Upcoming Pro-D opportunities

There are some first class professional development opportunities coming to BC this fall. The annual Petro-Canada Sports Leadership Conference runs Nov 3,4,5 in Richmond. There is an impressive line-up of presenters for this 3 day event including the highly engaging Dr Wade Gilbert. We already have a group of 6 BC Alpine coaches headed there. For more details CLICK HERE

The Okanagan Sport Leadership Conference also takes place October 15th. This is a one day event and features guest speaker Dr Stephen Norris. More details here For more details CLICK HERE

BCA Coaches Meeting and Upcoming Coach EDU

Great to see you this past week at our coaches meetings. For those of you who were unable to attend, Here is a a PDF of the presentation I did on Back Health and Performance.

Back Health and Performance for Alpine Skiers (2016)

It’s a complex subject and hard to cover that much in 45 minutes. I recommend that if you are interested in knowing more then refer to the readings at the end of the PDF. There are a lot of information out there addressing ‘core training’ and ‘back health’ but few are as evidence based as the references provided. The book ‘Low Back Disorders’ is available free in PDF version to download. If there are issues you’d like to discuss, pls feel free to drop me a line.

Upcoming coach EDU opportunities

The Canadian Sport Institutes ‘High Performance Coach Advance’ takes place in Victoria June 3-4. Click here for more information.


All for now,

It’s a GO! BC Games Penticton 2016

The bus ride was a riot! Opening Ceremonies were exciting and impressive!

Racing is on!

Some have traveled all night, some had an easier bus ride but all were smiling as they arrived at the accreditation center to pick up their BC Games swag and official identification. “It’s like a mini Olympic games here, it’s awesome!” said one athlete.


Zone 1 Kootenay Team, in their cheery yellow zone color, excited to be at the Games!

This morning, as athletes arrived at Apex with the sun rising you can feel the excitement around the 104 U14 women and men coming from 7 different BC Games zones. The 53 women were first to race GS on the Juniper/Okanagan impressive run followed by 51 men. The atmosphere at the start at the moment of inspection was friendly but you can sense the athletes’ focus and attention rising.


Zone 2 Thompson-Okanagan Team posing before the opening ceremonies.

To follow races on live timing – http://www.live-timing.com/races.php

To access Alpine Skiing BC Games page – https://www.bcgames.org/Sport/SportsintheGames/BCWinterGames/Skiing-Alpine.aspx

BC Alpine wishes Good Luck to all racers!

Thank you to Apex Ski Club and the many parents volunteers for your hard dedicated work throughout this event!

Signature 2015-16


SNOW STARS – Get the app, get the videos!

Hello Coaches, clubs & parents,

The “Academy Season” is well started and although I wish I could have an Academy in all BC clubs, it has proved to be impossible!

In the last 2 years I have been able to cover almost all 31 clubs in BC in presenting the Sportcheck SNOW STARS Program. This program is a complete progression towards skills acquisition as well as a guideline for coaches and a reward system for the athletes. What more could you ask for?!

There is now a new way to utilize the

SNOW STARS program:

Get the app!


The SNOW STARS app is available now on the apple store and will be available for Android on December 15th, 2015. (In 3 days!!!!)


more then the website?

  • Benchmark Videos for each level
  • Videos of each drills to be test in each level
  • Writable PDF files of the levels
  • App contains all the documentation and program description has the website

It’s a complete “one stop shop” for coaches! You can have all the levels in your pocket at all times and see demonstration of the drills before you try it out yourself and with your athletes. Genius!

So go ahead…download the app and be on your way to a well planned session with your athletes!

* Note that the app can only show content to members in good standing of the CSCF.


Signature 2015-16

National Coaches Week in BC Sept 19-27

With 2015 proclaimed the Year of Sport, September 19 – 27, 2015 will mark the first ever National Coaches Week, a Canada-wide celebration of coaches from grassroots to professional levels. During national coaches week, a variety of NCCP courses will be offered across BC Visit http://www.viasport.ca/coachesweek for more details.

During national coaches week, athletes can recognize their coach by taking a photo with them, tweet with #thankscoach and tag@viasport for a chance to win an awesome prize!

BCA Coaches Blog – Is strength training safe and effective for young athletes?

Some common questions I hear from parents regarding strength training programs are, is it safe, is it effective and how hard should intensity be (load)? Data collected in the 1970s and 1980s concluded that resistance training was unsafe for children and adolescents and this dogma has prevailed. However, further analysis of the data showed that the injuries were caused by inappropriate training techniques, excessive loading, poor equipment and a lack of qualified supervision (Faigenbuam, 2009). In short, a well-designed, age appropriate strength program which takes into account maturational age and experience, is well supervised and progressed appropriately will put the child at a lower risk of injury and will improve their performance in sport. If you’re interested in learning more, read on………..

The primary concern surrounding strength training young athletes has been potential damage that may occur to growth plates. These can be separated into 3 main sites: the epiphyseal plate (a cartilage plate in the metaphysis at the end of long bones), the cartilage lining the bone of the joint (articular cartilage) and at the junctures where the bone meets the tendon, known as the apohpysis (Faigenbaum, 2000). The concern is that damage can occur which would cause the growth plate to fuse earlier than normal, resulting in a premature cessation of growth. A secondary concern would be that strength training is ineffective in preadolescent athletes due to a low level of androgens which promote muscle hypertrophy.

Interestingly, Faigenbaum and Myer (2010) found very little data which supported the notion that strength training increases injury risk in children or adolescents who follow age related guidelines and are well supervised. In fact, the National Strength and Conditioning Association recommend strength training as an effective method by which to reduce the incidence of sport-related injuries. Faigenbaum (2009) found that of 1576 sports related injuries reported in a study of school-aged youth, resistance training comprised 0.7% of injuries while football represented 19%. Conclusion? The incidence of injury in young athletes is WAY higher in their sports than in strength training. Vaughn and Micheli (2008) report that the few instances in which strength training resulted specifically in epiphyseal plate damage were the result of poor lifting technique, lifting maximal loads and having inadequate supervision. In addition, it has been suggested (Faigenbaum, 2000) that the preadolescent child is actually less vulnerable to growth plate damage when compared to the period around puberty and PHV as the growth plates in preadolescents seem to be stronger and more resilient to shearing forces. Faigenbaum and Myer (2010) comment that “in the vast majority of resistance training intervention studies summarized….the injury occurrence in children and adolescents was either very low or nil and the resistance training stimulus was tolerated well by subjects” (p.57).

During puberty, a ten-fold increase in testosterone is found in boys that can have a profound influence on the development of muscle mass (Faigenbuam, 2010). Girls benefit less from an increase in testosterone, but will experience an increase in the production of estrogen around puberty which will result in a widening of the hips, increased body fat and breast growth. Muscle mass increases more markedly in boys than it does in girls due to the greater presence of testosterone (an anabolic hormone). It is a common strategy to enhance muscle growth following PHV using strength training to promote hypertrophy. The peak incidence of damage to the ephiphyseal plate occurs around the time of PHV (Faigenbaum, 2000). It is advisable that, during this period, the coach will be required to monitor load and technique carefully as improper technique combined with heavy loads lifted during this period may increase the possibility of injury. The Long term athlete development plan ‘Canadian Sport for Life’ (Canadian Sport Centres, 2007) gives some guidelines for implementing strength training based on Peak Strength Velocity (PSV). They suggest that peak strength velocity for girls comes shortly after PHV at the onset of menarche, while for boys it occurs 12-18 months after PHV. This is considered the optimal ‘window of trainability’ for strength as hormone production increases dramatically while growth subsides.

Having trained athletes for a variety sports over the last 20 years, I can tell you that muscle hypertrophy is not something that can be rushed or even predicted. It is a common occurrence to witness the tall, skinny teenage boy in the weights room at the local rec centre lifting a weight that is way too big, through a restricted range of motion and with poor technique that results from excessive overload, with the belief that this will increase his size. Then he has a Big Mac afterwards (or nothing at all) to recover. And he probably has a giant tub of creatine at home.

The reality is that increases in muscle size (hypertrophy) will occur when the athlete’s hormonal profile allow it AND when the athlete has been taught effective training, recovery and nutrition interventions. The primary benefit of strength training for pre-adolescent children seems to be neural adaptations whereby motor unit recruitment, intra-muscular coordination, muscular activation and firing are enhanced (Faigenbaum et al. 2009; Faigenbaum, 2000) resulting in strength gains. Therefore, the groundwork for gains in muscle size can be established before and during puberty. Doing this will expedite gains once the athlete is past the growth spurt as motor control is established.

It’s also important to recognise the genetic variance in body types, referred to as ‘somatotype’. Certain body types lend themselves to success in certain sports. For example, ‘ectomorphs’ are long and lean and carry less body fat. Mesomorphs are generally more muscular. Somatotype will have an effect on how muscular an athlete will become through strength training. Some individuals struggle to gain muscle despite disciplined training practise. Others get big if they so much as look at a weight. Fortunately, there is much more to strength development that just building bigger muscles (otherwise body builders would be world-class athletes). Also, successful ski racers come in no particular size and shape, unlike high jumpers or marathon runners.

The guidelines below are from the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association:


Training any athlete follows a set of basic principles and should be progressed in a similar way regardless of age – this starts with the development or core / hip strength and mobility developed through body weight / lighter loads and full range of movement. The athlete works on their foundation (core / hip / shoulder stability + mobility) while developing technique in the bigger lifts. Strong arms and legs are useless to an athlete unless they have a strong core through which to transmit force. As the athlete moves from their growth spurt to full stature, maximum strength type work can be achieved provided the foundation has been laid early on. This approach leads to long term success. More challenges are presented when the athlete grows rapidly – loss of flexibility and coordination are typical amongst adolescent athletes.

It is also important to realise the transfer of work you do in the gym to the ski hill. Although young athletes tend to follow more generic programs, the principle of specificity should be followed for young skiers in strength programs:

-A greater emphasis on lower extremity strength
-An emphasis on eccentric control (e.g. lowering phase of the squat).
-An emphasis on developing explosive movement (e.g. plyometrics progressions)
-Develop unilateral (one-sided) strength as well as bi-lateral strength
-An emphasis on change of direction speed
-An emphasis on torso / hip stability training(esp. anti-rotational ability).

Here are some the principles to follow to keep athletes safe and progressing:

-Spend a lot of time on a progressive warm up that prepares them to lift. Mine usually takes 30-40 mins.
-Progressive overload: Increase the resistance every 1-2 weeks in small increments. Demand that the athlete do every rep with perfect form and the prescribed range of movement. With any athlete who is either pre-adolescent or in the growth spurt, I don’t go below 6RM.
-Supervise your athletes! You have to watch them like a hawk. Explain why doing a half squat with poor form is detrimental. Teach them gym etiquette.
-Variety: change the program every 3-6 weeks to promote new adaptations. You need to give them time to learn exercises and execute them properly before you introduce any overload.
-Teach them safety techniques such as use of racks, collars and spotting.

All for now,

AndrewLambert signature

Fast and Female Summit in Vancouver – April 12th, 2015

WOW! Save the date…don’t miss this!

UNIQUE CHANCE for all Female athletes in BC to attend to the FAST and FEMALE SUMMIT!

Slide1Female Olympians to inspire next generation at Vancouver Fast and Female Summit presented by Precision Nutrition

March 24, 2015, Vancouver (BC) – World class athletes Micayla Gatto (downhill mountain biking), Georgia Simmerling (ski cross), Jaime Cruickshank (bobsleigh), Amanda Sin (cross country mountain biking) and Chandra Crawford (cross country skiing) are getting ready to take the Richmond Olympic Oval by a storm on April 12 as part of a Fast and Female Summit presented by Precision Nutrition.

Get Registered HERE:

In 2015, Fast and Female will host a record number of four Summits:

Fast and Female Summits are presented by Precision Nutrition and generously supported by LL BEAN, BUFF Canada, CLARINS Canada, lululemon athletica, and SoLo Energy Bars.

The event registration is $45 for youth and adults. The entry fee includes a healthy lunch for all participants as well as a goodie bag and Fast and Female t-shirt for all girls.

Teams registering 10 girls or more receive a free entry for one coach. Please contact info@fastandfemale.com to take advantage of this promotion!

Registration for the Vancouver Summit is open online until April 10 at:


Event promo video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-Vsmj5KkjU

What’s in it for girl Athletes?

Fast and Female is Canada’s premier not-for-profit organization dedicated to keeping girls ages 8-18 in sports. It is believed that girls are six times more likely to drop out of sports than boys by the time they reach 14 years old.

“The full-day multisport summits are our newest and most exciting events to date,” says Chandra Crawford, a three-time Olympic cross-country skier who founded Fast and Female in 2005. “The impact on families is huge and we really make a difference in the confidence of young women. They leave the day ready to take on the world and continue being active, healthy and happy through their teens.”

The Vancouver Summit will feature a full day of inspiration where the youth participants will get to be mentored by the Olympians and elite female athletes on topics such as dreaming big, overcoming your fears, preparing for big events, growing your physical literacy, improving your team dynamics, and becoming a positive leader in your community.

Something for Coaches and Parents too…

While the girls make new friends and get inspired by positive and successful role models, moms, dads, and coaches will attend insightful presentations by leading experts on how to best support female athletes in the areas of sport psychology, physiology, nutrition, and coaching. Confirmed speakers for the parent and coach seminars include Canadian Pacific Sport CEO Wendy Pattenden, Olympic sport psychologist Jan Derpak, life coach and Sole Girls Founder Ashley Wiles, and Canadian Sport Institute dietitian Ashley Armstrong.


Solana Klassen

Fast and Female Program Manager – British Columbia


Research Review: Active Recovery Between Training Runs

Success in alpine ski racing is determined by a multitude of factors, one of which is an athlete’s ability to tolerate high volume training blocks on-snow during the summer and the fall months. If skill acquisition depends on repetition, then successfully acquiring a new skill requires the athlete to execute specific movement patterns at high intensity, run after run, day after day. If the velocity of movements is reduced due to fatigue, then arguably the athlete is no longer practising the same skill.

Traditionally, our focus on-hill has been to advise the athletes on appropriate hydration and nutrition interventions for them to recover between runs, as well as warm up / activations routines. We use a number of recovery methods off hill to ensure they are able to train well the next day. Our programs stress improving work capacity in the off-season so that the athlete will recover well during passive rest intervals (e.g. sitting on a chairlift or at the start of the training course).

I recently reviewed a new research article (White and Wells, 2015) which examined the effect of performing active recovery between runs in order to expedite the removal of metabolic waste products such as lactate. During highly intense, anaerobic activities such as ski training, accumulation of lactate results in a decrease in muscle PH and as a result muscle contractions are impaired (slowed down). The researchers hypothesized that active recovery between runs would result in lower blood lactate concentrations and as a result the athletes who did active recovery would have improved training run times and greater success completing courses than those who did static recovery only.

Research methods

This research is  interesting because of the relevance of the population studied to club and provincial team coaches. The environment in which the study was conducted is also highly relevant. The subjects were fourteen male and female athletes competing on the Nor Am and NCAA circuit. They were 17-20 years old. Average FIS point profiles were 42.9 (+/- 17.4 FIS points). The research was conducted on the Mt Hood glacier at 2600m.

The study was conducted on the first day of an 8 day camp. Participants were randomly assigned to either an active recovery group (ACT) or a passive recovery group (CON).   Following a standardized warm up, male athletes skied at 25 gate GS (26.5m radius) and women skied a 45 gate slalom (9m radius). Blood lactates were measured immediately before each training run and two minutes following the training run. Each athlete performed 8 runs.  The ACT group walked along the road above the ski course for 3 minutes at slow-moderate pace following their run. The CON group remained static in their skis at the top of the course for 3 minutes.


Blood lactate measures were significantly higher for the CON (passive) compared with the ACT (active) group by runs 5-8. No difference were recorded with regards to perception of fatigue. The CON group had significantly slower times in run 5 and 6 and no male athlete completed runs 7 or 8. The ACT group had faster runs by run 6 compared with the CON group. Most interestingly, eleven DNF’s were recorded for the CON group, of which the majority were in the final 2 runs, whereas the ACT group recorded zero DNF’s.


The study concludes that “3 minutes of on-hill active recovery performed at the top of a training run resulted in significantly lower blood lactate concentration than static recovery,” (White and Wells, p.804).


The sample size used in this study was relatively small.  Further research would be required to repeat the study and confirm the findings.  The authors acknowledged that they encountered some technical difficulties, specifically a timing malfunction on the women’s slalom course which resulted in no objective measure for this group.  Ski training / racing occurs under a wide variety of conditions which may impact recovery.  The effects of higher altitude, heat, cold and different terrain / snow conditions should be examined in future research.

Discussion and Practical Implications

Anecdotal data and observation from coaches in the past tell us that failure to recover between runs is a limiting factor in accomplishing high intensity training volume, which is in turn a limiting factor to success in alpine ski racing. Most of the training focus in the past has been driven (I think correctly) towards creating an ‘engine’ which can tolerate high volumes of training, as well as appropriate post-training recovery. This quality is referred to in training as ‘work capacity’.

This study has some practical implications for ski coaches to consider. While the athletes performing static recovery did not feel they were more fatigued than the active recovery group (perception of fatigue scores) the lactate profiles show they clearly were. The authors speculate that this perception was a result of peripheral rather than central nervous system fatigue. Coaches should recognise that using this intervention may not be recognised by athletes as helpful, as they may not necessarily feel more prepared for their next training run after active recovery. The subtle effects of active recovery should be reinforced by the coach.

Impaired muscle function and motor control are connected with a higher risk for injury. Increased lactate production and failure to remove lactate impairs muscle function and so may put the athlete at a greater risk of injury. The coach could potentially mitigate this risk by having athletes do a short bout of active recovery between runs.

This study examined the effect of 3 minutes of moderate paced walking on clearing lactate. It is well acknowledged that there are some practical limitations to doing 3 minutes of walking at the top of a training run. In cold, winter conditions, this may actually be harmful to the athlete as they will cool down and then perhaps be even less prepared. The study was conducted in warm temperatures on a glacier where access is easy. This is not always the case. Future studies may look at the effect of other forms of movement (e.g. dynamic stretching) as well as timing of active recovery (e.g. at the bottom of the training run vs the top). It would also be interesting to experiment with this protocol at different points in the training session. For example, the athlete may not do active recovery until they start to feel fatigue building OR their run times start to fall off. If the training session is anticipated to involve high lactate accumulations (e.g. training at high altitude, long courses, challenging terrain, challenging course sets) the coach may feel active recovery is necessary. If the training is relatively easy from a metabolic standpoint, then active recovery is likely to be less important to training success.


White, G.E & Wells, G.D. (2015) “The Effect of On-Hill Active Recovery Performed Between Runs on Blood Lactate Concentration and Fatigue in Alpine Skiers” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 29(3):800-806.

ViaSport Coach of the Year Awards

Do you know an outstanding coach? If so, ViaSport is looking to hear from you!

ViaSport is now accepting nominations for their Coach of the Year Awards, open until Wednesday April 1, 2015.

The Coach of the Year Awards were founded by the Coaches Association of BC and are funded by the Bob Bearpark Foundation to recognize BC coaches for their contribution to the advancement and well-being of the athletes in their sport.


Canadian Sport Institute – International Coaching School

Looking to further your coaching education this spring?

Pls click on this link to access information regarding International Coaching School opportunities coming up this spring. There is a week long course ‘Sport Performance Coaching Certificate’ and a 2 –day ‘High Performance Coach Advance’ available. Both are run by the Canadian Sport Institute.