Highlights from the episode:
- Circumstances you can adjust the training program for an athlete
- How to integrate athletes with track and field drills
- How important the surface is for athletes to do their speed training
- Common mistakes athletes make
- Where we can reach Jarrad and The Sixth Principles
Jack: Next we have Jarred Kay. He’s the founder of The Six Principle & Speed project, located in Melbourne. We’ll be discussing, or Jared will be discussing layering sprint training with gym training in the midst of training for sports. Welcome, Jared. Thanks for jumping on, mate.
Jarrad: Thanks for having us, Jack. Looking forward to having a bit of a chat here.
Jack: We’ll jump straight into it, mate. So, in what circumstances do you adjust the training program for an athlete in a sports setting?
Jarrad: Well, I guess coming from here, we’ve got mostly coaches or allied health staff and athletes who were all playing. So, if you think about the average person’s week these days, whether they be school age, whether they be university age, or whether they be at the workforce, working full-time.
Time. That’s the one thing that’s probably the biggest barrier as a coach and what we can do for our athletes. There might be a sport training two or three times a week, they might have a high-performance club they’re associated with, whether it’s down here in Victoria playing nab* or private school, they might go to a public school where they’ve got a sports academy and then they might be trying to fit in recovery sessions, two times gym sessions and then their school.
Homework and/or work. So, time comes as the biggest constraint. I think, from an industry point of view, now we’ve gotten really good at strength & conditioning. And now what we found at the Speed project and why we started this business during COVID, mainly because our gyms were closed and we were locked out of them, was that speed was that necessary missing link to the total puzzle. And I’m going to talk about that puzzle analogy a little more because at the moment, I think, a lot of us are constrained by our facility size.
When I was over in America, I went to this gym for easy speed performance, and they had a 60-meter Mondotrack in their facility. So, I could hit some kind of top-speed work. For all of us size and space is a big limitation, especially down here in Melbourne. We’re lucky if we have 15, 20 meters of turf to access. So, acceleration is something that’s really well-worked into programs. But if we think about what our efforts are doing week in, week out, they’re just accelerating every time a training.
That’s what’s the main quality of sprinting that they’re going to continuously hit. So, max velocity becomes that missing piece of the puzzle and that’s where we say, ‘All right, how do we layer sprint training and how do we include max velocity that exposure these high-speed loads into an athlete’s program?’ And we’re battling all the barriers that are going against it, such as sport training and gym and everything else on top of it.
So, that’s the part of the puzzle that we’d like to explore. And we sit down with our athletes and work out how we can best do this.
Jack: You mentioned your time in America, is that where the penny dropped that there was a bit of a missing piece in Australia’s athlete’s development side of things?
Jarrad: Yeah. Athletics is such a big thing over there.
It’s such a big component of the junior athlete’s life. Most of them will be absolute track freaks. The Victorian state champion that runs a sub 12 here and under 16 isn’t coming close to their kids over there. Like they’ve got kids over there, 15, 16-year-olds already running 11 scratch. So, athletics is a big thing over there and it really builds what their total athlete comes from.
A lot of these athletes over there get exposure to high-quality sprint coaching. How many footballs, can you say, have been exposed to high-quality sprint coaching that come through these high-performance pathways from under 16 and above? I like to refer to these in a matter of, ‘Is it necessary?’
There’s outliers and there’s anomalies. Like we look at Dane Swan, everyone here would have watched Dane Swan play and marveled at the way that he could dominate a game. He probably had one of the most awkward running styles ever. I spoke to some staff about this, ‘Did you ever try to change it?’
No way. You’re not going to try to change Dane Swan. The guy won a Brownlow medal. But what can we do for the rest of the population that isn’t an anomaly and what can we do to help provide that missing link of speed training to our athletes? So, in America, I’ll take from a lot what they do. They’re the best nation in athletics in the world.
So, we’re trying to instill those principles that they implement over there into our youth athlete development programs over here. That long-term athlete development is a key concept that we’re really trying to build on.
Jack: Yup. And you mentioned the circumstances where you need to adjust the program and how you have a holistic approach taking into account their school, stress and sport, and having sports with school and other club football and all the different stresses they have.
Is that something that you do through athlete feedback? Is it wellness? Is it like catching up with them when they’re in the gym? Talk us through for the coaches here, how can we access that information with a young demographic.
Jarrad: So, a lot of it comes down to the feedback component. How the athlete’s feeling.
We want to monitor that. We know that they’re going to hit their acceleration efforts in training. And we can work that in the gym pretty easily. So, what we do is we try to encourage that when we can implement that max velocity exposure, so real high-speed running, is when we’re going to have a day previous that they’re off legs.
So, if they’ve got any recovery day. Monday morning is typically really good for those who are playing sport on a Saturday. If they’re not too sore or in this current pre-season preparation period. Or we look to develop sprinting qualities in the gym. So, this is another way that we can kind of implement exposure to qualities that are going to develop max speed in a junior environment.
A lot of it will come down to how the athlete’s feeling on the day. And the adaptability in a coach is probably one of the key strengths. And that’s why we’re all in this room tonight. We’re adaptable and we’ve probably faced many different challenges in athlete programs when you’ve got a kid who comes in with a cast on his arm, and you didn’t know, because he broke his arm yesterday. So, adaptability in a coach is a key skill.
Jack: And you mentioned the importance of getting the programming right. With the other stresses that they have, how do you go about it? Like, for the athletes listening that haven’t done track and field, and they’re interested to improve their speed development, what’s the way they can integrate the roar* athletes into your programming?
Jarrad: Yeah. We’re looking to start base and it’s looking to understand why we’re doing certain things. All the athletes would have done an ‘a march and a skip’. This is a classic exercise and it’s in all football warmups, but are they actually understanding why they’re doing it and what the purpose of the exercise is?
All right. We’re trying to drive force into the ground. We’re trying to point our toes more forwards than downwards. How can we make these things related to the athlete without telling them what to do? We don’t want to always be telling them what to do and giving them the answers. We want them to give us the answers.
So, starting from a base, understanding about why we’re doing certain drills, how it’s going to benefit them, how it’s going to help them. And then much like any kind of adaptation we’re trying to achieve, whether it be in the gym, whether it be running or sprinting, we look to start slow. You can’t just go blow out of the gate and start sprinting two or three times a week, because your body’s just not going to be able to handle it. It’s not going to be used to those demands, even though you think sprinting, and from an athlete’s point of view, a lot of them think, ‘Oh, sprinting’s something I do multiple times a week in every game and training I play.’ But are you actually sprinting with intent to get faster or are you just running fast?
So, that’s what we like to educate our athletes with early in the process, and really go through with them about the whys we’re doing things and make them to be able to understand, so they can get that learning effect from it.
Jack: And another one for the athletes. How important is the surface that you’re doing your speed development on?
Jarrad: We were really encouraged to develop casements in qualities on a track. If you don’t have access to a track, grass is fine as well. Obviously, the track’s going to give you this little extra benefit of foot stiffness. It’s more pliable surface than grass. Plus, you put a kid in a track environment as to a grass environment, they already start thinking, ‘All right, I’m at the track. This is where I watched the Olympics. I watched a 100-meter run*, you know what I’m going to do?’ It starts pointing them to their psychology. They’re actually going to start running with more intent and running faster and running harder when they’re doing it.
So, we try to just encourage them to implement the drills into their program when they can. And one of the biggest takeaways is: all right, if you can’t get to our sessions weekly, or you’re struggling to find time, get down the training half an hour earlier. Go through your mobility warmup, do your physical preparation stuff, do the necessary drills for what we’re looking to develop and go out and run two efforts.
And then the education on what sprint training actually is. All right, if you’re going to run a 50, 60, 70 meter effort, we want you to rest for 5, 6, 7 minutes afterwards. It’s not go out and run as hard and fast as you can for 60 meters, walk back and then do it again.
Because from physiological demands, we know that they’re not going to be able to replenish their energy system enough, so that the next effort is that high intensity that we want to see. If you’re training speed, you’ve got to be able to respect the energy systems and make sure that we’re getting sufficient rest, so that we’re actually hitting speed.
And it doesn’t become a conditioning session. Because conditioning sessions are very, very easy to run. A lot of us can do that. It’s the difference of how we actually implement proper rest periods, so that we can then go again.
Jack: Also, the education aspect and, like you said, understanding the purpose. The footballers may have come in and done the drills before, but you’re educating them on how to do them well, and with quality, and not only focus on your speed, but doing your training to improve your max speed, and how important intent is.
So, you mentioned some key pillars to focus on in terms of speed development. With the facility, what are some common mistakes that you see current athletes and specifically footballers, that seems to be your niche, making, and one of the best ways to correct it for us, coaches, listening in?
Jarrad: Oh, I don’t like to necessarily label them as mistakes. Cause everything has its place.
Like, if we look at a sled push rather than a sled pool, you could argue that a sled pool’s probably more contextual-based, because you get to use the arms. Does everyone have the availability of a sled that they can tow? And does everyone have the space that’s necessary to develop acceleration if we’re looking to do that in the gym, or is it going to be easier for us to implement a prowler or a sled and push and work on force through the ground and work on getting into those positions?
So, I think the key mistakes that you’re saying I referred to before, it’s just not respecting the rest periods that are native to be able to keep intensity up at the levels we want. We want to try and get our sprint efforts at a hundred percent each time. So, I think that’s the biggest thing.
And then it’s also respecting the field itself. A lot of us, we’ve got a very diverse set of skills. I would like to think that a lot of us are jack-of-all-trades when it comes to the high-performance kind of umbrella. But if you want to start actually understanding and implementing sprint coaching with your athletes or with a team that you work with, go in and learn from some of the best. Go ahead and do a sprint course, go out and do your athletes coaching course, so that you actually understand the basic principles and start to develop and build up in that way. So, that’s probably where I would leave it.
Jack: Awesome, mate. Final question for us. You decided to own an area in the field. Like you said, you felt like strength & conditioning was well-covered and speed was the missing link. For coaches and business owners listening in, how important was that from a marketing, commercial point of view, really owning your niche?
Jarrad: We just saw the gap in the market. And for Melbourne, a lot of people, like, I look around the room here, and there’re some of my biggest competitors and some of them are even starting to go our way.
And I thought, how can I set myself apart from what they’re doing? So, I try to go back to the relationships and the connections I had. And I asked some of these guys that are playing AFL, ‘Has anyone ever taught you how to sprint?’ ‘No, never.’ And I think that if I became an attractive for them in the realm that if they came to me and young kids are gonna look up to them and go, ‘Oh, this guy trains there, then maybe I should train there,’ I’ve got to be offering something different, something unique and be able to have a good relationship with them.
So, I guess COVID really forced our hand here. My business partner Ash Gudgeon, he was the sprint guy that I was picking his brand during COVID. We started meeting up at an old local oval and started going through some key principles of sprinting. And I said, ‘You know what all my athletes need? They need to learn how to run. They need to learn how to sprint.’ Speed training is something that isn’t necessarily done really well in a gym. It’s done well on a track or a field. So, I guess, COVID was a blessing in a way, as painful as it was. And we’re kind of just running with it now.
And I hope that all these guys in the room will just leave me to my thing.
Jack: Awesome, mate. And I think we will. You’re doing a good job. And I love the work you’re doing and the impact you’re having on the industry. So, thanks for jumping on again tonight and sharing your knowledge with us and your experiences for the coaches and athletes that are tuned in. Where’s the best place to find yourself and where is The Six Principle located as well?
Jarrad: So, The Six Principle’s in Moorabbin. We’re a little tucked-away gym. I have to take a leaf out of everyone’s books here and start building our social media presence a little more. But you can find us at The Six Principle. And we’ve got a great team of coaches there that are all starting to really make waves in the industry and pave their own paths.
The Speed Project, you can catch us at @speedproject email. And then my own personal one is @coach.jarradkay. So, that’s where all that information is in. I’m an open book, I’m always happy to chat to coaches and athletes alike and help them in any way I can.
Jack: Awesome. Thanks, Jarrad.
Jarrad: Thanks you.
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