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The question, “Can you go?” comes from Dan John’s method of assessment of elite athletes as they prepare for an event. This question is all he needs to measure readiness for these athletes. But for most people, a more thorough assessment is required.
Although the question is too simple for most athletic assessment, Dan John tried to maintain a simple approach in this new book. His simplistic approach can be found in his three basic principles of getting a person ready for athletic training:
- Stretch what is tightening.
- Strengthen what is weakening.
- Do both with the least amount of work.
The book begins by assessing whether a person is even ready for an athletic program or whether he or she would be best suited by seeing first seeing one or more medical professionals (eye doctor, general practitioner, etc.). This focus on athletes of all ranges of experience and ability is one of the key features of Dan John’s books. His work is inclusive of everyone.
"This focus on athletes of all ranges of experience and ability is one of the key features of Dan John’s books. His work is inclusive of everyone."
As Dan has worked with athletes of all different abilities, he has to assess all components of training. He is not only assessing mobility or injury potential, but he is also looking at strength levels and body composition. The book focuses on a holistic approach to training. He wants athletes to be aware of their weaknesses in any area.
The below Venn diagram highlights the three main areas of his focus in training: mobility, body composition, and strength. Some athletes will have to only work on one component, while others will have to work on multiple. People working on multiple components will often see gains in other ways as any training effort generalizes to other areas.
Comparison to His Other Books
If you have enjoyed Dan John’s other books, then you will enjoy this one, too. Frankly, if I weren’t already a fan of his work, I would not have picked this book up, as I did not think I needed to read a book on assessment. But, as it turned out, the book was so engaging that I could not put it down.
"Dan John’s books are always filled with illustrative informational nuggets. He has a style of writing that makes you remember what is important."
This book completes the Dan John Library, which is necessary reading for all beginning athletes and coaches. Intervention and Easy Strength provide the backbone of building strength. Never Let Go and Mass Made Simple provide information on conditioning and hypertrophy (his body composition goal). And although there is overlap between the books, each serves as an important piece of the training puzzle.
Dan John’s books are always filled with illustrative informational nuggets. He has a style of writing that makes you remember what is important. I wasn’t as excited about a book on assessment as I was about his other books. But, after sitting down to begin, I couldn’t stop reading.
I would recommend this book for both athletes and coaches. The book might be written for coaches, but it is quite readable from a new athlete’s perspective. If you’re curious, you can listen to the first chapter here.
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