The following is a brief description of the DBA training program. It includes video samples of some of the techniques and exercises that are explored.
At it’s core DBA has a simple goal, to help each athlete find his own rhythm. By this I mean a state of physical and mental awareness where one can perform at their highest level. I’ve developed a program that challenges the athlete physically while simultaneously putting him through rigorous exercises in focus and concentration.
Boxing and Drumming: An Effective Combination
Boxing happens in a very confined area, so the motion involved is all change-of-direction motion. There is no extended linear motion, it’s all up and down side to side and back & forth. Learning how to do this effectively is essentially learning how to be agile and requires an athlete to be light on his feet and loose in his hips and shoulders. Boxers move like this not just for defensive purposes but also to create momentum to deliver power. I’ve extracted and modified many techniques that boxers use to attain this agility making this an effective training program for nearly any sport. Boxing is also a rhythm sport(as I would argue most sports are) at times looking like a dance. Finding your rhythm and analyzing your opponents are crucial elements for success. Integrating the drums into the exercises is a way to get more aware of and more in tune with rhythm. More importantly, introducing the drums opens up a world of possibilities to teach focus and concentration. I believe the future of athletic training will emphasize to a greater degree the mental development of an athlete, creating a stronger connection between mind and body and an athlete that can figuratively and literally “think on their feet”. This will give them a greater command and awareness of their game, their situation, their opponent and I believe will make them less susceptible to waves of negative momentum. Momentum swings are a part of any sport but I believe they can be managed with a stronger mental approach, and this can be trained. Mental and physical gifts, like rhythmic acumen vary from person to person and they don’t necessarily determine success in athletics, but they can be improved through proper training. It’s the process that is the key, what the mind and body must do to improve. The physical development of athletes has been emphasized with outstanding results but mental training has lagged behind. This program will begin to change that.
Focus and Concentration: The Backbone of DBA
As you will see in the accompanying videos, the drums give structure to the exercises, both physical and audible structure. This allows me to work on what I call Three-Dimensional Focus. Three-Dimensional Focus is a technique that helps the athlete work on processing multiple streams of information simultaneously by introducing different variables during the exercises. They then must make proper decisions based on these changing variables. I’ve built this technique into most of the exercises that are introduced. As the name suggests there are three components to this. The first are the specific physical and technical demands of the particular exercise i.e. the pattern on the drums, the number of receptions before a change, the form(I’ll speak more on this later but attention to detail is always stressed), essentially the exercise itself.
You can see how the drums give physical structure, they define the parameters and dictate where the motion is directed.
The second component of this Three-Dimensional Focus is the tempo. Here is where the audible structure of the drums comes into play. Each time you hit a drum you create a rhythm. Keeping that rhythm synced with an external source that is subtly changing is a way to keep the student engaged mentally, even if it’s almost subconsciously. I’ve composed the music for this program that contains these shifting tempos. The tempo changes that occur in the rhythms they are following are usually subtle. Being able to stay with a tempo shows control(I’ll speak more about this control later). Once again it’s not the amount of inherent rhythm one has that’s important, it’s the process of improvement during physical duress that is the key.
The third component consists of varying instructions given during the exercise. Instead of just setting a routine and having the student do a certain number of repetitions, the routine changes through audible commands. This usually consists of either the direction or pattern of the motion changing. I then increase the intensity by challenging the student with either different languages or by using musical cues to change the exercise. This aspect of teaching focus and concentration permeates every aspect of the DBA program and is what truly sets it apart.
The Agile Athlete: The Physical Elements of DBA
DBA is also about improving agility(quickness, balance, footwork, rhythm) and there are specific parts of the body that are focussed on. These are the core, hips and below the knee. These hold the key to balance and quick changes of direction and this program introduces unique ways to work on them. Many of the exercises are derivatives of jumping rope, but I’ve added that all important change-of-direction element. Because of the parameters that the drums create, DBA is able to explore more performance based motion…motion more likely to be needed by an athlete in his particular sport. The DBA program is also constantly syncing the feet with the hips with the shoulders with the hands, reenforcing how to move with the greatest efficiency. Through the use of rhythm I’m able to emphasize how staying loose and relaxed increases speed, endurance and concentration. Tension is the enemy of quickness and a friend of fatigue. During the training, being aware of what muscles are necessary for the desired outcome and what muscles are not is a focal point. Another focal point is learning how to stay balanced while shifting your weight to deliver power. This requires the athlete to have quick and loose hips. I’ve crafted a variety of exercises to work on this attribute.
Attention to detail is also something that is given great attention. For example, in the first exercise on the previous video the student must remain in a wide stance, the shoulder must remain loose and “roll” almost like a swimmers stroke, the hips must initiate the motion and the students weight must must stay on the toes, never resting on the heels. The exercise is then shown again but with audible variables added. There are set patterns that are established, then different tempos and combinations of those patterns are given and the student must quickly process the information and execute the exercise. Learning to focus on the details even under physical and mental duress, will lead to greater game-time execution which is another way to diminish the effect of negative momentum. When this exercise is mastered it can be extremely challenging as the patterns and tempo change, and as various shadowboxing elements are introduced.
Timing and Control: Rhythm In Motion
Rhythm and it’s applications are an effective way to work on an athlete’s timing. There are some basic boxing training elements that are an important part of DBA. These include mitt work, heavy bag and speed bag…of course I’ve put my own twist on all of them but they help put into action many of the concepts that are addressed in the other exercises. Throwing a punch correctly for example is not worked on in order to have the student master hitting someone, but it is a great way to understand the concepts of shifting your weight to deliver power while remaining balanced with the proper footwork, while turning the punch over, rolling the shoulder and staying loose to maximize speed. This might sound like semantics, but once again, learning how to pay attention to this kind of detail(especially with something they haven’t experienced) will become habit forming and will carry over to their sport-specific training. I’ve incorporated the heavy bag into the training with another timing exercise. The student must react to the punch thrown by the instructor(in this video it’s a verbal cue) and execute the same punch on the subsequent beat. There are two keys to this exercise. The first is hitting the bag precisely on the next beat and the second is waiting until the last possible moment to release the punch. When these two keys are executed properly this becomes a very useful exercise for both timing and control.
Another exercise for timing and concentration is my version of speed bag training.
After the student gets comfortable keeping the bag going, we introduce the drums and the real work begins. Besides being a great way to work on hand-eye coordination, when the drums are added it becomes a study in focus and concentration. During training I never want the students to turn off their brains. I want it working as hard as their bodies.
A Different Environment:
What I ask students to do during this training is unique. Most of it will be new and will take them out of the familiar confines of their particular sport or activity. I find this to be the ideal state for teaching. They must overcome all the insecurities of learning something new, building themselves up again during the training. The end result is a sense of accomplishment and a confidence that much more unshakable…one of the most important things in all of sport, and life.