Foundational Coaching: Installment 3 – Developing an Arch

Focusing internally as to what is occurring with the feet, ankles, and arches of the feet is something that is vastly underrated. If you are aiming for stability in your squat, deadlift, and any variation of single leg movements, your ability to control your arch on an subconscious and conscious level is of the utmost importance.

Of the items that I find myself coaching over and over at Cressey Sports Performance and in other facets of training, the feet is one thing that keeps on coming back as an underrated area of coaching. Of this underrated area, developing an arch is something that is still being left out of the coaching manual, despite others writing about this waaaaaay before me (see: Charlie Weingroff’s – Is the Short Foot Always So Short? and Mike Robertson’s – Mastering Tripod Foot) that is simply glossed over.

If the hips and shoulders are in a good position, then everything else is tertiary, right? Right?

Read: One Weird Trick: What Do I Do With My Feet?

Controlling what your feet do is analogous, to me at least, to what your head and neck do. If you just let your head flop around on a body that is theoretically moving properly, and you allow your head to sit sideways for the majority of your day, what will happen to your neck?

Likewise, if you simply walk around without taking care of your feet, what will your calves, knees, hips, and lower back feel like?

Toe Touch - FN

One entry point that I’ll use as a way to infiltrate the minds of our athletes and clients at CSP is simply ask them if they are actively using their feet in their deadlift and squats. It is a throwaway question, certainly, but when given the opportunity, it will now allow me 30 seconds of coaching on what is important, and what is not important in coaching up an arch.

But I Have Flat Feet – I Don’t Have An Arch!

This is admittedly one of my pet peeves when it comes to asking athletes and clients if they are actively thinking about their feet. When I hear this statement, I automatically whip my shoes off, show them I also have flat feet, and then proceed to do a backflip via the Windlass mechanism (the mechanism that allows your arch to be created).

Flat Foot + Half Kneeling

Long story short, if you create a sensation at the base of the heel, lateral aspect of the foot along the edge of the pink toe, along with sensation at the ball of the foot of the first toe (first ray/MTP/whatever else name you wanna call it), you are eliciting active control of your arches.

Windlass Mechanism
B) Windlass Mechanism

This might be one reason why barefoot running was such in such a hullabaloo in past years, garnering attention towards the idea that natural gait was to occur without the sensation of excessively padded running shoes that have been marketed as of late, among many other reasons.

Control Yourself

Well, what can you do when you are aiming to control yourself, and your arches during your lifting program?

What are some exercises that can be affected by how much control you have in your arches?

1. Deadlifts
2. Single Leg Deadlifts
3. Squats
4. Single Leg Squats

5. Forward and Reverse Lunges
6. Lateral Lunges
7. Jumping
8. Landing (Depth drops and jumps)
9. Sprinting
10. Running
11. Shuffling
12. etc.

As you can see the list can go on and on depending on the drills that your gym or exercise program uses.

What Are Some Issues That Can Come About from Lack of Control?

The things that can help improve sensation to an area involve either a coaching cue (such as the video above), a specific sensory integration exercise (such as massage to the posterior tibialis to allow for greater tibial internal rotation to occur, which will allow pronation to occur), or an orthotic of sorts (if absolutely necessary).

  • If you over-supinate, you could theoretically rely on your hip abductors for stability (and possibly develop something along the lines of IT Band Syndrome, or TFL tightness) (PROBLEM)
  • If you over-pronate, you could theoretically rely on your hip adductors for stability, and could develop medial knee issues (pain, dysfunction, etc) or even higher up and have groin issues. (PROBLEM)

  • If you over-supinate, you want something that will pronate your foot to a neutral position. (SOLUTION)
  • If you over-pronate, you want something that will supinate your foot to a neutral position.(SOLUTION)
  • If you don’t have any issues, well then you’re perfect. Go lift some heavy weights, dance, and run to your hearts desire.

And finally, I’m of the belief that learning to control your arches will create a better platform with which you can now absorb force… which will elicit a better exercise output… which will elicit better adaptations for your goals!

Transitioning from the Gym to the Field/Court

If you’re focusing on developing an arch, and can’t get it to work for you, seek to find relief in these areas:

  • Posterior Tibialis
    • This muscle stabilizes the medial arch of the foot, and allows for greater abilities for inversion and plantarflexion to occur. If you are pushing through your medial arch too much, this muscle can be fighting for dear life, and can be overtly tight.
  • Extensor Hallicus Longus
    • This muscle allows for your toes to extend – something that occurs if you are “faking” ankle dorsiflexion. Don’t mistake your ability for your ankle to dorsiflex (up towards your head) with your toes’ ability to extend (up towards your head).

Further, seek to improve timing and coordination via these areas:

  • Flexor Hallicus Brevis
    • This muscle allows your first ray (big toe) to flex (and stabilize) into pronation.
  • Abductor Digiti Minimi
    • This muscle stabilizes, flexes, and abducts the lateral most ray (fifth toe) during gait.

Granted, these super small muscles are not often focused upon in any gym setting (“Hey, fire your flexor hallicus brevis before you deadlift!”), but as a coach or trainer, you can inform your client or athlete to make sure they feel those spots intently as I shown in the above video.

If you’re going to transition onto the field or court, make sure you understand what your body is doing and do a systems check before going all out. You might find yourself more aware of what your body is doing in a good way when practicing and competing, which will help you create better opportunities down the line.

As always,

Keep it funky.


13 Tips for Applying to Strength and Conditioning Internships (and Any Other Internship as Well)

I’ve been getting several different questions both in person, over the phone, and from current and even past interns. These questions generally range from identifying what to do to get your foot in the door, to how to make decisions, and what kinds of steps to take when looking to expand your repertoire.

I answered some of these questions individually, but also figured it would be a great chance to simply develop a quick and easy numbered list to help identify the non-tangibles when looking to acquire an internship position.

Further, many times internships are non-paid positions, and I’ll avoid that discussion entirely by saying that I’ve personally done 4 non-paid internships, along with several hundred hours of non-paid observational hours at varying physical therapy clinics. Time is precious, and I recognize that, but I’m also not adverse to not getting paid in order to learn the inner workings of a facility or someone I admire professionally.

One Question

The simple question follows:

Q: Any recommendations for when I’m applying to internships?

In typical fashion, I’ll answer with a question:

A: What do you want? After you figure out specifically what you want to get out of an internship (in any field really), read the following tips.


When Looking to Land the Internship Position…

1. Get to know the people who will be looking at your internship applications.

2. You are more than a resume and CV, and instead of finding out how to fit in, figure out how to stand out.

Identify what makes you special. Identify what the other applicants are saying about themselves. Many times the questions the interviewers or the application itself may ask is simply looking for ways to display competency, how you view yourself, and how you can best express yourself.

From helping with the internship process, to applying to several internships (and also not getting several internship positions and asking why I didn’t get them either), it helps to understand that everyone looks the same on paper, generally, barring the one guy who strength trains skydivers and Olympic level snowboarders, while actively competing in parkour and freerunning competitions (is that even a thing?).

3. Learn how to express yourself. I feel like I’ve developed a great way of identifying the things that make people stand out, and it all starts with asking yourself better questions about what makes you special. Not special like the way your mother talked about yourself, but rather how you can describe the experiences, professions, and the things you learned as a cause of these experiences.

On a side note, I spoke with someone recently and they mentioned an interviewer asked them, “What would your entrance song be, if you had one?”

Many might say the themes from Batman, Inception, or [insert favorite rock song] here.

He said none, and moved on.

Interestingly, this individual later mentioned to me that he said he didn’t have dramatic music for any of the important experiences in his life, so he does not need a dramatic entrance in any respect either. He didn’t reply with the above, just in passing, which shows that even with an answer of “none” you can still express and validate why you chose none.

(To me, this answer provides clarity that this individual is rooted in reality, which is a good thing for me, at the very least. Also, it provides exceptional clarity about who this individual is, because these answers came at a rapid pace, with zero need for thinking about the “whys” of the answer.)

This is not really identifying what kinds of music you listen to – the content of your music doesn’t matter too much. Instead, the question is looking for ways for you to paint a picture of who you are, and if you can paint that picture succinctly, then that will be one more way you differentiate yourself from the crowd.

4. Visit the physical location of where you want to intern, if possible. If not, show respect and ask the owner/managers if you can chat for 5 minutes about why their facility is better than others. (Why settle for somewhere that isn’t special? Or why settle for somewhere that cannot articulate these facts succinctly?)

5. Talk to other coaches that are already working there. The owners will often give you the rose-colored answers you want to hear. Stick around and listen to the coaches that will give you the real answers. If their answers match, then it is all gravy. If there is dissonance, then be wary.

When Looking to Grow as A Person and Managing Logistics

6. Reduce costs of living by figuring out if you have friends/family in the area. This is a no brainer, and it makes sense when you think about next point.

7a. The internship is a great time for learning, yes, but also just as good of a time for networking. Save money on rent, and see if you can take time off on some random days to visit neighboring colleges, universities, other private facilities, and other practitioners (phys therapists, chiropractors, DOs, MDs, nutritionists – doesn’t matter as long as you’re interested).

The point is to use the internship as a “temporary living and learning relocation” that you would not have had access to if you did not work/intern there otherwise.

Internship Venn Diagram

These are the three items I looked to improve upon when I did my internship several years ago.

7b. Using the internship as a “temp living and learning relocation” will grant you the ability to pivot – namely pivot and identify places that you would not have normally had access to were you to just visit on a one day trip. It also allows you to develop relationships in far away locations from where you normally call your home, and thusly may be an area you will identify with more readily in the future if need be.

8. Don’t be afraid to ask for anything. Expect to get rejected, but reek of positivity.

As an addendum to this, all of my “bosses” in my previous internship experiences have been nothing but accommodating, but only after I had shown significant effort into the internship and my own life. I worked multiple jobs, plus did several internships ranging from 250 to 400+ hours, plus managed to not crash and burn. If you show effort, hopefully your superiors will recognize this, and maybe throw you a bone every once in a while – if you ask for it.

9. Also, use your saved money allocation for buying people beers, appetizers, and coffee for people who also interest you, or are willing to help you. Even water, something that is often times free, will go a long way. It is the intent that matters.

General Networking Tips

10. Smile an obnoxious amount. A smile from ear to ear can get you in the door in many many different ways that you would not have known otherwise. (Of course, if you are smiling in a creep way, then stop being creepy first.)

11. If you are just following this as a checklist, and if all of a sudden I have 4 offers for coffee, and 5 offers to get beer after work, I’ll know your intention isn’t legitimate. Read point number 2 again – and be genuine instead of checking things off a list.

12. If you find yourself saying “I can’t do this,” or “I can’t swing the money,” or “I can’t afford to sleep less than 8 hours because of (x),” I have to ask you, “Is it your intention to get better? Do you intend on not doing things to the best of your ability?”

13. Perhaps you are already spread thin. Use this time to re-prioritize what is important to you, if this is the case.

I’m sure this list will grow, as many individuals contact me privately either on Facebook, texting, or calling, and the advice will shift depending on their respective situation. Generally however, radical confidence in oneself to accomplish anything, plus a realistic self-awareness of where one excels and is weak, will be enough to guide anyone down a path towards whatever success means.

As always,

Keep it funky.


Clarity and Distractions

Clarity about what matters provides clarity about what does not.

-Cal Newport, Deep Work


What is clarity, and why is the pursuit of clarity important?

In a world full of distraction, noise, bright lights and shiny things, when can you have clarity for your thoughts or your actions?

The second definition of clarity, reading the “quality of being easy to see or hear: sharpness of image or sound” brings about a great visual imagery of what is expected when you have a clear and focused mindset.

Magnifying Glass

I have had the pleasure of traveling by myself for quite some time the past few weeks and months for several hours at a time. This provides several advantages that I would not have had I traveled with someone else:

  1. I can refine my thoughts about my professional life, personal life, and any other thoughts as a cause of this as well.
  2. I can pick and choose who to have small talk with on my travels.

Other than the times I am jamming out and singing along to a song when driving, there are times where my mind will focus on what is important, and what is not important.

The first point brings about the greatest point on “clarity.” By traveling, I get several hours to myself to fine tune my thoughts, or fine tune a conversation, or fine tune an approach on a difficult problem that occurred previously in the week or day before. The constant revision of my thoughts along with the innovation of many methods that follows these principles is what yields my results over and over again.

With these travels, I have the ability to refine my thoughts before executing. This goes against the current grain in a field that favors ADD like attention grabbing hashtags, images, and quotes that make people feel good in the moment, but do not add value at the end of the day.

The thoughts in my specific field are execute before you can even fact check or make sure it lines up with your principles – if you have any. Any attention is good attention. No news is bad news.

Well I’d rather create a sharp, laser like focus where my thoughts can survive the fray, as opposed to leaning on a world where everyone is quick to share an often half-baked idea.

I bring this idea of clarity up because where else will you find another individual who has had nearly every weekend in the past year to travel for multiple, multiple hours at a time, thinking about the intricacies of anatomy and physiology, along with the application of all of this knowledge in a very deliberate sense? And I’ve been doing this for several years at this point – being alone with my thoughts in order to refine my philosophy.

The second point on clarity brings about the idea that every little thing that can distract you, will distract you. I’m fortunate at the moment to not have major major responsibilities such as having to take care of any family, or any other responsibilities other than me being alive and paying bills. This helps, but I know this will change in the near future.

So when looking to create something so good that no one can ignore you, do you think it is accomplished by paying attention to the hundreds of distractions that are out there?


You need focus, clarity, and stubbornness to accomplish this. If you are constantly distracted through small talk, phone notifications, and other items of the sort, you won’t be able to survive to create anything, let alone refine your thoughts to create something that excels past the noise.

Action Plan

1. Track the amount of times you unconsciously check your favorite social media outlet in a 10 minute block.

If it distracts you from a current project, ask yourself – is it helping or hurting?

2. Track the amount of time you have alone to yourself – without talking to anyone else.

If you don’t get more than 30 minutes to yourself, either on purpose, or because of other responsibilities, block off time where you quite literally tell people that you have an appointment – with yourself… just to get things done, or at least think.

3. Make yourself unavailable during certain times of your day or week.

  • Henry David Thoreau traveled into the woods alone, and later created Walden.
  • Many musicians go for days and maybe weeks at a time in the studio with no contact with the outside world.
  • Many of my mentors wake up earlier than the rest of the world in order to get things done – all before these distractions enter their lives after sunrise.

I choose to travel for hours on end, along with staying up late into the nights to get things done.

What about you?

As always,

Keep it funky.