‘All strength & conditioning coaches should treat themselves as entrepreneurs in some way, shape, or form.’ Joel Smith – Olympic S & C Coaches interviewed Episode 41

Joel Smith, Assistant Strength and Conditioning coach at UC Berkeley, business owner,  published author, and host of a very successful sports performance podcast Just Fly Performance Podcast outlines his long journey into strength & conditioning, his motivation to start his side hustle and the story of his personal development over the last years.

Furthermore we discuss

Christian: In today’s interview I’m joined by Joel Smith. Joel is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning coach at the UC Berkeley, working with swimming, tennis and water polo and has trained a few athletes who went on to participate in the Olympic Games. Joel is also a business owner, a published author, and host of a very successful sports performance podcast. Welcome, Joel.

Joel: Hey, Christian, thank you so much for having me. Appreciate it, man.

How he got into strength & conditioning 

Christian:  Joel, how did you get into strength and conditioning?

Joel: Yeah, so that’s a really good question, I’ll try not to take too long because I know we have a few questions today. I didn’t even know what a strength coach was, or physical preparation, whatever it’s called these days, until I was 20 or 21 years old. I was in college in the American university system and I never had a strength coach, we didn’t have one at the college, I just knew I liked training.

I didn’t even know what a strength coach was, until I was 20 or 21 years old.

I found out that there was such a thing as strength & conditioning in my early internships, and  when I was in college, it turned me away from the profession, simply because of the way it was presented to me. The internships I had were not mentally stimulating, it was presented as, here are some lifts, here is one or two things to do for those lifts and that the end game basically. There was very little talk about periodization and progression and how this all fits together and transfer to performance on the field like no one talked about that stuff.

I was a track and field athlete, track and field was the sport I did in college, it was a huge passion of mine. I was a seven-foot-high jumper, 2.14 meters, not that’s amazing, but it was decent. And I did some other events as well and basically, all the events from the decathlon minus a few, I just loved track. I did track and field while doing strength and conditioning at the same time, and I worked at the university coaching track and then I was also the strength coach which was just fun, because now I can do strength conditioning.

It was really all on my terms, it was a small college, a great place to get started but, track, was my big thing for a long time. And then it flipped a few years later, when I went from Wilmington college to UC Berkeley and now I’m full time.

But, I see it all like the big picture, it’s all human performance to me.

His darkest moment 

Christian: In your life as a strength and conditioning coach or humans’ performance specialist, what was your darkest moment?

Joel: Yeah, that’s a good question. I found through the course of just getting a job initially in the field of strength & conditioning, and finding my place was very difficult. I found that it’s like I went to school and this is why I have very strong opinions on college and American University. I thought that, because I went to undergraduate, graduate, thinking, to volunteering and  coaching that I should get a job. I should just apply and, of course, people are going to give me an interview and if I’m getting an interview, of course I’ll get in. I was very entitled when I was younger to just think that that was the case and I was really in my own head, in the sense like, oh, I’ve been training for so long and I’m intuitive with it, so of course people are going to hire you. I realized very quickly that wasn’t the case, I applied for probably 30 or 40 jobs.

But these were jobs that I thought for sure, someone will interview me and no one did and so when I realized that I had to batten down the hatches and just go back and volunteer for another year at the school I was at and work for almost free, they pay me for gas. And also, not just that, but also just working valet parking, so here I am, 24 years old and I have a master’s degree basically and I’m going to work valet parking because I can’t find a job in my field. Crazy right?

So here I am, 24 years old and I have a master’s degree basically and I’m going to work valet parking because I can’t find a job in my field. Crazy right?

So, I think there’s always just been a lot of worry about the future in my own life and so that was probably one of the ones that were really the hardest for me, but everything always works out. So, every year, it’s been a growing process on a lot of levels since then. So that would be it.

Christian:  How did you recover from that? Was it just when you got a job, that you recovered automatically or how did you stay on track in that dark period?

Joel: I don’t think I had a very healthy attitude towards it. I think, I kind of shut down a little bit to be completely honest. At that point, which is contrasted to later periods of my coaching life, where if I had a tough time, I think I knew a healthier way to approach it. Back then I just went through and just went into a dark place on my own.

I didn’t have a very healthy attitude towards it, I just went into a dark place on my own.

I think it was still interested in training, but I didn’t handle it in a healthy way. By healthy I mean, like, going out for walks in nature, meditating, finding new ways to work and reach people and find new ways to serve the community, like I consider that to be a healthy way. So, at that point, it wasn’t, but I think as I go on, I found that any times of that, you know, just trusting my own future can be met with the healthy practice. So, I hope that answers that question.

Christian: Yeah, kind of, I guess this trust in the future is an easy one to say but it’s difficult once you’re in there, I’ve been there myself, so I know it’s a difficult one.

His best moment

Christian: What was your best moment?

Joel:  There have been a lot of good ones, I have certainly had success in track and field as a track coach. I remember, I’ve coached the first national, and the only national champion I coached, since my four years of being a track coach, which was really exciting for me.

Then I’ve had the opportunity to work as a physical preparation coach, a strength & conditioning coach, where I’ve worked with people who have been Olympic gold medalist and even a world record holder.

But it’s so easy to hang your hat on that stuff, right? To me, honestly, it’s all the people, I almost feel like my happiest moment is, when I just go and I make a difference in the lives of someone, no matter how good they are, even if they’re not, you know, talented or not, just to know that I had an impact on them. And to see like the breakthroughs, the people who are really struggling or coming back from injury, and there’s been a lot of them and they just have a breakthrough and whether it’s just making a big meet, or you know, finishing in the A final of the meet or anything like that, that stuff is just awesome to see.

I’ve worked with people who have been Olympic gold medalist and even a world record holder. But it’s so easy to hang your hat on that stuff, right? To me, honestly, I almost feel like my happiest moment is, when I make a difference in the lives of someone, no matter how good they are.

It’s those moments that you live for. Because looking at the highest performers more of a vicarious thing sometimes, where people say ‘Oh, I coached so and so.’ And very often, maybe they have worked with that person, but they didn’t play a huge role in the success.

And you see the strength & conditioning coaches do it all the time too, and you hear ‘By the way, I worked with this gold medalist….’ And then I always ask myself ‘Well, I don’t know, how much did you really help them?’ Because some athletes are just machines; they are going to succeed no matter what. But it’s just so easy to say, look at this person goes.

I’d rather see the person who I’ve helped to overcome something substantial, had a breakthrough and it changed their life in some way, shape or form, small or big, you know? So, those are the things that I hang my hat on.

His advice to a younger Joel Smith

Christian: If you could go back in time, 10, 15 years, what advice would you give your younger you?

Joel: You know; two people have asked me this. I will first say this, I do believe that everything in life happens for a reason, everything is there to help you and teach you for good or for bad.

I do believe that everything in life happens for a reason, everything is there to help you and teach you for good or for bad.

And I even look at every bad point in my life and it’s all been for good, no matter what. And I think that’s easier for some people to say than others, I’ve had all good things, considering that I’ve had a very easy life, so, it’s very easy for me to say this.

In general, I’m giving advice to the average let’s say 20 years old, who is interested in this field, I’ll just say this because I think this is different. The capacity by which you can serve others, is the capacity to basically heal yourself to be the best you, because how you serve comes from what is inside of you.

And for me, that’s just been a lot of personal development and inner development and seeing the idea of bringing your best self, the best version of yourself to every training session, I think is extremely undervalued.

The idea of bringing the best version of yourself to every training session is extremely undervalued.

And I think, there’s a lot of generalities on how to be better, we talked about being a better coach and the art of coaching and that’s all good. But at the heart of it all is, the ability to heal yourself. I don’t want to get too off track. But healing a lot of ways that we were either wounded as young people, in a way and a lot of us using athletics or strength to validate ourselves in those pieces that carry over.

It’s like this journey of getting away from that and finding who you are on the inside, the best version of you to lift athletes up, the most you can. That’s probably the best advice, I’d give that to myself.

Christian: That’s an interesting approach, a little bit of a spiritual approach as well.

His advice to a young aspiring strength & conditioning coaches 

Christian: What advice would you give to young aspiring S&C coaches, that want to break into the industry? What should they do?

Joel:  It’s like the treadmill and everywhere, it’s not just here, it’s everywhere. It’s like this revolving treadmill, you know like skipping around schools, hope you get a job. And this to me, it’s all about the process. I mean, everyone’s going to say network and yes, that’s the way human nature works, they will pick someone they trust more than someone who intrigues them with knowledge, it’s just the way things go.

They will pick someone they trust more than someone who intrigues them with knowledge.

However, I do it as a process and think about ‘How can I be the best at serving?’ Don’t put your eggs in one basket and be like, I just want to be an NCAA University coach or something like this. I think that all strength and conditioning coaches should treat themselves as entrepreneurs in some way shape or form.

I think that all S & C coaches should treat themselves as entrepreneurs in some way shape or form.

I think that in a certain a period of years, like less than 10years, a huge portion of the workforce will be freelancers. And a lot of the coaches that I have huge respect for in the industry are those people who have basically have a side hustle, and an entrepreneurial side. They don’t have to rely on a single employer, an organization to create their structure. And I think that helps people to focus on the inner process, more than just playing the game if that makes sense. Not that that’s everyone’s path, I don’t think it is, but I just think it is helpful to be multi-well-rounded and not just rely on one area of finding employment.

Christian: So, networking and side hustle?

Joel: Yeah.

His coaching philosophy

Christian: What is your coaching philosophy?

Joel: Oh yeah, that’s a good one, very general. But I could just ramble.

Christian: I want to keep you talking.

Joel: My coaching philosophy is this, you need to see everything from a field perspective. Meaning, everything you do in the weight room, like literally every single thing, that you should have, you should be able to explain in some way shape or form how this will help the person be a better athlete and transfer to the performance on the field.

Everything you do in the weight room, you should be able to explain how this will help the person be a better athlete and transfer to the performance on the field.

And I’ve started as a track coach and I’m constantly stimulated, my mind is constantly 100% stimulated all the time, I lose track of time.

As a strength coach, the worst experiences I’ve had, is interning as a personal trainer. That was the worst, these people I was doing personal training for were not motivated. Basically it was like ‘I have to spend money to give myself an excuse to try to work out.’ And there was no excitement and everything hurt.

And to be honest now where I am as a coach, I think I could do a lot better job with that as well. Where I was then, it was a terrible time for me. But, I’ve found times where, as a typical guess quote unquote “strength conditioning coach”, I find myself bored in the weight room, usually towards the back half of the lift.

And I’m like, well, why is that? And I’m starting to realize why that is, it’s because it’s just fluff at that point. You get past the main work and now you’re in auxiliaries, and then I asked myself ‘Why are we doing these? Why are we doing this half kneeling and anti-rotation, what’s the point of this?’

Is it to be more stable? Well, okay, show me a point in sport where someone replicates that movement. And so, to me, it’s like to know exactly how and where the exercise is going to fit into the grand scheme of things is very important.

And that’s really mass simplification. And that’s where I’ve gotten really into like extreme exercises, contract and relax stuff. Stuff that’s really simple, but the environment and the quality is extremely important and that creates better engagement.

Because to me, I believe, if I’m bored, the athletes are probably bored too, on some level and so my goal is to make it as engaging as possible. So, that means the warm-up might have an element of gamification to it, there’s something active and visual, something stimulating or novel, and that also creates better motor learning for the rest of the session. After that, we got meat and potatoes, which is always fun to coach, the Olympic lifts and the squats.

I mix that with a lot of PRI, postural restoration, iso work, if there’s like, alignment issues that we need to work on. We try to create as much bang for the buck as we can, so for example, an athlete with a strong nervous system, a lot of acetylcholine, versus an athlete who doesn’t get potentiation and needs more of a sensory effect. Finding that puzzle to give that athlete what they need, and then that part of the auxiliary is where I think typically boredom could ensue. I usually try to do like team extreme iso holds and you just try to hold your position the best you can, and you see what athletes are capable of and what their output is.

I told like my water polo team, I told them this all the time ‘If you aren’t doing something that is either maximally forceful or max velocity, then you shouldn’t be doing it. Because when you play, everything is either maximally forceful or max velocity, if you treated some of these reps like you do in your playing time you would not play.’

Everything you do, should be either maximally forceful or max velocity.

So, I try to make sure the intensity of the game is always matched in the weight room. It’s just finding everything useful, both mentally, physically, emotionally and if you’re bored as a coach or if you’re just copying something and don’t know why you’re doing it, then do something else, do something you do know what it does, and then work the heck out of that.

His core values

Christian:  What are your core values?

Joel: Well, that’s a that’s a good one. In terms of coaching and in terms of general means it’s really the same thing. I touched on spirituality before, so to me, it really all comes down to love. And I say that in the sense of, I want to give the best version of myself every session, so that you can be the best version of yourself.

I want to give the best version of myself every session, so that you can be the best version of yourself.

My wife tells me I’m a maximizer, but I think it comes down to that. It’s like I need to heal myself and improve myself so I can give the best I have, so you can be the best you can be. And to me, that’s just been it with coaching, like I work out myself, because I just love this stuff, I’ve loved it ever since I was 10 years or something, I was doing wall sits when I was 10 years old.

And to me, the process of coaching has been this like gradual, overcoming using athletics as validation and the issues of other successful athletes and coaches, to this point where I’m like, look like no matter who, I want every other coach to be successful. I want every other coach to have success with their athletes, I want all athletes to be the best versions of their selves, even the ones who don’t respect me or the program necessarily, or they aren’t excited about it.

I’m not going to judge you, you know if I’m judging myself by looking at you, how you look at my program, then that’s a dead end street. How can I serve you where you’re at?

So, to me, the core of it is just love and service, that is ultimately the core and the value of the coaching field. If you look back, we think about the coaches that are the most memorable to us, these are the ones we remember, and these are the ones that influenced us. The one who was most memorable to me, when I was as hard-headed as any athlete you can imagine and Phil Scott was his name, he actually passed away recently, he didn’t write my training program, all he did, was he saw me where I was at, he saw 21 years’ old who thought he knew everything about training, and he knew how to serve that 21 years old. I would have never jumped high jump seven feet or 2.14 meters without him, I absolutely wouldn’t have! And even though he didn’t write a single workout for me, he has really changed the way I think about athletics.

The person that has influenced him most

Christian: That leads perfectly into the next question, which person has influenced you most and why?

Joel: Yeah, Coach Scott, Phil Scott. In terms of coaching, I constantly look at him. In terms of my model of how to be a good coach. If I was going to be like any coach, I’d like to be like him. I’m still working at it. I think I have a long way to go but he had the biggest impact on me for sure.

He was a guy who would connect with every athlete regardless of how good or bad you were. You never would sense that he was ever disappointed in you, from a point of personal validation. Too often coaches think, and act, if an athlete doesn’t do good, they let them down, like ‘Oh, you made me look bad as a coach.’

Too often coaches think, and act, if an athlete doesn’t do good, they let them down.

Like there was never anything like that for him, ever. Everything was fun. For example, we would be in boring track meetings with the head coach and he’d be doing like finger triple jumps with his finger, like he’d be making his fingers like Jonathan Edwards, triple jumping. I will just be sitting there laughing in the back. And making his fingers throw a javelin, I’ll never forget it, because he always made every day fun and it was filled with love and service.

He knew how to work with me, because I was this guy who wouldn’t listen to anybody. But he had a Russian friend, a Russian high jumper and the Russians are so well known for high jump. He’s like, there’s a guy who told me this, and he just knew like he would have told me to do fast scissor jumps, to run as fast as you can and long jump. He got me to do anything, because the buy-in was just through the roof.

He knew, that’s what I needed to be optimally served. And with optimally I don’t only mean, to just learn, but also empowering the athlete. It’s not about telling the athlete what to do, it’s about empowering the powerful version of them that’s inside, and then stepping back and watching them do their thing.

It’s about empowering the powerful version of the athlete, that’s inside of them, and then stepping back and watching them do their thing.

I like watch my kids compete way more than I like being in the weight room. Honestly, I like doing my job in the weight room, but I love watching athletes compete far more, because I get to see this powerful being, competing and moving and doing really cool things that I can’t do. And I’m just always in awe. So, now I sidetracked it, but definitely Coach Scott, had a huge impact on me, I wouldn’t be who I am without him.

Christian: And on your spiritual journey that you just outlined, is there anyone who influenced you on that one?

Joel: Oh absolutely, I could go on forever about that. And I’m glad you mentioned that, because a lot of coaches don’t know that about me. To me, my spiritual journey has been like my life, like throughout high school, and then grad school and college and beyond.

There’s a good amount of podcasts that I like and listen to, and most of the podcasts I listen to are of the spiritual development ranks. The biggest guys that I really love are Aubrey Marcus podcast, Paul Chek. I know, people say Paul Chek is crazy, he’s not, he’s an awesome teacher and has impacted me profoundly.

Also simple things like even reading Bruce Lee’s book, I just talked about this on another podcast, it was really profound for me. I listened to my Mike Bledsoe podcast, but he used to do the Barbell Shrugged and now he’s doing his own thing. So, guys like that, I’m just constantly listening to that stuff, trying to improve myself, so that I can be a better servant.

A typical training day in the life of a university strength & conditioning coach 

Christian: How does a typical training day in the life of an S&C coach at Berkeley look like?

Joel: Like an average day, my days I used to start early, I worked with track and field as a strength coach, and a lot of days would be like 6 am to 7 pm, which was tough, I have a wife and I wanted to start a family. And I just felt like I needed to change to do that, I didn’t want to be gone the whole day, and then come back home at 7:30 at night and have maybe 30 minutes with the kids.

So, I tried to compress my schedule by moving to aquatics and I also just wanted the new challenge of working with aquatics as a track guy. I told myself that if I’m going to do this physical prep thing, I want to experience something new and exciting and I don’t think the aquatics world has like a deep knowledge of connecting everything, so I wanted to jump on that opportunity. I wanted to learn something new and it also had the benefit of compressing my schedule.

I wanted to experience something new and exciting.

Earlier I used to work from basically 6:00 am to 7:00 pm some days, now it’s more like 6:00 am to maybe 4:00 pm, and I’m done with my teams at like 3:00 pm for the most part.

So yes, I usually have a team early like 6:30 am, then I usually have another team, either at 8:00 am or 9:00 am, then I have some time to do meetings, time to train myself, time to write programs. I have another team that comes in at 1:00 pm, and then from 2:00 pm, I might go and watch the swim practices, or do some administrative stuff.

This is the only university program I’ve ever been in, that actually is a full-time position. So, I don’t really know, what other programs are like. But I do know, that ‘donut days’ are popular, where teams train in the morning and teams train at night. If this is the case, how you choose to fill out that dead time is really important. Are you using it to educate and make yourself a better coach? Are you keeping it as positive as possible? I think avoiding, like the negative conversations is important.

His motivation to start Just Fly Performance and his podcast 

Christian: What was your motivation to start your side hustle, the business, Just Fly Performance and your podcast?

Joel: That’s a good question. Someone asked me when I was 22 years, what do you want to do? And I was like, I want to be like a head track coach and then maybe have a website on the side,  because I think in my head I knew for a while that I like writing.

In my mind I thought, how much I was making as a track coach and as a writer, and thought I would have a comfortable life from that.

But then I started writing when I was 23 years, because I felt like that was the only way to output all these ideas I had and I wanted to express them. I can’t say why or how that even really started, I just knew I needed to do it.

I felt like writing was the only way to output all these ideas I had,  can’t say why or how that even really started, I just knew I needed to do it.

However, I didn’t actually start the website Just Fly Sports until I was 28 years or so. At this age,  28 years, I was actually a point where it was a really tough time with my job at the time. I was at a division three college where it was just difficult, because it was a small D3 school that I felt, it was just so hard there, part of it was the quality of the school itself and the retention of the school itself.

In addition, there were some conflicts with my boss at the time, which we’ve actually resolved since I’ve left, and we have a great relationship now. But it was just in the stress of it all, it was really difficult, and I still had tons of growing to do as a person at that point.

I grew so much at my time, in my 4 years there. I came into this, as entitled, and thought, because I am coming here and all these awesome athletes are going to train for me and I’m going to be so successful then I’m going to be a D1 track coach. Needless to say, that didn’t happen, not at all.

But during the struggles of that, I realized I just cannot have my life success be predicated on being at this job just hoping for a small step up or a lateral move. I would be 35 years and maybe just get like an assistant D1 job and just barely be making it. I told myself, that this can’t be my life.

And so, I’ve always wanted to be a writer, make this writing thing big, because I’ve written a long time. I want it to be something more so I realized, that I can’t do it myself. I can’t make this big and code myself, I can’t teach myself how to code, it’s not efficient. I can’t teach myself Wix or Weebly, so I got a javelin thrower, Jake Clark, who was only 21 or 22 years at the time and a communications major.

We basically partnered up and we said, let’s do this thing. And he has been doing the design and everything on the front end and everything you see, he’s awesome and I’ve been doing the writing.

And so, I’ll tell you that moment, where I decided to start that officially and I started reading some books about the potential of it all, it was the most freeing moment in my whole life.

The moment I decided to start that officially was the most freeing moment in my whole life.

Because of all of a sudden, every time up to that point in my life, I just looked at it as well maybe get this job and maybe work for this person. It was always these canned outcomes and all of a sudden, I thought life can be what you want it to be.

And it was actually the website that UC Berkeley found me to work with track. And everything was the result of that and then just slowly started chipping away at it from there, because I have to. It helps too that I live in a very expensive place, so I am forced to do it, it’s like I must write books, I must output because otherwise, I’m the single provider in a very expensive area with two kids and so it’s a good motivation. It’s awesome, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If I didn’t have this life circumstance, I probably wouldn’t have seen the last book that I wrote out. It would probably still be one of those things still hanging on the shelf somewhere, just like, it’s not good enough yet, no, I had to put it out.

It helps too that I live in a very expensive place, so I am forced to do it, it’s like I must write books, I must output because otherwise, I’m the single provider in a very expensive area with two kids and so it’s a good motivation.

Christian: And how does your employer look at that, you basically have two responsibilities, are they favorable of it?

Joel: To be honest, me doing what I do, makes me a better coach, and this helps my day job. If I wasn’t doing this, then I wouldn’t be able to serve my athletes as well as I can in my day job. So, it’s reciprocal, both responsibilities make each other better.

And, I think I’m a high novelty person too, if I just did the same thing all day, it would drive me nuts. I thought about this, like, if I just wrote all day, or if I just coached all day, it’d probably drive me nuts. I need to have this, like a little bit of checks and balances, and as a mental break it just makes me so much better. It’s actually like the perfect situation.

How to design a training program

Christian: How do you design the training program, step by step?

Joel: That’s the million-dollar question, that could be like a 3-day weekend certification. Okay, I’ll keep it really simple.

Christian: Take us through this whole thought process, not the detailed version, we have to do that in the follow-up interview.

Joel: This is the basic thing, to me everything needs to be, what are the absolute coordinates of the athlete. It starts with the neuro-typing certainly, but like the first phase for me, is always that the athlete has to just move, and be as good of a human being, as he or she possibly can.

And by that, so for me, it’s like a lot of extreme isometrics, like iso lunges, where it’s like full length like the back leg is totally straight. You want to get muscles at full length and minimize co-contraction, so, that means one muscle on, the other is off, so to speak. I know, it’s not completely that way, but they basically using extreme iso-system to optimize the neuromuscular machinery to prepare the athlete better for the next phase.

Then based off the neuro-typing system, that just sets up everything else. So, it’s like, if you’re a type 3, meaning your serotonin sensitive, your program is probably going to be more like 1 by 20 for Dr. Yessis, or slow tempo stuff, 505 tempo stuff.

If you’re a type 1 or type 1A, then we’re probably just going to start fairly heavy right out of the gates and just cycle it out as we go around. I don’t like necessarily messing with stuff, like an athlete who’s like a fireplug doesn’t need to be doing sets of 10. But then, athletes who are like in the middle, they do a lot more complex training. It just kind of depend, but I try to build it around the athlete first. What does the athlete respond to?

I try to build it around the athlete first. What does the athlete respond to?

To me it starts with isometrics and even also full range weight training could be included in that isometric phase, because all range weight training does the same thing, it fully lengthens and fully shortens muscles, and that optimizes the muscle itself and that optimizes the function of the muscle.

The problem is when we just intensify the max range of motion, rather than using it for what it’s good for. I think, you know, the research will allude that quarter squats and half squats are superior to deep squats. Now it’s all about how you actually did it in this study for improving the speed of vertical jump. So, you need to know where and how that full range plays its course and why you’re doing it and then you can go to partials.

Once you have the athlete figured out, on what they’re doing, which is their typing response, and their neurotransmitter response, then you know whether it’s better to do low reps, high reps, explosive reps, etc. Then in the next step. you look at the needs of sport and the biomechanics. In my case, I can’t necessarily do this super well with a team of like 20 water polo players, but I try to find the main elements, and how they relate to water training versus land training.

I try to find elements to help the technique, like Dr. Yessis talks about it and it’s their special strength and that sometimes is not in the weight room, maybe that’s outside, for example on the court or the track or even something else that helps to fix how they actually move. Because at the end of the day, that’s the highest transfer, that’s the top of the pyramid.

Check out the episode with Dr. Michael Yessis, that Joel is referring to

So, in summary, start with a lot of iso, as muscle length to be a better human, then neurotransmitter type setup, how you do the program and then it’s all about sports skill execution, those are my big three.

Christian: You offer coaching services on your website, online coaching as well, do you take your clients through the same process?

Joel: Yes, absolutely. I just had like Alison Wood set the high jump, Women’s 45 world record in Poland not too long ago. And it was very similar, we start with isometric and especially with older athletes we do isos even more. And so, same thing, she’s a 1 B type, high acetylcholine, high need for novelty, and then we try to optimize the technique. So yeah, that’s the fun doing those types of things. It’s like everyone’s a puzzle, so it’s just puzzle-solving.

Christian: So, who’s eligible to the coaching service on your website, everyone or just athlete?

Joel: I do train, general population as well, but for the main part it’s athletes.

His interview nomination

Christian: Do you want to nominate someone to be interviewed?

Joel: Good question, you know, some of my favorite interviews have been with Christian Thibaudeau, also Cory Schlesinger is awesome, recently he’s on a lot of podcasts. So, those two guys have been really cool. I mean, I’ve had everyone on my podcast. So, those are two that I really liked though.

Where can you find Joel Smith

Christian: Where can people find you?

Joel: You can just go Just Fly Sports on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Just Fly Sports podcast. I recently just finished a book called, Speed Strength that you can find on my website or on Amazon.

Joel Smith’s social profiles


Facebook profile

Facebook page




Just Fly Performance Podcast iTunes, Google Podcast, Stitcher, Spotify

Christian:  Joel, thanks a lot for your time.

Joel: Thank you. Awesome, man, well, thanks for having me on Christian, I appreciate it.