by Scott Caulfield, MA, CSCS,*D, RSCC*D, Duncan French, PhD, CSCS,*D, and Bo Sandoval, MS, CSCS, RSCC*D
Coaching Podcast September 2019
Duncan French, Vice President of Performance at UFC Performance Institute, and Bo Sandoval, Director of Strength and Conditioning, talk to the NSCA He...
Duncan French, Vice President of Performance at UFC Performance Institute, and Bo Sandoval, Director of Strength and Conditioning, talk to the NSCA Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Scott Caulfield, about how they holistically support around 570 Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) athletes and push the boundaries of the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas. Topics under discussion include staying open to new ideas and perspectives, being adaptable as a coach, and the different ways they support their athletes. Find Duncan on Twitter: @DuncanFrench or Instagram: @dr_duncan_french | Find Bo on Twitter: @olystrength or Instagram: @bo.sandoval | Find Scott on Instagram: @coachcaulfield
Duncan French, Vice President of Performance at UFC Performance Institute, and Bo Sandoval, Director of Strength and Conditioning, talk to the NSCA Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Scott Caulfield, about how they holistically support around 570 Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) athletes and push the boundaries of the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas. Topics under discussion include staying open to new ideas and perspectives, being adaptable as a coach, and the different ways they support their athletes.
“…and what we’re truly about, is trying to understand, how do you prepare and MMA fight optimally? How do you go about their health, their well-being, and their performance, and truly that’s what the [UFC] Performance Institute was put here for.” 5:40
“So, to kind of draw that to a summary of why the PI [UFC Performance Institute] is here, it’s truly to evolve the sport of MMA and that is part of our mission statement that sits on the wall right next to our front entrance as people come into the facility.” 6:44
“We purposefully didn’t want people that had massive amounts of MMA insights and experience, we wanted new eyes on a product. If we’re going to take MMA and combat sports to a new direction or new level of understanding, we wanted pollination of new ideas, new thinking, not stuck in the status quo of what is currently happening in all the different areas of combat sport training.” 13:01
“And that’s kind of what I’ve said from day one, recruiting is one of the most challenging things, getting the right people, it’s one of the toughest things out there.” 14:42
“So I need someone who’s got the hustle to be able to address those remote needs, as well as, what we say, the easy ones that are right here in our backyard.” 17:27
“And, that happens a lot, we’re integrating a lot with strength coaches, and we want to embrace the conversation for the greater good of the athlete.” 18:40
“So, we’re constantly putting stuff in front of each other, and to me that it’s a personality trait, just being willing and open to share and interact.” 26:05
“I think, that's growth mindset again; everything, every piece of information is valuable. And then, you just got to interpret it and figure out what best sits in our space which can help us.” 27:56
“It’s all about building relationships and that’s what entirely, this whole strength and conditioning thing comes back to. Yes, we have to have technical, tactical knowledge, we have to know our science, but then today it’s the relationship building and getting all those people to be to work together as a team.” 29:49
“It’s so crucial at the end of the day, it’s not in a sports industry, we’re in a people industry.” 30:37
“…at the end of the day, you need to be adaptive… you have to like people, you have to enjoy being around people, not just like-minded people, those are the easy ones, that's easy. If you're truly going to influence something, you've got to be able to interact with the ones that you despise…” 35:47
“And influence goes both ways, you can be a positive influence, or you can be a negative influence, at the end of the day, someone’s going to remember you for one or the other.” 37:15
“So, in my opinion, throughout my career, my clock started the day I took the first job, and it’s like, all right, how many bridges are you going to build?” 37:22
“…but it’s a service-driven thing, it’s oh wow, this guy’s really here for me, he’s going to provide what is best in my best interest, might take him two days for that to click, might take him 10 months for that to click, but it’s worth it 100%.” 44:26
“…Duncan French on Twitter, Dr. Duncan French on Instagram, hit me up, no problem, happy to talk.” 45:19
“I’m Olystrength on Twitter, and then Bo.Sandoval on Instagram, and yeah, likewise, we try to put the welcome mat out as much as possible.” 45:56
[00:00:01.53] Welcome to NSCA's coaching podcast, episode 61.
[00:00:06.60] At the end of the day, you need to be adaptive, you have to like people, you have to enjoy being around people, not just like-minded people, those are the easy ones, that's easy. If you're truly going to influence something, you've got to be able to interact with the ones that you despise.
[00:00:19.44] This is the NSCA's coaching podcast, where we talk to strength and conditioning coaches about what you really need to know, but probably didn't learn in school. there's strength and conditioning, and then there's everything else.
[00:00:30.54] Welcome the NSCA coaching podcast, I am Scott Caulfield, here today in sunny and sweltering Las Vegas, at the UFC Performance Institute. A couple of good friends, so I'm excited to talk to them, Vise President of Performance Dr. Duncan French, and Director of Strength and conditioning Bo Sandoval. Gents, welcome to the show.
[00:00:50.66] What's going on man?
[00:00:51.84] Good to be here, Scott. Thanks for having us.
[00:00:53.52] Yeah and just kind of first off intro wise, for our listeners, why don't you guys just take a quick minute and tell us a little bit about what you do in your role as VP of Performance Duncan you go first, and then Bo.
[00:01:10.98] Yeah and so, you know, obviously, exciting project out here with the UFC in Las Vegas at the Performance Institute, as a VP of Performance, my kind of roles and responsibility center around setting the strategy of how we're going to support the 570 athletes on the UFC roster. So essentially, I manage and direct the performance staff here, including Bo, and work with those guys to put them in the best position to succeed in their day to day roles. And you know, I sit in that kind of that umbrella role at 35,000 foot role, where I try and look at how we deliver services, drive best practice, you know, influence the athletes around the day to day activities, and set the strategy of how we're going to try and influence and support the coaching staff and the athletes themselves.
[00:02:02.77] Cool, very nice.
[00:02:04.65] Yeah, I mean, aside from the pretty typical lifestyle of strength the conditioning and implementing evidence based programs to target objective centered around, you know, specific athletes. We are trying to install, like Duncan said, best practices for the sport of MMA, in terms of how we structure, periodize, assess, reassess, and identify appropriate directions for each of these fighters. I think, it's a very unique scenario, because it is very much, so the decathlon of combat sports. So you have all these different varieties of training attributes within the sport, but then just so many different scenarios within a weight class, within a gender, within a combat sport background, that varies so much from fighter to fighter. So, all of these things are catered to and tailored so that their S&C programming and services are in line with the rest of the performance staff, in terms of what we're trying to conclusively and objectify and attack, to improve someone's performance as a fighter. So, it is a multifaceted thing, but a lot of fun and we have an unbelievable crew here to do it with.
[00:03:26.35] That's great, I have definitely some questions about that, for sure. You guys mentioned, you know, this is a neat opportunity, because this place is also brand new. Now obviously, MMA has been around, but it's grown, but this place was kind of designed just for this and you guys were the first people to be hired here. So, maybe talk about, I think Duncan, you were the first--
[00:03:53.67] I was the recruit, yeah.
[00:03:55.32] You talk a little bit about what you looked for, after you were brought on in filling out the rest of the team and Bo, you can add into that too, because you were talking about how great of a team, you know, what has it been like to develop a team? And I know, you guys just hired a couple of new, younger coaches, one of my former interns super excited, Matt Crawley is here now too, so you know what you guys were looking for and developing and kind of hiring on more staff to help.
[00:04:23.47] Yeah, I mean, yeah, we're really blessed. We've got a world class facility here that's been, you know, the investment from the UFC has been second to none and every day we get to walk into you know Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory of sports performance. We're truly blessed and we're excited, but you know I always use this phrase and Bo's heard me say, you know that the church is not the building, the church is the people. The mission, let's say, is to truly evolve the sport of MMA, Bo's already talked about that the degrees of freedom that you see in the sport, the complexity of the sport.
[00:05:00.54] You know, there's a massive dearth of knowledge and information and research and you know, we're 25 years old as a professional sport, you compare that to baseball from the 1800s, and football from the 1950s, and you know, soccer, and these are the sports that have got lots of information. MMA and combat sports in general, they don't have a lot of information around them. So, guys have been figuring out on the ground the best they can work out how. You know what I mean? There's lots of mixed practices going on out there. There's lots of regional practices, guys in Asia do it different, to North America, do it different to South America, and what we're truly about, is trying to understand, how do you prepare and MMA fight optimally? How do you go about their health, their well-being, and their performance, and truly that's what the Performance institute was put here for.
[00:05:56.07] Number one, I always say, our number one priority is service in that the fighters are on our roster, and so either face to face or remote. Bo does a ton of remote coaching as well now. The second thing that we're here to do, is drive the innovation, that research, and knowledge, that database of insights, into you know world class MMA fighters so that we can share and disseminate information. And the third thing is, to educate and up skill the fight community, so that they can go about their activities on a day to day basis with best practice in mind. What's the what's the right way to set up a wrestling practice? What's the right way to recover after a heavy mitt session? What's the right way to fuel myself during a weight descent for a fight camp? There's all these questions are not really answered in our sport.
[00:06:44.40] So, to kind of draw that to a summary of why the PI is here, it's truly to evolve the sport of MMA and that is part of our mission statement that sits on the wall right next to our front entrance as people come into the facility. So, to do that, we wanted to recruit world leading practitioners, we wanted people to be part of our team that really embraced the mission, listen, there was nothing before the PI. So, we really started out on this road, in this journey, together, and we wanted people that kind of understand combat culture and combat sports and all of the staff had the expertise, not necessarily in MMA, but they brought an awareness of were combat sports currently sits, in terms of preparation and performance. And, then we also wanted huge innovative thinkers, people that can push the boundaries, that can take this sport to a new place. So, Bo, in strength and conditioning, Clint Wattenberg in nutrition, Heather Linden in PT, and Roman Fomin in sports science, we truly looked to get world leaders in their own respective domains, to drive their respective disciplines forward.
[00:08:01.45] And then, as you've already talked about, we're filling our staff and we grow into a really dynamic and diverse team, that come to the table with lots of thought that they can put behind it, lots of mind power, and collectively and collaboratively, hopefully, we're going to move this whole thing together. So we're excited.
[00:08:19.70] That's cool, anything to add to that Bo?
[00:08:22.33] Yeah, I just think, from perspective of inside the team, we have a lot of obstacles so it was imperative that we had a cohesive group that could be critical of each other for shaping what we're doing, but then also to constantly challenge and push the status quo constantly. We have said this since I got here, was one of the most attractive things is, to hear the ambitions behind what we want to achieve with this facility, with this project, and so everyone here shares the same very high ambitions, in terms of what they want to try to achieve. So, look, a lot of us came from places we were super comfortable. I mean, Clint had built a mecca around himself in weight cutting, nutrition concepts, around Cornell wrestling. I mean, I was nice and cozy in my spot at Michigan, you know?
[00:09:17.95] That was kind of a driving force behind a lot of us getting here, was the fact that we had some big challenges in front, and some really strong teammates to help kind of toe the line as we address each of those challenges day by day. For me in particularly, being in college athletics and from time to time seeing those carrots dangling and some of these shiny jobs at some really prestigious universities and things. I was kinda at a point in my career where, I was kind of tired of seeing that, you know, who had the best recruiting tools, kind of thing. And, I was a little bit hesitant in the beginning, because a lot of the staff hadn't been named, it hadn't been created yet, and so I got really excited the day I actually got a message from Duncan saying, hey, let's chat about this opportunity at the UFC, I've just resigned from Notre Dame, and I'm going to be a VP of Performance there. And so, that's when I started, wow, they're really taking their ambition and now they're getting serious about their personnel.
[00:10:18.79] So, for me, that was kind of where the real interest started to kick in. It's panned out and we, again, yeah we walk in Wonka's Chocolate Factory but we're also shoulder to shoulder with Willy Wonka, every day so, good people.
[00:10:34.96] Is that what Forrest Griffin's nickname is?
[00:10:42.03] He's more like, he's more of Veruca Salts.
[00:10:46.42] I think, that was interesting to me too, this I mean, neither of you guys, really that I remember, hearing you talk about, were training MMA athletes on your own before this, right? So, this thing kind of comes up, did somebody reach out to you and say, hey, I think you'd be interested in this or do you see it on a job board and then go, oh man, I need to check this out, how did it kind of pan out? I know that these guys had come and contacted us about a year before, when they were just planning the facility. And so, I knew they were going to be doing a big--
[00:11:21.19] Yeah, there you go. So I mean, you mentioned Forrest Griffin, Forrest is obviously a former fighter, Hall-of-famer, a world champion, he's been involved with the project, and well, he's been with the UFC for around four-five years as a non fighter. And then, James Kimball, who's our Vice President of Operations, those two guys essentially, from inception, concept of idea and concept took the Performance Institute from concept to the facility and the staff that you see today. They essentially went around the world looking at facilities, and speaking to people like yourself, NSCA HQ, trying to understand what makes a great facility, what makes a great performance environment? You know, what are you trying to achieve with athletes, how will that fit into the model of the UFC you've created? So everything from facility design to ideas and philosophical approaches to what the staff should believe in, what the mantra should be, et cetera. So, that they kind of canvassed all that, and then yeah, they went to the recruitment company to identify and essentially headhunt our directors, and myself as a VP.
[00:12:38.11] So, we all respectively got approached by recruitment company, as the UFC were proactively going out to seek people that they thought might be a good fit for these roles. So, you mentioned the MMA experience, when I talk about I was the first recruit that came on board, and then I soon tapped in with Forrest and James as we recruited the directors, our lead directors for the department. We m purposefully didn't want people that had massive amounts of MMA insights and experience, we wanted new eyes on a product. If we're going to take MMA and combat sports to a new direction or new level of understanding, we wanted pollination of new ideas, new thinking, not stuck in the status quo of what is currently happening in all the different areas of combat sport training.
[00:13:30.49] Bo comes to us with lots of experience in the USOC, and in terms of wrestling, and freestyle, or greco wrestling, so, he understands combat sports, judo, and taekwondo. My background was GB Boxing and GB Taekwondo. Heather Linden, she's worked with the judo players and the wrestlers of the USOC. Clint obviously, is a wrestler himself, former Team USA wrestler, so all of our staff have combat experience but not necessarily in MMA, and that was something that we proactively tried to look at as well.
[00:14:01.08] That's cool. So what do you guys now, you got that team assembled, what's something that you're looking for in these younger coaches that you're adding on, the younger staff and newer staff that you guys are also adding on, as far as like attributes, education, training, all of the above?
[00:14:21.79] Well, depth is only effective if, one, they can share the mission and visions that we've already kind of put in the foundation, but then also we needed more ambitious eyes. You know, when you've got feelers out and different directions now, if they're carrying the same ambitions, their creativity and their own unique experiences can bring something to the table. And that's kind of what I've said from day one, recruiting is one of the most challenging things, getting the right people it's one of the toughest things out there. And in this day and age in strength and conditioning it's tough, because your colleagues and your friends are looking at you like, oh, he's got opportunities, he'll definitely give me a shot, and it's not always that easy.
[00:15:02.88] We're looking for a very particular fit, that not only, we think can provide the services that we're looking at a high level, Duncan mentioned a world class level, to the fighters we're interacting with, but also, can interact with this world class team that we have now. The Roman Fomins and the Clint Wattenbergs, they've got to be able to professionally interact, receive, and give criticism, in a very cross pollinating fashion with all of those groups as well. So, personalities are at a premium in our industry, and so, that was a big one, one, are they qualified? What's their experience level look like? Is there diversity in their experience? I mentioned this being very much a decathlon type of a sport, with all the physical attributes and demands. So are they bringing in experiences from a multitude of sports, not I've worked with this one particular sport for the last 12 years of my career.
[00:15:58.65] And, that really plays a role depending on what we're attacking for each fighter. You know, are we really addressing an endurance deficit? Are we really addressing a strength and power deficit? Well, if they've seen the two extreme ends of that spectrum, say weightlifting and marathon, they're going to have a pretty good idea of where to meet things in the middle. So, looking for people that had some diverse experience. And then for me, we really, , it was an adaptive kind of search process we went in looking for one particular thing, as we were going through the recruiting process it kept coming up empty. We couldn't find exactly what we're looking for, went back to the drawing board like, look we were shooting for something higher up the totem pole, we're like, let's go back, let's start at the beginning and see if we can find some good kind of mid-level professionals, which kind of took us to the routes of some younger professionals.
[00:16:50.87] That we can groom a little, but still have a personality, and some experience, and some knowledge, , and some education, that they can bring to the table. So, that's where we've begun now with the two that we have, and the additions have been great. Again, we started outnumbered, we will probably always be outnumbered, 570 athletes worldwide-ish, it fluctuates week to week. But, there are very high expectations on the services we're delivering remotely to someone who's in the middle of nowhere, Dagestan, compared to someone who's right down the street in Las Vegas. So I need someone who's got the hustle to be able to address those remote needs, as well as, what we say, the easy ones that are right here in our backyard.
[00:17:38.17] And that's pretty cool too, I think, for people that might not know that, so if a guy or gal finds UFC contract, they get access to your services, right? Whether they're a one fight contract or whether they're Connor McGregor.
[00:17:52.35] You could be a world champion or you could be your first fight in the UFC, the service provision from ourselves is exactly the same. All services are on offer and they're all free of charge, you can take as much or as little as you want. And often, know we're doing a lot of conversations up front, to figure out what's the ambitions, what's the goal setting, and then how can we align our services to try and meet your needs and help you along the way? Because, they've all got their own gyms, have got their MMA gyms, their MMA technical, tactical piece that goes with it. Now, some of the larger gyms around the world, have their own strength coaches, have their own PTs, part time maybe. They might be working with those guys on a day to day, but we can still collaborate and fit into that team, by putting the athlete at the center of the conversation.
[00:18:42.53] And, that happens a lot, we're integrating a lot with strength coaches, and we want to embrace the conversation for the greater good of the athlete. It's truly a universal service for anyone that's any in the UFC.
[00:18:56.20] And, I know you guys just put on a clinic earlier this year, early this summer, that was kind of just like, invitation only of strength and conditioning people training MMA athletes, to kind of help spread best practices, right? Which is again, kind of what you mentioned, as one of the whole missions of the whole thing. What was that a little bit about? Because I think, when I first started talking right, we were talking about how you guys were the first people to be in on this, but now there almost seems like there's becoming a pathway for people if you wanted to become an MMA strength and conditioning coach, you could actually probably kind of align yourself, so maybe talk a little bit about the mission of that clinic you did. But also, maybe now, what's that pathway look like for people, what's that [INTERPOSING VOICES] might be interested.
[00:19:50.22] You can talk about the clinic, and I'll add on.
[00:19:52.41] The clinic, so you know, the clinic was strategically aligned to our first anniversary. We're not bold enough to say hey, we were going to open our doors on day one, and going to tell everyone how they should be doing it, you're all doing it wrong, that's not what we're about. We didn't have enough inside information at that moment in time anyway. So, for a year, 12 months, we kind of collected all of our insights, our information. We were learning in the process, we were speaking with different coaches, different strength coaches, different athletes. Just amalgamating our information and our insights. And on our first anniversary we wanted to start sharing some of the insights, and start to have the powerful conversations at a level that we think, you know a professional level, where we should take the sport in terms of just nomenclature and terminology in the sport and the level of conversation that we're having.
[00:20:45.66] Now, to do that, we could have held an athlete summit, and invited all the athletes in here, but at the end of the day, the athlete is going to go back to that gym and work with their coach, and it's their coach that's directing their practice, and their different discipline training. Or they're going to go and do physical conditioning, S&C work, and it's going to be an S&C coach that's directing it. So, we kind of strategically thought the best thing to do initially, to start the movement for evolution and development and change was to try and influence the influencers. The people direct in the athletes activities, so we wanted to engage with the MMA technical, tactical coaches, and we wanted to engage with the strength and conditioning, or performance staff that we're working with the athletes as well.
[00:21:30.35] So, that was the kind of mission, the ambition, and that was the first one we've held and we will hold more summits like that in the future, moving forward, as the community grows and people really want to embrace this you know what the PI can support them with. So, yeah, it was certainly insightful for our staff, to be stood in front of truly world class technical, tactical MMA coaches that have been doing it long before we arrived, and will do it long after we've gone, you know people were doing it OK. We're new kids on the block, we've got to complement that, so they've got the insights and we wanted to share some of our findings and come together as a big community to try and help the whole system move forward.
[00:22:15.29] That's huge, it's good to see.
[00:22:17.46] Yeah, I think along with that too, you mentioned, us being the first, and there's practitioners out there in different fields PT, S&C, nutrition, that have been trying to figure these things out and diligently working at these things. But they're all they're in their silos, so there's never been a platform where any information has really been shared, nor a lot of initiative to share it. Outside of, the normal promotional things to sell your business or attract people to your gym or whatever, which people have to do to make a living. But from a purely educational standpoint to provide insights around, like Duncan was saying, pushing this evolution forward, those platforms just really haven't existed. Except for on the very intimate level, two coaches that know each other, see each other at an event, now they're sharing on topics related to fighting. So, to be able to create that and kind of nudge, there are some very good practitioners involved in the sport, just nudge them a little bit to say it's really OK to put this stuff out where people can see it. There's no secrets, because at the end of the day, it's still about performance, who can line up and execute to the best. So, really trying to promote that just, sharing an educational environment, that's another big initiative of that summit and something that we'll try to continue to push forward. Just like the combat clinic here this week.
[00:23:45.39] Yeah, that's another thing I was thinking of, speaking of the clinic here, that thing you guys did, I mean, you guys are kind of at the forefront of this educational stuff. I know Duncan has spoken about a bazillion times this year, because I've seen him your name everywhere too, but like, how else do you guys stay on top of your game, so to speak, with continuing education, networking, what are you guys doing now? You know, a Director and Vice President level, to keep your knowledge where it needs to be, and also keeping connection? I think it's easier when you're speaking all the time, in my experience too, when you have to speak all the time you're kind of doing it, and you're seeing more people. But, I guess what else are like, key things that you guys would say, is the way that you stay ahead of the game, on top of the game with continuing education and changes in performance and science?
[00:24:46.29] I'm all about efficiency. So for me, I use my staff for some of that too. I can get the chance I'm reading whatever I can read or listening to things when I'm driving around, and stuff like that. But, I've also got two young strength coaches on my staff, so I kind of put that almost requirement in front of them, is like, look we need to be digging in this sport heavily, so anything that you can find on energy system development around MMA, it needs to be brought up in our little staff meetings and let's chat about it and if something's significant, we'll get into, if nothing's significant, onto the next article, you know?
[00:25:23.34] And, then on top of that, that's where the personality piece really has to kick in, to be able to have conversations and not afraid to reach out and chat with all the various personalities within this sport. Because some of them have their hands on some very talented athletes within our roster. So, getting an understanding of how they've evolved, what they're doing with some of those athletes, if you can put your ego aside and have some of those conversations with some of these different groups, there's a lot of learning opportunities in that. So, being social and being interactive and then I would try to use our personnel as much as possible. If Clint tells me, you know at least once every month or so, he's like I read this thing on, it was an S&C article, but I saw this thing, and bring it up to you. So, we're constantly putting stuff in front of each other, and to me that's it's a personality trait, just being willing and open to share and interact.
[00:26:18.03] And then, being willing to listen, when someone's talking about something, if he brings up something, he's talking to someone else, I'm not shy to be like, hey, what was that? What'd you say? What was that thing you're talking about? Just butt right in, because the information's all around you, you just gotta kind of reach out and grab it.
[00:26:33.60] Yeah, for sure. I mean, I would say fixed mindset to growth mindset. That's the transition you've got to make regardless of where you're at in your career, whether you're just coming out fresh out of school or whether you've been doing this thing like I have 25 years now. You've constantly got to look for that innovation and learning, that lifelong learning concept, as Bo says, you got to proactively go and seek it. We can get stuck in our box very easily, and I think you've got to seek it in many different avenues that can't just be down the same avenue. You've got to look at cross pollination of ideas. You know, we're in Vegas here, I talk a lot to the Cirque de Soleil guys, you know, talking to different management, we we're talking to baseball, talking to NBA. We're trying to capture information that we can say, hey, I've listened to 100% of what you've got to say, but this 5% nugget is going to be gold to me, cause I can now take it and interpret in my space, and make you work in my space. And that's what I think is crucial for continue to develop and grow and for being truly innovative.
[00:27:43.70] But also, it's about being humble, as Bo says if my intern, or our S&C intern turns up and says, hey, I've just seen this, I can't be bold enough to say, means nothing to me, good look go read that and learn it. I think, that's growth mindset again, everything every piece of information is valuable. And then, you just got to interpret it and figure out what best sits in our space which can help us. We've got to take information that's going to influence day to day decisions in terms of sets, reps, exercise selection, frequency, duration, the true training concepts. They can come from many different places and as you've already talked about, some of those are the soft skills and some of those are the hard technical skills. It's that growth mindset, which is huge for our guys.
[00:28:32.36] You know, we've got two giant MMA teams within a mile, in either direction of this building, as well, and we're not the first strength coaches that those guys have ever seen or been around. We are not the first people to interact, so, getting over there, in those gyms and in front of those coaches and talking to the different staff members and different fighters from different eras. They got 45-year-old fighters have been around the game for 20 years, and they've got the new kid, 19-year-old fresh out of high school wrestling or whatever, that's coming up. So, getting in there and hearing those conversations about what's worked well, what doesn't work so well, from a planning standpoint, from a recovery standpoint, from a quality control standpoint, getting quality practices out of them. Those are very valuable instances. So that's another thing we try to, not just the S&C, everybody our VP's, our, Forrest is constantly poking his head in those gyms. Our whole team, just to getting a better awareness around what they're dealing with and what they're going through.
[00:29:35.30] And that's interesting to me too, that like this comes up again, because you mentioned it, you alluded to it, we talked about it before. It's like, soft skills and building this facility and then, not just telling everybody you're doing it wrong, but we're doing it. It's all about building relationships and that's what entirely, this whole strength and conditioning thing comes back to, yes, we have to have technical, tactical knowledge, we have to know our science, but then to day it's the relationship building and the getting all those people to be to work together as a team. And especially when you have boxing, jujitsu, wrestling, whatever, different coaches, and how you guys get those, and I don't remember, I had a podcast with Loren Landow too, and you know one of his things was, getting that communication with those different sport coaches was kind of the key factor to some of the success that they had with their team that they were working with elevation and whatnot.
[00:30:38.97] It's so crucial at the end of the day, it's not in a sports industry, where in a people industry. You're trying to influence athletes to go to some dark places and work out hard and push themselves and take themselves, you know not necessarily do things that they got the desire to do at that moment in time. That's the role of the coach, how do I now connect with the athlete to take him to that dark place, to convince him to trust m to say this is going to be positive and beneficial to the bigger the big mission? You know I mean? I think when we're around fighters is a lot, you see a lot of different backgrounds, as well, not only stylistic backgrounds, but you know socioeconomic backgrounds, and you know and different countries, different religion, language, there there's so many variables because everyone understands fighting. If you're working with American football players, you're probably in America doing that, you know what I mean? There's not many people in Dagestan, Russia playing American football, right? So, but fighting is global, it's truly global, so we've got to connect with fighters that have got so many different types of backgrounds and that's a huge skill for the young up and coming strength coaches to develop. Is how do I connect with people, how to build that rapport, what's going to make this athlete tick, and how can I get in and jump on that and make it really collaborative relationship between coach and athlete?
[00:32:05.01] I think one of the big challenges too for up and comers is, experience tells you that almost all strategies at some point, win. They all win, right? So, we have 570 fighters on a roster, that means there's 570 fight teams roughly. I've never even, I mean we have guys that come from the same gym, they don't do their camp the exact same way, there's different flavors of their camp based on the style of fighter. So, to think that, when we open the doors, I have the way, I'm going to show you the way and that's it. There are ways that we think that, I don't necessarily agree with that, that's not how I would do it, but it wins, it produces every time. We have this, discussion happens in American football all the time, the spread offense, and Wing-T offense, versus power-I, or whatever, at some point they've all won. And so, when you can appreciate that, especially when we work with so many fight teams, I've got to be able to switch gears, where I'm in this fight camp right now working with this individual and their objectives, and 30 minutes later when his session is done. I'm going to go now and influence this other camp, with this other fighter, with different objectives, different ambitions, different level of his game, you're working with someone that's a top three in their weight class versus someone's their first contract the UFC, their objectives are very different, he's trying to keep his contract, he's trying to win a belt.
[00:33:30.86] So it's interesting, but you've got to be able to appreciate that all those different styles win at some point, that they all have a certain level of value, and I'm selfish. When we're going through it, and we're trying to sort it out, my ears are constantly open, what can I pick up on that may not necessarily be applicable right now, but what can I pick up on and learn that I can use what the next guy who's going to present something similar. So, if you have that kind of selfish mindset, where I want to get information from everybody, you're truly being open, and you're just going to accumulate information so much faster. Because we're going to run into new fight teams every week, at one point we were averaging, and I don't know, three or four new fighters a week, so that's three or four new opportunities every week, 52 weeks out of the year. That's a lot of studying.
[00:34:26.30] That makes me think to, and I don't know that I know the answer to it, maybe that's why it's a good question, when we talk about well, how do you get built, I guess how do you get better at building relationships? Is it just like experience over time? I mean, I've always said, I'm a people person and I want to help people, so that's kind of, I feel like it's a natural characteristic of mine that relates to. I coached basketball, actually before I got in strength and conditioning for basically my whole life, right? From when I got out of high school I started coaching--
[00:35:01.20] MJ or LeBron?
[00:35:02.53] MJ, man, come on, I'm old. And so, I feel like just coaching and mentoring and relationship building was kind of just ingrained in me from so long of a time, but I don't know like the more I think about it, we don't talk about that enough. So, how do we develop that side of things in people? Because I know all of us at one time, have had interns or young coaches that we worked with that did not have those characteristics or traits.
[00:35:34.79] I'm going to soapbox a little bit, and then you can jump on. So for one, I don't know, I get irritated sometimes that we think we have to have a blueprint now on how to deal with these different personalities, and archetypes, and here there is a book that tells you how to do, that and do this, at the end of the day, you need to be adaptive. You need to, , like you said you have to like people, you have to enjoy being around people, not just like minded people, those are the easy ones, that's easy. If you're truly going to influence something, you've got to be able to interact with the ones that you despise, we just talked about this at lunch, you've got to be able to interact with the ones that maybe, 70% of what they do you don't necessarily want to share or interact with that, but there's 30% that's gold, and you need to be able to interact on that level.
[00:36:21.68] And then there's got to be an initiative and a drive, relationships are just like being married, man, it takes effort. If you don't put effort into it, no one wants to hang around with you, they don't want to talk to you, they damn sure don't want to share their training secrets with you. So to say that you need to have a book to tell you how to do that? I just, no, you need to be a good person, open minded, you want to interact with other human beings from all different walks of life, and at the end of the day, if you're truly a service provider, trying to provide a service, you'll do whatever it takes. So that means if I need to have an uncomfortable 20 minute conversation with this person to get to a point where I can influence them, then. Absolutely, if you can't get to that point, then your initiatives are wrong, you're in it for the wrong reason, you're either chasing a paycheck, you're chasing a label, or logo, but that those things will come. If you're good at influencing and interacting with people. And influence goes both ways, you can be a positive influence, or you can be a negative influence, at the end of the day, someone's going to remember you for one or the other. So, in my opinion, throughout my career, my clock started the day I took the first job, and it's like, all right, how many bridges are you going to build? Let's really try to keep the burning to a minimum, and that's just comes from an affinity to want to be around people and want to interact with them and truly wanting to provide a service, not just take, take, take, give me that logo, give me that paycheck. So, anyway, that's my soapbox.
[00:37:46.20] That's pretty good.
[00:37:47.00] Love it, Yeah. Now I feel like working for a nonprofit and for an big organization like the NSCA, you know, being a servant position, servant leadership, I now instead of really serving athletes, although I still get to coach athletes to some degree, am much more servant to the membership, you know, and that's a huge reminder of that was one of the reasons I went to work there. I was a state director, and you know an opportunity arose, but I felt I could make a bigger impact for a bigger reason, you know? But, I mean, I'm never going to get to win a Coach of the Year award, or be the President of the Board of directors, long as I do that. So that has to be much more about, either, the mission or the end, instead of me, me, me, so I think that's another thing servant leaders, you kind of just alluded to, they're not worried about what they get out of it, except inside, how it makes you feel and that you're helping an organization or a whole profession grow and get better.
[00:39:01.48] Yeah, I mean, Bo said it eloquently, I don't need say too much more, I mean, it's where's the brand? Who's the bigger brand? You know, the NSCA brand or the Scott Caulfield brand? We can have that conversation. But, if you believe you're part of something bigger, and you truly believe in the mission of what the overarching thing is, then it makes it exciting and it's easy to come to work every day. Listen, everyone's trying to get ahead in the world, I'm not knocking people that are self-employed or anything like that, that's not what I'm about, but I'm just saying, you've got to somehow believe in a bigger mission to commit your service and go out your way to solve those problems. Now, relationship building, science coaching science is not new, it's been around a long time, and we still try and bat this idea around, how do we connect with people, et cetera, et cetera? Well, there's a science, there's a hard science to that, but we don't necessarily need to get in the granular level of that. And as Bo's you talked about, just be a good person, be humble, be hungry. If you committed to a bigger mission it makes all that so much easier. You know what I mean? Because your heart and your emotion are in it now.
[00:40:23.38] All right, real simple example, there's something that gets abused all the time right? Text message, coach, I can't be there at that time, What do I do? Immediately, you have a decision, one or the other, is my ultimate mission to provide a service? How are we going to get this done? Is the ultimate objective performance? Or am I pissed off because this dude's ruining my schedule? And it goes back to my, keep using the word my, my,my, my,my, my, so, that's a real simple example, but just by a few times saying, whatever you need, when do we need to flex this, we need to push this later, push it to another day. That starts to happen two or three times, they'll eat out of your hand. Coach what can I do for you? What can I do to make this a better an easier mix? So it really just takes effort, I mentioned effort before, but you know yeah, we've got to take text messages at 2:00 in the morning, I took a FaceTime call from a fighter the other day at 5:00 in the morning feeding my 12 week old. It's just what you do, because I don't want him to ever think that my attention is wavering from them. I don't ever want them to think that I've now put them on the back burner, and they're not a priority. We talked about providing, service provisions being equal across the board, it doesn't matter if it's Joe Schmo or someone in the top five. If they've got a request, then it's our duty now, we've assumed this role as we're here, it's our duty to say look man, I'll do whatever it takes to get you that. And if you talk about relationship building 101, there's no way they could say no, how do you say no to that? You know, this guy is just way too accommodating, I'm going to stay as far away from him as I can. That doesn't happen, especially in MMA.
[00:42:00.88] No, and I've even talked to a few people about the level of that, with like athletes and exercise selection, giving them a little more part of the process, instead of just like, nope it's Monday we squat, back squat, we heavy back squat on Monday, that is what we do. Giving them, well, hey, maybe you do this,this,this, and maybe, at some point, down the road, then you know they're coming back to you and going, what about that other squat you were talking about? Like, you get what you want.
[00:42:35.72] Yeah there's definitely some athletes that they want to be told what to do. They don't even want to think of a thinking process to go through, they're happy being told where to go, and you tell me you tell me where I'll go, coach and then I'll go in that direction. There's those people and there's the other people that you say, that need the explanation of why we're doing it, all the choices in the selections of exercises or approach. But the key to all, is the strength coach needs to understand, that those two scenarios can happen, and they've also got to identify when they need to choose A or B If we only have a go down route A, then we only have a going to get one particular type of athlete, and we also are going to potentially piss off 50% of the people that you work in with in that approach. I'm simplifying it, but.
[00:43:23.74] Yeah, I mean, we've been open 16 months, 17 months, and, I have fighters now that literally in the last two, three weeks, have flipped over and now are kind of like, OK, you just tell me, exactly what to do. And those were some of the first 10, 11, 12 months, I was just accommodating them, I didn't agree with anything that they did, but I knew at some point something would come to fruition. And they would want to vastly dive into everything that we have to offer at the PI. And there's some of those cases, I was the only one that they were interacting with, I was their only voice to the PI, now there have multiple conversations with a variety of professionals, if you've got some foresight on what that could become, your have issues with not being able to connect with people, they go away, . Immediately I need them to be able to interact with him, 10 months from now, so I'll have savor this right now, all right man, you don't want to lunge? We won't lunge, we'll play patty cake to the clock for a minute at a time, but eventually they come around. They start to realize everything we have to offer, but it's a service driven thing, it's oh wow, this guy's really here for me, he's going to provide what is best in my best interest, might take him two days for that to click, might take him 10 months for that to click, but it's worth it 100%.
[00:44:39.93] I love it, I love it, it is worth it, it's all worth it. I appreciate you guys. I know we have got a little hard stop because we've got a McGregor press conference get to, but no, this has been really a really good episode. I'm actually super excited about the topics that we got into. I super appreciate your time. If people are interested in reaching out to you guys, we got social media that you are on, or you know we'll put some emails in the show notes, but anything quick hitter that you guys want to mention for people to reach out?
[00:45:16.17] I mean, we're on pretty much all the main social media, Duncan French on Twitter, Dr. Duncan French on Instagram, hit me up, no problem, happy to talk. And excited to talk, what I would say is, that I'm keen to talk to people, I don't want the PI to be seen as the ivory tower that people can't reach out to, obviously we've got our day to day and we're all busy people obviously, but the more minds and conversations that we can get going around combat sport and the sport of MMA for us in particular and it is advantageous. So, I'm very much amenable and approachable, please reach out.
[00:45:56.17] Yeah I'm Olystrength on Twitter, and then Bo.Sandoval on Instagram, and yeah, likewise, we try to put the welcome mat out as much as possible. So, we're a professional institution and we're all about learning, so if you're looking to just come hang out and fan out, that's, probably not going to be the visit we're looking for but you want to come and talk some shop and not only, , see what we've got going on in our pursuit of high performance but to share as well, yeah we welcome it every day of the week.
[00:46:32.38] Great, appreciate it guys, thanks for being on.
[00:46:35.13] Thanks, man.
[00:46:35.61] Thanks, Scott.
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