Achieve Peak Performance TipsCategoriesCoaches PLP Podcast Psych/Nutrition

Episode 228 – Actionable Tips to Achieve Peak Performance!

Alex Auerbach is a renowned sport psychologist who has been working with the Toronto Raptors basketball team since 2017. In his role as the team’s mental performance coach, Auerbach helps the athletes to achieve peak performance by guiding them through their psychological and emotional challenges. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the highlights from Auerbach’s podcast, where he talks about his philosophy on Achieve Peak Performance Tips, educating athletes struggling to move on after making a mistake, habits to help with concentration, how coaches and support staff can help athletes reach Achieve Peak Performance Tips, and apps and resources for teaching athletes’ mindfulness and Achieve Peak Performance Tips.

Highlights from the episode:

  • What does peak performance look and feel like
  • His philosophy on educating athletes struggling to move on after making a mistake
  • Habits to help with concentration
  • How coaches and support staff can help athletes reach peak performance
  • Apps and resources for teaching athletes mindfulness and peak performance

What does peak performance look and feel like?

According to Auerbach, peak performance is not just about winning. It is about athletes reaching their highest potential, both mentally and physically. Peak performance is about staying focused, confident, and composed, even in the most challenging situations. When an athlete is in a state of peak performance, they feel fully engaged, energized, and in control of their performance. They are not distracted by their surroundings or their emotions, and they can execute their skills with precision and ease.

Auerbach believes that peak performance is achievable for all athletes, regardless of their skill level or experience. However, achieving peak performance requires a lot of hard work and dedication, both on and off the court. It requires athletes to focus on their mental and emotional health, as well as their physical health. It also requires athletes to develop healthy habits and routines that support their overall well-being.

Educating athletes struggling to move on after making a mistake

One of the biggest challenges that athletes face is moving on from a mistake or a failure. Many athletes struggle with self-doubt and negative self-talk, which can affect their performance and their ability to bounce back from a setback. Auerbach believes that it is essential to educate athletes about how to move on from a mistake and to develop a growth mindset.

A growth mindset is the belief that skills and abilities can be developed through hard work and dedication. Athletes with a growth mindset are more likely to bounce back from a setback, as they see failures as an opportunity to learn and improve. Auerbach encourages athletes to focus on the process of learning and to celebrate small victories along the way.

Habits to help with concentration

Concentration is essential for peak performance. When athletes are focused, they can execute their skills with precision and make split-second decisions. However, concentration can be challenging, especially in high-pressure situations. Auerbach recommends developing habits to help with concentration.

One of the habits that Auerbach recommends is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment and observing one’s thoughts and emotions without judgment. Auerbach believes that mindfulness meditation can help athletes to develop a greater sense of awareness and focus, which can enhance their performance on the court.

Auerbach also recommends developing pre-performance routines that help athletes to get in the zone. These routines can include physical warm-ups, visualization exercises, and positive affirmations. By developing these habits, athletes can train their minds to focus on the task at hand and block out distractions.

How coaches and support staff can help athletes reach peak performance

Coaches and support staff play a vital role in helping athletes to achieve peak performance. Auerbach believes that coaches and support staff should focus on creating a positive and supportive environment that encourages athletes to reach their highest potential.

One of the ways that coaches and support staff can help athletes is by providing feedback and encouragement. Auerbach believes that feedback should be specific, actionable, and focused on the process of learning. Coaches and support staff should also celebrate small victories and provide encouragement, even in the face of setbacks.

Coaches and support staff can also help athletes to develop healthy habits and routines that

Apps and resources for teaching athletes mindfulness and peak performance

One of the mindfulness apps Auerbach recommends is Headspace, which offers a range of guided meditations and mindfulness exercises designed to help people manage stress and improve focus. He also recommends the app Calm, which offers similar resources along with sleep aids and relaxation techniques.

But mindfulness is just one aspect of Auerbach’s approach to sports psychology. He also works with his athletes to help them develop a growth mindset, which involves seeing challenges as opportunities for growth rather than obstacles to be avoided. A growth mindset can help athletes stay motivated and focused, even when they face setbacks or challenges.

To help his athletes develop a growth mindset, Auerbach uses a range of tools and resources, including books, podcasts, and online courses. One of the books he recommends is Mindset by Carol Dweck, which explores the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset and offers strategies for developing the latter.

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Sports Psychology TechniquesCategoriesPLP Podcast Psych/Nutrition

Episode 223 – Matt McGregor

Sports Psychology Techniques: Boosting Athletes’ Performance

Sports psychology plays a crucial role in the success and performance of athletes. Understanding and harnessing the power of the mind can lead to significant improvements in an athlete’s game. In this blog post, we will explore effective sports psychology techniques that can help athletes enhance their performance and achieve their goals.

Highlights from the episode:

  • People who influence him early in his career
  • Things footballers need to start practicing for their mental health
  • Biggest challenges in his career
  • Advice for dealing with trauma and self-care
  • Highlights of his career
  • Favorite movie or tv series that impacted him

The Importance of Sports Psychology Techniques

The field of sports psychology focuses on the mental aspects of sports performance. It delves into areas such as mindset, motivation, confidence, focus, and emotional regulation. While physical training is essential, athletes who neglect their mental preparation are likely to underperform or struggle to reach their full potential.

Setting Goals and Visualization

One of the fundamental sports psychology techniques is goal setting. Athletes who set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals have a clear direction for their training and competition. Goal setting provides motivation and a sense of purpose, driving athletes to push themselves beyond their limits.

Visualization is another powerful technique used by elite athletes to improve performance. By mentally rehearsing their actions and envisioning success, athletes can enhance their confidence and reduce anxiety. Visualization creates neural pathways in the brain that mimic real-life experiences, preparing athletes for success in high-pressure situations.

Building Resilience and Mental Toughness

Sports can be unpredictable, and athletes often face setbacks and challenges. Developing resilience and mental toughness is essential for bouncing back from failures and maintaining peak performance. Through sports psychology techniques, athletes can learn how to stay composed under pressure, embrace challenges as learning opportunities, and quickly recover from disappointments.

Managing Pre-Competition Nerves

Pre-competition nerves are natural, but excessive anxiety can hinder an athlete’s performance. Sports psychology offers strategies to manage nerves and anxiety effectively. Techniques like controlled breathing, positive self-talk, and pre-performance routines can help athletes stay calm and focused before competitions.

Developing Concentration and Focus

In sports, concentration, and focus are vital for optimal performance. Distractions can disrupt an athlete’s flow and lead to mistakes. Sports psychologists work with athletes to improve their concentration skills through techniques like mindfulness meditation, attention control training, and mental rehearsal.

Boosting Confidence and Self-Belief

Confidence is a game-changer for athletes. Believing in one’s abilities and skills can make all the difference during competition. Sports psychology helps athletes build authentic self-confidence through positive reinforcement, visualization, and goal achievement.

Handling Pressure and Stress Management

High-pressure situations can induce stress in athletes, affecting their performance. Sports psychology equips athletes with stress management techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, cognitive reframing, and time management. Learning to thrive under pressure is crucial for success in competitive sports.

Understanding the Importance of Team Dynamics

Team sports rely heavily on effective communication and teamwork. Sports psychology helps athletes understand the dynamics of team interactions and fosters a positive team culture. By developing strong relationships and trust with teammates, athletes can enhance cohesion, which contributes to improved performance on the field.

Overcoming Slumps and Mental Blocks

Athletes often experience performance slumps and mental blocks that hinder progress. Sports psychology techniques can help athletes identify the root causes of these issues and develop strategies to overcome them. By addressing mental barriers, athletes can regain their confidence and get back on track.

Implementing Sports Psychology in Training

Integrating sports psychology techniques into regular training sessions is essential for sustainable improvement. Coaches can work with sports psychologists to design training programs that not only enhance physical skills but also address mental aspects like focus, motivation, and goal-setting.

Conclusion

Sports psychology techniques offer a wealth of benefits for athletes seeking to elevate their performance to new heights. From goal setting and visualization to building resilience and managing stress, these techniques can transform an athlete’s mindset and mental well-being. By prioritizing mental training alongside physical preparation, athletes can unlock their true potential and excel in their chosen sports. Embrace the power of sports psychology, and witness the positive impact it can have on your journey as an athlete.

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Sports Psychologist TipsCategoriesPLP Podcast Psych/Nutrition

Episode 213 – Jacqui Louder

Sports Psychology Tips for Athletes

Athletes constantly strive for peak performance, seeking that extra edge that sets them apart. In the realm of competitive sports, the mental game is just as vital as physical prowess. This is where Sports Psychology Tips come into play, offering a treasure trove of techniques to elevate your game and navigate the challenges that come your way.

Highlights from the episode:

  • How to become a sports psychologist
  • Advice for aspiring sports psychologists who want to work in elite sport
  • How she built her rapport and soft skills with the athletes
  • Tips for an athlete that feels overwhelmed because of a mistake
  • How she resets a team that lost or won for the next game

Unlocking Your Athletic Potential

Have you ever witnessed a game-changing moment where an athlete transcends their limits? That ability to push boundaries often stems from harnessing the power of the mind. Sports psychology is the tool that empowers athletes to conquer self-doubt, enhance concentration, and master the art of resilience.

In the crucible of high-stakes competition, stress and anxiety can undermine even the most finely-tuned physical abilities. This is where sports psychology tips become invaluable. By learning to manage pressure and control your thoughts, you can step onto the field with unwavering confidence.

Overcoming Mental Roadblocks

It’s not uncommon for athletes to face mental roadblocks that hinder their progress. These obstacles might include performance anxiety, fear of failure, or even burnout. Sports psychology offers practical strategies to overcome these challenges.

One such technique is cognitive restructuring, which involves identifying negative thought patterns and replacing them with positive, constructive ones. This shift in thinking can be a game-changer, as it empowers you to approach challenges with a growth mindset, fostering resilience and adaptability.

Fostering Resilience and Focus

Resilience is the backbone of athletic success. In the face of setbacks, injuries, or tough losses, it’s the ability to bounce back that defines champions. Sports psychology equips you with the tools to cultivate resilience, enabling you to learn from failures and maintain a forward-looking perspective.

Focus is another critical component. Whether it’s maintaining concentration during a crucial penalty kick or staying sharp throughout a marathon, sports psychology techniques can fine-tune your ability to stay in the zone. Mindfulness exercises and visualization techniques are just a couple of examples that can help you maintain that elusive state of flow.

Strategies for Pre-Game Preparation

The hours leading up to a game can be nerve-wracking. Pre-game jitters are a common phenomenon, but they need not impede your performance. Sports psychology provides strategies to manage pre-game nerves and set the stage for success.

One such strategy is the “minus one day” approach. This involves mental rehearsal the day before the game, where you visualize your upcoming performance and mentally walk through different scenarios. This technique helps build familiarity and confidence, allowing you to step onto the field with a sense of preparedness.

Conclusion

In the realm of sports, the mental and emotional aspects of the game are often what separates the good from the great. Sports psychology tips offer athletes a roadmap to unlocking their true potential, enabling them to overcome challenges, maintain focus, and thrive under pressure.

As you embark on your journey toward athletic excellence, remember that your mind is a powerful tool. By incorporating sports psychology techniques into your training regimen, you’re investing in a holistic approach to performance enhancement. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or an aspiring athlete, these tips can be the catalyst for pushing past limits and achieving remarkable results on and off the field.

So, take the first step today. Dive into the world of sports psychology and discover how you can elevate your game, one thought at a time.

Listen: iTunes | Spotify

Performance Nutrition Strategies for AthletesCategoriesPLP Podcast Psych/Nutrition

Episode 201 – Jess Spendlove

In the world of sports, the quest for peak performance is unending. Athletes constantly push their limits, seeking that extra edge to achieve their goals. While training regimes and skill development are crucial, one aspect often overlooked is nutrition. Properly fueling your body can be the difference between a good performance and a great one. In this article, we’ll delve into performance nutrition strategies for athletes, unveiling how dietary choices can significantly impact results on the field, track, or court.

Highlights of the episode:

  • Periodizing your nutrition for performance
  • How much caffeine for acute performance
  • How Jess upskills herself as a dietitian
  • Advice for athletes to gain critical mass
  • Her advice for under-18 athletes who want to take supplements
  • Advice difference between AFLW and AFL athletes

Performance Nutrition Strategies for Athletes: Unlocking Your Full Potential

Performance nutrition, at its core, is about fine-tuning your diet to match your physical output. It’s like providing the right fuel to a high-performance vehicle – the better the fuel, the smoother the ride. A fundamental principle of performance nutrition involves periodization, aligning your nutrition intake with your training and competition schedule. A key factor in this process is managing your carbohydrate intake. As training intensity and duration increase, so does your body’s demand for carbs. By adjusting your carb intake strategically, you can optimize energy levels and enhance endurance.

Understanding the Role of Caffeine

Caffeine, a popular dietary supplement, plays a notable role in enhancing athletic performance. When used correctly, it can provide acute benefits to the physical, central nervous system, and psychological aspects of performance. Research indicates that consuming 1-3 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight before exercise can lead to improved outcomes. However, like any tool, moderation and timing are key. Integrating caffeine strategically into your training routine can yield positive results, but excessive use may lead to diminishing returns or undesirable side effects.

Continuous Learning and Improvement

Staying ahead in the world of performance nutrition requires a commitment to continuous learning. In the past, athletes relied on traditional methods like books and seminars. Nowadays, the digital landscape offers a wealth of resources. Social media platforms allow athletes to engage with experts and fellow athletes, fostering a culture of knowledge sharing. Podcasts and online forums provide insights from professionals who have worked with elite athletes. Additionally, attending workshops and conferences can provide hands-on experiences, enabling athletes to refine their nutrition strategies effectively.

Tailoring Nutrition for Muscle Gain

For athletes seeking to gain muscle mass quickly and effectively, a tailored approach to nutrition is essential. Educating young athletes about nutrition goes beyond merely listing what to eat. It involves teaching them how to eat – the art of fueling their bodies for optimal performance. Cooking classes, for instance, offer practical skills that empower athletes to make better dietary choices. When it comes to muscle gain, individual education is paramount. Factors such as age, hormone profiles, and body development stage influence how athletes respond to dietary interventions.

Navigating Nutrition for Young Athletes

Advising athletes under 18 years of age requires special considerations. Nutrition is a critical aspect of their growth and development, and it’s essential to approach it responsibly. Educating young athletes about energy input and output forms the foundation of their nutrition journey. Emphasizing the importance of a food-first approach helps them understand that real, whole foods provide the best foundation for their health and performance. While supplements might tempt young athletes, guiding them through the potential risks and benefits is crucial. Teaching them to prioritize nutrition over shortcuts sets them on the right path to success.

Tailoring Nutrition for Gender-Specific Needs

Recognizing that the nutritional needs of male and female athletes can differ, tailored advice becomes essential. While the fundamentals remain consistent, nuances in hormonal profiles and physiological differences should be considered. For female athletes, menstrual cycles and hormonal fluctuations can impact nutritional requirements. Addressing these factors and providing guidance on optimizing nutrition around them can contribute to more effective performance outcomes.

In conclusion, performance nutrition is a vital component of any athlete’s journey to success. By understanding the principles of periodization, leveraging the benefits of caffeine, embracing continuous learning, and tailoring nutrition strategies to specific goals and demographics, athletes can unlock their full potential. Remember, your body is a high-performance machine – treat it with the right fuel, and it will take you to new heights in your athletic pursuits.

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Footballer Nutrition TipsCategoriesPLP Podcast Psych/Nutrition

Episode 183 – Ben Parker

Footballer Nutrition Tips: A Complete Guide to Optimizing Performance

When it comes to excelling on the football field, nutrition plays a vital role in helping athletes achieve peak performance. Proper nutrition not only fuels the body but also aids in recovery, muscle development, and overall well-being. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore essential footballer nutrition tips to help players, both seasoned and aspiring, make the most of their training and game days.

Highlights of the episode:

  • Tips to gain muscle mass from a nutrition perspective
  • Benefits of getting fuel from real food
  • How he educates athletes to source and prep their food
  • What to eat before sleep to gain critical mass
  • His take on organic, biodynamic, and regular commercial food

Maximizing Muscle Mass and Minimizing Fat

For footballers, achieving the right balance between muscle mass and body fat is crucial. The goal is to enhance lean muscle while minimizing excess fat for optimal agility and strength. One fundamental aspect of achieving this balance is protein intake. Protein serves as the building block for muscles, making it essential to consume an adequate amount. A standard recommendation is around 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This helps provide the body with the necessary nutrients to support muscle growth and repair.

The Power of Real Food

Fueling the body with the right nutrients is as important as the training itself. Opting for whole, minimally processed foods provides numerous benefits. These foods are rich in fiber and a wide range of micronutrients that contribute to overall health and performance. Unlike packaged and processed foods, which often lack essential nutrients, real foods offer sustained energy and support recovery. Athletes who prioritize real foods experience improved well-being, better digestion, and enhanced mental clarity – all of which are vital for peak performance on and off the field.

Recovery and Sleep: A Winning Combination

Recovery is a crucial component of an athlete’s journey, and sleep is one of the most powerful tools for effective recovery. Training breaks down muscle tissues, and it’s during rest that the body rebuilds and grows stronger. Consuming a protein-rich meal before bedtime can further support this recovery process. This strategy provides the necessary amino acids to fuel muscle repair and growth throughout the night. The body enters an anabolic state, promoting muscle development. A balanced meal example for bedtime might include lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates, creating an optimal environment for recovery during sleep.

Navigating Nutrition Choices

Educating footballers about food choices is as diverse as the players themselves. Athletes come from various backgrounds, each with unique dietary preferences, cooking skills, and food values. As a dietitian, understanding these differences is crucial in tailoring advice effectively. For those already adept in the kitchen, focus might be on optimizing recipes and nutrition content. On the other hand, individuals with less experience may benefit from guidance on navigating grocery aisles, selecting the right ingredients, and creating simple, nutritious meals. By meeting players where they are, a personalized approach ensures that each athlete can make meaningful changes aligned with their goals.

Organic vs. Conventional: The Debate

The discussion of organic and conventional foods often arises in the realm of nutrition. While organic options are marketed as healthier choices due to reduced chemical exposure, the reality can be more complex. Some studies suggest that organic produce may have marginally lower pesticide residues, yet both organic and conventional foods can be part of a healthy diet. Washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly helps reduce pesticide residues. The key takeaway is to prioritize consuming a variety of fresh produce, whether organic or not, as the benefits of fruits and vegetables far outweigh any potential concerns.

Conclusion

In the competitive world of football, nutrition can be a game-changer. By following these footballer nutrition tips, players can optimize muscle mass, enhance recovery, and boost overall performance. The combination of strategic protein intake, real food choices, and thoughtful recovery practices sets the stage for success on the field. Remember that each athlete is unique, and tailoring nutrition advice to individual needs ensures that everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a rising star, embracing the power of proper nutrition can make all the difference in achieving your football goals.

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Mental Skills for AthletesCategoriesPLP Podcast Psych/Nutrition

Episode 154 – Samantha McLeod

In the world of sports, physical prowess often takes center stage. However, the true champions understand that mental fortitude is just as crucial. This is where mental skills for athletes come into play. Whether you’re a budding athlete or a seasoned pro, honing your mental game can be the key to unlocking your full potential.

Samantha is the Managing Director of The SAM Centre. She is a Clinical Health Psychologist and a Sport and Exercise Psychologist. Samantha has 30 years of experience in private practice in well-established multidisciplinary clinics and as a consultant to private businesses, peak and sporting bodies, tertiary lecturer, and clinical leader in corporate and public health organizations.

Highlights of the episode:

  • Importance of getting out of your comfort zone
  • Getting experience in elite sport as a sports psychologist
  • What it takes to develop a champion’s mindset
  • How to improve your recovery and performance with diaphragmatic breathing
  • Mental skills athletes can start practicing now to become elite

Mental Skills for Athletes: The Game-Changer

When it comes to achieving excellence on the field, court, or track, having a champion’s mindset can make all the difference. This is where mental skills for athletes step in. These skills encompass a range of techniques and practices that enhance focus, resilience, and overall performance. From visualization exercises to mindfulness techniques, integrating these strategies into your training regimen can elevate your game to new heights.

The Importance of Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

One of the critical aspects of mental skills training is the willingness to step out of your comfort zone. As Samantha McLeod, sports psychologist at Richmond Tigers Football Club, emphasizes, pushing practitioners beyond familiar territory fosters growth and learning. This approach builds efficacy and confidence, enabling practitioners to handle high-pressure situations with ease.

Building Your Network: Navigating the Early Challenges

For aspiring sports psychologists, building a network and gaining experience in elite sports can be a formidable challenge, particularly in countries like Australia. Unlike some other nations, securing a full-time role in the field can be rare. McLeod advises students to diversify their skills, emphasizing the need for robust clinical foundations alongside performance psychology expertise.

The Secret Weapon: Champion Mentalities

To truly excel in sports, athletes need more than just physical prowess. They require what Samantha McLeod refers to as a “champion mentality.” This mindset encompasses qualities like mental agility, a thirst for learning, internal drive, and an unshakeable belief in oneself. These characteristics distinguish the most successful athletes, allowing them to persevere and achieve greatness.

Transferring Training to Game Day: A Winning Strategy

One of the keys to successful mental skills training is the seamless transfer of techniques from practice sessions to actual game scenarios. McLeod emphasizes the importance of exercises like diaphragm breathing, which not only aids in relaxation but also enhances coordination under pressure. By incorporating these practices into training routines, athletes can optimize their performance when it matters most.

Mastering the Art of Recovery: Overcoming Mistakes

In the world of sports, mistakes are inevitable. However, how athletes handle these moments can define their trajectory. McLeod underscores the importance of quick recovery from mistakes. Athletes who can swiftly shift their focus back to the present moment are more likely to maintain peak performance. This mental agility is a hallmark of seasoned athletes, enabling them to continually refine their skills and stay at the top of their game.

In conclusion, mental skills for athletes are the game-changers that can propel you from good to great. By embracing discomfort, building a robust network, and cultivating a champion mentality, you can tap into your full potential. Remember, it’s not just about physical prowess—it’s about mastering the mental game. So, equip yourself with the tools and techniques discussed here, and watch as you elevate your performance to unprecedented heights.

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caffeine on game dayCategoriesBlog Elite Lifestyle Get Better Plan Psych/Nutrition

The best tips to use caffeine on game day! | Prepare Like a Pro

Coffee is a staple for athletes all over the world, including AFL players, whether it’s for regular footy training or a crucial AFL game day. Caffeine is a stimulant and can help you feel more energised and alert, which can be helpful before a big game. Read on as we discuss the effect of caffeine on athletes and tips on how to use it on a game day.

Caffeine for Athletes’ Performance

Caffeine is one of the most well-studied ergogenic aids (substances, equipment, or practices that help people use, produce, or recover more energy) and is known to help athletes exercise harder and longer. Caffeine stimulates the brain, making it easier to think clearly and concentrate.

Caffeine has been studied for both stamina and short-term, high-intensity exercise in over 74 research studies. Caffeine enhances performance and makes the effort appear easy, according to the vast majority of research (by about six percent).

The average boost in performance is about 12%, with greater benefits seen during endurance exercise than shorter exercise (eight to twenty minutes) and a negligible amount for sprinters. Athletes who rarely consume coffee and hence are not tolerant of its stimulating effect reap even more benefits.

Don’t assume that a caffeine boost would improve your performance because everyone reacts to caffeine differently. You may become queasy, experience “coffee stomach,” or experience caffeine jitters at a time when you are already nervous and concerned.

And so, how much coffee should an athlete consume to get that edge? 250 mg of caffeine per day is considered moderate. The amount of caffeine that improves performance in research studies ranges from 1.5 to 4 mg/lb body weight (3 to 9 mg/kg) given one hour before exercise. This equates to around 225 to 600 milligrams for a 150-pound person. It does not appear that more is better.

The majority of athletes receive their caffeine from coffee; others use caffeinated gels, Red Bull, or NoDoz tablets. Some sportsmen prefer products with specific doses because the quantity of caffeine in coffee varies so much. 

If you are unsure how much you should ingest, it’s best to consult a sports doctor or sports dietitian. They should have the most up-to-date information on what is an appropriate dosage for you as an individual.

Tips for Athletes on Drinking Coffee During Game Day

Coffee is great for a quick pick-me-up but it’s important to know how your body will react. Here are some useful tips that you can use with regard to consuming caffeine during the game day:

1) Drink Coffee an Hour or Two Before the Game

Many people swear by coffee as a pre-game energy boost, and there is some science to back up this claim. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that can improve focus and reaction time. However, it is important to note that everyone reacts to caffeine differently. Some people may find that coffee makes them jittery or anxious, while others may feel more alert and focused. 

It is also important to remember that coffee takes about an hour to kick in, so it is best to drink it an hour or two before the game. This way, you can see how it affects you and make sure it doesn’t interfere with your performance. Ultimately, whether or not you choose to drink coffee before a game is a personal decision. But if you do decide to give it a try, make sure you do so with caution and be mindful of how it affects you.

2) Have a Small Cup (250ML) Of Black Coffee 

Coffee is a popular beverage for many people, especially in the morning. It can help to wake you up and give you a boost of energy. However, too much milk and sugar in your coffee can actually make you feel more sluggish. When you’re trying to get energized for a game, it’s best to stick to black coffee. 

The caffeine will help to give you a boost without weighing you down. In addition, black coffee is also calorie-free, so you won’t have to worry about adding any extra calories to your diet. So next time you’re gearing up for a big game, ditch the milk and sugar and reach for a small cup of black coffee instead. 

3) Avoid Drinking Coffee on an Empty Stomach

It’s no secret that coffee can give you an energy boost. That’s why many people enjoy drinking a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. However, if you drink coffee on an empty stomach, it can actually cause an upset stomach during the game. The acids in coffee can irritate the lining of your stomach, leading to cramps, nausea, and diarrhea.

If you’re feeling especially sensitive, you might even experience vomiting. So, if you’re planning on consuming coffee before a big game, be sure to eat something first. A light snack or meal will help to buffer the acids in your coffee and reduce the risk of stomach problems.

4) Add Honey to Your Coffee

If you’re feeling tired, there’s no need to reach for a can of energy drink or a cup of coffee loaded with sugar. Instead, try a small cup of coffee with one teaspoon of honey. The honey will help to boost your energy levels, and the coffee will improve your focus and alertness.

Plus, the combination of the two ingredients will taste great and give you the perfect pick-me-up when you need it most. So next time you’re feeling fatigued, reach for a cup of coffee and a spoonful of honey instead your body will thank you for it.

5) Drink Plenty of Water Throughout the Day To Stay Hydrated

The big game has finally arrived and you’re nursing a red bull, thinking to yourself that this can be the edge that will push you and your team to victory. However, what you may not realize is that coffee can actually lead to dehydration.

That’s why it’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially if you’re drinking coffee. Water helps to replenish the fluids in your body, and it’s essential for maintaining proper body function. So if you’re going to drink coffee on game day, make sure to also drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Your body will thank you for it.

Final Thoughts

Caffeine can be a great way to improve your performance on game day. Just remember to consume it in moderation and be aware of how it affects you. And don’t forget to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. With these tips in mind, you’re sure to have a successful game day! 

If you need help getting that edge over your opponents, contact the AFL strength and conditioning coaches at Prepare Like A Pro. We can help you optimize your training regimen to help you achieve your goals. Contact us today to get started!

References:

https://blog.bridgeathletic.com/caffeine-athletic-performance
https://www.active.com/articles/the-facts-about-caffeine-and-athletic-performance
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/caffeine-and-exercise
https://www.soccertoday.com/soccer-players-the-scoop-on-caffeine/

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Sports Psychology for High PerformanceCategoriesBlog Elite Lifestyle Psych/Nutrition Training Program

​​Sports Psychology for High Performance

Do you ever wonder how the top athletes in the world seem to always be at the top of their game? It’s not just natural talent – a large part of their success comes from psychological factors. Sports psychology is the study of how our minds influence our physical performance. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the key concepts in sports psychology and how they can be used to improve your own performance!

What Is Sports Psychology and How Can It Help Athletes Achieve Success?

Sports psychology is a branch of psychology that studies the mental and emotional factors that influence performance in sports. It can be used to help athletes overcome obstacles, such as performance anxiety or a fear of failure. Sports psychologists may also work with coaches to help them better understand their players and develop strategies for maximizing their potential. 

In addition, sports psychologists can provide guidance on nutrition and sleep habits, which are essential for optimal performance. By understanding the mental and emotional factors that affect an athlete’s performance, sports psychologists can help athletes achieve success both on and off the field.

The Benefits of Sports Psychology for Athletes

Sports psychology is a relatively new field that is only now beginning to be fully understood and appreciated by the general public. However, athletes have long been aware of the importance of mental preparation and focus in achieving peak performance. In recent years, sports psychologists have begun to work more closely with athletes to help them overcome psychological barriers and reach their full potential. Here are some benefits that athletes can reap from sports psychology:

Joe Rogan on the importance of sports psychology:

1) Improved Focus and Concentration

It’s no secret that athletes are some of the most focused and dedicated people in the world. After all, their success depends on their ability to maintain their focus and concentration amidst the pressure of competition. However, what is less well-known is that athletes can actually experience improved focus and concentration thanks to sports psychology. By working with a sports psychologist, athletes can learn techniques for managing stress and anxiety, improving their mental game, and remaining focused during competition. As a result, they are better able to utilize their full potential and achieve peak performance. Whether it’s hitting a game-winning shot or crossing the finish line first, athletes who utilize sports psychology often find themselves rising to the occasion when it matters most.

2) Increased Motivation

Athletes are also some of the most motivated people in the world. They are constantly striving to improve their performance and reach new levels of success. However, motivation can sometimes be difficult to maintain, especially when an athlete is dealing with disappointment or setbacks. Sports psychology can help athletes keep their motivation high by teaching them how to set goals, stay positive, and find inspiration in their failures. By working with a sports psychologist, athletes can learn how to maintain their motivation throughout the ups and downs of their careers.

3) Enhanced Performance

Anyone who has ever played a sport knows that there is more to winning than just physical ability. The psychological effects of competition can be just as important as the physical ones. This is where sports psychology comes in. Sports psychologists help athletes to improve their performance by teaching them how to control their thoughts and emotions. They also help athletes to develop mental toughness and to handle pressure. As a result, athletes who work with sports psychologists often find that they are able to take their game to the next level. In addition, sports psychologists can also help athletes to recover from injuries and to cope with disappointment. For many athletes, working with a sports psychologist is an essential part of achieving success.

4) Develop Communication Skills and Cohesion

One of the most important things that athletes can learn from sports psychology is how to communicate effectively. In order to be successful, athletes need to be able to communicate with their teammates and coaches. This means being able to share information and give and receive feedback. Sports psychology can help athletes to develop the communication skills that they need to be successful. In addition, sports psychology can also help to develop cohesion among teammates. By working together, athletes can develop a strong sense of team spirit and camaraderie. This can lead to better performance on the field or court. 

5) Instill a Healthy Belief System

We all have a certain belief system that dictates how we think and act. This belief system is usually based on our previous experiences, and it can have a big impact on our performance in sports. If we believe that we’re not good enough or that we’re going to fail, then it’s very likely that we’ll underperform. On the other hand, if we have a healthy belief system, then we’re more likely to succeed. Sports psychology can help instill a healthy belief system by identifying irrational thoughts and helping us to replace them with more positive ones. In addition, sports psychologists can also help us to develop mental toughness and resilience, which are essential for success in athletics. By understanding and utilizing sports psychology, we can give ourselves a much better chance of achieving our goals.

Ted talk on sports psychology: 

How To Use Sports Psychology Techniques To Improve Your Performance

Whether you’re a professional athlete or just a weekend warrior, sports psychology can help you improve your performance. By learning to control your thoughts and emotions, you can gain a mental edge over your opponents. Here are some techniques that can help you tap into your inner athlete:

  1. Visualization: picturing yourself succeeding can help increase your confidence and improve your performance.
  2. Goal setting: setting specific, achievable goals will help you stay motivated and focused.
  3. Self-talk: positive self-talk can increase your confidence and help you overcome negative thoughts.
  4. Relaxation: learning how to relax both mentally and physically can help reduce stress and improve your focus.

By using these techniques, you can develop the mental toughness needed to perform at your best. So get out there and start achieving your goals!

Listen to our interview with Collingwood football clubs sport psychologist Jacqui Louder:

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CategoriesPLP Podcast Psych/Nutrition

Episode 114 – ​​Darryl Griffiths

Prior to founding KODA, Darryl was a firefighter and is the Author of Sweat. Think. Go Faster.

Highlights from the episode:

  • How to find out sweat rate
  • What supplements you need for your sweat rate and sodium concentration 
  • What athletes to do during half time to rehydrate and refueling 
  • What could be improved for fueling athletes
  • Best fueling for athletes

Connect:

https://www.kodanutrition.com/

https://www.instagram.com/kodanutrition/

Listen: iTunesSpotify

Interview Transcript

Jack: Hi, I’m your host, Jack McLean. And today my guest is Darryl Griffiths, the founder and CEO of KODA Nutrition and author of ‘Sweat. Think. Go Faster’.

Highlights from this episode: we discussed how footballers can reduce the likelihood of cramping, practical tips to maximize your recovery during the game, how to work out your sweat rate and sodium concentration within your sweat, and why you shouldn’t have lollies during a football game and what you should have instead.

Before we start this episode, for those wanting to join our football high-performance program, make sure to head to our website, preparelikeapro.com, where you can sign up for free 14-day trial. This program has everything you need to ensure you’re well recovered and ready to attack the next game.

Let’s get into today’s episode with Darryl Griffiths. Welcome, Darryl. Thanks for jumping on, mate.

Darryl: Jack, thanks for having me, mate.

Jack: Let’s dive in the beginning of your career. At what age did you discover you had a passion for high-performance sport and fueling for high-performance sport?

Darryl: Well, it wasn’t sport to start with. It was actually a firefighting. I was a firefighter. Very, very long story short, I recognized that some firefighters handled heat better than others. In that job you see things happen very quickly. The intense heat and having to wear protective clothing, you see these things happen even within half an hour. And what I did notice was there were a few individuals that consistently handled the heat better than others. And over time it was something that intrigued me and I went about finding out why. Went to the experts, the sports dieticians, exercise physiologists, doctors, and just saying, ‘Look, this is what I’m experiencing, this is what I’m seeing. And I’m really interested to find out why.’ And I didn’t really get an answer.

So, it was something that I took on myself and I started to research. And, long story short, what I did find from my applied research with these firefighters was that the ones that handled the heat better or tolerated hot conditions better, had a lower sweat rate. So, the volume of sweat they lost was lower, but importantly, they had a much lower sodium concentration in their sweat. And this took a few years of learning. And, to be honest, I didn’t really have any idea what I was looking for. So, a lot of that stuff in the early days I didn’t even record, because I didn’t know what I was doing, really.

Then it struck me one day. I thought, ‘Well, if this is the case with these guys on the fire ground, then there’s a pretty good chance that athletes might have the same natural ability to handle heat better than others.’ And, sure enough. Doing the testing and started testing athletes, and myself included. And went along from there. 

Jack: Fascinating. That makes a lot of sense. Like you mentioned, with fighting fires, that’s something that can physically improve your performance. But I imagine, alertness and concentration, which is something we’ll go into a little bit later on, something I know you’re passionate about. But for those that did have maintained their hydration due to slower sweat rate, or maybe they were hydrating better as well, did they feel the difference from changing practices and also having some genetic benefits to their ability to fight fires? 

Darryl: Well, that was the thing. We were all drinking the same thing, and we were all very diligent with our fluid intake. Now we were working in the same conditions over the same duration. So, there was a lot of things that were very similar. Yet, there was these individuals that for whatever reason, well, now we know why, that were able to tolerate, just naturally. It wasn’t because they were better heat acclimated, because the fact is, you can’t heat acclimate for those sorts of conditions. It’s impossible. They weren’t any fitter. They weren’t any stronger. They hadn’t been in the job any longer. There was nothing you could pinpoint it down to, except for the fact that they had a unique physiology. Whether they could tolerate a greater core temperature than others, they simply didn’t need to sweat as much, and they didn’t need to lose as much sodium to maintain a safe core temperature, which was fascinating to learn along the way.

Jack: And is it the matter that the guys that do have a higher sweat rate, they therefore lose more sodium or is it not purely that? You can also lose less sweat, but you just have a high concentration of sodium?

Darryl: Spot on, mate. There’s no pattern. I’m just under 6’3 and I hover around 90 kilos, so fairly big frame. But I actually have quite a low sweat rate for my size, but I have a very high sodium concentration in my sweat.

And that was my downfall because I needed to replace a lot more sodium than these other firefighters. And that was why I was struggling a bit more in the heat than they were. So, it was on learning my sodium concentration that I started to address it better. And that’s when I was able to tolerate hotter conditions better. Simply because I was addressing my needs better. Whereas the other firefighters who were tolerating the heat better, their percentage of loss wasn’t near as much as mine.

Jack: And does that mean that when you’re comparing yourself to someone else that sweats the same, but their concentration of sodium is less than yourself, you can drink the same amount of water, but you just need to top up a little bit more sodium in your hydration?

Darryl: Yeah. Spot on. I might be drinking the same volume, but I need to increase the amount of sodium that’s in my beverage, compared to someone that has a low sodium concentration in their sweat. And to answer your question before, you can be a heavy sweater with a high sodium concentration, you can be a heavy sweater with a moderate or low sodium concentration. You can be low and low, low and moderate, low and high, there’s no pattern. It’s really just your unique physiological makeup when it comes to sweating.

Jack: You can see why athletes would get excited about understanding this knowledge and implementing it with their hydration practices. How did that come about? Once you started to understand this, did you start to reach out to ultra marathon athletes or those that do have a high sweat rate or did they start to seek you?

Darryl: They started to seek me, which was great.

And in the early days I was working with a lot of athletes who were suffering cramping. Muscle cramping was work with the athletes that I worked with the most. And as much as the experts will say, they don’t really know why athletes cramp. I can tell you without too much doubt that an athlete that has a higher sweat rate and/or a higher sodium concentration in their sweat, will be more likely to experience muscle cramping.

That was something that I’ve learned along the way. And initially it was great having this data. But then working out what the stomach could tolerate, that was another part. It took some time as well. So, this is over many years. It’s not something that happened overnight. It’s was an ongoing concern.

Jack: And on that note, while experimenting and treating yourself like a lab, but by the sounds of it, what were you playing around with? What type of supplements and what were some of the experiences you were finding?

Darryl: Well, the thing that made the most sense was you can’t have a sports drink with everything in it. You can’t have hydration, calories and electrolyte. You have to separate your hydration and calories. Because what that allowed me to do was then start to focus on hydration. And then it also allowed me to alter the volume of fluid the athlete was consuming. Which is super important, because, particularly nowadays, particularly with AFL, you can be one week in Hobart, in 10 degrees, and the following week you could be in Darwin or the Gold Coast or Brisbane or Perth in 30 degrees.

So, having the understanding that you need to alter the volume of fluid that you consume based on the environmental conditions, it was a no-brainer that if you separated the two, you could start to customize the athlete’s hydration. You could provide them a volume of fluid that they needed in those conditions, but importantly increase the amount of sodium that they required, which you can’t do with a sugary sports drink. Because if you try to increase the amount of sodium, it’s too overpoweringly sweet, it’s not something that’s going to be palatable.

Jack: So, talk us through about KODA Nutrition. How did you come to create your company? 

Darryl: It was initially carbo shots. Many, many years ago, back in 95. Which was an energy gel, which we still have that same formulation now. There’re probably some athletes who were using it back then and are still using it now. So, that was the initial start. We started importing that product from New Zealand. And then at the time we did have it all in one sports drink. And after clicking data, I realized that this is not a product that was addressing the athlete’s needs properly.

Jack: So many variables?

Darryl: Yeah. Well, the fact is, if you look at your typical sports drinks, and the ones that sponsor AFL is an example. It’s a preset solution. So, it’s the same volume of fluid for everyone. It’s the same amount of calories and it’s the same amount of electrolytes. So, what they’re saying is that everyone is exactly the same. You all lose the same amount of sweat, you all require the same amount of fuel and you will need the same amount of electrolytes. And you drink that same volume, whether it’s 10 degrees in Hobart or whether it’s 30 degrees in Darwin.

And the fact is your hydration is unique to you. There’s no one on this planet like you, when it comes to how much you sweat, the amount of sodium in your sweat and how that changes in different environmental conditions. So, that’s the biggest thing with me. And once we start working with athletes and they start understanding their own unique physiological makeup, when it comes to sweat and what they need, separating the hydration and calories makes such a massive difference. Once you start to address their needs properly. 

Jack: I can only imagine the developing athletes that are listening in that are wanting to pick your brains. I’ll ask a couple of questions for the athletes. How do you find out about your sweat rate, your concentration of sodium loss? What is the process for those that aren’t aware?

Darryl: The sweat rate is simply pre and post weighing. The best and most accurate way to do it is a nude weight. And the best time to actually do it is over an hour session. And for an AFL player, it would be to try and mimic competition day as close as possible. So, you would have quite a strenuous session set up. You could even have that break halfway through, just a short break, and then continue for that hour, recording the temperature and humidity. And also recording the intensity or your exertion level. Because they’re the two things that dictate how much you sweat, it’s the environmental conditions and your level of intensity. So, if you change either one of those, you’re going to get a different result.

Jack: Tricky.

Darryl: Yeah. So, doing your pre and post weighing. Let’s say, for example, you weigh 80 kilos at the start and you’re 78.5 at the finish. So, that kilo and a half drop translates into a liter and a half of sweat. Let’s say, you’re playing in Sydney and it’s 18 degrees and you lose around a liter and a half an hour at that environmental temperature in those conditions. So, you get an understanding that, ‘Okay, I want to try and aim for drinking a good amount of fluid. I know I can’t drink a liter and a half in that time because of the simple fact that I might not get the opportunity to. But what I will do, I’ll be very, very diligent with my hydration at half time to make sure I carry the least amount of deficiencies into that second half.’

And with sodium concentration it’s just a matter of we put sweat patches on the athletes in a forearm and we normally get them into an hour session. So, that way we collect their sweat rate, as well as the sodium concentration in their sweat. And at the same time, what we do like to collect is their calorie expenditure, so we know how many units of energy they’re expending at that intensity. So, we collect all this data and we say, ‘Okay, at that intensity you’re expanding 800 calories an hour. Your sweat rate was 1.5 liters and your sodium concentration is 1200 milligrams per one liter of sweat.’ Now, that 1200 milligrams is 1200 milligrams tomorrow. It’ll be 1200 milligrams the next day. And it’ll be 1200 milligrams in two years time.

Jack: That does not change with training or anything?

Darryl: No, I’ve done a lot of testing over the years. And the sodium concentration in your sweat is unique to you. And if it changes, it’s only a very small amount. Nothing that you would make any drastic changes about when you’re planning your hydration.

Jack: What about the sweat rate?

Darryl: The sweat rate changes all the time. That’s constantly changing. So, for example, I mentioned Hobart. Playing down there at 10 degrees you’re simply not going to sweat that much. As opposed to, Brisbane or Gold Coast the following week at 30 degrees, you’re going to sweat buckets. 

Jack: I mean, with, let’s say, year by year you’re doing this protocol and you’re working at your baseline. Sodium concentration can’t change. But as the athlete improves their physiology, their aerobic capacity, strength, running efficiency, all the things, have you seen change in sweat rate? The same environment, but just year by year they do that baseline test. Has is changed?

Darryl: No, not really. What does change though, and I’ve actually done a lot of research on this, particularly in Thailand and Singapore, Philippines, where it’s very hot and humid, is that when an athlete is heat acclimated or doing heat load training, they’ll actually get an increase in blood volume. Which is interesting in that some will increase blood volume more than others. But having that increased blood volume, although the athlete sweats the same amount, they don’t sweat any less, but because they’ve got more to start with, the impact on their losses isn’t as great in those hotter conditions, once they had acclimated. 

Jack: They got a higher ceiling, so to speak.

Darryl: Yeah, exactly.

Jack: Interesting.

Darryl: Yeah. And that’s the thing. I was reading a lot of articles about, as you get fitter and as you get more advanced in your training that your sweat rate will start to decrease.

Jack: It’s almost a myth that you hear.

Darryl: Yeah. It’s not something that I’ve seen. And I would read published articles and it also became an obsession for me to want to find out whether these articles I was reading were actually stuff that was going to benefit athletes. And, sadly, a lot of them out there, they come to a conclusion that a lot of sports dieticians hang their head on. I’ll say, you can’t come to a conclusion with sports nutrition, because there’s way too many variables.

And when it comes to hydration, if you’re reading a published article and it says, ‘Well, this is what happens, and this is going to happen to everyone,’ the fact is there needs to be some caveats at the end of that, saying that this conclusion is based purely on the intensity, the environmental conditions, the humidity, the physiological makeup of that athlete and a whole bunch of other variables. So, if the temperature changes or the humidity changes, then we’re going to get a different conclusion.

But that’s never written. And so, I think that’s where a lot of the, let’s just say, difficulties in getting these messages across lie. Because you’ve got people reading these published articles, and then they’re not taking into account all these variables that you need to consider.

Jack: And going back to the athletes. So, if they want to knock over the generic model, like you mentioned, of just having the same sports drink that everyone else has, but they’ve done this baseline test and then now they want to build their own individualized hydration.

Like you mentioned, the temperature. So, it is summer here in Melbourne at the moment. Practice matches are on and players, you mentioned cramping, they may have cramped last year’s campaign with their practice matches. And this time is so important, because you want to make a squad or you want to make the senior team or whatever, or just play your best football to get in good form around One.

What do you need to do? What supplements do you need to do? What pack do you need to make, to make it specific to your sweat rate and sodium concentration?

Darryl: Well, it’s first understanding your numbers. That’s the key. And everyone has their own unique numbers. It doesn’t matter what your teammate’s doing. It’s very individual. So, if I was on the outskirts and I was wanting to make a team and there were some things that I needed to work on, these are the things I would work on. Because hydration makes a massive difference to how you’re going to perform. Not just physically, but mentally as well. How well you can process information.

Which is super important nowadays with the way AFL is played. It’s a very, very different game nowadays. And the ball is moving way faster than it ever did before. And with the crowding, you can have 30 players around the ball where the ball’s moving so much quicker than it used to. So, when the ball’s moving quicker, you’re having to process information so much faster. That’s something that, if you’re not addressing your sweat, which is directly correlated to blood volume loss, if you’re not addressing the sodium concentration in your blood, and if your sodium concentration in your blood drops, then any messages being sent from the brain down the central nervous system are impacted. So, you’re not going to react as well.

And thirdly, if you’re not properly fueled, if your brain is not getting that circulating blood glucose, that it requires to function properly, if you’re not fueling yourself properly, then all these things add up to unforced errors. And it could be the thing that’s keeping you out of the side, that you’re just making a few too many mistakes. But it’s definitely something that you can address and something you can improve on.

Jack: Once you’ve understood the numbers, if you’re working with a team, what would that look like on a game day? So, you mentioned the temperature, the environment. So, let’s say, someone we were talking about before, they lose 1.5 kilos in the first half, what should they do at halftime? What should they be intaking to increase their fueling, but also rehydration as well? 

Darryl: So, it’s really going to be dependent on how often the runners get out to them to provide a drink. And nowadays it’s once you kick a goal. Before you could get out there at any time, but the rules have changed now. So, if there’s not too many goals kicked in the half, then you don’t get too much of opportunity to drink. Which I think they somewhat need to address, particularly if they’re going to be playing Brisbane, Gold Coast, Darwin, Perth, where it can get quite hot. Something the AFL need to look at, because if you want players to be properly hydrated and be playing at their optimum level, then they need to be drinking more often, particularly in those hotter environments.

So, if you are losing, let’s say, that one and a half liters up to a half time, the fact is you’ve only got about a 20 minute window and you’re not going to consume that 1.5 liters. Your stomach’s simply not going to tolerate that much. So, the key would be to consume an amount that doesn’t compromise your stomach. If you can aim for 50 to 60% of that loss, then that would be something you want to aim for. If you had a couple of hours break, no worries. You’re going to get that 1.5 liters in. But the fact is the stomach is the limiting factor.

And if you didn’t get the opportunity to drink a lot in that first half, because of not a lot of goals kicked, then the first thing you need to do when you get into the change rooms is to make sure that you’ve got your drink there and it’s got the water in there that you require, which you’re losing most of. Water’s simple, we’re losing a lot of water in sweat, so we replace that. If you have a higher sodium concentration in your sweat, you make sure that you’ve got a beverage that addresses your particular needs. And if you’ve done the test and you know your sodium concentration, then it’s a very easy thing to do.

Once again, unfortunately, they’re not going to replace all that you lose, but the whole point of a proper hydration strategy is to minimize percentage of loss. Do the best you can at minimizing your percentage of loss. Having an understanding of what your numbers are is going to set you up way better than just throwing down sports drink and really not understanding whether you’re addressing your needs properly or not.

Jack: So, roughly speaking, if I’ve lost 1.5 liters, around 750 milligrams is tolerable for most athletes, 50%. Is that equation the same for your sodium concentration, for those that know it, was it 1200 milligrams? So, do you apply the same model, like around 600 in your water?

Darryl: Interestingly and I don’t know why, I can’t figure out why we can’t replace the amount of sodium we lose. And it’s something that I worked on very early on, once I started to understand there were different sodium concentrations in sweat with every individual. And the idea was that we should be able to replace all that we lose. But for some reason our rate of loss exceeds how much we can consume. So, that 50 to 60% rule again. If you have a sodium concentration around 1200 milligrams, you’re going to be aiming for that 700 milligrams of sodium in that beverage.

Jack: So their stomach can tolerate that. And then, what about with the refueling, that you’ve mentioned about? Like getting the calories in, separate to your hydration protocol. What does that look like?

Darryl: Well, fueling is something that, I don’t think that the sports dieticians that are working with AFL teams at the moment are addressing the players fuel requirements as well as they could. As I mentioned before, the game now is so different. It’s way faster than it used to be. The ball is traveling way faster than it ever has. And the amount of running that they’re doing now, I just don’t think that a player has the glycogen storage in their muscles to be able to tolerate or be able to have enough internal stores to run a full game out.

But my concern is that they’re depleting their glycogen stores so much, that it’s leading to these small muscle tears and all that sort of stuff. I think that they need to start fueling a lot better than they are at the moment. Not just from a physical perspective to help spare that stored glycogen, but also mentally with how much faster the ball’s traveling now. The amount of information they have to process now so quickly, it’s requiring a staggering amount of energy for the brain to actually function that fast.

So, I think addressing that would go a long way to seeing the players run the game out the full four quarters and not seeing data where in the second half their intensive efforts are reduced. And they’re not as intense as they are in the first half. Plus, also, if you can minimize the percentage of loss for glycogen for the player, it just means that they’re going to recover much faster. Then get to training after the game day feeling a lot better, than depleting their stores to a point where it takes so much longer to restore them.

Jack: Makes sense. So, with knowing what you know, like you mentioned that the runners can’t go out as much, which, I imagine, would be a constraint for the sports dieticians, but what would be optimal? What do you think needs to be done to improve fueling? What are some specific things that could be done better?

Darryl: Well, I think, firstly, get rid of lollies. I’m seeing AFL players feeding lollies. Mind-boggling to me, how that ever became a sports nutrition product. There’s absolutely no reason why you would give an elite athlete at that level lollies to fuel them.

I know why they get lollies, because Nestle sponsor the AIS and Nestle own balance lollies. So, the sports dieticians are getting their information from the AIS and they’re saying, ‘Oh, lollies are fantastic.’ And that’s how they’ve made their way into elite sports nutrition, which I just don’t understand how that can happen. And it continues to happen. There’s elite athletes, eating lollies for energy. Can you explain that one for me? 

Jack: Ah, no, that’s not my area. But I’ll ask more questions, though. What would you replace it with for those athletes that maybe do have some control, no sponsorship issues for them, and they want the optimal? What would be the best fueling?

Darryl: By far, the best fuel are energy gels. And the characteristics of an energy gel, the fact is, it’s a food, but it’s in liquid gel form. It’s predigested in its manufacture, which sounds pretty gross, but that’s the science behind these energy gels. And particularly the ones that I’ve formulated. It resembles chyme, which all food’s converted to in the stomach, and chyme is like a semi-fluid form. And all food needs to be converted into this form before it passes through the pyloric sphincter into the duodenum and then into the bloodstream as glucose, where the active muscles and brain can access that glucose for energy.

So, the important characteristics is, firstly, energy to volume ratio. And that basically means that you’re getting a large amount of calories in a small volume, and that takes pressure off the stomach. You’re not having to load up the stomach. Now, if you can imagine, if you’re trying to fuel with a large bottle, you’re having to consume 600 mil of fluid for about the same amount of calories, few more calories, but not a lot more. With an energy gel you can consume 117 calories from a 33 mil serving. Which is almost 20 times less volume than your sports drink. Now, that’s super important because we want to make sure the stomach’s not compromised. Because if it is, it’s going to slow us down and we don’t want to slow down.

The second really important characteristic is thermic effect. And this is where we go back to that form of chyme. When you take an energy gel, it’s entering the stomach in a format it recognizes. So, it bypasses those processes that food normally goes through and it enters the stomach straight through into the bloodstream. It’s super quick. And the most important part is it requires a very small amount of energy to be converted to fuel. So, you’re not drawing blood away from the active muscles to the stomach to have to deal with it. That blood’s staying in the legs or the upper body, wherever you need that blood to perform the tasks that you’re doing, and not being drawn away to the stomach to have to deal with that food. So, that thermic effect part is really important.

Once you have a better understanding of energy gels and the science behind them, you’ll be way more likely to use them. And I think they’re not being used properly. Even at that top level I would absolutely be using a gel every single quarter, if I was an AFL footballer. Not just for the physical side of it, but to make sure I had plenty of circulating blood glucose for my brain to access because I’m having to process way more information than I ever had before. And if I don’t have that circulating blood glucose, then I’m going to be more likely to be making mistakes.

Jack: That’s something that they can do. Like you said, the runner at the top level is controlled, but at least you do have your quarter breaks, halftime break, three quarter break, and end game. And like you said, not only will that help you regain performance, which is the most important day of the week, but also your ability to recover and start preparing for the next game by being better fueled, as opposed to playing catch up, which makes a lot of sense too.

Darryl: And that’s the thing. Like if it was just a game every month, then you can get away with it. You can deplete your stores to the point where, you’ve got that luxury of time to restore. But, you know, you finish a game on Sunday, you’re back training the next day. You don’t have that luxury of time and then you’re playing.

And like sometimes, like COVID, there were some times when teams were turning around in four days. That’s just nuts. You can see why there was a lot of small muscle tears and hammies and all that sort of stuff going on last year. Because I can guarantee you they weren’t hydrating properly and they weren’t fueling properly. Because they didn’t have the time that they had the luxury of, just those extra couple of days that they had in years before COVID. Which, hopefully, they get the luxury this year. Hopefully, it’s not interrupted.

Jack: Yeah, back to 6 and 7 days. Let’s hope.

Darryl: Exactly.

Jack: Okay. And then let’s spend some time on your creation. We mentioned the firefighting was where you started in your career journey. And then you started to access this information, you were doing some research for yourself and then started working with athletes that were seeking you. How did that then come to the point of creating a company KODA Nutrition?

Darryl: So, like I said, it was originally shots and we changed our name a couple of years ago, just before COVID. It was never planned to be a business. And I’m not a businessman. I have a passion for wanting to find out how things work. Very inquisitive. And if I don’t get the answers, I get really annoyed and I have to find out myself. So, that’s where the applied research started. And then realizing that, and I don’t say this lightly, but the sports nutrition industry is a joke. The fact that these all-in-one, one-size-fits-all sports drinks dominate the sports nutrition market is mind-boggling to me. Absolutely. It goes to show the sheer power of marketing.

And if you’ve got enough money, you can convince a lot of people that this is what you need to be using. It’d be like me turning up to a team of football players and saying, ‘Right, I’ve just been researching this size 11 boot, and it fits Billy perfectly. He doesn’t get blisters anymore. No more shin splints, calves aren’t sore, his lower back’s not sore anymore. In his two kilometer run he’s just knocked five seconds off it. And his 20 meter run is brilliant. He’s performing so well. And it’s because we’ve customized his size 11 boot for him. So, what we’re going to do, we’re going to put every single player in that size 11 boot.’

What do you think is going to happen? The players are going to go. ‘Hang on a minute. My foot’s bigger than his.’ ‘Hey, well, my foot’s shorter than his.’ ‘Mine’s wider.’ ‘Mine’s narrower.’ ‘My instep’s bigger.’ ‘My arche’s smaller.’ ‘I have an entirely different foot strike when I run.’ And they’re going to throw their arms up. And so, ‘No way, I’m not wearing a size 11 boot. It might suit Billy. That’s fantastic. But I want a boot that suits me.’ So, what we’re going to do now is we’re going to give you a drink. And it’s the exact same for everyone. It’s the same volume, same calories, same electrolyte. ‘Oh, okay, cool. No worries.’

It just frustrates the heck out of me. I’m all about 100%. If you’re an elite athlete and that doesn’t mean someone who’s professional and getting paid. There are a lot of athletes out there who are elite, who do it purely because it’s something they love doing and they spend a lot of time and a lot of money on it. And that’s where they read a lot of this stuff that they’re being told. And as soon as they start to understand the uniqueness and how to address that, the performance benefits are phenomenal. And I have no doubt that even the top level AFL, there’s still a lot of improvement to be had.

And I know the sports dieticians have a lot of trouble because everyone wants a piece of them. There’s you. You don’t want them in the gym. You want them doing all that stuff. And then there’s the defense coach. There’s the forward coach. There’s the on ball coach. Everyone wants a piece, and you just don’t get enough time with them. I think that’s the biggest problem, trying to work everyone together. So, there’s a common goal. If we do actually work together and not individually, I think these sort of things will improve.

Jack: You mentioned a couple of good points in there. Let’s go first with one that I imagine is going to be tough to change. You’re in the industry, do you think that sports nutrition eventually we’ll get to a point where sponsorship won’t completely dominate the market, but it will start to be more individually led or athletes will potentially have a little bit more say in it?

Darryl: Well, I think the athlete needs to speak up a bit more. If a sports dietician is handing you lollies, you’ve got a question there. You’ve got to go, ‘You know, I have a small child and I tell them not to eat lollies because they’re bad for them. But I’m an elite athlete and you give me lollies for fuel.’ So, ask the questions. And the sports dietician, well, I don’t know what answer you’re going to come up with for giving an elite athlete lollies. There’s really no answer. It’s simply going to come back to the fact that Nestle sponsored the AIS, Nestle owns lollies. And AIS says, ‘Oh, well, they’ve given us a lot of money, so we better tell them to use the lollies.’ And that’s how it works.

And that’s why the big sports companies dominate the market. Because they have huge amounts of dollars. And they always will dominate because it’s important that they are putting that money into the sport. But the elite athletes, I think it’s important that they take some responsibility, even though they’re in a team sport, for their own individual needs. In that, you know, find out what your sweat rate is or ask questions. So, ‘Look, we’re doing this session. Can I do a pre and post weighing?’ Or ‘I’m really, really interested in finding out the sodium concentration of our sweat. Can we do some testing? Then, once we’ve done that, tell me the importance of what happens when I sweat, how’s that contributing to the way I play, how’s it impacting on my performance?’

So, I think one of the biggest things is that we need to sit these players down and actually educate them properly and say, ‘Okay, well, this is what happens when you sweat. When you sweat, that water that ends up on your skin, comes from the water component of your blood. Your blood is about 80% water. So, as you sweat and not replace it, you’re actually reducing blood volume. You’ve got less blood available. So, what do you think, when there’s less blood available, what happens? Well, many things happen. But, importantly, if you’ve got less blood available, then you’ve got less oxygen. You’ve got less glucose. The blood’s thickening because, as that water component reduces, the blood thickens. And then your heart’s got to pump a lot harder to move that blood around, and it’s not going to move as efficiently as it does when you’re properly hydrated.’ 

‘Oh, okay.’ So, and then the penny drops on the go. ‘Well, that’s really important that I hydrate.’ And then that sports dietician will say ‘Yes, but if we’re playing down in Hobart, you’re just not going to sweat as much. So, we don’t need to drink as much as we will need to in Darwin or Gold Coast.’  That’s a really easy conversation to have with the player. And then they have an understanding of, ‘Oh, okay. Well, that’s really important. I’m going to make sure that I find out how much I sweat in these hotter conditions, because I really want to manage it properly. And because if I do manage it properly, it means I’m going to have a much better week than I normally do. Because I come off a hot game and I have a crap game the next week. So, if I address my needs properly, then I’m less likely to have a shit game the following week.’

Jack: On that note. So, 18 degrees, you work out, you lose 1.5 liters in that hour test. And we try and mimic that with a game, like you mentioned, in terms of exertion. Does that mean that, if you want to be really thorough, you should do one at 25 degrees and another one above 30? So, do a few of them?

Darryl: Spot on. And there’s no pattern, by the way. So, let’s say, at 10 degrees you lost a liter an hour, as an example, hypothetically. It doesn’t mean at 20 degrees you’re going to lose two liters.

Jack: So, there is no special algorithm?

Darryl: No. Oh, it would make all my applied research way easier. I’ve had some athletes where we would test them around 18–20 degrees, which was a fairly consistent temperature for Ironman during the bike leg, particularly in Australia. You bumped that temperature up to 23–25 degrees, only a five degree swing, five to seven degree swing, and their sweat rate increased massively. Where other athletes that five to seven degree swing didn’t change too much. So, there’s just so many variables.

Jack: I imagine, humidity as well. Like, you’ve got to factor that in? 

Darryl: Absolutely. When I was living in Melbourne for nine years, I was two minute walk from Etihad. My wife and I and daughter would sometimes see three games on a weekend. And it was fascinating watching a game with 8 to 10,000 people. And then again, with 50,000 people, how the humidity would rise. And I’d be sitting there and I’d be wondering whether they were taking that into account. How different the conditions were with 50,000 people sitting in the stands, as opposed to the different humidity when there was less people there. And a swing of 15% humidity can make a massive difference in your sweat rate. 

Jack: Very interesting. So, doing the tests, you’ve got more awareness on how to adjust things on game day. 

Darryl: Exactly. And there’s plenty of time to do it. You’re not training all the time. It’s 10 minutes on either side of that training session to do pre and post weighing and record it. Record the temperature and humidity, have a look at your GPS device that you have in the back of your jumper, look at the trend, see if it mimics close to game day. Because there’s so much data. 

If I was a footballer, I’ll be looking at that and I’m sure some do. I’d be looking at that data after every game and seeing areas of where I could do better there. ‘Geez, I dropped off in that fourth quarter. What can I do in quarter one, two and three to ensure I don’t drop off so much in quarter four? Is it my hydration? Is it that I’m not fueling as well as I could?’ I think the players need to maybe take some responsibility for that as well. Because if you’re sports dietician and you’re trying to look after that many players, it’ll be a difficult task. 

Jack: That’s a good message as well. It’s your career, isn’t it? So, if it comes from the athlete, you’re going to get a lot more benefit out of the experts around you in that environment.

You mentioned the GPS. I think that would be a good thing to touch on. So, you’re looking at your game day report and it may have a quarter breakdown and work rate in the different speed zone. So, slow running and high speed running and sprint distance. If you’re an athlete and you’re looking at it, you’re like, ‘Okay, there was a bit of a detriment or deficit in the work rate.’ With the athletes that you’ve worked out there, if it wasn’t a fitness thing, or it wasn’t a recovery thing in terms of rotations. If they can be definitive and know that it was definitely hydration, is that because of their post weighing, is there a percentage, like it really shouldn’t be this much? What are the standards with the loss of the fluid for a typical AFL game? 

Darryl: That’s a good question. Once you get another variable. Because you and I could be losing the same amount of sweat. So, let’s say, we’re playing a hot game in Darwin. It wouldn’t be unusual for some players to lose three or four liters comfortably in those sort of conditions. So, you and I both lose three liters, but for whatever reason you can tolerate that loss better than I can. You can still maintain a high output better than I can. And it’s not for any other reason than it’s just how you tolerate that loss or that deficiency.

So, it’s hard to answer that question because it really comes down to, if you’re seeing that there is a deficit or a decrease in output, a lot of the time it could be put down to the fact that, ‘Geez, it was a lot warmer than I thought it was going to be. And I didn’t hydrate as well as I should have.’ And so, you address that for next time. Or it could well be it was a lot colder than I thought it was going to be, than the weather predicted, and the amount I consumed was more than I should have. And you can definitely drink more than you need in cooler conditions.

So, at some point you’re going to arrive, and it might not always be straightaway, but at some point you’re going to arrive at the answer, if you keep looking at it. But I have no hesitation in that AFL players aren’t fueling anywhere near where they should be. I don’t think the fueling strategy has caught up with the game now. The game is so much different than it used to be.

Jack: So, most of the fueling than the rehydration, the rehydration thing’s in a good spot, but more the replenishing of glucose.

Darryl: No, I don’t think the hydration is in a good spot at all. I think there’s still a lot of work to be done there. And that starts with educating the players. And talking to sports dieticians, I know they don’t get the opportunity to sit down with them and actually explain to them the importance of all this. So, that needs to change, that needs to be a priority, that needs to be something that’s built in. Because I know that when it comes to the level of importance, the nutrition side of things is way down the bottom. So, that’s something that they need to have a look at and address. 

Jack: What about leading up to game day for footballers? What would you recommend? Some good practices for young athletes in terms of making sure they’re well-fueled and well-hydrated going into the game?

Darryl: Well, generally you’ve got to get there a couple of hours before the game. So, when an athlete asked me, ‘What should I eat before competition?’ Generally my answer is you eat what you normally eat. You don’t change anything. You eat the things that you’re comfortable with, that sit well in your stomach.

Some athletes have a massive problem with eating prior to a game. It’s just nerves take over. That’s where I think if they can try and maybe eat some fruit or make sure they maybe take a gel or something like that. They’ve got to be starting the game without any deficiencies. So, it’s really going to depend on the type of or the temperatures and humidity that they’re going to experience.

You can’t load up. So, you can’t go and drink, thinking that if I drink a lot now, then it’s going to save me for later on. A lot of the time a big problem with athletes, particularly when they’re going into a game where it is going to be hot, they drink lots and lots of plain water. And it’s a common mistake. And they think they’re doing the right thing.

It is good to hydrate, but if you were drinking copious amounts of plain water, you are going to dilute the sodium concentration of your blood. So, you’re going to start with deficiencies in that case. When you are hydrating, you hydrate with water and make sure the sodium component is in that drink as well. Don’t replace one, you’ve got to replace both. So, that’s the important thing.

And it’s hard to give a volume, but just make sure that you are drinking prior to the game. And especially in that two hours that you are warming up, getting ready to play the game. And make sure that you fuel, because in that two hour warmup, some players will use more energy than some people use in a week. So, making sure that you are fueling in that two hours as well, that you start the game without any deficiencies. 

Jack: That’s a good point to be taken. Think about the game, but also like most warm-ups will have two different periods of warmups and definitely ramp up towards the games. So, making sure that you’re well-hydrated and fueling throughout the warmup, as it should be part of your game day preparation. 

Love that thing. Thanks for sharing Daryl. We’ll move into the lighter side of the podcast, mate. This is a bit of a get-to-know-you segment. First one is which movie or TV series, or it could be a book, has impacted you the most and why?

Darryl: ‘The Power Of One.’ Have you read that?

Jack: Don’t think so. Has a familiar title to it, but… Is it a book?

Darryl: Yeah, it’s a book. Read that a long, long time ago. Pick that one, if you get a chance. 

Jack: Will do. Favorite inspirational quote or life motto?

Darryl: ‘You are unique.’ And we are. We all are very, very special in our own way. There’s no one like you on the planet. That’s mine. We are unique. 

Jack: And in your work life, what makes you angry? What are your pet peeves? 

Darryl: I think you can work that one out. The fact that sports drinks dominate the sports nutrition market. I don’t have any hair left, I’ve torn it all out. It’s mind boggling to me that they dominate sports nutrition with their one-size-fits-all strategy. I try not to let it bother me, but it’s hard not to, when you’ve done all the work I’ve done over the years. It’s 25 years of work. I just want athletes to perform well and you’re not going to realize your true potential using a one-size-fits-all sports drinks.

Jack: And in a COVID free world, of course, what’s your favorite way to spend your day off? 

Darryl: At the moment it’d be mountain biking. Love my mountain biking.

Jack: Favorite holiday destination and why? 

Darryl: Can I have two?

Jack: Absolutely.

Darryl: Maldives, surfing. And Japan, snowboarding.

Jack: Awesome.

Darryl: Yeah. I’m very much looking forward to getting back to Japan, once things go back to normal. 

Jack: Well, thank you so much for jumping on, Darryl. Talk us through what’s on the horizon for 2022? What are you excited about at the moment?

Darryl: I’m very excited about having electrolyte tablets back. We had a fire in our factory just after COVID. So, we’ve had a nasty 16 months. We have them back now, so I’m very, very excited because it’s an awesome product. It’s my baby. I formulated them right from scratch. So, very, very passionate about it.

Jack: How are they different to the, like you mentioned, the general generic products that are out there?

Darryl: It’s an effervescent tablet, so there’s no calories at all. The idea is that if you have a higher sodium concentration in your sweat, you can add extra tablets to meet those needs. It’s as simple as that. You’re able to customize your hydration and get a lot closer to your losses than you normally would.

Jack: And easy on the stomach.

Darryl: Yeah, importantly. And that’s something I focused on when formulating these products. Any sports nutrition product needs to be gentle on the stomach. I spent a lot of time formulating products to be that gentle on the stomach. 

Jack: Awesome. Well, thank you so much. I certainly got a lot out of our chat, mate. And, no doubt, the athletes, as well as practitioners that have tuned in live. And for those that tuned in later on and you missed the first part, definitely watch the whole recording. Darryl dropped gems from the first minute. So, you can watch that on the YouTube channel. And then for the podcasters out there, we’ll release this in the next couple of weeks. So, we’ll upload it on our socials when the episode is released in our podcast.

But thanks again, Darryl. Where can people find you if they want to ask any questions or queries? And, of course, talk us through KODA Nutrition as well, for athletes that want to try some of your products.

Darryl: I think the first thing is to get on and listen to the audio book ‘Sweat. Think. Go Faster’. That will explain a lot about the applied research that I’ve done over the past 25 years. And it goes into developing sports nutrition. So, it gives you a real insight into the things you need to think about, which most people don’t. They just use the product without really thinking too much. So, the science behind actually developing products. And all the research that I’ve done to help customize athlete’s nutrition and their performance.

And then kodanutrition.com is where you’ll find the products. We’re the Australian company. And I have no doubt there’s no one that spent as much time developing sports nutrition products than I have. I have absolutely no doubt about that. So, if you are using our products, you know that there’s been a huge amount of effort going into it.

Jack: That’s what athletes deserve. So, we’ll add the links, both to the audio book… Is that on your website?

Darryl: Yes, it is.

Jack: We’ll add it in the show notes, as well as the link to your, what about your socials? Where’s the best place for you?

Darryl: Just #kodanutrition. 

Jack: We’ll add it in the show notes. Thanks for everyone that’s listened as well. If you’re a fan of the podcast, make sure to click the notification button on Spotify to not miss any episodes. I’ll see you guys on the next live chat.

Thank you for listening to the ‘Prepare Like A Pro’ podcast. If you liked this episode, it’d be a massive help, if you could like, follow, rate, give a review or even share with your mates. The show is recorded in Melbourne, Australia. Be sure to follow our Instagram page for all updates on our latest and greatest.

If you would like to get in touch to suggest a guest or advertise with the ‘Prepare Like A Pro’ podcast, please email me at jack@preparelikeapro.com. Thanks so much for tuning in

CategoriesPLP Podcast Psych/Nutrition

Episode 102 – Will Hams

Will Hams is the Co-Founder of Liminal Wellbeing and former AFL player at the Essendon FC.

Highlights from the episode:

  • The importance of persistence and working towards what you want
  • Influencers who helped with his development
  • Practical tips for footballers going through a challenging time whether it from slump or injuries
  • Fondest memories out of his highlights
  • What Liminal Wellbeing is

People mentioned:

  • Michael Hurley
  • James Hird
  • Nick Stevens
  • James Burn
  • Ben Howlett

Connect: https://www.instagram.com/willhams_/

Website: https://www.liminalwellbeing.com.au/

To have Jack answer your questions send us a voice message via this link: 

https://www.speakpipe.com/PrepareLikeaPro

Listen: iTunesSpotify

Interview Transcript

Jack: Welcome back to the ‘Prepare Like A Pro’ podcast. My name is Jack McLean. I am the host and in today’s episode I interview Will Hams. He is the co-founder of Liminal Wellbeing and a former AFL player at the Essendon Football Club.

Highlights from this episode: we discuss the importance of persistence and working towards what you want; we will provide practical tips for footballers going through a challenging time, whether it’d be a form slump or from injuries; the Essendon drug saga and how it impacted the club; Liminal Wellbeing, the power of positive psychology and developing your tool shed for health.

Before we start this episode, for those wanting to improve your strength and power and gain a competitive edge this preseason, hire Prepare Like A Pro coach and join our individualized coaching package. For more information, head to preparelikeapro.com and join our email list to receive a free master class.

Let’s get into today’s episode. Welcome, Will. Thanks for jumping on, mate. 

Will: Thanks for having me, mate. Looking forward to it.

Jack: It’s going to be a good chat. Let’s dive into the very beginning of your journey. The young Hammer, take us back. What age did you discover that a career as a professional footballer was going to become a reality? 

Will: That’s a good question. I think as a little tackler, I definitely always loved sport and loved footy and always aspired to play AFL someday. But aspiring and it actually making a reality and whether I could get there or not, it was a completely different story.

I think more just growing up, I just loved playing sport and loved hanging out with my mates and playing with them. Football started probably getting a bit more serious as I got towards more Gippsland Power representative staff. Part of kind of the old TAC cup, and now the NAB League. Getting involved in those pathways was when it really became a bit more serious.

And I’d have to say that I probably sat on the fringes of most teams of Under 15s and 16s. And then it wasn’t really until the end of my Under 16s year that I started to string together some good football, started having a bit more confidence in how I was playing, and had some opportunity back at home, in Southwood, to play senior footy and played at it, and could compete with men. And I think that set me up a little bit from my bottom-age year in the Under 18s. Was lucky enough to play some consistent footy there, which again was another little stepping stone into whether I could get there.

And really making some choices to put myself in the best position to try and get drafted at really the end of my Under 18s year. And was lucky enough to go through there and worked pretty hard and put some good steps in place and played some good football and probably really come as out of nowhere midway through the year. And then following that, we had a pretty good season and I was lucky enough to get picked up by the Bombers after that. 

Jack: Awesome, mate. Let’s dive into a little more detail about some of those stepping stones. It sounds like, as momentum built, your confidence in yourself grew, and for young footballers listening in, how important it is to stretch yourself? Like you said, a 16-year-old playing country senior footy, looking back at those moments, did that really move the needle for you in terms of your development, those big step-ups? 

Will: I think so. People having confidence in you and then you having confidence in yourself is a big part of it. And I think football more so than anything is such a confidence game. You can put everything that you want, all the stepping stones in place, prepare as best as you possibly can, and get out there and you lose that sense of confidence and your game kind of goes. So, for me, that was definitely a big part of it.

Leading into my Under 18s year, I definitely made a clear decision. I remember speaking to mom and dad and said, ‘I’m going to put everything into getting drafted. This is what I want to do. And this is what I want to spend my year 12 doing.’ They were 100% supportive of that. And I can’t thank them enough for just backing me as a young person to just go after it. And they even took the step then to speak to my coaches, have a chat to my manager about what they can do to support me.

We spent a year really trying to act as if I was already an AFL player. I was doing recovery on the Monday, getting to the beach before school, doing extra touch sessions. We would head down on the highway on a Wednesday. We only had one session without giving up team. And then I’d train on a Thursday back local and sail. And then we would head up to Melbourne on Friday, see my physio and then start the patern again after we played on Saturday or Sunday.

So, there was definitely a routine. And I think as the season went on and I started seeing the results, that was a big confidence booster again. I got put in for the second game in the big country squads and then played the rest of the week and that set my year off like that. It was definitely a process in place and a bit of a clear plan that we set out at the start of the year. And definitely a huge thanks to my parents for really putting the faith in me and allowing me to really go after it. 

Jack: That’s awesome, mate. Thanks for sharing that. And that’s such a good insight into your mindset that you had. And, like you mentioned, there’s a team behind the player usually to suceed in such a competitive sport and to play at the highest level. So, the importance that your parents played and we’ll go into influences soon.

But in terms of that intent that you mentioned, it sounded like you were pretty strong on it then. And speaking to your parents, is that the first time that you actually voiced it to someone, that you were like, ‘This is what I’m doing. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got this year to get drafted’? Or at that point was it already something that you were working towards, but you just wanted to take it up another notch?

Will: Probably so. Actually I remember it was quite funny. My brother’s best mate was around the house. And I remember we were chatting and talking about footy, and mom goes like, ‘Oh, Will was going to try and play AFL.’ And Luke Carlson, my brother’s mate goes, ‘Yeah. And I’m going to play cricket for Australia,’ kind of slowly taking a piss. And I decided, I remember it so distinct, I was like ‘I’m going to prove you wrong. I’m going to prove you wrong.’

I probably had that mindset. I was very competitive. I’m not a big guy, so I had to make sure that that was my drive and I had to do everything and put everything in place to be able to get there. And I think in that period it was where I felt like, ‘Ah, this could be something that I could go after.’

And to be fair, there was no reason why I should have felt that way. I hadn’t played in the big country squads. I hadn’t done any real representative or shown anything that said I will be a draft pick. But definitely having that confidence and that process in place was a big part of me finally getting there in the end and really that determination just to make it happen.

Jack: That’s awesome. Love that. And that’s a great gem for any of the younger footballers listening, or maybe parents of young kids. I think it’s so important to come from the person themselves, for them to really enjoy it and embrace it and get the full experience in this life that we live. If it’s coming from your heart and coming from yourself, you’re probably going to give it your best shot. I’m opposed to external people putting pressure on yourself. So, that’s, no doubt, an important factor.

Obviously, you’ve got to play good footy. And, like you said, you had those stepping stones and you built and worked and put in the work as well to get that end result. Talk us through how the draft week ended up for you as well? Because I know that was an interesting time for you after speaking to you a couple of years ago about it. Talk us through draft night and how did you venture out to get to Essendon?

Will: I guess post the season, we had a really good year at Gippsland Power. We made the grand final. We, unfortunately, lost by a point. But we really set ourselves to be in the spotlight. From there we went off to draft camp, tested pretty well. I was in the top ranges for running and a few of the skills jewels. And I spoke to a bunch of clubs as well and felt pretty confident going into the draft, knowing that I was going to get picked up somewhere.

I guess along the lines there was a few turns. Adelaide, Lions and Peaks were one of the clubs that were really interested in me. And I guess going in, you start getting a bit nervous. And I remember the night before draft or the day, trying to actually just kill the day, I remember Tom and I just went and did the running session. And we just kept running laps and running laps, trying to burn energy, so I could sit still and get through the night. But we ended up going to the pub, sat with a couple of friends, it wasn’t a big night or anything.

And then it went through and names were getting called out. Unfortunately, my name just didn’t go. And I remember being absolutely devastated. It was probably at the time, probably one of the hardest things that you go through. As you said, you put all these things in place, you put all the effort in there, you feel like you’ve got a chance, and then it just doesn’t fall your way.

Following that, I was tossing out whether to head to school with my mates or stick around to potentially try and get a training spot and, hopefully, get a rookie spot as well, which, I think, the draft was maybe a couple of weeks after. But I’m lucky enough that Merv came from the Bombers, one of the head recruiters at the time, gave me a call and said, ‘Mate, we’ve got a spot  that’s opened up. We’d love you to come down, train, see how you go.’

And pretty much that was me. I got in the car, went up to Melbourne, went to Michael Hurley’s place. And trained for the next week with about six boys, who just pretty much went head to head in anything we did. It was time trials, competitive drills, weights, so the whole work. It was good fun, but super nerve-wracking. It just went in a blur. It just next thing, next thing, next thing. And I was lucky enough that at the end of that week I got a call from Hurley saying, ‘Mate, we’re going to pick you up.’ And ended up going pick 5 in the preseason draft.

It was one of the best feelings I had, having that element of against the wall, when you’re competing against others. And it was really that one-on-one, kind of more like an individual sport, when we were going through that process. But to come out on top and then to get drafted and go through, I think was probably better than even getting drafted in the first place. It really gave me that confidence that I should be here and I belong.

Jack: That’s awesome, mate. That’s a great story. Have you ever caught up with those other five guys, the ones you were competing through sport? 

Will: I think I might have been the only one from Victoria. I remember Sammy Colquhoun. To be honest, he was probably going to get picked up before me. But then got picked up by Port Adelaide in a couple of picks before I did. I think I’ve dodged a bullet a bit there. And then Dayle Garlett ended up getting drafted to Hawthorn maybe a year later. And I’m not sure about the other boys. 

But no, I haven’t ended up catching up with any of them. But the development coach at the time, who was really putting us through our paces, is now one of my best mates. So, we obviously connected pretty well. And I was pretty lucky that I did that. It was definitely interesting time. Loved it.

Jack: That’s awesome. Do you think you were well-prepared, because of the year of work that you did, it almost felt like you knew you deserved it, you deserved that spot?

Will: Yeah, absolutely. I think I honestly probably couldn’t have done any more whether it was in the gym, whether it was running, whether it was my skills work. I was just putting so much time into it, even leading up to that post the season. So, I really felt like, if it wasn’t going to be then, then it probably wasn’t going to be, and if someone’s going to beat me on the day, then well done to them. So, certainly felt that I was in the right position.

And probably I think you get a feel for it after the first day. We did a lot of tests in that first day. And I think a lot of them were probably more the explosive athletes, where I probably had a bit more endurance. I was getting on top of them in those trials and then when it got down to the competitive stuff, I think that certainly contested ball was one of my strong suits. And I was able to get on top of that and I think that just gave us a bit of confidence really for the rest of the week. 

Jack: And you mentioned earlier the importance of having a good support team and those around you that build your confidence. Who were your strong influences early days to help you during your development?

Will: I think, obviously, I spoke about my parents. I think for any fortunate kid  they’re the number one supporter. Obviously, growing up in Gippsland and being three hours away from Melbourne, we pretty much spent two years traveling back and forth. We absolutely flogged the Monash Freeway. And they dedicated so much time and effort into supporting not just me, but my brother, Tom, as well in our sporting endeavors. So, certainly mum and dad were a massive influence.

I think in Gippsland Power Peter Francis, who was the general manager there for ever, is an absolute legend. And Nick Stevens, who was my coach in Under 18s year. They put a load of confidence in me as well and really pushed me to AFL clubs, to get on their radar, as well as in big country. And I have lots to thank to both of them. Probably not just in a footy sense, but also just in a personal sense as well, in sense of life lessons that they taught me and understanding discipline and respect. I think it was just a great culture of learning as well as being good footballers, but being good young men as well. So, they were absolutely incredible.

And then James Burn, who I briefly mentioned before, who was that development coach that got me over the line of the Bombers. Again, a massive influence early in my footy career, but post football more importantly. He’s been a huge influence in both my career and life outside of that side. Certainly, they’re the people that really stick out as both in a football sense, but also in a life sense, I think, as well.

Jack: And your dream becomes your reality. You’re on AFL list. Take us through the first year. How tough was it? And what was some of the highlights as well?

Will: I’d have to say probably the first year was one of the easiest years or probably the easiest year that I had. I think AFL clubs are quite good at balancing your load as a young person coming in. And as I mentioned, because post the season I was trying to train to then get a role, I came in really fit and was really strong in preseason. I think preseason was probably one of my strengths in terms of I was quite a good runner, backed up training really well or recovered pretty well. So, all those things were really in my favour.

And leading into the start of the season I was putting myself in the best position I could. I didn’t get close in round one, but played some good VFL games and then ran through our first emergency and then had a string of emergencies and carry-overs after that. But certainly I guess probably that preseason, although you come home and you go to sleep and you’re not used to having a full day at the club, whether it’s way in the afternoon, training in the morning, meetings and all that stuff does tire you out mentally and physically.

But I think for me, it was just kept flowing on from the momentum that I had the previous year. And it really wasn’t probably until my second year where I felt a little bit more pressure on performing and making sure that I could submit my spot and how it was physically and all those sorts of things. But in the first season, you’re fresh, no one knows you, no expectations. Get out there and just have a crack. 

Jack: Awesome. And you mentioned the emergency. How challenging is it to prepare and be in that position, particularly when you haven’t debuted yet? I can imagine that would be a real mental fuck.

Will: Yeah, it was a little bit. I remember, so, round two, I think I was emergency six or seven times, like the player for emergency before I played. And it was a couple of times they had to travel. A couple of times I could go to the game then no one’s injured, head back to the VFL and play. Mom and dad and Tom and everyone else would come up. The whole family would come up from Gippsland and hope that potentially someone might get injured. Is not doing that, is going on the VFL.

And then finally cracked it, cracked a gig in round 10 up at Sydney. I was lucky. Again, I was an emergency and Benny Howlett pulled out, I think, the day before the game. And I’ve got my first opportunity out of it. But we had a really good site. I think we won the first maybe nine games of the year that year in the Bowman’s Raps. So, they were flying, and there’s a few things, obviously, going on outside of that. But on-field everything was absolutely flying.

So, it was good to be a part of that as well, and see what these blokes are doing and how they’re getting up and how they are playing. And being in the stands, watching those different patterns and all of that stuff was a really good educational experience as well.

Jack: Let’s go into that. It was a bit of a rare time to be drafted at the club. When did you start picking up on things? Was it post career? Was it a few years in? With some of the drugs out there, what was going on?

Will: It was a weird time. I mean, for me, I got there the following year. So, I think it was maybe my second week and we had a meeting to say that there was an investigation going on. I didn’t really know what was happening, but it seemed to be pretty big at the time. And then you jump on the news and there’s plenty going on and really for the next four years that was it.

It was twist and turn and everything else in between. But I guess draft group probably did sit a little bit separate to that, but also part of it in a really strange way. It was certainly a challenging time for everyone involved, particularly the boys that were part of it, and I’d certainly feel for them. But also indirectly everyone else around staff and supporters and everyone involved, it was just a crazy four years.

I guess for me, that was the four years I was in the system. And by the time it cleared out I was retrospectively looking back and thinking, ‘What the hell just happened?’ But when you’re in the moment, you just, again, it’s a cliche, but you do take each day as it comes and like, ‘Okay, whatever,’ and focus on the next thing. And you really are in a bit of a bubble. So, that was what it was. And I was just focusing on making a career and playing games and recovering from injuries and whatever else was going on. 

Jack: Okay. So, it certainly wasn’t a distraction for you personally coming in and being drafted into that time?

Will: I don’t think so. Not in that first year. It was actually a really inspiring year the way that a lot of the players were just galvanized. And as I said, I think the boys were on the first nine games in a row and played Geelong who had also won nine games in a row. And we were going really well. So, it was pretty inspiring to be a part of that.

And, as you know, you can’t forecast what’s going to happen in the next few year. So, no one knew that it was going to drag on the way it was. But that’s definitely a galvanizing experience to be a part of. And it was certainly an interesting first year, for sure.

Jack: And you mentioned other challenges. So, I guess, start with injuries, for players that maybe there might be some listening that are currently going through an injury. Obviously, it’s probably one of the hardest times as an athlete, because your body’s taken away and you’ve got to do the things. You signed up to play the game of footy and suddenly now you’ve got to spend more time in the gym, doing the things that you potentially didn’t sign up for. How did you go about approaching rehab and what was some things you learned along the way that made rehab more successful?

Will: It was a tough one. So, as I said that first year you come in, your eyes are open, you’re just having a crack. And then the following year you want to make sure that you improve on what you’ve just laid out. And for me, I felt like I had a pretty good year, played a couple of games in the seniors, played good VFL, played a good final series.

And so, I was like, ‘Ah, it’s my time. I want to make sure that I submit my spot in the senior side. So, I’m going to do everything that I can in the preseason to make sure I’ve come back and ready to go.’ And that was pretty much what I did. I didn’t go away. I went just back home and just trained as much as I could. And got back to preseason… 

Jack: More than the club program? When you say as much as you could, did you do extras and that sort of thing? Or you just really brought maximum intensity to the program? 

Will: It was probably quantity over quality, I think. And that was certainly something that, looking back, you want to take back and you do understand that putting the quality in you don’t have to do these ridiculously long sessions. If you have the quality in there, then you’re going to see those benefits. And for me, that wasn’t the way that I approached it, and probably not the way a lot of young people approach it. Because you just think more is better and that’s what you do.

As I mentioned, I came back really good, I tested really well, trained really well up until the Christmas break. And then probably a week after the Christmas break when we got back I went down with what was pretty innocuous hip injury. I essentially lost all strength in one side and got some test done and ended up seeing that I had a swelling in my hip. And from there I got to cortisone, it relaxed. I went to training again, started running again and three days later it just blew up again.

And that was just his pattern for I don’t even know how long. It just kept flaring up, flaring up. We couldn’t work out what was actually causing that flare up. And unfortunately for me, it didn’t matter how much rehab I did and all the strength work that I did around my glutes or groins or everything else, it just wasn’t fixing. So, I ended up having to go into surgery. And in the end I missed the whole year just through that trial and error of trying to fix that hip.

And that was definitely a frustrating and challenging time, as you said. I think as an athlete all you want to do is perform and play and do what you’re paid to do and what your job is. And also probably what you love. Definitely being in the gym wasn’t something that I loved. It was just something that came with the game, and then you want to celebrate at the end on a weekend when you’re winning and all those sorts of things. So, definitely a challenging time.

And something that I’ll kind of look back on. I’m not sure what I’d do different. As I’ve mentioned, definitely that quality over quantity. But in my third year I ended up playing a few games early and then I think it was around six my other hip did the exact same thing. And that put me out and I respectively missed two middle years of my career. Pretty challenging time. And as you said, when you’re an athlete and you really rely on your physical health as the tool of your trade and not being able to do that was something that was really challenging.

Jack: And did you develop things outside of football at that stage of your career? Obviously, you were focused on your rehab, but that’s the two years of not playing a lot of footy. Were there other things in your life that you started to focus on to help yourself mentally get through it? 

Will: Yeah. And probably the fortunate thing about getting injured is that you can have a think about what else you are doing outside of football. And I definitely feel that I’m one of those people that does want to stay busy and always wants to learn as well.

So, through what the AFL and the AFL PA have set up, I did a number of pathway courses and then started my Bachelor of Business while I was still playing at the Bombers, which was probably because I just wanted to do something. And then when I finished the game, I was pretty thankful that I did, and went on, finished that Bachelor of Business. And it really helped me with my professional career post the game. So, that was something that really helped.

But again, I love to surf. I love to stay physically active. And all those things that I wanted to do, I couldn’t do. So, it was really about finding other stuff that stimulated me mentally and socially, and other ways to keep my physical strength up as well. And that was really a discovery time for me. I felt I was just exploring what I liked and what I didn’t like. 

Jack: And going back to the highlights, like first game, being drafted, playing finals, and then obviously post Essendon you were in a premiership side and had played a ripping game, mate, at Box Hill. Looking back now, what is the fondest memory out of all those highlights? 

Will: I definitely think that that final series that we had at Box Hill in 2018 was probably, I get goosebumps thinking about it now. And you were a part of it, and it was just a crazy, crazy rollercoaster coming into that final series. We finished sixth, we won in overtime. And then the following week, we had a good game against Geelong, and then we won by point in the Prelim, and then came from behind and won in the Granny. And that whole kind of come from behind victories that we had was insane. And it is a bit of a blur, but it was definitely the most highlight that I had in footy by a long stretch. It was absolutely awesome. 

Jack: I can only imagine the connection amongst those weeks. It was bloody crazy week after week, every time, like you said, coming from six, you can’t lose. And the team really stepped up, the highlights near the end was fun to watch. When you look back on those memories, do you guys catch up a year post when you turned 19, or is it more a five-year thing, 10-year thing? Talk us through for premiership group, what is the connection like after? 

Will: It’s a tough one because a lot of us left and we were all going to leave at the end of that year. So, it was really the last for us, anyway. I told Box Hill that I wouldn’t be playing the following year. I was going to head away traveling with my girlfriend Grace and go away for six months and really take that opportunity. I just finished studying, so it was just a really good time to finish up.

Obviously, winning the flag and going out on that note was just at an all time high. But we definitely go to a group chat and we try to catch up. COVID, obviously, hasn’t played a great role in that, like many others. But I’m looking forward to a good reunion and a good catch-up with the boys one day. 

Jack: Once the rain is gone, there will be summer festivity. So, that’s awesome, mate. Talking about the positives with the game of football, those moments of winning finals and winning premiership as part of a team, what does that do going into the following year? From a confidence point of view, but also from a team connection point of view for team success, how important is that to be able to have that experience as a group? 

Will: I think it’s everything. I think you see in the AFL, and it’s no coincidence that Hawthorn get a gel from winning one and they go to win three in a row, you see Richmond do what they do, and you’re probably going to see Melbourne and the Doggies be right amongst it. Team success breeds that confidence for everyone to step up and keep on that train and keep going. And you don’t want to miss out as well.

And I think for us at Box Hill, we lost in the Prelim, got absolutely smoked by Richmond. But still, we were building something and I think that group really galvanized after that. And we had a bit of a run, just started slow and then built and got our momentum back and finished really strong.

But I think getting that connection with your teammates for me, I was only there two years. The first year was kind of feeling everyone out, learning how do they play, how does this work, where am I. That second year I felt  comfortable where I’m positioned in this team, where I’m running, I know what he’s going to do. And you start building that game awareness with your teammates. So, that was something that I really felt in that second year to get us over the Prelim hump and get us into the Granny. 

Jack: Although there’s a lot of talent in aligned clubs, with a lot of the VFL top players that make a game come from an AFL list half the time, or they’re seriously good state league players, and then the rest of the team is made up of AFL full-time professional footballers, not always are they most successful in the state league. How important is that connection? And for VFL or stately players that are listening in, how do you build that connection between the two groups, between AFL and VFL?

Will: It is hard. I come from one system, where Essendon was the VFL side as well. So, it was really a strong continuant of Essendon listed players. And we really ran that show and that’s how I felt anyway, sitting on that side. I’m not sure how the VFL boys felt. We definitely had some good senior boys, but probably for me on the AFL list as well it’s really always thinking not just on my personal performance, but how can we win? How can I play well? How can I get into the senior side? There was a different motive there.

Where moving to Box Hill, I think they just developed such a great culture and respect between the Hawthorn Footy Club and Box Hill and what Box Hill boys delivered. And having not your own club, but it did feel a little bit like you’re in clubs. You still had the same rooms and that sort of stuff. And the boys would come in and they were super respectful of the VFL players. And I think that was just really good mutual respect. I think Casey seem like they do it really well as well.

I think that was something that was probably built long before I got there, but I definitely felt it when I arrived. That was a really good respect between both. And even when players are coming back from injury, and we’re talking about our senior players at Hawthorn at the time, they were again very welcoming and inclusive, wanted to be there, wanted to support, wanted to play well, so the team could play well.

So, I think, if you can build that culture, it does build success, not just in the VFL program, but in the AFL program as well. I strongly believe that. By helping those players get better and becoming better than you’re only going to succeed as well. 

Jack: And going back to how you mentioned at the start of the year, that Box Hill premiership year, this will be your final year at the club, and then you’re going for half a year trip, which was very well-timed, retrospectively, mate, with your partner, Grace. So, well played there. What was your thinking at the time and did you know you had enough of playing professional footy? Or was that the idea and you were going to give it one last hooray before moving on to your next chapter? 

Will: Yeah, I think so. I’d probably already subconsciously realized that footy is probably not going to be there and was starting to really have a look at myself and what I want to do and what drives my passion and drives my purpose and who else was I without the game of football. I think for a long time as a kid, and then obviously getting drafted, I felt like footy was really my identity and who I was. But it was only really something that I did. So, it was a real defining moment around finding out who am I and what do I love doing outside of what was. A great time.

I was still very hopeful. I was putting everything into that final year and I spoke to a couple of clubs, but certainly it didn’t go in with a lot of confidence that I would get drafted or anything like that. And as it turned out, I certainly didn’t. And we had one of the best experiences in my life, getting away and traveling through Central American states and meeting new people and having new experiences and something that I’ll look back on for the rest of my life. And I think it was a pretty defining moment in terms of the work that I do now as well.

So, certainly, leading the game, I love what I do, I’ve loved the kind of the journey that I’ve had since, and it’s been awesome. I certainly can’t take anything, I wouldn’t change anything or anything like that, or stayed in the system for any longer. I think for me personally, that was my time to call it a day on that and look at other things that I loved and drive me, as well as my partner Grace. 

Jack: That’s awesome, mate. You can tell the way you go about it and your mindset that you’re not someone that has regrets. I love that. But we’ll go into the next chapter, using the degree. Probably exercise science is a broad topic that everyone does because they love sport, then business manager would be a close second, I reckon. But you’ve applied it. You’re a co-founder of Liminal Wellbeing. For those that don’t know what Liminal Wellbeing is, can you give us a bit of an intro into the company you’ve created? 

Will: So, essentially Liminal Wellbeing is a management platform designed for schools, youths programs, sporting organizations, helping to support young people in seeking support, but also developing skills around their mental health and wellbeing. And we look at that in terms of their mental health, their physical health and their social health as well.

What we’ve done is designed an app, a mentioned platform that works part and parcel together. The app’s a resource for young people to check in, as I said, seek support, but the more importantly gain inspiration, education and skills around how to create a preventative behaviors to support their mental health and wellbeing.

Jack: Amazing. And how did you come to create that? Was that while you were away, the creative juices were flowing and you started to come up with the idea? Or is it something that once you came back, you started to work on? 

Will: I think it was probably one of by-products in my own life. As I mentioned, when I was injured, I did so many different things to support my mental health and my physical health. And then obviously that connection that I had socially as well was a big part of that. And I really experimented with different things, whether that was affirmations and positive self-talk, whether it was yoga, meditation, cold therapy. I was really big on finding a real toolkit around what supported me.

I guess the other side of things was that I’m happy to say that we have a lot of mental health history within our family on both sides of the family and that’s mom’s and dad’s side. And so, growing up, it was extremely prevalent around doing the right things to feel your best and whether that was the food that we put into our bodies, or there was exercising, ot it was looking at drinking and drugs and that sort of stuff. Mum was very strong in making sure that we were doing everything that we could.

So, I think all of those things combining, and then going away and traveling and looking at all these different experiences and the different ways that people live their lives, just combine myself in this passion for positive psychology. Coming back, I ended up getting a job with a student travel company where we facilitated international programs for schools, taking young people to developing countries where they’d have that backpacker type experience: live at a local community and do a project, trek around, explore and lead the whole trip.

And I just found it such an empowering experience, having that alternative learning outside of school. And school wasn’t my thing. And I found that with these young people, providing them this kind of other opportunity to learn in a real concentrated environment and put them outside their comfort zone was something that I was really excited by.

Unfortunately with COVID, that put the nail in the coffin of that job pretty quick. And I was toying around with this idea of being able to provide that on a platform and being able to combine what I’d learned in positive psychology, what I’d learned in professional sport and the health and fitness industry, and how you could combine all of those to be a really great platform for young people to seek support easier, but more importantly, work out the strategies that work for them.

Jack: Like you said, build a tool shed. I love that, that concept of playing around and almost experimenting and having fun with it. There’s no one answer, but if you’ve got that sort of curious mindset to play around with. And just like the physical side, the mental side is no different. So, playing around and trying different methods, yoga, meditation, cold therapy.

I’ve had the pleasure of looking at the app when we caught up for coffee and it seems like it’s really seamless in the way that it works and it communicates and triggers to teachers to alert them on a particular student that might not be feeling so well. Almost makes it a little bit easier for young kids to communicate how they’re going. And then for teachers or coaches, it makes their life a bit easier  to be able to look after a big group, which it can be hard to get across to everyone at times.

So, take us through the purpose of it. What are you trying to achieve with Liminal Wellbeing? 

Will: Yeah, exactly, what you said. There are a lot of barriers in young people seeking support. And just like anyone knows the earlier that you do that and the earlier you get on top of things, the better.

And for teachers, they’ve got a bloody tough role, super tough. Even more tough throughout COVID, particularly with online learning and these sorts of things. It’s one, they’ve got to teach the curriculum and help young people learn. But also, they have their second on, how they’re traveling and cannot be that care supporter as well. So, what we really tried to do with Liminal is make that easier for schools, but also organizations as well.

The way the platform works is essentially with the app. Students do a quick check-in or the individual does a quick check-in on their physical, mental, and social health on a one to five scale, but it’s designed a little bit differently. And that information then just goes through the management system, just to see how broadly the group is going. But just a quick idea around how that individual is going and flag anyone that might be struggling across those three areas.

Really from there the app is what I’d like to call a combination of what a lot of meditations apps are, like a calm and in your headspace. And then you might have a center app that’s your physical health. And combining that all into one to then be an organization tool as well. So, we provide all of those resources to young people, whether that’s yoga sessions, whether it’s fitness sessions, whether it’s meditations, whether it’s goal setting. All these things that they can try out and find what works for them.

As well as providing a content management platform for organizations to use where they can upload different inspirational videos, different resources that they have available, guest speakers if they come there. And it’s all centralized within the app.

And then finally a support function. So, if a young person is struggling with anything, whether it’s school-related, whether it’s home-related, whether it’s physically related, then they can reach out to the wellbeing team simply through their app. And it’s definitely an alternative solution for them. We certainly encourage to build that rapport with their teachers and with their wellbeing teams. But it is something that they can fall back on, because they don’t know who to ask and they don’t know how to articulate their feelings.

And going back to the toolkit analogy I certainly look at that wellbeing and what we’re trying to do, is really provide them with a suite of resources. And we refer to it as a tradie. Tradie is not going to rock up to the site to build a house with a hammer. He’s going to have a bunch of different tools in his shed.

We’re thinking about wellbeing in a similar way. If you’re relying on fitness and you break your ankle, then you’re probably going to struggle and you’re not going to expect your wellbeing to be great. But if you have a bunch of other stuff that you can rely on while you’re recovering from that, then you’re going to put yourself in the best position. That’s really what we’re trying to do is cover those three areas of physical, mental, and social quite broadly, so they can build a bit of a wellbeing toolkit around them. 

Jack: Amazing, mate. Love that. No doubt, it’s going to be doing big things. And I know the launch date is fast approaching, which is super exciting for you. So, schools, football clubs and organizations as well. Potentially a modern business might look into this as well to look after their staff from a wellbeing point of view. Is that a possibility?

Will: Yeah, I think that certainly is in the track we’re going. We’re certainly looking at youth, so looking at different youth programs that they have within the community, YMCA and that sort of thing. Really being able to empower them. So, that’s our avenue at the moment. And potentially going down organizations that allow the stage. But I think our passion from our team and our mission is really about supporting young people at this point in time.

Jack: Awesome, mate. Congratulations, you’ve transitioned into the entrepreneurial world just seamlessly, mate. 

Will: Thanks, mate. As yourself.

Jack: We’ll go into the lighter side of the podcast, the get-to-know-Will-Hams side. So, first one off the bat, mate, is which movie or TV series has impacted you the most and why? We’ve had plenty of time for these lately. You probably have it as much as others, but the last couple of years Netflix must have popped up at least one. 

Will: Yeah, big time. To be honest, I was trying to think of one and I don’t have anything that really stands out for me. Big TV series, I love TV series over movies. I think probably my favorite all time TV series, I don’t know if it’s impacted me in the best way possible, but I could smash ‘Entourage’ when I was a young fellow about three times in a year. I love that show.

So, that’s definitely my all time favorite, but I don’t know if I’ve had too many impact me. You certainly walk away from some movies with some goosebumps and pretty pumped up. Al Pacino’s speech and all those things, but I couldn’t really put my finger on one that really got me going.

Jack: In your work life, what makes you angry? What are your pet peeves?

Will: Ah, pet peeves. Again, there’s probably not too much that really annoys me. I think I really try and treat everyone equally and it does probably annoy me when others are disrespectful to people that they may not know or for whatever reason. So, that’s probably something that gets on my nerves a little bit. But again, there’s probably not too much that annoys me, really.  

Jack: And favorite inspirational quote or life motto? 

Will: So, ‘Shit always works out.’ I say this whenever I have a crazy idea or try and go over something, that’s probably looking a bit dodgy. I always say to my girlfriend, ‘Grace, shit always works out.’ I’ll probably rephrase it a little bit. Shit always works out if you put the dedication and the determination to make it do so.

And I believe that out of that motto, I do it with my work. I’ve done it with footy. I’ve done it with everything. You just take each day as it comes. Don’t try and stress too far ahead because things will just work out. And if you do so, then you’ll find out that they do a few days later.

Jack: I’m with you there. That one resonates with me. Another one that clicked in my head for whatever reason, I think listening to someone else’s podcast, is ‘What will be will be’, which pretty much is the same thing.

Will: Absolutely.

Jack: That’s a great one. What’s your favorite way to spend your day off? You mentioned surfing. If you’ve got the day off, if tomorrow you don’t have anything on, what do you like to do? How do you start and what are some activities? 

Will: Big time, getting in the water. I’m still not a hundred percent sure why I live in Melbourne. It’s not on the coast at all, and there’s no waves within an hour and a half. But get me back home to the water. I grew up on the coast. Mom’s down in Inverloch. I love getting down there. Every opportunity that I possibly can, I just love to get in the water, get surfing. If it’s flat, still get down in the ocean. I think it’s my place to reset. Especially the COVID, it was so challenging being stuck indoors. And I do get a bit weird when I haven’t been down the coast for a while. So, I think that’s definitely my happy place.

Jack: So, if there’s the Liminal retreat one day and I sign up, there’ll be surfing involved.

Will: Big time. I can guarantee you that. Maybe multiples of it. 

Jack: Awesome. This is a COVID-free world and you’ve done a bit of traveling, mate. So, favorite holiday destination, and why? 

Will: COVID-free? I’d probably get back to Mexico in a heartbeat. Absolutely loved it there. Both sides, west and east coast. I haven’t really explored the middle, it’s a bloody massive country. So, I’d love to go back there and explore some more of Mexico, but absolutely loved it. And as I said, we had a great opportunity to travel just before COVID, which is, retrospectively, quite fortunate. And I did about three months traveling around Central America, but I’d get back to Mexico. I loved it there. 

Jack: And we’ll start wrapping up the podcast. Thank you so much for jumping on and sharing with us your journey so far. You’ve lived a full life. And I know I’ve got plenty from it, but also the listeners, whether you’re a footballer or a businessman, you’ll get plenty from it. What’s on the horizon for you, for the 2022 year? What are you excited about at the moment? 

Will: As you mentioned, we’re launching Liminal. So, we trialed all last year and now we’re officially launching Liminal across schools and football clubs, particularly around the VFl. So, that’s going to be a really exciting start of the year, getting all of those going.

And, hopefully, it’s going to be a big half COVID-free, normal year that we can get out and about. We’ve got a lot of exciting staff, whether they’re talks, different partnerships and getting out there and trying to spread what we do as much as possible. So, fingers crossed we can do that in person, otherwise we might have to get on a few more podcasts with yourself. 

Jack: The same, mate. And for those that want to hear more about Liminal, where’s the best place to get in touch with you?

Will: Yeah, definitely. We’re on all the social. So, LinkedIn and Instagram, Facebook. But jump on our website, liminalwellbeing.com.au, explore around and reach out. I think my details would probably be on the show notes after this. So, if you are a teacher, a parent, if you’re part of a football club and you’re interested in what we have to offer, please do reach out. We’d love to chat and tell you more about it and, hopefully, get your organization involved.

Jack: No doubt, I reckon there’ll be some people that will. We’ll definitely chuck your details in the show notes. We have equal values in terms of a holistic approach to mental and physical wellbeing and performance in life. So, hopefully, some people will get in touch, mate.

Thanks again for jumping on. And thank you for all the listeners that have tuned in life. This episode will be released very shortly on our podcast, but for the time being you can watch it on YouTube. Thanks again, Will, mate. Have you got any last messages for the listeners? 

Will: I reckon everyone’s probably heard enough from me. But thanks a lot for having me on, mate. It’s been a blast. And thanks to everyone for tuning in.

Jack: Awesome. And our next live chat guys will be next Thursday. It’s actually our first collaborative event. So, super excited for this one. We’ve got five AFL sport dieticians joining us. They’ve all been on a podcast individually. So, Jess Spendlove from GWS, Rebekah Alcock from Melbourne, Ben Parker from Gold Coast Suns, Pip Taylor from Brisbane, and Simone Austin who worked at Hawthorn. If you’re interested to hear more information, subscribe to our newsletter, which you can find that on ‘Prepare Like A Pro’ website. Thanks, guys. We’ll see you on the next episode.

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If you would like to get in touch to suggest a guest or advertise with the ‘Prepare Like A Pro’ podcast, please email me at jack@preparelikeapro.com. Thanks so much for tuning in.