As coaches on a daily basis we concern ourselves with the goals of our athletes, to get bigger, faster and stronger. Its easy to forget the other ways we influence those we teach and how we effect them off the playing field. We seldom think of the ripple effect of our interactions both positive and negative.
I got a very nice message from an former athlete and assistant of mine. Matt Candau has been involved with Gamespeed since 2009. He has studied abroad at Roehampton University in England and at the University Queensland in Australia. He is back in southern California completing his practical hours.
His message reminds me that there are things more meaningful than throwing a 90 mph fastball or running a 4.4, 40 yard dash.
“Hey Arron, I hope all is well. I am writing to you to thank you for everything you have taught me over the years. I never quite knew how valuable the skills you were teaching me were until right about now. Never in a million years would I have thought I would be using your performance techniques with my current patients, but here I am doing exactly that. I am currently working in a Neuro Rehabilitation Facility treating victims of Stroke, ABI’s, TBI’s and other various neurological and vestibular pathologies. The facility in which I am at, fortunately or unfortunately depending upon how you look at it, gets the worst of the worst cases, so the majority of my patients cannot walk, speak or have use of only one side of their body if they are lucky. They scary thing is the average age of my patients are in their mid 20’s-30’s. I really wanted to share a story about one of my patients with you as I have been using many your running drills and philosophy’s with him, granted I have had to modify them, but the underlying principle is still there. This young man is 19 years old, a former Rugby player who was able to represent Queensland in our youth program, a very promising young player. He ended up getting diagnosed with testicular cancer, which then metastasized and spread to his lungs and brain. He has since had a Lung resection and 6 craniotomies where they have had to remove various parts of cancerous brain tissue. During his last operation in November of 2012, the surgeon made a mistake causing him to become hemiplegic on his right side. I have been seeing him for 4 weeks now and I told him a little about my background, working for you etc, upon my first meeting with him and he decided that he wanted to focus purely on his running. Currently he can only jog, has no use of his distal upper limb, and exhibits increased effort tone in his right lower limb, severely limiting his ability to push off that foot, dorsiflex the foot and flex and extend the hip along with very limited active movement in his right upper limb. When I first met him, I was so excited as I had so many ideas of how to help him. Little did I realize how much I was asking of him at the start, so I had to dial back the complexity of the exercises and start combining some neuro rehab techniques with the performance techniques you have taught me, and by doing this, we have had some great success. We use video I have of you running, its the same video you sent to me when I was doing that project with my Biomechanics professor at UH, and compare it to his modified step-up. Granted there is a big disparity, but he really is determined to do the necessary work and enjoys comparing himself to an elite athlete. I am going to ask if I can send you the pics I have of him doing some of our exercises as I think you would quite enjoy them. As a note he does not have use of him right upper limb so the positioning of the arm is quite difficult, but our biggest improvement is his ability to come up onto his back toe and being able to hold it there. I have incorporated many of the other Gamespeed principles and drills with other patients I treat as well. The ability I have developed to correctly identify and break down a walk to jog to full sprint has paid unfathomable dividends and it all started with your training. It was hard not to think of all the guidance you have given me over the years when I refer back to that knowledge on such a frequent basis. I thought it might be nice to see how your work is affecting a population of people thousands of miles away and in a way that it probably was never designed to affect. Working with this population of people really makes you take a step back and look at how easy we all have it and how much we take for granted. I just wanted to share this patients story with you and thank you for all of your guidance and knowledge you have given to me over the years. It has allowed me to serve my patients in a very unique way and I know they are grateful to you even if you don’t know them. Cheers Aaron and I look forward to seeing you when i get back to California!”