Altis Foundation Program Review

Jun 22, 2022

Many of you may not have ever heard of the Altis Group but they are perhaps the best kept secret in the training world especially in the world of elite athletics i.e. track and field.

Altis is a group of elite coaches led by Dan Pfaff who, speaking of best kept secrets, may be the greatest performance coach you've never heard of.

Though Altis's primary focus is on world class power athletes, sprinters and jumpers, they do train athletes from other sports like soccer, football and lacrosse to name a few. Together, as a group, they have well over 100 years of coaching experience as Pfaff alone has been coaching for 40+ years.

Their stable of athletes includes Olympians from over a dozen countries and includes the likes of Andre DeGrasse, Canadian sprinter, Greg Rutherford, British 2012 Olympic long jump champion, and Aries Merritt, former world record holder in 110 meter high hurdles.

Though their primary mission is in training athletes, their secondary mission is as an educational entity through their mentorships. The Altis 360 internet program provides 100's of hours of video content through the on-line Foundation program. They plan to continue to expand their offerings which only bodes well for coaches who strive to be life long learners.

The Altis Foundation program is a 3 semester program in which each semester builds upon the knowledge of the previous semester(s) thus the name foundation. That and the fact that any coach who completes the program will have a very deep and wide coaching base. I just completed the final semester and can't say enough good things about it. As a coaching nerd this material was 2nd to none.

 Each semester course has 4 modules within it and these modules then have 7-10 lessons within them about topics related to the module theme.

For example, in the 1st semester the modules include biomechanics, applied physiology, functional anatomy & kinesiology and training methodology.

The 2nd semester modules include planning and organization, progressions, cueing and athlete management with the 3rd semester focusing on strength development fundamentals, strength exercise inventory, speed development fundamentals and speed exercise inventory.

Throughout the courses there is extensive video demos as well as lectures on the topic at hand, an extensive resources/reference/readings section at the end of each lesson and the majority of the lessons have a short quiz which tests your retention of the basics. You must get 80% on the quiz to move on to the next lesson. The resources section and videos alone are a valuable reference library that you can refer back to again and again. That alone is worth the $199.00 per semester cost which is a bargain.

Let it be said that the program has applicability to field and court sport athletes so it's not just for track and field athletes as the good coach can apply the principles to any athlete.

Here are just 5 takeaway points to consider. Some reinforce what is discussed on this website and others may be a bit eye opening:

  • They are not fans of developing a “fitness base” for power based athletes. They think it leads to impaired motor patterns, poor kinematics and is generally a waste of time.

  • Technique is king. When technique falters, end the session regardless of the session's goal/outline.

  • They are huge fans of what they call “performance therapy” which involves a lot of heavy, athlete specific manual therapy/massage work. They are also fans of the ELDOA* methods which has been developed by Dr. Guy Voyer, a reknown French osteopath.

  • Heavy priority placed on acceleration work as that underpins all speed work.

  • Research by Dr. Ken Clark, PhD, a former associate of Peter Weyand at Baylor, has shown that max speed work can improve acceleration. That should shake some commonly held beliefs.

*ELDOA: translated from French means Longitudinal Osteo-Articular Decoaptation of the spine. The technique is designed as a postural self-normalizing method to widen the space within a chosen articulation. This is done by creating fascial tension to fix the vertebra below and contraction in extreme range to normalize the vertebra above the targeted disc. There is evidently a ELDOA exercise for every spinal articulation from the base of the skull to the SI joint. It's very interesting stuff that is just beginning to make it's way into the world of training athletes in the US.