02:24] David Elikwu: But then also the other way I think about it is, in reality when you see people, multi-sport athletes. Generally, from what I've seen, it usually seems to be that the players that can play in the NBA seem to be able to play in loads of other sports, like if you could be a great power forward, you could also possibly somehow have been a great tight end or maybe even a wide receiver or, you know you see a lot of these basketball players that then go on to play baseball or go on to play other sports, but you don't really see the other way round.

[00:02:52] David Elikwu: Even though some of those athletes may have been at one point multi-sport athletes, I think it's a lot rarer to get players where maybe they are just in the NFL or just in one other sport that, oh, you could pick them up and drop them in an NBA team and you think they could perform equally well.

[00:03:07] David Elikwu: Is it just maybe perhaps some of the, the training, but what makes some of that differentiation across different sports?

[00:03:13] Jamie Smith: I think depending on the sport like, so I work with a lot of ice hockey, right? From a technical and tactical standpoint, it is crazy, right? You're on a very thin blade on a sheet of ice in a very small, you know, an ice ring's not that big, right? And the speeds and the collisions and the context.

[00:03:31] Jamie Smith: What I'm trying to get at is that ice hockey is a very technical sport. You need to learn how to skate at a very young age. Where if you understand skating, it contradicts how you sprint. So that's why I am very, and I'll go into deeper details with this, but skating, you know, the pattern, the biomechanics of skating is completely different than the biomechanics of sprinting. And so understanding that when teaching, and this is how I came up with this idea, but when teaching, let's say say I have hockey, I have basketball, I have baseball, and I have a soccer athlete in the same group. What I don't do is I don't teach exact positions, alright?

[00:04:14] Jamie Smith: I don't treat every single kid and say, okay, I want your foot at this position. I want your shin at this angle. I want your hips at this height. What I do is I look at, and I call them basically movement truths or movement principles that can be applied in different contextual settings, whether it's on a sheet of ice, whether it's on the pitch, whether it's on a court, I don't care what it is. These principles can be applied and adapted to a variety of environments.

[00:04:46] Jamie Smith: And so for example, like one of them is how you manage your center of gravity, right? Anything in sport, your ability to change levels or change shapes. So to be able to get down and get up is essential for every sport. I don't care if you're skating, if you're jumping, if you're cutting, you need to learn how to manage your center of gravity or your center of mass in an effective manner. Does that mean their butt is gonna be two inches off the ground? Absolutely not. And it's understanding these individual constraints where every kid is gonna be different. So their shape, their knee angle or their shin angle, everyone's gonna be different.

[00:05:22] Jamie Smith: But as long as they understand this concept of center gravity management or this idea of foot plant from above, when you're going into a cut, and I see this a lot in basketball, but when you're going into a cut, a lot of coaches teach you to slide. I think that's ineffective. 'Cause what you see is when you slide, a lot of times, especially with the younger athletes, their foot rolls, right?

[00:05:42] Jamie Smith: And they don't learn how to get, you know, they don't learn how to use their whole foot, be able to go from outside to inside, back to outside edge to them be able to cut out. So what I teach is teaching, okay, we need to make sure that whole foot collides with the ground, right? And so foot plant from above, and again, that can be applied to a variety of settings.

[00:06:03] Jamie Smith: So I look, maybe 12 to 13 different principles where it's like, okay, instead of teaching exact positions, let's work on these concepts. And we do so in a variety of situations, different drills, different activities where they can learn and appreciate and then take ownership so that when they do go to a more, you know, chaotic environment like sport, they can apply it, right? And they can kind of use some of these principles in a skillful way.

[00:06:31] David Elikwu: Okay. That makes sense. I've heard you talk before about the importance of play. How does that factor into the training methodologies that you have?

[00:06:39] Jamie Smith: Play is huge, man. And I, I don't care if you're very young or if you're very old. Like if you look, let's talk about like a middle school, let's talk about like a 12-year-old. A 12-year-old youthlete in the United States right now. And I don't know if it's like this where you are or if you've, if you noticed this, but when I was growing up, backyard sports were huge, right?

[00:06:59] Jamie Smith: We'd get off the bus, we would grab a quick, we would eat something real quick, and then we'd all meet up in the neighborhood and we would create our own games, right? Whether it was some sort of flag football, soccer, hybrid, or whether it was manhunt, whatever, we would come up with all these different games.

[00:07:17] Jamie Smith: And during this time, you are starting to learn some of these things we're talking about. You're learning how to express your creativity. You're learning how to work with others. You're learning how to solve problems in 1,000,001 different situations.

[00:07:31] Jamie Smith: And so what I'm seeing is now in this day and age, kids don't, they don't play. Everything is structured, right? Every kid from 7:00 AM when they wake up to 9:00 PM they go to bed, their whole day is planned. And so they don't have this idea of play, they don't have this autonomy to explore and experiment with different things, right? With different thoughts, with different movement patterns, et cetera.

[00:07:53] Jamie Smith: And so that's where I use gameplay and gameplay touches on the four pillars, the physical, psychological, emotional, and social aspects. And it can be as simple as a spike ball game. It could be as simple as some sort of ultimate Frisbee game. But we use gameplay for these reasons.

[00:08:11] Jamie Smith: And we even take it a step further where depending on the day, and depending on the kid, we actually have two different styles of gameplay. We have an athlete centered approach and an athlete driven approach. An athlete centered approach is where I co so the coach, right? So an external influence like a coach has a general idea of the game, right? They might say, okay, we're gonna do a 2 VS 2 flag football, what have you. So they come up with the, the rules of the constraints. They come up with the situations, they come up with the tools. But then once that is created, then the athletes go and play it, right? I'm not in there saying, I'm not blowing the whistle every two seconds I'll tell them, Hey, we have a 10 minute running clock go and play, right? Where the athlete driven model, I stay out, right? And so I basically tell them, Hey guys, we're gonna do two, five minute halves. Maybe I'll say, Hey, let's use a Frisbee, or let's use a giant stability ball. I might do something like that, but other than that, I say, Hey, you got two minutes to come up with your own game, right? And you can use the whiteboard, you can go old school and have two captains and pick teams, but it's using gameplay to bring fun back into the training process, but to allow this creativity to emerge. Because in my opinion, I feel movement is a form of creative expression.

[00:09:31] Jamie Smith: And then, so if you look at some of these higher level NBA or NFL or track and field, or rugby, whatever, you see high level movers, it's beautiful. If you see, like in the NFL, if you see a 350 pound lineman sprint at the speeds, like they can sprint, it's like, holy cow. That is unreal. That is beautiful. That is creativity in my opinion. Cause I think movement is an art and coaching is an art. But yeah, so that's why I'm very passionate about gameplay very. 'Cause a lot of coaches, they're like, all right, it's all random, it's nonsense, you're being lazy, and it's far from the truth.

[00:10:06] Jamie Smith: There's a lot that goes into it. And the real athletes, the kids that truly want to do everything they can to kind of get to that next level, they love it. They eat it up, and it's something we continue to do, and we continue to do with all levels at different points throughout the training year, at different points throughout a training session. We will use games in a very strategic manner to facilitate some sort of adaptation.

[00:10:28] Jamie Smith: But yeah, it's such a huge tool that, if there's any coaches listening to this, what I challenge them is that the next time you do a dynamic warmup, right? At the beginning of practice, at the beginning of a training session, and you line up and you have your guys or girls do eight to 10 pre-planned movements, try incorporating a game, a very simple game, a simple one V one tag game or a two V two tag game. Substitute that and get the dynamic warming out there, and then tell me what happens after the fact? And tell me how much more productive is the rest of the training session and then the rest of the training week?

[00:11:03] Jamie Smith: Because what I've been seeing, I've been applying this kind of approach and model now seven years. It's insane, it's absolutely insane how powerful a game is, you know, from a training adaptation standpoint.

[00:11:16] David Elikwu: Okay. You mentioned somewhere in that this idea of coaching being an art, and I know, I think you were 22, you were volunteering at the team at Uconn, which was a championship team. I mean, I'd love to know that there's a few pieces of that. First of all, what was the journey like of getting onto that team, and getting to that point in your career in general, let's say. And then I'd love to dig into, what was that experience like and go from there?

[00:11:38] Jamie Smith: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So I was young. I graduated college, so I went to a school 35 minutes north of Boston. I went to Merrimack College. I played basketball there. And it's your typical story, right? I got hurt. I overtrained, I was too competitive, and then, you know, four knee surgeries later, it's like, okay, I need to rethink things and that's kind of how I fell in love, you know, with strength and conditioning or athletic development.

[00:11:59] Jamie Smith: And so basically, so I graduated, got an internship and then in a private sector. And then I was like, all right, what do I wanna do? I need to get more experience, I need to get more exposure. I need to try new things. And so originally I'm from Connecticut, so I grew up about 25 minutes south from stores where Uconn is. So I'm a huge Uconn fan. Huge, huge, huge Uconn fan. And so I just took a shot in the dark. I emailed the head strength and conditioning coach at the time, Chris West, and I said, Hey, you know, this is my background. This is what I'm trying to do. Can I buy you a cup of coffee? Can we talk?

[00:12:33] Jamie Smith: And that night, so I sent it that morning. I got a response that night. I went down the next day, introduced myself. We got some wings and we talked for about five hours. And it was the coolest thing, we had all these napkins. We were writing down notes and taking down some ideas. And after we had, you know, our meeting, he's like, when can you start? And so it was like, okay. And it was such a cool opportunity because I helped out with men's basketball, men's soccer, and women's soccer. And for those that are familiar, Uconn soccer's very, especially at that time, they were very good, very competitive.

[00:13:03] Jamie Smith: And it was just an unbelievable experience. So when Coach West left. I was in charge, a 22-year-old, 23-year-old, I was in charge of men's basketball. Or if he had to go on a triple men's basketball, I would run men's soccer or I would run women's soccer, which was fantastic, by the way. The women's soccer team there was unreal.

[00:13:22] Jamie Smith: But yeah, it was just, it was a cool experience. It was definitely in my younger days where I didn't know a damn thing and, and I still don't know anything, right? I'm on a, you know, probably similar to you on a constant quest of just trying to gain as much knowledge and learn as much as we can.

[00:13:36] Jamie Smith: But the big thing was, it allowed me to be confident with my decision making. It allowed me to work. Appreciate individual differences. 'Cause that was a big thing. And I'm not sure if you're familiar with that time, with Uconn, we were a very young team, super, super young. We had a terrible regular season. Towards the end of the season, things started to click a little bit, but it still wasn't like, if you asked me in February, are we gonna make the NCAA tournament? I would say, you're outta your damn mind. But then all of a sudden things started to click, guys started to buy in, guys started to coordinate and collaborate and synergize together. And it was just the coolest ride, man. It was awesome.

[00:14:17] Jamie Smith: 'Cause we have five days, five games, five wins, and then we just went straight through and won the national championship. Obviously that was the Kemba Walker year. He was a fantastic.

[00:14:26] Jamie Smith: I think another big learning thing is that leaders come in all size and shapes. Kemba was a very quiet, a very quiet teammate, but was a damn good basketball player and never missed a training session, took care of his body, didn't f around, and so he led by example. And that was very powerful to me at a young age where it's like, okay, you don't just have to hoot and holler, you can lead by example. If you do the little things and you do them every single day and you have success, people will pay attention, people will gravitate, especially if they wanna have success, or wanna have a similar outcome. But yeah, man, it was fantastic. It was wild, right.

[00:15:03] Jamie Smith: And so after Uconn, this was when the director of strength And conditioning, he was an old school guy. He was there for like, I think it was like 38 years or 40 years. And the only way, coach Martin would take me on is if I got a master's. And I did not wanna do any other schooling. I wanted to coach, right? I wanted to keep getting my feet wet. I wanted to keep, you know, getting that contextual experience. And so, I basically parted ways. I said, I don't wanna do any more schooling. They actually gave me an opportunity to get the GA position at Uconn. Looking back at it, you know, they get five to 6,000, applicants and there's only one position every two years at that time. So maybe it was a bad decision in hindsight. But when I went back, when I came back up north to Massachusetts, that's when I started the U of Strength. So everything happens for a reason as cliche as that is. And then I started the family.

[00:15:54] Jamie Smith: So, it was such a cool experience, but at the same time, you know, if I stayed, I don't think I would've come to some of the conclusions and had, you know, some of these ideas and some of the successes I've had at the youth level, which in my opinion, if we wanna have impact from a sports standpoint, we need to start young. We need to start teaching some of these principles and some of these habits and some of these, you know, things at a young age so that it will stay with them, you know, once they get to 16 and 20 and 25. I think, you know, waiting until someone's a pro to do some of these things, I think it's too late in the game.

[00:16:33] Jamie Smith: Cause we talked about that longevity standpoint and it's everything we're talking about today, man. Can be applied at the NBA level, right? Because if you wanna talk about longevity, you know, we need to understand those four pillars so that we can have that longevity compared.

[00:16:46] Jamie Smith: So again, use LeBron to Michael, right? ' Cause it seems like LeBron has fun, right? He enjoys it. Where Michael, it was just so serious. It was so life or death. And I'm not saying one's better than the other and one's more effective or not but, using the things we talked about today from a, just from an overall longevity standpoint, can help out and can really assist that process.

[00:17:55] David Elikwu: Yeah, I remember watching Kemba Walker at Uconn and he was, first of all, just an incredible player. I mean, obviously you got to watch a lot closer, a lot closer than I did. I was a few thousand miles across the sea and watching through my laptop screen.

[00:18:09] David Elikwu: But I'm interested to know, like, what do you think went into that turnaround during the season? From not really winning many games to then being able to kick things off, especially when okay, a really good analog to compare to might be you watch the Colorado Buffaloes this past year, the American football team at Colorado, Dion Sanders came in Coach Prime and was able to, I mean, they took a team that had only, I don't think they won any games, or maybe they won one game. In the last year, they won one game and then this year they won four. Which does, it doesn't seem massive, but that's a huge turnaround.

[00:18:41] David Elikwu: However, that turnaround, first of all was over two seasons. So like one season had ended, you start a new season and second, the big part of that is you brought in so many new players. And so you have this break of having a season where you can bring in a ton of new people, you get commits from all around the country, and you start a new season with a whole different cost. Maybe there was still some changes you wanna make, let's say to the O line or the D line, but you get all the new players, whereas with you guys, it was midseason. So it's not necessarily a case where you suddenly get all these new commits. You swap out your entire team, you get all new players. I mean, there is some through the transfer portal and stuff, but it's not on the same scale. So how did that happen?

[00:19:21] Jamie Smith: Honestly, man, I don't know. It was one of those things where it's just like I said, and I know it's not a great answer, it's just everyone meshed, right? You could just feel it in the training room. You could feel it on the practice court. You could just sense that, you could feel in the locker room. It was just everyone had trust in one another. Remember, it was a young team, right? We had Jeremy Lamb, Shabazz Napier, Neils Giffey. We had a lot of these young pieces that just, they were young, they were freshmen, right? And they needed the experience. They needed that exposure of wins and losses and dealing and how to deal with success and adversity that I just think at the right point, it just things were working. And you hear about coaches talk about it, it's like, all right, I want, we are preparing, you know, it's playing at a high level at the right time of year, right? And it's always end of February into March, into April. That's when it counts, right? That's when everything needs to be crisp. Everyone needs to be on the same page. We need to learn from, you know, earlier in November or whatever. We are gonna learn from those mistakes so that we don't repeat them.

[00:20:27] Jamie Smith: And I just think it was one of those things, it's just everyone was on the same page and everyone had trust in Kemba. Everyone had trust in each other.

[00:20:34] Jamie Smith: I always say this, if you have momentum and you have confidence that's hard to stop in March madness, man. That is super difficult to stop. And that's what we had. And knock on, everyone stayed healthy. Obviously there were some bumps and some bruises, some aches and some pains at that time of year, but everyone stayed healthy and it was, it was just wild. It was fantastic.

[00:20:54] David Elikwu: Okay. What do you think of the idea of players maturing at different times and how that impacts on, okay, I'm thinking of a few different examples from different books. You have Malcolm Gladwell's Books, Outliers, where he talks about this idea that in the NHL, in hockey leagues, in Canada and in other places as well, there's this idea that because the hockey season starts at a particular time, if you are born at a particular time of the year, suddenly the coaches pay more attention to you because you are already bigger and stronger than a lot of the other people in your class just because you were born right before the cutoff point.

[00:21:26] David Elikwu: And so actually, okay, you're the biggest person in the class. You seem to be better and you seem like you're gonna perform better. And so over time you actually build up this cumulative advantage of just getting more attention, more training, more time until you end up actually being better.

[00:21:39] David Elikwu: Even moving beyond maybe that at such an early stage. You also see at different points in people's careers, depending on how prodigious they look, people pay attention to them and give them credence in different ways.

[00:21:49] David Elikwu: And I'm thinking of, you know, you mentioned this Uconn team and they suddenly clicked a bit later on during that time. They kind of matured into the team. But then I also think of two examples just from this past week that I was thinking of.

[00:22:00] David Elikwu: If you look at someone like Cam Newton, from however young, right? All American, heisman winner, winning at every stage, first round pick, you know, there was never a doubt that he was gonna be a great player because at every level he was six foot six, just huge, everything he had going for him from the beginning. Then you compare that to someone like Brock Purdy, where even though I'm, I think he looked okay in college from the people that looked at it, but people weren't actually looking at it, that was the problem, right? So he gets picked, he's in the last round, no one really pays much attention to him, and then suddenly he's able to break out.

[00:22:32] David Elikwu: But I don't think it's a case that, I mean, it's not like, you know, sometimes you see in basketball, let's say Giannis right? Or you have some of these players, they pack on a ton of muscle, or they lose a ton of fat over the season break. And that is part of the reason why they suddenly got better. Brock Purdy his physical abilities hasn't changed. He was always the same player, but maybe something clicked or something changed.

[00:22:52] Jamie Smith: It is the, it is the right system for him, man. Like that system, the 49ers for him, like that was the best thing that could ever happen to Purdy, in my opinion.

[00:23:01] Jamie Smith: Cause yeah, he's a fantastic quarterback, but I don't think if he was on a different team, he would not be having the same success in my opinion. I think how the 49ers play, and let's be honest. They have the best running back, they have the most unselfish tight end. And then they have two receivers that could just go off at any point, like they have a squad, right? But again, man, it's, he stepped up, right? Because, who was the backup there? They spent all that money, he was supposed to be everything, but he didn't step to the plate, right? He didn't step up. He didn't, you know, he wasn't able to produce when the lights were on, but when the lights were on for Brock, he's like, hell, I'm gonna take advantage of this, right? I'm going to do everything I can.

[00:23:42] Jamie Smith: And, you know, it's, yeah, it's, it's cool. I love stories like that, right? I love the underdog. I love when this no name all of a sudden is a name. And it's like, to me it's not surprising 'cause I understand all the different nuances and all the different things behind some of these situations where it's like, all right, he's put the work in and now he's taking advantage of his opportunity, right. And there's some guys that have way better physical tool set, right? They have, you know, whatever, they're 6'6 or they have a whatever their speed qualities are through the roof. But when the lights are on, do they perform right? And some of these guys, they can't. But with Brock he can, which is really cool.

[00:24:20] David Elikwu: Yeah, but the thing is, I think a lot of people may be in his position if they didn't have a lot of, he's short, right? If they didn't have the physical abilities or they didn't seem to have a very obvious tool set, particularly at a certain age or at a certain stage, you kind of lose confidence and actually then it becomes self-reinforcing where you start to believe actually, I mean, there's no way. If you told me Brock Purdy was gonna be doing this, if you told him he was gonna be doing this a few ago don't think he would've believed you, right. And so I think there's part of that that comes into it, right? Where it's like, what keeps people going? What helps people to continue having those that fuel?

[00:24:53] David Elikwu: And also, I guess there is part of it, which comes into the conditioning element, which is you still have to treat your body, you still have to train as though, like if he was not taking the training and everything as seriously before getting his moment, he wouldn't be able to rise to the occasion. He wouldn't be able to do it because he'd already given up in some way.

[00:25:12] Jamie Smith: And that's the thing, what I was saying earlier is instilling some of these principles and some of these concepts with kids at a young age. Because you see that, like so many of these kids and athletes, you know, they're just gifted, right? But at every level, whether it was junior high or whether it was high school or even, you know, one and done at college, they just have that genetic advantage where they're just gonna be good.

[00:25:34] Jamie Smith: But once you then get to a level where you're just a bunch around, you know, everyone's a genetic freak, how do you separate yourself? And it's through the things I'm trying to do where, you know, then I'm trying to teach. And if you do that at a young age, it stays with the kid, right? And if you do so in a very positive manner, it stays with the kid, you know from a sporting standpoint, but also from a business, just an overall, you know, kind of, a human level for the rest of their life.

[00:26:01] Jamie Smith: And yeah, Now, I think we have so much access to things that it's rare when you get someone that's like, all right, I know I'm gonna be a professional athlete you know, for the most part, obviously, there's gonna be some guys out there, but they try to take advantage of doing a strength and conditioning program, or they try to take advantage of learning kind of how to sprint, you know, how to move effectively.

[00:26:26] Jamie Smith: But yeah, man, that's why this stuff is so important, getting it at a young age. So then it's just, I call it stickiness, right? Everything that I'm trying to teach a kid, you know, whether it's a acceleration strategy, whether it's a jumping technique, whether it's a, you know, kind of how you press the barbell. Everything I do, I want it to be sticky because then it's gonna stay with you and you're gonna be able to do this maybe when you're not in my facility, or maybe something is going on and you don't have access to this tool. You need to use something different, but you can still understand because what I'm teaching you is adaptable, it's sticky, and it's, you know, you can be able to use it in a variety of different ways.

[00:27:08] David Elikwu: Okay, to paint the contrast, what was the biggest thing that you learned during that time at Uconn, which is a very, it's a concentrated period of time. You're working within this wider organization, there's lots of different pieces that come together to make that special. And also the fact that it's a championship team. So you probably learn a lot both from being with the team, being with the coaching staff, being with the management, et cetera. But then also having built your own business now where you get so many more reps over so much longer period of time. You've dealt with athletes of all ages, you've dealt with different seasons of seeing people come and go.

[00:27:39] David Elikwu: So there, there's an aspect that you'll have learned yourself just from, either from mistakes or just from so many repetitions. So what was the biggest takeaways from both of those settings?

[00:27:47] Jamie Smith: So, and I'll, I'll be transparent. I'll be honest, my biggest lesson from my time at Uconn wasn't with the basketball team, it was with the men's soccer team.

[00:27:56] Jamie Smith: We had six kids that didn't speak English, and of those six, four of them were the best, or our best players, and so I had to get very creative with how I communicated, with how I just, how I did everything.

[00:28:10] Jamie Smith: And that was just so eyeopening for me that just yelling at someone or just commanding and dictating everything, it's just one, it's just one tool that you could use. But once I realized, okay, when I talk you don't understand anything I'm saying. I gotta find ways. And that's kind of where I went down the constraints led approach, ecological dynamics, dynamical assistance theories, all these different motor learning theories where it's like, okay, there's another way to do this.

[00:28:41] Jamie Smith: And so at that time I wasn't applying that, but that's what got me rethinking, like, okay, maybe there's more to coaching. Maybe there's more to this than just okay, having every kid memorized and kind of just rehearse and basically create a robot where I can okay, say less, you know, encourage creativity, encourage individual differences, and it all started, you know, with that team.

[00:29:06] Jamie Smith: And we had a ton of success with that team, they won the Big East Championship. I think they lost, if I remember, either in the Sweet 16 or the Elite eight for soccer. But yeah, it was just a really interesting 'cause I never had something like that before. And this was a, this was a high level division one program where it's like, all right, I need to step up. I need to make sure these kids are getting in what they need to get done. They're prepared, they're rested, they're ready to go but I can't talk to them. I can't communicate like that, so how else can I do it?

[00:29:33] Jamie Smith: That was my biggest learning lesson.

[00:29:35] David Elikwu: Okay. And what about since then in the time that you've been running Strength U.

[00:29:39] Jamie Smith: Yeah, so I opened up The U of Strength and I had my daughter at the same time, and my perspective completely changed. So before when I see a kid, I would see a basketball athlete, I would see a golfer, I would see a BMX competitor, I would see whatever. Now, I see a kid, I see a child, I see someone's son, I see someone's daughter, I see someone's brother, I see someone's sister, and I know that seems corny. But when it comes time to coach and to train, I'm a big believer on building the relationship. If you have a relationship, right, that relationship, that kid and that child is gonna trust you, you know, whether it's through great times, whether it's through bad times, whether you're trying to push them, whether we're taking it easy, whether we're just trying to hang out, they are gonna trust you through the rollercoaster ride of athletic development.

[00:30:26] Jamie Smith: Most sport performance facilities, they look at themselves as factories. We're trying to get as many kids in and out. Where I look at it. I don't want to have as many kids. I wanna have a, a manageable amount of kids that stay with me and that retention rate is a hundred percent that they stick with me program after program, through different seasons. Where I spend 3, 4, 5, 6. I mean, some eight plus years where we have this time to really develop.

[00:30:55] Jamie Smith: So basically with the U of strength is looking at every single person that comes through here as a human and as someone's, you know, as someone's child. How you interact with them?

[00:31:05] Jamie Smith: I see so many coaches at the middle school, at the high school, and even at the college level where the way they talk, their body language. When a kid makes a mistake and then there's just this punishment and these, all these negative consequences. I don't think coaches realize how impactful that is, especially the younger the kid is. And so realizing that and understanding that your words better have meaning. And so when I, and don't get me wrong, I still raise my voice. I still swear, but everything is strategic, it's deliberate. And I do so in a very meaningful way because I know words are powerful. I know how kids interpret these words, or very powerful because I could be working with Sarah and Allie and how Sarah takes my coaching, construction or criticism or advice or guidance is gonna be completely different than Allie.

[00:31:56] Jamie Smith: And understanding that, and really appreciating that in my opinion, can make or break that developmental process. All it takes is one negative experience, one negative exposure, and you can completely change, you know, the outcome and the direction that kid takes.

[00:32:12] David Elikwu: Yeah, I completely agree. That makes a lot of sense.

[00:32:14] David Elikwu: So one thing I find interesting, particularly in the US actually, is that there is something about coaching and leadership that I only really hear it in two contexts. One is in sports, and the other is in religion. It's this idea of, you know, like you have these pastors or these people that are, you know, they're like shepherds with a flock, right? There are people that look after you. There's a pastoral element to it. There is a safeguarding element to it. There is an aspect to which you are helping these kids to develop not just as athletes, but also as people. And that is a big factor of what you guys do as well.

[00:32:48] Jamie Smith: Yeah. And that's the thing when we have our meeting, our informal, you know, 10, 15 minute introductory meeting where I'm talking to the parents, I'm talking to the athlete and the child, it's like how I wanna end. And what I want the parents to know is I'm trying to help, you know, create awesome human beings. That's all I care about.

[00:33:05] Jamie Smith: If your son or daughter gets stronger, they get faster, that's gonna happen, all right? But if they're, if they're a dickhead or if they're just a crappy individual, you know, I want awesome human beings. Because we can never have enough awesome human beings, in my opinion.

[00:33:19] David Elikwu: Okay, maybe the last question I'll ask you, is there anything from either what you coach or from what you've learned that could be equally useful for, let's say, an average person? Either in terms of from a mental perspective, like the psyche and the way that you approach things or from a physical perspective. And this could be, you know, trying to keep away from being sick or posture or whatever.

[00:33:38] Jamie Smith: So what I'll say is never stop moving, okay? And I wanna get deeper with this. So you see now, you see all these pelotons, you see all these different things where everything is structured, everything is robotic, everything is indoors, everything is just whatever. It's just, so, in my opinion, it's a waste of time.

[00:33:58] Jamie Smith: What I will tell is that never stop moving, but never stop having fun with the movement, right? Explore. I still do this today. It's part of my training program personally, where I have a day of free play, of exploration. And I might go to the playground, I might go, we have a playground at our house. We have a huge trampoline. I go on the trampoline. I will do things where I wanna get, I want novelty, right?

[00:34:22] Jamie Smith: We need variability in our life. If we do not have that variation, our body breaks down. So I'm a huge advocate for, you know, creating these variable situations where it's just an overload of novelty. It's just really important 'cause that's gonna force you to be adaptable, that's gonna force you to express your creativity. And so that's what I challenge. It's, it's like, instead of going on a Peloton, why don't you get your kid and play, you know, play a spikeball game. Or why don't you go to the playground and do a hanging challenge on the monkey bars? Or why don't you, instead of going for a walk around your cul-de-sac, why don't you go to the woods and just go, just explore the woods, walk on the different branches, you know, explore the different rocks, have fun with it, instead of it being in this very boring, very robotic, you know, doing the same thing every day and not seeing any success. Have some fun with it, include some variability, include some novelty, be creative.

[00:35:22] Jamie Smith: And again, gameplay, it's just such a great tool not just for youthletes, athletes, but also adults.

[00:35:28] Jamie Smith: When you start to add that back in, it's pretty cool because I've done this, I've done this. I don't work with a ton of adults, but here and there, I'll help family, friends or, people that are dealing with some, you know, chronic issues that doctors aren't helping them, physios aren't helping them. They'll typically kind of find, you know, they'll gravitate to me. And games are powerful, man. Games are very powerful at that level too. So never stop moving, but never stop having fun with that movement as well.

[00:35:54] David Elikwu: Okay. This is awesome, Jamie. Thanks so much for making the time. This has actually been a really fun conversation and I think people will have learned a lot.

[00:36:01] Jamie Smith: Yeah. David, I really appreciate it. This was great. Thank you for this opportunity.

[00:36:04] David Elikwu: Thank you so much for tuning in. Please do stay tuned for more. Don't forget to rate, review and subscribe. It really helps the podcast and follow me on Twitter feel free to shoot me any thoughts. See you next time.

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