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January 28, 2021 77 min
Our guest today is Nicolai Morris, strength and conditioning specialist with High Performance Sport, New Zealand.  Nicolai is the lead S&C with the New Zealand Women’s (Field) Hockey Team (Blacksticks) as well as coaching an international elite high jumper.  From Nicolai’s athletic career origins as a swimmer, she has honed her eye for movement through a wide range of land and sea-based sports and athletic situations. Nicolai has previously worked with New Zealand Rowing in the elite and U23/Junior pathways as well as, multitude of sports in her role as strength and conditioning specialist at Sydney University including swimming, track and field, rugby, rugby 7’s, water polo and soccer. She also worked as the Head strength and conditioning coach for the Australian Beach Handball team and the NSW Women’s State of Origin team. Nicolai is a ASCA Level 2, Pro-Scheme Elite coach, and a Masters in Strength and Conditioning with over a decade of coaching experience. We talk on this podcast often about going beyond simply looking at, and emphasizing weightlifting maxes for athletic performance improvement; moving into some of the finer biomechanical details of speed, jumping and athletic technique.  At the roots of all technical ability in sport is baseline human ability to sense and coordinate ourselves in space.  Although we have had good conversation on the importance of developing body control and coordination in regards to training children, it’s not often we speak on how to integrate gymnastic and coordinative ability into training with mature athletes, despite the fact that there are so many “poor movers” on this level, whose base line functioning often leaves them pre-disposed for injury. On today’s podcast, Nicolai speaks about her transition as a swimmer to strength coach, as well as a deep-dive into the role that gymnastics and rough-housing work plays in the developmental process of her athletes.  She also speaks on building buy-in and belief from her athletes (and team management/head sports coaches) from a female perspective, and we close out the show with a brief chat on blood flow restriction training (BFR). Today’s episode is brought to you by SimpliFaster and Lost Empire Herbs. View more podcast episodes at the podcast homepage. Head to for 15% off of your purchase! Timestamps and Main Points 3:40 How Nicolai went from a swimmer to a physical preparation coach 7:45 How Nicolai incorporates gymnastic work and general work to improve movement quality across sports and age groups 21:00 Progressing gymnastic work based on their ability and sport needs 28:05 Correlations between gymnastic movement ability and some of the best athletes Nicolai has worked with 31:15 How Nicolai integrates gymnastic and movement training into her own regimen 36:10 Integrating roughhousing work into training, and differences between genders in this type of work 51:25 Buy in/attitudes of males/females vs. coaches in working as a female 1:01.40 How Nicolai made a big impact with a team by focusing on the needs of her team versus traditional coaching expectations 1:05.40 Nicolai’s experience with blood flow restriction training and the benefits for middle-distance energy system athletes “If a squat would make all athletes Olympic champions, then we would have more people who squat well performing at a higher level… we have to get that transfer and that connection” “You’d ask people to say “what’s the coolest thing you can do into the foam pit”, and they’d do backflips, and gainers…. they’d push their body to a place that it had never been before” “My main 3 gymnastics elements that I use are tumbling, hanging variations, and handstand variations, and depending on what athletes I got, it has a higher relevance… I’m in hockey right now and it has more relevance for my goalies” “The only thing that took my shoulder pain away was gymnastics...
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