Sunday, December 30, 2007

S.P.A.C.E. Takes over where others finished

I have talked perviously about S.P.A.C.E TM which is a new system we have developed that is focussed on maximising athletic performance. This system goes a few steps further than SAQ and other systems as it incorporates all aspects of athletic development Speed/strength/stability/power/agility/co ordination and endurance and is based on a simple 4 step plan.
Analysis - sport/player/position
Planning - session/week/block
Performance - training/match
Review - player/training methods/testing data

The S.P.A.C.E. TM system will fill in the gaps for many coaches who can run great sesions but really have no idea where this session fits into the overall picture. I found with many systems you can learn to run great speed and agility stuff but how does this fit in with other aspects of athletic development. I We have developed a specific training program that encapulates all aspects of S.P.A.C.E. TM in an hour session and also a Introduction and level1 and 2 coaching course for people who want to learn more about total athletic development.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Pre Season Training

I want to use a team I am working with this year as a case study and forward the results and training program to you. The team is a semi professional soccer team Sydney Olympic who participate in the NSW premier league which is probably the second strongest competition in Australia after the A-League. The players were first tested in late October and given a 4 week program to complete at home and were again tested late November at the onset of the official start to training. Training comprises of 4 face to face sessions and 3 strength sessions/week. I have just completed the second 4 week block of training and can report a 7.5% increase in VO2 over this period. I am very happy with this and predict a further 3-5% increase over the next 4 weeks. I am happy to outline the training sessions if yanyone is interested and will do so at a latter date. THere have also been significant reductions in body fat, improvements in speed and agility and also improvements in verticle jump.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Just wanted to recommend a really good blog run by Chris who takes time to answer posts and review the latest reearch. I like it because there is stuff for all people involved in the field and includes video and links. I read it daily and I encourage you to do the same

Happy Christmas and New Year

Happy belated Christmas I have been on holidays and sory for the lack of posts this will be a new year resolution to be posting each day. This is a season for friends and family but also one where many teams are in the middle of pre season training. It still makes me wonder how and why teams train for 6 weeks prior to Christmas and than give layers 3 weeks off with no training program. Anyway I have given players 6 days off with a program and tried to work it that this forced layoff coincided with the end of the second block of training tus giving a regeneration week.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Team Sports and Athletic Development

Athletic development and team sports is a challange. The difficulty is that you must compromise in what you want to do in the time restrictions that you have. Furthermore there are equipment restrictions, dealing with oversized squads and working to the rerquirements of the organisation. I think this is where you must use your skills of analysing the sport and determining what are the must have's and the wish haves to be effective. Strength is an interesting area as I find some spend too much time and some spend too little time and it appears that it is hard to get it right. I think in most game sports such as soccer, basketball, netball, lacrosse etc mush of the strength work can be completed with body weight and med ball which allows for you to train large numbers and helps with the specificity. I am presently trialing the Squat Spectrum TM from Vern Gambetta (see it on and this is the sort of session that is achievable with big numbers. I welcome your feedback as it is imperative we keep our eye on the big picture and this can only be done if we analyse what the athlete needs to be a success at their chosen sport.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In view of my last post and if you are interested in learning more about stats go to which is an outstanding website. Wil Hopkins has created this site that I have used many times over the years and during my PhD I contacted Wil and he was only to willing to help. Moreover this site has its own online journal and many resources for the coach and sport scientist. I like Wil's approach and how he helps to get the REAL message out there. I cant speak highly enough about this website and the work that Wil Hopkins has done.

Statistics and Research

I have always been facinated with statistics and how easily they can be manipulated by a researcher to make a point. It is evident in athletic development or sport science research that in many instances the statistical analysis is very basic but still big claims are made from these papers. Looking through some research today there are many studies reporting "strong" corelations and than stating that X and Y are related with over 70% of the variance unexplained. To me I dont understand why editors allow researchers to report r= when it should be r squared. Maybe this is becaue the statistical knowledge of most people in the sports science field is poor. Be very careful when reviewing the claims of researchers and just because it is published is not a reson to believe. I know many people just see the title of a paper and than go to the conclusion nd take that concluding statement s gospel. Much of the problem may also stem from poor statistical power due to low cohort numbers and if there is low numbers than correlation should not be used. I dont want to go on too much but it is imperative to review the literature rather than just believe

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thinking outside the square

How often do you sit and reflect on your training programs? Far too often we are that busy that we dont reflect and thus without reflection we just continue down the same path. I am not into change for change sake but I do believe if we did stop and think more we could be more creative and than get better results. There is alot of great information for us to learn from but if you know your physiology, you analyse the requirements of the sport and you are aware of your athletes strengths and weaknessess why not try to be a leader rather than a follower. I have recently taken the time to watch a variety of sports and speak to coaches involved in these sports and than by reflecting on this information it is possible to come up with something innovative and most importantly effective for your sport. Many sports have not advanced in their athletic development just because they havent taken the time to reflect.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Duncan Hall

This week's interview is with Duncan Hall. Duncan Hall is a former Wallaby, played 75 times for the Queensland reds and also played for NSW a few times (he leaves that off his resume) and now specialises in athletic development. He was previously involved with the Waratahs and has coached throughout the world including in England and the United States rugby team. Duncan is a great thinker and has recently co-founded S.P.A.C.E. Total athletic development. I hope you enjoy this interview.

Q. What in your view are the most important aspects of an athletic development program for a professional organization?

A. It is important to actually acknowledge ‘Athletic Development’ as an integral aspect of the program. From my observations there are extremes in strength development and running development. The key elements of Athleticism are not understood. Q. What are the common mistakes made in athletic development programs.A. Missing the conversion from gym strength to sports power. An important end result is advancing players’ performance on the field not just in the gym.

Q. What changes have you seen from your playing days to the present in respect of athletic development?

A. If size was the sole indicator then the answer is substantial. However, today players have become less athletic and are over-coached. I remember seeing footage of Steve Rogers playing his athleticism was fantastic. Sure defence has improved. Sadly attack as become sterile.

Q. Who has inspired you and for what reason.

A. A young half back who was always a fringe player trained with me regularly for 6 months. He said that in the beginning he only turned up because of me. Then 2 months in during a game, he was in a position to take advantage of a gap, he accelerated through it. His turn of pace was something that he had aspired to now he had it. This he kept a secret until he left town when he said ‘thanks coach you have made me a better player’.

Q. What are your views on periodisation?

A. I believe that it is essential to planning. Build the base, Maintain the base, Refresh and be able to Finish. This is not a scientific analysis. I am into the ‘art’ of coaching. That means to me the observation and analysis of movement.

Q. How do you keep updating your knowledge?

A. This is difficult time wise. The best way for me is networking practitioners who enjoy sharing knowledge.

Q. What are 3 things you do differently now compared to when you first started in athletic development.


1. Developed my observation skills

2. Developed a system for under resourced coaches to follow

3. Broadened the learning environment for conditioned game play

Q. What do you most enjoy about your work?

A. The practical and developmental nature. You can see people improving becoming better players and people.

Q. What direction do you think the athletic development field should take?

A. In Australia I think that over our history we have just played. Today children play less and when they play it is organized and structured. More ‘free play’ would develop better participants who would have some fun and enjoy their sport.For the professional end of Australian sport understanding that the development of movement literary skills should start from Primary school and be built upon over a number of years just like academic subjects are. Athletic development training concepts cannot be started when you are identified as having sports talent.
I enjoyed this interview very much as Duncan hits the nail on the head about freeplay. Our kids just need to get out and play a variety of activities. These activities should be unstructured and adult free. Learn more about what Duncan is about at and I can tell you Rugby in this country would be in a much better place if Dunc was involved at the highest level but in the mean time many youngsters are enjoying the benefits of his wise words.

Monday, November 19, 2007

This is a site I have been having a look at this week and demonstrates how a collaboration between a range of medical and allied health professionals can come up with a sound athletic development program. I do not know these guys but it looks like a good model. Have a look and tell me your thoughts

Athletic Development in young populations

I have been amazed at the increasing number of parents that request athletic development sessions. It made me realise that over the years our athleticism has declined. Recently I have been working with many young athletes and it has been interesting that over 90% had difficulty performing a forward roll which is a basic fundamental movement. This is only 1 example but maybe this has much to do with the early specialisation of children into sports that dont require early specialisation. I see it most in the so called elite junior player particularly in soccer where that is the only sport they play. There is no time to play cricket, do little athletics or even just play in an unstructured environment. Therefore I believe our youngsters are missing out on oppurtunities for athletic development or the incidental aspect of AD and unfortunately all their AD is structured. I welcome your views

Monday, November 12, 2007

Our weekly website review takes us this week to a site out of New Zealand which I have spent some time on over the last week. I have found it to be an excellent site with some great information which all is for free and a Q&A section with Ashley Jones. They also sell equipment and have a unique feature in that if you have an idea for equipment they can design it and make it. A great site with great information and well worth putting on your list of favourites.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ashley Jones

Each week I hope to bring you an interview with a leader in athletic development. Ashley Jones is presently the Director of Physical Perfomance for the Super 14 power house The Crusaders and was on the athletic development staff for the All Blacks. Ash has previously been involved with the Sydney Kings (basketball), Newcastle, Parramatta, Northern Eagles (all NRL franchises) and has lectured throughout the world in the field of athletic development. I have known Ashley for many years and I believe him to be one of if not the best in our field. I thank Ashley very much for taking his time to answer some questions

What are the most important aspects of an athletic development program for a professional organisation?

I think ensuring the person in charge of the fitness program fits in with the personality of the team, I have seen some bad mixes that do not last. That said it is important for the out going person to be on hand to select who takes over from them, I know with my own experiences the best fit was when the previous fitness coach was on the interview panel, he knew the areas that the team could continue to grow in and selected accordingly.

What are the common mistakes made in athletic development programs

Ignoring the basics, the big rocks, which I believe are three:1. Strength & Power2. Speed3. Specific metabolic conditioningAs Rusty Jones from the Buffalo Bills once said "I get the team big, strong and fast and the head coach teaches them how to play the game" that maybe an oversimplification but I do not think it is too far away from the truth. Bottom line if these are not in place than anything else you do is irrelevant.

Who has inspired you and for what reason

My players each and every day, they teach me and keep inspiring me, they add to my program all the time and we grow together. From an educational perspective, I think Lyn Jones and Harry Wardell were the guys that influenced my initial thinking, but even going way back when I first walked into the American Health Spa in Brookvale, NSW, the gym owner Vince Basile, took the time to instruct me in the basics, which was ably supported by Dennis and Pat two local powerlifters, emphasis on technique was everything and I hope I pass that on to my own players now. Lately people like Louie Simmons and his Westside crew make me think and how I can use that to good effect with my players. From a personal perspective, his holiness the Dalai Lama, is a constant source of inspiration, for the way he approaches life.

What are your views on periodisation

Classic periodisation, Matveyev, I feel is inappropriate in team sports, I feel the Conjuagte methods where "whatever you do not train you lose" approach where all qualities are trained simultaneously and specific weaknesses are emphasised works best in my sport of rugby.

How do you keep updating your knowledge

I find that very difficult since a lot of conferences are on at times when I am with teams, so a lot of internet use, chats with fellow professionals and trying to look more to the power production sports, like Bob Sleigh, Shot, Discus, Hammer, speaking to coaches in those sports looking for something to optimise our power training, experimenting on myself with training protocols, I once read that if your full time job upon graduation from any science degree was to read the available literature in your subject area, for a 35 hour week, then after your first year in this "job" you would still be 3 months behind, so it is impossible to stay abreast of everything.

What are 3 things you do differently now compared to when you first started in athletic development

1. More emphasis on power rather than strength2. Games for anaerobic conditioning rather than just intervals3. Individualisation as I know the players and I listen to them more since they know their bodies better than I

What do you enjoy most about your work

"Find a job you enjoy and you never work a day in your life", that quote sums up my life now, I love the opportunities that each day brings to work with great motivated people who want to get better, the friendships the camraderie, taking a group of guys at the beginning of an off season, each group is uniquely different and then working with them days into weeks into months and assisting them in optimising their performance both collectively and individually is very rewarding, I love the team aspects of my job, and then seeing some of those players selected for higher honours is a bonus. I really like the quote from Mother Teresa, "we do not do great things, just ordinary things with great love"

What direction do you think the Athletic Development field should take

That is a tough question, I feel sometimes the scientists high jack the humanistic approach, we are working with individuals all the time, and I know I frustrate some of our science guys since I sometimes do things for no apparent reason other than a feeling, when I started some 15 years ago in professional sport I would say i did 90% of my coaching through science and the other 10% by art, now it is probably the reverse, the science obviously underpins what we do but it is still okay to go with what you feel is right.

I hope you got as much out of this interview as I did. It is interesting what Ashley states about the science as he comes from a very scientific background and I too have found that with experience the science gives me the background but at the end of the day I am working with people in an environment that is far removed from the lab.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Interesting Sites

There are many sites focussed on one form of athletic development or another and over the weeks I hope to pass on ones that I read each week. I plan to do this each Monday so you can start your week off well. The first site I look at each week is Vern Gambettas blog which is outstanding and highlights the thoughts of one of the leaders of athletic development in the world. I encourage you to have a read of this site each day. Another site I spent some time on last week was which has some great resources for testing and is well worth a look. Hope these 2 sites get you off to a good athletic start to the week.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Why Athletic Development

Strength and conditioning specialist has long been the term used to describe the person involved in the physiological preperation of the athlete. This name has been strengthened by the various associations that have strength and conditioning in their name (associations that I respect) but I feel the S&C specialist often errs on the side of strength and that the focuss of these associations is more focussed on strength than other aspects of conditioning. It was with this view that I believe it is time to start The International Society of Athletic Development. For this to be a success we need other like minded people to be involved. Athletic development is about all aspects of physiological preperation and as a title, moves away from the focuss on strength. I encourage you all involved in athletic development to change your title to Director of Athletic Development or Athletic Development specialist. In time with members we hope to start with a newsletter and move into a journal. We will also have an accreditation scheme but this will all take time.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Have your say

ISAD is here to give a holistic approach to the development of athletic potential. I welcome your comments and feedback to whether you feel this organisation has a place in our field

Sunday, October 21, 2007

International Society of Athletic Development

Welcome to the new blog of a very new society (International society of athletic development) it is hoped that this society will be at the forfront of athletic development and help to gain acceptance of the title of athletic development as we feel it is more representative than strength and conditioning.