INTERVIEW WITH DAN FICHTER

DAN FICHTER INTERVIEW
By Jamie Hale

The following interview was conducted September the 20th 2002.

Jamie Hale: Dan, where are you currently residing and what are some of the services you offer?

Dan Fichter: I reside in Rochester, NY, but go on the road to do a lot of training. I work with all types of athletes. Matter of fact, I took on a professional Hockey player this past summer and he is doing quite well in camp right now. He tested out as one of the strongest and fastest players on the team. I guess I would call myself a long-term performance consultant. I do not believe there is a quick fix solution in sports training. It takes a huge commitment. People who come to me want to break through performance barriers. They understand that it takes a bit more drive from inside to push them to be better. It is not magic by any means.

JAMIE HALE: In reading your articles I have noticed you mention the important role of flexibility. Could you explain some the techniques you use to enhance flexibility as well as the benefits that can be expected with increased flexibility?

DAN FICHTER: It does play a pivotal role in the development of all athletes. The problem with range of motion training is that it is grossly misunderstood in the field. For instance, how many times do you see a team come out and do 20 minutes of static stretching before their competition? Who is telling them this is beneficial? Why is someone not telling them that static stretching before explosive movements is actually counterproductive? For a competitive athlete the static stretch is insufficient. We need to teach a warm up that address the movements that will occur in the game. Start off general in nature. Progress to more specific movements, with some more complex full speed movements thrown in. As you get the movements down you are preparing your nervous system, which is very important in speed and power training. I have a host of different movement patterns that challenge my athletes the warm up here serves to get the body ready to go, and reinforce the correct motor patterns you will be doing in competition. I do use static stretching at the end of my workouts. Here I see tremendous value.

JAMIE HALE: Do you incorporate Olympic lifts with your athletes? What other types of strength training do you use? How about with sprinters?

DAN FICHTER: I use a bunch of different movements in the weight room as well as nonconforming objects outside the weight room. It helps athletes break through strength and speed plateaus. Olympic lifts are a mainstay in my program. I also incorporate hybrid movements into the training as well. We take movements in the weight room through a full range of motion to help us in our flexibility on the field. You can only benefit form flexible joints if you have the strength to control it! Coaches should learn how to teach the Olympic lifts. Those that say they are too hard to learn really are not telling it like it is. We teach complex skills every day in our sports programs, how can we not be able to teach OL's. Body harmony and full body explosion are keys in my weight room assault. My athletes train fast and heavy. We do a little bit of work in the prehab department, but most lifts are ground based multi-joint three dimensional lifts.

JAMIE HALE: What role do machines play in athletic preparation?

DAN FICHTER: They don't! The only machine I will use is the reverse hyperextension machine. Other than that I just do not have the need for them. Machines have a forced range of motion that does not allow for stabilization work or three-dimensional movements. I rarely use Swiss balls except for rehab purposes. If we want to work on our balance, we do power cleans with our eyes closed or overhead squats with a person bumping us off balance in the bottom position. These balance drills have far more crossover than any balance board or Swiss ball could ever have.

JAMIE HALE: Now, let us talk about sprinting. This is Dan's favorite subject. What would you say is the number one contributor to Max velocity sprinting?

DAN FICHTER: The number 1 contributor to maximum velocity speed is ground support forces. How much force is being applied to he ground in relation to body weight is what it is all about. The research is there; people have to just read it! Trying to do countless drills to aid in good form really mess with the body's natural spring. See, at maximum velocity tendons and muscles behave like springs. A spring by nature is a passive system. What you put in you get out. Any compromise to the spring will surely result in a disruption of ground support forces. It actually screws up the impulse that you have naturally. The end result, slower Max velocity. When we continue to try and correct what we think is bad form, we are actually hurting an athlete. What if they have some kind of natural asymmetries we cant identify? There is no universal form to sprinting. Matter of fact, style is an interpretation of the perceived skill. Would you tell Michael Johnson that he has terrible form? I wouldn't. If his form were that bad he wouldn't be running that fast ... period. He flat out hits the ground way harder than every one else. It's his natural way of doing it. If you have not read Dr. Peter Weyand's research, I would suggest it!

JAMIE HALE: Is there generally a particular body type that is seen in elite sprinters? I have heard short athletes are better at starts-accelerations, while taller athletes dominate Max velocity sprinting?

DAN FICHTER: Well, there are fast tall guys and fast short guys. To make a statement like that I would like to see some more research on it. To say one has a distinct advantage over the other is hard to say. I would believe in the start that a taller athlete would be at a disadvantage only if we could determine that the force they develop at the hip and then transmitted to the distal limbs was not achieved in a coordinated manner.

JAMIE HALE: Give us your thoughts on Over speed Training.

DAN FICHTER: Well, here is another one I probably wont make to many friends on. Overspeed training is dangerous. Too many things could go wrong. Running down hill and pulling someone are similar to each other in that both lengthen contractions of the extensor muscles. These contractions are greater than level ground running, but it is the hill that is making these contractions possible, therefore the carry over is not known. I would also add that toys produce running mechanics that cannot be reproduced on level ground. There are several other options.

  1. Strength training
  2. Sled Pulling
  3. Plyometrics
  4. Short Burst training
  5. Body weight to force ratio
Get the picture?

JAMIE HALE: Give us some names of any particular people who have influenced your work.

DAN FICHTER: There are a few people that I owe so much too. John Davies, Dr Peter Weyand, Dr. Mel Siff, and Ken Jakolwski. Scientists, coaches, and teachers these men are the best! They cover the whole spectrum of training. You can never thank people enough for the knowledge that they share. Some guys don't want to talk about what they know. I believe the biggest crime in life is people with a tremendous amount of knowledge and don't share it!

JAMIE HALE: On a final note, when are you going to release a book or video that gives us a look at the Fichter training system?

DAN FICHTER: I want to come out with a video and a book within the next 3 years. Hey, it will be about hard work and discipline to make your dreams come true.

Read more of Dan's articles at wannagetfast.com .

Copyright 2002 Jamie Hale