In Honor of Dr Yuri Verkhoshansky

в честь д-р Юрий

By James Smith

Skill Player Physical Preparation Coach PITT Football

Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky lost his life due to health complications this past Wednesday the 23rd of June.

Please accept my account of the relationship I was privileged to share with Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky; Scientific Consultant to the National Olympic Committee of Italy, former head of the Theoretical and Methodological Center at the Russian Research Institute of Sport, former head of the Russian Central Institute of Physical Culture and Sport Scientific Research Laboratory, father of Natalia Verkhoshansky PhD, and most important to me, my friend from across the sea.

Ten years ago, the dawn of my studies of sport science quickly lead me to the researches of Dr. Verkhoshansky. I became fascinated by the comprehensiveness of his work.

I soon came to realize that the level of sophistication found in his work was largely unrivaled in the world of sport training literature.

Dr. Verkhoshansky is the father of such training concepts and methodologies as the Block Training System, the Conjugate Sequence System, the Shock Method, and training Programming. While a certain amount of his later work is considered to have become more and more far-reaching by some of his Russian contemporaries, in comparison to the more conventionally accepted work of professor Matveyev and others, it is precisely the sometimes abstract complexity of this work that I have personally found to be some of the most thought inspiring material I have encountered in my last decade of study.

My website was created in 2004 and the content, and even the appearance of it, was heavily inspired by my studies of Dr. Verkhoshansky’s translated work.

I experienced a personal, as well as professional, highlight after having contacted Dr. Verkhoshansky sometime around 2005. I emailed him with a training question and his response indicated that he was familiar with my work, having already had reviewed the content of my site, and congratulated me for being one of the few westerners that, in his judgment, had successfully assimilated his work into practical understanding and application. To this day I remember yelling to my wife in the other room because I was so excited to have received a response from the honored professor; let alone be the recipient of his praise and acknowledgement.

Not long after, I was awarded with what I consider to be the highest honor of my career when Dr. Verkhoshansky asked me to assume duties as chief editor for certain publications of his that were translated into English. This responsibility granted me the privilege to not only make grammatical adjustments but also to adjust content in my own words- a true honor.

I was privileged to have edited: “The Training System in Middle Distance Running”  “The Block Training System in Endurance Running”, “Resistance Exercises as a Specialized Means for Physical Preparation of Athletes”, and the yet to be published 2nd edition of “Special Strength Training- Practical Manual for Coaches” which, in my judgment, is the most comprehensive text book on sports training and methodological concepts that is available in the English language. *Note to all critical thinkers, when this text becomes available you will find yourself utterly amazed by the depth of the content.

Another major highlight of my personal and professional life came when Dr. Verkhoshansky personally wrote a letter of recommendation for me. In it, he honored me by stating that , ‘on the basis of his knowledge’, he distinguished my work from the majority of western authors based upon my knowledge of “the real purpose of training methods of physical preparation and their roles in achievement of the competition result”, and because I “understood that to train athletes it is not sufficient to know how to use correctly the strength training methods, but that this is essential to know how to apply these methods in the specificity of the whole training architecture in different sport disciplines”.

I often speak of the influence that others in the field have had on my development of a coach; not the least of which is the late Charlie Francis who, with a heavy heart, I wrote a farewell article to just over a month ago.

I have no hesitation in stating that when I sit down at my desk late at night and conceptualize training programming for my athletes, there is no greater influence on the architecture of my thoughts than the work of Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky.

Please allow me to provide an example of Dr. Yuri’s influence on my work via the analytical considerations I make when programming the training:

  • where are we in the training calendar,
  • what is the technical-tactical nature of the position,
  • what are we philosophically committed to,
  • what geometric position does his body initiate movement from at the snap,
  • what directions might he initiate movement in and in what way might he change his direction,
  • what muscles are involved,
  • what is the speed of contraction,
  • what amplitudes of movement are involved in the work,
  • where in the amplitude are the greatest forces generated,
  • what percentage of his technical-tactical responsibility necessitates that he overcomes or resists external resistance,
  • what is the magnitude of resistance he must overcome or resist against,
  • what are the geometric positions of his body when he overcomes or resists against external load,
  • over what distances does he cover on average,
  • what role do speed, reactive/elastic ability, power, strength, and joint mobility play in the execution of his competition maneuvers,
  • how many snaps does he average per game,
  • how long is the average play,
  • how much time transpires between most plays,
  • how might I construct drills to be performed under alactic and aerobic conditions,
  • how will I sequence the change and introduction of training stimuli into the training load,
  • how will I utilize the time available during the off-season,
  • what will the contents of the training blocks consist of,
  • how will regulate the sequence and nature of the bioenergetic training,
  • how will I regulate the sequence and nature of the biomotor training,
  • how will I structure individual training sessions and consecutive days and weeks of training,
  • and the list goes on…

I cannot conceive of assuming this type of comprehensive thought process void of the influence of Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky. It is precisely the sophisticated nature of his thinking and writing that has made such a powerful impact on my own.

Прощай, мой друг, отдых в мире

My heart goes out to my friends Natalia and Massimo. There is no measure to the contribution your father made to the world of sport science.

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About the Author

High Performance Sport Consultant www.powerdevelopmentinc.com & Global Sports Concepts