October Coach of the Month: Alex Rechen

Interviewer: Today, we have the privilege of sitting down with Alex Rechen, a Sports Performance Coach who has achieved remarkable success in the field. Welcome, AlexUMass Rechen 1920. Can you tell us more about your official job title and what it entails?

Alex Rechen: Thank you for having me. As a Sports Performance Coach at the University of UMass Amherst, my role is to help athletes reach their peak potential by designing and implementing training programs tailored to their specific needs and goals. I work closely with athletes, focusing on optimizing their physical performance and minimizing the risk of injuries.

Interviewer: That's impressive, Alex. Could you share your greatest coaching success story for either an individual or a team?

Alex Rechen: Certainly. One of my most notable achievements was during an outdoor conference meet at UMass. After a disappointing indoor season, we set 18 UMass top-8 all-time marks, including five school records. It was a testament to the hard work and dedication of the athletes and the effectiveness of our training programs.

Interviewer: It sounds like you've made a significant impact on your athletes. Can you explain how you incorporate VBT (Velocity-Based Training) into your programming and why it's crucial?

Alex Rechen: We use VBT for two main reasons: to autoregulate and to get a specific training response/adaptation. I primarily work with track and field, and everyone's practices vary greatly depending on event group. As such, I cannot assume that the hurdlers feel the same way the throwers do. One event group could have had an easy week and another event group could have had their hardest practice of the year, but they are both at lift together the next morning. VBT allows each athlete to get exactly what they need out of a session. . . those who feel fresh have the liberty to capitalize on their freshness, and those who are fatigued don't get a higher dose than is warranted. VBT also ensures that we are improving everyone's unique force-velocity curve. Because everyone's curve is shaped slightly differently, I can know that I am training the quality that I'm looking for depending on the time of year as opposed to guessing based off of a percentage. This also relates back into autoregulation in that a session may feel different from week-to-week depending on the surrounding sessions.

Interviewer: That's a fascinating approach, Alex. What advice would you offer to your fellow coaches in the field?

Alex Rechen: Give yourself a year of lead time to dial in exactly what you want from data collection, whether it's VBT or other information. The first year of anything involves a steep learning curve for the coach AND the athletes. There's no harm in using VBT for autoregulation alone in the first year, then at the end of the first year, looking back at the data collected from a 30,000ft view to be sharper next year. Once you have a clear view of what makes the most sense for you and your athletes in your situation, and you've seen how they've reacted to the applied stimulus, it's much easier to make more nuanced decisions regarding training.

Interviewer: Wise counsel. Now, for the athletes looking to improve their performance, what piece of advice would you give them, perhaps related to a specific type of training?

Alex Rechen: Taking care of yourself cannot be over-stated. Take the extra 10 minutes a day to do soft tissue work and mobility. Get on a sleeping/eating schedule that allows for proper recovery and preparedness. The more you can automate these things--for example, meal prepping on Sundays or foam rolling before bed every night--the easier it is to implement them.

Interviewer: Excellent advice for athletes. What motivated you to become a coach in the first place?

Alex Rechen: I had excellent role models for coaches in various disciplines and I wanted to continue their legacy. I am passionate about sport, and I love helping others to reach their dreams through sport as well.

Interviewer: Admirable. Lastly, what advice would you give to parents of young athletes?

Alex Rechen: Keep it simple and consistent. There's no magic clinic or supplement that guarantees success. Encourage your child to work hard, be consistent in their training, and take responsibility for their progress. Consistency and dedication are key to seeing positive results.

Interviewer: Thank you, Alex, for sharing your insights and expertise with us today. Is there anything else you'd like to share with our audience, or where can they connect with you online?

Alex Rechen: Athletics should always be fun. Winning is great, but enjoying the process is equally important. You can find us on Instagram at @umasssportsperformance and @rexperformancetraining. Feel free to reach out via email at alex.rechen@gmail.com or arechen@umass.edu.

Interviewer: Thank you, Alex, for your time and valuable advice. We appreciate your dedication to helping athletes excel in their respective sports.

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