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Webinar with Dr. Cobb

How To Build The Complete Athlete – Episode 376

Video Highlights

- The Z-Health 9S Athletic Development Model
- What each category means.
- Can you test and train each category & skill?


On the other side of the Z-Health equation is our Z-Health model that we call the 9S Model.

Now our development model has much less to do with the chronological age or any of that.  This is more going to be on attributes that are important for athletic development.

Let me go through it with you.

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Now you can see the most important thing in our entire model is that sitting in the center of attributes is the athlete.  Right?  The whole idea of coaching is to figure out how to make the athlete better.  How do I expand the athlete’s capability?  How do I expand the athlete’s competency?  So the way that I’ve always visualized this for myself is that the athlete… these are all bubbles, right?  These are all bubbles, and what I need to do is to basically squeeze one of these attributes periodically, or a couple of them at the same time and drive those attributes into the athlete, so the athlete expands.  That’s the mental imagery that I’ve always used about this.

So when you look through our 9S’s, we start off with Strength.


Now, every single one of these courses or every single one of these attributes has a course in the curriculum and that’s why I’m going through this because I feel like there are neurologic underpinnings for all of these attributes that have been left unexplored in many cases.  There are ways that we can tweak what we’re doing in each one of these attribute development sequences, where the stuff that we’re bringing in neurologically can really speed up the process for your clients or simplify it.

So, Strength.  Obviously strength is incredibly important but we have to make sure it’s the right kind of strength for the right person at the right time.


Sustenance.  Sustenance by definition means anything that supports from below.  So the Sustenance course in our curriculum is dedicated to nutrition, to sleep, and to recovery.  All right, those are three of the main things that we know, that uh when we’re working with people you don’t get better during the training session you get better when you recover from the training session.  So a lot of our energy management and stress management techniques etc we have to delve into that at a professional level that’s Sustenance.


Skill.  Skill is exactly what it sounds like.  Do you have, as a coach, the technical knowledge to coach through the skill of any given sport or any given movement?  If it’s something that you’re unfamiliar with, do you know how to break it down, analyze it,
so that then you can help an athlete improve their basic skill set?

There are you know less intense versions of this, there are more intense versions of it, where you can become a specialist just in golf or just in tennis. But what we find most Z-Health professionals being excellent at, is working beside top level skill coaches.  Because often skill coaches can tell you what’s wrong with the golf swing, but other than the drills that they’ve developed, they may not have the information or knowledge to solve that problem through some of the higher order neurologic systems.

If I’ve got a technical issue in a sport, could that be because I have a visual issue?  Could it be because I have a vestibular issue?  You all know the answer to that is yes.  So sometimes skill coaching… the… in the amount of repetition that’s needed for an athlete to improve, it can be dramatically reduced if we take care of some of the other issues that we’ve discussed or discuss in the curriculum.  So looking at skill through a neurologic underpinning is what we focus on there.

Z-Health 9S Athletic Development Model

Z-Health 9S Athletic Development Model


Suppleness is about flexibility and mobility.  Obviously your range of motion, and your strength at ranges of motion are critical to athletic performance. What we have to understand is that suppleness needs to be looked at in a very practical way.  And when we teach this our Suppleness & Strength course are lumped together, because I tell people they’re just different ends of the same continuum.  You have strength over here, you have massive amounts of flexibility over here, but the fact is on a neurologic level you will only ever be as flexible as you are strong, unless there’s something wrong with a joint.  So if your brain does not trust you with a range of motion it will take it away from you because it doesn’t think you’re trustworthy. So we combine strength and supplements together.


Stamina would be endurance and endurance development.  As a part of how we look at endurance, we always are interested in the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, and then also a lot of the interception that we discussed in some of the other courses, because endurance is very much driven by brain function.  So we talked in that particular course, a lot about what’s called the central governor theory of endurance, and so we’re learning more and more that fatigue is very much emotionally based.  Obviously there’s physiology that goes into all of it, so we try and show you the blend between neurology and physiology within that particular course and give you a lot of different skills around breathing, etc.


Structure.  Structure has two different definitions in our model.  Now, what you see then the on the screen is a picture of a brain.  That’s because in our course we talk about brain structure a lot and how that impacts on ultimate athleticism.  So you know we spend a ton of time focused on the brain. What I also want you to understand is that general athleticism is also governed by physical structure, so understanding how limb length and lever systems play into power generation, etc. that’s also a general component of improving athletic performance.

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Spirit is the mental side of the game.  How well are you able to handle pain?  How are how well are you able to handle disappointment?  How well do you manage stress?  So this is an, obviously hyper critical perspective, right?  We connect Spirit and Sustenance together, because so often people know what they should do but they can’t emotionally bring themselves to do it, because they don’t have those tools.  So knowing what to eat is not nearly the same as eating what you know to eat and that’s where the spirit stuff really comes into play.  And if you’ve ever worked with high level athletes, managing their emotional states is one of the most important things that you can do not just for performance but for injury prevention and overall season success over the length of the season.


Style is how we adapt.  Skill based on your own body type.


And then Speed kind of comes with its own definition. We know that speed needs to be appropriate.  It is possible to go too fast and lose.  It’s possible go too slow and lose.  So learning how to teach speed, how to perceive speed, and then how to improve that for athletes is one of our kind of key concepts.


So, The 9S Development Model, and again if you’ve heard this before thank you for listening to it again, I just want you to recognize that it’s it is an athlete-centric model.

Thank you for listening to it again.  It is an athlete-centric model.

So when someone comes to me and they are suffering from a particular performance decrement or deficit whatever it may be, right?  I, you know, maybe it’s an athlete… he says, you know I’m lacking power in my forehand.

Well we have a model that says, well are you lacking power on your forehand because you’re not strong enough?  Okay, where would that be?  You’re not generating enough racket speed, why might that be? Is there something particular about the style of the forehand that you’re using that is inappropriate for your structure, right?  Either brain structure or skeletal structure.  Is there something going on from a stress perspective?  Super common you know.  Athletes have been playing all year.  Their stress levels are going up, so their technical skills are going down.

So again, we use this model to have conversations with and assessment processes through each one of these attributes and this makes it often quite easy to figure out what’s going on to help solve specific problems or even to develop programming.

Ask any questions about the Z-Health 9S Athletic Development Model in the comments.


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