"Oh Yea, We Do Bondarchuk Training"

January 01, 2017 Justin Rodhe

“Oh yea, we do Bondarchuk training.”

January 1, 2017

Justin Rodhe

 The popularity of this statement, or something close to it, is increasing in our sport world. A fear looms over me that Bondarchuk’s work may go the way of “plyometrics” and “myofascial massage.” These concepts have been bastardized by popularity and laziness for exactness when applying parameters for these methods. Plyometric has taken the place of what is actually simple jump training and many therapists think they can alter myofascial material in less than 5 minutes.

 To put this in plain terms, lazy coaches have taken the work of masters and in the words of Michael Crichton’s, Ian Malcolm: “You didn't earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don't take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now you want to sell it…”

 In his 50+ years of engaging with sport, Dr. Bondarchuk, through his own research and the help of other scientists has presented many models of periodization that are multi-faceted, eloquent, systems of sport training that take into account full spectrum analysis of the athlete’s exposure to stress and the resulting performance.

 To use the term “Bondarchuk training” in a sentence is like saying “I eat healthy.” There is no substance, no accountability and most important, this statement contains no parameters for measurement or reference. For example, in his four volume series, Periodization of Training in Sports, he studies the complexities for applying 27 separate periodization models.

 Some of these models are so different from each other that they are not appropriate to apply to every athlete. For example, a method appropriate for a weight lifter is starkly different than a method appropriate for a shooter. I encourage coaches and athletes to name specific methods and models they are using when talking about their periodization. For example, “I use Bondarchuk’s combine-complex method for high school multi-sport athletes and the terraced-variation method for single sport collegiate athletes.” This statement provides specific parameters in which your work with Bondarchuk models can be expressed.

I am conflicted when broaching this topic because it is not all bad, and it is not all the “reader’s” fault. It is great that Bondarchuk and his work has become mainstream in North American training principles. His voice has been heard and there is an interested audience. Most sport scientists could only be so lucky. I encourage coaches and athletes to discuss his work, use his methods, and conduct their own experiments following his parameters. 

Now here is where the reader has no fault. The ideas presented by Bondarchuk are complex and applied to an ever-changing platform. As if this isn’t difficult enough, his texts are rough translations, riddled with omitted punctuation and uncommon diction. Dr. Bondarchuk requested I edit an entire work, cover to cover before he sent it to the publisher. I spent 6 weeks editing in detail while traversing the summer competition series. When I returned the docket of text covered in blue pen marks, I expected him to be grateful, and he was! But his response was not expected, “ok Justin, 10-15 mistakes per page, this not too bad.” 

I was in shock. How could he let so many mistakes go to the public eye? When asked, his response was unexpected, but one that must be met with respect. “Justin, no need make simple. Only special mind can understand this [points to text]. If have special mind, then can work hard to understand.” There you have it, straight from the man himself. He does not, nor did he ever intend for every person interested in sport to understand his concepts.

He has taken measures to hide his brilliance in convoluted charts, sentence lengths that rival Falkner, and even riddles that are written across different volumes. But the discussion of riddles in Bondarchuk books is for another time.