Navigating Athletic Transitions: Lessons from Sam Dodge, Head of Strength & Power at Adelaide Football Club
Highlights from the episode:
- Advice and challenges for coaches transitioning from Rugby to AFL
- How he tackles neck training in AFL
- Difference between the head of strength and power of Rugy and AFL
- How he does primer sessions for rugby and footy
- How did he individualize his program for a large squad of 40-45 players
1. Cultural Adaptation in Athletic Transitions
Sam Dodge stresses the importance of quickly adapting to cultural differences when transitioning between sports. His experience highlights the need to respect and understand the unique dynamics of each sporting environment. The cultural adaptation extends beyond the nitty-gritty of strength and conditioning, emphasizing a holistic approach to integration.
2. Game Priorities: A Shift in Focus
Dodge sheds light on the fundamental differences in the priorities of rugby and AFL. While both sports demand strength and power, the emphasis varies. In rugby, physicality can determine the outcome of a game, while AFL puts a premium on the ability to run and maintain play. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for athletes leaping these codes.
3. Neck Training in Australian Rules Football
A fascinating aspect of Dodge’s insights is the attention given to neck training in Australian Rules Football. The unique nature of contact in AFL, with hits coming from all directions, necessitates specific training. Dodge reveals that neck strength training is consistently incorporated into the program, showcasing the commitment to addressing the sport’s distinctive physical demands.
4. Role Variation in Strength and Power Coaching
Dodge shares an unexpected aspect of his role at the Adelaide Crows – involvement in combat grappling. This revelation highlights the variations in the responsibilities of a Strength and Power Coach across different codes and clubs. It also underscores the adaptability required in such roles to cater to the specific needs of the team and its coaching staff.
5. Individualized Training: Tailoring Workouts for Success
A key takeaway from Dodge’s philosophy is the emphasis on individualized training. Managing a large squad of 40 to 45 athletes requires a nuanced approach. He advocates for a comprehensive profiling battery, including measures like max strength, jumping ability, isometric strength, and conditioning. This approach ensures that efforts in the gym are targeted and aligned with each player’s unique physical qualities.
Sam Dodge’s journey from rugby to AFL provides valuable lessons for athletes navigating similar transitions. Beyond the physical aspects of training, understanding and respecting the cultural nuances of each sport is paramount. The ability to adapt methodologies while acknowledging the distinctive priorities of the game ensures a smoother integration into a new sporting environment.
In the dynamic world of elite sports, the insights shared by Dodge serve as a guide for athletes and coaches alike. As the sporting landscape continues to evolve, the lessons learned from transitions between codes become increasingly relevant, shaping the way athletes approach challenges beyond the field of play.
Jack McLean is the founder of Prepare Like a Pro. He loves coaching people so that they can reach their personal/professional goals and become the best that they can possibly be. He is currently the Strength & Rehab Coach of Melbourne Football Club and has worked as Strength & Conditioning Coach at Hawthorn Football Club. Jack is a Level 3 Australian Strength & Conditioning Association and Professional Coach and a Level 1 Australian Weightlifting Federation Coach.