S1EP5: Harry Marra

S1EP5: Harry Marra
Developing Well-Rounded Athletes

Coach Harry Marra is one of the world's foremost experts on developing well-rounded athletes. He is a legend in the world of track and field and cemented his reputation as one of the all-time greats at the 2016 Rio Olympics when he coached American Ashton Eaton to his second Olympic gold medal in the decathlon - securing back-to-back wins in London and Rio. But that was just part of the story in Rio, because he also coached Ashton Eaton's wife, Brianne Theissen-Eaton to an Olympic bronze medal in the heptathlon. Coach Marra has also coached youth programs and is a big advocate for the role of play in shaping well-rounded athletes.

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2 thoughts on “S1EP5: Harry Marra

  1. Champions Club
    Champions Club says:

    Kelly or Jules, do you think you guys have the pull to bring a guy like him and Dr. Romanov or Brian MacKenzie on the show together to talk about techniques? I would love to see what parts of their methodologies and methods overlap.

  2. CK says:

    I would love to dig into if there is a place for sports specialization and if so how to go about it. Certainly modern life is limiting the breadth and amount of movement for the average kid/person, but I feel like there’s also rose-colored nostalgia glasses there that maybe limiting scrutiny of what all has actually changed. Absolutely the vast majority of people would benefit from returning to culturally built-in daily-life movement activities like the 1950’s, but it has to be recognized that when you are discussing elite athletes they are the top percentage of the bell curve. Has there been studies of elite athletes by decade and if/when they’ve started specializing and what their movement practices were? Was the elite-level more accessible without specialization in years past because of life difference, or was it just less visible that certain kids were specializing and now technology/globalization has made pursuing elite performance more mainstream? Or has the bar of human performance been set higher and thus requiring more? If it doesn’t work why does it seem to be the default? Obviously there’s multiple variables beyond fitness that are involved and don’t make this clear cut, but I think much of the burnout we do see is the volume of kids going into sports with it being the be-all goal, and the everyone is a winner mentality that they all are/will be elite and all it takes is time and persistence, without consideration of the bell curve. Not to mention the idolatry of sports and professional athletes and the perceived necessity of sacrifice of a normal childhood and understood high probability of injury (depending on the sport) to achieve this.
    On the flip side though there are certain sports (dance, figure skating) require starting from an early age to even be physically capable, in terms of flexibility, of elite performance and sports where after a certain age the ‘system’ doesn’t really even accept the kids as having the potential to ever be elite. Plus there are sports that require daily and/or hours of practice in order to remain at an elite level. I feel like elite dancers and gymnasts have always had a daily training requirement and even in earlier decades would have been devoting a lot of time to becoming elite. As a parent in this modern world with knowledge of what a functional movement practice should be, what would you recommend if you had a child that you knew from birth wanted to try to be an elite athlete? For example a parent who is an elite figure skater who wants their child to at least try it but no guarantee the child could be or want to be elite– what does that ideal life/movement prescription look like for optimal results? When if ever would specialization be advisable and how do you evaluate or balance parent and child expectations against the spectrums of desire without innate capability or capability without desire? And is it different if the goal to be elite is set aside (meaning what is the minimum ideal prescription for raising a human?)

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