Reflection as an Osteopath Intern

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Stefano Pagano

Early Days

I think it all started when I was 14-15 years old; I had always dreamt of coming to the States, where huge stadiums exist and University athletic departments are bigger than the small cities in Italy. It was especially incredible to think about these types of structures compared to Italy where sport development programs start at a young age and where the sports industry is a big part of its culture.

2 years ago when the pandemic had just started, I was working as an Osteopath in New Zealand treating a variety of patients. I gained a deeper interest in the Sports Performance world and application of Osteopathy in this field. During these years, I realized that Osteopathy itself and the way it had been taught to me as a student was static and limited. 

I started looking for more applications of strength & conditioning and Osteopathy to athletic performance. I started to contact people in the industry and ask them questions. A few months later (September 2021) I found myself seated at a dinner table with Antti Kontsas, a Performance Coach in F1. We spoke a bit about his work and my future desire to enter this “world” of coaching. He suggested I try to get connected with ALTIS.

The Internship

I had already come across the company name when I was in New Zealand and did some research;

250 years of combined international experience; 56 Olympic medalists; Over 500 elite athletes and coaches from over 40 countries.

Inspire. Connect. Educate. Perform.

The fit seemed like what I had been looking for so I sent in an application. A few days later I was speaking with Coach Andreas Behm, VP of Performance.

My desire to learn and improve my skills for a better transition from strictly a manual therapist to a Performance Coach confirmed I wanted to spend time and learn from ALTIS.

I soon arrived in Atlanta, Georgia and the following day I was at the field, meeting the other coaches and the track & field athletes. During the following days and weeks my starting role as observer quickly evolved into helping the coaches set up drills to cue and correct athletes’ movement during their warm-up. I was able to treat athletes on the side of the track, help them improve movement patterns, and discuss training with the coaching staff theoretical for practical applications in recovery and training. 

It has been a really good environment where the quality of relationships and networks truly combine into their philosophy of a “360° integrative approach”. The connection with different specialists serve as a broader education base, all aimed to improve the quality of the service proposed, the education, and performance.

ALTIS is an environment where coaches/athletes are available and willing to answer questions, share opinions, and provide you with topics and courses to study. These elements have definitely challenged my brain and rational thinking. How to cue; how to explain a drill; how to correlate a drill to the improvement of a specific part of the motion; what to say or what not to say; how to interact with various personalities – are just some examples of what I’ve learned. Coach Kevin, Coach Stu and Coach Andreas have emphasized these points and been extremely helpful along the way.

I think that the most important place to learn is on the track or field. I have been working on developing my “coaching eye” to pick up technical errors as well as pay attention to the phycological/human aspect of the work between coach and athlete. Because of this, I have been able to develop my running-specific observations, critical thinking, and treatment skills. I particularly found the interaction between the coaches and athletes and me, as a manual practitioner helpful in correcting my treatments. 

I think that the most important place to learn is on the track or field. I have been working on developing my “coaching eye” to pick up technical errors as well as pay attention to the phycological/human aspect of the work between coach and athlete. Because of this, I have been able to develop my running-specific observations, critical thinking, and treatment skills. I particularly found the interaction between the coaches and athletes and me, as a manual practitioner helpful in correcting my treatments. 

Aside from being on the field, I have enjoyed online meetings with the coaches when we can  go into more depth on proposed or requested topics and meet with other professional organizations. This experience has allowed me to experience a broader understanding of how other organizations are interconnected within Sports Performance and how they operate.

Moving Forward 

I have learned a lot on a personal and a professional level and have very felt appreciated for my contributions. Although my osteopathic background and interest in sports helped me a lot with biomechanics, clinical and rational thinking I realize that much more work needs to be done to develop as a Performance Therapist/Coach.

Had I not come to ALTIS when I did, I would have spent more time understanding how to practically create training programs, collect, and analyze performance data.

Moving forward I am so excited to apply the skills and lessons I have learned during this first semester and dive into more.

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