Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sydney Olympic Finished for season

Well sadly the season for the team I have been working for Sydney Olympic has finished for 2008. Last night we lost 2-1 in the final and now the Grand Final will be played out by 2 deserving sides Sutherland and Woolongong. It has been a great year with us winning the club championship, winning the J Warren Cup, runners up in the Tiger Turf Cub, 3rd in the table and now losing finalists and our reserves (under 20's) were minor premiers and have the grand final next week. However I and our team are hurting after coming so close last night with a great second half performance. In fact I was happy to see our team run riot over a tired opposition during the final 45 minutes but a gutsy effort by Sutherland held us out. So what to do now, firstly I will test a number of players next week just to give myself some data on the effect of a season as compared to previous testing results. It is very hard to test in the latter part of the year due to playing commitments and this information will be interesting. I will also interview a number of players and coaching staff on their perspective of the athletic development program. It is imperative you review and at this stage it is far to easy to move on without reflection. For a semi professional team it has been a long season with over 40 games and the first testing taking place on October 26 2007. I have said often that working with a semi professional team is very very difficul and tests your skills extensively. Players are still working, they cant always complete their strength training, they are fatigued often from manual work so it is a balancing act that has tested me. I am happy with the outcome but I am interested to ge a players perspective and it is this qualitative information that is missing from sport science research

Thursday, August 28, 2008

PE in schools

There has been much discussion on related blogs about the value of PE in schools and the subsequent negative effect that lack of PE has on athleticism. With 2 young children I am aware of this problem and how ineffective primary based PE is. I have children in Grade 1 and 4 who love being active and fortunately for them are confident in their athletic ability. The problem is the hate sport or pe at school because as my son says throwing a bean bag into a hoop from a step away is not much fun. Is there any gymnastics or even a forward roll NO is there any extension for the more advanced kids NO are the kids that need help looked after NO so the problem is there are no trained staff. The classroom teacher is in control of PE which lets be honest is a once a week hour of wasted time. My sister who teachers Grade 1 and is sport minded tells me the teachers are happy when it rains etc because they have so much other stuff to get through so if PE is off that extra hour makes it easier. PE needs to be part and a big part of the curriculum not something they can strike off by having an athletics carnival - Why dont we test children and if they dont meet the requirements then they dont progress - Why isnt PE mandatory for Higher School Leaving examinations Not only is the lack of PE in schools effecting our athleticism we have major issues with prevenatble diseases that are related to physical inactivity. THere needs to be some serious intervention into this otherwise our present problems will be nothing in comparison to the future

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Great Win

Well today we won our semi-final and moved into the Final (playoff to make the grand final) so I suppose the season has been a great success with 2 grand finl apperances in cup competitions and winning the club championship, our under 20's (reserves) into the grand final and our senior team now one game away. Its been long as we have been working since October last year and it is very important that we as coaches maintain our intensity and motivation for the entire duration of the season - I know I feel tired but I must push on to the end because this is what we aimed for way back 10 months ago. Physiologically the players are good and now is very much about short intense sessions/keeping them fresh and injury free. You cant make a season now with your training but you certainly can injure and destroy a season if you are not structured. with Maximum 2 games left it is now about freshness and it is more psychological then physiological - I will keep you informed on how we go

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My Daughter in the yellow

I just gt sent this picture of my daughter Bella (in the yellow) and if you look at the running style it is pretty spot on prticularly considering she is 9 and it is at the end of the state cross country where she cam 8th. So even under fatigue the form is good and just goes to show kids can be taught and the sooner the better.

Strength and Sport

Interesting how wrong we can get with conditioing and in particular strength. Too often I see athletes who have been participating in a strength program that is just a waste of time. People think strength they think go to the gym get a trainer etc but the programs I see for athletes are basic bodybuilding programs that have no resemblence to the sports specificty that we need. Athletes and personal trainers dont mix Personal trainers are for general population if you need a program go to an athletic development coach otherwise you will just have to reverse the damage you have done. If I see another chest/shoulder/triceps and back/biceps program for an athlete I may just explode. Than I had another soccer player who has been advised by his PT to only do strength work for the upper body because thats where he needed the mass thus his legs were ok. Who says that garbage please remember I work in a department where students can become PT's and there is nothng in their course that resembles athletic development so BE AWARE

Conditioning Research A great blog


One of my favourite blogs is Chris where Chris discusses research from many different areas including football and some great stuff on nutrition. Here is one of his lates posts

Thursday, August 21, 2008
Train for football - play football
one for Dr Duncan....

This makes sense. If you want to train football....then play football. Sprints, balance, calisthenics etc are all fine, but the functional training is in the game

Heart Rate Responses During Small-Sided Games and Short Intermittent Running Training in Elite Soccer Players: A Comparative Study.

The purpose of this study was to compare heart rate (HR) responses within and between physical controlled (short-duration intermittent running) and physical integrated (sided games) training methods in elite soccer players.

In conclusion, these findings showed that some small-sided games allow the HR to increase to the same level as that in short-duration intermittent running. The sided game method can be used to bring more variety during training, mixing physical, technical, and tactical training approaching the intensity of short-duration intermittent running but with higher intersubject variability.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dont be Instantly reactive

After a frustrating loss on Friday night in a major semi final where we conceeded 2 goals in the final 7 minutes my first reaction was to question the fitness of the players and furthermore ask myself the question have I stuffed up. PArticularly when this has happened 2 weeks in a row. I even lost sleep about this as I went over things in my mind. The point of this is true REFLECTION and to demonstrate like everyone I do doubt myself from time to time but after going over my notes on the game and my programs I did realise the physical preperation was good and the goals came from concentration lapses or just poor decision making. My point is that dont react instantly take time and from my first reaction of Ive got to step training up fortunately I had Vern Gambettas words in my ears "one training session cant make a season but it certainly can ruin one"

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What is your SYSTEM

I am often talking about a systematic approach to training and programing and I was thinking that maybe this term is overused and people dont know what it means. To me it is about a checklist about doing one step before the next and no going to step 5 before you have completed step 1. I work on a very basic system

Step 1 - Analysis

I first analyse the sport, the movements, the physiology involved, the research outlining what is required to be a success anything I can find or do so that I know and understand the sport from a movement perspective. If there are specific positions in the sport than I must also analyse that position (for instance the GK in soccer)

Once I know the sport I must tham know the athlete and analyse their present physical condition. Now if I dont know the sport how do I know what to analyse and if I dont analyse how can I program. Testing needs to be completed and too ofetn it is not completed many professional teams do not test but how do they know where their athlete is at and how do they know if there program is working. testing is not the be all and end all of this but it does give a very important view point. The tests I conduct must be specific to the sport

Step 2
Plan - Here you plan the season, phase (block), the week, the session if you have no plan you will fail and you are not a professional. I dont think it is possible to have a season plan spot on from the start but you must have the outline but it must be flexible if changes are needed. You than plan the phase, then the week and the session and this must be done in detail. I always say to my students a plan should have enough detail so if you are sick an assistant can run the session from the plan

Step 3

The implementation stage where players perform the session etc and this is where you put the plan into practise. This is imperative that you are involved in this stage so you can see how your plan is working in reality

Step 4
Review and Reflect
Often not used but so powerful after every session that you review and reflect on the positives and negatives and adjust if required. The system is flexible and fluid and requires constant tinkering dont get set in your ways be open Review how players feel, use player monitioring forms, interview your players anything to make your programs better.

This is not rocket science it is a basic educational model and you may vary what you do but at least be sure in your mind that you do have structure

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Preparing for the off season

It is imperative you speak with players about the crucial time of off season or transition. One of the main reasons pre season is not enjoyed because players see the off season as a time to do no physical activity and to eat anything they like. If this is how they approach the off season than the mountain to climb in pre season will be high. However if this period is approached correctly where other activities are taken up just so there is regular physical activity than pre season will be more enjoyable. Sometimes when I see players back after pre season I realise that they actually need a pre pre season program. You must speak with the players and inform them about what to do during the transition period otherwise valuable weeks will be lost.

Know your place

Too often sports scientists and people involved in athletic development think the World revolves around them. Preparing a player requires a multi disciplinary approach and not always are you going to get your own way. Further to this at the end of the day your boss is the head coach and you must respect this. If you do not like the head coaches methods than find a new job - dont sit around backstabbing the coach or trying to get onside with the players be a professional and do your job to the best of your ability. Too often I have heard of difficulties between sports scientists and coaches and in most part the fault is with the SS. Dont think because you have the knowledge or you think you do that you know it all. I love talking to the coaches, listening to their ideas offering advice when requested but most of all respecting their views. Too often we forget sports science is an APPLIED science and thus involves people and what may work in the lab or in a research project does not work in reality.

Monday, August 11, 2008


I thought I should post something about the Olympics. I love it and every 4 years I embrace the amount of sport on TV and I know I could be philosophical and critical and think about the drugs, the pollution and Chinas crimes against humanity but beyond that I just try to focus on the sports and the end products of a training plan. There is some exceptional human talent and remarkable sports and one of my favourite things is to watch sports and admire those that I seldom see except for the Olympics. Think about how you could incorporate wrestling into your program or how would you train for volleyball etc etc I really is alot of fun so embrace it and enjoy it for what it is

Why do what you Do?

do you know what the session you conducted meant? Where did it fit into this weeks plan and where did this week it into the present phase and where did this phase fit into earlier phases. We must advance from being a great session trainer into being a well planned professional COACH. Many people ask me what I do am I a trainer m I a sport scientist but really we are athletic development coaches. This is a profession in itself and to be a good coach you must have a plan you must make a stance and create your plan based on sound scientific principles. Too many professional strength and condiitiong people are killing athletes off simply and surely. Have a look at our cities A league team before we have even started injuries are everywhere now maybe their program hasnt caued all the problems but the muscular injuries yoou have to start asking questions. Do they really know what they are doing, what is the plan how are improvements measured well no testing has been conducted so no retests so how do they know. The fact is they dont and thus we have the terrible situation of our cities A League soccer team being as professional or unprofessional as a local park team - what a waste of money. I feel strongly about this as in their hands are players with bright futures who will make no advances in term of their athletic development due to the arrogance and ignorance of the staff involved.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Grad Diploma and Master of Athletic Development

Great news as I had proposed the above courses to a University in Sydney and have got the go ahead to write them up. I am so excited as I know this can be a great course and I hope to make it practcal and vocational in that people come out work ready to venture into the field and to be able to make a difference. It will be different to many Masters courses around that are just an advancement on 3rd year subjects without being anything really different. I am also passionate about the name athletic development and not letting it be called strength and conditioning and Vern's post below has strengthened my thoughts on this. I wil keep you posted but I hope its finished by Christmass and get authorised next year so we can start an intake in 2010 or even semester 2 2009.

Vern Gambetta hits on the mark AGAIN

I have stated before that is a must read and have a look at Vern's latest post - It is right on the mark

August 08, 2008
Athletic Development not Strength and Conditioning
Do we really need strength and conditioning? Over the past several weeks I have seen and heard different situations that make me question the viability of the concept of strength and conditioning and underscore the need for athletic development. I am a firm believer that words create images and images create action. Strength and conditioning creates two images, heavy lifting all the time and running until you puke conditioning; the subsequent actions reinforce those images. It is difficult for me to understand why with all the knowledge, experience and sports science research that we have available that it is so difficult to move off this paradigm. Athletic development is a complete polar opposite of the above. Athletic development coaching builds better completely adaptable athletes. Athletic development addresses all components of the individual athletes and a team’s development based upon the needs of the sport, the position or the event and the qualities of the individual athlete. At the risk of offending people it is easy to get strong in the weight room and fit for a running test, but the real art and science is to apply that strength to the sport and the fitness to the game. Athletic Development demands a systematic long term plan with everyone on the performance team involved in the process. Today S&C works in isolation. The players go to the weight room, disappear for an hour or two and come out magically stronger and conditioned. Who knows what they do there, does it connect with what they are doing in their sport training, most of the situations I have seen there is no connection, S&C is an end unto itself. Athletic Development is all about mindful movements that connect to the sport. Why are you doing what you are doing and when are you doing it? I get criticized that I do not believe in lifting weights, or that I do not believe in Olympic lifting, that is totally wrong. I believe in strength training as part of a bigger picture. Olympic lifting MOVEMNTS are an integral part of a good strength training program, but remember Olympic movements do not have to done with an Olympic bar, it is the movement that matters and how it helps the athlete apply the strength gained to the sport. Remember a good strength training program should incorporate pulling, pushing, squatting and rotational movements.

What about conditioning? What about it? A good sound athletic development program thoroughly analyzes the fitness needs of the sport and addresses those needs in a systematic manner. It all about getting match, game or race fit. Mindless running without a purpose does not mean you will be fit for the game. Game fit is a cumulative process that incorporates all elements into building the complete athlete. Arbitrary “fitness” tests that do not reflect the demands of the game have no place in a good athletic development program. To use a test to determine if someone is fit is an easy out. Most of the time the standards for these tests are arbitrary at best, I recently saw a situation where a player was one step from passing the “fitness” test; they did not pass so they had to do extra fitness work. That is absurd. Use the testing to determine where each athlete is and determine the workouts accordingly. Make conditioning specific to the game and to the position within the game and to the individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

So where are we headed – I am afraid that we are heading down a one way dead end street. We need to wake up and rethink the approach to all of this. None of this is an end unto itself, it is all about preparing the athlete for optimum performance in the competitive arena. I think sport coaches and administrators need to wake up and reassess this field. More importantly those of us in the field need to shift the paradigm to developing completely adaptable athletes who have the ability to thrive in the competitive arena.

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